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SILENCER SATURDAY #165: The NFA Registry

SILENCER SATURDAY #165: The NFA Registry – 2021

Good morning everyone and welcome back to another Silencer Saturday brought to you by Yankee Hill Machine, manufacturers of the YHM R9 suppressor. Last week we discussed the Innovative Arms Slingshot Ti mounted on a Beretta 21A Bobcat Covert . Today we are going to take a look at the state of the NFA registry – the giant logbook that holds all the information on silencers, machineguns, short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns and any other weapons in the United States. Are we making forward progress? Let’s take a look.

ATF/NFA @ TFB:

While I, and many of you, would judge NFA progress based on its continued (non)existence, the reality is that the registry, the entries, and the transfers are going to keep being the law of land for the foreseeable future. Just so we are clear, the NFA has been around since 1934 and has gone through some enhancements (1968 and 1984) since it’s inception.

The National Firearms Act (NFA):

https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/national-firearms-act 

The NFA was originally enacted in 1934. Similar to the current NFA, the original Act imposed a tax on the making and transfer of firearms defined by the Act, as well as a special (occupational) tax on persons and entities engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing, and dealing in NFA firearms. The law also required the registration of all NFA firearms with the Secretary of the Treasury. Firearms subject to the 1934 Act included shotguns and rifles having barrels less than 18 inches in length, certain firearms described as “any other weapons,” machine guns, and firearm mufflers and silencers.

Forms:

Consumers interact with the ATF and the NFA by either transferring a currently registered item from either a dealer (most common) or an individual using a Form 4 – Application For Transfer. End users can also make NFA items like silencers (not machineguns) using a Form 1 – Application To Make an NFA firearm. Crossing state lines with an NFA item requires* an approved Form 20. Both a Form 1 and a Form 4 are going to cost you $200. I’ll save Form 5’s for another day.

* A Form 20 isn’t required for silencers crossing state lines, but it’s not bad to have one either.

Dealers and manufacturers (FFL/SOT license holders) can use a a different set of forms to interact with the NFA registry. The ATF Form 2 is used to manufacture or import a firearm. An ATF Form 3 is used to transfer NFA items between licensed entities.

SILENCER SATURDAY #165: The NFA Registry – 2021

Now that we have our review materials out of the way, let’s take a look at the current state of affairs as reported by the ATF. We need no reminder that 2020 was an interesting year, so it may take a few years of additional data to see any trends.

NFA Registry FY 2020:

  • 512,315 NFA applications processed to manufacture, import, transfer, export firearmsgif=
  • 487,745 NFA applications received
  • 17,323 Special occupational tax holder/FFLs Tax Year 2020
  • 2,353,436 Weapons processed

This is more data than we’ve seen reported in previous years, but it is still incomplete. For example, does “512,315 NFA applications processed to manufacture, import, transfer, export firearms” include Form 1 applications. If you remember from our previous discussions, non-licensee Form 1 makers are not manufacturers. But in this case I’m willing to bet that manufactured means anything that was added to the registry. The 2.35M weapons processed seems like an impressive number, until you remember that most NFA items will be manufactured and then transferred three or four times before landing in a customer’s hands. It’s still a sizable number for a pandemic year, however.

Form 1 and 4 Processed & Received Silencers Only – FY 2020

  • Form 1
    • Processed: 11,006
    • Received:12,132
  • Form 4
    • Processed: 236,220
    • Received: 208,155

Form 4 transfers outnumber Form 1 making applications for mufflers by about 20:1. I’m actually surprised to see Form 1 numbers aren’t higher. The difference between received and processed gives us an idea of how many silencers are in the queue awaiting final disposition. About 28,000 Form 4’s and 1,100 Form 1’s for silencers were in process at the time of this report.

Pending Applications:

62,936 pending applications as of 2/9/2021, down from 146,045 on 7/31/2019.

  • Form1 – 5,584
  • Form 2 – 242
  • Form 3 – 1,990
  • Form 4 – 54,056
  • Form 5 – 458
  • Form 9 – 24
  • Form 10 – 60
  • Form 5320.20 – 522

In a broader look at the numbers, the ATF broke down all the pending forms as of 2/9/2021. Comparing the previous data, it appears that silencers comprise almost 50% of all pending Form 4s and about 25% of all Form 1 pending applications.

NFA Registry – Overall Silencer Statistics:

2,148,825 Silencers currently registered in the NFRTR

  • Individual: 463,797
  • Trust/Legal Entity: 732,831
  • FFL/SOT: 686,678
  • GOV/LE/MIL: 131,021

According to the above data, about 1.2M silencers are in the hands of the citizenry by way of individual or entity ownership. Manufacturers, distributors, dealers and other licensees hold another 686K silencers in their inventories. And the government owns only 131K registered silencers. Which seems low to me.

Our friends at Ammoland are reporting that the Form 4 eforms system will finally come on line in 2021. This will be a huge boost to the industry and consumers alike. Approval wait times are a sales killers – the mental barrier to taking possession of something six months or more after you pay for it can break some people.

SILENCER SATURDAY #165: The NFA Registry - 2021

SILENCER SATURDAY #165: The NFA Registry – 2021 – ATF SHOT Show 2021 information sheet – Credit: ATF.

Thanks for reading TFB’s Silencer Saturday. Be safe, have fun and we’ll see you back here next weekend.

Credits/Citations:

  • Ammoland (Crump) – https://www.ammoland.com/2021/02/leaked-atf-document-shows-americans-filed-512315-nfa-applications/
  • AR15.com (IKH) – https://www.ar15.com/forums/Armory/NFA-Branch-SHOT-SHOW-2021-Report/20-522236/

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