SHOT Show 2023: NFA Silencer Numbers Continue to Rise

SHOT Show 2023: NFA Silencer Numbers Continue to Rise
SHOT Show 2023: NFA Silencer Numbers Continue to Rise

U.S.A.-( On January 18, 2023, at the SHOT Show, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) hosted a slide show on what has been happening in the National Firearms Act Division of the ATF.

This presentation did not explain the ramifications of the controversial “new rule” on stabilizing pistol braces. It was an overview of the internal happenings in the NFA division of the ATF.

This correspondent has seen many such presentations in other organizations in his career. There is useful information to be gained. Do not expect bureaucracies to air their “dirty laundry” in public.  Each agency and each division is going to do its best to present itself in a positive light. They will explain any shortcomings as something outside their control. They will convincingly explain why they need more resources and explain they are doing the best they can with the limited resources they have.

Some very interesting numbers were presented, showing how the workload of the NFA division has increased in the past few years.

A Fiscal Year (FY) is a one-year period during which the agency expends its annual budget. It is not the same as a calendar year. The Fiscal Year for the ATF (and most federal agencies) is from October 1st to September 30th.  FY 2020 started on October 1st, 2019, and ended on September 30th, 2020. FY 2021 started on October 1st, 2020, and ended on September 30, 2021. FY 2022 started on October 1st, 2021, and ended on September 30th, 2022.

The slides showed how many NFA applications were processed in the last three Fiscal Years up to September 30th, 2022. The FY 2019 number was taken from a previous report:

  • In FY 2019, 342,860 were processed.
  • In FY 2020, 512,315 were processed.
  • In FY 2021, 546,224 were processed.
  • In FY 2022, 709,508 were processed.

These are applications processed, which appear to be almost entirely Forms 1,3,4, and 5.

The numbers of the various forms were not shown in the slide show. Experience has shown the vast majority of these applications are Form 4 for the transfer of silencers.

The total number of silencer tax stamps in existence in the USA as of 2019 was 2,042,719. The total number of silencer tax stamps existent in the USA as of 2020 was 2,664,774. The increase was 622,055 from 2019 to 2020.  The numbers do not precisely match the application numbers. The exact date the number of tax stamps for silencers was reported is not clear.

The number of legal silencers in the United States has not been updated since 2020. It is now 2023. When this correspondent asked representatives at the briefing if the numbers presented represented about a one million increase in legal silencers from 2020 to the end of 2022, they stated the number was reasonably correct.

The number of legal silencers in the United States now exceeds 3.6 million. The number is likely considerably higher but has not been directly reported.

It is difficult to argue silencers are not in common use when there are about four million legal silencers in the United States. In the Caetano case, the Supreme Court held 200,000 stun guns in the United States shows they are in common use.

Common use is a main criteria for protection under the Second Amendment, in the Heller, McDonald, Caetano, and Bruen decisions at the Supreme Court.

The presentation made a good case the NFA division of the ATF is overwhelmed with NFA applications, leading to significant wait times to process those applications.

Average processing times according to the ATF (as of 1/6/2022) for NFA Forms.
Average processing times according to the ATF (as of 1/6/2022) for NFA Forms.

The NFA division is experiencing considerable stress in processing NFA forms expeditiously, especially Form 4s. Those working to process the applications put in long hours trying to decrease the backlog.

The ATF does not receive the $200 tax for NFA applications. The money goes directly to the general fund. Therefore, the NFA cannot hire more people to process more forms.

A new group will be required to process the flood of Form 1s, which are expected under the new rule on stabilizing braces. The current system cannot handle an increase of several hundred thousand or a few million applications for Form 1s.

The Bruen decision said unreasonable delays in processing permits were impermissible under the Second Amendment.

Court challenges are ongoing which argue silencers are protected by the Second Amendment.

Court challenges are ongoing on the new rule for stabilizing braces. That is a subject for another article.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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A couple weeks ago me and my oldest son went to the range. One thing we noticed right off was that 60-70% (mostly AR15’s, AR10’s) had silencers. Several had .308 bolt guns suppressed too. It’s got a lot quieter shooting out at Carter’s Country. Rescind NFA!

Last edited 5 days ago by Ope

Should be able to buy them at the hardware store for $25… or make ’em yourself in an hour or three, depending on quality. Gov has no business interfering.


