Ammunition in California

On February 5, 2024 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay in injunction granted by the Federal District Court in Rhode, et al. v. Bonta.  You can read the California Department of Justice Information Bulletin here.

In short, eligibility (background) checks are once again required to purchase ammunition in the State of California.


In July 2019, two new regulations went into effect in California which impacted the purchase and use of ammunition for hunting.

Non-Lead Ammunition for Hunting.  As of that date, lead ammunition used for hunting was banned for all areas of the State.  This change was phased in over a number of years and, fortunately, the Club was included in the last category that was impacted.  As of July 2019 you must use not lead shotshells to hunt at Hastings Island.  You may hunt with Bismuth, Heavy Shot, and all types of steel shotshells – in essence, anything that does not contain lead.  Most of our hunters will choose to shoot steel shot, mostly due to price.  Because the ballistic properties of steel are very different from lead, we have changed the list of ammo we allow for hunting on Hastings Island to include: 12ga and 20ga, #5 and #6 shot size, with a powder load producing at least a minimum of 1,300fps at the muzzle.  Magnum shells are prohibited.  Lead based ammunition is still allowed for shooting trap.

Background checks for the purchase of ammunition in CaliforniaIn order to purchase ammunition in California, you must undergo a background check (similar to process of purchasing a gun) at the time of purchase.  For some people, this process is quick and easy, as their information is already on file with the California Department of Justice.  For others, they might have a waiting time of up to 14 days.  In the worst case scenario, you might be “denied”.

The point is, do not count on being able to arrive at the Club (or any ammunition retailer) and expect that you will automatically be able to purchase the ammo you need for your hunt that day, unless you are very sure that you are already in DOJ database. 

As there have been several changes to this program in early 2024, we strongly suggest that you check the California Department of Justice website, to review the current regulations regarding the purchase of ammunition and to access the most up to date information on this topic.