How Long Does It Take To Get A Suppressor 2023
Despite living in a time when private companies can generate complete profiles of a person in just moments, the ATF seems unable to perform the basic task of processing a background check and issuing a tax stamp in any sort of timely fashion.
This has led to unbelievably long wait times to buy or transfer NFA items – sometimes a year or more! NFA wait times are infamous for the snail’s pace at which applications are processed. But why is that the case? Is there a way to speed up the process? And is there hope that the ATF might actually process applications in a timely fashion someday? (Spoiler alert: the answer is yes!)
Why Does it Take So Long To Get a Suppressor?
This is a simple question with a not-so-simple answer. There are several different forms used to make or transfer NFA items. The processing time can depend on the filing method (paper vs. e-filing) and whether or not the form is filed in the name of an individual, corporation, trust, or dealer-to-dealer transfer.
The most common ATF forms for NFA items are ATF Form 1, ATF Form 3, and ATF Form 4. Here’s what these forms are used for:
ATF Form 1: Required for the manufacture of a firearm
ATF Form 3: Required for transfers between licensed dealers and/or manufacturers
ATF Form 4: Required when transferring the item from a dealer to an end-user
These forms can be electronically filed or submitted with a paper application in the name of a gun trust, corporation, or individual. Each type of form and each type of ownership type is processed differently by the ATF and at different speeds.
For example, a Form 1 in the name of a trust only has to verify the trust and the criminal record(s) of the person or persons named on the application. When submitted digitally, it is a simple matter to verify all that with computer databases. Because the gun is being manufactured, there is no need to verify the existence and accurate inputting of information on a firearm to be transferred, so these move very fast.
Traditionally, a paper filed Form 4 has to be manually inputted to check the information, and the information for the transferred item also has to be verified. This can take a long time, particularly on older NFA items where record-keeping is particularly shoddy. In fact, some NFA items require extensive research to identify in boxes upon boxes of old records. This certainly can increase the wait time.
Thankfully, eForms are making the Form 4 approval process more efficient and faster. They’re still not as fast as Form 1 submissions, but we’re definitely making progress!
NFA Items and the ATF
The National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 is the governing piece of federal legislation when it comes to machine guns, short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns, AOWs, and suppressors.
Under the NFA, suppressors have to be registered with the government as part of an application process that includes a background check, fingerprints, a photograph, and payment of a $200 tax to own the item.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (commonly just called the ATF) is the agency of the federal government tasked with handling and approving all applications for NFA items.
NFA Wait Times
The ATF has stated that their goal is to get eForm 4s approved within 90 days. Unfortunately, they haven’t hit that goal just yet.
As of the time of this writing, eForm 4 submissions are taking approximately 270 days, while paper Form 4 submissions are taking 14 months or more.
Wait times for eForm 4s are definitely faster than paper Form 4s. This is only logical because there is no need to manually input information on paper forms, and it is immediately readable. Paper forms require manual oversight to ensure accuracy, and if any part of it is illegible or difficult to make out, the processing time will increase. This is especially true if the examiner has to contact the applicant to verify or clarify the forms. This isn’t so much an issue on an e-filed form as long as it is correctly filled out.
In this day and age, there is simply no reason not to be using ATF eForms. If you have trouble using a computer or don’t have one, we strongly recommend getting help with the process from somebody familiar with digital documents. It will speed up your application process a lot. Like most NFA dealers, Silencer Central relies heavily on digital documents to speed up the application process for our customers and to ensure error-free record keeping.
What Happens Once You Order a Suppressor?
Once you place an order for your suppressor, it’s time to begin your actual application on an ATF Form 4. When you buy from Silencer Central, we’ll work with you to get the information needed, and then we’ll fill out and submit the form for you. At that point, all you have to do is sit back and wait – which is, undoubtedly, the hardest part.
ATF Form 4
The ATF Form 4 is one of the most common forms that NFA firearms and silencer buyers will encounter. It’s the form that has to be filled out to transfer an NFA item like a silencer from the owner to the buyer. Often times this will be a dealer selling to a customer.
This application process also includes the submission of fingerprints and a photograph.
The ATF Form 4 allows the transfer of both Any Other Weapons (AOWs) on a $5 tax stamp and other things like silencers, short barrel rifles (SBRs), and short barrel shotguns (SBSs) on a $200 tax stamp.
Checking Your NFA Status
To get the status of your transfer from the ATF, call the NFA Branch directly at (304) 616-4500.
You will need to provide your name (or the name of your trust or corporation), the serial number of the suppressor, and the name of the transferor. For the transferor information, please use the name we sent you in the confirmation email when your electronic transfer was submitted. ATF will confirm you are in the system and will give you an estimate for when to expect the approval.
Remember: the person you talk to on the phone doesn’t know exactly when your transfer will be approved – it is just an estimate.
Paying For Your Suppressor
Silencer Central also makes buying a silencer easy with our eZ-Pay program. We let you start your ATF paperwork and pay your silencer off over three months while the paperwork processes. Just pay 25 percent down, and 25 percent a month for the next three months, and pay your silencer off while you wait for ATF approval. Buying a silencer has never been easier! You can even include the cost of your tax stamp in the eZ-Pay program or set up recurring monthly payments on your credit or debit card to make paying off your silencer easier.
Shoot With Your New Suppressor
Once your ATF Form 4 has been approved and the form with the affixed tax stamp has come back to us here at Silencer Central, we’ll get your suppressor and paperwork packed up and mailed right to your front door.
From there, it’s time to hit the range and do some shooting!
Shop Suppressors Online Today!
Whether you’ve decided on which silencer to buy or not, the next step is to get ahold of us here at Silencer Central. If you know what you want to buy, we can start your order right away. If you’re still deciding, our staff can help you pick the right suppressor for your firearm.
Silencer Central is licensed to sell suppressors in all 42 states where they are legal. We’ve been doing this all day, every day for more than 15 years, and have sold countless thousands of suppressors in that time.
Let us handle the entire purchase process for you and even deliver your suppressor right to your front door once it’s been approved. It really doesn’t get any better than that, so what are you waiting for? Call us now!