Ask Foghorn: How to Buy a Silencer

 

Some guy on Reddit asked me:

How difficult is it to get one of these stamps? I don’t know why I always thought it was damn near impossible but I am seeing people with them all over the place. One a scale of 1 – 10 how difficult is it to get a can? And do you need a stamp for every one you buy or just one stamp saying you can buy silencers?

It’s not difficult, just annoying and time consuming. Grab a cup of coffee, because this is going to be a long one…

A silencer (also known as a suppressor, but both the inventor and the ATF call it a “silencer”) is a special type of tube that is placed on the end of your barrel and quiets the noise produced by the round going off. It does this by slowing down and cooling the expanding gases which are propeling the projectile down your barrel before venting the gasses – the quickly escaping gasses being the root cause of the report of the firearm.

Silencers in the United States are generally legal to posess provided that you go through the proper procesures. They fall under a class of item known as a “National Firearms Act item” or “NFA item,” the same category as machine guns, grenade launchers and other very fun things. As far as the federal government is concerned, as long as you submit some paperwork, go through a background check and pay a $200 tax you’re good to go. The individual states on the other hand have the ability to selectively ban these items from their borders. As such the legality of silencers in your specific state will vary.

NFA items are required to be registered with the ATF with supporting paperwork of said registration to remain with the item (or readily accessible somewhere). The registration of new machine guns was halted in 1986, but everything else is still good to go. If you are purchasing a silencer you don’t need to worry about the initial registration as the manufacturer does that for you, but you do need to apply for the item to be transferred to you somehow and YOU need to make sure that the registration is up to date in terms of any change of address.

The process for purchasing and transferring a silencer is the same as if you were purchasing any other NFA item, meaning it is a gigantic bureaucratic pain in the ass. Don’t worry — I’ll take you through the process step by step.

Step 1 — Pick your can

Because of the massive annoyance of purchasing an NFA item you want to be absolutely sure that you pick the right one before investing months of your life. That means you need to very carefully select a silencer that suits your needs.

Silencers are designed to quiet the emissions from a specific caliber or set of calibers. The 762-SDN-6 from AAC, for example, is specifically designed for 7.62 NATO ammunition. That means it can safely handle the emissions from that cartridge without bursting or being unsafe to the shooter. But if you were to put the silencer on a gun with a little more power to it (like, say, 7mm Rem Mag) it may not be strong enough to contain the gasses and rupture. Trying to silence a 5.56 NATO rifle with a .22lr silencer would also have similarly idiotic results. If in doubt, the manufacturer will usually explicitly state the design capabilities of the equipment.

Therefore, the very first thing you need to do is figure out what the largest caliber you want to silence will be.

There is a “good news” side to this, though: silencers can handle lighter ammunition (both in terms of powder charge and bore diameter) with ease. That same can, the 762-SDN-6, can easily be fitted on a 5.56 NATO firearm and function correctly. Due to the difference in the diameter of the projectile the silencer won’t be quite as effective, but it will still help. Some.

Another consideration you need to make is how you plan to attach the silencer to the host weapon. Most AR-15 rifles are pre-threaded and have removable flash hiders installed on the muzzle, but most handguns and a lot of rifles either aren’t capable of accepting a silencer without a barrel change or are too thin to support the threads. For me, I fully admit that I ditched my favored Weatherby Vanguard Carbine as my primary hunting rifle because the barrel was too light to accept the proper threading.

The final consideration is for semi-automatic handguns. In order for most semi-autos to function they need to allow the barrel to move back and forth relatively freely, and slapping a chunk of metal on the end of the barrel will have a decidedly negative influence on this ability. Silencer manufacturers have developed a mechanism to allow the handgun to cycle properly, and it is commonly referred to as a “booster” (although AAC and others have some weird-ass name for it instead). The thing boils down to a spring loaded section of the silencer that allows the barrel to fully recoil before the weight of the silencer is added to the equation. If you have a tilting barrel design handgun you will need a booster, so be aware.

