NFA Myths

NFA Myths

The National Firearms Act, or the NFA, is an old piece of legislature that’s created an entire bureaucracy around it. Due to a lot of misunderstanding, half truths, and the prevalence of forum wisdom there are a lot of myths regarding the NFA. Several of these myths often turn people away from buying NFA items. Today we are going to debunk the most popular NFA myths.


You Need a Class 3 License

One of the most widespread myths is the Class 3 license. The Myth proclaims to own an NFA item you have to acquire a class 3 license, and you have to go through the ATF to acquire it.

You do not need any type of Federal license to own an NFA items. Some states may require a special license, Massachusetts for example requires a license to own a machine gun. There really is no such thing as a class 3 license for non dealers. The roots of the myth comes from the various forms you may fill out, and from the classes of SOTs.

The whole Class 3 term comes from the Special Occupational Tax classes. A Special Occupational Tax, or SOT, is what gives a firearms dealer the ability to sell NFA items. A Class 3 SOT allows dealers to sell NFA items. As an individual you do not need, or likely want to deal with, obtaining a Class 3 Special Occupational Tax. It’s not free, and neither is ITAR.

 The ATF Can Inspect your Home At any Time!

This is likely the most well known and often repeated myth to come down the pipeline. The Myth states than when you acquire a NFA weapons or item, the ATF has the ability to come and inspect where you store your NFA items at anytime they want. You’d effectively lose your 4th amendment rights.

The myth comes from the fact the ATF is allowed to inspect Federal Firearms License holders to ensure they are compliant with current regulatory practices. However, the ATF is only allowed one warrantless annual inspection, and even then they prefer to call and arrange a date to meet with the FFL FFL’s likely go several years without an inspection due to the number of FFLs and the amount of ATF inspectors.

Rest in comfort, as a private citizen they cannot come and inspect your NFA items without a warrant, and the warrant would obviously have to be tied to criminal activity. If you aren’t running guns like a biker gang your NFA items are safe from prying eyes.

You Have to Be over 21 to own NFA items

This is probably the closest to an accurate myth, however, half of its still wrong. The myth being you have to be of legal drinking age to own an NFA item. This isn’t true. You do have to be 21 years old to purchase an NFA item. However, if you want to manufacture your own on a Form 1 at the age of 18 you can.

This suppressor doubles as a bottle opener perfect for any 21 y.o.’

The law is odd, and a lot like handgun laws in many states. You cannot purchase an NFA weapon from a dealer, but can manufacture and own your own without issue.

No One Can Use my NFA item

The myth that floats around that only you can shoot, carry, or even dare look at an NFA item is another that’s been around forever. It’s also not true. The NFA item needs to be under your control, but other people can shoot it, handle it, and enjoy it altogether.

Now someone can’t just take your NFA item and borrow it, but if you take friends and family to the range they can shoot your NFA items. If this wasn’t true Shot Show’s Range Day would be an absolute cluster of illegal activity.  

 A Trust is the only way to pass my NFA items to my family.

If you unfortunately pass away and you own NFA items they are still NFA items. The myth floating around states the only way to pass those items down is to have a trust and have your beneficiary on the trust. This is one method of transferring ownership, but not the only method. Your family members can inherit your NFA items without a trust


They utilize an ATF Form 5 and are not obliged to pay a tax to receive the NFA items. The Form 5 is quite simple, but whoever inherits the items will still have to register them, and follow all applicable ATF regulation and laws.


The NFA myths likely don’t end here. You could always dive into a wide variety of myths regarding the items themselves.Myths like the old Silencers make guns whisper quiet, and Machine guns are so much more dangerous than standard semi-autos. For a long time the NFA was a mysterious thing, only explored by the most dedicated gun owners. However, as the NFA skyrockets in popularity these myths will hopefully see themselves out the door.

  1. Guest

    As a class 3 dealer am I required to file ATF form 4 if I purchase a suppressor for personal use? Or, should I register it under my business? Surprisingly I’m have a hard time finding an answer to my question. Hopefully you can help or let me know where to find the answer.
    Michael D, Watson

  2. Guest

    Thanks for clearing up so much of the “ATF is gonna get ya” crap. I own 1 item from the suppressor family & working on my 2nd, so this helps a lot.

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