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The following originally appeared at the Defense Firearms Blog and is reprinted here with permission.

This is the second part of “How to legally own an SBR” (short barrel rifle). The first part focused on the measurements and everything leading up to the paperwork. This part specifically covers SBRs, but can apply to short barrel shotguns, suppressors or other class III weapons. Once you have obtained the measurements and the basic information off of the firearm you want to convert to an SBR, you will now need to fill out the proper paperwork, or the ATF Form 1. There are basically two ways to do this, first is the primary way of obtaining your fingerprints and photograph for the Form 1, however, that may be an issue for some . . .

In order for the ATF to review and approve your Form 1, you must have approval (signature) from the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in your area. Depending where you live, this may not work as some CLEOs will not sign the form. That’s where you go to the second option, a Trust, or an NFA Trust.

An NFA Trust is a way for an individual to be in possession/control of an NFA item by putting it under another entity. The Trust will allow a person to be the Trustee, or controller of all items in the trust, i.e. all your NFA items. The best way to accomplish this is to contact a trust lawyer in your area who specifically does NFA Trusts. You only need to get one Trust for all of your NFA items so it is a one time deal.

Once you have your NFA Trust made, now you can get to work. Here is how you fill out the Form 1 using an NFA Trust. If you are permitted to own a Class III item as an individual then the paperwork is fairly simple and some of this article will still apply. Let’s go line by line on how to fill out the Form 1:

1: For most of us we will mark “a” as you will typically have to pay the $200 for the stamp.
2: For NFA Trusts, you will mark “Corporation or Other Business Entity”. This is because you are not buying it as an individual but as an entity, or Trust.
3a: If you are registering this as a business, you would fill this out, if not, leave blank.
3b: The applicant’s name is the name of your trust, for example “John Doe NFA Trust”. The address will typically be the Trustee’s address where the item/s will be stored.
3c: Self explanatory
3d: The county where the item will be stored.
3e: The main telephone number, most likely the Trustee.
4a: The name and location of the firearm should be on the receiver, (example: ABC Firearms Co, Tampa, Fl).
4b: Type of firearm made is an Short Barrel Rifle for the purpose of this article.
4c: Caliber, self explanatory.
4d: Model, self explanatory.
4e: Barrel length, self explanatory see the first article “How to Legally Own an SBR” to see how to measure lengths.
4f: Overall length, from tip of barrel to the end of the buttstock fully extended. Do not measure temporary parts of the firearms, i.e. flash suppressor or buttstock pad, these are not permanent fixtures.
4g: Serial Number: Self explanatory.
4h: Additional Information will be what you will have engraved on the firearm once you convert it legally to an SBR, this is required by the ATF. For this article you can put “John Doe NFA Trust, Tampa, FL”
4i: State why you intend to make firearm: Keep it simple, an example is “Personal and recreational use”.
4j: More than likely you will say no, if you are unsure read the definition with the Form 1 1k.
5: Odds are you are not an FFL, if you are you probably won’t need to read this anyway, leave blank if you are not an FFL.
6: Special Occupational Tax Stamp: Once again, if you are not an FFL, leave this blank. This also means for 6a and 6b.
7: Signature: Self explanatory.
8: If you are the Trustee an example will be “John Doe, Trustee”.
9: Date: Self explanatory.
10a-e: Self explanatory.
12: This is where you would affix your photograph if you are not using a Trust.
13: Once again, if you are permitted by the CLEO in your area to own an SBR or Class III weapon, they would fill this out. If not, you are using an NFA Trust and leave blank.

Once you fill out the Form 1, print off two copies and sign both. Additionally, you will print off a copy of your NFA Trust and submit with both copies of the Form 1.

In your NFA Trust, the the last page will typically be a “Schedule A”. This is where you list all properties or money that the trust owns. Your Trust should be “funded” before you send your application to the ATF. You should be able to put any piece of property or money in the Trust in order to fund it. If you want to put money in the Trust in order to fund it (for example $10), put the $10 in the Trust and list the $10 in the Schedule A as property owned by the Trust.

You should now have everything you need to mail off to the ATF:
-2 copies of your Form 1 signed
-1 Copy of your funded NFA Trust
-1 Check for $200 made payable to the Department of the Justice

Remember, this article only serves as a guide and in no way be taken as legal advice. Please consult proper legal consultation for proper advice regarding firearms and NFA laws. Additionally, if you see any inaccuracies in this article, please feel free to email, [email protected].

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  1. At least in Florida, there is no such statutory entity as an “NFA Trust” differentiated from any other generic trust to hold assets. While a trust intended to hold NFA items might benefit from the addition of certain provisions that trusts intended to hold other assets often lack, at the end of the day it is still a plain old trust under the law. I do not know the complete history of where the term “NFA Trust” came from, but I suspect it may have been invented as a marketing device? In any case, the ATF does not care if you have a “NFA Trust” versus any other valid trust under your state’s laws.

    Also, depending on your state, other entities, such as corporations might be considered. In Florida trusts are favored because, among other reasons, there is no annual state fee to maintain them as there is with a corporation.

  2. Just a heads up, I just talked to an ATF agent and the ATF now requires a Certification of Compliance form. ATF Form 5330.20 for a trust. Small detail, but having it can prevent a denial.

  3. What if a person isn’t shortening a longer rifle into a sbr… but instead lengthening a pistol into a sbr,.. (skorpion vz61) what would be the procedure then, as far as your measurement for the atf? If I can’t legally own the wire stock until I have form #1? How can I tell the atf an accurate length.. ? Really want a sbr skorpion, .. but all this seems so confused, convoluted. But I guess that’s what the atf really wants it to be anyway.

    • The process is the same for shortening a rifle as it is for adding a butt stock to a pistol.

      • Cain, I am just beginning this process. I want to take my recently legally purchased AR 10.5″ pistol w/ Sig Brace and convert to a SBR. In essence, just to be legal to shoulder the Sig brace or change the butt stock. Now, the question is, how exactly to do this and exactly what forms are needed, all forms. I will be forming a NFA Trust. If you know some detailed information it would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Just got my form 4 back from ATF, they said that section 4H was incorrect, I was under the impression that I could put what I wanted on the receiver, IE Gun trust . ATF said no it must appear as written on line 3b must have that name the city where it is kept written on the receiver. Just wanted to give a heads up. FYI this was for an SBR under a trust.

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