What Do We Mean by Class 3 NFA?

During the first financial quarter of this year, firearms sales in the US increased 4.6% from last quarter. Always going along with the industry is regulation. So let’s take a deep dive into what Class 3 NFA means.  

What Is a Class III Firearm?

Class III firearms include certain machine guns, silencers, destructive devices, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, and AOWs (Any Other Weapon, meaning just that, like a smoothbore pistol).

Are Silencers Legal?

In most states, including Ohio, you can own a silencer.

In the Beginning, There Was the National Firearms Act

The National Firearms Act of 1934, enacted in response to the rise of organized crime during the Prohibition era, imposed taxes and regulations on certain firearms that were categorized as Class 3 weapons. In 1986, the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) amended the definition of silencer. So then, it included parts for silencers or any parts that would be used to create a silencer. As well, FOPA prohibited the transfer or possession of machine guns, unless they were owned before May 19, 1986.

Ownership and Transfer Process

Individuals and entities must register Class 3 firearms with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), pay a tax stamp, and comply with regulations. Prospective owners must first find a licensed dealer who holds a Special Occupational Tax (SOT) stamp, enabling them to deal in NFA-regulated firearms. Upon selecting a firearm, the buyer must submit an application to the ATF, including fingerprints, background checks, and a $200 transfer tax for each item. Once approved, the firearm is transferred to the dealer, who holds it until the buyer receives ATF approval to take possession. 

Can I Purchase a Class 3 Firearm?

You can buy a Class 3 firearm if you meet the following criteria. You must be a United States citizen, at least 21 years old, and meet the requirements for buying a handgun (such as not convicted of a felony), and you need to be a resident of the state where the firearm is purchased.


The regulation of Class 3 firearms has sparked debates within the gun community and beyond. Advocates argue that such regulations are necessary to prevent misuse and enhance public safety, citing instances where Class 3 weapons have been used in mass shootings or criminal activities.

However, these types of regulations impose undue burdens on law-abiding citizens and infringe upon Second Amendment rights. Critics argue that responsible gun owners should not face bureaucratic hurdles to access firearms for legitimate purposes such as self-defense or sporting activities.

Future Outlook

As societal attitudes towards firearms evolve and legislative priorities shift, the landscape of firearms regulation, including Class 3 NFA items, may continue to undergo changes. Recent years have seen proposals for both tightening and loosening restrictions on firearms at the federal, state, and local levels.

We hope this has helped you gain a little more understanding about what Class 3 NFA means. At Aegis Cerakote, we have a huge selection of SBRs and suppressors. Don’t hesitate to get in touch to purchase a Class 3 item today.