Absolutely right. Many at the range had SBR’s too. Plus all those cans at $200 each tax theft, went into the $thousands easily. Abolish ATF, rescind NFA!


Get one at O’Reiley’s.. ask for the “oil can special”


Lol. Do you think Auto Zone might have a better price on that?

Roland T. Gunner

I had BUTF knocking on my doir last summer, looking for “oil filter adapters”. They had begun classifying them as solvent traps.

Roland T. Gunner

Wow, that brings back memories. I have not been to Carter’s Country in 30 years. They always came off as kind of snooty to us kids at the time. There was some other range, back in the woods in Spring that we usually went to. A friend and coworker, one of my squad of bicycle cops working out of the then-new North Command Station, had gotten a several-thousand-dollar IRS refund, and went into Carter’s intending to blow it on something fancy and exotic, thinking assault style rifle. Remember there was a lot more diverse variety of MSR’s on the shelves… Read more »


I don’t give a damn whether something is in “common use” or not. Doesn’t matter if there’s is one of something or millions. Shall not be infringed makes no exceptions.




1) the NFA is unconstitutional and must be shtcanned. 2) suppressors and SBR’s are both owned in the millions, therefore in common use and neither uncommon nor dangerous. Long past time to rectify these issues…

Roland T. Gunner

Dont leave machine guns behind; at 250,000 registered transferables, they outnunber the stun guns in common use.


The NFA, GCA, and all other restrictions on our right to keep and bear arms are unconstitutional. Enforcement of any of these provisions is an activity that could be construed as something in which an enemy of the Constitution would engage. Everyone who works for the federal government takes an oath to “… support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic…” The job description of an ATF agent, especially the NFA division, and the oath mentioned above are mutually incompatible. I don’t see how they sleep at night. The only options I see are to repeal or… Read more »


Nine months from start to finish to receive my suppressor. If I were able to purchase without the wait, and a $200 “theft fee”, I would have cans on everything I own.


You sound like me. My budget allowed me to buy 2 in 2022. 10 months for the HYRDA-LA .22 (the SilencerShop Kiosk would not read my whirls and ridges on my dominant hand and had to have the police do it the old fashioned way, and they had trouble too) My Second a YHM RESONATOR K, February 3rd will be the 9th month wait for it! What I find crazy besides everything involved with the BATF/NFA anti constitutional regulations is when I receive the Tax Stamp a copy is sent to the FFL holding your property, I still have to… Read more »

Roland T. Gunner

I have 9mm and .22 cans, and I would love to have more, especially .45 pistol, 5.56 and 7.62; but I refuse to buy or build anything else requiring a tax stamp.


So do they take your money & make you wait till it’s approved ? If so then they should have to wait to accept the funds paid till the application is either approved or disapproved. How many forms do you think would get approved on a decent time table ? In all fairness if this procedure wasn’t required more people would own a silencer. I would be one of those people.

Last edited 4 days ago by Arny

Thanks for presenting those numbers Mr. Weingarten, I find them very encouraging. Hell, more than encouraging they make me almost giddy.

Thank you. The Common Usage situation is an information bomb that needs to be repeated…often.


What amazes me is that the government is so supportive of the health and welfare of the nation. They want to take away anything semiautomatic for the safety of the pubic and say we should do it for the children. They make us wear seatbelts when we drive or ride in the car for our protection to make it safe and legal and have car seats for the children to make it safe and legal. They make young children wear bike helmets for their safety and to be legal. They make adults wear helmets for their safety and to be… Read more »


Maybe since NOBODY should , or is going to file their Form 1’s (admission of guilty possession of a SBR). they could use that staff (which Biden’s budget funded huge sums to the ATF for this exact thing) to expedite the silencer backlog before the ATF comes after those next.
Its like Wack-a-mole.. WTF ATF.

Captain A

Since they are wanting everyone to register their pistol brace as an SBR, thats going to put 10 to 40 MILLION into the system within 4 months,,, Imagine the wait time THEN! 20 to 80 Years wait…. They don’t even try to shorten the process, When they started the e-forms they claimed 90 days by the end of the first year. been over a year and average is over 9 months! 3 e-filed the same day by the same person and came back approved from 3 different people, days and weeks apart, 5 sent in on paper forms months apart… Read more »