What Is An NFA Firearm?

man shooting a rifle at a shooting range to illustrate What is an NFA weapon

Are you researching guns and trying to figure out which one you should purchase? There are many to choose from. In fact, there are so many out there that you may feel overwhelmed at the options you have. As you are doing your research and determining which one will suit your specific uses, you will likely run into NFA firearms. What is an NFA weapon?

First, what is the NFA?

The National Firearms Act (NFA) is a Congressional act enacted in 1934 that adds an excise tax on specific firearms. Manufacturers, importers, and dealers who sell or create these firearms will tax the sale of the gun; this is known as a tax stamp. This must be completed through the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).

What firearms are classified as NFA firearms?

When the original act was created, NFA weapons (also known as “Title II” or “Class 3” firearms) included machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, silencers or suppressors, and any other firearm classified as AOW. As the years have passed, there have been some changes as more and more restrictions are added. (See the recent arm brace ruling for one example.)

Today, there are the following categories:

  • Machine guns (full or select fire)
  • Short-barreled shotguns and rifles (18” for shotguns, 16” for rifles)
  • Suppressors
  • Destructive devices, such as bombs, grenades, poisonous gas, explosive missiles
  • “Any other weapon … or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive.” See the full definition here.

It’s important to note that if you choose to buy an NFA firearm, you will need to prepare to pay an extra tax on top of the price of the item.

How to Make or Transfer an NFA Firearm

The ATF explains that a person can make an NFA firearm “by filing and receiving an approved ATF Form 1 (“Application to Make and Register a Firearm”).

Furthermore, the ATF explains that to transfer an NFA firearm requires the filing and receipt of an approved ATF Form 4 (“Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm”).

Sporting Systems

Are you still unsure of what firearm is right for you? Questions about the $200 tax stamps, gun trusts, the variety of NFA items, or gun control acts? Our experienced team at Sporting Systems can help answer any questions you have.

We can guide you through the selection process. We can help you determine what gun is the right one for your specific usage. And we can explain more about the NFA firearms and what everything entails. Please keep in mind, however, that we are not lawyers. You should consult with a firearms attorney if you have questions involving legalities.

We can also help answer any questions you may have about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ATF forms in general, and specifics about NFA gun lengths (16 inches, 26 inches, etc.)

Contact us today to learn more.


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