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Suppressors Frequent Asked Questions

In many parts of the world, suppressors are commonplace. Many European nations will actively encourage gun-owners to purchase suppressors, as they protect the user’s hearing and reduce overall noise pollution from gun ranges.

In the US, 42 states allow you to purchase a suppressor for hunting and personal use.

The 8 restricted states are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Washington DC also restricts suppressor ownership, if you live inside its borders.

The 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA) imposes a special tax on the transfer and manufacture of certain items, including silencers, machine guns, and various configurations of firearms such as short-barreled rifles and short-barreled shotguns.

NFA-restricted items are also known as ‘Title II Weapons’. Although a sound suppressor (silencer) is not a ‘weapon’ per se, it falls under the same legal guidelines.

To purchase a Title II Weapon, you must pay a special $200 federal tax, undergo a lengthy background check, and receive direct approval by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).

Fortunately, the process is actually a lot easier than it sounds, and there are plenty of helpful guides to get you started.

Like firearms, suppressors can only be purchased by those who meet all legal qualifications. The basic qualifications include…

1) Purchaser must be 21 years of age at time of purchase

2) Purchaser must be a resident of a state that allows civilian ownership

3) Purchaser must be legally eligible to purchase a firearm and pass the FBI NICS background check

4) Purchaser must be able to afford the $200 Tax Stamp on each processed NFA item

To begin the NFA application process, you will need the following items prepared:

1) Two copies of completed Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration Form 4

2) $200 Check for NFA tax stamp

3) Passport-style Photo

4) Complete FD-258 Fingerprint Cards

5) A copy of your NFA trust (For Trust Purchase)

6) Completed Responsible Person Questionnaire Form 5330.23 (For Trust Purchase)

Thankfully, the team at Silencer Shop offers an easy one-stop solution for all these forms through their S.I.D Kiosks. S.I.D Kiosks offer a streamlined, digital option for completing all paperwork, fingerprints, and photography. You can even pay for the $200 Stamp with a credit card, and they’ll contact CLEOs when required.

If you’re a first-time NFA buyer, we highly recommend using the Silencer Shop kiosk locator. If there’s a S.I.D kiosk nearby, we highly recommend that you consider using it. There may be a small fee, but the convenience and accuracy are invaluable.

If you prefer to submit physical paperwork, you can also send your NFA documents by mail. Here, you will send an envelope with all required documents to the ATF’s NFA branch.

Once you’ve purchased a suppressor from an FFL, the process is mostly paperwork, followed by a long wait.

The exact paperwork you’ll need will vary depending on if you apply as an NFA Trust or as an individual owner. There are benefits and costs to both, which we detail in the questions below.

Once all your forms are complete and filed, all you have left to do is wait. When the ATF finally grants its approval, they will send the approved stamp to your chosen FFL.

A few days later, your FFL will contact you and let you know that it’s time to pick up your new suppressor.

One option for applying for an NFA item is using a trust.

The NFA Trust is a legal entity that technically owns the sounds suppressor / silencer, and you possess the item as a Settlor or Trustee named in the Trust. The BATFE calls these individuals ‘Responsible Persons’ because they are responsible for possession of this highly regulated item.

The benefit of a trust is that a trust can name multiple ‘Responsible Persons’, so friends and family members in the trust could use the suppressor too. You can also use the NFA Trust for inheritance. If you want someone to inherit your suppressor collection someday, the NFA Trust is the easiest way to go.

The biggest drawback for using a trust is the extra paperwork. Trusts are a little more intricate to set up, and you’ll need to file more paperwork if you ever add additional Responsible Persons.

To create a trust, you have a few options: you can purchase one through a popular vendor like Silencer Shop or you can try to make your own.

If you’re new, we recommend purchasing it as a service. Groups like Silencer Shop are experts in the complexities of NFA laws. You will pay a fee for the trust’s formation, but they’ll do all the heavy lifting in updating and adjusting with regulations. They’ll also be able to answer questions you have along the way.

We caution against making your own trust unless you have good legal experience. Some people have had luck copying the contents from NFA Trusts they found on the internet, but there have also been some horror stories. You could proceed through the entire NFA process and wait months, only to have your application denied because of a technical Trust problem.

It doesn’t pay to take chances.

If you’re going to make your own trust, find an attorney familiar with the differences between NFA Trusts and other estate planning trusts. Typical costs are between $100 and $500. The money you will pay to get a correct NFA Trust drawn up is only a fraction of the total investment you are making in this purchase, and you can use that trust to purchase more NFA items in the future.

The simplest and fastest way to purchase NFA items is as an individual.

As an individual, you’ll need less paperwork, so you’ll have the suppressor in-hand sooner than applying with a trust.

There are some downsides to individual purchases, though. As an individual, it will be illegal for anyone else to use your NFA item, unless you are present with them. This includes home defense purposes, should a family member use an NFA item to protect themselves in your absence. Also, inheritance of a suppressor can be tricky if that suppressor was under individual ownership, so consider a trust if you plan to build a collection worthy of passing on to your children.

Warning: Changing your mind about which path to take can get very expensive. If you originally transferred your NFA items as an individual and decide to add them to an NFA Trust later, you must transfer possession from one legal entity to another.

That means another round of paperwork and another $200 check for every NFA item you want to move to the NFA Trust.

Whether you are purchasing as an individual or with a trust, the easiest and fastest way to get your silencer is to buy your suppressor online and have it transferred to an FFL that uses a S.I.D kiosk for electronic form submission.

When purchasing a suppressor online, you can use Silencer shops kiosk locator to find a local shop that has an S.I.D kiosk. You can then transfer the suppressor to that shop and complete all your forms with their kiosk.

Primary Arms partners with Silencer Shop on suppressor purchases, so we make it as easy as possible when shopping from our online storefront Once you finish your online purchase, we’ll email you the serial number(s), registration code, and a QR code within 48 hours. When you have your information, head over to our storefront or your chosen FFL, and enter your registration code into the kiosk.

With an S.I.D Kiosk, you’ll be able to create your fingerprints, enter personal data, complete all your forms at the same time. You can take and submit your photo using the Silencer Shop mobile app or website.

When all your documents are complete, you’ll submit through the Silencer Shop system and start a potentially year-long wait.

During this period, the BATFE will run an extensive background check on you, running your fingerprints and checking you against crime databases.

If there are mistakes on your forms or problems with your other documents, the BATFE will mail you and your NFA dealer a letter which will explain how to fix your application. If you have questions, you can also call BATFE, but it is always better to get your corrections made the first time.

Once the BATFE grants their approval, a copy of your Form 4 is sent back to you with a physical tax stamp affixed to it. Keep it safe! It is wise to print off a copy of your approved Form 4 with tax stamp.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send us a message at info@primaryarms.com or call us at 713-344-9600.