Silencers are notoriously difficult to buy, mainly because you can’t really try them before you buy them. But take it from someone who has fired more silencers than he can remember: they’re basically all the same. Find one that has the mounting options you want, a weight that you can live with, enough sound suppression to make you happy, and a length that you’re happy with and go for it.

Step 2 — Find a Dealer and the Short Wait

Now that you have a silencer all picked out and ready to go you need someone to transfer it to you. If you’re lucky enough to live down the block from a silencer manufacturer (who likes you) they might transfer it directly to you, but for the vast majority of us bums we will need a special type of FFL: an SOT.

SOT, or “Special Occupational Tax,” means that the dealer in question has paid a little extra to the ATF and in return they can transfer silencers to civilians. Regular FFLs can transfer silencers as well, but it takes a lot longer and is even more of a pain in the ass. So find an SOT.

If your SOT has the can in stock, REJOICE! If not, then they will have to get the can of your dreams from a distributor and that means some paperwork on their part.

Anytime a silencer transfers from one party to another, even if both of them are FFLs with SOTs and know the secret handshake, the ATF needs to get a form requesting the transfer and then approve it. The wait on this form is much shorter than the dreaded REAL wait, but it’s still a gigantic pain. Since there’s no background check or real work on the part of the ATF going on at this step they could computerize and automate this step, but they don’t. Because they’re idiots who hate us.

Once the forms come back for the initial transfer (or if you were lucky enough to have a dealer with one in stock) it’s time to fill out some paperwork.

Step 3 — Individual or Trust?

There are two ways to go about transferring a silencer so that you can use it: as an individual directly to you or to a trust in which you are a trustee.

The individual transfer is the “standard” method — the silencer is registered in your name, and you alone are allowed to own it. You personally are on the hook for the thing.

The other option is to transfer the silencer to a trust, which is a legal entity that can posess property in the United States. Since corporations are legally people in the eyes of the court the ATF is required to allow the transfer of silencers to trusts, which can be made up of either a single person or many people

The trust is THE WAY TO GO for silencers and any other NFA item, but being an idiot I decided to go the individual route. This guide will walk you through the process of purchasing a silencer as an individual, with another article to follow on transferring a silencer to a trust to follow after I talk to some lawyers.

Step 4 — Completing the Form 4

The ATF loves to assign numbers to their forms. Form 1 to make a firearm, form 4473 to transfer a non-NFA item, and a form 4 for the transfer of an NFA item. It looks daunting at first, but I’m going to take you line by line through this document.

NOTE: This form must be submitted IN DUPLICATE. If you filled it out from an online printout then you need to make sure you have two double-sided copies. If you sent away for the real deal from the ATF then it will come as a pre-perforated three sheet packet, the third sheet being the instructions (which you don’t need to submit — they already know that stuff).

Keep in mind, this is to transfer the silencer to an INDIVIDUAL. Just a helpful note, I filled out the application in all capitol letters and the ATF investigator seemed to appreciate the gesture.

