Kahr K9 and P9 - Still Fantastic

In my opinion, the Kahr K9 is still the best looking "baby nine" there is.

In my opinion, the Kahr K9 is still the best looking "baby nine" there is.

I still love Kahr handguns.  Their form.  Their function.  The ideas they represent (the guns, not the company - no judgement on corporate politics here).  The brand rose in popularity as an unintended consequence of the 1994 "Assault Weapons" ban, which limited magazine capacity to 10 rounds or less.  anti-gun politicians, who thought the legislation would mark the "start of the ending" for traditional pistol manufacturers, spurred a growth in a forgotten facet of the industry.  Instead of strolling off into the sunset, the manufacturers began re-focusing on the carry gun.  Advances in metallurgy made since the 60's meant that they could actually build pretty good small semi autos that shot real cartridges this time around.  Kahr was well positioned to take full advantage of the political environment.

The company was small, nimble, and most importantly, based in the USA (which has laws on the books restricting the importation of small handguns, but no such laws governing their stateside manufacture).  I'm not a Kahr historian (and I'll admit being too lazy to open another tab in my browser right now), but I believe the K9 was the first model off the line.  Small, solid stainless steel.  Heavy as hell, and tiny to boot.  The gun is an absolute dream to shoot.  It was followed up by other stainless models, and finally, Kahr's move into polymer frames.  Once the subcompact PM9 hit the scene, it became a smash hit for Kahr and a black eye for people who would prefer an unarmed populace.

If you've read this far, you'll know that this isn't a review.  I was just thinking about how Ruger, Glock, Smith & Wesson, and Walther are taking all of the "small gun" press 20+ years after the fact.  Even today, I still prefer the Kahr platform to all of them (I haven't shot the G43 yet).  The newer offerings on the market are really nice...don't get me wrong.  There's just no denying that the Kahr lineup stands tall against any of them.  I personally own three Kahrs (K9, P9, and PM9), and I still recommend them FIRST when someone asks me for advice on a small carry gun.  They're probably one of the only gun platforms remaining with a "break in" period specifically recommended in the user manual.  Rumor and here-say would indicate that they're finicky when it comes to ammo, but I've never had a malfunction from either gun at any time.

Fellas, if you're looking to buy a gun for your wife and you don't want to ask her which one she wants, just buy a K9.  It's heavy, which makes it very soft shooting for its size. Even If she hates it, you'll love it.  

Just for you guys - I pulled two of them out for a photo shoot the other day while testing out a new camera.  enjoy!

Understanding the National Firearms Act of 1934

Editor's Note:  This article was originally published to the site on Thursday, 27 March 2008.  It was authored by Frank Maschoff, and has been reposted with his permission

If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked if my suppressors, machineguns, or short-barrel shotguns were legal, I wouldn’t have to work in order to afford more of them. The fact is, in most of the United States, those weapons are 100% legal for civilians to own, as long as they are properly registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE), and the proper taxes are paid for their transfer. In this article, we’ll take a look at the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA34, or just NFA) and the process necessary to own these weapons.


In 1934, the United States was experiencing a growth in organized crime activities, as well as a rash of bank robberies, particularly in the Midwest. Criminals such as Al Capone, John Dillinger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, “Machinegun” Kelly, and the infamous lovebirds Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were becoming legendary. These men and women were often using fully-automatic weapons to commit their crimes. Events such as the “St. Valentine’ Day Massacre” of February 14, 1929 highlighted the ends to which criminals would go to conduct their business.

One of the more popular guns of these criminals was the Thompson Sub-Machinegun, a fully-automatic weapon which fires the .45 ACP round. Clyde Barrow was partial to the Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, a .30-06 caliber machinegun fed from a 20-round magazine. In 1929, a Thompson SMG sold for $175, with an extra $25 charged for models with a Cutt’s Compensator installed. The Thompson, or Tommy Gun, could be fed with a standard, 20-round box magazine, or either 50 or 100-round drums. The 50-round drums cost $21 in 1929, with a 100-round version costing $25. In Chicago, the criminal underworld bought many of their guns from a dealer named Peter von Frantzius. Von Frantzius would routinely remove the serial numbers from guns for a fee as small as $2. One of the Tommy Guns used in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was bought from von Frantzius’ sporting goods store.

