Class 3 Firearm Explained: Types, Regulations, and Licensing Tips

Did you know that a class 3 firearm, despite its powerful capabilities, can be legally owned in most places across the United States? But, to own one, you need a special kind of permission, and you have to follow some strict rules set by the government.

This article is here to make the world of class 3 firearm easier to understand. We'll talk about the different kinds of class 3 firearms, the important rules about them, and how you can legally own one. Whether you already know a lot about guns or are just starting to learn about them, this guide will help you understand everything about these powerful firearms.

class 3 firearm

What Is a Class 3 Firearm?

When we talk about class 3 firearms, we often hear about something called "NFA firearms." So, what does NFA stand for? NFA means National Firearms Act. It's a law in the United States that was made a long time ago, in 1934. This law helps to control certain types of guns and weapons that are very powerful or different from regular guns.

NFA firearms include some really special kinds of weapons - not the usual guns you might see. They are weapons like machine guns, which can shoot many bullets very fast, and silencers, which make guns quieter.

Then, there are short-barreled rifles and shotguns, which are like regular rifles and shotguns but have shorter barrels. And there are even more types, like destructive devices – these are really big guns or bombs, and they are extremely powerful.

class 3 firearm

Why are these guns special?

Well, because they are so powerful or different, the government decided that people who want to own them need to follow extra rules. These rules are there to make sure that these guns are used safely and don't end up in the wrong hands.

So, when we talk about class 3 firearms, we're talking about a special group of these NFA firearms. They are fascinating but also come with big responsibilities. That's why it's important to know all about them, especially if you're thinking about owning one.

Types of Class 3 Firearm

As already mentioned, there are some really interesting types of firearms. Each type is unique and has its own special features. Let's take a look at some of the main types of class III firearms:

Machine Guns: These are the guns you might see in movies, which can shoot a lot of bullets very quickly, one after the other. They are powerful and can be used for things like professional shooting competitions or by law enforcement.

class 3 firearm

Silencers: Also known as suppressors, silencers are devices you attach to the end of a gun to make it quieter when it shoots. They don't make the gun completely silent like in movies, but they do reduce the noise a lot.

class 3 firearm

Short-Barreled Rifles (SBRs): These rifles have shorter barrels than normal rifles. Because of their size, they are easier to carry around and can be very useful for certain types of shooting activities.

class 3 firearm

Short-Barreled Shotguns (SBSs): Similar to SBRs, these are shotguns with shorter barrels. They are handy for moving in small spaces and are often used by people who need a powerful gun that is also easy to handle.

class 3 firearm

Destructive Devices: This category includes really big guns and explosives. These are not typical guns and are usually used by the military or in professional settings.

Any Other Weapons (AOWs): This is a special category for guns that don't fit into the other types. They can be really unique, like a pen that is also a gun or a cane that can shoot.

To ensure responsible ownership and understanding of Class 3 firearms, it's crucial to have clear knowledge about various components and terms, such as clearing the magazine vs clip confusion, which is a common misunderstanding among beginners and seasoned firearm enthusiasts alike.

What is a Class 3 Firearm License?

If you're interested in handling class III firearms, then an essential step is obtaining a Class III Firearm License.

What is ‘Class III Firearm License’it exactly? Well, it's like a special permission that you need to own or deal with class III firearms.

In the US, guns and firearms are regulated, which means there are rules about who can have them and how they can be used. For regular guns, you usually need a basic license. But for class III firearms, because they are more powerful and special, you need this Class III Firearm License.

class 3 firearm

Getting this license means you have to go through some extra steps. It's not just about proving you can use a gun safely. It's also about making sure you understand all the laws and rules about these special guns. The government wants to make sure that these powerful weapons are only in the hands of people who will use them responsibly.

Before obtaining a Class III Firearm License, enrolling in the gun safety course is the essential first step toward responsible gun ownership.

TradeSmart Firearm Confidence Course offers more than basic shooting techniques; it instills a deep understanding of safe firearm handling, storage, and ethical use.

Participants emerge with a profound respect for firearm safety rules and the legal aspects of gun ownership. Focusing on these foundational principles is crucial, particularly for those interested in the specialized realm of class III firearms.

Getting a Class III Firearm License

Getting a Class III Firearm License might sound complicated, but it's really just a matter of following a few important steps. Let's break down the steps.

Step #1 – Get an FFL

First things first, you need to get an FFL (Federal Firearms License). This is a license given by the government that allows you to handle regular firearms. Think of it as the first big step in your journey to getting a Class III Firearm License.

To get an FFL, you have to fill out some forms and send them to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). They will check to make sure you're allowed to handle firearms. This includes looking at your background, making sure you haven't broken any major laws, and that you're planning to use the guns safely and legally.

class 3 firearm

Step #2 – Become an SOT

After you get your FFL, the next step is to become an SOT (Special Occupational Taxpayer). This is a special status for people who want to deal with NFA (National Firearms Act) items.

