Silencer FAQ

By johntitsworth

Now that you know silencers are legal to own under federal law, you may have many questions about them.  This silencer faq is presented in no particular order.


What silencer should I buy?

That depends on what caliber you want to use.  Most people start out with a 22LR silencer as these are cost effective, generally very quiet and affordable to shoot.  They can be attached to both 22LR pistols and 22LR rifles.  You can attach a sound suppressor to most firearms today.  Many companies are now offering factory threaded barrels on many models.  This is a godsend to the suppressor community as it saves time and money to by a silencer ready host.  People generally want to buy a silencer and use it on multiple firearms to save money.  This is not always practical, but there are many multi caliber silencers on the market today.


Where do I get a silencer?

You will need to find a silencer dealer in your state to do a transfer for you.  You can buy a silencer from a dealer or manufacturer in another state, but you will still need an in state dealer in order to actually get the silencer.  These dealers are usually referred to as “Class 3” dealers.  These dealers not only have a federal firearms license to deal in firearms, but they pay a $500 special tax to handle machine gun and silencer transfers.  The cost of just a transfer varies from dealer to dealer, but generally expect to pay $50 to $100 for a transfer.  Remember that the dealer has to store your silencer at this licensed location for as many as six months while you await the ATF approval of the paperwork.


What is this transfer tax?

The NFA transfer tax is $200 for a silencer.  This is a once time tax that is paid when the end user gets the silencer.  Dealers and manufacturers don’t pay this each time they transfer a silencer amongst themselves.  If you sell the silencer after you paid the $200 tax, the person to whom you transfer the silencer has to pay another $200 tax.


How long does it take to get a silencer?

That depends.  If you dealer already has the silencer you want in stock, then you can expect to wait at least 3 months, but it could take up to 6 months.  If your dealer doesn’t have the silencer in stock, then you can expect to add one to two extra months to your transfer time.  Buyer silencers from other dealers directly and having them transfer the silencer to your dealer can add a significant delay time to you getting your silencer.


Can anyone get a silencer?

If you can buy a handgun, and your state permits the ownership of silencers, you can buy one.  If you are under 21 you cannot buy a silencer from a dealer.  If you are generally prohibited from owning a firearms, or have domestic violence convictions you will not be able to get a silencer.


I thought only criminals use silencers. 

Stemming from Hollywood’s demonization of sound suppressors, a lot of people think only criminals use silencers.  This is absolutely false.  People who obtain legal silencers are not criminals, nor do they use silencers in an illegal manner.  There are VERY FEW criminal convictions on the record in the US that include the use of a legally registered silencer.


Do I have to get the local chief of police or sheriff to sign off on my forms?

Generally speaking, yes.  Trusts and corporations can also own silencers, and using this method of ownership, you can forego the law enforcement certification portion.  Trust and corporate transfers also don’t require the fingerprint portion of the transfer process.  If you already have trust or a corporation, it might be worth looking into getting your silencer that way.


Is a silencer the same as a suppressor?

Yes, the terms mean exactly the same thing.  The ATF calls them silencers, but suppressors would be a more accurate term to use, since all weapons make some level of noise; they are not really “silent.”  The use of either term to describe a silencer is 100% correct and acceptable.