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What do 'Class 3' and 'NFA' mean?

The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) placed taxation and registration requirements on certain classes of firearms. These are referred to as Title II firearms. A dealer in these items pays a Class 3 tax stamp.

What firearms have to be registered?

Silencers, machine guns, shotguns with barrels of less than 18″, and rifles with barrels of less than 16″. There’s an additional catch-all category for oddball items known as Any Other Weapons (AOW).

How much is the tax?

For most items, it’s $200. For AOW’s, it’s $5.

What a rip! How often do I have to renew?

You don’t. It’s a one-time process.

Do I qualify to own one of these?

If it’s legal for you to own a regular firearm, it’s legal to own a Title II firearm. You just have to jump through some extra hoops.

What paperwork is involved?

It varies by item. Generally, you’ll need a Form 4 (BATFE 5320.4 Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm). We’ll complete part of the process, and we’ll walk you through the rest. Once it’s approved, you’ll get a stamp certifying that the tax was paid.

Can I register the item to a trust or corporation?

We’re not lawyers, and this is something best left to the experts. We can get you in touch with an attorney who drafts them for a reasonable fee.

I heard the ATF can come search my house if I own one of these. Is that true?

No. That’s an urban legend. You surrender none of your rights by registering a Title II weapon. If anyone wants to search your house, they need to get a warrant.

Is there a way to check the status of my application?

Yes. You can call the ATF directly at (304) 616-4500.  Have the serial number and trust name (if registered under a trust).

Speaking of which, how long does approval take?

It varies. We’ve seen some come back in as little as three months, but some take over twelve months.

How do I get a full-auto M4 or a Glock 18?

Unfortunately, you can’t. An amendment was tacked on to the Firearms Owners Protection Act in 1986 that banned the manufacture of civilian-transferable machine guns made after that date. If you want a machine gun, you have to get one made and registered prior to 1986.

Can I let other people use it while I'm at the range?

Yes, as long as you’re physically present and the item does not leave your possession.

So, can I convert a semi-automatic firearm to full auto?

No. That would constitute manufacturing a machine gun without a license, and doing so carries significant criminal penalties.

Seriously, don’t mess with this stuff.

But I know a guy who…

What about 3-round burst?

Any weapon that fires more than one round per trigger pull is considered a machine gun, so they fall under the same law.

Do I have to keep a copy of my stamp with me when I'm out and about with a Title II item?

Federal law only states that it must be presented to an officer of the ATF by request. However, to avoid potential hassle, it’s best to keep a copy of the stamp with the item.

Furthermore, the NFRTR (the ATF registry) is known to have errors, and ready access to the stamp may be necessary to confirm the legality of a weapon in your possession.

What about the 'solvent trap' adapters I keep seeing?

Some people are marketing an adapter that screws on the barrel threads, which then allows the user to attach an oil filter. They’re claiming that the adapter is the registered part. That is incorrect.

18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(24) defines a silencer as,

any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, and any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.

Each oil filter would need to be serialized and registered. Once the filter wears out (which won’t take long), the user would need to file another Form 1 and pay another $200 to comply with the law.

​Contrary to the marketing claims being made, the adapter is not the registered part–the device that reduces the report is.

I want to build a short-barreled rifle (SBR). What do I have to do?

You’ll file a Form 1, which is an application to manufacture a Title II firearm. You can apply directly to the ATF for that.

So, is it a silencer or a suppressor?

Technically, both. The inventor was a bit of a huckster who called them “Maxim Silencers.” That was the term used for them when the NFA was signed into law, and it’s still the legal name for them.

In truth, they do reduce the report, but they do not silence it. Hollywood is a city built on lies.

Where can I find the forms used in this process?

They’re available for download from the ATF website. Here are direct links, which will open PDF files:

Form 1: Application to make and register a Title II firearm

Form 4: Application to register an existing firearm

5330.23: NFA Responsible Person Questionnaire. To be included with a Form 4 if being registered to a trust.

The ATF also has a good FAQ here on the general regulations.

What are some other resources?