To become an SOT, you need to pay a special tax and fill out more forms. This is like telling the government, "Hey, I want to do more than just handle regular guns."

Becoming an SOT is a big deal because it means you're taking an extra step to show you're serious about handling these powerful and unique firearms.

class 3 firearm

SOT Registration Cost

Becoming an SOT isn't free. There are some costs involved. These costs are like fees you pay to the government to say, "I'm serious about handling these special firearms, and I understand all the rules."

The cost of registering as an SOT can vary depending on what you're planning to do with the firearms.

For example, if you're going to sell them, the cost might be different than if you're just going to make them. These fees help cover the cost of the government checking to make sure you're following all the rules.

It's important to budget for these costs when you're planning to get into the class III firearm business. Think of it as an investment in doing things the right way.

Owning a Class III Firearm

Owning a Class III firearm is a big deal. If you're thinking about owning one, there are some important things you need to know to make sure you're doing it safely and legally.

#1 - Obtain Licenses

First, you need to have the right licenses. We talked about getting a Class III Firearm License and becoming an SOT. These are crucial steps. They show that you understand the rules and are serious about following them.

#2 - Safe Storage and Use

Then, there's the matter of safely storing and using your Class III firearm. These guns are not toys. They're powerful and need to be handled with care.

This means learning how to use them properly, storing them in a safe place where they can't be stolen or used by someone who shouldn't have them, and always being aware of the laws about where and how you can use them.

TradeSmart offers a curated selection of firearm accessories to enhance your Class III firearm experience, including tactical backpacks and comprehensive safety kits.

TradeSmart Tactical Backpack is designed for the secure transport and storage of firearms and accessories, featuring 3 TSA locks for added security, a high capacity of over 50 pounds, and durable Cordura™ Fabric construction.TRADESMART range backpack

TRADESMART range backpack
Our Professional Gun Safety Kit prioritizes your safety with NRR 28 Shooting Earmuffs, NRR 33 Shooting Earplugs, and ANSI z87.1 certified Safety Glasses, ensuring comprehensive protection in various styles and colors.

The earmuffs offer comfort and advanced noise reduction, while the German BASF foam earplugs provide superior noise protection and comfort. The safety glasses offer UV protection and are designed for comfort and durability, available in clear and tinted lenses.

TRADESMART professional safety kit

TRADESMART professional safety kitAdditionally, the TradeSmart Hard Carrying Case is the perfect storage solution, offering organized protection for your safety gear.

For more information on our products and how they can enhance your firearm experience, visit our website or contact us directly. At TradeSmart, we're committed to providing you with the best solutions for your firearm needs.

#3 - Keeping Up with the Paperwork

Also, owning a Class III firearm means keeping up with the paperwork. There are forms you have to fill out and records you need to keep. This paperwork is a way of letting the government know that you're using your firearm in the right way.

class 3 firearm

How to Purchase NFA Firearms?

Buying NFA firearms is a bit different from buying regular guns.

First, you need to find a dealer who is licensed to sell NFA firearms. These dealers have special permissions and understand all the rules about these types of guns. It's important to buy from a licensed dealer to make sure everything is done correctly.

Once you find a dealer, you'll need to fill out some paperwork. This includes forms that go to the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives).

The paperwork asks for your information and details about the firearm you want to buy. It's a way for the government to keep track of these powerful weapons.

After you submit your paperwork, there's usually a waiting period. This is when the ATF checks your background to make sure you're allowed to own an NFA firearm.

Finally, once your paperwork is approved and the waiting period is over, you can complete your purchase.

class 3 firearm

Using Your Class III License for Personal Use

Having a Class III license isn't just for people who want to sell or make Class III firearms. You can also use this license for your own personal enjoyment and protection. This means if you're a gun enthusiast or someone who wants an extra level of protection, a Class III license can be really useful.

Class III license opens up a world of possibilities for personal firearm use, whether it's for enjoyment, collecting, or protection. Just remember to always prioritize safety and responsibility.

For those interested in safely experiencing Class III firearms in a controlled environment, it's essential to find top shooting ranges that offer specialized facilities and expert guidance.

class 3 firearm license for personal use


In wrapping up, getting into the world of Class III firearms can be an exciting journey. Whether you're a seasoned gun enthusiast or new to the scene, understanding these specialized weapons, their regulations, and the licensing process is crucial.

We've walked through what Class III firearms are, how to get the necessary licenses, and even how you can use these firearms for personal enjoyment and protection. We hope this guide has given you a clear understanding and helpful steps to navigate the complex but fascinating world of Class III firearms.

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