NFA Weapons F.A.Q.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be construed as legal advice. We are not lawyers and the information provided below is our understanding of the NFA process/laws and PA laws and is provided for informational purposes only.
A lot of people have many questions about NFA Weapons and the process of purchasing, making, and transfering them. Unfortunately like with most topics the internet has a lot of information about NFA weapons, but a good portion of the information is wrong or outdated.
The goal of this page is to provide at least a basic understanding of NFA weapons and the process for buying/transferring them.
NFA – National Firearms Act
Originally enacted in 1934. It imposed a $200 tax on the making and transfer of firearms defined by the Act, as well as a Special Occupation Tax (SOT) on the persons and entities engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing, and dealing in NFA firearms. It also required the registration of all NFA firearms. The Act was amended in 1968 with the Gun Control Act (GCA), and again in 1986 with the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act.
What are NFA weapons (also called Title II weapons)?
- Fully Automatic Weapons (Machine Guns)
- Short Barrel Rifles (SBR):
- A rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length
- A weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.
- Short Barrel Shotgun (SBS):
- A shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length
- A weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length.
- Sound Suppressors (Silencers)
- Destructive Device *
- A missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than 1/4 oz.
- Any type of weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may readily be converted to expel a projectile, by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore greater than one-half inch in diameter.
- A combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a device into a destructive device and from which a destructive device can be readily assembled.
- More information can be found here about Destructive Devices
- AOW (Any other Weapon)
Basic NFA Information:
- "Class 3" is a NFA Dealer Sales License not a type of weapon. The weapons are "NFA weapons" or "Title II weapons" they are not class 3 weapons.
- You need a tax stamp for every NFA weapon you want to own. (if you want 5 suppressors you will need to have an approved Form 4 and a $200 tax stamp for each one)
- It is not a “permit” that you can obtain before you buy an NFA weapon.
- You must “purchase” a NFA weapon before you can begin the Form 4 paperwork to transfer the weapon to you (or your trust).
- It is against NFA regulations to start the Form 4 transfer paperwork before a dealer physically has the NFA weapon in their possession.
The first thing to know is that the purchase/transfer process and paperwork is the same for any type of NFA weapon.
What are the most common Forms used for NFA weapons?
Form 1 - This is used for any non-licensee to manufacture their own NFA weapon. Requires a $200 payment. This form can be submitted electronically using the NFA eForms website. This form is most commonly used for people make their own SBR.
Form 4 - This is used to transfer an already existing NFA weapon from a licensee (dealer or mfg) to a non-licensee. Requires a $200 payment (except in the case of AOW, then it is a $5 Tax Stamp). This form must be submitted by mail. This is the most common Form used by dealers to "sell" NFA weapons to buyers. You can download an NFA Form 4 here.
Form 5 - This is used to transfer an NFA weapon from an individual who has passed away to their lawful heir. This is a free transfer. This form must be submitted by mail. You can download an NFA Form 5 here.
Form 2 - This is used by a licensed manufacturer to report the making of new NFA weapon(s)
Form 3 - This is used by licensed manufactures and dealers to transfer NFA weapons.
Other General NFA Rules and Regulations:
- After you receive your approved Form 1 or Form 4 you need to keep a copy of that approved paperwork with the weapon at all times.
- The weapon cannot leave your control at any time:
- You cannot lend it to a friend or even your spouse to use without you being present.
- When you leave it at home it needs to be secured in a way that only you have access to it. (Gun safe that only you have the combination to, or a smaller gun lockbox in a safe that only you have the key/combo to)
- Only exception to this is if you have created a "NFA Gun Trust" and the weapon is in the trust. Then any Settlor or Trustee of the trust may use the weapon and have it in their possession.
- If you want to take a NFA weapon out of state temporarily you will need to submit a Form 5320.20 to the NFA and receive it back approved PRIOR to taking the weapon out of state to your destination. This applies to all NFA weapons except Sound Suppressors and AOW’s.
- If you permanently move to a new address you must notify the NFA using Form 5320.20. This must be done even if you are just moving across the street, or out of state. Also the location you are moving to (if a new state) must allow NFA weapons to be owned otherwise you cannot possess them and must dispose of them PRIOR to moving.
- Destructive Devices require a special NFA Destructive Device dealer license to be able to deal in those weapons. Lanco Tactical LLC is not licensed to handle Destructive Devices. Dealers who have their NFA SOT can request a waiver from the NFA to handle Destructive Devices due to the fact that there are so few DD Dealers in the US. *
Common Misconceptions and Internet Rumors:
- You DO NOT give up your 4th Amendment Rights when you purchase an NFA weapon.
- Law Enforcement must still obtain a search warrant in order to enter and search your home.
- In May of 1986 the law changed (Firearm Owners’ Protection Act) and made it illegal for any NEW full auto weapons to be manufactured for civilian purchase or ownership.
- So any gun that existed BEFORE May of 1986 as a NFA registered full auto weapon is still legal to purchase and own by civilians.
- After May of 1986 you cannot legally convert any gun to be full auto without using parts that were register before 1986 as a Machine Gun such as a RDIAS (Registered Drop In Auto Sear).
- Unregistered full auto NFA Weapons
- At this time there is no legal way to register a fully automatic weapon even if it existed as a full automatic weapon prior to May 1986 (example: Bring back guns from war). In the past there were amnesty periods that allowed weapons to be added to the NFA registry with “no questions asked” but those are long over and now the only legal option is to surrender the weapon to the ATF.
- In Pennsylvania you can legally own all NFA weapons including full automatic weapons, sound suppressors (silencers), AOW, and destructive devices.
- In PA it is perfectly legal to own and use a sound suppressor for shooting
- This includes at ranges or on your own private land
- Some Private or public ranges may have rules that prohibit use of any NFA weapon so please check with the range/club you plan to join before using NFA weapon on the range (especially full auto weapons)
- This also includes Hunting. You may hunt in PA with a sound suppressor and it is perfectly legal.
- Short Barrel Rifles and Shotguns (SBR’s & SBS's) are technically classified as handguns in PA
- This does create some problems when selling a used SBR/SBS
- Since it is technically a handgun it must be transferred on a Form 4 by the NFA and then again through a dealer (completing the PA handgun record of sale form) to comply with both NFA and PA law that requires all handguns be transferred through a dealer.
- Legally allowed to carry concealed (loaded in a vehicle) in PA
Hopefully you found the above information helpful. If you have any other questions about NFA weapons please feel free to contact us or stop in to our store and we will be happy to help you.
* NOTE: Destructive Devices may have many other rules and regulations that apply to them especially when you are dealing with the actual explosives. Please contact the NFA for further information regarding specific laws and regulations with regards to Destructive Devices.
Page Last Updated: 7-10-2019