What’s an SBR or SBS?
Much like my previous post about suppressors, the federal government regulates the manufacture, possession and transfer of short-barreled rifles (SBR) and short-barreled shotguns (SBS). Per the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), an SBR is ultimately defined as “a rifle having a barrel or barrels less than 16 inches in length or a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length”. Basically, a rifle with a barrel that’s shorter than 16 inches.
Likewise, an SBS is a defined as “a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length or a weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length”. Basically, a shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches.
How do I get an SBR or SBS?
There are two ways to acquire an SBR or SBS. First, you can purchase an existing SBR or SBS and submit an ATF Form 4, which is an application to transfer an NFA firearm to an individual or a trust, pay the transfer fee and wait for the application to be approved.
The other way is to manufacture an SBR or SBS. Before you actually manufacture the SBR or SBS by altering the length of the barrel, you must submit an ATF Form 1, entitled “Application to Make and Register a Firearm”.
The ATF Form 1 can be found here: https://www.atf.gov/file/11281/download
Like the ATF Form 4, the Form 1 requires:
- filling the forms out in triplicate (one for ATF, one returned to the transferee and one submitted to your Chief Law Enforcement Officer – your chief of police or sheriff),
- the need for two sets of fingerprints (which must be submitted on FD-258 fingerprint cards, and
- passport size and quality photos
Additional information required on the Form 1:
The Form 1, section 4 requires specific information about the firearm you intend to make.
4(a) states: Name and Address of Original Manufacturer and/or Importer of the Firearm
The ATF Form 1 instructions state: “If you are modifying an existing firearm, enter the location of the original manufacturer. If you are creating the firearm, enter the maker’s name, city and state.”
4(b): Type of Firearm to be made.
This is where you disclose whether you plan to make an SBR or SBS. Just to be considerate, when I filled out my last Form 1, I wrote “Short-barreled rifle (SBR)”. However, “SBR” or “SBS” is likely sufficient.
4(c): Caliber or Gauge (Specify one)
Usually, this is self-explanatory. However, an AR-15 type firearm is capable of firing multiple calibers. For example, an AR-15 lower receiver may be marked as 5.56 or .223, but is capable of shooting 9mm or 300blk with only minor alterations. State the caliber you intend the SBR AR-15 to be. You can change calibers after you’re approved without needed to renotify the ATF.
4(e) Of Barrel
Disclose the length you intend for the barrel to be after approval.
Measure the overall length the firearm will be after approval. The Form 1 Instructions state: Note: if the firearm has a folding or collapsible stock, the overall measurement is to be made with the stock extended.
4(g) Serial Number
Write the serial number found on the receiver.
4(h) Additional Description (include all numbers and other identifying data to include maker’s name, city and state which will appear on the firearm)
The Form 1 Instructions state: The maker is required to mark the firearm with his or her name, city and state. All markings must be in compliance with 27 CFR 478.92 and 479.102.
Here, you’ll need to either disclose your name, city and state or the name of your trust, city and state. (You may want to have the name of your trust be short because it has to fit on the receiver). Also, 27 CFR 478.92 and 479.102 governs depth and size of the markings.
4(i) State Why You Intend to Make Firearm
Typically, the phrase “lawful purposes” is enough, although, “only lawful purposes” or some other variant will probably suffice. Be advised: the phrase “because I feel like it” is rumored to be insufficient and will cause your application to be denied.
After approval, but before altering the length of the barrel, you’ll need to have the receiver engraved in compliance with 27 CFR 478.92 and 479.102. Then, you’re able to alter the length of the barrel, which in the case of an AR-15, may be as simple as changing the upper receiver.
Don’t wait any longer:
In the past, you’d need to send a $200 check made payable to the ATF, however the new Form 4 includes a space for debit/credit card information. When the ATF receives the application, and process the funds, your background check begins. Due to the volume of applications and the limited number of ATF examiners, the process takes several months. Once you’re approved, you’ll receive a copy of the Form 4 or Form 1 with a tax stamp attached. That’s it.
What’s the difference between owning as an individual or a trust?
Whether utilizing a Form 1 or Form 4 as an individual, the SBR or SBS is transferred to you, and you alone. Just as with a suppressor acquired as an individual, no one else may possess the firearm or, technically, have access to it. This fact alone shows the value of having a gun trust.
After setting up a trust, the firearm becomes the property of the trust. Trustees can have full and equal access to the trust property. Therefore, anyone who is a trustee can possess the firearm. The process for transferring an SBR or SBS to a trust rather than an individual is similar. Once you create your trust, submit the Form 4 or Form 1, as previously mentioned. However, the trust will be the transferee, not you. Under the ATF’s recent 41F regulation, all trustees and beneficiaries of the trust, defined by the ATF as “responsible persons”, must submit an ATF Form 23, with fingerprints and passport photos. These documents are submitted in the same way as mentioned previously, with a single $200 fee.
However, the ATF has stated the following:
Q: Will new responsible persons, added after making or transfer, be subject to the same requirements?
A: Once an application has been approved, no documentation is required to be submitted to ATF when a new responsible person is added to a trust or legal entity. However, should a responsible person change after the application is submitted, but before approved, the applicant or transferee must contact the NFA Branch for guidance.
Although the ATF regulations are subject to change at any time, responsible persons, trustees and beneficiaries can be added to the trust after the initial application.
Palmetto Gun Trust was created to inform and demystify the application process. If you’d like a gun trust or have questions about the application process, please contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Graham at 803.764.3920 or email me at David.Crocker@mgrahamlaw.com.