Changes in the Semi-Automatic Classification System


Updated 26/03/19 with a quote from Police site regarding amnesty.

The press release confusion

“we are announcing a ban on all military-style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand.”

And here we have the official notification on the NZ Police Website –

And here is the document that makes this all happen.

These statements, have, unsurprisingly, led to a lot of confusion in regards to what is happening, and now what is, and what isn’t legal.

By my current understanding

  • All A-Cat AR, AK and other Semi-Automatics (both centrefire rifle and shotgun) that have the potential to take an external magazine of capacity more than five rounds, are now reclassified as an E Category Firearm
  • All rimfires are excluded (I have to assume that the police site intends to mean .22 Calibre or less)

What that means

  • The 10/22 isn’t of concern.
  • The A-Cat AR you bought and only use 5 round mags on, is now an E-Cat MSSA.
  • The SKS (with a magazine, the paratrooper model) technically is fine, as it doesn’t have a removable magazine – but I have to assume that it will only be until they realise they have missed it out.
  • Saiga, Typhoon Shotguns, all E-Cat (thought I pick many already were anyhow).

Not really sure what this means for actual ‘assault rifles’ – as all are on C Endorsements. I am picking, as they will be automatic, not semi-automatic, they remain under the same classification.

Also not sure what this means if you actually have an E Endorsement – because I figure these ‘converted’ E Cats still aren’t on your licence, so are still technically illegal to have?

What I recommend

What I recommend is what I think everyone should be have been doing for the last couple of days.

Do nothing.

Now should have been a time for mourning and reflection. Instead, it’s been a couple of days of really bad press and politics. From both sides.

The announcement and this change has been hastily put together, is oddly worded, and leaves a lot of questions that still need to be answered before we move forward.

I pick that this immediate change has been put in place to attempt to stifle the panic buying that has been happening in gun stores around the country, basically fueled by previous comments in the media.

There is talk of a buyback scheme, but no details are out yet, and while there is certainly the potential for the entire E Category of firearm to be made illegal, this is yet to be confirmed and/or happen.

While, right now, if you are in possession of a newly-classified E Category firearm, you are technically breaking the law. However, the Police have stated there is an amnesty period. They have not stated how long that amnesty period is, though I would imagine it’s going to be weeks, if not a month or so.

Below – from the NZ Police Site, as per the 26th March (their information pages actually do keep changing) – but – again – no need to do anything right yet –

A buyback scheme is being considered by Government and details will be released in due course. The Government also has indicated they intend to ban all MSSA firearms in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, because this takes immediate effect, there is an amnesty period in place for the foreseeable future. Once the legislation has been changed we will have more clarity around the period of amnesty for firearm owners.

The amnesty allows for firearm owners to take the necessary steps to hand their firearms in to Police.

You are not going to have the Police banging on your door if you don’t surrender your firearm by the weekend. They may ban MSSA’s totally in the coming weeks, but that is not confirmed yet. Nothing is.

There are plenty of changes still to come, I have no doubt, but what you don’t need to do right now is panic or engage with any kind of over emotional response.

  • Don’t try and sell your gun for some cash
  • Don’t walk into your local police station un-announced and put your gun on the counter
  • Don’t go out shooting it this weekend ‘for one last time’
  • Don’t do anything

Monday, apparently, we are going to hear about more of the changes, and hopefully get some clearer guidance as to what the next step is. Until we have more details, I would leave them locked up in the safe, and wait.


IF you really need to, get in touch, for further clarification. But please don’t ask on my thoughts on the larger situation in regards to the firearms side of things.

BUT, if you just need someone to talk to about the actual event, and might not actually have someone to talk to who isn’t going to judge you right now for having firearms, please, also get in touch.



I am working on a much longer article discussing my thoughts about the whole situation – but, again, the nation is in shock, and I really wanted to consider my words, and simply let things settle before starting to look for reasons, scapegoats, or people to blame.


Shoot straight(er).

Get your rifle sorted - proper zero, basic ballistics and confirmed to distance.

Popular articles

Matching twist rate and bullet weight in rifles.

The are many benefits to understanding and matching the twist rate of your barrel with the projectile weight you are using. Primarily, accuracy.

T-Bone Steaks

I have fallen for T-Bones recently. What isn't to like about them? They are great value for money, full of taste, and have a bonus feature - the Missus will generally not be able to finish all of hers so I get to eat one and a half T-bone steaks.

Three ways you are probably zeroing your hunting rifle wrong.

Clickbait title aside - there are a couple of reoccurring problems I see when people discuss zeroing a rifle. Are you doing any of them?

Getting your New Zealand Firearms Licence – the definitive guide (2019)

The process of applying for your New Zealand Firearms Licence is easy. Learn the steps, get started here and get shooting!

A Single Stage Trigger Vs Two Stage Trigger

Oh, if only it was that easy - the question of Single Stage Trigger Vs Two Stage Trigger comes up quite often - here are my thoughts on it...

Cartridge Selection for Long Range Hunting pt. 1

A bit of a meandering post about ballistics and cartridges in the short action side of things. Some interesting finds though.
Kerry Adams
Kerry Adams
A constant learner with an inquisitive mind, Kerry created Precision Shooter as a way to share what he was learning from the community of experts he found himself surrounded by. Somewhere along the line, he picked up one or two things himself. But don't call him an expert.

Get your rifle sorted.

Send us your rifle, or come out and do it with us. For a session, for a day. Come get the most out of your firearm. We can take your through the whole process.

I know. We all hate popups.
But, the fact remains that eMails are the best way for us to keep you up to date with what is going on at The Bloke. Join over 19650 others who are part of The Bloke community - every week you will get a short update from me. Be the first to know about new resources, upcoming events, courses and more.
We respect your privacy. No SPAM. Ever. Hit escape to make this go away. Apologises if you see this more than once. That's what cookies are for... ;)
It's easy: complete this form and click the button to get the targets.
Get our range of sighting in, testing and fun targets - calibrated for both meters and yards, MIL and MOA.
As well as sending out the targets, we will add you to the shooter's newsletter - updates on articles, events and news relevant to the NZ shooter.