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Top 10 Questions

1. Is it legal to own a suppressor (aka silencer)?

Under federal law, it has never been illegal to own a suppressor. If it is legal for you to buy a handgun, and you live in a state that allows ownership, then it is probably legal for you to own a suppressor. The basic requirements are as follows:

  1. You must be at least 21 years old
  2. You must live in a state that allows ownership
  3. You must not have any felony conviction

2. Which states allow suppressor ownership?

The following states allow private ownership of suppressor: AL, AR, AK, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MS, MT, ND, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV and WY.

Of the remaining states; CA and IA may allow suppressor ownership for people in possession of a valid FFL.

3. Do I need a special license to own a suppressor?

Absolutely not!  There are some rumors that you need to have a “Class 3” license to own a suppressor; but, this simply isn’t true. You do have to pay the BATFE $200 for a transfer or “tax stamp” when you first buy the suppressor – but there are no ongoing fees or licenses required. This tax is similar to paying sales tax on a purchase, except that it goes to the federal instead of the state government.

4. Do I give up any rights when I buy a suppressor? (Will the ATF start showing up to search my house?)


5. Can I use one suppressor for multiple firearms?

Yes. As long as the firearms are threaded in a way that will accept the suppressor you shouldn’t have any problems.

6. Can I use one suppressor for multiple calibers?

You can use a larger caliber suppressor to suppress a smaller caliber firearm as long as you have the appropriate adapters. Using a larger caliber silencer is not typically as efficient as a silencer made for your firearm, but it will still be a significant sound reduction in most cases.

7. What is the difference between a suppressor and a silencer?

There is no difference; these are just different words for the same thing. The term “sound suppressor”, or just “suppressor”, is actually more accurate when talking about these devices since they don’t actually silence the firearm.

8. How quiet is a suppressed firearm?

This depends on the firearm and the suppressor. In most cases, the suppressed firearm will be at least as quiet as wearing a good pair of muffs.

9. How will a suppressor attach to my firearm(s)?

Once again, this depends on the firearm and the suppressor. The most popular methods include the following:

  • Some suppressor will thread directly onto a threaded barrel
  • Some suppressor require a quick-detach device (like a flash hider, muzzle brake or piston)
  • Some suppressor are built into the firearm itself, providing an integral suppressor

10. How long does it take to register a suppressor?

This can vary widely depending on several factors. As a general rule, you should expect the entire process to take between 4-6 months; although, it could be a bit shorter or longer.

~Reprinted, with some revisions, with the permission of Dave Matheny.