NFA Wait Times

NFA Wait Times

There probably isn’t a single person contemplating buying or building an NFA item who doesn’t immediately wonder about the current NRA approval wait time. It’s an important question to ask and consider because depending on what kind of form you file and how you file it, NFA wait time can be as little as two months or as much as six to nine months – or longer!

So what is the current NFA wait time? Can it be calculated? What’s the best way to get your NFA wait time as low as possible? We’ll look at all this and more, as we delve into the arcane and mysterious world of NFA transfers and the strange regulations and paperwork involved. It’s important to remember, though, that there really isn’t any rhyme or reason to the approval process. This is the Federal government, after all.

Tracking NFA Wait Times

There is no official NFA wait time tracking tool. However, thanks to the magic of the internet, we can reasonably crowdsource wait time data and make reasonable guesses as to how long the process will take. We can thank the good folks at for providing a platform to do that with. NFA Tracker is the go-to source for information used in calculating various NFA wait times.

We are concerned with four basic types of submission when considering NFA wait times. These are:

  • Paper Form 1 submissions
  • eFile Form 1 submissions
  • Paper Form 4 submissions
  • eFile Form 4 submissions

Needless to say, eFile forms are faster, but there are ways to speed up paper submissions.

All submissions are either made in the name of a trust, corporation, or individual. There are also dealer-to-dealer transfers, and in-state private sales between individuals, both of which are done on paper forms.

To understand NFA wait times we need to first understand the two different types of ATF forms involved. We’ve written an extensive explanation of the ATF Form 1 here, and the ATF form 4 here.

The TL;DR version is that they’re both just the paperwork you fill out when purchasing a ready-made NFA item from a dealer or an in-state individual to individual sale, or making your own NFA item.

Of course, there’s more to it than that, so let’s take a quick look at these two radically different ATF forms.

ATF Form 1 and Form 4

You’ll hear both of these terms in the NFA community, but other than involving irritating government paperwork and taxes, they are for very, very different things.

Again, the TL;DR version is as follows: Form 1 = build it. Form 4 = buy it.

An ATF Form 1 is to manufacture an NFA firearm or device like a silencer. These are very popular since so many modular kits for making silencers exist on the market today. There probably has never been an easier time to make a short barrel rifle or silencer on your own, and lots of people file ATF Form 1’s to do just that. They are also the fastest forms to process, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.

For existing NFA items, bought through a dealer or an in-state purchase between private parties, you will be filing an ATF Form 4. This form is similar to a Form 1 in that it wants the same basic information – fingerprints, taxes, trust documents, pictures, etc. – but it is only used for buying ready-made NFA items. It also takes longer to process a Form 4 than it does to process a Form 1.

Form 1 NFA Wait Times

Always check the latest data on for the latest numbers. These can change and they update their data at least weekly, so we don’t want to make this article obsolete by stating numbers as hard facts.

Right now, we see that an ATF Form 1 eFiled in the name of a trust is the fastest, with approval taking as little as 32 days. A Form 1 that is paper filed to an individual is taking the longest, with an approval time of about seven months.

It is only logical that eFiled forms will be faster and paper forms slower, but as we mentioned before, there is no practical rhyme or reason as to why trusts, corporations, and individuals would all process at different speeds. Chalk it up to good old fashioned government inefficiency.

Form 4 NFA Wait Times

Form 1’s are pretty fast compared to Form 4’s. This is because a Form 4 has to verify a lot more information about the NFA item and the steps it takes to complete the transfer.

Right now, many Form 4 filers of all types (individual, trust, etc) are taking from 6 to 9 months to get their NFA item. That’s still a long time, but it’s actually faster than we’ve seen in the past few years.

Why Different NFA Wait Times For Trusts vs Individuals?

The simple answer is priority by the ATF, since both form applications still undergo the same background check and verification processes. The ATF employs examiners to go over every Form 1 and Form 4, and for some reason known only to the government, they organize the workflow based on ownership type rather than simply what’s next in the stack.

Here’s where it gets even weirder. It used to be that applications in the names of individuals received the lowest priority for processing, so you were definitely better off using a trust when buying or making an NFA item.

It’s still considerably faster to use a trust for a Form 1, with the difference in approval times being about six weeks with a trust versus seven months as an individual.

Form 4 applications, however, are starting to even out. Right now, there’s only about a month difference between the two approval periods. This is just another example of the mystery that is NFA processing.

Paper vs eFile

It’s 2021, and there is simply no reason to use paper forms when registering NFA items unless you absolutely have to do so. After all, it’s going to end up digitized in a computer sooner or later anyway.

Electronic filing reduces errors, too. Errors on paperwork is the biggest cause of long NFA wait times. When an electronic document has errors, it can be quickly corrected and resubmitted. Paper documents take much, much longer to correct and resubmit and can add weeks (or more) to an already long processing time.

So again, whenever possible, using electronically filed documents will reduce your NFA wait time.

The Best Way To Beat NFA Wait Times

Do you want to avoid months to year plus long NFA wait times? Do you want the luxury of making your own NFA items – even machine guns? Then keep reading!

With an 07 FFL and 03 SOT, you can make NFA items yourself with a far reduced wait time for approval. Licensed manufacturers can build any NFA device, from silencers to artillery and pretty much anything in between.

Want to enter the lucrative and exciting world of NFA manufacturing and dealing, or maybe you just want to get an FFL and start selling guns on the side as a nice little home based business? No matter what your goals are, there is an FFL that suits your needs.

FFL123 has been in business for nearly two decades and has helped nearly 100,000 people just like you to get the FFL they want and deserve. Our industry defining guides lead you step by step through the entire FFL application process. In fact, we are so sure of our system, that we will give you 150% of your money back if you don’t get an FFL by following our guide!

And remember, FFL123 offers ongoing support for as long as you are in business. From keeping you up to date on important industry news, to helping you understand new laws and regulations, FFL123 is always here for you.

Beat the NFA wait times and start a profitable business at the same time. What are you waiting for? In these uncertain political times, there is no better time to get your FFL and enter the fun and profitable world of NFA manufacturing and dealing.

Leave Reply