Are Tracer Rounds Legal?

Do you have an interest in guns? If so, then chances are you have heard of tracer rounds and their distinctive blast. 

From afar, tracer rounds can appear like lasers, as the bullets are able to produce powerful gunfire that emits a natural glow.

Are Tracer Rounds Legal

While the rounds may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, they have actually existed for centuries and remain a rare commodity among enthusiasts. 

But are tracer rounds legal? In this article, we will take a look at tracer rounds and their storied history… 

What Are Tracer Rounds? 

To begin, we must first define what tracer rounds are. In basic terms, tracer rounds are a kind of bullet that features pyrotechnics or luminescent material.

Because of this, the bullets will emit a powerful glow, as the material will burn once the gun has been fired. This allows you to see the trail of the bullet without the aid of additional optics. 

In most cases, the round will consist of a hollow base, which is used to contain fuel, metallic fuel, and oxidizer.

The latter substance can be combined with various materials to produce numerous colors, which will register in the blast. 

How Do Tracer Rounds Work? 

Of course, it is also important to understand how tracer rounds work.

In most cases, tracer rounds will use magnesium and a strontium mixture to produce the glow, as the materials will begin to burn once the round has been fired. 

This results in a flash of white light, which is then subdued with the addition of natural fuel and chlorine.

Because of this, the flash will never overpower the color of the tracer, which will outline the bullet’s trail. 

The natural fuel will also help to continue the chemical reaction, which allows the round to travel faster as it radiates its glow. 

What Are Tracer Rounds Used For? 

Before the introduction of tracer rounds, troops had to use their own vision and ammunition impact to determine the aim of their shots. 

However, as the need for distance weapons increased, shooters needed a faster way to assess their aim without using the impact as an indicator. This led to the advent of the first tracer rounds. 

During this time, tracer rounds were known as spotlight bullets and were used to create smoke and light once the bullet made an impact.

However, these rounds did come with a vital flaw, as they did not combust when fired into the air. The bullets also violated various laws that prohibited explosive ammunition. 

Following this, a second design was introduced, which used various materials to create a tail of smoke.

These rounds also proved ineffective, as the mass was removed in order to produce the smoke, which diminished the bullet’s power and accuracy. 

It wasn’t until 1915 that the first modern tracer rounds were invented, which were developed in the UK. 

Are Tracer Rounds Legal (1)

What Kinds Of Tracer Rounds Are There? 

Since the advent of tracer rounds, three different models have been released, with each one boasting its own functions. 

These tracer rounds include: 


These tracer rounds burn the second they have been fired, which results in a bright flash. However, these rounds do come with the drawback of alerting enemies to the shooter’s location. 


These tracer rounds are notable for their brightness, which will begin to burn once the bullet has traveled one hundred yards. Because of this, these bullets can be fired without revealing the shooter’s position. 


These tracer rounds are named for their dim flash, which can still be picked up on night vision accessories. 

Aside from their association with the armed forces, tracer rounds can also be used for various activities, such as hunting and camping.

But are tracer rounds legal? If you want to know more about the ethics of these bullets, then we have provided some information down below. 

Are Tracer Rounds Legal? 

Despite their association with the armed forces, tracer rounds do come with their fair share of controversy. 

This is because tracer rounds are classed as explosive weapons under federal law, which means there are various restrictions placed on their commercial use.

For example, if you were to purchase these rounds, then you would need a federal explosive license.

There would also be other obstacles to overcome before you could own the bullets and store them in your home.

Beyond the federal requirements, many states and governments have their own laws when it comes to tracer rounds.

This means that while tracer rounds are technically legal, we do not recommend purchasing them, as there are many requirements you would need to meet to obtain a legal ownership. 

While it is possible to purchase tracer rounds, their use may not be tolerated when it comes to hunting and other activities.

In fact, there are many other restrictions in place to limit their use, as they could explode and are considered dangerous.

So if you do manage to obtain some tracer rounds, you might not have a place to use them. 

How Accurate Are Tracer Rounds? 

While tracer rounds are commonly used to hone a shooter’s aim, the bullets themselves are not all that accurate. 

The reason for this is that tracer rounds contain combustible materials, which burn once the bullet has been released.

This results in the distinctive flash that has earned these bullets their reputation. However, these materials can also impact the accuracy of the shot, as they weigh down the rounds and misplace the aim. 

For this reason, we recommend using normal ammunition, as this will allow you to achieve a more accurate shot. You can even use optics and additional accessories to help hone the cleanness of your aim. 

Final Thoughts 

While tracer rounds are considered legal, the bullets themselves can be a hassle to obtain, as there are many restrictions placed on the ammunition.

In fact, purchasing tracer rounds could be seen as a foolish endeavor, as these restrictions make it almost impossible to use the bullets once they have been bought.

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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