Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife


Can persons younger than 21 legally hunt with a handgun during modern firearm seasons, and legally possess a handgun during archery or muzzleloading firearm seasons?

  • Yes. If you are under the age of 21 and you want to use a handgun to hunt or for personal protection while hunting, you must possess a legal hunting license, be hunting during legal seasons in open areas, and not be trespassing (RCW 9.41.060 and 9.41.240).
  • Also, the handgun must meet appropriate requirements if you are using it for hunting. Big game, except for cougar, must be hunted with a handgun with a minimum barrel length of 4 inches, per the manufacturer’s specification, and it must fire a minimum .24 caliber centerfire cartridge. Cougar may be hunted with a .22 caliber centerfire handgun. Rimfire handguns are not legal for big game.
  • A modern handgun cannot be used to dispatch wounded game during archery or muzzleloader seasons.
  • Game birds cannot be hunted with a handgun or rifle, with the exception of blue grouse, spruce grouse, and ruffed grouse (WAC 232-12-047).

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Last Updated
9th of July, 2012

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