Stamp Collecting…

Here’s the short version of the story:

On December 12, 2012, I turned my completed Form 4 over to my class III dealer who, in turn, mailed the paperwork into ATF. I was approved on July 16, 2013 and the suppressor I purchased was transferred to me on July 19, 2013.

After going through it, I have no idea why I waited so long to start the process. I shot more rounds that weekend than I have in the last three years. I would encourage anyone who can to buy one, or at the very least, seriously consider buying one.

(I am currently writing articles on the National FIrearms Act, NFA Trusts, Innovative Arms, LLC and a more comprehensive review of the suppressor I bought. Stay tuned.)

Mosquito and Apex

Very quiet and very capable. Phillip at Innovative Arms is the best suppressor guy in the business.

Here’s the long version:

I’ve wanted to get into the class III realm for years. When I was a teenager, a neighbor of ours had a 1928 Thompson and two Stens, all full auto. He had a Dillon 1050 in his garage, set up by a bar stool and a TV, which he used to reload for hours in order to feed the Thompson. He also had a suppressed Ruger Mk II. His friends had NFA items as well. Going to the range was quite the experience.

I’ve wanted a suppressor since then. In hindsight, I don’t know why I waited 15 years. One factor was the expense. Suppressors range from a few hundred dollars to $1200 or so. Also, I never wanted to pay $200 for a stamp. But I did want my kids to be able to shoot in our backyard to avoid range fees, so I decided to look into it.

The Apex is 5.25 inches.

The Apex is 5.25 inches.

I started saving my pennies and looking around for a .22 can to start with. Lo and behold, there is a suppressor manufacturer near me. Innovative Arms, LLC is located in Elgin, South Carolina. I stopped by and asked them for some information and a demo. More on that later. I am writing an article about Innovative Arms and about how impressed I was with their knowledge, quality and their manufacturing processes. Over the years I have used several suppressed weapons and was intrigued by theirs. I committed right then to start my NFA journey with a .22 suppressor.

While paperwork is ominous to many people, the form is straightforward. It is similar to the 4473 and has spaces for a passport-sized pic. Fingerprints are required on a specified fingerprint card. Most importantly, there is a space on page 2 requiring the signature of the chief law enforcement officer whose organization has jurisdiction over your place of residence. So, yes, you actually have to get passport photos, you have to get fingerprints on the required fingerprint card and yes, your CLEO must sign the form. Fortunately for me, the good folks at Innovative Arms made sure of of my paperwork was in order before and after I had all the required documents. A pdf copy of the form can be found by simply Googling “ATF Form 4”.

form 4 page 1

Form 4 pages 1 and 2

form 4 page 2


I had paid for the suppressor before starting the paperwork, so the last step was mailing the required documents, along with a $200 check for the transfer fee. The process “officially” starts when your check is cashed. I mailed the docs in mid-December, 2012. My $200 check was cashed by ATF on Jan. 10. Then, the wait begins. The website NFA Tracker ( ) allows individuals to enter their data and the dates of various events and track the progress of their transfer. You can view the same information of others who have submitted data. The site keeps track of average transfer times, which is currently between 6 and 7 months.

This process is different if using an NFA Trust, which I am writing another article about.

The ATF says they aim for a transfer within 6 months. From the ATF’s website:

Q: How long does it take for ATF to process my NFA application?

The processing time for NFA applications varies depending on the type of application submitted. Certain applications require the processing of making or transfer taxes while others are tax-exempt. Some applications require the prospective transferee to pass Federal background checks based on both name and fingerprints while transferees such as law enforcement agencies or foreign military agencies are exempt from background checks. ATF also must ensure that a proposed transfer would not violate State or local law in the transferee’s place of residence. The time needed to research and verify State and local requirements can vary greatly depending on the legal complexity of laws governing the type of firearm sought or the business structure and status of applicants other than individuals.

 In addition, the sheer volume of applications submitted for ATF review has dramatically increased in recent years. In fiscal year 2005, for example, ATF processed 41,579 NFA applications of all types. By FY 2011 that number had increased to 105,373, with a 25% decrease in the number of NFA examiners available to process the work. Currently, ATF’s customer service goal is to process an Application to Make and Register a Firearm (Form 1) and an Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm (Form 4) within 6 months of ATF’s receipt of a correctly executed application. The customer service standard for processing all other types of NFA applications (i.e., those which don’t generally require tax processing or background checks) is within one month of ATF’s receipt of a correctly executed application. It is important to keep in mind that incomplete or incorrect applications slow ATF’s ability to take final action. If you wish to confirm receipt of an application by ATF or obtain a status check on a pending application, you should call the NFA Branch at 304-616-4500. It will help the NFA Branch locate your application more quickly if you have the serial number of the firearm sought for transfer and the name of the prospective transferee.”

