• Digital Magazine
        • Single Issues
        • Annual
  • Insider

Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

suppressor nfa atf application

Firearm suppressors have been a valuable accessory in more ways than one. From lowering the risk of hearing loss to dampening recoil to reducing muzzle flip, suppressors are worth every penny. The downside to obtaining a suppressor, however, boils down to the often months-long approval process.

It’s quite ridiculous if you think about it. Why can’t suppressors be purchased in the same manner as that of a firearm? I don’t have to wait the better part of a year to bring home a gun, you know, the device that actually does all the work, so why should the suppressor be any different?

As it turns out, our friends at the American Suppressor Association made some serious headway with the ATF which led to the National Firearms Act Division revamping the Form 4 process. Those several-month-long suppressor wait times are turning into several-week-long suppressor wait times.

In case you were wondering, no, this is not an early April Fool’s joke. We would never joke about this!

silencer central suppressor

Streamlining the Process

Per the ATF, the “NFA Division is processing eForm Individual applications in real-time” and will do the same for Form 4s utilizing an NFA trust. Basically, when an approved National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check is received by the ATF, the application then goes on to processing for final approval.

The NFA Division has established several pathways where forms are funneled to investigators for processing to streamline the process further. These pathways include:

  • Individual Applications
  • Bundled Individual Applications
  • NFA Trust Applications
  • Bundled NFA Trust Applications

“Bundled” means that an individual or trust has multiple applications that have been submitted.

No More “First In, First Out” Process

The ATF used to perform suppressor approvals on a “first in, first out” basis, but now the NFA is dialed in on approving applications as soon as the applicant’s background check has received the FBI’s NICS “proceed” status. Around 70% of background checks receive an immediate “proceed” status. The remaining 30% are “delayed” or “denied.”

“Delayed” background checks require further investigation by the FBI-NICS team to ensure the applicant can legally purchase a firearm. Delays are often resolved in a matter of minutes, but with NFA applications, the delay can sometimes take months. This is due to NFA items not being subject to the three-day statutory window created by the Brady Act. Things that can delay a background check include having the same name (or a phonetic match) as a convicted criminal.

How To Prevent Delays in Approving Applications

  • Include your Social Security Number on your Form 4.
  • If you have a Unique Personal Identification Number (UPIN), include it on the application as well.

Trust Applications

The NFA Division is working to establish an improved system for processing trust applications. This is important for applicants using “standardized trusts” sold by reputable companies, like Silencer Central. Because they have been vetted extensively by the ATF, they require less manual review.

According to the American Suppressor Association, “The NFA Division is also planning to do away with the paper Responsible Person Questionnaire (RPQ) that must be completed by each Responsible Person (RP), scanned, and attached to trust applications. Instead, they will incorporate an electronic RPQ(s) as part of the eForms system. This will reduce common errors encountered with trust applications and reduce the workload on both the applicant and NFA.”

How Trust Applicants Can Expedite Approvals:

  • Use a standardized trust from a reputable source.
  • Submit a responsible person questionnaire for each responsible person in the trust.
  • The trust name on the trust documents must match the name on the eForm application.
  • Responsible persons must not be minors.
  • The fewer responsible persons on a trust, the faster the approval process.
  • Double-check for errors. Any errors or delayed NICS background check for just one responsible person will delay the entire approval process.

Perhaps one day we will be able to walk into a gun shop, purchase a suppressor, and walk out the door with it. Until then, we’ll be happy to wait a few weeks.

Been waiting for a while? You can contact the NFA via phone at (304) 616-4500, or email [email protected] to obtain a status update on your application.

In Related News…

NSSF Successfully Leads Effort to Dramatically Reduce ATF NFA Form Wait Times

NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, praised new data revealed in a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) report that showed processing wait times on submitted National Firearms Act (NFA) forms significantly dropped following direct NSSF advocacy efforts among lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Willie Roberson with a Silencer Central Buck 30 suppressor

How The Wait’s Getting Shorter

Updated times announced today (4/11/24) by ATF show the average wait time on a paper NFA Form 4—the most popular NFA form submitted—dropped to an average of 245 days for processing, while average daily processing times for electronic eForm 4s dropped to 53 days. Previously, wait times on Form 4s were near 280 days for paper form processing and between 90 and 190 days for electronic processing. NSSF has learned that in some cases fully electronic Form 4s were processed in as few as four days and in some cases on the same day.

Form 3 processing times also dropped with reports of of them being processed in as few as four days. Form 5 processing wait times for the tax-exempt transfer and registration of firearms dropped down to 19 days for paper forms and an average of one day for the electronic form.

The Birth of ATF NFA e-Filing

NSSF began working to improve ATF NFA form processing in 2013 when it pressed the agency to institute electronic form processing, or eForms.

“The dramatically reduced NFA form wait times just announced by ATF is the direct result of several years of NSSF efforts among allies on Capitol Hill to ensure the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans—those following the law by submitting the appropriate forms—are not unduly delayed,” said Lawrence G. Keane, “NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. NSSF worked successful with allies in Congress to ensure ATF’s NFA Division had the resources necessary to match the increased demand for NFA items. We’re pleased to see industry efforts to reduce these wait times have been successful for our association members and for lawful firearm owners.”

Notes On The Hearing Protection Act

NSSF continues to support the Hearing Protection Act and other proposed legislation that would remove silencers, commonly called suppressors, from the National Firearms Act. Suppressors are devices that provide hearing protection for hunters and target shooters. They are legal to own in 43 states and to hunt with in 42 states. Removing suppressors from the NFA would free up considerable ATF resources unnecessarily spent processing paperwork. For more information, visit nssf.org.

Silencer Central Makes Buying a Suppressor Easy

Did you enjoy this story? SUBSCRIBE today to get more like this!

Leave a Comment

Trending articles

Related articles

Shopping Cart
H&B logo with white lettering

You’ll hear from us one time per week!

The Latest Content
Hook & Barrel INSIDER
Sneak Previews of  Upcoming Issues
Exclusive Discounts & Special Offers
Join Newsletter Form