When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the United States Congress passed the National Firearms Act, correctly known as the Act of June 26, 1934. The goal was to go after organized crime by way of their guns of choice. The Act named several types of firearms, required their registration, and imposed taxes on their manufacture and subsequent transfer. The types of firearms named in the NFA are machineguns, short-barrel rifles, short-barrel shotguns, silencers (suppressors), destructive devices, and a catch-all category known as “Any Other Weapons,” or AOW’s. Many in the NFA community would argue that the National Firearms Act was passed simply as a way of keeping Federal Agents employed and as a way of making money for the U.S. government. It should be noted that crimes prosecuted under the NFA are technically tax crimes, as NFA 34 is actually a tax law. Prior to 9/11, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms was a regulatory agency under the Internal Revenue Service.


Frequently, people refer to NFA weapons as “Class 3” guns. This is actually a misnomer. The National Firearms Act breaks firearms down into two basic categories: Title I and Title II. Title I guns are the guns with which most people are familiar, rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Title II guns are the aforementioned machineguns, silencers, short-barrel rifles, short-barrel shotguns, destructive devices, and “Any Other Weapons.” The confusion comes from years of misinformation, or lack of information regarding the definitions within NFA 34.

Commonly, dealers who buy, sell, and trade NFA Title II weapons are known as “Class 3 Dealers.” “Class 3” actually refers to a tax-payer status of federally licensed firearms dealers, or FFL’s. In order to deal in NFA Title II weapons, an FFL must pay an annual Special Occupancy Tax, or SOT. A Class 1 SOT is for a licensed firearms importer. A licensed manufacturer pays a Class 2 SOT, while a dealer pays a Class 3 SOT. The amount of the tax is mostly based on the class, with an additional factor being the gross annual sales of certain SOT’s. Since people wishing to buy an NFA Title II weapon most often buy them from dealers who are Class 3 SOT’s, they came to be simply known as “Class 3 dealers.”

Machineguns are defined by NFA 34 as “any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” It also includes parts kits and individual parts designed exclusively for use in a machine gun, or which allow a person to easily build a machine gun. Machine guns include those which fire fully-automatic as well as those which fire in multiple round bursts, such as an M-16A2. It also includes any parts which can easily be converted into a machine gun. These parts and parts sets are covered by a BATFE policy that once a gun is a machine gun, it is always a machine gun. A machine gun can not legally be retrofitted into a semi-automatic only weapon.

In addition to the NFA, there are two other pieces of legislation which govern the manufacture, importation, transfer, and ownership of machine guns. The first was the Gun Control Act of 1968, or GCA 68. This act made the civilian ownership of newly imported machineguns illegal. Dealers could own them for demonstrations to law enforcement agencies, however. Also, when the FFL surrendered their license, they could transfer these guns to their private collections. These guns became known as “Dealer Samples.” The second law was the 1986 Firearms Owner’s Protection Act, or FOPA 86. This law made it illegal to manufacture new machine guns for civilian ownership. It effectively closed the NFA Registry to new machineguns. Since May 1986, there have now been three classes of machine guns, “Fully Transferable,” meaning anyone can own one – these were imported prior to 1968, or manufactured in the U.S. before 1986, “Pre-86 Dealer Samples” – guns formerly known as Dealer Samples, and “Post-86 Dealer Samples” – guns which were imported or manufactured after FOPA 86 was passed. With the advent of FOPA 86 and the closure of the registry, the supply of transferable machine guns has remained at the level it was in 1986, with the loss of any guns destroyed in the meantime, with none added to the list. However, the demand for transferable machine guns has increased. As with all markets, when supply is limited and demand is increased, the price increases. This has caused machine guns which sold for next to nothing in 1986 to be worth as much as a new car. For example, a licensed manufacturer can build a new M-16 for less than $500. However, a 21-year old, transferable M-16 costs $9,000 to $15,000. Thompson SMG’s now sell for $14,000 to $24,000 depending on condition. That’s a big difference from the 1929 price of $175.

