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Fast Guide To Buying Suppressors: Silencer Shop & The eForm 4 Process

After years of hinting, teasing, and general government procrastination, we the masses, were finally blessed by our ATF overlords with an electronic filing system for Form 4s. The “big deal” is a significantly reduced wait time compared to hand-filled paper equivalents. 

Since the advent of eForm 1’s, wait times for SBRs have dropped down as low as less than two weeks, depending on when you filed. While we’ve yet to see a Form 4 suppressor stamp turn around that fast, we’ve seen or heard of 90- to 180-day turnarounds, a vast improvement over the 12- to 15-month average seen previously with paper Form 4s.

Silencer Shop has built their brand not only on selling suppressors but on making that process as accessible and hassle-free as possible. Once the ATF expanded their eForms infrastructure to include Form 4s, Silencer Shop adapted their own processes to integrate the new technology. We recently went through our first eForm 4 suppressor transfer in order to wrap our heads around how the whole process works. 

SET UP YOUR ACCOUNTS

To successfully navigate the process, you must have a user account set up both with Silencer Shop and the ATF eForms system. For Silencer Shop, visit https://silencershop.com and for ATF eForms, the website is www.eforms.atf.gov. Both websites have buttons to click in order to create a new user account. 

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These are the ATF eForms and Silencer Shop account portals, respectively. You will need to set up accounts on both to use Silencer Shop’s kiosk-based transfer system.

This was our biggest learning point. It’s absolutely critical that the information you submit to create these accounts matches exactly. First and last name, address, email address, and so on must all be the same, or else you’ll run into issues when it comes time to certify your application. 

When you create your Silencer Shop account, you’ll need to upload a photo of yourself, taken against a white or light-colored background.

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Don’t wear a hat or sunglasses in this photo. The easiest way to do this is to download the Silencer Shop app on your phone. From the app, you can take a selfie on your phone and upload it directly to your Silencer Shop account. This photo will have to updated annually to keep your account current. 

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From the Silencer Shop home-page, click the head-and-shoulder button at the top right to get to the account portal.

Once you create your ATF eForms account, they’ll assign you a randomly generated username, but you’ll select a password and PIN associated with your account. Save this information, as you’ll need it later.

PURCHASE YOUR SUPPRESSOR 

There are two ways to purchase your suppressor. One is to buy directly from Silencer Shop’s website. Once your web purchase is complete, Silencer Shop will deliver your suppressor to the local partner store of your choice. 

The website has a searchable listing of brick-and-mortar stores they’ve partnered with to help you complete your transfer. We used The Hub AZ in Arizona. They’re a Powered By Silencer Shop dealer, with an in-store kiosk.

The Hub AZ, with multiple locations around Arizona, is a Silencer Shop partner dealer.

Their staff was incredibly helpful guiding us through the process. If you purchase your can from the Silencer Shop website, you can also pay your tax stamp through them at that point. 

The other option is to walk into a local partner store and purchase a suppressor from their inventory. Take note: Even if you purchase a suppressor from your local store that Silencer Shop doesn’t carry, you’re still able to use their e-process to complete your transfer. 

If you purchase the can locally, you’ll pay your stamp (plus a processing fee) in person at that store.   

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Silencer Shop kiosks are equipped with cameras and scanners to input your photo and fingerprints for NFA transfers.

Regardless of where you actually purchase from, you’ll need to visit your local partner store and use their kiosk to complete your eligibility questionnaire and submit fingerprints. The best part about this process is that the kiosk has a built-in fingerprint scanner, so you won’t have to mail hard print cards into the ATF directly.

If you choose to set up a trust for your purchase, you’ll be able to do this during the purchase process, either on Silencer Shop’s website or kiosk.  

CERTIFY AND COMPLETE

Once you’ve completed your purchase and submitted all required information to your Silencer Shop account, waiting game number one begins. 

For us, it took about 10 days until we received an email from Silencer Shop saying our order was ready to certify. During the  certification process, your local partner store synchronizes the information from your Silencer Shop account with ATF’s eForms to begin the background check and stamping process. 

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These screenshots are from the partner store certification process, which must be done in-person for individual transfers or via video conference for trust transfers.

If you purchased your suppressor through a trust, you may have the ability to certify your application remotely via video conferencing or phone call. For individual stamps, you’ll have to go into your local store and certify in-person on your store’s computer. 

This will require you to enter your ATF eForms username, password, and PIN, and e-sign a couple of validation statements from ATF. This is where we ran into issues, because the information in our Silencer Shop user account didn’t match the information in our ATF eForms account. A brief email exchange with Silencer Shop’s customer service folks got us squared away on that, and the certification went through without another hitch. 

This is when the long wait begins. The average turnaround time we’re seeing and hearing about on eForm 4s is six to nine months at time of writing. The stated goal (and our hope) is to get that time down to three months. So far, we’ve not seen anything that short yet. But once your ATF background check is complete, you’ll receive an email from ATF eForms saying your stamp has been issued. 

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You can then download and print out a copy of the stamp from your eForms account. Bring a printed copy of the stamp into your local store to pick up your suppressor, at which time they’ll have you fill out a standard 4473 to transfer the item off their inventory book. This will be a no-background-check-needed 4473, since your tax stamp will serve as verification that a check has already been completed. 

After that, hit the range and start making not-much-noise with your new suppressor. 

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