ATF Implements Instant Form 3 Approvals

In an actual blessing bestowed upon the National Firearms Act (NFA) community as a whole, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has begun rapid approvals of Form 3 transfers between dealers, distributors and manufacturers. In case you aren’t an NFA process nerd like myself, these non-taxed transactions occur between FFL holders to move registered items that will most likely be sold and transferred to consumers.

So, if this process only involves licensees, why should Shawn Short-Barrel and Susie Silencer care about such mundane news? Because, both Shawn and Susie most likely buy their NFA toys from an out of state dealer, probably requiring a wait for the Form 3 approved transfer. Up until recently, the wait for a for a Form 3 approval had grown to one or two months, adding on to the already painfully long transfer process.

Silencer Shop, who is rumored to move an overwhelming majority of all the total NFA transfers across the country, recently posted images on their Instagram page showing Form 3 approvals coming back within hours of being submitted. Again, although this process only directly effects licensees, the individual buyer will see a benefit in quicker silencer availability from manufacturers and transfers from dealer to dealer. Although Silencer Shop has already streamlined this process with a network of local dealers and electronic form submissions using fingerprint scanners, electronic signatures and a mobile application for photographs.

Form 3

My local dealer, MAC Tactical, who I Like to mention whenever I get the chance becsuse he facilitates all my TFB review guns, also just had a Form 3 approval in a few hours. Boom – ATF’s eForm system is still alive! (Well, partially anyway.)

This new trend is speeding up transfers for industry members is overdue. However, I am the first in line to applaud the ATF when it comes to streamlining every aspect of the NFA process. So on behalf of all silencer lovers everywhere, thank you.

NOTE: For clarification, the Form 3’s must be submitted through the ATF’s EForms system to take advantage of the quick approvals.  Also, the new standard Form 3 approval time is two to three days. Obviously some will be quicker and some slower. In my eyes, two to three days is “instant” compared to the recent past.


LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete


  • Johnsmyname

    Perfect, now the 14 month wait will only be 13.5!! This is good news, but come on HPA!

    • QuadGMoto

      Better yet, SHUSH.

      • disqus_0jln85eNvY


    • disqus_0jln85eNvY


  • Alex A.

    I have a few questions to ask you about silencers in general and more specific AAC M4-2000 and another one. When you have time can I possibly shoot an email?

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Of course. But you can always ask here. There are lots of big brains around these parts.

      • James Earl Jones

        There are lots of small ones too…

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          I read that in Darth Vader’s voice.

  • KestrelBike

    What changed, what (who?) made them change, what took them so long, has their internal process changed, were they sitting on forms for a few weeks just because and someone smacked them and told them to stop, etc. etc. Questions. I have them and I want answers from my government.

    • Major Tom

      It’s called Election 2016. They don’t have a guy who can back up their stalling, denials or incompetence anymore.

      • Kyle

        Of course not. The new guy is far to busy with his own stalling, denials and incompetence.

        • Major Tom

          Perhaps. But that’s a step up from the previous guy actively demonizing gun owners and doing everything to trample on the rights of those not of his opinion.

          • KestrelBike

            Not to mention the big F-You in 41P/F, which I’m sure he had something to do with (“Hey dudes at ATF, how can you make lawful gun owners’ lives more difficult?”)

          • Duray

            By eliminating the CLEO signoff. Yeah ok. I got a flat tire last week and it’s Obama’s fault!

          • KestrelBike

            I do my NFA through a trust, my costs increased $60+ to file for just a single additional stamp and my wait time has ballooned from 4mo to 11+mo and counting. Are you ok with BS like that? Thanks for voting for him.

          • Malthrak

            The wait time was all panic buying, not reflective of the change in process in and of itself.

            Overall, the 41F changes were a big bag of “two steps forward, two back, one to the side”.

            Trusts got a little more awkward, but were 90% used to avoid all the paperwork of individual filing in the first place. Individuals no longer need CLEO sign-off, which is one of the big issues that drove Trusts. All depends on where you’re coming from.

            The big downside is no longer being able to efile, but thats an ATF IT ineptness issue rather than anything inherently relating to the 41F requirements.

          • Paul Rain

            > The wait time was all panic buying,

            Reasonable panic buying, given the fact that the views on firearms ownership of a great many of the power elite, and many voters, mean that they should not be allowed to hold office or vote.

          • Malthrak

            Except in this case it was a paperwork reshuffle, you have to provide prints and pics for trusts just like individuals now, but CLEO sign off is no longer required for those not using trusts. Thats the primary crux of 41F.

            The panic buying crunch was a self induced problem. I’m no fan of the NFA or firearms regulations, but this was an administrative paperwork shuffle that people imagined to be something it wasnt.

          • Cymond

            I use a trust so my wife has legal access to my NFA stuff. That’s extra important because I have medical issues, and honestly have no idea what my lifespan will be like.
            Now, she’s inconvenienced with fingerprints & photograph for each of my tax stamps. (It also makes it impossible for me to discreetly add to my collection without her knowledge!)

          • Malthrak

            I get it, and I understand that frustration, it wasn’t great for everyone, especially buying new stuff 😉

            Honestly the biggest problem I think is secondary in nature, since Trusts now need all that extra paperwork, they can’t use E-File anymore, because the ATF’s IT capabilities are apparently…nonexistent, and can’t handle the attachments.