The next category of NFA Title II weapons are silencers, or, more correctly, suppressors. A silencer is a device which alters or muffles the gunshot of a firearm, or any part or parts designed exclusively to manufacture a silencer. When NFA 34 was written, silencers were readily available through mail order, at costs below $10 each. As the Great Depression was in full swing by 1934, there was concern by wildlife management folks that silencers would be used by poachers. Therefore, silencers were added to NFA 34, in order to control illegal hunting. Would you believe that silencers were invented by the same person who invented the muffler on your car, at the same time, and for the same general purpose, controlling noise pollution? Unfortunately, Hollywood has often demonized an effective safety device. In most of socialist Europe, where guns are often difficult to acquire, silencers are often sold inexpensively, over-the-counter, with as many controls as any other firearms accessory, such as a magazine. The use of silencers is looked upon as a means to protect the hearing of both the shooter and those in their vicinity. Why should the people around us, who aren’t taking part in our sport, have to suffer hearing loss because of us, when there is such an easy way to avoid that damage?

The National Firearms Act defines a rifle as a shoulder-fired weapon, which uses a rifled bore to discharge a shot. According to NFA 34, a Title I rifle has a barrel in excess of 18 inches, and an overall length in excess of 26 inches. A short-barrel rifle is a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, or an overall length less than 26 inches. Likewise, a shotgun is defined as a shoulder-fired, smooth bore firearm with a barrel in excess of 18 inches, and an overall length in excess of 26 inches. A short-barrel shotgun is a shotgun with a barrel shorter than 18 inches, or an overall length less than 26 inches. So, now you’re asking, “Why the differences in required barrel lengths?” Well, when NFA was written and enacted, the barrel lengths were the same, 18 inches. However, there were several manufacturers who were building .22 calibers rifles with 16 inch barrels, and they petitioned the government to change the law. In a moment of logical clarity, the government recognized that .22 caliber rifles were meant as sporting rifles, not as tools of the criminal trade, and changed the law accordingly.

Another category of Title II weapons is destructive devices, commonly referred to as DD’s. There are really two types of DD’s: explosive destructive devices, and large-bore destructive devices. Explosive DD’s include explosive, incendiary, or poisonous gas, grenades, bombs, and rockets containing a propellant charge in excess of four ounces, missiles with an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce, mines, and similar devices. So, yes, you can own fragmentation grenades and Hellfire Anti-Tank Guided Missiles; so long as you pay the tax and BATFE approves of it. The second types of DD’s, large-bore devices, include weapons with barrel diameters in excess of one-half inch, except shotguns which BATFE feel have a sporting purpose. In recent memory, BATFE has ruled that shotguns such as the USAS-12, LAW-12 and Street Sweeper are destructive devices, requiring them to have been registered as such. Some other commonly seen destructive devices are M-203 and M-79 grenade launchers, mortars, and breach-loaded cannons. These are all legal to own, at least on the Federal level, as long as taxes are paid.

The last category of NFA Title II weapons are known as “Any Other Weapons.” Essentially, this is a catch-all category. They are defined within NFA 34 as: “any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed, or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.” Some frequently encountered AOW’s include pen guns and cane guns. Others you might not be so familiar with include the Heckler & Koch Operational Briefcase for the MP-5K submachine gun, which allows an MP-5K to be fired from inside the briefcase, and the Serbu Super Shorty, which is a smooth-bore handgun built using Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 receivers (Author’s note: My company, Elite Tactical Systems, Inc. also manufactures AOW’s using 870 receivers.). Are you ready for an example of bureaucratic nonsense? North American Arms, a manufacturer of miniature .22 revolvers, built a wallet holster for their mini-revolvers. In 1997, BATFE ruled that since the gun could be concealed on the person and fired from within the holster, they must be registered as an AOW when used in conjunction with the wallet holster. There are also similar holsters on the market for High-Standard Derringers. When not used with the wallets, the guns are Title I weapons. But, even when in close proximity to one of the holsters, the guns are considered AOW’s.


