The folks at NFATracker.com have for years now tracked how long it takes for NFA paperwork to be approved. They remain the best source of information about the NFA Firearms Branch of the ATF (since the ATF doesn’t really do the whole metrics thing). Ever since a spike in applications in the last couple years forced the department to finally hire some more staff we’ve been waiting with bated breath for the wait times to come down from their 14 month peak (as in, 14 months for a paper form 4…from the moment you sent it in to an approved stamp). According to a new chart from NFATracker.com, that prodigious wait time has dwindled to 30 days . . .
Albeit that 30 day figure is only for Form 1 applications submitted through the E-File system, but even Form 4 wait times appear to be down to about 4 months flat (120 days).
The trend line is dramatic, dropping straight off a proverbial cliff about a year ago and trending down ever since. It’s indicative of the fact that the ATF is finally catching up on their paperwork and we might finally be getting to a point where NFA forms are approved as they come in rather than lingering in massive piles in the hallways for months, waiting for five or so people to finally get to them.
The waiting time for NFA paperwork is by far the biggest hurdle for new shooters to get into the world of the $200 tax stamp. The cost of the stamp itself is no longer much of an issue, but the prospect of spending $700 to $1,400 on an item and then being unable to actually use it for over a year can be a dealbreaker. As the waiting times come down I expect that mental barrier to entry to disappear, and the flood gates of new NFA buyers to open up.
Heads up to gun companies: NOW is the time to come out with those new cans.