Class 3 Weapons so Popular?
You may have noticed lately that there is a boom in popularity of NFA Class 3 weapons (aka silencers, short barreled rifles, and the like). ATF approval wait times have jumped in the past couple of years from a few weeks to about 6 months. But for what reason? Well, it’s difficult to know the exact reasons, and they likely vary by region around the country. Here at FFL123.com, we decided to brainstorm and came up with our own list of why we think NFA weapons have taken off.
1) The ATF tax is no longer the deterrent it once was. When the NFA (National Firearms Act) was drafted in 1934, the ATF wanted to deter people from purchasing weapons they considered to be associated with gang crime at that time. Thus, they imposed the $200 tax for every transfer of an item listed under the NFA. This amount of money was roughly equivalent to 6 months’ salary back then. However, the ATF has not changed this amount of money since 1934, and $200 is now closer to being a few days’ worth of work rather than a few months.
2) People are learning they’re legal! After silencers, short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, and several other weapons were placed in the NFA, many people began assuming they were illegal. In fact, our firearms business, Dakota Silencer, gets that reaction from people pretty often. At gun shows, people will come up to the booth and exclaim that they didn’t even know it was legal to own a silencer! But, contrary to popular belief, silencers (and the other NFA weapons) have never been truly illegal. Like any other firearm, there can be illegal possession of such a weapon, but the weapons themselves, when obtained through the proper channels, are not illegal. Several big silencer manufacturers have even begun their own campaigns to inform the public of the legality of NFA items.
3) More states are allowing silencers for hunting. As silencers gain more legal uses, the demographic for customer’s increases. Where once the appeal may have only been to target shooters, once a state allows silencers for hunting, the optimum audience in marketing now includes every hunter (over the age of 21, I might add).
4) People are seeing the benefits of silencers. As technology has increased, silencers have continually become more effective. This means their benefits have increased. Silencers currently being manufactured are pretty well all below the OSHA hearing safe threshold for impulse noises, which is 140 dB. (Some silencers in higher calibers from some manufacturers may still be pushing the 140 dB threshold. Don’t want to be overly inclusive.) Because silencers are now in the hearing safe range, shooters don’t need to wear hearing protection. (Safety note: Prolonged exposure to loud noises is going to be damaging to your hearing. So although I say you don’t need hearing protection, if you’re going out for a full day of a lot of shooting, it’s advisable to still wear some form of hearing protection). With all of those side notes out of the way, we can get to what the benefits really are. Target shooters can train more effectively. Without having to worry about taking off and putting back on hearing protection, shooters can have conversations during their training sessions. Instructors don’t have to worry about students missing something because someone left their ear plugs in, and students don’t have to ask the instructor to repeat something because they missed it due to not removing their hearing protection. Silencers make hunting more effective. In the Dakotas, for example, many hunters like to camp out by prairie dog towns to shoot them as they are considered pests in that area, much like feral hogs in the Texas area. Hunters can get off more shots with a silencer as the noise reduction confuses the animals, and they aren’t sure if they should run or not or in which direction to run. This is shown pretty well in videos of coyote hunts with suppressed rifles. Hunters can call in several coyotes and take them down back to back. The final benefit I’ll mention is not disturbing the neighbors. For those who are fortunate enough to have space to shoot in their back yard, a suppressor is a great addition to the mix. The sound of an unsuppressed gunshot can carry across the country side. By putting a silencer on your gun, you’ll be keeping things quieter for the neighbors.
Are NFA weapons popular in your area? Is it for some of the same reasons we’ve listed here, or do you have different driving forces behind the interest? Maybe you should consider getting your SOT (special occupational tax) and start selling silencers in your area! Join FFL123.com Today! Thanks, Brandon
Disclaimer: Only 39 states currently are in favor of reducing noise pollution. If you live in a state that doesn’t allow its resident to own NFA weapons and are peeved about it, contact your state government today! Often state law impacts non-dealers. If you have a Class 3 license, you are often exempt from state laws, check with local atf.