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High Caliber Hazmat Help: Shipping Ammunition

Posted on 12/20/2016 by Lee Ann Coniglione

From time to time, our DG shipping customers ask the Lion Finder Service questions about the hazmat regulations for shipping and transporting ammunition. While there are different calibers of ammunition manufactured for various firearms, this article focuses on small fire arms ammunition.

Throughout the article, we will highlight the applicable rules for shipping ammunition under both the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (IATA DGR).

Let’s start with a look at how US DOT and IATA address ammunition for small arms within their respective rules. Both the DOT Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR 172.101) and the IATA List of Dangerous Goods (IATA DGR 4.2) contain the entry “Ammunition, SA (small arms).” In both cases, the entries are followed by the words “see Cartridges for weapons, etc.”—which means we are being redirected to another entry.

Finding the Entry for UN0012 Materials

To help us navigate the regulations, we’ve chosen one entry as our example: UN 0012 Division 1.4 explosives assigned to compatibility group “S.” Our focus will be on materials assigned the Proper Shipping Name of “Cartridges for weapons, inert projectile,” which also goes by the description “Cartridges, small arms.”

To get a clearer sense of what we’re talking about, the Proper Shipping Name of “Cartridges, small arms” is defined to mean ammunition consisting of a cartridge case fitted with a center or rim fire primer and containing both a propelling charge and solid projectile(s). These are designed to be fired in weapons of caliber not larger than 19.1 mm. Shotgun cartridges of any caliber are included in this definition (IATA DGR, Appendix A.)

49 CFR 172.101 - Hazardous Materials Table

Now that we have selected an appropriate Proper Shipping Name, let’s see what the DOT tells us about preparing small arms ammunition for transport.

We’ve already covered the information contained in the first four columns—the shipping name and description, the hazard class or division, and the UN ID number—so we’ll move over to Column 5. No packing group is indicated for this entry. However, elsewhere in the 49 CFR hazmat rules we are told that packaging used for Class 1 (explosives) materials must meet Packing Group II requirements. [49 CFR 173.60(a)]

We also see that there are no label codes or special provisions indicated in Columns 6 and 7. If you are interested in learning more about labeling, however, you may want to refer to 49 CFR 172.320 and 172.411 for more specifics on marking and labeling requirements.

Packaging Ammunition for Transport

Column 8 has to do with packaging requirements. We’ll need to go to 49 CFR 173.63 of the regulations to find out about any applicable packaging exceptions. Here we see that shippers are allowed to offer “Cartridges, small arms” Division 1.4S materials as limited quantity shipments, provided certain requirements are met. Essentially, limited quantity shipments must conform to specific packaging requirements and display the appropriate limited quantity marking.


Specific Packaging Requirements for Explosives

If the shipper chooses to transport the ammunition in non-bulk packaging, he or she must consult the packaging requirements pertaining to explosives at 49 CFR 173.62. Here, we find the “Explosives Table,” followed by the “Table of Packing Methods.”

The tables provide instructions for packing various types of explosives, including ammunition. In some cases, it also provides for packaging exceptions. Using the Explosive Table, we see that Packing Instruction 130 applies to UN 0012. As it turns out, small arms ammunition does not require inner or intermediate packagings, although they may be used. The packing instruction also tells us that boxes are to be used for the outer packaging.

General Requirements to Ship Ammunition by Air

The columns pertaining to quantity limitations for shipment by aircraft are split into two: Columns 9A and 9B. For transport by passenger aircraft, the maximum quantity limit, per package, is 25 kg, meaning this amount cannot be exceeded. For cargo aircraft only, the rules allow for larger amounts within each package, that is, a maximum amount of 100 kg.  

I want to briefly mention the rules at 49 CFR 175.75, which have to do with placement of hazardous materials onboard passenger-carrying aircraft. We’re not going to elaborate on the topic, but suffice it to say that the regulations require these materials to be located in a place that is inaccessible to passengers.  

IATA DGR 4.2 List of Dangerous Goods

Now let’s move on to the IATA rules where we find the entry for UN 0012. You’ll notice the column headings are arranged differently from what we saw in the DOT’s Hazardous Materials Table, though much of the rules are the same. There are, however, a few of those instances where there are differences between the two set of regulations. 

In Column F, we see the code “E0” listed. At IATA DGR 2.6, a different table tells us that the code “E0” means that the goods cannot be shipped as excepted quantity shipments when traveling by air. Columns G and H prohibit the transport of the ammunition as limited quantity shipments onboard passenger and cargo aircraft. So, in order to ship the ammunition by air, shippers must follow the packing instructions indicated in Columns I and K.

IATAs packing instructions (PI) are an integral part of the Dangerous Good Regulations. If you are interested in learning more about the packing requirements for shipping UN ID0012 goods, then you can refer to PI 130 in the regulations.

Other Applicable Regulations to Ship Ammunition 

Shippers are responsible for following all of the rules pertaining to their shipments, not just the ones mentioned here. For instance, there are rules for preparing shipping papers under DOT and a “Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods” under IATA. Make sure you have consulted all applicable rules for documenting, placarding, labeling, and marking your shipments.

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