And, now that you understand the various types of NFA Title II weapons, you’re wondering how do you get one, right? Well, at the Federal level, the process is not really as difficult as you might have believed. Now, keep in mind, these are the Federal laws, and the laws of the fifty States are as varied as the States themselves. I would encourage you to contact a knowledgeable FFL in your area, or your local BATFE field office, for questions about legality in your area. There are also several great resources on the internet; I’ll include a list of those web sites at the end of the article.

The first step is deciding what type of NFA weapon you want to buy. That decision can be one of the worst parts of the whole process. There are so many fun and interesting choices, where does one start? Do you buy a suppressor for the health care or environmental benefits, or maybe to use while hunting? Do you buy a machine gun for the teeth-jarring, belly-tingling excitement of it? (Anyone who’s been to the semi-annual Knob Creek Machinegun Shoot can attest to the excitement of being around full-auto weapons.) Do you get a machine gun as an investment? Do you get a short-barrel rifle or shotgun for the compactness of the weapon? Do you get several, just so you can be the cool kid on the block? (There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that reason.) Maybe you want to get into NFA weapons, but you don’t have an unlimited budget. Whatever your reason for getting an NFA weapon, it is fairly inexpensive to get one, except for most machine guns. (The least expensive machine guns are going to cost at least $3,000.)

If you still can’t decide, talk to your local dealer. They might have some good suggestions. Again, they can also help you know what’s legal to own in your area. Some States allow some NFA weapons, but disallow others. Others allow ownership, but restrict the use of them – such is the case with suppressors in Washington State. There are a myriad of choices, but don’t feel inundated. A good SOT can help you decide what will be the best use of your money.

Once you decide what you want, you have to find a seller. It is legal, according to Federal law, to purchase an NFA weapon from an unlicensed (non-FFL) individual. If the seller is a resident of your home State, the two of you can do the paperwork yourselves, without needing to use the services of an SOT. If the seller is from out-of-State, you’ll need to transfer the weapon through an FFL / SOT in your State. This is the case regardless of whether the weapon comes from an out-of-State FFL or from an unlicensed person in another State. Another option, except in the case of a machine gun, is to build it yourself. The process to build an NFA weapon is very similar to buying one, but using a different form.


The first form used in buying the NFA weapon is a BATFE Form 5320.4, commonly called a Form 4, which is done in duplicate. On this form, the seller identifies the weapon, its manufacturer, serial number, and length, both overall and barrel. The seller than records their name and address, and signs the form. The buyer writes in their name, address, and county of residence on the front of the Form 4. On the back, they answer a few questions very similar to a Form 4473 – the standard “Are you a felon, and are you a drug user?” questions. The seller then tells BATFE why they want the weapon. Most people use the phrase “Collection and Investment Purposes.” In most situations, it doesn’t matter what you say, as long as it’s a legal reason. I’ve heard of people putting down things like “Because chicks dig them.” For residents of North Carolina, your State law requires you to use the phrase “Research and Development Purposes.” Once that is accomplished, the buyer attaches a 2”x2” passport photo to each copy of the Form 4. Afterwards, you need the local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) to sign your paperwork. By signing it, they are affirming that they have no reason you are going to do anything illegal with the weapon, and that they are legal in their jurisdiction. The CLEO can be the local Chief of Police, County Sheriff, or District or State Attorney; or any representative that is approved by BATFE.

Not all CLEO’s will sign Form 4’s, for an assortment of reasons. Many don’t believe that civilians should be allowed to own NFA weapons. Others don’t realize that they are even legal. Still others falsely believe they are assuming some form of liability by signing the paperwork. Or, maybe you opposed the Sheriff in the last election, and they have a strong memory. Or, maybe they just don’t like you personally. Whatever their reason, they decide not to sign. Luckily, in my home State of Tennessee, State law requires them to sign within 15 working days as long as they have no information that you are going to break the law or would be restricted from owning a weapon. Basically, in Tennessee, as long as you can buy a handgun, the CLEO can’t deny you an NFA weapon. For those of you in other States, there are other options besides the CLEO’s signature, and I will cover that a little later.

