Have you ever considered buying a suppressor, and decided against it because you were unsure of the process? Well, don’t let that deter you – we are here to help walk you through it, step by step.
1 | Buy The Suppressor
To begin this process, you must know a few things. You must be at least 21 years old, a citizen of the United States, legally able to purchase a firearm, pass a background check, and reside in a state in which it is legal to own a suppressor. Additionally, you must be a resident of the state in which the FFL officiating the Form 4/transfer is located. If you bought a suppressor from us, we would transfer it to an FFL (SOT) in your state and you would complete the process with them.
When buying a suppressor, you should consider a few things like what kind of firearm it’s going on, diameter (to ensure that it will fit under your handguard if that applies), manufacturer warranty, and overall decibel rating. Here at Unique-ARs, we offer the Stingerworx Emperor Series Suppressors because they are well-designed, crafted in Idaho and provide 25-27 dB reduction.
Once you have decided on the best product for your needs, buy it. The purchase of the suppressor is the first step because you are assigned a unique serial number that is used for the rest of the ATF forms from here on. Your suppressor will remain safely with your FFL until the end of this process.
2 | Complete the ATF Form 4
This form really isn’t so bad. The ATF Form 4 consists of questions similar to the 4473 (firearm transfer), and is a packet with (3) copies of the same questions.
Legally, you are able to purchase a suppressor as a trust, but you must have it set up prior to the completion of your Form 4. There are certainly some pros of going this route, but we will not be covering that topic here. We encourage you to research this option and discuss it with your lawyer.
Along with this packet, you must include:
- (2) Sets of Passport Photos
- 2 x 2″
- Taken within the last year
- Taken in full face view without a hat or head covering
- Include your full name and SSN on the back
- Securely tape these photos into the Form 4 packet (do not staple them) in their designated boxes
- (2) Sets of Fingerprint Cards (FBI Forms FD-258)
- Your FFL should provide you with these cards
- Fingerprints can be done with “someone properly equipped to take them”, but we recommend using your local law enforcement agency since they take people’s fingerprints almost daily. Call your local police department or sheriffs office to determine their availability and pricing. (For reference, our S.O. charges $5 per 2 cards.)
- DO NOT SEND CASH
- A Money Order, Check, or Cred/Debit Information may be provided. (We recommend using a cashier’s check)
- Checks are made payable to the ATF
Once you have completed the ATF Form 4, check it one last time for completion and accuracy.
3 | Send Packet to the ATF and Send One Copy of Form 4 to your Chief Law Enforcement Agency (CLEO)
Within your completed packet, you should have (2) copies of the ATF Form 4 (one marked as ATF Copy and one marked as ATF Copy 2 – To Be returned to Registrant), (2) sets of fingerprint cards, (2) passport-style photos properly affixed to the packet, and your payment method.
Mail your packet to the NFA Division of the ATF. We recommend sending this via Certified Mail (with Return Receipt Requested).
National Firearms Act Division
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
P.O. Box 5015
Portland, OR 97208-5015
For your third copy of the ATF Form 4 (marked CLEO Copy), submit this copy to your local CLEO. Your local Sheriff is a standard option, or if you reside within city limits you may opt to send to your police department chief.
4 | Wait
During this step, patience will be your best friend. Wait times vary between 6 months and 1 year, but ultimately it depends on how “backed up” the ATF is with paperwork. Unfortunately, the ATF doesn’t have a perfect system for checking the status of your application either.
5 | Approval & Transfer
You will know the status of your application when the second copy of your Form 4 is sent back to the FFL it was completed with. On the bottom of the form, it will be marked as “Approved” or “Denied” (for the following reasons).
Approved forms indicate that you may proceed with the transfer. Complete a 4473 (without a background check) with your FFL. From here, you’re done and may take possession of your suppressor.
Denied forms are unlikely, but they mainly stem from the same reasons that you would be denied a regular NICs check, like criminal background of criminal domestic violence, felonies, etc. In the case of a denied form 4, expect a letter from the ATF and more information regarding the appeals process.
Now, are you ready to buy a suppressor? Even if you don’t live in Idaho, work with us! We are happy to assist you in locating a quality FFL (SOT) and assisting you through this process. Our reps will be a phone call away.