ATF

Sample Block


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

National Firearms Act (NFA) — Machine Guns

  1. May an unlicensed person make a machine gun?
  2. May machine guns be transferred from one registered owner to another?
  3. Does the fact that two licensed manufacturers are wholly-owned by the same parent corporation allow them to transfer post-1986 machineguns between the corporations without either having a Government contract or law enforcement sales demonstration request?


May an unlicensed person make a machine gun?

Generally, no. However, if documentation can be provided, along with the Application to Make a Machinegun, which establishes that the weapon is being made for distribution to a Federal or State agency, an individual may be permitted to make the machine gun.

[18 U.S.C. 922(o)(2), 27 CFR 479.105(e)]


May machine guns be transferred from one registered owner to another?

Yes. If the machine gun was lawfully registered and possessed before May 19, 1986, it may be transferred pursuant to an approved ATF Form 4 (5320.4).

[18 U.S.C. 922(o)(2), 26 U.S.C. 5812]


Q: Does the fact that two licensed manufacturers are wholly-owned by the same parent corporation allow them to transfer post-1986 machineguns between the corporations without either having a Government contract or law enforcement sales demonstration request?

Because the licensed manufacturers are separate legal entities, any NFA firearm would have to be transferred between the entities subject to an ATF-approved application. However, under 27 CFR 479.105(d), a machinegun made or imported on or after May 19, 1986, may only be transferred to the U.S. Government (USG) or a law enforcement agency, or to a Federal firearms licensee for use as a USG or law enforcement sales sample. The transfer of a post-1986 machinegun between licensed manufacturers solely for the performance of a manufacturing sub-process in furtherance of finishing the product, without meeting the requirements of 27 CFR 479.105(d), is not permissible.

To accomplish the sub-process without conducting a transfer of the firearm, an employee of the entity to which the machinegun is registered must accompany the machinegun to the secondary manufacturer’s premises and remain with it, maintaining dominion and control, while the sub-process is being performed. If the sub-process requires more than one day to complete, the registrant may store the firearm overnight at the secondary manufacturer’s premises in a locked container to which only the registrant’s employee has access. In this scenario, no transfer between the primary and secondary manufacturer takes place, and both parties would comply with 18 U.S.C. 922(o).