  • 1. You need to check the box for the $200 stamp. $5 stamps are for a different type of registered NFA item, but silencers require the whole $200.
  • 2a. Your full legal name and home address.
  • 2b. The county in which your home address is a part.
  • 3a. The full legal name and address of your FFL or person transferring the silencer to you. Typically your FFL will helpfully fill this part out for you, but if not just make sure you get the legal name of the FFL correct.
  • 3b. The telephone number (including area code) of the FFL or person transferring the silencer.
  • 3c. If you are trying to transfer this silencer from a recently deceased member of your family (or anyone else) include their name, address and date of death here.
  • 3d. This is for if you are transferring the item to a trust or entity and you don’t live at the same place where the entity is registered. Like if you’re transferring the silencer to a gun shop you own but you don’t live on the premises.
  • 4a. The name of the entity that originally manufactured the silencer. This information is legally required to be engraved on the silencer somewhere, so copy down exactly what they put. Or, more accurately, what was on the paperwork (form 3) when the silencer was transferred to your FFL.
  • 4b. The type of NFA item being transferred. As much as you want to call it a suppressor or a can, the ATF needs you to write “silencer” in the box.
  • 4c. The caliber of the silencer. If it’s a shotgun silencer put the gague it was designed to work with.
  • 4d. The model of the silencer. Again, copy it exactly as what was on the paperwork (form 3) when the silencer was transferred to your FFL.
  • 4e. This is asking for barrel length, assuming you are transferring a machine gun or short barreled rifle or something. A silencer does not have a barrel (unless its an integrally suppressed thinger) so put “N/A” here.
  • 4f. The overall lenth of the silencer, measured from the extreme forward edge to the extreme rear edge.
  • 4g. The serial number exactly as written on the silencer.
  • 4h. This is just in case you wanted to further describe the thing. Not required.
  • 5. If you have an FFL this is where you would write your information. I’m going to assume you don’t have one, and even with my type 3 FFL I didn’t put anything. So unless you are a firearms dealer leave this one blank.
  • 6. If you had an SOT this is where you would put your information. Again, not going into this for the average joe.
  • 7 & 8. Need to be completed by your FFL/SOT. If they can’t figure it out then you might have a problem.
  • 9. This question is asking if your FFL/SOT is willing to share the information on the form with you, the person getting the shiny new can. They need to circle “do.”
  • 10, 11, 12. The signature, full name, title and date of the principal owner of the FFL/SOT. In other words, the actual guy whose name is on the license.
  • 13 & 14. Just like the questions on a form 4473 when you pick up a new rifle, except the answer to every sincle question needs to be “no.” Place a mark in that box. Unless, of course, you meet one of those criteria in which case you got some ‘splaining to do.
  • 15. Section 15 consists of three things to fill out: your name, the reason you want the silencer, and your signature. The ATF wants to know why you would want such an item in your posession, but in reality as long as you don’t put “mass murdering spree” you should be fine. There was a streak of Form 4s that went in a while ago with things like “chicks dig silencers” and “zombies” in this field and got approved, but I hear through the grapevine that the ATF is putting the brakes on that. To be safe I put “hearing protection,” but others indicate “all legal reasons” as a good phrase to write.
  • 16. You’re going to need two passport sized photographs for the ATF to look longingly into your eyes as they approve your tax stamp. Standard passport photos are perfect — you don’t even need to tell the nosy photographer what they’re really for if you don’t want.
  • 17. Chief Law Enforcement Officer sign-off. Let me break this one out into its own section…

Step 5 — Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) Sign-Off

Those of you who have an FFL (03 for curios and collectors, for example) already know about the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, but this form acts just a tad differently from the usuals.

The Chief Law Enforcement Officer is the head honcho for the police force for the COUNTY (or strange local equivalent) in which you reside. For me, that was Sheriff Stan Barry out in Fairfax County, VA.

The ATF requires that you have the CLEO for your home county physically put pen to paper and sign your forms before you can get your silencer. For those with an FFL normally we’re required to notify the CLEO by sending him a copy of the paperwork and a love note and the ATF requires no interaction on the CLEO’s part, but for an NFA item they need his John Hancock.

The idea behind the CLEO sign-off is that if you are a known troublemaker the CLEO has the ability to keep you from getting your silencer. The background check will turn up criminal convictions and arrests and stuff like that, but for those who are constantly getting a “slap on the wrist” from Johnny Law this is their opportunity to keep you from getting something more dangerous.

While the intentions of the requirement are noble, the execution is downright dictatorial. Some counties (like Fairfax) sign off on every form 4 that comes across their desk after a quick check of their records. Other counties (like Arlington, just next door) refuse to sign off on any NFA paperwork. At all. No ammount of whining and ganshing of teeth will make them change their stance. It has turned the CLEO sign-off into a de facto ban on NFA registration in non-NFA friendly counties.

There is a way around it, however: the trust.

For some complex legal reasons which I have not the faintest idea where to start researching, trusts do not need to get a CLEO sign off. They also don’t need to submit a photograph. Nor do they submit fingerprints. Some say that trusts also get approved quicker for transfers. It’s like the express lane for NFA item transfers. But more on that later.

