The Easy (and Legal) Way to Buy a SBR (Short Barreled Rifle)

Interested in getting a Short Barreled Rifle? Don’t know how? Don’t like how daunting the task is? Here’s how to (legally) get a SBR.

Getting a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) or other NFA item, such as a suppressor, isn’t as daunting or time consuming as it once was. Silencer Shop has you covered thanks to their amazing NFA kiosk, found all across the US. Here’s a quick walkthrough of how to wade through the ATF paperwork to easily (and legally) get your own SBR.

What is a SBR?

A SBR, or short barreled rifle, is a rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches or an overall rifle length of less than 26 inches. Having a length shorter than either of those classifies a rifle as a short barreled rifle, and falls under the NFA rules, which means it needs a $200 tax stamp along with some paperwork, fingerprints, and photo to legally own. The tax stamp then has to go through a review process, which can take some time.

Thankfully, these days Form 1 approval processes can take less than a few weeks!

Purchase online

Want to purchase a SBR and Form 1 online? It’s pretty easy thanks to Silencer Shop.

Step 1: Fill out the NFA paperwork at a Silencer Shop location or at a Silencer Shop Kiosk – here’s where to find a Silencer Shop Kiosk. This kiosk will handle the fingerprinting, photo, and other paperwork. It’s a very easy process.

Step 2: Purchase the Form 1 Fillout, make sure to add a tax stamp to the options and progress through Silencer Shop’s checkout like a normal eCommerce process.

Step 3: Check your email for next steps from Silencer Shop.

Step 4: Click on the link provided in the email from Silencer Shop and fill out and submit the Form 1 info.

Step 5: Open up the email from DocuSign and sign that document.

Step 6: Wait on the ATF for your SBR.

Buy a SBR locally

Don’t want to purchase online and instead want to shop locally? Virtually all local gun shops selling NFA items are setup to take care of you. Check the Silencer Shop database to find a local gun shop that sells NFA items.

If your local gun shop doesn’t have a Silencer Shop Kiosk, they likely have their own streamlined process for NFA paperwork. Give that shop a call and ask if they are setup for fingerprinting and the photo, most likely they are. Drop on by and they’ll happily help you out without going through the online steps. The process can take a while though, so be sure to have plenty of time in your schedule.

If you’re in the Austin, Texas area, I recommend Capitol Armory.

Getting a “SBR” without the NFA paperwork

Like virtually all government regulations, there are ways to mostly get around it. Purchasing a “pistol” with a stabilizing brace allows you to have an almost short barreled rifle that is not classified as a rifle, technically it’s a pistol.

However, be warned, while the ATF currently doesn’t have a problem with shouldering braces at this time, that may change in the future. Similarly, it is possible to get in trouble with “intent to build a SBR” if you have “rifle” parts with your “pistol.” Simply make sure to have the pistol in a complete state and to never ever put a rifle length upper receiver on the pistol and to never put a rifle stock on the pistol.

Don’t want to deal with that potential headache for your SBR? The other option is to use a 14.5″ barrel with a pinned muzzle device. As long as the permanent welding of the muzzle device brings the overall barrel length of the rifle to over 16″ – then it’s legally considered to be a rifle, not a SBR, but is slightly shorter than rifles with 16″ barrels and muzzle devices on top of that. While it isn’t as short as a true SBR, the only paperwork you need to fill out is signing the receipt of the gunsmith who welded the muzzle device. I personally have one of these types of rifles and it’s great.

Why do we have to do deal with NFA paperwork for a SBR?

As was previously mentioned, rifles with a barrel length under 16 inches or under an overall length of 26 inches are classified as SBRs and fall under the NFA regulations. NFA items require a $200 tax stamp, paperwork, fingerprinting, photo, and the ATF needs to know where it is. That’s a headache and costs money – so why deal with it just to have a shorter barrel on your rifle?

While it is very unfortunate that Uncle Sam requires us to jump through all of these hoops in order to buy a rifle with a barrel shorter than sixteen inches, it is what we must do to obey the law. Failure to obey the NFA will make you a felon, which means you lose all of your 2nd Amendment rights. You do not want to joke around with the ATF.

In the meantime, contact your representatives and urge them to abolish the NFA.

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Brian Purkiss
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Brian Purkiss is a firearms instructor, competitive shooter, proponent for individual liberty and Second Amendment rights, and a web developer. He enjoys competing in and organizing Run and Gun Competitions, as well as shooting in USPSA, Outlaw matches, and 3 Gun.