Legally Making Homemade Silencers.

Discussion in 'Class III' started by Ranb, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    It was suggested on another thread that one shouldn't tell the whole world that one makes silencers at home for fun or advertise it on a public forum. Well what kind of downer is that? What is this forum for then anyway? I'll be damned if I am going to settle for the kinds of silencers that are commercially made in the USA or their sky high prices. I do not settle for the kinds of ammo in the store either. Ditto for how I configure my guns. Doing it yourself at home is friggin awesome and should be encouraged wherever it is legal to do so.

    I love making silencers. They are easy to make if you settle for so-so performance, a real challenge if you want the ultimate in noise reduction. My silencers lave a bit to be desired in finish, but I have had the opportunity to shoot them against some well made commercial brands and mine sound nearly as good or just as good. Compare it to the satisfaction of reloading your own ammo, and then multiply times ten.

    I learned how to operate a lathe by making my first silencer for a 300 whisper AR-15. It also fits on a TC contender carbine and a Universal M-1 carbine. So far I have made 12 cans and will not stop until it is illegal or I run out of guns to suppress. While the law is oppressive and strict, it is easy to follow and not run afoul of.

    I am here on this forum for two reasons. The first is to promote silencer use and lobby for changing the law in Washington State. WA is one of the 37 states that allow civilians to own silencers without an FFL/SOT, but the only one of those states that bans their use. They even permit people to move in close to rifle ranges then complain about the noise knowing that RCW 9.41.250(c) prohibits any kind of firearm noise suppression even if it is not attached to the gun.

    The second reason to get new ideas for my next projects. I am especially indebted to those builders outside of the USA as they are able to experiment more than I am as they do not have to pay a tax every time they make a silencer or a new part for it.

    In the USA a person needs to live in AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MO (with C&R), MS, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI, and WY. FFL/SOT’s can own them in CA, IA, MA, and MI. WA bans use. A few states required that the silencer be registered with the feds. TX technically bans possession, but registration is an affirmative defense to prosecution, so the ATF routinely approves their transfer there.

    I will not discuss the means of title 2 firearms ownership by a licensee (FFL’s and SOT’s) but instead will limit it to buying, selling and making them by paying the $200 tax and using the various ATF forms to register them individually.
  2. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    To make a silencer in the USA without a license, the ATF form 1 is used. It can be obtained from the ATF website by ordering it for free, or downloading. Look here for all of the ATF forms that can be downloaded. http://www.atf.gov/forms/firearms/ Here is the ATF form 1 http://www.atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-5320-1.pdf It has to be printed out double sided and in duplicate. You will also need form 5330.20 to certify yourself as a resident or citizen. http://www.atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-5330-20.pdf Finger print cards can be ordered here; http://www.atf.gov/forms/dcof/ . You will also need two passport sized photos. They can be Polaroid’s, paper copies, anything, even copied and pasted onto an online version of the form and printed out. They need to be recent though. If you were born in 1959 and it shows a teenage version of yourself, it may be sent back for correction.

    The form has to be signed by the chief law enforcement office in your jurisdiction. This is usually the local sheriff or Chief of Police. If the sheriff will not sign, you can ask a judge or attorney general in your county. They are not authorizing you to own a silencer or anything like that. They are merely saying there is no reason you would not be allowed to own one. They cannot be held liable for any crimes you commit with the silencer in the future. They can also not be forced to sign, and some will not. The sheriff can refuse to sign for any reason. Tennessee is the only state as far as I know that requires by law that the sheriff sign the forms for anyone who is allowed to own a firearm.

    A person has to be at least 18 years old to own or make a silencer. You must be at least 21 years old to receive anything other than a long gun from a licensed dealer, this includes silencers and handguns.

    Ranb
  3. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    Here is an example of one of my ATF form 1's. I deleted a bit of my personal info.

    Front
    [​IMG]

    And back

    [​IMG]

    The form is easy to fill out, but if you make any mistakes, it will be sent back for corrections. Since it takes 3-4 months for approval, it is best to ensure it is filled out correctly the first time.

