ATF NFA SBR Engraving Requirements for Form 1 Short Barreled Rifle Build

So every time someone considers building a short barreled rifle with an AR15 receiver, MP5 Receiver, or any of the vast variants that exists out there for making an SBR, inevitably someone will chime in and say you either do or don’t need to get it engraved.Why is there so much confusion about this?  Partly because people who should read don’t, or they think it takes a lawyer to interpret the NFA regulations, or joe shmoe on some ar build forum said somebody at some large manufacturer said you don’t need to, or lastly, because somebody called the ATF and the ATF said it wasn’t necessary.  If you search hard enough you’ll find all of these cases online and clearly documented.  So, who’s right?  Well, the guy who read the regulations in the actual NFA handbook is right.  So what exactly does the handbook say about engraving NFA items that you make on a form 1?

A great location to engrave your SBR, under the trigger guard

ATF 5300.4 in 27 CFR 479.102 (see page 92) the following must be on the firearm

1) On the Frame or Receiver the Serial number;

2) on the frame, receiver, or barrel the following additional information;

A)The model;

B)The caliber or gage;

C)Your name or name of the Trust in the case of a Trust

D)The city and state

The above mentioned information must be engraved, casted, stamped (impressing) or otherwise conspicuously placed or caused to be engraved, cast, stamped (impressed) or placed to a minimum depth of .003 inch and in a print size of the Serial number shall be no smaller than 1/16 inch.

Now, where it gets dicey is in your interpretation.  If you have a lower that is already marked with a serial, manufacturer name, city/state, etc… can you use this information?  In short, you can use part of it, you can use the serial number and the model number.  However since you are filling out the form 1 (application to MAKE and register a firearm….) that makes you the maker, so your information needs to go on it as well.  See where the confusion happens?  You need to make sure your name and city/state are on the receiver.  But it says barrel is ok too…..  Yes, but to keep it simple, do it on the receiver.  There is no reason to over complicate it, and if you ever change the barrel, do you want to have to explain that, ever?  The correct answer is no…

So now that we have this new need to engrave our SBR, where should we go?  Well, how much time/money/pain&suffering do you have tied up in building an SBR and filling the appropriate forms out?  Sure you can go to a local trophy shop and have it done (engraving is considered gunsmithing, and an FFL is required – even if you wait in the office for it to be done….) at your own risk, but just google a few key words to see how inexperienced people have goobered up somebody’s receiver that is already on the application that was mailed in, or already on their tax stamp, etc….  All to save $20 over having a professional that does it on a daily basis take care of it.  The choice is ultimately yours, and yes, I have a little bit of skin in the game here, but seriously, think about the reward versus the risk, just to save a few bucks.  Another often overlooked aspect is rotary engraving vs. laser engraving.  Both methods have their advantages, rotary is fast and efficient, and laser engraving is much more even and clean.  Rotary engraving will often chip up the edges of the anodizing, and there is the possibility of having minor scuffs or marks from jigs that are required to hold the receiver in place.  Laser engraving does not suffer from these drawbacks, and has the ability to mark in tight places where a rotary engraving head is not able to reach, so ask your engraver what they use to get it done.  As for us, we use an industrial laser, so we are able to mark under trigger guards, and also engrave logos on the mag well in extreme definition not afforded with rotary engraving.  When you get ready to build your next short barreled rifle, check out the SBR engraving at