How to Register a Homemade Silencer
Conceptually, silencers are fairly simple devices. Legally, however, they’re fairly complicated. This is because all silencers – whether mass-produced or homemade – are regulated by the federal government under the National Firearms Act of 1934. In the eyes of the bureaucrats, a silencer is no different than a short barrel rifle or shotgun, destructive device, or even a machine gun.
Because of this, there’s a very specific process that you must follow in order to register a homemade silencer and avoid the legal and financial consequences of not doing so.
Thankfully, the process isn’t very complicated. We’ll explain it all to you in this post.
What Categorizes as a Homemade Silencer?
A homemade silencer is any silencer that is not purchased from a dealer that is licensed to manufacture and/or sell them.
This could be as elaborate as you actually machining and making your own silencer at home, or parts kits such as “solvent traps” and other “wink-and-nod” kits that require end-user actions to make them function as a silencer.
Of course, technically, the solvent traps and other kits aren’t silencers until they have been modified to act as such, but the ATF has been cagey on how they treat these items even in their unmodified state, so tread lightly and do so at your own risk and discretion.How To Make Your Own Suppressor
How to Register a Homemade Silencer
It may not always seem like it, but the government really doesn’t want to fine you heavily, send you to prison, or both. That’s why they’ve actually got a very well-defined and detailed process for how to stay on the up-and-up when making and registering a homemade silencer.
You can do most of the process online through the ATF’s eForms website, which is www.eforms.atf.gov.
Once you’re registered on that site, you can fill out all of the necessary information as it specifically relates to the type of silencer you’ll be making. This will include all of your own personal information as well as the details about the silencer you’ll be making. This will include things like the caliber, length, make, model, and serial number. (Yes, even on a homemade silencer, there must be a serial number.)
Check Your State’s DIY Suppressor Laws
Even though the federal government says it’s OK to make your own suppressor so long as you follow all the rules, your state government may not. For example, silencers are legal under federal law in all 50 states, but at the time of this writing, they are only legal under state law in 42 states.
Make sure you check the laws in the state where you live and, in some cases, the local laws, too.
File Your ATF Form 1 Before You Build
If you only remember one thing from this blog post, this would be the one. It is imperative that you file your ATF Form 1 and get it back with approval from the ATF before you build your homemade silencer.
Just because you have submitted the paperwork to the ATF doesn’t mean you can make your own silencer. Unless you have the approved paperwork in your possession, then you cannot yet make your silencer. A “pending approval” status won’t cut it, and any silencer you make while your application is processing is illegal, so don’t do it. Be patient and wait for the form to come back with approval.
Submit Government Docs
There are few things the government loves more than documentation and paperwork, and the process for making a silencer is no exception. Here are some of the things you’ll need to provide to them:
- Who You Are
- This is basic info like your name, date of birth, race, place of birth, etc.
- Even if your prints are already on file somewhere else, you’ll need to submit them again here.
- Social Security Number
- This isn’t required, but it can help speed up the process.
- The latest selfie on your phone won’t cut it. There are specific requirements for the photo layout.
Purchase a Tax Stamp
Perhaps the only thing the government loves more than paperwork is money. More specifically, your money. Homemade silencers must be accompanied by a $200 tax stamp that goes with your approval paperwork.
The good news is that the tax stamp is a one-and-done purchase and not an annual thing, but the bad news is that you need one for each and every silencer you own – homemade or otherwise. There’s no (legal) way around this.Never Miss a Blog, Join our Inner Circle
Registering a Homemade Silencer vs a Purchased Silencer
Registering a homemade silencer versus one that you buy from a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer is essentially the same with just a few exceptions in terms of paperwork and terminology. As far as the ATF is concerned, a silencer is a silencer no matter how it’s made, so the process doesn’t change much.
The main difference is the form that you’ll use to register with the ATF. If you’re making a homemade silencer, you’ll use a Form 1. If you’re buying a silencer that’s already been made, you’ll use a Form 4.
Other than that, you still have to fill out all of the same registration information, submit fingerprints and photographs, and abide by all of the local, state, and federal laws and regulations.
Wait times are also different between silencers on a Form 1 versus a Form 4. Up until the reintroduction of the eForm 4, it had been much faster to get ATF approval for a Form 1 homemade suppressor, which is done online. We’re talking a difference of weeks versus months or even a year or more. Now that the Form 4 is also done online, the hope is that wait times for Form 4 silencers will also come down to a similar timeframe, but only time will tell.
Registering a Homemade Silencer is Easier than You Think
When all is said and done, it’s actually quite easy to register a homemade silencer. As long as you take your time to read the instructions carefully and fill everything out properly, it’s not hard to do at all. Thousands of people have done it, so there’s no reason you won’t be able to do it, too.
However, if your main goal of making a homemade silencer is to save money, then you might want to rethink things. Many of the DIY kits and solvent traps can cost hundreds of dollars in and of themselves. If you’re going to spend a good chunk of your hard-earned money, you might want to buy a ready-made silencer from a trusted company like Silencer Central.
We’ll walk you through the entire purchase process, handle all of the paperwork for you, set you up with a free legal trust, let you make interest-free payments while you wait for approval, and then mail your silencer right to your door once it’s been approved.
Regardless of the route you take, the takeaway is the same: shooting suppressed is a ton of fun, and after you shoot that way for the first time, you won’t want to shoot unsuppressed ever again!Shop Silencer Accessories