How to Buy a Suppressor

Suppressors, also known as silencers, greatly reduce the noise emitted by a firearm and reduce recoil, which in turn improves accuracy and recovery speed. Suppressors are legal in a majority of states, making them an excellent addition to your setup. However, many gun owners do not know how to go about the process for purchasing a suppressor.

The first step in buying a suppressor is choosing a model that matches the firearm. Not only is the type of firearm important, but the specific model must be compatible. For example, rifles and handguns have different suppressors, but not every suppressor for handguns will be compatible with a Glock 17.

Choosing a Suppressor

There are many excellent resources on the Internet to help educate you about each suppressor. It’s important to read through the product reviews of each suppressor to weigh the pros and cons of each brand. Keep in mind what is expected of a suppressor. For example, one model may perform beautifully but add a lot of unwanted weight, so keeping personal preferences in mind is key.

Any Class III arms dealer should offer suppressors, including online vendors like Amazon. However, at this stage, all that is needed is the serial number.

Aspects to Consider When Shopping

The following features are important to keep in mind when shopping for a suppressor. Often, what is good or bad will be more a matter of your preferences than objectivity.


There’s certainly no point in purchasing a suppressor that doesn’t function well but makes for a quieter shot!


Silencers can add a good bit of weight. This will make less of a difference on rifles, and produce quite a noticeable difference on handguns.


Suppressors can easily become expensive, although many brands produce excellent values, making reading guides critical.


Another reason to read consumer guides is to ensure that a suppressor is even compatible with the gun’s current setup. A threaded barrel may be required, for example, potentially necessitating a whole other purchase.

Deciding How to Register a Suppressor

Before purchasing the suppressor, it must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Note that there are three separate ways to register a suppressor. You may register it to yourself, register it to a trust, or register as a corporation.

While registering it as an individual might seem to make the most sense, registering it as a trust provides significant advantages. Trust holders do not need photographing, fingerprinting, and authority signatures during registration. Additionally, those who register as individuals cannot allow others to use their suppressor beyond the range of eyesight, whereas trust holders may allow trustees to use it.

Forming a trust does incur a small amount of legal fees depending on the state, however. Consult with an attorney for an estimate on the total cost and more information on the process.

Registering a Suppressor

Regardless of the path chosen, the suppressor must be registered prior to purchase, which includes the serial number of the chosen model (hence the need to shop first). This requires filling out form 4 and form 5330.20. Individuals will also need to be photographed and fingerprinted.

Next is a $200 fee called a transfer fee or a “tax stamp.” The arms dealer may also charge a fee if they are processing the forms and fees for the consumer. At this point, you must simply wait patiently.

Finalizing the Purchase

Once the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has approved the consumer’s paperwork, all that’s left to do is complete the sale. The owner must keep the tax stamp for the life of the silencer, and while the silencer may be used on other guns if they are compatible, this license does not transfer to another silencer.

Purchasing a second suppressor will require going through this entire process again, as the permit is tied to the serial number of the original suppressor.

Enjoying a New Suppressor

Once all these steps have been completed, a new suppressor can be installed and enjoyed. That said, it’s important to remember to continue to obey the federal and state laws. Suppressors are not legal in all states, for example, so you must take care not to cross state lines with a suppressor and accidentally run afoul of the law.

Regardless, you should now be able to enjoy a quieter gun that performs better and is easier on hearing. Neighbors should be quite happy, too!

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