ATF 4473 eForm

ATF 4473 Form

The ATF’s form 4473 should be something every FFL is familiar with, in fact every gun owner should be familiar with the 4473 form. However, the 4473 is a relic of pre digital record keeping and 20th century ideas on how to conduct background checks.  While the way a 4473 really hasn’t changed, the ATF 4473 eForm has been a real game changer for FFL’s all over the country. So lets dig a little deeper and see why the ATF 4473 online is so important for FFL’s to use.

The Problems with a Paper 4473

Paper 4473’s come with a lot of problems. For one thing, if a customer makes an error, sometimes it is easier to start another new ATF form 4473 rather than just try to correct it. However the biggest problem comes from illegible entries. This can cause all sorts of headaches, delayed or denied transfers or just an overall slower transaction.

These problems compound themselves in transactions that can take multiple days due to delays with the NICS system or multi-day transfers due to various state or Federal waiting period regulations. In other words, a sloppy paper 4473 is a compliance nightmare just waiting to happen. Let’s face it, nobody wants to deal with an ATF examiner who is unhappy about the state of your bound book or the quality of your 4473’s. Fortunately though, there is a solution. 

ATF 4473 Software

The ATF has addressed the need for a cleaner, better, more accurate 4473 form by creating ATF 4473 software. Useable on Windows or Mac (sorry Linux users, no love for you here from the Feds) this allows you to create a fully digital 4473.

Installing it is fairly simple, and with a good internet connection, the download only takes a few minutes. Having the ATF 4473 eForm available for your customers can make life a lot easier for everyone.

However using ATF 4473 software can come with problems. Not everyone is computer savvy, or likes using computers. For various reasons a visible portion of gun buyers are conservative in their ways and at times this includes attitudes towards changing technology. Eldery gun buyers who may not be comfortable with computers or customers who may require accessibility options to use a 4473 eForm may also not want to use an all digital 4473.

That’s why it is important to have paper 4473 options for those who for whatever reason cannot or choose not to use a digital 4473.  However we’ll talk more about pros and cons of a ATF 4473 eForm in a minute.

Using the ATF 4473 eForm For Better Record Keeping

The best part about the ATF 4473 eForm is the fact that it creates perfect digital records. Every FFL has had to deal with stacks and stacks of paper 4473’s that have to be carefully kept and stored. However, once digitized it greatly simplifies keeping your required records and makes ATF inspections a breeze. After all if you use their software to handle their forms, it’s going to just be easier all around.

AFT 4473 Online

Perhaps the most exciting part of a 4473 eForm is the fact you can submit your NICS check digitally instead of calling it in. This also eliminates crucial error points – reading the 4473 and NICS manually typing it in. This makes the entire background check process faster, and when same day sales are possible can shave a lot of valuable time off the entire transaction, which equates to labor cost savings for you and the ability to move more guns in a day!

Pros and Cons of ATF 4473 eForm

We already touched on some practical problems with the 4473 eForm, namely issues of computer literacy, accessibility or personal preference. However those aren’t the only problems you might have deploying a 4473 eForm.

Because the ATF 4473 software is well, software your ability to fill out and process 4473’s are as good as your computer. In the case of a computer failure, power outage or internet disturbance, you will not be able to handle any gun sales unless you maintain a set of paper 4473’s.

Some people may be worried about storing all their 4473’s in a digital file that might be stolen by hackers. Or if a file is corrupted and unreadable, then you can have serious gaps in your records which is something you really don’t want to have happen.

On the other hand if you are aware of the problems with a digital 4473, and can secure your computer, maintain multiple clean backups of your records and generally keep a tight digital ship, then an online 4473 can be a real game changer.

Many customers love having a quick and easy to fill out digital form, and the faster processing that comes from an online 4473. FFL’s and their employees also often find that of great benefit. Properly implemented, an ATF 4473 eForm can really improve your business, boost your bottom line and even boost your reputation as “the shop that gets background checks done really fast.”


Having the ATF 4473 eForm is usually a very good idea for FFL’s. It will usually speed up transactions, make filling out and processing 4473’s easier and faster, and allows saving your 4473’s in a simple database file instead of piles of paper documents.

However, it can pose a barrier for some customers and is dependent upon keeping a computer and internet connection up and running, and can present unique security and data retention challenges.

Incorporating online 4473’s will generally benefit you and your customers, but you have to go into it with both eyes open and be prepared to use paper 4473’s at customer request or when digital systems are down or not working properly. It is likely the ATF will continue to develop and promote the use of eForms to speed up work on their end, and likely to make extracting information from 4473’s easier. One thing is for sure though, eForm 4473’s are here to stay and love or hate them, sooner or later you’ll probably want to – or maybe have to use them.

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