    You can use any physical address where you reside at least part time. It does not have to be your home of record or your state for tax purposes. It has to be in a state that allows ownership. Most people say silencer as the firearm to be made as it is the legal term for a gun muffler. The model and serial number are anything you want to make up. Many people use their initials and a number as the serial number. It is a good idea to make the model number something to do with the caliber firearm you are using it on to prevent putting a 223 silencer on your 308. That could ruin your silencer and your day.

    No plans or drawings are required. A homemade silencer is not a prototype of anything. Never provide the ATF more info than they need. I have never written in a length in block 4f as my silencers rare look exactly like the original plans after they come off of the lathe. I have heard of others getting their form back for correction after putting N/A in the length block, but I will not do so unless the ATF makes me. They may do so soon; each approving officer is different and is assigned by the first letter in your last name I have heard. Do not leave any spaces blank except for those used by the ATF.

    Make sure the back of the form is filled out all "no" in the check list, unless of course you have to answer yes. If yes blocks are checked, they need to be explained. For example if you are less than 21 but 18 and older. I am not sure how to explain other yes blocks and still get approval. Ensure the sheriff signs the right space. If he has a person signing for him, then the other space is used. I have heard that the ATF will approve forms that have sheriff signatures signed up to a year ago.

    If the sheriff will not sign, then the maker can use a trust or corporation to own the silencer for them. I used Quicken Willmaker to create my trust. You need a beneficiary to receive the property in the trust after you die. I have also used a shared trust to allow another person to possess the silencers I make. The ATF wants to see the trust, property schedules and assignment of property along with the other forms sent in. It may be a good idea to consult with a lawyer when making the trust. While I have heard of some people having problems with “homemade” trusts, I have never heard of anyone losing their silencers over the problems although they did need to get a lawyer to get things straightened out with the ATF. Even if the ATF approves the forms, they could later decide that the trust has a problem and start sending you letters. They are not going to show up with the police and a warrant just because of it unless you ignore their letters asking for info.

    The ATF is not allowed to show up at your door and demand that you show them your silencers unless they have a warrant. No one gives up their fourth amendment rights just because they own a silencer. While I have heard of the local police arresting people for illegal silencer use of one kind or another, I have never heard any credible claim of the ATF showing up at a person’s house just because they own one. If they show up, it is for another reason like Koresh and Weaver found out.

    Only the ATF is allowed to demand that you show your ATF form to prove you own the silencer legally and expect to see it. The local police are not. While the ATF asks that state police request proof of registration, there is no law that compels a person to show the forms to anyone but the ATF. Your ATF forms are confidential tax forms and should be guarded as such just like your 1040 income tax forms. Some states that make registration a defense against prosecution will require that you show the form, but it is still up to you. Better show to show the form than to be arrested though. Some private rifle ranges also request that you prove your title 2 toys are registered. If the range is privately owned, they are within their rights to ask just as you are within your rights to refuse and shoot elsewhere.

    Ranb
  4. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

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    Your statement about "The Police are not allowed to request to see your silencer Registration only the BATFE is " is Only partially true. If you just have the silencers in your house , then this is true , However IF a search warrant has been executed on your home by the police and in the course of an investigation the silencers found , they can then request to see the Tax stamp form. IF you were to leave your house and were transporting the silencers or silenced Weapon and are contacted (pulled over) by ANY police officer , and the silencer / silenced weapon is discovered, you must show a copy of the tax stamped form , or you risk confiscation and possible arrest or detention.
    This holds true for Machine guns too...ANYTIME you leave your house and transport one to and from a range or use one at any range , you damn well better have a COPY of your Tax stamped papers to show ANY LEO that asks for it, or you risk possible arrest/confiscation.
  5. texnmidwest

    texnmidwest Sir Loin of Beef Forum Contributor

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    I never understood why silencers are illegal. To me they would serve to reduce noise, increase shooting pleasure and acceptance. I had a buddy who made a silencer for one of his pistols. We went out and shot the pistol with silencer in place. That thing was no louder than a BB gun!