In short, you need your CLEO to sign off on your papers. Both of them. The best option is to schedule a meeting to meet the CLEO face to face, but for the larger counties they may have some sort of bureaucratic process to take care of the sign-offs. Like Fairfax, where you submit the paperwork at the local county lock-up (a not so subtle allusion to where you’re going to go if you screw up?) and they mail you the completed forms in about a week.

Remember: you CANNOT submit your Form 4 to the ATF until your CLEO has signed off on the paperwork. In most cases, the CLEO will not mail your Form 4 directly to the ATF for you — you need to do that yourself.

Step 6 — Fingerprints

For individuals, the ATF requires you to submit TWO sets of fingerprints together with your duplicate forms. Having been fingerprinted more times than I can remember (service members and other former government employees can figure out why) its actually a pretty painless process.

You can’t take your own fingerprints. Well, you can, but its a pain in the ass. I have fond memories of practicing back in criminology class and getting quite good. The best method is to have your fingerprints taken by a properly equipped local police force using the standard FBI 10-print card. The ATF is nice enough to supply these through their website if you’re willing to wait a couple weeks for delivery, or your local LEOs may have a few on hand for you.

The actual process for being fingerprinted will vary by the specific department, but the best way to find out the process is by calling. NOT 911, call the non-emergency number they list on their website. In Arlington there are enough people being fingerprinted on a given day that they have a dedicated area of the office and staff detailed for that specific reason (they open at 1:30 PM Monday through Friday, by the way — get there early).

Keep in mind that you need two original cards, not one original and a photocopy.

Step 7 — Mail but Verify

It is your responsibility to mail off the forms, along with a check or other acceptable form of payment and all required documents, to the ATF.

In addition to the Form 4 and things listed on it, the ATF asked me to submit a “Certificate of Compliance” form, which basically states that you certify that you are not a nonimmigrant alien. It seems like every form I’ve submitted to the ATF this year (FFL renewal included) has required one of these, so I would print one out and send it in with your application just to be on the safe side. Here’s the document on the ATF’s website. This only needs to be done for individuals, not trusts.

Your packet to the ATF should include the following documents:

  • Completed Form 4 including CLEO sign-off (2 copies)
  • Completed FBI 10-print card (2 copies)
  • Passport photos (2 copies)
  • Certificate of Compliance
  • Check or Money Order for $200 payable to “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives”

Before you seal that up, make a note of your silencer’s serial number. Trust me, it will come in handy. You’ll see in a second.

Now you need to send all of that to the following address:

National Firearms Act Branch
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
P.O. Box 530298
Atlanta, GA 30353-0298

If you don’t have all of the documents required to complete the transfer it may be months before you find out, so make double sure before sending it.

Step 8 — Indirect Observation

At this point the stamp is out of your hands. Right now it will take about 6 months for you to get your forms back from the ATF, and there is almost no way to know how long the wait is going to be. Almost.

Starting about a week after you mail your forms you can start calling the NFA branch at (304) 616-4500 to check on your application. They will ask for the serial number of the silencer, your name and the name of the entity (gun shop) transferring you the silencer. They will then tell you your application’s status.

Your application will progress through the following stages:

  • Check Cashed – They won’t actually tell you this one, but you can find out form your bank. This is a great indicator that they have your forms in hand.
  • Pending – They have your application and it is in line.
  • Approved – Your stamp has been issued.

If your application has an issue (like you forgot the Certificate of Compliance) the application will enter a “problem” status and the NFA Branch operator will be happy to tell you how to fix the issue. Or, at least, mine was. Your mileage may vary.

Each change in status will be associated with a date. For example, my forms were “Pending October 21″ for the longest time. You can use this date along with a wonderful website called nfatracker.com (where other applicants post their statuses and dates on NFA paperwork) to try and get an idea about when your stamp will be issued.

If you look at the latest “Approved” entries in their database you can see approximately when their applications first entered “Pending” status and determine based on your own “Pending” date how long the wait is. I also highly recommend you enter your data into the database as well, as more entries will give a better idea for others of what the wait time looks like.