The next piece of paper is the Certificate of Compliance. It is essentially a form where you write your name twice and your country of citizenship. Then, you sign it and date it. That’s it. The easiest form you’ll sign in the whole process. You do one copy of the Certificate of Compliance per NFA weapon.

Next, you get two sets of fingerprints taken, on standard government fingerprint cards. Your FFL / SOT might do them for you, but you might have to have the local Police or Sheriff do them. Whoever takes the prints, it is important that the ORI box on the cards reads thusly: WVATF0800, ATF – NFA Branch, Martinsburg, WV. If the ORI box doesn’t contain that information, your prints will likely get lost in the system.

Once you have your Form 4’s filled out with passport photos attached and the CLEO signature on them, the Certificate of Compliance is signed, and your fingerprints are completed, you’re ready to proceed. Now, you write a check to BATFE. For manufacturing any NFA weapon, or for transferring most NFA weapons, the check will be for $200 per NFA weapon. The exception is for transferring an AOW. The transfer tax on an AOW is only $5 per weapon. This tax is a one-time tax per weapon. You do not need to send in an annual payment. You do, however, have to send in payment any time you buy another NFA weapon. The money is a tax paid on a background check. The background check is done each and every time you buy or transfer ownership of an NFA weapon. (There are tax-free transfers, such as if you inherit an NFA weapon from a parent.) Once the check is written, drop it and your paperwork into an envelope and mail it to the BATFE. The current address for Form 4’s is: BATFE, NFA – Branch, PO Box 530298, Atlanta, GA 30353-0298.

Now comes the hard part – the wait! Take solace, the wait is much shorter than it was in year’s past. Currently, the wait is down to approximately 5-8 weeks. It used to be over a year for some folks. When I bought my first three NFA weapons, in 2004-2005, I waited five months for each of them. The NFA Branch office was formerly located in Washington, DC. A few years ago, they moved to Martinsburg, WV. The move sped up the process dramatically. Whatever the reason, it was a welcome change. I should also take the opportunity to tell you that the legal examiners at NFA Branch are some of the most helpful government employees I’ve ever encountered. Contrary to misinformed opinion, the folks in Martinsburg are our friends, and go above and beyond to be helpful. There have been numerous times when I’ve had to call up there and ask a question. Without the help of people like Kenneth Houchens and Barbara Payne, I’d be lost.

Once your Form 4 is approved, the examiner will put a tax stamp on it, sign it, and return a copy to the seller or transferor. Once they get the stamped Form 4, they are allowed to give you the weapon. If you are getting the weapon through an FFL / SOT, they are required to have you complete a Form 4473, as it is the form used to record the transaction in their files. If the transfer is for nothing but NFA weapons, they do not have to go through the process of a NICS check, they just fill out the form, sign it, and file it away.


For most NFA weapons, it is legal to build one yourself. The only exception is a machine gun. Due to the 1986 FOPA, it is illegal to build a new machine gun for private, civilian ownership. With minimal machining or gunsmith skills and equipment, you can build your own silencer, SBR, SBS, AOW, or DD. Before you do so, however, you have to have BATFE approval. This is done by filing a BATFE Form 5320.1, or Form 1. The Form 1 is similar to a Form 4, but easier. Since you are the maker of the weapon, there is no transferor to sign the paperwork. You fill in your name, address, and description of the firearm you’re building, along with the serial number you’ll be using. In the case of an existing firearm, such as turning an AR-15 into a short-barrel rifle (SBR) you must list the original manufacturer’s info, and use their serial number. Like a Form 4, you must submit passport photos, CLEO signatures, a Certificate of Compliance, and fingerprint cards. Unlike Form 4’s, Form 1’s are mailed to: BATFE, NFA – Branch, 244 Needy Road, Martinsburg, WV 25401.

