ATF NFA Branch Stops Answering the Phones


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, 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.


  1. avatar Noishkel says:

    Once again we see a solid reason to start removing things off the NFA lists. Far past time to waste everyone’s time by regulating suppressors and long guns that are ‘scary’.

    1. avatar Lee says:

      I agree. There is no good reason for the existence of the NFA or the ATF!

  2. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Well I must be cursed. The last form 4s I put in took 9 months and I finally got them in February. I have one at 6 months right now, and a form 1 efiled took them 2 months for them to notify me it was denied it because the word “the” was in front of the name of my trust. I just put 2 more form 4s in a week ago and I’ll resumbit my form 1 Monday. Only god knows how long those will be.

    1. avatar OODAloop says:

      Join the crowd. I had a Form 1 SBR denied because I *didn’t* put the “The” in the name of the trust. I guess that the good news is that it only took them 1 month to deny me the stamp. I’m currently at 3 weeks in the resubmitted Form 1, so I’m hoping for good things in another week. FWIW, I also have a Form 4 that’s been out since the beginning of October and really, really hope to get it back for an event in August…

    2. avatar Rambeast says:

      I guess it may depend on the ATF office you are working with and the form you are filing. When I put my name in the trust name field, it was corrected in about 24 hours. I was in email contact with the agent through the whole process. The refund on the initial application took 2 weeks, but the form 1 was in my inbox the next evening. I suppose paper filing is the culprit for you since my form 1 was e-filed.

  3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    There is no rational reason to “regulate” any of the National Firearms Act items.

    Aside from the fact that the law is unconstitutional, consider the supposed rationale for banning “regulating” these items and the failure of the rationale:

    Suppressors — supposedly embolden criminals to attack victims because no one will hear their gunshots. Problem: suppressors still result in VERY LOUD (rather than deafening) gunshots and taking away suppressors has no effect on the noise generated with alternate weapons like knives, swords, clubs, and fire. Additionally, criminals can create improvised suppressors with nothing more than steel wool and a tube made of plastic or metal.

    Short barreled rifles and shotguns — supposedly stop criminals from creating and using improvised handguns. Problem: criminals have no trouble whatsoever acquiring actual handguns and use them for almost all crimes where they use a firearm for their weapon. Furthermore, a criminal needs nothing more than a hacksaw and three minutes to saw the barrel off of a long gun to shorten it.

    Fully automatic firearms — supposedly limit criminals’ ability to shoot a lot of people in a short amount of time. Problem: criminals have no trouble acquiring semi-automatic firearms and can fire nearly as many shots in the same amount of time as a fully automatic firearm. Alternately, criminals can fire large caliber firearms and kill anywhere from 2 to 10 people with each round of ammunition (depending the age/size of the victims). Of course criminals can simply purchase full-auto firearms on the black market or simply modify any number of semi-automatic firearms to fire full auto.

    All of the rationale for the National Firearms Act of 1934 is demonstrably false and ineffective. It really must go away.

    1. avatar CA.Ben says:

      10 people per shot? What are you shooting, a 150mm howitzer?

      1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

        Well, he did say that criminals can fire large caliber firearms. Yeah, Beavis, lets case the local stop and rob with a Paladin self propelled howitzer. Hu, Hu, Hu. Right Butthead.

    2. avatar PPGMD says:

      Silencers were placed on the NFA not due to murders, because silencers were extremely primitive compared to today. But instead to prevent poaching.

      SBRs and SBSs were in the NFA because originally the NFA was meant to cover handguns as well, and they didn’t want people cutting down legal length rifles and shotguns into a concealable format. Handguns were removed from the NFA at the last minute, but no one thought to remove SBRs and SBSs as well.

    3. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      Fully automatic firearms — supposedly limit criminals’ ability to shoot a lot of people in a short amount of time. Problem: Criminals do not know how to use one and will spray everywhere wasting ammo and saving victims lives. So why is this an NFA item? Why is there an NFA in the first place?

  4. avatar Jeff says:

    That’s fine. I don’t need a tax stamp to assemble an SBR any way.

    1. avatar OODAloop says:

      No, no you don’t. However you might want to consider a Form 1 if you’d like to shoot it at a range or in public. Honestly, they’re too much fun to not want to shoot all the time…

      1. avatar Jeff says:

        When “at a range” or “in public” are both places where there are few people to see – and those who do see know not to ask too many questions – it doesn’t really matter.

        The ATF has really undermined any legitimacy they ever had in recent years. A lot of people don’t care to play their game any more.

        Why invite a criminal and corrupt agency into your life if you do not have to? If you don’t plan on getting caught, I say you’re better off avoiding them altogether
        I am not in that situation myself but I find myself increasingly agreeing with those who feel the same. If I wanted a Form 1in my state, my county CLEO will not even sign off on one, even though such an item is legal in the state. Form 4s and trusts are also under attack by the ATF and Obama admin

        1. avatar Stinkeye says:

          I don’t disagree with the general gist of your comment, but I will point out that almost every person who has ever been convicted of a crime “didn’t plan on getting caught”. Perhaps it would be smarter to do the opposite, and have a plan for if you do get caught.

    2. avatar Noishkel says:

      I would always suggest avoiding Imperial entanglements… it complicated things.

    3. avatar mike says:

      Sure, but how is an SBR any fun without a silencer or a happy switch?