Try not to annoy the operators — they’re nice people and they get lots of calls. Limit yourself to one call a month for the first four months, then one call a week after that at most.

Your application will be assigned to one of the examiners on staff, and while they won’t tell you the name of the examiner there’s a good chance the examiner will give you a call to chat if they find something odd or need clarification.

Step 9 — The Momentous Occasion Has Arrived

At some point, if you’ve led a good life, your stamp will be issued. It will be mailed, attached to ONE copy of your Form 4 and cancelled by the examiner (like cancelling a stamp when you mail a letter), directly to your gun shop or the person who is transferring you the silencer. It WILL NOT come to you.

When you pick up the silencer from your gun shop, you will need to fill out a form 4473 just like any other time you buy a gun. Except this time you don’t need to have a NICS check performed on you — you just sign the 4473 and away you go. After you pay the FFL, that is.

Step 10 — Cover Your Ass

IMMEDIATELY make five copies of the completed Form 4. One copy will always stay with the silencer, preferably attached with a rubber band. The others you will stash strategically around your home in places where you will never lose them. The original goes in a safety deposit box somewhere.

Why the copies and safety deposit box? Because your ass is on the line. Possession of an NFA item without ATF registration and approval is a HUGE no-no, and the ATF’s registry (by their own admission in a court of law) is so poorly maintained and full of holes that it is basically unusable. It’s up to you to prove that you’re the legally registered owner of that silencer, which means you need the paperwork.

Everywhere you go with the silencer, you need at least one copy of the Form 4. Technically only ATF agents can request to see it, but local law enforcement and range officers love to bust people’s balls by requiring to see a copy of the paperwork anytime they see an NFA item. In those situations it is easier to comply and let them see the paperwork, so let them have a peek. The actual letter of the law doesn’t require you to have the paperwork on your person (merely readily available somewhere), but I think it’s a good idea to always have a copy.

You don’t need to inform the ATF when you travel with your silencer (machine guns and other NFA items need prior ATF approval to move across state lines), but you do need to let them know when you move your permanent address. The form is quick and painless, but you need to remember to do it.

 

That’s it — that’s all there is to buying a silencer.

[Email your firearms-related questions to “Ask Foghorn” via guntruth@me.com. Click here to browse previous posts]

avatar

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!

48 Responses to Ask Foghorn: How to Buy a Silencer

  1. avatarHenry Bowman says:

    Holy Sh!t. Yeah, there’s no “unduly burdensome” restrictions here.
    Nothing to see. Move along.

  2. avatarMatt in FL says:

    “The trust is THE WAY TO GO for silencers and any other NFA
    item, but being an idiot I decided to go the individual route.”

    When I saw your name on the Form 4, I wondered about this. Was it
    just because you weren’t fully aware of NFA trusts when you
    originally purchased it?

  3. avatarMrCrispy says:

    Maybe there is an obvious and logical answer to this but as I’ve
    never seen it explicitly stated, I thought I’d ask: Is this
    something you have to go through for each and every silencer? After
    I’ve bought one and have gone through all the steps and such, is
    the next silencer easier or it the same hell every time?

  4. avatarfeffrey says:

    Another question, if you live a state that allows silencers, then
    you travel into a state that does not allow them and go shooting is
    that illegal?

    • Yes, but its a state level crime and not a federal crime.

    • avatarTTACer says:

      related question-if you are going from a state that allows them, to
      a state that allows them but you have to traverse a state that
      doesn’t, how do you get them there? Ship to FFL? Ship to yourself?
      drive? fly?

      • avatarBigBeluga says:

        Per the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, you can drive right
        on through states that do not allow them per the “Safe Passage”
        provision, which shields you if you are just passing through a
        state with strict firearms laws on the way to a place where they
        are legal.

      • avatarFirearmconcierge says:

        It is actually unlawful for an FFL to recieve it without good
        cause. You can ship a gun to an FFL for the sake of shipping a gun
        to them but possession for the sake of possession of an NFA device
        is unlawful.