    Gangstas could care less how much noise they make or whether something is legal or not. The only thing this bad is doing is hurting the law abiding citizen.
  6. ChaZam

    ChaZam G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

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    Tex, those who want all guns outlawed and eventually confiscated also realize that the noise generated by firearms and the ensuing nuisance complaints only help their cause. If your rifle and my rifle did not offend with noise, they would have to ferret out some other ISSUE. That is why they indivually and collectively are opposed to silencers.
  7. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    I disagree. Is there a law or court opinion that you can reference that says this? I have not been able to find one. Even though the police can demand the form and try to squeeze one out of a person they arrest, I think the person does not have any legal requirement to show it to anyone but the ATF.

    If I am wrong, I would like to see that law that says so. Thanks.

    Ranb
  8. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    I heard that the NFA of 1934 included silencers as an anti-poaching measure. Neer saw it in writing though. Can't have those hungry people in the boonies shooting their own food during the depression can we?

    Ranb
  9. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

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    Owning Class 3 type weapons come with certain responsibility.Proving Legal possession to a LEO is one of those whether or not it is written in stone, some states do have that wriiten in their laws. BATFE STATES...
    "Question : Does the owner of a registered NFA firearm have to have any evidence to show it is registered lawfully to him or her?
    Yes. The approved application received from ATF serves as evidence of registration of the NFA firearm in the owner’s name. This document must be kept available for inspection by ATF officers. It is suggested that a photocopy of the approved application be carried by the owner when the weapon is being transported."

    This is a legal document the same as the registration of your automobile is, which you Must show upon request of a police officer and the reason it is suggested you carry a photocopy of the tax stamped form so as not to be detained . It is common courtesy to work WITH a LEO in the course of his duty , who may or may not be trained in this field, and avoid the hassle of being arrested for suspicion of an Illegal weapon, Because that officer doesnt Know YOU from Adam's Housecat. This is why BATFE suggests you carry proof of Legal ownership with these types of weapon. It would be stupid to risk it otherwise !
  10. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    So you actually agree with me then. I stated in the above post;


    I did suggest that a person show the forms to avoid arrest, but they are not required to do so except to the ATF. I should add that in my opinion it is foolish to not show them to avoid arrest.

    One time I was flying out of Seattle. I had my case opened by the TSA while I was present and the four rifles pistols and silencers were in clear view of the inspector. I was called back from the gate later on and escorted to TSA by security because the inspector saw the silencers on the x-ray. I have no idea why he did not question them when he opened the case.

    The conversation went something like this.

    TSA; Are these silencers?
    Me; Yes.
    Police; Do you have a license?
    Me; No, it is not required.
    Me; Why am I being called back here? Didn't you see the silencers when you first opened the case in my presence?
    TSA; No I didn’t.
    Police; Do you have ID?
    Me; Yes. (I handed them my retired military ID card)
    Police; Are you military?
    Me; Not active duty, I’m retired.
    Police; Are you a gunsmith?
    Me; No.
    Police; No permits?
    Me; Not required, they are registered though.
    Police; Can I see that?
    I handed them the ATF form 1’s. The SEATAC police officer clearly had no idea what he was looking at. He handed them to the airport security officer who appeared to not recognize them either, but he nodded and this seemed to satisfy the TSA and the police officer.

    I was then asked to supply serial and model numbers of the rifles in the case. When I asked why I was getting this kind of treatment, they said it was routine. I told them that unless this was something new, I did not believe it and it had never ever happened to me here or in the various other airports I passed through. Nothing like this has happened since. My luggage has TSA inspections forms in it >90% of the time when I travel, with or without guns checked.

    I could have refused to show them anything but my ID, but I wanted to make it on the plane and with my gun case. So I knuckled under. I later wrote several letter complaining to the TSA, but while they replied, they said they did nothing wrong. No one needs to be collecting firearm serial number info from my gun case at the airport and as far as I know they do not have the authority to do so unless they are the BATFE. The TSA is in fact allowed to open a gun case after trying to contact the owner. It is a bad idea to put TSA locks on a gun case in my opinion as everyone of them has been broken permanently when opened by the TSA. They have picked other non-TSA locks but not broken them.