Once the Form is approved, stamped, signed, and returned to you, you may build your weapon. It is important to note that NFA 34 requires the manufacturer of an NFA weapon to engrave the weapon. There has been a lot of speculation if this is required when a non-licensed individual submits a Form 1 to turn a Title I gun, such as an AR-15, into an NFA Title II weapon. I have seen letters from BATFE which go both ways, requiring engraving, and not requiring it. It is important that you realize a BATFE letter is only legally valid for the person to whom it is addressed. It is my recommendation that you err on the side of caution and engrave your weapon. You won’t be getting fined for engraving it, but there’s the possibility you could get fined for not doing so. The engraving must be readily visible on the firearm. In the case of an AR-15, that means it can’t be under the pistol grip or handguards.


You’ve finally taken possession of your first NFA weapon, or completed your build. So, now what happens? There is a lot of misinformation out there about certain aspects relating to owning an NFA weapon.

One common misconception is the belief that you give up your rights to search and seizure, and that BATFE agents may inspect your home at will, with no need for a warrant. That is patently false. You do not give up your rights. If an agent of the BATFE wants to enter your home, they must have a warrant, or probable cause that a crime is being committed. Simply owning a registered NFA weapon is not probable cause. And, if BATFE agents want to enter your home, you must have been doing something you shouldn’t have been doing in the first place. BATFE agents are busy folks. They don’t have the time to go out and inspect the paperwork of every NFA weapon in this country. They’ve got more important things to do with their time.

Now, if a BATFE agent asks to see your registration paperwork (Form 1 or 4), you are required to show it to them. For that reason, you always keep a copy with the weapon. Don’t carry the original around with you. Make several photocopies, and place the original wherever you keep important documents, such as your will, birth certificates, etc. Place photocopies with the weapon, in your gun safe, in the range bags you use, and in the vehicle you take to the range. You might also consider making a miniature copy, laminating it, and keeping it in your wallet.

What about storage requirements, or letting someone borrow the weapon? Well, the only real storage requirement is that you store the weapon in such a way so that it is inaccessible to anybody but the registered owner. You don’t have to go out and buy a bank vault. A simple gun cabinet will do, or a case, as long as it locks and you’re the only one with a key or combination to the lock. Since you must maintain control of the weapon, you are not allowed to loan it to someone to take to the range. If you’re there at the range, and able to maintain control over the weapon, you may let others use it. I recommend you let as many others as possible shoot it. That’s the best way to spread the NFA gospel, and educate more people about the truth.


There are times which don’t fit the normal procedures of NFA ownership. I’ll try to answer some of the more common concerns here.

It is possible to purchase or manufacture an NFA weapon as part of a corporation or trust. Doing so has several advantages. One of these advantages is the ability to bypass the need for passport photos, fingerprints, and most often the important consideration, the CLEO signature. If your CLEO won’t sign for whatever reason, you can use a trust or corporate transfer to circumvent them. Another advantage is the ability for more than one person to have access to the weapon. When a trust or corporation owns an NFA weapon, officers of the corporation or members of the trust may take the gun to the range. So, if you and your spouse, sibling, parent, child, or other trusted friends want to share ownership, maybe a corporate or trust transfer is the route for you.

Another frequent concern regards traveling with an NFA weapon. It is legal to cross State lines with your NFA weapon, as long as the weapon is legal in your State of destination. However, with most NFA weapons, you must notify BATFE in advance. This is done using a BATFE Form 5320.20. You should submit the form at least a few weeks in advance, in order to give BATFE time to complete the process. What they are doing is verifying for you that the weapon is legal where you visiting. The exceptions to the need for a 5320.20 are suppressors and AOW’s; they don’t require the form to be filed. However, it is a good idea to do so, if for no other reason but peace of mind that your weapon is legal, and that you can prove it, if stopped by an unaware police officer. So, if you want to take your machine gun to Knob Creek each April and October, just file the paperwork and bring your gun.

