Some magazines in Canada are subject to regulation under the Firearms Act. Specifically, their capacities are limited depending on the type of firearm that magazine is designed and intended to be used in. The general rule of thumb is:

  • Semi-automatic, centrefire rifle and shotgun magazines are limited to 5 cartridges
  • All handgun magazines are limited to 10 cartridges

Magazines designed and intended for firearms other than semi-automatic (anything that requires manual operation of the action such as pump, bolt, break/breach, or lever) or other than centrefire (such as rim fire) rifles and/or shotguns are not subject capacity limitations. Magazines that are subject to these restrictions must be “pinned” so they cannot physically take more than is legally permitted. There are also additional issues involving magazines that are designed for more than one type of firearm or that may be used in another type of firearm or contain cartridges it was not intended for. These are explained below:

1. Magazines designed or manufactured for both rimfire calibre rifles and handguns

Magazines designed to contain rimfire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a rifle do not have a regulated capacity. However, magazines designed to contain rimfire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic handgun are limited to 10 cartridges. Magazines designed or manufactured for use in both rifles and semiautomatic handguns are subject to the handgun limit of 10 cartridges.

2. Magazines designed or manufactured for both centrefire calibre rifles and handguns

Magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic rifle are limited to five cartridges. However, magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic handgun are limited to 10 cartridges. Magazines designed or manufactured for use in both semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic handguns are subject to the limit of five cartridges.

3. Magazines designed or manufactured for both centrefire calibre semiautomatic rifles and other (non-semiautomatic) rifles

Magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic rifle are limited to five cartridges. However, magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a rifle other than a semiautomatic or automatic rifle, do not have a regulated capacity. Magazines that are designed or manufactured for use in both semiautomatic rifles and other (non-semiautomatic) rifles are subject to the semiautomatic rifle limit of five cartridges.

4. Magazines designed for one firearm but used in a different firearm

The maximum permitted capacity of a magazine is determined by the kind of firearm it is designed or manufactured for use in and not the kind of firearm it might actually be used in. As a consequence, the maximum permitted capacity remains the same regardless of which firearm it might be used in.

5. Magazines for semiautomatic handguns which contain more than ten (10) rounds of a different calibre

Magazines designed to contain centrefire cartridges and designed or manufactured for use in a semiautomatic handgun, are limited to 10 cartridges. The capacity is measured by the kind of cartridge the magazine was designed to contain. In some cases the magazine will be capable of containing more than 10 rounds of a different caliber; however that is not relevant in the determination of the maximum permitted capacity.

There are also other exemptions to the magazine capacity restrictions, such as the M1 Garand’s 8-round clips. Because of the way the way the firearm functions, Garands are permitted to have all 8 cartridges.