Can Soldiers Keep Their Guns?

It is not unusual for a soldier to wish to keep the government-issued gun after the war or an assignment. They may wish to keep them as war trophies, the same way the veterans did after the world wars. But the question is, is this practice acceptable in the contemporary world?

So, can soldiers keep their guns? Unlike in the old military, the modern military has reservations about allowing their soldiers to keep their assigned guns after duty. If a soldier still decides to keep one, they will be violating the rules and may get in trouble with the military law. In some cases, this may call for serious consequences. It is best to avoid illegally keeping any weapon; as soldiers risk serving military detention, or even a jail term for illegal possession.

Whether you are a soldier or know someone in the army and wonder whether it is possible to bring back service guns, this is the article for you. We explain the army rules on this and other matters such as purchasing personal weapons. Read on as we give you all the information you need in the coming chapters.

The Weapons Protocol

If you are a soldier or you serve in law enforcement, you receive a sidearm/ handgun for operations. These weapons are necessary for self-defense and in other cases, for a Special Forces operation as a backup. This gun is mostly carried by Special Forces operatives as a supplement to their main weapons; it could be a shotgun or a rifle.

In contrast, if the soldier's duty is not direct combat, they get a pistol instead. However, if they are used to the rifle, then that will be his/ her standard weapon. On the other hand, for drivers, their go-to weapon is the shotgun, which is easier to use than the rifle, given the nature of their work.

Typically, when you join the forces, the army assigns a weapon to you accompanied by small ammo for you in an emergency. They store the rounds at a different place, and you can only access them at another location where you will use the gun.

When training, you receive the ammunition, load and use them, and at the end of the exercise, you return any unused rounds. When you go back to the barracks/ headquarters, you hand in the weapons as you wait to use them again.

In contrast, when in deployment, you carry your assigned weapon wherever you go. The army provides you with the necessary ammunition that you can use whenever you need to. However, you can access more ammo at the unit's base.

These weapons are safe, and the only way to get them is by signing for them. When you complete your service, they deregister your gun and register it under your replacement.

Can Soldiers Bring Back Guns?

It is important to note that the rules will always vary on soldiers bringing back guns, based on several factors, such as the country they are serving in, their service, their regiment, their rank, and several other factors.

You will likely notice that the rules differ across all servicemen. It also depends on the type of weapon and what you are willing to sacrifice to get it brought back. It is illegal in most cases, and if caught, you are likely risking summoning by the court-martial.

In the modern world, the systems are more rigid, and the protocols have to be followed to the latter. First, there are impromptu checks to ensure that the soldiers are not in illegal possession of any item.

These checks are often thorough, and even the most discrete soldier can easily get caught. Similarly, all the equipment is accounted for, so if there is any missing weapon, the soldiers in charge will have to look and find it.

In case they find you in the custody of an illegal weapon, what ensues is a series of questions, each of which you will need to answer truthfully. Most armies are cautious of the dangers of a soldier possessing unassigned weapons, so they take extra precautions to keep other innocent soldiers and civilians safe.

Even with all the protocols involved, you can still find war weapons being sold in some markets. These are mostly antique items of war that former servicemen, especially those in the world wars, may have donated or auctioned.

It was common for world war veterans to smuggle and bring back guns from their operations. This practice was necessary for them to keep souvenirs and war trophies. Some of these items were weapons, flags, and other personal enemy items such as helmets or chains.

Then, the army superiors had no qualms with allowing the soldiers to keep some weapons as long as they were not heavy machinery.

This was sometimes even with the base commander's approval. Given the nature of the wars, the rules were more relaxed than they are now; so, a soldier would find it easier to get away with it then, unlike today.

Can Soldiers Buy Their Own Weapons?

Typically, the army provides everything that a soldier needs during duty, so, no one must purchase personal equipment other than the ones that the government provides. Unless the gear has been assigned to them, a soldier should not bring it along during missions. The same applies to firearms; a soldier is not supposed to carry a personal weapon.

Some soldiers would not see the need to bring a personal weapon if they receive a legal one from the government. They get enough ammo to serve them in their missions; therefore, they do not need to carry personal guns.

However, some soldiers still break this rule, but they are very discreet about it. Most have served longer, so it is easy to get away with it. However, the recruits will never break the "no personal gun" rule considering the consequences. Some seniors may allow the soldiers to keep personal weapons as long as they are well trained to use them, and they practice caution, but this instance is scarce.

One of the reasons behind this rule is that all the weapons in use must be registered; this way, the gun used can be traced back to the handler in case of anything. This would be impossible if the soldiers used personal guns.

The bottom line is the rules are very stringent on soldiers carrying personal weapons. You cannot carry or use it during training or official duty. Thus, the best option is to leave it at home. Even if it is the same make and caliber as the guns you use, it is safe not to use it.


Gun control is one of the most serious laws in the US, especially among the military. Any weapon within a military base must be in the registry or in the armory. If the soldier resides in the army barracks, they cannot keep the weapons in the room. The rules dictate that it has to be for official duties only if the soldier carries a weapon. Thus, any other gun in their possession is out of the question.

Moreover, based on some related events, if the soldier carries their own gun, they may be prompted to use it for self-defense. This may put other innocent civilians at risk. It is against the rules to bring weapons back from missions.

So, if any soldier has one, then there are dire consequences. It warrants summoning by the court-martial, where the officer will face trial just like any other lawbreaker. The result may be as severe as risking jail term or military detention.


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