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Engraving ATF Form 1 Items: Friggin’ Laser Beams

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The Internet was Wrong– You Have to Engrave ATF Form 1 eFile 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.

ATF Form 1 eFile

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.

ATF Form 1 eFile

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.

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