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Off-Road Regulations and Your Argo

Where can you operate an Argo XTV? Amphibious ATVs aren’t popular enough to warrant their own legal requirements in most areas, so they end up being shoehorned into other existing categories. Depending on where you use your Argo, it may be defined as an off-road vehicle, a boat or something in between.

What is an XTV, Legally Speaking?

On land, an XTV is usually categorized as an Off-Road Vehicle (ORV), even if a 6×6 is smaller than some ATVs on the market. This means these vehicles aren’t allowed on ATV trails, but they’ll usually be fine to use on ORV and general purpose off-road trails. Some ORV laws have width restrictions that push XTVs out of this category, so they can only be used on forest roads and other general purpose trails.

Once an XTV is in the water, it’s a boat. If you use your vehicle’s amphibious abilities, you’ll need to register it as a watercraft.

A swamp buggy is largely defined by its use of a tall chassis and four wheels. An XTV does not fall under this category, even if it has no problem crossing swamps. For all practical purposes, it’s legal to operate an XTV in a swamp if other vehicles are permitted, but it’s classified as an ORV on land, so it’s legal to operate on roads and trails where swamp buggies are excluded.

Thanks to its size and lack of foot controls, an XTV is easier to use than an ATV or UTV if you have a disability. Some states have special dispensations for amphibious ATV use by disabled people, giving these vehicles the same access privileges of comparable off-road vehicles. The state of Michigan even names Argo specifically in their off-road regulations.

Spark Arrester

A spark arrester is a device that captures carbon and other large particulate matter exiting the exhaust before it can come in contact with wood and grass, starting a fire. Arresters are required for internal combustion engines operating in most parks and national forests. Argo makes spark arresters that can be added to the tailpipe of any XTV. These devices should be replaced every three years.

Hunting Laws

To reduce ecological damage, off-road vehicles are may only be allowed to drive off of trails to retrieve game. Even though your XTV causes minimal damage when driving off the trail, it’s still under the same regulations. If off-road vehicles are banned from cross-country travel during the hunting season, your XTV is included in that ban.

Vehicle use restrictions can get confusing when trying to decide if an XTV is an ORV or a boat. For example, if you are allowed to use either a boat or an off-road vehicle for waterfowl hunting, you may only be allowed to launch your XTV into the water from a dock to keep you from having an unfair advantage over other hunters.

Registering Your XTV as a Boat

Depending on your state’s regulations, you’ll need to register with either the DMV or the government body that regulates waterways. Here in Pennsylvania, boat registration is handled by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC).

For the purposes of registration, your vehicle will be classed by its length and by the power of the engine. If you have an outboard motor, your XTV will still be classified by the power of its main engine because it can move the vehicle while in water.

Boats are usually registered under their hull ID number. You should be able to use your XTV’s VIN in place of this number, but you should contact the licensing body to make sure this is OK before sending in your paperwork.

Once your XTV is registered, a registration number needs to be applied to the front of the vehicle as high above the water as possible. Extra equipment may need to be carried while in the water including life jackets, a rope, and a whistle or other device to make noise. The operator may also need training classes to legally operate an XTV on the water. In Pennsylvania, operators born on or after January 1st, 1982 are required to pass a boating safety course when operating a vessel with 25 or more horsepower. The Avenger and Conquest both fall under this requirement.

When You Need Help with Your Argo, Talk to the Experts

Shank’s Argo is one of the largest dealers in the East, and we have decades of experience with commercial, residential and recreational outdoor equipment. If you’re looking to buy an XTV or need it serviced, visit our shop, located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. That’s one mile east of Interstate 80 via Exit 10. To learn more, visit

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