To a budding National Firearms Act (NFA) enthusiast, understanding the basics of the NFA can be quite a daunting task.

According to the BATFE:
"The NFA was originally enacted in 1934.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,” machineguns, and firearm mufflers and silencers."


5 Categories of NFA Items:

Short-Barrel Shotgun (SBS)
(1) a shotgun having a smoothbore barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;
(2) 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

Short-Barrel Rifle (SBR)
(1) a rifle having a rifled barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;
(2) 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

Machine-Gun (MG)
(1)Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger
(2) The frame or receiver of any such weapon
(3)Any part designed and intended solely and exclusively or combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun, or
(4) Any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

Silencer (Suppressor)
(1) The terms "firearm silencer" and "firearm muffler" mean any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, and any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.

Any Other Weapon (AOW)
(1) Any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive;
(2) A pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell;
(3) Weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading; and
(4)Any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition

Destructive Device (DD)
(1) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas, (A) bomb, (B) grenade, (C) rocket having a propellant charge of more than 4 ounces, (D) missile having an explosive charge of more than 1/4 ounce, (E) mine or (F) similar device.
(2) Any weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter (.50 inches or 12.7 mm), except a shotgun or shotgun shell which the Secretary finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes; and
(3) Any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device as defined in subparagraphs (1) and (2) and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled.


ATF Forms for NFA: There's a variety of ATF Forms that are for various different types of NFA Actions.

Form 1: Form 1 is an application to make and register a firearm, by a non-SOT. This requires payment of a $200 registration tax. Form 1s can be done for any NFA item, except a machine-gun.
Form 2: Type 07 and Type 10 FFLs, and 02 SOT NFA Manufacturers to register a newly created NFA item tax free.
Form 3: Tax-Free SOT-to-SOT transfers.
Form 4: Transfers of NFA items to, or between non-SOTs, requiring payment of $200 tax.

Federal Firearms License (FFL) Types

Type 1: Dealer or Gunsmith
Type 2: Pawnbroker
Type 3: Collector of Curio & Relic (C&R) firearms
Type 6: Manufacturer of Ammunition
Type 7: Manufacturer of Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices
Type 8: Importer of Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices (TXMGO has this FFL)
Type 9: Dealer in Destructive Devices
Type 10 Manufacturer of Destructive Devices (TXMGO has this FFL)
Type 11 Importer of Destructive Devices


Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT) Types: An SOT is an FFL who has paid a yearly tax of $1000 or $500, depending on gross sales; to be allowed to deal in NFA items. The tax is due 1 July or every year. There are 3 Classes of SOTs:

Class 01
: Importer of NFA Firearms (TXMGO has this SOT)
Class 02: Manufacturer of NFA Firearms (TXMGO has this SOT)
Class 03: Dealer of NFA Firearms

* Class 01 and 02 SOTs, can also deal in NFA firearms


NFA Myths:

Machines guns and suppressors are illegal
While your state of residence may not allow the possession of such weapons, they are not unlawful under federal law. NFA 1934 makes the transfer of such weapons taxable, and created a registry of such weapons.
No machine guns made after May 1986 can be entered in the registry creating a de facto ban on the production of new machine guns for civilians. This de facto ban does not apply to other NFA items.

I need a "Class 3 License" to buy an NFA item
Contrary to what you may read on the internet, there is no such thing as a "Class 3 License". What you need to do is pay a tax on the transfer of each item in your possession. The tax is currently $200 for machine guns, suppressors, short-barreled rifles/shotguns, and destructive devices. The transfer tax for Any Other Weapon is $5.

The "Class 3 License" misnomer, typically stems from a Type 01 FFL (Dealer in Firearms) who has paid to become a Class 3, Special Occupation Taxpayer (SOT) to allow them to deal in NFA items (NFA).

I have to pay the NFA tax every year
The $200 or $5 NFA Tax is a one-time tax, no matter how long you own the NFA item. The yearly fee is the Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT) tax of $500 or $1000.

Owning an NFA surrendering your 4th amendment protections
The mere ownership of an NFA item does not give the ATF carte blanche to come search your house at any time day-or-night. This myth stems from the ATF's "right-of-entry" that is required for FFLs. In fact the only person you are legally required to show your NFA registration paperwork to is an "ATF officer on request". Technically you do not have to show local, state, or non-ATF law enforcement your NFA registration paperwork; yet your milage may vary on how succesful that works out for you.

If I buy an NFA item I’ll have to buy a safe to store it in
While you are required to maintain control of your NFA items at all times (and a safe to which only you have access goes a long way to meeting this requirement), there is no law that requires you to buy a safe to store your NFA items.

No one else is allowed to use my NFA weapons
As long as you are maintaining control (which means you don’t leave the NFA items in the sole care of someone other than yourself) your friends and family are welcome to use them, as long as you are physically present.

All sales must go through a dealer
Intrastate sales can be completed on a Form 4 without involving a dealer. Interstate sales require an FFL to FFL transfer on a Form 3.

Configuration of the NFA item may not be changed
You may freely change the configuration of your NFA item without specific permission from the ATF. You can use one SBR lower receiver, and have as many NFA or non-NFA uppers as your wish. The only time you are required to notify ATF is of a "permanent" change, which is not really defined