    Ranb
  11. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    I doodle a lot while waiting for ATF approval to make a new can. My wife thinks my silencers and rifles are "pipes", "worthless pipes", so I have to save my money for other things, like travel, food, retirement etc.

    Here are some baffle types I have experimented with.
    [​IMG]
    Some math.
    [​IMG]
    AR-15 silencer.
    [​IMG]
    510 whisper silencers. Top is what I made, middle is configured for 45 acp Enfield, bottom is how I would have made it today.
    [​IMG]
    The 510 whisper silencer on Encore barrel.
    [​IMG]
    What happens to 9mm baffles when shooting cast bullets. This is after cleaning with a scrub pad.
    [​IMG]
    22lr step cone baffle.
    [​IMG]
    223 remington step cone baffle.
    [​IMG]
    Ranb
  12. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

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    While I dont want to argue Semantics with you...when they FIRST asked if you had a license , You COULD have pulled out your Tax form 1 and showed them proof of "Registration / Tax paid = Lawful ownership" because this IS a form of "license" to posses and Transport and it would have more than likely ended the Rest of the questions.
    I found being confrontational has NO benefit and in some cases it can be detrimental to the cause of gun ownership , especially where some newly hired government flunky is on the job...and your answers seem "Evasive".
    When I fly with my handguns , they are in a locked case INSIDE of a suitcase that is locked with TSA Locks. They can open the outer case , But Cannot open the inside pistol case without me being present. I declare my firearms at the counter , recieve the tag that gets inserted into the case and immediately lock both of them up and am usually escorted to the XRAY area where I wait for approval to continue to the gate...usually I am just waved on thru to security and boarding. No questions asked.
  13. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    That was an approximation of the conversation. I was not actually being evasive. They were nervous and I was irritated that they could not do their job correctly. No one in the years before since the TA stood up had ever had a problem with silencers. This kind of thing has not happened since either. That they had questions about my other guns seemed very strange also. The thing is I was very accommodating and could have insisted that they lock up the case after finding no contraband or prohibited devices in it. I had to deal with three people questioning me at once, so short terse answers seemed the best way to deal with it at the time. The SEATAC police do not routinely ask questions about the contents of gun cases, so I think I was being lied to when they said they do that sort of thing. And that is not the way to do things when dealing with the flying public.

    Volunteering too much information can get a person into trouble when the police are asking the questions. I felt lucky to get on the plane in time and get my guns from baggage claim when I arrived in Vegas.

    If the TSA decides they want to open your gun case after taking it out of your suitcase, they will do it. There is nothing you can do about it either I found out. They will only ask for keys to save them the trouble of cutting or picking the lock. If they cut the lock, you are SOL until you provide new ones to lock it up again.

    Most times the TSA is friendly informative and accommodating. This one time they were not.

    Ranb
  14. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

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    I called the ATF division office and asked who has the right to demand my form, The Agent told me ANY commissioned LEO; I made sure I understood this as any state/local/municipal/whatever LEO ? and he stated " yes."

    I read the law and handbook and they say ATF agent and secretary. The secretary generally delegates the authority.. which though in this case I can't find it in writing.. that could mean all LEOS.
    Apparently ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES have cooperation agreements as with Joint Task forces, and Primarily since 9/11 and the Homeland Security Act.
    You would be surprised at how many LEO's do not even know that Silencers are legal to own and use...so it is always best to head em off with paperwork!
  15. jimbar

    jimbar G&G Newbie

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    Very interesting post. I've learned some new info here. I've always thought that to own a fully auto weapon, like a Thompson, an FFl was required. I've found out lately that's not the case. I believed silencers were totally illegal, now I find that's also not the case. Thanks, guys.
  16. KW Gary M

    KW Gary M Suspended

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    In many states it's pretty easy to legally own a Full Auto or a Slisncer as long as you fill out the right paperwork and pass the background check. The paper work is a pain in the azz like about any typical government paperwork but not hard.
  17. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    Sileners will soon be legal to use in Washington State. Bill 1016 passed the Senate this morning. :)

    Next the Governor signs it or allows it to become law without her signature. She is very unlikely to veto is as is passed 88-4 and 47-0 and is therefore "veto proof". If she does veto it, then it goes back to the legislature for an over ride of the veto.

