If you’re planning to apply for a CPL in Michigan, you may have seen two commonly used acronyms in official documentation and other concealed carrying resources: CCW and CPL. Although the terms are related, it is critical not to confuse them.

Learn everything you need to know about CCWs, CPLs, and what Michigan law says about concealed carrying to make the most out of your CPL course.

What is a CCW?

In common gun owner language across the United States, “CCW” typically stands for Concealed Carry Weapon. It is common for firearm media and resources to refer to popular compact pistols and revolvers as CCWs.

However, police officers in Michigan may use the “CCW” acronym to refer to the act of Carrying a Concealed Weapon, which is unlawful without an appropriate license.

The Michigan Penal Code specifies that carrying or possessing a firearm concealed on your person is illegal (MPC 750.227 and MPC 750.227b) except in two instances: when on your own property and when holding a valid CPL.

The law also extends to certain non-firearm weapons, such as knives, daggers, or pneumatic guns, but makes an exception for hunting knives. Violating Michigan concealed weapons regulations is a felony, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 5 years in prison.

What Does CPL Mean?

In Michigan, a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) is the document required for Michigan residents to carry a concealed weapon legally.

It is equivalent to similarly named documents in other states, such as the License to Carry Handgun (Indiana), Concealed Firearms Permit (Nevada), Concealed Handgun License (Texas), or Concealed Weapon License (Florida). Besides Michigan, only the state of Washington refers to their concealed carry permit as a Concealed Pistol License.

In Michigan, the CPL acronym exclusively refers to the license, whereas CCW may mean either the concealed weapon or the act of conceal-carrying a weapon. The best way to understand the difference between the two acronyms is with this sentence: you need a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) to Carry a Concealed Weapon (CCW) legally.

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How to Obtain a CPL in Michigan?

If you are a gun owner seeking to carry a concealed firearm legally in the Great Lake State, you must hold a valid Michigan Concealed Pistol License.

Michigan CPL class applicants must meet specific requirements to be legally able to attend a training course. You must be:

  • A citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident (legal alien)
  • At least 21 years old
  • A legal Michigan resident for at least six months at the time of application
  • Not legally prohibited from owning firearms at the state or federal level (e.g., ATF Prohibited Person, diagnosed with a mental illness, under a court order of legal incapacity, etc.)

You are legally considered a Michigan resident if:

  • You have a Michigan driver’s license
  • You are legally registered to vote in Michigan
  • You are an active-duty member of the U.S. military stationed in Michigan or with a home of record registered in Michigan

Your local county clerk may waive the residency requirement if you own a valid concealed carry license from another state recognized by the state of Michigan or if you need an emergency license as outlined under MCL 600.2950 and MCL 600.2950a.

What Should I Expect From a CPL Class?

Michigan law requires all applicants to attend and pass a CPL course from an accredited training facility. The legal minimum length of a CPL class is 8 hours and includes 2 parts: a classroom portion and a live shooting range portion to apply the classroom knowledge. Range time typically lasts 3 hours and is supervised by an experienced range safety officer.

Completing the course and passing the minimum score requirements entitles you to a certificate of completion, which you can mail to your local county clerk’s office. You should then receive your CPL within 45 days.

How to Renew a CPL?

If you are a Michigan gun owner with a valid CPL within six months of its expiration date or an expired CPL for no more than 12 months, you may apply for CPL renewal at your local county clerk’s office. You may apply online on the Michigan State Police’s website if you have a valid PIN.

Although a renewal training class is not required, state law requires renewal applicants to have completed at least 3 hours of training review and 1 hour of shooting range time before sending the application. Accredited Michigan CPL classes can provide renewal certificates certifying applicants have completed the legal minimums.

Renewal training classes typically include a review of Michigan self-defense laws and best practices, including the following topics:

  • What constitutes legal and justifiable use of force in Michigan, and what types of situations require lethal force for self-defense
  • Updates to Michigan self-defense and use of force laws (if applicable)
  • Practical shooting fundamentals and basic techniques to shoot a concealed handgun accurately and effectively (e.g., grip, stance, trigger control, sight alignment, cover vs. concealment, shooting from different positions, etc.)
  • Range portion to apply the fundamentals

If your Michigan CPL is expired for over a year, you cannot apply for renewal. Instead, you will need to apply for a new license as if you were getting it for the first time.

Is My Michigan CPL Recognized in Other States?

If you travel out of state frequently, you can use your valid Michigan CPL to carry a concealed weapon in numerous other states.

As of August 2022, 39 states recognize the Michigan Concealed Pistol License: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Can I Travel to Other States with a CCW and My Michigan CPL?

According to federal law (18 USC 926A), transporting firearms across state lines is legal as long as you are legally allowed to possess these firearms in both the state of origin and the destination.

This principle applies even if you must cross multiple states to reach your destination. However, you must ensure you do not stop for extended periods in states that do not recognize your Michigan CPL or do not allow you to possess your firearms.

For example, when traveling from Michigan to New Hampshire, avoid stopping for long periods in the state of New York, as the state does not recognize your Michigan CPL. Additionally, you risk facing extra charges if your handgun violates the state’s legal maximum magazine capacity of 10 rounds (New York SAFE Act of 2013).

Receive Quality CPL Training in Michigan with IFA Tactical

At IFA Tactical, we made it our mission to offer high-quality firearms and quality gun education for Michigan residents. If you’re looking to receive professional training and instruction from industry veterans and self-defense specialists and get certified to receive your Michigan CPL, we can help you.

Call us at (586) 275-2176 for more details on our CPL classes.

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