The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

A Walk-Through of the ATF eFile Process

Death and Taxes

With the focus of this issue being on short-barreled-everything, we figured it only appropriate to spend a little time talking about the legal process to obtain your very own not-so-long gun.

Despite the undisputed sex appeal of SBRs, the extraneous red tape required to get one is more than a little intimidating at times. In a rare stroke of common sense, the ATF has established an electronic system for filing some of their NFA-related forms, including the Form 1 “Application to Make and Register a Firearm.” This is the form to use when you are making an SBR yourself. If you’re purchasing a factory-configured SBR, you’ll need to file a Form 4, which is a separate process. It should be noted that “making” a firearm doesn’t require a professional assembly line or QC shop. Slapping a store-bought 10.5-inch AR upper on a lower you already own counts as “making” a firearm. In this case, you’d simply file a Form 1 to get the lower approved to take shorty uppers.

The screenshots you see here were for the registration of the Project JSOK short AK seen elsewhere in this issue. In that case, we obtained a receiver from Petronov Armament on a standard Form 4473. Then, we e-filed a Form 1 for that receiver before building it out. The e-file process itself is surprisingly user-friendly. The website does run a little slow and sometimes requires multiple clicks on something to get it to work. But it does run. Here’s what we had to do to get our Form 1 into the pipeline:

1. Create user profile on the ATF eForms portal
Enter your basic contact info like name, address, and phone number. Then, choose a password. Your username is automatically generated by the system. Once all the required fields are filled in and submitted, you’ll receive an email from ATF with your information.

2. Log in to eForms and select the appropriate form to file
In this case, we’re filing a Form 1, as an individual. There are “special instructions” for individuals, mostly to do with fingerprints.

3. Fill out the digital version of the Form 1
This consists of several pages’ worth of information, including:

Eligibility Questions: Just like the 4473, there’s a list of questions about your criminal history and citizenship in order to determine eligibility.

List of Responsible Persons: All of the individuals covered by this application. Current policy requires each person being listed to fill out a questionnaire and submit fingerprints. You must also upload a photo of yourself to include with the application.

CLEO Notification: There’s no longer a requirement for the applicant to get permission from their respective chief law enforcement officer (CLEO), but you do have to send a copy to your CLEO for the purpose of notification.

Line Item: You’re required to select or manually enter the make, model, and description of the firearm you intend
to register.

Electronic Documents: Any supporting photos or documents.

4. Pay Tax Stamp
Break out your wallet and fork over your allowance money. Fortunately, the eForms systems allows you to pay with credit card, so you don’t even have to actually have money to get the ball rolling.

5. Submit Fingerprint Card
Unfortunately, the eForms system cannot accept fingerprint cards. Once you submit your Form 1, the eForms automated system will generate a cover letter for you to mail in with a standard print card. The cover letter includes your application number so that when you mail everything in to NFA Branch, they know who to match your application up to.

6. Wait
The worst part. At time of writing, the author has heard everything from six days to seven months in terms of
Form 1 lead times. Once the fee is paid and the paperwork is in, your best bet is to find a few other guns to occupy your time until the ATF can run through your application and grant your tax stamp.

That’s it. All in all, the process is a little tedious but, for this first-timer, much less intimidating than initially expected. See the included sidebar for a rundown on engraving requirements.

Friggin’ Laser Beams

By Dave Merrill

The Internet was Wrong– You Have to Engrave Form 1 Items

If you Form 1 an NFA item, disregard whatever purported “truth” a low-information trash weblog told you and listen to what we’ve heard directly from the BATFE: You have to mark any personally manufactured NFA item. The BATFE has gotten so many questions due to this garbage rumor they’ve even been stamping some forms reminding folks it needs to take place.

Minimum Requirements
The depth must be no more shallow than .003 inch with a text size no smaller than 1/16th of an inch. But we actually recommend going deeper and larger. Here’s why: If you only engrave to the minimum size and depth, it’s incredibly easy to inadvertently cover the marking with paint or something like Cerakote. And so long as you place it someplace inconspicuous, the marking can be more than twice the depth and size without being anything close to obvious.

Per 27 CFR § 479.102:
“In the case of a domestically made firearm, the city and State (or recognized abbreviation thereof) where you as the manufacturer maintain your place of business, or where you, as the maker, made the firearm.”

There are two ways to go here. If you’re making an NFA item from another established item, such as an AR receiver, all you need is the name of the manufacturer and city of manufacturing. However, if you’re making a complete NFA item from scratch, in addition to the above you’ll need to add a serial number, caliber, and model.

This means if a trust was used to manufacture the firearm, the trust name must be listed, and if you did it as an individual, your name must be listed. Along with the other information required.

Let’s say a standard AR is used to manufacture the firearm (as is common), such a marking would look like this:

If an NFA item is built from scratch, such a marking would look like this:
SN: 0006969
CAL: 7.62 MM

While serial numbers themselves are required to be engraved/stamped/pressed onto metal (à la the metal tab on a Glock), all other information can be on plastic. So don’t freak out that you don’t have a piece of metal to engrave on with a Glock.

While if you’re creating a firearm from scratch all makings need to take place in a conspicuous place on the receiver, with an NFA item it’s not so straightforward. You’re allowed to mark on the receiver, frame, or barrel.
While marking the barrel itself may seem strange, it doesn’t when you leave the AR world and start looking at non-ARs like SCARs, AKs, and Thompsons. Note that it says “conspicuous place,” and generally that means a place that can be accessed without requiring tools. The easiest place to hide something on an AR is the upper inside of the trigger guard, but you can’t put it someplace underneath the pistol grip.

Our favorite place to get this performed by a large margin is Tarheel State Firearms. They charge $30 for metal receivers with $15 return shipping for any number of firearms sent. However, if you can find someplace local, even at a higher cost, you don’t have to bother with shipping. We hit up CNS Engraving in Powell, Ohio, for the photos you see here.

The standard route is to send the receiver at the same time as the tax stamp. While it makes a certain sort of sense to only engrave after an NFA item is approved, it’s also a helluva lot easier to replace a receiver lost in the mail before it becomes an official Title II item. If there’s a place that can perform the service locally, we recommend rolling with one of those, even at an additional cost, to save on time and shipping.

Basically: Roll the dice when you want to do it.

One response to “A Walk-Through of the ATF eFile Process”

  1. Patrick says:

    So how do you do it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Free