      • avatardcviper says:

        Supposedly as long as you are merely transporting, Federal law
        protects you.

  5. avatarAWW says:

    Great article! Another great example of how ridiculously
    law-abiding citizens are treated by the Federales. Huge fan of
    TTAGs!

  6. avatarry_ry says:

    “Silencer manufacturers have developed a mechanism to allow the
    handgun to cycle properly, and it is commonly referred to as a
    “booster” (although AAC and others have some weird-ass name for it
    instead). The thing boils down to a spring loaded section of the
    silencer that allows the barrel to fully recoil before the weight
    of the silencer is added to the equation. If you have a tilting
    barrel design handgun you will need a booster, so be aware.” -
    Nielsen Device?

    • avatarFirearmconcierge says:

      Nielsen Device is correct. Most people won’t know what that is so
      the term is used less frequently and instead “recoil booster” is
      what the kids say.

  7. avatarJoe Grine says:

    “but local law enforcement and range officers love to bust people’s
    balls by requiring to see a copy of the paperwork anytime they see
    an NFA item.” I live in Oregon, and I have never been ask to show
    paperwork pertaining to any of my NFA items. I’m surprised to hear
    that this is not the case in other jurisdictions. If a range
    officer (as opposed to a LEO) did ask to see my paperwork, I’d
    probably tell him to piss off.

  8. avatarStacy says:

    I can believe some of the rizzos in the Fairfax area engaging in
    ball busting. They’re especially uptight at the NRA HQ, though I
    can imagine their reasons there. Painful, yes. Even the C&R is
    obnoxious, but it’s just paperwork. What kills me is the idea of
    paying $200 every. single. time. Unfortunately even deliberately
    burdensome regulations comport just fine with due process and equal
    protection, as long as all citizens are equally burdened.

    • avatarElliotte says:

      While the $200 is a pain in the butt, especially for those of us
      trying to justify the cost to a spouse, the worst part of the
      process is how long it takes. 6 months? There is no way it should
      take that long to process the application, run a background check,
      check fingerprints, etc. I know the whole reason is the volume and
      backlog, but they should hire more examiners to speed things up. I
      wonder how much of any increase in applications the would see if
      the time requirement was cut down to 1-2 months?

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Just to play Devil’s Advocate here, be glad that the cost of the
      tax stamp hasn’t increased with inflation. It was $200 when the NFA
      was written in 1934, and it remains $200 to this day. Current
      values vary based on which inflation calculator you use, but you
      wouldn’t be far off with an estimate of about $3400 in today’s
      dollars, if the tax had kept up with inflation.

  9. avatarHulley says:

    I’m still waiting on my form 4 (silencer) and Form 1 (SBR), its
    been a few days past 6 months. When I get the Form 4 back that will
    give me confidence to buy a few more cans, until then I’ll keep
    waiting. If the process was a simple as a background check and pay
    $200 for stamp and I could get it right there I would feel much
    better. Oh well, all the fun things take more effort.

  10. avatarChainsawWieldingManiac says:

    Yet another reason to not go with a 14.5″ pinned AR-15.

  11. avatarSkyler says:

    Like any sane person, I’d like to have silencers, but the burden of
    this nonsense makes it unappealing, and then the liability for
    having one makes it positively repellent to me. I’ll wait for them
    to amend the firearms laws. I can feel it coming.

    • avatarFirearmconcierge says:

      What liability?

      • avatarSkyler says:

        The liability of the ATF bashing down my door because my name is on their list. Or the liability of not having the proper paperwork at any given time and some busy body police or federal agent demanding to see my papers. I just can’t be bothered. I’ll wait for the repeal of the NFA.

        • avatarJoe Grine says:

          “I’ll wait for the repeal of the NFA.” Good luck with that.

