Part of the experience of buying a silencer used to be the time you’d spend on hold with the ATF’s NFA branch to check on the status of your pending permission slip. You would sheepishly ask if your stamp had been issued yet, and if the stars were sufficiently aligned just right and you had led a good and virtuous life, then the answer you hoped for would come down the line that your stamp would arrive within weeks. Now it appears that with the increasing workload on the NFA branch and generally decreasing wait times, the NFA branch phone line has been shut down — for good . . .
Calling the well-known NFA branch phone number these days, you’ll be greeted not with the usually helpful and friendly staff, but instead by a computer offering a number of options for how to route your call. If you select the option for checking on an application, the automated message you receive is that the average wait time is six months. If you’ve already waited longer than that, you can leave a message with the promise that they’ll get back to you. Then again, the last time the ATF asked me to leave a number and promised to get right back to me was back in mid-January. Still no response. And that was from their press office.
The good news is that actual wait times are not, in fact, six months. According to NFATracker.com, the average wait time for a Form 4 these days is right around 90 days — backed up by examples posted on Reddit’s/r/NFA sub recently. So while the lack of phone responsiveness removes some clarity from a process already shrouded in mystery, in general things are getting better.
Or so I hope. I’m waiting on two Form 4s right now, and they can’t get here soon enough.