ATF Form 1: Everything You Need to Know
October 16, 2019
You’ve probably heard about the ATF Form 1. This is the form you file when you want to make NFA items at home. Because many popular firearms like the AR-15 and some types of pistols like the CZ Skorpion can be readily converted to short barrel rifles (SBR), a lot of gun owners like to use the ATF form 1 to make their own SBRs. But Form 1 can also be used to make silencers (although we’d like a chance to sell you one already made!), Any Other Weapons (AOW), and short-barrel shotguns (SBS).
Like all ATF paperwork, Form 1 can be intimidating and confusing. And while it might be tempting to just go ahead and make that SBR and homemade silencer without the ATF Form 1 and registration, doing so is a guaranteed trip to Club Fed and at least one felony. So let’s take a closer look at the ATF Form 1, what it is and just exactly you can do with it.
What Can You Make With an ATF Form 1?
There are a lot of firearms you can make with the ATF Form 1, including:
- Short barrel rifles
- Short barrel shotguns
- Any Other Weapons
- Destructive Devices
- Machine guns (If you are a licensed manufacturer with a Type 03 SOT).
Short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns, and silencers are all pretty self-explanatory. Broadly speaking, an SBR is any rifle with shoulder stock or that once had a stock and a barrel under 16”. A short barrel shotgun is a shotgun with a stock, or that once had a stock, and a barrel or barrels under 18”. AOWs and Destructive Devices (DD) are vaguer.
Any Other Weapon: What is an AOW?
An AOW is a firearm that never had a shoulder stock attached but has a pistol grip, short barrels, or in the case of handguns, a vertical foregrip. For instance, if you put a vertical foregrip on a Glock, it has to be registered as an AOW. Shotguns with short barrels and a pistol grip that never had a shoulders stock attached are also AOW’s.
Destructive Devices are things like nonsporting rifles with barrels over half an inch in diameter or things like functional artillery, live hand grenades, old WWII 20mm anti-tank rifles, and other oddball items that don’t neatly fit elsewhere and are either explosive or have large bores.
In nearly all cases, people filing an ATF Form 1 are doing it to make an SBR, SBS, silencer or AOW. Today’s highly modular firearms technology means that in most cases, making those kinds of weapons simply involves swapping parts around. There are even unfinished kits of borderline legality that allow you to drill a few holes and make a silencer. But typically Form 1 silencers are made by skilled hobbyist machinists trying out their skills or working on new inventions.
As you can see, Form 1 lets you enter the world of NFA firearms ownership by building the weapon in the comfort of your own garage or, in the case of modular firearms, on your kitchen table. But how do you fill out a Form 1 and how can you file it?
How To Fill Out ATF Form 1
Okay, by now you’ve probably taken a look at the ATF Form 1 and, like all ATF forms, it’s not exactly made for normal human beings to fill out. We aren’t quite sure what goes through the minds of whoever makes these forms, but with a little effort you can translate Government to English.
In fact, some companies make a business of charging you to fill out an ATF Form 1 for you and use all sorts of scare tactics that hint at SWAT teams kicking down your door at midnight because you made a minor error. Fortunately, this is not the case, and there is a handy guide on how to fill out your ATF Form 1 that does a perfect job of explaining the process.
You will need to decide how you are filing – as an individual, corporation or trust. Each has slightly different instructions that are explained in the linked video. If you are already a Silencer Central customer, odds are you have one of our free NFA gun trusts, which will make filing an ATF Form 1 simple.
How to Electronically File Your ATF Form 1(eForm)
NFA wait times are the stuff of legend and infamy. In some cases, gun owners have waited over a year for the ATF to get around to issuing a tax stamp. However, ATF Form 1 wait times can be as little as a month when efiled in the name of a trust.
It is very easy to electronically file your Form 1. You will have to do a few things like submit a form to your local chief law enforcement officer and submit a fingerprint card by mail, but that doesn’t seem to slow down the processing time. These procedures are all explained on the ATF Form 1.
You’ll need to register an account on the ATF eForms page to do a Form 1 efile but it’s a fairly painless procedure. In fact, the whole efile process is the most efficient way to get an NFA item.
Filing an ATF Form 1 is Now Easier Than Ever
With the advent of modular firearms, it is now easy to make an NFA item without any machine shop or gunsmithing skills. People who want to own a short barrel rifle or shotgun often only have to wait for federal approval before buying and swapping out some parts to make an NFA item that a few years ago would have required gunsmithing.
Low-cost hobbyist machining tools have made the manufacture of other NFA items easier than ever too, and more and more people are choosing to use Form 1 for things like silencers. The ease of Form 1 e-filing with a trust has helped further popularize making NFA items on an ATF Form 1.
Whether you’re building a short barrel AR-15 or setting down to a lathe to build an AOW, there has never been a better, simpler time to register your NFA item on an NFA Form 1.