Skip to main content

Think You Know All About NFA Forms?

Ever Heard of the “Movie Gun Transfer” Form?

Think You Know All About NFA Forms?

I became an 01, NFA Class 3 Dealer back in 1988, and throughout my firearms career of almost 40 years, I have held every license ATF has to offer, including Destructive Device Dealer/Manufacturer/ Importer, NFA Dealer/Manufacturer/Importer, etc. and even managed a Title II U.S. Customs Bonded Warehouse. In 1991, I got involved with the film industry as a theatrical armorer through some friends who were top martial artists as well as Hollywood action actors. I’m not going to get into that whole story now, but over the years, I did work for HBO, The History Channel, Screen Gems Studios, Reader’s Digest Video, and many other studios and film companies. I don’t do much in the movie industry today (although I still can and am asked to work now and then), but if you want to take a look at my old website, it's archived here: Exotic Arms for Motion Pictures.

NFA Forms
Exotic Arms for Motion Pictures’ first ad appeared in The Hollywood Reporter in 1991.

Back in the day, many of us theatrical armorers would rent machine-guns from companies like the famous Stembridge Gun Rentals, Ellis Mercantile (prop company), and a couple of others. The way we could rent a machine gun was that first you had to be a licensed 01/class 3 NFA dealer, 07/class 2 NFA manufacturer, or an 08/class 1 NFA importer – you also had to be a legitimate theatrical armorer. Instead of transferring the firearm on a tax-free dealer-to-dealer ATF Form 3, or on the more common taxed ATF Form 4, or on the tax-free Form 5 (used for estate transfers or repairs), the then-BATF had what was called the “Movie Industry Transfer of NFA Weapons” form (many of us just called it the movie gun transfer form). This form was faxed in and took less than 24 hours for approval in most cases. 24 hours!

NFA Forms
The BATF Movie Gun Transfer Form, which was approved in 24 hours and sent in via a fax machine.

However, as far as fully-automatic firearm rentals, only transferable machine guns qualified for this transfer. So, an Auto Ordnance 1928 Thompson submachine gun that sold for as low as $1,000 in 1988 (and that was two years after the unconstitutional Hughes Amendment in the FOPA), now sells for over $20,000 – that is the main reason why it's not done any longer (to my knowledge) - the guns are just too valuable to get “banged up” on a movie set. Also, the fact that both movie prop houses I mentioned sold their entire inventories is a huge reason this practice went away. The six or so MP5s (converted transferable HK94s) I used on the HBO movie Rogue Force (1998), starring Michael Rooker and Robert Patrick, would sell for over $35,000 each today. At the time the movie filmed in 1997, the value of a transferable converted HK94 was at about $3,000, the first transferable one in my gun shop went for $850 in 1988.

Today, many theatrical armorers are type 07/class 2 NFA manufacturers, so they just convert semi-autos to full auto or build machine guns from parts kits, and some have law enforcement dealer samples too. Well, since the Hearing Protection Act has been pretty much scuttled, and NFA transfer times are dragging on at a little less than one year, I know that this little bit of unknown NFA history is going to enrage a lot of people. Anyway, “That’s show biz!”


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

NEMO Arms Omen 3.0 Match Rifle

NEMO Arms Omen 3.0 Match Rifle

Rikk Rambo took the NEMO (New Evolution Military Ordnance) Arms Omen Match 3.0 rifle on a nine-month Alaskan adventure.

Hornady Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Hornady 4DOF

Hornady Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Hornady 4DOF

The Hornady Kestrel 5700 combines complete onsite environmental measurements with Hornady 4DOF trajectory solutions.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

In the golden age of daily carry options, the Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP pistol is a helluva deal!Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP Review Handguns

Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP Review

Patrick Sweeney - August 12, 2020

In the golden age of daily carry options, the Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP pistol is a...

First fielded during World War I, the Browning Automatic Rifle or BAR went on to serve through World War II, Korea and into Vietnam.Inside Story on the .30-caliber BAR Historical

Inside Story on the .30-caliber BAR

Samantha Knight - August 15, 2020

First fielded during World War I, the Browning Automatic Rifle or BAR went on to serve through...

For the first time in its 35-year-history, the annual Gun Rights Policy Conference hosted by the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms will be a virtual online event, due to the current COVID-19 situation.2020 Gun Rights Policy Conference Is Online Event Due to COVID-19 Industry

2020 Gun Rights Policy Conference Is Online Event Due to COVID-19

Second Amendment Foundation - July 16, 2020

For the first time in its 35-year-history, the annual Gun Rights Policy Conference hosted by...

Developed to replace the venerable AK-74, the Blow-Back Shifted Pulse AN-94 Nikonov is a fascinating hyper-burst design which faded away after the death of its designer.Russian 5.45x39mm AN-94 Nikonov Review Rifles

Russian 5.45x39mm AN-94 Nikonov Review

David M. Fortier - August 14, 2020

Developed to replace the venerable AK-74, the Blow-Back Shifted Pulse AN-94 Nikonov is a...

See More Trending Articles

More 2nd Amendment

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General against the NRA, but you might be wondering what's really going on.The Tragic Mess That is Today's NRA Industry

The Tragic Mess That is Today's NRA

Jeff Knox - September 21, 2020

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General...

This upcoming election is crucial to the future of the Second Amendment and the ability of all Americans to keep and bear arms. The Colorado State Shooting Association and the Firearms Coalition of Colorado asks you to take action.Colorado State Shooting Assn. and Firearms Coalition of Colorado Asks You to Take Action 2nd Amendment

Colorado State Shooting Assn. and Firearms Coalition of Colorado Asks You to Take Action

Colorado State Shooting Association - September 14, 2020

This upcoming election is crucial to the future of the Second Amendment and the ability of all...

With many having to evacuate and possibly never see their homes and belongings again, some Oregon homeowners are protecting their property from looters.Armed Oregon Homeowners Protecting Their Property 2nd Amendment

Armed Oregon Homeowners Protecting Their Property

Clay Bell - September 18, 2020

With many having to evacuate and possibly never see their homes and belongings again, some...

See More 2nd Amendment

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Firearms News App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Firearms News subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now