I admit, I called the ATF three or four times a week to check on the status of my transfer. But the difficult part was over. All I had to do was wait, which I did for over 6 months. During that time, I had Innovative Arms thread the barrel on my son’s .22 rifle, so it would be suppressor ready. Finally, on July 16, 2013, I was approved. Innovative Arms received the signed and stamped paperwork on July 19 and I immediately went out and shot 500 rounds.

My son's Crickett Rifle is now suppressor ready. Why suppress a Crickett? Because I live in America.

My son’s Crickett Rifle is now suppressor ready. Why suppress a Crickett? Because I live in America. And Innovative hooked me up with a birdcage flash suppressor as a thread protector.


To make a long story even longer, that was my first experience buying a suppressor. I didn’t have any issues getting the suppressor, other than the 6 month wait. Living in the South, I also didn’t have any issues getting a CLEO signature, which I hear can be a problem in certain areas. While I didn’t appreciate the wait and I’m no fan of the NFA, I am very pleased with the suppressor itself.

Again, I’m writing articles on the National FIrearms Act, NFA Trusts, Innovative Arms, LLC and a review of the Apex .22 can itself, which will be posted soon. I hope anyone sitting on the fence about buying a suppressor will see how relatively easy it can be. For me, I hope it’s an annual purchase from now on. I don’t know why I waited so long but I certainly won’t be waiting another decade to purchase a suppressor again. I highly recommend it.


GD Crocker is a proud Southerner who has been shooting for decades. He is a competitive shooter, armorer, instructor and collector. He recently passed the bar exam and deals primarily with securities law. GD’s proudest moments are seeing his kids shoot and get excited about their 2nd Amendment rights. He’s no Rick Taylor, but then again, who is?


  • Jeff

    Here in New Zealand anyone can own a suppressor without any special paperwork. I have two. Great things.

    • TangledThorns

      Yeah but how easy is to get an AR-15 or even a Glock 19 in NZ?

      • burned


      • Jeff

        Not difficult at all if you go through the process. We are not Australia.

      • Rob

        The New Zealand guide to buying an AR-15…..

        Step one: Go to gun store….

        Step two: Approach sales assistant, ask politely “I wish to buy an AR-15”

        Step three: Go to different gun store after being informed “we” don’t sell that kind of thing….

        Step four: enter gun store that sells all the things the other stores don’t carry (jeff knows the one i mean)

        Step five: repeat step two…assistant replies “certainly sir, I will just require all of your dollars….yes all of them….including the ones you have yet to earn” (I promise I’m not making this up…..1 x GEN 3 black pmag-30 $369NZD)

        Step six: re-think priorities in life and consider finding somewhere else to live….

        • Rob

          The New Zealand guide to buying a Glock 19….

          Step one: dont

          Step two: take up juggling chainsaws made of plutonium whilst riding a horse (that hates you) because it is far less regulated than pistol ownership in New Zealand

  • Bull

    supressors should be mandatory…

    • orly?

      Nah, not for pistols imho.

  • AKSapper

    Great article . the NFA world is great fun. However now Form 1 & 4 are taking forever . I went pending in January and after 223 days I still dont have my Form 1 back

    • gunslinger

      form 1 is for manufacturing? a previous article covered that, i believe.

      • Formynder

        Yes, 1 is manufacturing, 4 is transfers. However, manufacturing includes creating a SBR from a normal rifle.

        • AKSapper

          That is correct . Making my SBR MP5 is a labor of love

  • gunslinger

    I was going to ask if a NFA Trust needed fingerprints/LEO signoff, but it looks like you will be covering that in another post.

    Can you transfer a “personal NFA” item to an NFA Trust?

    • mike

      yes, but it is a transfer so you’re out _another_ $200 🙁

    • aweds1

      No, using a NFA trust negates the need for fingerprints, photo, and LEO signoff. It’s the best way to go but does entail extra expense setting it up.