What if you have to move to a place where NFA weapons are illegal? Well, BATFE understands that that happens from time to time. It happens a lot to military service members who have to deploy overseas or to another stateside assignment. In those situations, you are allowed to store the weapons securely, as long as you notify BATFE about it. The weapons can be stored in a bank safe deposit box, or at a friend or family member’s house, as long as they are kept in a room or safe that only the registered owner can access. If you’re faced with such a situation, and have a friend or relative you trust, you might consider placing your gun safe in their basement, garage, or a spare corner, and take the keys with you. Just be sure to notify BATFE about the storage situation. Of course, you can also sell your NFA weapons to another person. You’ll have to ensure that you can be present when the transfer is completed. That might be difficult if you’re overseas.


What about an age requirement for buying or making NFA weapons? For many years, it was incorrectly assumed that you had to be 21 in order to possess an NFA weapons. While you are required to be 21 in order to purchase an NFA weapon from a licensed dealer, you don’t have to be 21 to make or own one. Those of you between 18 to 21 years of age can thank an intelligent young man in Florida for that. He did some reading of the NFA 34 and the GCA 68, and noticed a few things. The GCA outlines age requirements for buying firearms from an FFL. For instance, you must be 18 to buy a rifle or shotgun, but must be 21 to buy a handgun from an FFL. The young man then got to thinking, and wrote BATFE a letter.

At first, he asked about the legality of building his own short-barrel rifle, or SBR. His premise was that he could buy a Title I AR-15 from an FFL at age 18, and there was no age requirement in NFA 34 regarding making an SBR. So, could an 18-year old buy an AR-15 and then file the Form 1 necessary to build an SBR? Surprisingly, BATFE wrote back saying that he was correct, he could do exactly that. So, he filled out the Form 1, using a trust, to avoid any difficulties with the CLEO, and included a copy of his letter to BATFE, and a copy of their reply. The Form 1 was approved, and he built the SBR.

His next step was to inquire about the legality of a person 18-20 years of age buying an NFA weapon from an unlicensed resident of his State. Again, GCA states the requirements for buying from an FFL. If the weapon were bought from a non-FFL resident of the same State, there is no requirement to go through an FFL / SOT. A little less surprising this time, BATFE again agreed – he could legally buy an NFA weapon from a non-licensed resident of his State, even though he was less than 21 years old. So, he found someone willing to sell him a suppressor, and he bought it. Again, the Form 4 was approved, and he took possession of his suppressor

One important thing to note about BATFE Forms and those less than 21-years of age: the forms contain a question which asks if the transferee (the buyer) is 21 years old, or older. You must answer the question truthfully. However, that answer is not going to deny you your weapon, as long as you are not buying from an FFL / SOT.

So, there you have it, a reasonably detailed description of the National Firearms Act and the process necessary to own an NFA Title II weapon. It wasn’t quite as intimidating as you thought it would be, was it? Hey, before I learned how to do it, I was intimidated about learning to drive a car. It just took driver’s education and practice to get used to it.

Editor's note

This article has been re-posted with the permission of Frank Maschhoff, and originally appeared on his website. As of the date of this reposting, his company appears to no longer be in business.  Despite not being able to contact the author, I still feel that the info is relevant and will be useful to the shooting community.


On Range Days and Introspection

On Range Days...

My range bag is perpetually packed...

My range bag is perpetually packed...

I’m almost ashamed to say it, but I did something recently that I don’t do very often these days.  A friend and I left work early this past Friday to hit one of the local indoor shooting ranges. 10 years ago, an event like this wouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary – but today – it marks the first time I’ve shot a gun in several months.

The range trip was part of a grand plan my friend and I put together… Okay, it’s actually a pretty pathetic plan, if I’m honest.  We plan to force ourselves (pathetic, right?) to get out to a timed “steel” match at Rio Salado Sportsmen’s Club before the end of winter.  These are things we used to do once a month.  I haven’t shot a match since my wife and I moved into our current home over three years ago!  How in the hell are we going to shoot respectable scores with that many cobwebs slowing us down?  I’m not an ultra-competitive person, but scoring below mid-pack in a steel match full of newly minted shooters who haven’t figured out the difference between a slide lock and a magazine release on their own guns isn’t very fun.  In order to avoid embarrassing the hell out of ourselves as best we can, we scheduled this past Friday as a practice day.