    The law goes into effect 90 days after the session ends. The last day of the session is April 24, so we can use our silencers legally Saturday July 23, 2011.

    Ranb
  18. TLawson

    TLawson G&G Newbie

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    Congrats Ranb on your state passing Bill 1016 with seemingly great support! Hey I just came upon this forum because I was researching what is required of me to transport a newly acquired silencer from the State of Wyoming to the State of Alabama via airplane. I submitted all the paperwork about six months ago to legally own this GEMTECH suppressor, unfortunately I had to leave home on active duty orders before the paperwork returned. Now I will be returning home for a few days leave and was wondering if you know how hard it is to transport the suppressor back with me to AL via airplane? Any info would be appreciated, thanks.
  19. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

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    AS far as silencers, I believe you can transport it in Checked baggage with No problem. I personally would have it in a locked case inside of My Bags with a TSA lock on them , and I would have a copy of My Tax Stamped paperwork with me and a copy packed in an envelope taped on the case holding the Silencer. If their is a question by TSA when they XRAY your bags , they will ask you to open the Locked case.
    It is Considered a firearm By IRS Tax code so you must declare it , if you don't , it may show on an XRAY as something suspicious. If you are taking a firearm too then it has to be declared, tagged inside, and screened By TSA, and you can pack the silencer with it.
    I believe even Ranb was told to pack a copy of the tax form with the silencer in the case so it can be seen by TSA if they break or pick the locks.(read it on another forum)
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  20. Ranb

    Ranb G&G Newbie

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    Silencers are firearms as defined by the US code and must be declared like any other firearm.

    It is no problem at all transporting them as firearms. I frequently travel with firearms and have had only two problems since 1990. I think it is a good idea to travel with copies of your ATF forms in your carry-on baggage or in your pocket. I never put them in my gun case. I also think TSA locks are a bad idea. Every time the TSA has open one of my TSA locks, it never worked again. Put sturdy combo or key locks on the gun case. But any lock is acceptable by TSA standards, even the tiny little things on cheap gun cases that can be opened with a fingernail file.

    Keep a spare set of locks with you in case they decide to pick or break them open after you go to the gate. The only problem I had with silencers was one time at SeaTac a year ago. After he visually inspected it, I went to the gate and was called back. By the time I got there they had already picked the locks. They questioned me about the silencers as they showed up on the X-ray. After I showed them my AFT form 1’s and ID, they locked the case back up and it showed up with me in Vegas.

    It is important to check the airline’s policy on guns/ammo before you leave. Most airlines have no limits on guns and 11 pounds for ammo. At least one airline I flew on had a limit of one rifle, pistol machine gun and silencer in the case. Another airline limits you do a certain number of rim fire and center fire cartridges. Alaska airlines limit on ammo is 50 pounds and no limits on guns.

    Until recently the airlines never ever touched my gun case after the TSA took over. I took advantage of this by over packing the case with way more than 50 pounds of guns and silencers. The TSA did not care about the weight at all, only that the guns were not loaded and they did not find actual explosives. Recently the ticket counter started to weight all gun cases though, I think they caught on.

    Since gun powder is made from nitroglycerin, their smear tests might come back positive for explosives; this will prompt them to open the case (if they have not already done so) to inspect it more. Most airports inspect in front of you. The one in Vegas does not and requires you to give them the keys or combo in case they need to open the case. You can refuse, but they will not allow the case on the plane. If they have to break the locks off to inspect and you are not able to replace them, then it will not get on the plane either.

    The only other problem I had was back in the early 90’s. The airline lost a bag with six pistols in it, but I got them back intact three days later.

    Ranb