  12. avatarGreg P. says:

    Great writeup. Here’s a few things I wanted to point out:

    “Starting about a week after you mail your forms you can start calling the NFA branch at (304) 616-4500 to check on your application.” Calling a week in typically won’t give you any results. What I usually do is monitor my bank account to watch for the check to be cashed, which tells me they’ve received my paperwork, and then call around a month in, by which time I’m usually pending. Once pending, I try to forget about it, as that’s pretty much the beginning of the long wait. There’s really no use calling for at least 4-5 months after you find you go pending. “Your application will be assigned to one of the examiners on staff, and while they won’t tell you the name of the examiner…” I’ve never had someone answering the phone resist telling me the name of my examiner, they’re always glad to answer that question. Did you have a different experience?

    Regardless, pending the training of new/temporary examiners, it’s actually easy to find what examiner you’ll get, as they’re (as of July 2011) assigned by state: Nicole Dudash IL, IN, OH, PA Chris Farris AK, CT, MA, ME, MI, NH, RI, VT Ann Feltner AZ, CA, NM, NV Jason Frushour CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WI, WY Sara Jones LA, TX Albert Lamberger AL, FL, TN Dana Pickles DE, KY, MD, NC, NJ, NY, VA, WV Suzanne Santamaria GA, SC William Shipman AR, HI, IA, KS, MN, MO, MS, NE, OK Sandra Snook ID, OR, WA (Source:
    http://www.nfatca.org/pubs/NFA_Assignment.pdf)

    “You don’t need to inform the ATF when you travel with your silencer (machine guns and other NFA items need prior ATF approval to move across state
    lines)” AOWs do not require this approval as well as suppressors, but all other NFA items do.

  13. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    Holy crap, it’s a good thing I like loud guns. Shooting a really loud gun at a bad guy gets the point across much better than something that sounds like a BB gun.

  14. avatarboardsnbikes says:

    If one’s intent is to build a silenced SBR, can you send the two Form 4 application (one for the SBR and one for the silencer) at the same time? If budget constraints restrict me to one Form 4 first, is it better to start with the SBR or with the silencer? For me, the equipment costs are about the same so my question leans toward the legality of the order and quickness of the approval.

    • avatarChainsawWieldingManiac says:

      You can send in as many forms at once as you want. I usually use separate envelopes, of course. I have 4 form 1s and a form 4 in processing right now… it really sucks to wait, especially when the ATF is holding onto a thousand bucks of my money and I’ve got a couple grand of parts lying around doing nothing. (Note: constructive possession is avoided.) If all my love of both were equal, between the SBR or silencer, I’d lean towards the SBR, simply because there’s a lot more ways to get in trouble with having parts on hand with those. Better to clear it out of the way ASAP.

  15. I am surprised that your dealer had you fill out the paperwork. Did they check it over before it was sent out? I do all the paperwork for my customers…it is already a long wait, why add time for some trivial error? On calling, it will do no good to call them constantly (your dealer should be calling and keeping you informed of your status). Once they say pending, just forget about it for at least 120 days. They receive about 10,000 calls a month checking on status of Form 4 and Form 1 applications.

  16. avatarTom says:

    I never understood why Silencers are an NFA item. If a person wanted to kill someone with a quiet firearm weapon, .22 shorts fired out of a rifle makes little noise.

  17. avatarCharlie says:

    How do you legally dispose of one if you move from an NFA friendly state to an unfriendly one?

    • You can leave the item in a safe deposit box in the original state, you can sell the item to a dealer or another citizen or you can turn the item over to law enforcement.

  18. avatarSean Guerin says:

    “A silencer (also known as a suppressor, but both the inventor and the ATF call it a “silencer”) is a special type of tube that is placed on the end of your barrel and quiets the noise produced by the round going off.” Hate to be that guy but “end of your barrel and quiets the noise”, “and” should be “that”.

  19. avatarJohn says:

    Does keeping an e-copy of your Form 4 on your smart phone count as having a copy?

  20. avatarFrankInFL says:

    Can I just order a threaded barrel from the manufacturer?

    • Yes, you can order threaded barrels from manufacturers and after market (Storm Lake, Lone Wolf, etc). It must be legal in your state to have a threaded barrel on your firearm…some states have restrictions.

