Frequently Asked Firearms Questions in Montana
Note: These FAQs are offered by the Attorney General as a public service to provide answers to basic firearms questions based on Montana law. But firearms are often also subject to the laws of other jurisdictions, including federal laws and even, in some instances, the laws of other states. These FAQs do not address or account for those laws. Moreover, the Office of the Attorney General cannot provide individual legal advice or representation on gun issues. While we hope these FAQs can help address certain basic, reoccurring firearms questions, the Office of the Attorney General strongly recommends that all individuals consult with their own attorneys.
Where do I apply for a Montana Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP)?
All CWP applications are received and processed by the local county sheriffs. You should apply for a CWP with the sheriff’s office in the county of your residence.
How long is my permit good for?
You must be a US citizen and a resident of Montana for at least six months. You must be 18 years of age or older and you must have a valid Montana driver’s license or state-issued ID card, which has a picture of the person identified. You must also demonstrate familiarity and proficiency with a firearm. Permits issued by the State of Montana are valid for 4 years from the date of issuance.
What training do I need for a CWP?
An applicant for a CWP must “demonstrate familiarity with a firearm” by completion of a hunter education or safety course, a firearms safety or training course, or a law enforcement firearms safety or training course. Military training or other training may also qualify – please contact your local county sheriff for more details.
What if the sheriff denies my request for a CWP?
Montana law authorizes an appeal to the district court and then to the Montana Supreme Court if the sheriff denies, revokes, or refuses to renew a CWP. The Montana Attorney General’s office cannot provide legal advice or representation to individuals who have been denied a CWP.
Can I get a non-resident CWP in Montana?
What happens if I move to a different county in Montana?
Your CWP is still valid, but you must notify the sheriffs of both the old and the new counties of your change in residence within 10 days of your move. If your residence change is to or from a city or town with a police force, you must also notify the chief of police in each of those cities or towns.
Can I carry a firearm in my vehicle even if I don’t have a CWP?
Yes. Montana law does not regulate how firearms are carried in a vehicle. If you are traveling interstate please contact the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the state authorities in the other states you will be traveling in regarding any restrictions on interstate transport of weapons.
Are there places or circumstances when I cannot carry a weapon even if I have a CWP?
Yes. It is illegal to carry a concealed weapon while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. It is also illegal to carry a concealed weapon in state or government offices or buildings; schools; banks, credit unions, or savings and loan institutions; and a room in which alcoholic beverages are sold, dispensed, and consumed under a license issued under title 16 for the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises. Montana law also forbids carrying firearms on a train. Montana law also allows local governments to regulate the carrying of both concealed and unconcealed weapons in certain areas, including public assemblies, public buildings, parks, and schools. Please check your local regulations.
What about university campuses?
Please check with the particular institution for firearms policies.
Does Montana have “reciprocity” with other states?
No. Montana law does not provide for “reciprocity” with other states, but Montana does recognize many other states’ permits, and some other states recognize Montana’s permit. The states whose permit Montana recognizes are listed on this website. To determine if your Montana CWP is recognized by another specific state, you must contact that state for information. And remember: the laws of the state you are in govern concealed carry, even if your basis for carrying concealed is an out-of-state permit. So know the laws of each state you are carrying in.
Do I need a CWP to carry a weapon concealed at my own home or business?
Generally no, unless some other law prevents carrying at that location.
Do I need a CWP to carry a weapon while hiking or hunting?
No. You may carry a concealed weapon without a CWP while lawfully engaged in hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, hiking, backpacking, farming, ranching, or other outdoor activity in which weapons are often carried for recreation or protection.
Do I need a CWP to carry a concealed weapon outside of town?
Generally no. You may carry a concealed weapon without a permit if you are outside the official boundaries of a city or town or the confines of a logging, lumbering, mining or railroad camp.
How do the concealed weapons laws affect the carrying of knives?
It is illegal to conceal a knife with a blade that is 4 inches or longer. A CWP authorizes a person to carry a knife with a blade that is 4 inches or longer in a concealed manner.
I don’t have a CWP. Can I still carry a firearm as long as it is not concealed?
Generally yes, but there are various state and local laws prohibiting carrying of a firearm—concealed or unconcealed—in certain places or under certain circumstances. Consult your attorney.
I am a resident of another state. Can I purchase a firearm from a dealer in Montana?
Montana law does not prohibit sales of firearms to out-of-state residents, but federal laws and the laws of your resident state might. Consult your attorney.
Are there any laws governing a private sale of firearms in Montana?
Montana law does not regulate the private sales of firearms, but federal law does. Consult your attorney.
Can the owner or proprietor of a residence or business prohibit carrying of a weapon if I have a CWP?
Yes, the owner or proprietor of a property may prohibit all weapons on that property.
Can I carry a gun in my purse or backpack?
If you have a CWP you may carry a gun in a purse or backpack. If you do not have a CWP it could be considered a violation of the law for you to conceal a gun in a purse or backpack, since the law defines a concealed weapon as one that is “wholly or partially covered by the clothing or wearing apparel of the person carrying or bearing the weapon.” Check with your local county sheriff or county attorney for more information.
I’m vacationing in Montana. Can I bring a weapon into your State?
Yes. You may legally possess a firearm in Montana as long as you are in compliance with all Montana and federal firearms laws.
What about the national parks?
The law governing possession of firearms inside a national park changed in 2010. Federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park. This includes concealed weapons if the visitor has a valid permit. Federal law still prohibits firearms in certain park facilities and buildings.
What about the Indian reservations?
Montana has seven Indian reservations, some of which have their own laws regarding firearms. Please contact the individual tribal governments for information on firearms if you will be visiting or traveling through the Indian reservations.
I just moved to Montana. Can I get a concealed weapon permit issued by the state of Montana?
You have to be a resident of Montana for six months before applying for a CWP.
Can I get a CWP if I have been convicted of a felony in Montana?
If you have completed your sentence so that your rights are restored pursuant to article II, section 28 of the Montana Constitution, and there are no other legal impediments to receiving a CWP, you may be eligible to apply for and receive a CWP unless (1) the crime included as an element of the offense an act, attempted, act, or threat of intentional homicide, serious bodily harm, unlawful restraint, sexual abuse, or sexual intercourse or contact without consent, or (2) you are under lifetime supervision for having received an enhanced sentence for using a weapon in the commission of the underlying offense. The CWP may be denied, however, if a background check reveals that you are ineligible under state or federal law to own, possess, or receive a firearm. Other circumstances may also affect your eligibility. Please consult with your attorney regarding your specific legal rights. The Office of the Attorney General cannot provide individual legal advice or representation.
What if the conviction is from another state or is a federal conviction?
You are probably not eligible for a CWP if the conviction was for a crime punishable by more than 1 year of incarceration or if the crime included as an element of the offense an act, attempted, act, or threat of intentional homicide, serious bodily harm, unlawful restraint, sexual abuse, or sexual intercourse or contact without consent. Even if your sentence has been completed, you may not be eligible to possess a firearm under federal law. Please consult with your attorney regarding your specific legal rights. The Office of the Attorney General cannot provide individual legal advice or representation.
What if my conviction was a misdemeanor?
You are ineligible for a CWP if the misdemeanor conviction was for a violation of Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-327 (carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence) or Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-328 (carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited place. Also, if the misdemeanor crime included as an element of the offense an act, attempted, act, or threat of intentional homicide, serious bodily harm, unlawful restraint, sexual abuse, or sexual intercourse or contact without consent, then you are also ineligible for a Montana CWP. Please consult with your attorney regarding your specific legal rights. The Office of the Attorney General cannot provide individual legal advice or representation.