ATF Classifies Pot Scrubbers as Silencers, Makes Possession Illegal

David Codrea published an article today about an interesting letter one law abiding silencer owner received from the ATF. The silencer owner in question owns an AWC .22lr silencer that uses a material made of tangled copper ropes to slow down the expanding gasses, a material not unlike the common Brillo pad or Chore Boy Pot Scrubber. He wanted to know whether it would be legal to replace the worn out material in his legally owned silencer with some pot scrubber material, an act which seems pretty innocuous to the impartial observer. The ATF, on the other hand…

From the ATF’s reply:

“[S]ound/gas absorbing materials manufactured from Chore Boy copper cleaning pads, along with fiberglass insulation, constitute a silencer.

Therefore, it is illegal for an individual to replace deteriorated material within an already- registered suppressor without an approved ATF Form 1, ‘Application to Make and Register a Firearm,’” along with a “$200.00 making tax” and “a ‘no-marking’ variance…since there is no viable area in which to apply a serial number to the sound-absorbing material.”

So if someone wanted to replace the padding in their silencer they’d need to submit two new sets of fingerprint cards, two new photographs, a signature from their local chief law enforcement officer, $200 and a set of newly filled out Form 1 applications and then wait 4 months for a reply. All for an item they already own legally, and at the end of the day they will still have only one NFA item.

But that’s not all. The original letter included a question about the owner of a legally owned silencer having a reserve of such pads. In case, you know, they needed to clean something. According to the ATF that would be considered a “stockpile” and considered an illegal act.

David has the full letter on his site which can be seen here.


About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

34 Responses to ATF Classifies Pot Scrubbers as Silencers, Makes Possession Illegal

  1. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    I hope that they don’t plan on banning S.O.S pads, because my mom has a full box under the kitchen sink.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, Brillo and Shoestrings strikes again.

  3. avatarJohn D says:

    Chore Boy copper pads are also well known to be used in Crack Pipes.
    Sure is a versatile product!

  4. avatarSam Wright says:

    When pot scrubbers are outlawed, only outlaws will be able to clean their pots after the apocalypse when the dishwashers don’t work.

  5. avatarHAVE GUN says:

    It would never occur to me to ask.
    Sometimes when the answer isn’t already clear best not to bring it up.

    The ATF answer is incredable, but it is what it is.

  6. avatarMilsurpcollector says:

    What’s next, declaring that a shoelace is a machine gun? Oh wait…

  7. avatarScott says:

    I for one am glad that the federal government is finally taking a stand on cleaning materials of all kinds. I hope that a loophole is not discovered until after the Super Bowl.

  8. avatarmatt says:

    I thought it was legal to repair registered NFA items. What if a full auto sear broke? I always thought it was legal for someone to weld more material to it and then machine it as a repair. What about when you suffer a baffle strike, does the manufacturer have to pay a $200 tax to replace the baffles?

  9. avatarPro.0s says:

    Great. Now every time we go to the supermarket, we will need two new sets of fingerprint cards, two new photographs, a signature from our local chief law enforcement officer, $200 and a set of newly filled out Form 1 applications and then wait 4 months for a reply just to get a new pot scrubber……

  10. avatarSean says:

    Why would anyone even ask the ATF about it? The supressor was already registered. They would never check, or think to check, if the owner had repaired their property.

  11. avatarBlake says:

    Toilet paper tubes: Check
    Subsonic .22 rounds: Check
    Masking tape: Check

    Okay, so I really don’t stock empty toilet paper tubes.

    I would ask if the ATF really wants to go down this road. Unfortunately, I already know the answer to that question.

  12. avatarTio Volatito says:

    Maybe the ATF will classify them as “sound scrubbers”. heh heh. Sorry…

    I agree this is a case where it would likely have been better not to ask. I’ve dealt with regulators for years, and it’s best if you’re not the one introducing the potential problem to them. Let them figure it out first.

  13. avatarHSR47 says:

    What about replacement wipes?

  14. avatarTom says:

    Cleaning supplies are a danger to the community and provide no useful benefit to society. I support a total cleaning supply control and ban by the BATF! I am joining Hand Cleaning Supplies Control today!

  15. avatarTim McNabb says:

    This is a perfect example of overcriminaliztion. What if this cat had just replaced the copper shit – a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Poof – he’s an instant federal criminal.

    • avatarHSR47 says:


      The Constitution needs an amendment requiring all laws to have a sunset provision.

      • avatarRobert says:

        Or we need to have a serious look at victimless crimes and increase penalties for violent criminals. Preventative restrictions should be illegal. If you don’t hurt someone or infringe on their rights, then you did nothing wrong.

        • avatarHSR47 says:

          No, I prefer my way; Thus, any such “victimless crimes” will require two votes and a presidential signature every 5 years to stay in the U.S. code.

          This could well go a LONG way to fixing our broken system…

  16. avatarCliff says:

    Not counting the whole felony part, I believe the applicable phrase here is: It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is permission.

  17. avatarGlen says:

    Let this be a lesson to those who oppose the elimination of the BATFE under the misguided notion that a weakened federal agency dedicated to tightly regulating the manufacture, sale and possession of firearms is far preferable than… having the FBI investigate interstate criminal use of firearms – and leaving industry regulation to the states.

    Yeah, that’d be lots worse…

  18. avatarCritter says:

    how about plastic sponges? is the atfbatfe, or whatever they’re called this week ok with those?

  19. avatarEd says:

    Another moron sending stupid letters and getting back the obvious… stupid responses. Just sent the sound suppressor back to manufacturer for a rebuild, or, if you are a true moron…..just go ahead and Form 1 and pay the $200 stamp tax for the guts!

    • avatarfrank says:

      That’s true but in order to file a tax form you’d need a serial # of the GUT’S first…….

  20. avatarDaveL says:

    I think the BATFE ought to be required to abide by their own definitions when they equip their personnel for raids. It would bring a whole new meaning to the term “shoestring budget.”

  21. avatarGS650G says:

    Is ATF going to inspect his silencer and determine magically he replaced the guts with the same stuff it came with? Now he’s on their radar and probably a list somewhere.

  22. avatarG.R. Mead says:

    “What if he comes at us with a pointed stick?”

  23. avatarJoe the Pimpernel says:

    ATF agents are the trailer-park trash of federal agents.You don’t even have to be a high school graduate to be hired by them. As a matter of fact, they deliberately hire the dumbest people they can find because it’s easier to make them shut up and do as they are told. And, best of all, they don’t understand multisyllabic words like “unconstitutional.”

  24. avatartechnique says:

    It’s in reality a nice and useful piece of info. I’m happy that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  25. avatarSamuel Reich says:

    Since cleaning or replacing dirty parts are part of the use of silencer or gun, they are saying do not use.

    I read that a truck oil filter make a good silencer if adapt the threads or have big enough barrel to thread for the oil filter. But the atf will want $200 each time you replace it and the inside is not rugged.

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