How to Buy NFA Items

How to Buy NFA Items

So, you’ve built up your gun collection to a respectable level and now you want to wade into the waters of the National Firearms Act, or NFA items. Purchasing these items is a perfectly legal endeavor, albeit with more paperwork and more wait times. You may have heard horror stories of wait times of 9 months, a year, or even longer. Don’t worry, the BATFE, or ATF, is streamlining the process to use digital form submissions so times are expected to drop significantly in the very near future.

Items Which Fall Under NFA Regulations

The National Firearms Act of 1934 classifies several items under the law as NFA regulated. These items are short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, fully automatic weapons, and sound suppressors or silencers. The most common item purchased nowadays is usually a suppressor. There are many companies that manufacture them for all different types of firearms. You can find a suppressor for nearly every rifle caliber, pistol, and even shotguns.

ATF Form 4

To purchase an NFA item you will first need to fill out an ATF Form 4. This form is the Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm. This form covers the purchase of NFA items from a manufacturer. If you are looking to make your own NFA items, that is a different form. With Form 4, you will need to submit a passport photo, get a set of fingerprints taken, get local law enforcement signatures and approval, pay the $200 tax stamp, and then wait patiently for the BATFE to approve your application. During the actual buying process, it is advised to call around your local gun shops that handle NFA items. They can most likely assist you in filling out the paperwork and give some advice on how best to complete the entire process.

How to Start a Gun Trust

When buying an NFA item, you have the option of choosing to create a trust. A gun trust works in a similar fashion to what you may think of when referencing a “trust fund.” It is a legal entity with trustees that manage certain properties. Whereas you may think of a trust fund as something left behind for children once they reach a certain age, a gun trust will do the same, only manage certain items, and in this case NFA items. While you can always include your firearms in a standard trust, it may be best to separate them from any other assets due to the different laws surrounding firearms. But essentially, you can add another person to a gun trust, who will be legally able to use and take ownership of the firearms when you pass.

One thing to know, the actual owner of the firearms and/or NFA items is the actual trust. This means that they are the ones listed on file with the BATFE as the primary owner. Listed beneficiaries within that trust may use the items that have already been purchased. And most importantly, inheriting, lending, or acquiring NFA items is much simpler with a gun trust. Without a trust, if you lent your suppressed rifle to your friend to shoot without you present, the BATFE can technically claim that you illegally transferred an NFA item to someone that has not done the paperwork and paid the $200 tax stamp. But if that same person is designated as a beneficiary of the gun trust, then they are allowed to be in possession of those items.

The one downside to setting up a trust is the setting up part. You will need a knowledgeable attorney who handles trusts to set things up for you. There are also some companies and websites that will do it for a fee, or some silencer companies will include a gun trust as part of you purchasing an NFA item from them. And when NFA items are listed in the trust, the transfer of these items still needs to go through a process with BATFE. Anyone listed on the trust will have to fill out the ATF Form 5320.23, or National Firearms Act Responsible Person Questionnaire and submit it to a background check. But the upside to this process is that all members of the trust are allowed to use and be in possession of NFA items without fear of an illegal transfer of federally regulated NFA items.

If this entire process seems daunting and complex, it can be. But it is not an impossible task to get done. If you are wanting a suppressor or a short-barreled rifle, whether for self-defense or hunting and target shooting purposes, or you want to preserve the last remnants of your hearing after years of going to the shooting range, an NFA item may be worth the hassle for you. Gunspot is a great resource for all your firearm and NFA needs. You can find these items on auction to get the best price possible for nearly anything firearm-related.


ATF: National Firearms Act
Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm
Pew Pew Tactical: Gun Trusts: What Are They & Do You Need One?
National Firearms Act (NFA) Responsible Person Questionnaire OMB No. 114

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