Why is ATF issuing this guidance for Ruling 2016-5?

  • Type 10 Federal firearms licensees (FFLs) inquired about marking variances for destructive device munitions manufactured as part of a valid United States Government (USG) contract.  The FFLs note that applying for and awaiting approval of variances, and timely coordinating them with the required export license from the Department of State, creates difficulties in fulfilling contracts in a timely manner.   

  • The Gun Control Act (GCA) regulations at title 27, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), section 478.92 require a licensed manufacturer to identify firearms by engraving, casting, stamping (impressing), or otherwise conspicuously placing or causing to be engraved, cast, stamped (impressed) or placed on the frame or receiver thereof an individual serial number and other identifying information.  The same requirements appear in the regulations implementing the National Firearms Act (NFA) at 27 CFR 479.102.

  • However, “in the case of a destructive device, the Director may authorize other means of identifying that weapon upon receipt of a letter application…showing that engraving, casting or stamping (impressing) such a weapon would be dangerous or impracticable.”  27 CFR 478.92 and 479.102.  In each case, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) may permit an alternate means of marking the destructive device munitions.

  • ATF Ruling 2016-5 authorizes an alternate method or procedure to the firearms marking requirements contained in 27 CFR 478.92 and 479.102. 

  • ATF authorizes licensed manufacturers of certain destructive device munitions that are manufactured for the USG to mark these destructive device munitions with sequential lot numbers, provided conditions set forth in this ruling are met.

  • This ruling applies to only those destructive device munitions that are explosive, incendiary, or poison gas, bombs, grenades, rockets having a propellant charge of more than 4 ounces, missiles having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce, or mines.  It does not apply to large bore weapons (e.g. rocket launchers, mortars), or homemade devices.

  • These destructive device munitions must be manufactured to fulfill a current USG contract and the licensed manufacturer must currently be a party to that existing USG contract.

Last Reviewed January 25, 2017