How to Buy an NFA Item (SBR, SBS, Silencer, etc.)

The National Firearms Act (NFA) enacted in 1934 imposes a tax on the transfer and manufacturing of certain firearms and mandates registration of those firearms. Later amended in 1968, Title II of the Gun Control Act (GCA) removed the requirement for possessors of unregistered firearms to register if it was already possessed by the person. In order to legally acquire NFA firearms, you must get approval by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) of a registered weapon. To help you understand the process in more depth here is a helpful overview of the types of weapons that need a NFA Tax Stamp, and what you need to do in order to pay the tax and register your weapon.

All of the NFA weapons that need a tax stamp (Title II weapons)

  • Machine guns (automatic weapons); the frames or receivers of machine guns, any combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting weapons into machine guns, any part designed and intended for converting a weapon into a machine gun, any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if in the possession or under the control of a person.
  • Sound Suppressors (silencers) and any part designed and intended for fabricating a silencer.
  • Short barreled shotguns; shotguns with a barrel less than 18” in length or overall shotgun length of less than 26”
  • Short barreled rifle; rifles with a barrel less than 16” in length or overall length of less than 26”
  • Destructive devices; items such as Bazookas, mortars, anti-tank guns (over .50 caliber), Molotov cocktails, etc.
  • Any Other Weapon; items such as cane guns, gadget type firearms, pen guns which fire a projectile by the action of an explosive, H&R handyguns; Ithaca auto-burglar guns, etc.

It is important to point out that you should check with your state’s regulations prior to purchasing an NFA weapon.

If you’ve been considering purchasing an NFA item, the purchase process may seem intimidating and complex. However, this simply isn’t the case. In fact, purchasing your own NFA item requires less paperwork than you might think, especially when Freedom Arms, LLC assists in preparing the paperwork for you. To clear up all the conflicting information available from most resources, we’ve put together a guide to ensure you not only know whether or not it’s legal for you to own an NFA item, but also understand your purchase options as well.

Can You Legally Own an NFA Item?

Currently, it isn’t legal to own an NFA item in every state. Click here to see the “State Regulations” chart. For more information, please reference the ATF Publication 5300.5 State Laws and Published Ordinances Firearms form.

What Process Should You Use to Purchase Your New NFA Item?

Purchasing your NFA item isn’t always tricky, but the process can be if you don’t understand your options. You have three options, each of which is associated with specific advantages and disadvantages. Your three options are:

  • Purchase the NFA Item through a trust
  • Purchase the NFA item through a corporation; or
  • Purchase the NFA item in your own name

Let’s explore more about each option so you understand which is best for your needs.

Purchasing the NFA item through a Trust

When you purchase your NFA item from Freedom Arms, LLC, we have a Gun Trust we offer to our customers free of charge.  Freedom Arms, LLC can also recommend a local attorney as well. Specific advantages of this method include:

  • Multiple Possessors – Anyone who is named as a trustee in the trust may possess the NFA item, meaning it won’t be limited to just the purchaser.
  • Can be Changed at Any Time – Revocable trusts may be changed at any time, all without having to notify the ATF.
  • One-Time Process – You can create a trust once and use it again for future NFA items you purchase.
  • Helps with Legacy Planning
  • Most of Freedom Arms LLC’s customer go through a Gun Trust

Of course, there are certain disadvantages to note as well:

Up-Front Work Required – Typically, trusts must be set-up, which requires up-front work through a do-it-yourself solution or with the assistance of a gun trust lawyer. Luckily, at Freedom Arms, LLC, we already have a trust set up for you, so you won’t have to worry about this step.  Just need to visit a notary for notarizing your gun trust.
In consideration of both the advantages and disadvantages, registering your NFA item to a trust is best for:

  • Individuals who want to share possession of their NFA item with friends or family members
  • Individuals who want more flexibility from a long-term perspective
  • Individuals who are planning on purchasing NFA products in the future

Purchasing the NFA item through a Corporation

If you don’t believe that registering your new NFA item to a trust is best, you may also want to consider registering it to a corporation. There are several advantages of doing so:

  • Multiple Possessors – Any officer in the corporation may possess the NFA item.
  • Simple for Existing Corporations – You won’t have to go through the process of setting up a trust if you already have a corporation.

Naturally, there are also disadvantages to be noted:

  • Must Keep Your Corporation in Good Standing – To register your NFA item to a corporation, you must keep your corporation in good standing forever. Often, this is more work than setting up a trust because with a trust, you can set it up and forget about it.  State fees to annually register will only increase over time.
  • Only officers of the corporation may possess –  adding others to the corporation can create tax liabilities for those added.
  • Loss of the benefits of legacy planning.
  • Freedom Arms, LLC does not normally recommend this option

With the above advantages and disadvantages in mind, it’s clear that registering an NFA item to a corporation is best for:

  • Individuals who already own corporations and would like the corporation to be the legal owner of the NFA item
  • Individuals who are planning to purchase NFA products in the future

Purchasing the NFA item in Your Own Name

If you don’t want to register your NFA item to a trust or corporation, your only other option is to register it in your own name. The only main advantage of doing so is that you won’t have to set up a trust or corporation, meaning you avoid the up-front work. However, remember that at Freedom Arms, LLC you can take advantage of our own trust at no additional charge.
There are several disadvantages specific to this option:

  • Only You Can Possess the NFA item – While others can use the NFA item if you’re present, they cannot physically possess the NFA item at any time.

With these specific advantages and disadvantages in mind, there are a few.

Individuals who may want to take advantage of this option:

  • Individuals who aren’t planning on purchasing several NFA items in the future
  • Individuals who simply want to begin the buying process
  • Individuals who will always be present when the NFA item is being used by others
  • Individuals with no relatives, do not plan to leave their NFA item(s) to others at death

All that said, now You’re Prepared to Make Your Purchase!

While countless online resources make it seem as if purchasing and registering an NFA item is difficult and confusing, it doesn’t have to be. This is especially true once you can confirm that it’s legal for you to own the NFA item in your state and have chosen the proper registration option for your needs.

See our “Checklist for Purchasing an NFA Item

If you have any questions regarding the process or how we can help, contact a member of our staff at 800-214-6193. We look forwarding to assisting you with all your Class 3 firearms needs!