Friday came.  I didn’t even have to pack my range bag.  It had been sitting at the ready – my H&K VP9, mags, eyes, ears, ammo, hat and all – for five months (shit! FIVE months!).  Without being too hard on myself for being so lazy, I’ll just fast forward a bit and say that I had a great time.  Obviously, I was very rusty, but that didn’t get in the way of a semi-respectable performance on target.  After about 150 rounds or so, my accuracy started to take a hit.  By then, we had been at the range for a couple of hours, which made it a convenient spot to call it a day and go home.

Yours truly shooting a female co-worker's pink .38

Yours truly shooting a female co-worker's pink .38

Thinking too much...

As I braved the tail end of Phoenix-area evening rush hour traffic on the way home, a few thoughts made their way out of the recesses of my subconscious and into the spotlight.  Since you’re still with me, I’ll share a few that I’ve been pondering:

Enthusiasm for your hobbies really never dies… if you truly love them, that is.  I’m a pretty typical guy, with three hobbies I’m serious about.  Guns, making music, and my vehicle habit all compete for my precious free time.  Life being what it is, I may go a few months without shooting, or even a year without spending time in my makeshift studio (which is currently down due to needing a few serious equipment upgrades).  When I get the time to pick them back up, it feels like I never really left them.  Because of this, I try to not beat myself up too much about spending time away from my hobbies.  In the past, I’ve taken months or years at a time to educate myself on things like personal finance or landscape design, and I’ve become a more well-rounded person for doing so.  I encourage you to do the same. 

As a counterpoint, if your latent hobbies don’t ever make you want to come back – you should consider simplifying your life by dropping them. 

For a gun guy, a range day is the best therapy.  As always, the trip was therapeutic; if you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about.  There’s something about the focus a Shoot-n-C target brings to the mind.  

One gun at a time.  Speaking of focus – I encourage you shooters with large collections to leave the majority of your guns at home when you hit the range.  A great firearms instructor once told me that you only have about 150 good shots in you each and every range session.  Any fewer, and you aren’t at peak performance.  Any more, and you are throwing lead downrange (not that it’s necessarily a bad thing).  If you plan to become and stay proficient with a firearm, you need to get your repetitions under your belt.  It would be best to do that with the SAME gun in a given range session.  Trust me, you really won’t be satisfied bringing 5 different guns to a 2-hour range session.

They say that smart people don’t multitask

Of course, I have trouble following my own advice.  I brought my Kahr P9 and my H&K VP9 to this particular range session.  In my defense, a shooting buddy asked me to bring the Kahr 5 months ago, so it was still in my bag.  My VP9 has been a go-to since I bought it a while ago. 

Which brings me to my last point…

VP9 Desk.JPG

The H&K VP9 is a brilliant handgun.  I have some absolute darlings in my safe.  The Browning Hi-Power.  Classic Sig Sauer handguns.  The 1911 platform guns.  Heck, I even love my Glocks.  But the latest iteration of H&K’s autopistol platform is something different.  I’ve had a P30 for half a decade.  I love it.  Something about the ergonomic flexibility just makes it right for me.  I literally can’t miss with this thing.  Its only downside is that it’s expensive as hell.  No matter.  They can’t make it any better for less.

VP9 and P30.JPG

And then they made a striker-fired variant with a lower bore axis than the originals.  Holy crap!  In my opinion, the Heckler & Koch VP series are the best handguns you can buy for the money they charge (and they aren’t very expensive, folks).  I’d love to gush on and on about these here, but I think the guns merit their own blog posts.  I’ll try to get a review on the site soon.

Parting Shots

So that was my first range day of 2017.  At least we started off on a good foot.  As much as I’d like to say that we’d make this a habit, I know that the rigors of daily life will probably make that steel match something we end up doing in the summer.  For now, I’m content.