A short-barreled rifle or SBR is legally defined as a “shoulder-fired, rifled bore” firearm with a barrel shorter than 16 inches or a firearm that has an overall length of fewer than 26 inches. An SBR is considered a Title 2 restricted firearm. It falls under the 1968 Gun Control Act of the National Firearms Act. You will also hear these Title 2 restricted items called Class 3 weapons. A suppressor is also considered a Class 3 item.
A Title 2/Class 3 item is legal to own in most states, but it must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE). The process of obtaining a Class 3 firearm requires paperwork, fees, and a lot of patience (for the waiting time while your request is processing).
Before purchasing the items that are necessary to make your gun an SBR, you must first fill out an Application to Make and Register a Firearm form, called Form 1. This is your application to register your intent to build an SBR. If you already have all the pieces to make an SBR without filling out and receiving back the proper paperwork, you are in violation of the Gun Control Act and could be charged with unlawful possession of a Class 3 weapon, often referred to as constructive intent.
First, consider whether you will file your paperwork as an individual, trust, or corporation. If you file as an individual, the SBR only belongs to you. It requires passport photos, fingerprints, and a signature from a chief law enforcement officer. If you choose to have a trust or a corporation own the SBR, visit a lawyer who specializes in firearms law to legally set up a trust for you. A trust does not require photos, fingerprints, or a signature. There will be costs associated with creating a binding trust, but it is the best route to go if you are planning on owning more than one Class 3 weapon or item.
You must mail a $200 tax fee with your Form 1 application no matter which route you choose. The fee goes towards a “tax stamp” that shows you legally own the Title 2 firearm. A Form 1 is not very extensive and looks much like Form 4473 you fill out when buying a gun. Further, it comes with easy-to-read instructions.
Another form you must complete is the Certification of Compliance with 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B) that proves you are either a legal citizen or resident of the United States.
Other SBR Requirements
After the paperwork is received by the ATF, your information will be processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is the same system used when you purchase a firearm.
Your short-barreled rifle’s receiver must also have your name engraved on it. There are legal requirements on the depth of the engraving, so your local trophy shop might not match those requirements. I recommend using Ident Marking Services, but some local FFLs offer this service.
A copy of your paperwork and tax stamp must be with your Class 3 weapon at all times. If you plan on crossing state lines with it, you must fill out the Application to Transport Interstate or to Temporarily Export Certain National Firearms Act (NFA) Firearms. You must have approval from the ATF before traveling with your SBR.
Conclusion: Owning an SBR
Receiving your paperwork and tax stamp is a slow process. However, have patience. Owning an SBR is worth it, not only for the fun factor, but it can make an excellent home defense gun.
The Century Arms Zastava PAP M92 pistol is ready to build into an SBR. All you have to do is add a stock. An AR pistol also makes a great option to convert into an SBR. With a stock, these firearms become Short-Barreled Rifles, but get your paperwork back from the ATF first!
Do you own an SBR? Tell us about it in the comments section.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November of 2012. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.