  5. avatar Will P. says:

    We all agree that the NFA regulations are dated and useless, but at $200 a stamp they are making a killing right now. We are helping fund the fools that are trying to beat us down with more regulations. I’m sure the total income from tax stamps is just a small portion of the total ATF budget but still…

    1. avatar Jim R says:

      And as long as that gravy train keeps rolling, we’ll never see an end to the NFA.

      1. avatar Jake Tallman says:

        Indeed. I find it pretty damn frustrating that so many hardcore POTG vehemently denounce the ATF’s very existence, while bending over backward and opening up their wallets to comply with their idiotic laws. Nice bit of hypocrisy right there.

        1. avatar Rambeast says:

          An insurance policy protecting you from club fed has a lot to do with it.

        2. avatar BlueBronco says:

          If you haven’t figured it out, they love sending POTG to club Fed for a 10+ year vacation.

        3. avatar Bobby McKellar says:

          One thing about us “POTG”….we may not like the laws BUT we follow them because they are the law. I cherish my freedom so I fight them by proxy through the NRA-ILA other Pro 2A organizations that have been fighting them in the courts AND WINNING!
          I’ll pay the tax stamps and gripe about it, but I will obey the law because I am a responsible gun owner. We take the fight to them and do it right… much at the ATF has flouted and broken the law in the past, we will do no good for our cause at all by becoming like them!

    2. avatar FlyingElvis13 says:

      Sounds like a new strategy – Tax Reduction. Instead of fighting, just go for de-funding. How about asking our congress-critters to lower this onerous Tax to $2, because it is all done by computer now, and they don’t need the revenue. Then get BATFE to justify the Tax. At $2 each, I’d buy a bunch. We can go for elimination next…

  6. avatar Jon in CO says:

    Why are we not lobbying for removal of SBR’s at the very least from a registry, with the market full of AR/AK pistols. Nobody is talking about the absolute worthlessness of this legislation when the short barrel and OAL requirements have already been bypassed by such things. The addition of plastic at the end actually increases OAL. Maybe I’m just spitballing here, but I see a legitimate case for removal and an “unreasonable” burden on the law abiding citizen with such legislation.

  7. avatar BSB says:

    No need for the NFA items. Bottomline it doesn’t matter what the damn firearm looks like or sounds like when ya use it. Get rid of the NFA and just add an enhancement(or not) if its used unlawfully.

  8. avatar mike says:

    Seems like a fair trade to me! No live help line in return for just a 3-4 month wait.

  9. avatar Bobby says:

    90 days eh? My latest 2 F-4’s were approved on 2/9/15 and arrived in MY mailbox yesterday instead of my dealer’s. These two were submitted on the 6th of August, 2014 and are through my trust. Admittedly they were delayed approximately 3 weeks due to a needed correction….my full middle name wasn’t on the forms… that was SEVEN months from submission to approval. I’m not new to the NFA game by a long shot, I have several stamps in my collection. This is the first time that I have gotten a Form 4 mailed to ME vs the dealer….they certainly are not at the top of their game. But remember that this is a “Gubment Agency” we dealing with….nothing makes sense and they have ZERO motivation to do anything but the minimum amount required. (Not to mention that the climate there is not favorable towards those of us who like to exercise our 2A rights and see the process as completely unconstitutional to begin with).

  10. avatar Jorge Da Silva says:

    Relax people, the NFA branch has been snowed out by the storm.

  11. avatar Wow says:

    So…they pass a law restricting a GOD GIVEN CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT….and then they don’t want to address questions? i don’t care if there is a storm…they are the gov’t…put it in 4 wheel drive and get your but to work or stop passing laws infringing on our rights…

  12. avatar Dr. No says:

    They’ve stopped answering the phones because they’re sick of answering your dumb “Is it done yet????” questions.

    1. avatar BlueBronco says:

      Don’t take 9 to 13 months to do your damn job if you don’t want to get asked if you are doing your damn job.

      1. avatar SteveO says:

        Amen. And working on something that should not even exist in the first damned place.

  13. avatar PavePusher says:

    The “wait time” should be the time it takes to find and travel to a store that stocks what you want to buy.

    The BATFE should be cleansed with fire.

  14. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Subjects should not be allowed NFA items, but the NFA should not be allowed in the first place.

  15. avatar Zach says:

    Last form 1’s i put in were a month apart I got both approved at the same time 2 SBRs 38 days and 10 days

  16. avatar Morgan Gatorsee says:

    I was shocked when I called the ATF last week to get the automated message system. Left a voice mail, they called me back in under 10 minutes, then transferred me to the examiner where I left another voice mail where he then called me back in 10 minutes.

    I hope any day now I can take my item out of NFA jail…problem is my local store has two cans at a really good deal… I start the process all over again?

  17. avatar Justin says:

    Here’s crazy idea: Stop calling them and let them do whatever it is that they need to do to approve the forms. Annoying people is never the best way to get what you want. Everyone should already be aware that it takes a while to get NFA approval. You know this when you file the paperwork. Stop with the calling. And while youre at it stop with the stupid ass opinion letter requests. Ask a question enough times and youre eventually going to get an answer you dont want, i.e. Sig Brace. In short, be patient, be polite, and dont be a dumbass.

  18. avatar billy bob thorton says:

    First off, for all those that think calling the NFA somehow makes your wait longer for your stamp, need to realize that the workers answering the phones are contractors, not examiners. The contractors are there to answer your questions so the examiners can concentrate on their slackin. Good luck getting an examiner on the phone.

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