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How to Buy a Silencer

Many people who have never purchased a sound suppressor (aka, silencer) are intimidated by the process. The purpose of this page is to clarify exactly how the process works.

If you’ve been researching how to buy a silencer online, you’re probably feeling both overwhelmed and confused.  There is so much information coming from conflicting sources that it seems overwhelming before you actually dive in and get started.

The reality is that buying a suppressor is a simple process which generally requires less paperwork than buying a new refrigerator!

Many people are under the mistaken impression that they need a “Class 3” license in order to own a suppressor.  This is not true. If you live in a state where suppressor ownership is legal, and you can legally own a firearm, then you can buy a suppressor.

Is it legal for you to own a silencer?

The first thing you need to do is determine if suppressor ownership is legal where you live. Currently, the following states allow private ownership of suppressors: AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MI, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, and WY. Even if you live in one of these states, you should verify that owning a suppressor is legal in your area.

How should you register your new silencer?

Once you’ve determined that you can legally own a suppressor, you should carefully consider what the best method will be for you to register a suppressor. There are three possible ways to register a suppressor, and each method has its own pros and cons:

1. Register the suppressor to a trust

  • Advantages
    1. When using a trust, it’s possible to register using the new ATF e-Form system – which is a faster & more efficient way to submit paperwork
    2. Anyone listed as a trustee in the trust can be in possession of the suppressor
    3. A revocable trust can be changed at any time without notifying the ATF
    4. No signature is required from chief law-enforcement officer
    5. No fingerprint cards are required
    6. You only need to create the trust once. The same trust can be used for all future suppressors or other NFA items (such as short barreled rifles)
  • Disadvantages
    1. Some initial work and cost is required to setup the trust. Many people create their trust using a do-it-yourself solution – or you can also talk to a gun trust lawyer who will set it up for you.
    2. In some states, a trust needs to be registered with the state – although that is not a requirement in most cases.
  • Best for
    1. People with family members who want to share possession of the suppressor
    2. People who want to go together with friends on the purchase of a suppressor
    3. People who want more flexibility in the long run
    4. Anyone planning on making multiple NFA purchases who want to avoid the overhead of getting the CLEO signature and fingerprints each time

2. Register the suppressor to a corporation

  • Advantages
    1. When using a corporation, it’s possible to register using the new ATF e-Form system – which is a faster & more efficient way to submit paperwork
    2. Any officer of the corporation can be in possession of the suppressor
    3. If you already have a corporation, this can be easier than a trust since you will avoid the initial trust setup
    4. No signature is required from chief law-enforcement officer
    5. No fingerprint cards are required
  • Disadvantages
    1. You need to keep your corporation in good standing, which can be more work than a trust (which is basically a “create it and forget about it” process in most cases)
  • Best for
    1. Anyone who already owns a corporation, and wants that corporation to act as the owner of the suppressor
    2. Anyone planning on making multiple NFA purchases who want to avoid the overhead of getting the CLEO signature and fingerprints each time

3. Register the suppressor in your own name

  • Advantages
    1. You can avoid initial work required to setup a trust or corporation
  • Disadvantages
    1. As of now, individuals are unable to submit paperwork using the new ATF e-Form system.
    2. Only you can be in possession of the suppressor (although, other people can still use it if you’re with them)
    3. Requires signature from chief law-enforcement officer where you live
    4. Requires fingerprint card
  • Best for
    1. People who don’t plan to buy a lot of NFA items
    2. People who just want to get the buying process started
    3. People who always plan to be present when the suppressor is in use

Now, you’re ready to buy your new toy!

Once you know you can legally own a suppressor, and you know how you’re going to register it, it’s time to go shopping!

The process of actually buying the suppressor online is similar to buying something from Amazon.com, or any other online retailer, with only two major differences:

  1. We can’t ship a suppressor directly to your house (unless you live in Texas).
  2. You won’t be able to take possession of the suppressor until the transfer has been approved by the NFA Branch. You can check out the current wait times on this page – but most suppressor owners will agree that it’s well worth the wait!

Be sure to check out the specific page for the registration method you’re choosing so you’ll know what information we need after you make the purchase.

After you go through the process the first time, you’ll realize that there really isn’t much to it. The hardest part is that “Kid Before Christmas” feeling while waiting on the ATF!