ATF Reveals The Number of Registered Machine Guns


Thanks to an addition slipped into to the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act, guns with giggle switches are beyond the reach of most civilians. While ostensibly legal to own, thanks to FOPA’s Hughes amendment, there’s been a de facto ban on civilian transfer or ownership of full-auto guns made after 1986. Never mind that they’ve virtually never been used in the commission of a crime. Be that as it may, have you every wondered how many machine guns are in the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record data base? Thanks to Jeff Follodor of the National Firearms Act Trade and Collectors Association we now know . . .

Jeff sent the following email to TTAG Central Command:

I see many writers on your site making statements about how many machine guns exist on the NFRTR.  To be sure, lots of folks have speculated on the number since NFATCA obtained the transferable number ~10 years ago from then NFA Branch Chief, Ken Houchens, at Knob Creek.  Back then, the transferable count was a little over 182,000.

For several years NFATCA has been “battling” DOJ/ATF for release of current numbers.  After a rejection and several well-fought appeals we have the numbers.  The total number on the books as of February 24, 2016 is just under a half million:

  • Pre 86 (transferables): 175,977
  • Sales Samples (pre May keepers): 17,020
  • Restricted 922(o) (posties): 297,667

There is a caveat in that there is a built in margin of error resulting from manual entries to disparate systems.  A copy of the FOIA response is here:

Jeff Folloder
Executive Director