    • Cymond

      Let me rephrase what Mike said.
      Yes, you can transfer your personally-registered NFA items to a trust, but you have to pay the $200 transfer fee for each of them. It may be worth it to you because a trust can have multiple trustees who all have the right to access the trust’s assets (the NFA items).
      And you are correct that a trust does not require fingerprints, photographs, or a CLEO signature. After all, a trust is an artificial individual, so it does not have fingerprints or photographs.
      However, make note that you must be VERY careful with NFA trusts. The ATF only examines the transfer paperwork, not the trust’s paperwork. If you create a “trust” that does not meet your state’s legal requirements for a trust, then you do not really have a trust. As said, the ATF doesn’t confirm the validity of the trust, so if your trust is invalid and the ATF approves the transfer, you could be in serious legal trouble. Also, make sure the trust is properly set up so that when you die, the executor of the trust can legally take possession of the NFA items and manage the trust. It would be very bad if your executor were imprisoned for violating the NFA.

  • avconsumer2

    Seems like the ATF is in a prime position to create some actually useful / profitable government jobs. (speed up application times / sell more stamps / better customer service)
    OH… right… that might actually be helpful. Never mind!! Yay gubment!

    • orly?

      But the ATF is restricted by law to only have 2000 employees.

  • TangledThorns

    Because of the long wait I wrote my state’s US Senators about this. I suggest others here do the same.

  • Steve

    Now that you’ve been through the NFA tax stamp process, I’m pretty sure you’re required to update your vocabulary in phrases like “…get into the class III realm…” to “…get into the NFA realm…”. Class III refers to a special occupational tax (SOT) the FFL holder (specifically, the dealer) pays.

  • Jeff

    A couple of people who contacted them in the last week were told the current wait for anything submitted after January is 12 months! -I wonder if they’ll ever try to do something about the wait.

    • MrSatyre

      Why would they? Then they wouldn’t have anything to do. They don’t want us to have suppressors in the first place.

      • jpcmt

        Yeah, they’re busy raiding the wrong homes and shooting innocent dogs looking for guns to confiscate, why would they increase their staff for handling form 4’s above the 9 they have now?

    • I seriously doubt it. During this time of forced furloughs of government employees I imagine we just wait.

  • jpcmt

    So I have a question: Does that tax stamp cover just the supressor or does it need to be tied to a specific gun? In other words, can you use that supressor on different guns like the cricket AND also a Ruger 22 pistol?

    • Formynder

      Yes, the tax stamp is just for the silencer. Once you have it you can do whatever you want with it.

    • Cymond

      In this case, the suppressor is detachable from the firearm and can be used on other firearms, like his son’s Cricket rifle that he mentions.

      However, some suppressors are integrated permanently in to the firearm. These are called “integral suppressors”. The main advantage is that they are generally smaller & lighter than a gun with thread-on suppressor. For example, a 6″ suppressor on a 16″ barrel is long and unwieldy. You could get a short-barreled rifle (another NFA item with another $200 stamp) or you can get an 16″ integrally suppressed rifle barrel.

      Once upon a time, integral suppressors were much quieter than detachable suppressors, but the quality of thread-on suppressors has increased over the last few years. Integrals have become a small section of the suppressor market. example of an integral suppressor:

  • nekokoneko

    Wish I could apply and buy one….California Sucks!!!

    • JumpIf NotZero

      If anyone tried to stop me from moving from CA… I’d have serious doubts that they had my interests at heart.. like at all.

  • BKE Evers

    Too bad I live in one of the 11 states where it’s not permitted.
    Stupid Iowa!

  • idahoguy101

    Why is there a suppressor on SIG pistol in 22LR ?

    • Cymond

      Because even a 22LR pistol can easily register in the 155db range, enough to cause some permanent hearing damage from even a single shot.

  • MB

    So, you mentioned having to get a CLEO signature so I’m assuming that you did not get a trust as that would not be required if you had gotten said trust. Then you mentioned you got your son’s rifle threaded and suppressor ready and wanting the ability to shoot quietly in your back yard. So, once you give your son the rifle (w/ suppressor) to shoot isn’t that considered a transfer of the suppressor (without son going through tax stamp process)? Opening up a lot of legal issues, etc… Yes, I realize that nobody will theoretically see what’s going on but not necessarily the best or brightest idea? Perhaps I’m mistaken or missed something in the article….