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The folks at 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, 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.

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  1. My biggest issue with nfa items is the dramatic legal requirements. I don’t want to go to prison for not memorizing an encyclopedias worth of laws.

    • You have to know an encyclopedia of laws with title 1 firearms already. NFA is super simple. Don’t cross state lines with SBRs, SBSs, or MGs without ATF approval, don’t take NFA firearms to non-NFA states and notify them of address changes and any changes to your registered items.

      • Crossing state lines doesn’t require approval, it requires informing them. But nobody does that anyway.

        The most important rule is make many copies of your stamped form. Keep a copy in each gun bag, your glovebox, your locker at the range, etc. On the off chance you encounter an ATF agent, you need to be able to produce that paperwork on the spot.
        And keep the original in a very safe place. I don’t know exactly what happens if you lose it, but I doubt it’s an enjoyable or inexpensive procedure.

        • Actually only suppressors don’t need notification, but you do need ATF approval to cross state lines with an MG, SBR or SBS. As for losing your approved form, the NFA can send you a replacement certified copy for free. You just have to ask.

  2. I renewed my 03FFL recently. It took ten days, and that includes the postal round trip and an intervening Sunday. Maybe the ATF is becoming generally more responsive. It should. Every time we submit something to them, it gets added to their impressive database. Hell, they should be paying us.

    • My last 03FFL renewal was about 10 days. My current one is already running at three weeks but they did finally cash my check.

    • I’ve heard that time line on 03s from a few different people. I thought it was a typo at first.

  3. I file as an individual. They seem to be pumping out the trusts, not the individuals. I think that is unfair. I am sure trusts are quicker and easier to input and review then all the accompanying documents for individuals and that is why the researchers and examiners seem to be ignoring them. I would think they would prefer individuals over trusts. After all, that is what that whole 41p was about. Making trusts more like individuals.

    • Trusts don’t require the fingerprint and backgound check, so they should process more quickly. That said, there should not be more that a 1-2 week delta btween trust and individual

    • Trusts and Individuals are put into the same stack, processed at the same rate. NFA Tracker is only as good as the information that’s put in there. Hell, I could go in and put my submittal and approvals at a week, on 30 items and it shows a trend. It’s a BS trend, but everyone thinks that the NFA branch is processing stuff in a week….

  4. Poo-poo-ca-ca. Purchased beginning of Feb. using electronic, took six months. A better question, to me, would be WTF do they DO for 6-12 months? A NICS check takes minutes, what else is even available, and WHY is it necessary? NFA needs total repeal, this is stupid, and the original goal was to make it unaffordable anyway, that is no longer true, so repeal it!

    • They probably do something asinine like run the same NICS check every day for a month or two, then put your application back in the archive for a month, then have someone else spell check it and grade your grammar fifty times, put it back in the archive to ‘ferment’ for another month, then play Rock Paper Scissors to see who wants to actually submit the approval. Trouble is, there’s only two guys working the approved form booth and one of them is sick all the time, so the other guy has nobody to play Rock Paper Scissors with, so it doesn’t get approved for weeks. At least that’s how I envision a reluctant, bureaucratic agency (not) operating.

  5. Looking on M4C’s NFA forum, Form 4s do seem to be around 4 months now. I’m expecting 5 or 6 for my can, personally. I cut out some time by making sure my dealer/range had the can on hand and in stock. Plus I get to visit in the interim. But this is good news.

    • Don’t you love the fact you have to submit an “application” to exercise your rights?

      • Yes. of course. I really enjoyed paying $400 so Obozo could play another round of golf. /sarc. Getting real though, that is the law that we have to live with until we can get it overturned. I saw an article, on here I think, about a lawsuit seeking to over turn the various firearms act. They were seeking crowd funding.

  6. I did two Form 1s via E-File in late July, and had both approved 23 days later. That was pretty awesome.

    While I still think the NFA is total BS, at least my rights are being “less infringed” with lower wait times, so that’s good.

  7. SilencerCo has a deal where you buy a Harvester 7.62 and get a Spectre II .22LR for $99.00.
    I jumped all over that deal !!! I was just looking for an excuse to get a 7.62 can and a dedicated 22LR can and the Silencer Shop (or more likely SilencerCo) gave me the nudge I needed. That basically pays for the stamp on the second can. Yahoo!

  8. Still waiting 100+ days for a F’ing Form3 to just send the damn suppressor from an out-of-state licensed FFL to my licensed dealer in NC.

