The Trail passes through 14 states. The answer to your question will depend on which of those 14 states you are asking about. For example, unless you are a New York State resident with the appropriate permit, it's probably out of the question to carry a handgun on the New York portion of the trail.
A good friend of mine is currently hiking the trail and just crossed the Va/ North carolina border. Unless you get all the proper permits then no it isn't. However, I met up with him o the trail a week ago and I also was curious about his 38 special he carries. He said that most people carry on the trail and as long as you keep it out of sight no one is the wiser and the park rangers really don't hassle people about it. but then again its your call and the law is the law.
we're Americans and we pray for peace, and if we can't have peace we find and destroy the people who screwed up the damn peace. So we can have some peace. - Christopher Titus
If you are sticking strictly to the trail, and are not a jackass, you could probably get away with it. HOWEVER! There are portions where it is illegal if you don't have the proper permits ( which are extensive based on the different states), but it's up to the hiker. I personally would not travel it unarmed. But there is a risk
Does anyone know if you can carry a gun on the Appalachian Trail? Will anyone search you? Would you walk the trail without a firearm?
Not to be construed as legal advice, but I wouldn't hike the trail without a firearm ! (The better to be judged by 12 than carried by six mentality). There's been a number of incidents - at least in my area - where hikers were attacked/killed by 2-legged predators along the trail over the past few years ! >MW
My wife is from Shepherdstown WV (the Trail passes through the area, BEAUTIFUL country by the way) and 2 of her classmates disappeared on the trail, one of them was a guy and was alone. The other was a teenage girl and was snatched from a GROUP of about 8 people. Their remains were found just a couple years ago, about 6 years after it happened, with the remains of 2 other people.
This was done by the 2 legged predator type.
The remains were found about 5 feet off the beaten path. 4 total.
Judged by 12, or carried by 6. I don't condone breaking the law, but I do it myself all the time. This is one of those instances I most definitely would.
There is also another option; you could choose not to hike it.