          • Paul Rain

            Whatever dude, go worship the HNIC in your own head.

          • Othais

            This is unrelated but I never heard back from you. You said you had proof of shotguns on grenades in WWI. I had never found a single record and asked you to share them please.

            Let me know!

          • Major Tom

            It’s from the 1952 history book by Harold F Williamson, Winchester: The Gun That Won The West. (1st edition.) Pages 158-159

            Even the web video series The Great War mentions this fact.

            Specific battles or engagements are not mentioned but it is told on multiple occasions this was the case.

          • ExMachina1

            That reference was itself taken from a magazine advertisement ca 1919. There is nothing to back up that original advert. It’s a perfect example of how apocryphal legends are born.

    • It has been the way that they’ve always done thing.

      I was always told that one of the biggest slow downs for NFA approval has been data entry. Followed by an examiner actually processing the form. For forms 3s, and 5320.20s it was basically just a rubber stamp. Now if they turn form 3s, and hopefully even 5320.20s into quick database checks, they should be to reduce the examiner workload. Which can decrease waiting times for forms require more than a rubber stamp from the examiner.

  • PK

    Well, that’s only about 20 years later than it should have been.

    • GR Arnold

      DAMN … stole my thought again.

    • Noishkel

      Just in time for a new generation of metal working 3D printers came along and made it impossible to regulate guns.

      Which actually happened BTW. A brand new type of metal working 3D printer had been invented that has made it cheap enough to mass produce parts on it. They thing it will now cost 10 times less and made 100 times faster. You guy’s remember that $12K 3D printed 1911? Now they can churn them out for $1.2K all day long. Look up ‘Desktop Metal’, if anyone is interested in this tech too. Read about it on SlashDot the other day.

      • PK

        I was delighted when the DMLS patent expired this year. Based on how quickly 3D polymer printers came down in price and popped up all over the place, I had hoped similar would happen to metal printers.

        Imagine my delight now that it’s happening even more quickly!

        You’re right, absolutely correct, that there is no way to effectively regulate guns. There hasn’t been, for a while, but once everyone has easy access to a printer which can take a file and turn out a 718 Inconel or 17-4PH or 41xx part… well, every government in the world will have quite the time of it.

        It’s illegal to share MP3s if they’re copyrighted music. How’s that working out for governments? The same digital sharing can happen now, but with guns. It’s an insurmountable change for those who had kept a firm grip on who could be armed and who couldn’t.

        • And simple usefull silencers and mounting techniques are beyond patentable at this late date.

          • PK

            Up until February of this year, I believe, it was the 3D metal printing technology in question which was under patent.

          • I get that, I was just adding to your argument that there is not much in way of other restrictions from the masses having effective silencers. As ubiquitous as a usb thumb drive.

          • PK

            True enough, yes. With metal printing, there’s not anything really standing in the way of everyone having access to practically any weapon or accessory, not any more.

            As the price on the printers continues to come down, controlling any item made of metal is going to be increasingly difficult.

            I can’t say that the prospect upsets me, though!

          • georgesteele

            And patents only matter if you are making something for resale; for your own use, have at it.

  • USMC03Vet

    ATF makes DMV wait times look good.

  • Jimmy D

    Not good enough.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Are you sure you’re not 1 digit off and meant to say form 4?

    Fingers crossed.

  • nova3930

    About $(%87#$ time. Should never have been anything more than a quick automated check to if Entities A and B were both dealers. If the answer was yes, approved.


    It seems that some of the powers that be at the ATF these days actually seem to get it. Bureaucracies often get lost in details like paperwork at the expense of the purpose they are supposed to serve in the first place. Good to see the ATF is starting to remember their real purpose.

    It first became clear we had some allies at the ATF when Deputy Director, Ronald Turk’s White Paper got leaked to the press in January. No doubt more interesting things to come from the ATF over the next few years.

  • Ragged Hole

    They should just approve Form 1s & 4s the same way they do with no-knock raids. Just give it a quick glance and sign off.

  • GR Arnold

    :::: Y-A-W-N :::: … just pass the Act and be done with it please.

  • Cymond

    Inheriting NFA stuff isn’t done on a Form 4, it uses a different form (5?) that is tax-free.

    Still a pain in the butt, though.

    • KestrelBike

      Ah ok thank you for that correction!

  • Bob Cobb

    so what are you guys using to get E-forms to talk to your computer? i had to format my computer recently and google chrome as well as explorer dont offer java support anymore so e-forms wont load. anyone have some help?

  • BryanS

    Shouldnt be a licensing process in place at all. Serial numbers, background checks, none of this has actually curtailed anything, its only given the feds more power, and more jobs.

  • disqus_0jln85eNvY

    Not good enough. I want suppressors REMOVED from the NFA registry!

  • Mike Lashewitz

    Where is the “Shall not be infringed” waiver?

  • Colonel K

    I predict an attempt at 3-D printer licensing in the future. Somebody has to think of the children.

  • supergun

    How long does it take to get a $5 stamp for an AOW?

  • Old Vet

    Can anyone on this board actually cite the use of a silencer in a crime in the last 50 years? It is so ridiculous that we have to go through wait times like this for something that is non-lethal. We must keep pushing back against the burdensome laws that restrict our liberties.

  • supergun

    Should not have an infringement against the Constitution 2nd Amendment if it takes a year to accommodate.