It’s funny how every business seems to be full of acronyms these days. The acronyms help people who know what they’re talking about; but, they often muddy the water for people who are new to the subject since they aren’t self-explanatory.
In this article, I’m going to briefly go over some of the more common terms that are used in the silencer world. Before getting too deep into this, however, let me be clear that we really don’t care if you get this stuff wrong. We truly take an “I know what you’re talking about” approach to the silencer buying process since each customer shouldn’t have to be intimately familiar with every single little detail.
Personally, I think it’s similar to using a computer. I spent 20 years of my life writing OS, driver & BIOS code to make the computer you’re probably using right now run (unless you’re on a MAC… ). During that time, I never insisted that the marketing people or managers I worked with be intimately familiar with every detail of how the internals of a computer work – and we got along just fine. On top of that, look at the number of people using computers compared to the number who actually understand how they work.
If you don’t understand this stuff, and want to call and chat – please do! When you call, don’t worry that you’ll get a “We’re smarter than you” attitude if you don’t understand the lingo.
With that out of the way, let’s get down to the details!
This stands for National Firearm Act and typically refers to a law passed in 1934 and then amended in 1968. The National Firearms Act requires federal registration and a $200 tax for certain items, including: full-auto machine guns, short barrel rifles (SBR), short barrel shotguns (SBS), and silencers.
When you hear somebody talk about an NFA weapon, NFA transfer, or NFA dealer – they are referring to items regulated by this law.
The ATF is the government group that takes care of the enforcement of firearms regulations. ATF is actually a shortened version of BATFE – which stands for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. You have to admit that it sounds like a fun place to work!
Firearms dealers spend a lot of time dealing with the ATF; and, fortunately, most of the people working there are pretty nice. As a customer, you probably won’t have any direct interaction with the ATF – except for a possible call into the NFA Branch of the ATF to check the status of your new silencer transfer.
This stands for Federal Firearms License and is the license required to deal in firearms. When you go to your local gun store to buy a firearm, you should be able to look around and spot their license posted somewhere – and that’s the FFL.
There is some confusion, even among FFL holders, about what the different FFL types are and how they relate to the class of an SOT. If you’re curious about the different license types, feel free to read this article for more information.
This stands for Special Occupational Tax, and is the additional license required to deal in NFA items (like silencers).
If you’re looking for someone in your area who can handle the transfer of an NFA item, you’re looking for someone with this license. We often abbreviate the license by writing FFL/SOT – which indicates a person or business who holds both the FFL & SOT licenses.
This is the term that probably causes the most confusion, and is the least understood. At a very high level, this is a classification of the SOT license we talked about previously – so a “Class 3″ license holder would essentially be someone who can sell or transfer NFA items. (Once again, feel free to read this article for a more complete description.)
What you’ll find is that the term “Class 3″ ends up being applied to just about everything – so you’ll often hear or read: “Class 3 Dealer”, “Class 3 Weapon”, “Class 3 Transfer”, etc…
Basically, this is just a slang/shorthand way to describe something that is regulated by the NFA; and, although some purists would take offense, we don’t mind at all if you call and ask us how to do a Class 3 Transfer.
In reality, the SOT class is based on the type of the FFL – but we’re not going into those details in this article.
We realize that many people love to dig into the details and understand every part of the process – and I think that’s great! We also understand that other people just don’t care that much and want to focus on getting the best suppressor for their needs – and that’s just fine too!
At the end of the day, either method works great. If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to contact us and we are happy to help!