  21. avatarMikeyO says:

    Great write-up Nick. I look forward to your article on NFA Trusts. Here in Volusia County, FL, the trust is the only way to go. The sheriff here will NOT sign off on any applications. He even refuses to sign off on applications submitted by his deputies.

  22. avatarJim Barrett says:

    To answer Foghorn’s question on why a Trust does not need LEO signoff, a photo, or fingerprints, its because the Trust is an entity that does not have a record, can’t be photographed (unless you want to be cute and send in a photo of the trust document itself), and has no fingerprints. Essentially, the LEO cannot render a verdict on the Trust. A trust works like a corporation in this case – essentially, the people behind the trust (the trustees) are separate and distinct from the trust itself. That said, the
    trust document defines who can be a trustee and explicitly excludes anyone who would not legally be able to own a firearm (so you can’t use a trust to get around a personal felony conviction or something similar). Foghorn’s followup article will no doubt discuss filling out Form 4 in more detail or you can refer to the writeup I did a couple of weeks ago on the subject, but basically the process is very similar to the one used for personal purchases except that instead of the LEO signature, fingerprints, and photo, you need to submit copies of your notarized trust document.

  23. avatarBimbam says:

    Everyone (citizen in good standing) should have a silencer paid for by the government for environmental reasons, like noise. It should be free for everyone in good standing with minimal or no paper work and should be commonly available at Wal-Mart.

    The amount of paperwork to obtain one currently tells me the government is deathly afraid of its citizens owning one. Because it prevents them from carrying out tyranny on its citizens who have elected them.

  24. avatarJed says:

    Great article Nick! Did you ever post the other article on Transferring a Silencer To a Trust?

  25. avatarKerry says:

    Hello Nick,
    Sorry for asking the same question but I am looking for a way to do this and you did such a great job on this one so here I go. Did you ever post the other article on Transferring a Silencer To a Trust? Thank you very much.

  26. avatarkabir says:

    hi,I need a silencer for 3.2 pistol,how can I get it?

  27. avatarjon says:

    But “WHY” is a tax stamp is required? That’s not explained. The gun’s already paid for with background check, there is no reason for those MOFOs to charge an additional $200 for farting around.

  28. avatarjon says:

    I read somewhere online that my county CLEO would sign off without any problem – then I was told by someone that they absolutely would not because they don’t want any liability. It seems my only way is to get a Trust; but hoooleey crap, are they expensive!

    200 for the stamp + 600 for the suppressor + 200 for the trust – I essentially have to pay another $200 just so I can pay the ATF $200! WTF!?! Damn, by the time all is paid for, I will have paid $1000!!!

    There’s got to be a better and cheaper way!

  29. avatarAndy E says:

    Everything, anymore, all boils down to money and/or liability. Why the tax stamp? Makes money and lets the Govt keep track of its people. I do wish I could get a silencer. There are some guys who designed a way to use oil filters for cars as silencers. They adapted the thread from the barrel to the oil filter. Look it up, they’re really affordable last I heard.

  30. avatarKevin H says:

    I bought a SWR SpecWar 5.56 can from silercershop.com (they are in Texas, I live in Okla) on 9/3/2013 for 550.00 and free shipping. My local FFL received it 10/04/2013 after BATF transfer approval on 10/02/2013. Local FFL charged me 60.00 for the transfer fee and to set up a family trust for the can and a 14.5″ SBR. He also helped me fill out the form 1 for the SBR and form 4 for the can. Mailed the two forms, the trust, and the two 200.00 money orders on 10/17/2013. Both forms went pending with the BATF on 12/17/2013. Then I did what he advised, it was hard but I did it, forget about it. He called me on 07/07/2014 and told me he had the tax stamp on my can. Who said you can’t have Christmas in July. Still waiting on the SBR stamp, but it will be mailed to me. Hope this helps with some idea of wait times on paper trust submissions. If the BATF ever gets the e-file system back up wait times have been cut down to around three months. So if you are thinking about buying a can it might be worth the wait for the BATF to get the e-file system back up and running before you do. Much better way to go.

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.