    Lesson learned….don’t buy an out-of-state suppressor no matter how good of deal you get.

  9. Timely post. I filed back in March for a suppressor via trust. At that time, 9 months was the waiting period that was the norm. Imagine my surprise when I got a call about 3 weeks ago. About 5 months total for what I thought would take 9. I do believe it is getting better. Still have two in the queue for approval. Here’s to hoping they come sooner than I expected.

  10. Nick, curious as to the man-hours ATF spends to process a suppressor approval.

    Point being, at $200 a pop, is it a money maker for the ATF?

    If it is, it’s in their interest to man (or woman, or other) up and make a profit.

    • The ATF doesn’t see a dime of the $200 that’s paid tax for NFA items. That money is put into the General fund, not specifically allocated or obligated to any specific agency or department. Again, the ATF doesn’t get any direct funding as a result of NFA tax.

  11. Try getting a patent. I was just notified that it would be 26 months before an examiner would even open our application.

  12. So if the ATF cashes your check, does that mean the stamp was processed? Mine was cashed in less than 30 days.

    • Nope. They take your money right away, and process later. Your check will be cashed as soon as they get their hands on it.

  13. All this tells me is that the BS amount of time for submitted forms has been artificially inflated by lack of funds from the higher ups (possibly Eric Holder, who knows at this point).

  14. My biggest issue with NFA items is the CLEO signoff in Miami Dade county is impossible and I don’t feel/know enough about the Trust Route (which will soon be closed as a “loophole” thx Obama).

    • Which means you should get on your horse and get the trust filed now.
      It’s not that hard at all…GIYF.

    • The trust route is easy, and if the wait is down right now this is the time to act. Bought a 22lr one a month or so ago, would be awesome if it only took 3 months to clear. There really shouldn’t be a wait if you’ve already got a couple tax stamps in your safe.

  15. Yea well i dont see times coming down, been waiting since the middle of January on a form 4 efile and another paper form 4 since April.

  16. Form 4 through my trust on paper went pending in July and check was cashed December 2013. Phone call to ATF told me should be here in September. I keep checking the mailbox, and it still ain’t here.

  17. My recent paper Form 4 (trust) was approved in FOUR months; from the check cashed date to the approval stamp date on the form. I was in total shock for a few days.

  18. I’m not convinced it was all about having more staff. Since the SB15 wrist brace was approved, with the subsequent declaration that the BATF wasn’t capable of preventing their “misuse” by holding them to the shoulder, pistol builds have accelerated and the word is getting out.

    PIstols have numerous aspects of free use, where SBR’s are restricted in ownership, use, carry, transportation, even sale. What the shooting public is coming to understand is that the pistol is the better deal – by lacking a stock, it avoids much of the onerous oversight that the short barrel rifle, identical in all other aspects, has to suffer.

    With that in mine, who needs to pay for a restricted privilege when you can avoid the hassle and do more with it? Seems like a no brainer, but there are those who valiantly defend the system and declare it’s the better way to exercise ownership.

    Not so much. It’s really just a 80 year old revenue scheme to limit the rights of Americans.

  19. I’ve said it before but I’ll restate it for those curious.
    My second to last individual from four was sent Oct 2013 and approved May or June of 2014. There was a kickback to me which took a month to get corrected because the shop entered a number into barrel length on the form when it was a suppressor.

    My most recent NFA item, another individual form 4 for a SBR had its check cashed late June 2014. I am still optimistic I will get a call from the shop.

    I have a new Sheriff now, hope he is as easy going cause I want to get another can, the one from Silencerco that you can swap pistons out of.

  20. This is a total punch to the gut, my first suppressor purchase was 8/21 and they still haven’t cashed the damn check…

    • The check to the BATFE isn’t “cashed” like a normal check, it’s usually some form of electronic transfer. Check your bank statement for EBT or something else in the amount of $200, it’s not going to show as a “check cashed” (at least in my experience). If the shop paid the tax (you paid the shop), the shop should have a record of the same or show a receipt through

  21. Don’t believe it. NFA Tracker is being flooded hard with a lot of bogus data. Reality for a vast majority is nowhere close to these numbers.

  22. This info doesn’t seam correct. I bought a suppressor on a ‘form 4’ thru a trust in the begining of June 2014 and as of today (29/12/2014) have not gotten it.
    That is more than the claimed four (4) months!

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