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Class 3 FFL-What is it?

Regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934 a class 3 FFL is a license to deal firearms and destructive devices.

NFA Firearms Include

  • Machine guns and certain machine gun parts
  • Parts that can convert a regular gun into a machine gun
  • Short barrel rifles (under 16 inches)
  • Short barrel shotguns (under 18 inches)
  • Silencers
  • Gadget or disguised guns (pen guns, wallet guns, cane guns)

Destructive Devices Include: 

  • Hand grenades
  • Bazookas
  • Mortars
  • Anti-tank guns (over .50 caliber)
  • Artillery rounds

The National Firearms Act (NFA) was enacted in 1934 and placed a tax on the manufacture and sale of certain firearms. The act was amended and became part of the 1968 Gun Control Act. Firearms regulated by the Gun Control Act of 1968 are referred to as Title 1 and those regulated by the NFA are referred to as Title 2. In the following we will explain how this affects a Class 3 SOT Federal Firearms License (FFL).

What Is A Class 3 (SOT) 

A reasonable definition of a NFA weapon includes: destructive devices, silencers (a.k.a. sound suppressors), short barreled rifles, machine guns, and short barreled shotguns. A machine gun is further defined as any weapon which can fire more than one shot with only one pull of the trigger.

Short barreled shotguns are defined as those with barrel lengths of less than 18”. However, rifles may have a barrel as short as 16”. The barrel length is measured from the closed breach to the muzzle. Both the shotgun and the rifle must be at least 26” in overall length as defined by the ATF. The overall length of the weapon is measured with the folding stock extended to the muzzle. An NFA weapon is frequently referred to as a Class 3 firearm or Class 3 weapon.

The National Firearms Act of 1934  

The National Firearms Act of 1934 placed a heavy tax on the sale and transfer of NFA weapons and this tax is called a Special Occupational Tax (SOT). The tax levy has remained at $200 since 1934. In essence the Special Occupation is the business of manufacturing, importing and/or transferring NFA weapons.

Individuals and companies subject to SOTs must have the appropriate Federal Firearms License (FFL). SOT class 3 contains dealers who buy and sell NFA weapons and these dealers must have a Type 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11 FFL. What makes all of these regulations doubly confusing is that transfer of NFA weapons is regulated by both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Bureau of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

In reality, there is no such thing as a Class 3 FFL. However gun dealers and buyers alike recognize the term to mean that a dealer has the right type of FFL from ATF along with the correct SOT classification with the IRS to sell NFA firearms like automatic weapons and NFA accessories like silencers.

It’s a complicated set of paperwork to become a Class 3 FFL dealer and as previously mentioned you need a Type 1 FFL as well.  However the combination of a Type 1 and Class 3 Federal Firearms License (FFL) can be a very good money and time saving solution to all of your firearm needs.


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FFL Class 3 SOT


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