Shipping Instructions

Shipping Your Machine Gun to Us

So you are ready to send your Machine Gun to us for repairs, modification, and/or custom work.  How do you do it?  Will it be safe?  Are you allowed?  Do you need permission from ATF?  You’re scared and we understand.  You have lots of money invested, and chances are it’s worth even more than you have invested.  But, we’ve been doing this for a long time.  More than 2 decades.  We send and receive machine guns on a daily basis.  Here’s our opinion and the end results of lot of time, experience, research, phone calls, etc…

Download our Machine Gun Shipping Checklist here.

ATF’s View:

We recently spoke with an NFA expert at ATF.  This is what we were told:  ATF strongly suggests a form 5 be executed to avoid the appearance of an illegal transfer and firearms MUST be sent by common carrier. That being said, a form 5 has not been necessary for years. We have had several compliance checks and ATF checks to see that we are doing our 4473’s and the guns in the safe match the guns on our books.   ATF recommends using UPS and FedEx for shipping firearms of ALL types. They do not recommend USPS because “The Post Office does NOT make anyone sign for the package”. When I explained that UPS does NOT allow the shipping of machine guns at all the response was “How are they going to know what is in the box?” I politely explained that by ATF regulations the shipper has to be notified in writing whenever a firearm is being shipped. At that, ATF responded “I didn’t know that”.  So, as you can see, ATF isn’t up to date on the rules and regulations of the common carriers and they do not care too much as long as you are sending it common carrier and that the package must be signed for.

Straight from the ATF website:

May a nonlicensee ship a firearm by common or contract carrier?

A nonlicensee may ship a firearm by a common or contract carrier to a resident of his or her or her own State or to a licensee in any State. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun. In addition, Federal law requires that the carrier be notified that the shipment contains a firearm or ammunition, prohibits common or contract carriers from requiring or causing any label to be placed on any package indicating that it contains a firearm and requires obtaining written acknowledgement of receipt.

[18 U.S.C. 922(a)(2)(A), 922(a)(5), 922(e) and (f); 27 CFR 478.30 and 478.31]

May a nonlicensee ship a firearm through the U.S. Postal Service?

A nonlicensee may not transfer a firearm to a non-licensed resident of another State. A nonlicensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to a resident of his or her own State or to a licensee in any State. The Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind which would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms. Handguns are not mailable. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun.

[18 U.S.C. 1715, 922(a)(5) and 922 (a)(2)(A); 27 CFR 478.31]

USPS View:

The Post Office will ship long guns and shotguns from individual to individual in their own State as long as it is legal in that state. An individual can ship to himself in another State as long as it is legal in those States. They do NOT ship handguns. So is the machine gun a “handgun” or a “long gun?”  Here is where they invoke the “concealable” clause, if it or it’s parts are concealable on a person’s body, then it is considered a handgun. An individual may ship a machine gun to a dealer for repairs as long as it is NOT concealable. If a firearm can be considered “concealable” it can no longer be sent via USPS by a non-lincensee to a dealer. If you send a 1919 for repairs it will go as a long gun as it is not concealable and can be sent by a non-licensee to a dealer. All firearms, regardless of size may still be sent from dealer to dealer as long as it is sent  USPS registered. That means, an individual has to have his dealer send the gun to be within USPS’ regulations.  Upon arrival the shipper must also declare what is in the box.  It cannot be written on the box, but it must be declared.

Straight from the USPS website:

432 Mailability

432.1 General

Mailers must comply with the Gun Control Act of 1968, all of the provisions of postal law in 18 U.S.C. 1715, and all other all federal and state regulations and local ordinances affecting the movement of firearms. The following also applies:

  1. The Postal Service may require the mailer to open parcels containing firearms or air guns or give written certification that the weapon is unloaded and not concealable.
  2. Short-barreled rifles or shotguns that can be concealed on the person are nonmailable.
  3. No markings of any kind that indicate the nature of the contents maybe placed on the outside wrapper or container of any mailpiece containing firearms.
  4. Mailable matter must be properly and securely packaged within the general packaging requirements in DMM 601.1-7.

432.2 Handguns

Handguns and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person are nonmailable unless mailed between the parties listed in this section, after the filing of an affidavit or statement described in 432.22 or 432.24, and are subject to the following:

  1. Firearms meeting the definition of a handgun under 2 and the definition of curios or relics under 27 CFR 478.11 may be mailed between curio and relic collectors only when those firearms also meet the definition of an antique firearm under 431.3.
  2. Firearms meeting the definition of a handgun under 2, which are certified by the curator of a municipal, state, or federal museum that exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest, may be accepted for mailing without regard to the restrictions provided for handguns in Exhibit 432.25 and in 432.21 through 432.24.
  3. Air guns that do not fall within the definition of firearms under 1 that are capable of being concealed on a person are mailable, but must include adult signature service under DMM 503.9.0. Mailers must comply with all applicable state and local regulations.
  4. Parts of handguns are mailable, except for handgun frames, receivers or other parts or components regulated under Chapter 44, Title 18, U.S.C.
  5. Mailers are also subject to applicable restrictions by governments of a state, territory, or district.

432.21 Authorized Persons

Subject to 432.22, handguns may be mailed by a licensed manufacturer of firearms, a licensed dealer of firearms, a licensed importer of firearms, or an authorized agent of the federal government or the government of a state, territory, or district, only when addressed to a person in one of the following categories for use in the person’s official duties, and upon filing the required affidavit or certificate:

  1. Officers of the Army, Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Organized Reserve Corps.
  2. Officers of the National Guard or militia of a state, territory, or district.
  3. Officers of the United States or of a state, territory, or district, whose official duty is to serve warrants of arrest or commitment.
  4. USPS employees authorized by the Chief Postal Inspector.
  5. Officers and employees of enforcement agencies of the United States.
  6. Watchmen engaged in guarding the property of the United States, a state, territory, or district.
  7. Purchasing agent or other designated member of agencies employing officers and employees included in 21c through e.

432.22 Affidavit of Addressee

Any person proposing to mail a handgun under 432.21 must file with the Postmaster, at the time of mailing, an affidavit signed by the addressee setting forth that the addressee is qualified to receive the firearm under a particular category of 432.21a through 432.21g, and that the firearm is intended for the addressee’s official use. The affidavit must also bear a certificate stating that the firearm is for the official duty use of the addressee, signed by one of the following, as appropriate:

  1. For officers of Armed Forces, by the commanding officer.
  2. For officers and employees of enforcement agencies, by the head of the agency employing the addressee to perform the official duty with which the firearm is to be used.
  3. For watchmen, by the chief clerk of the department, bureau, or independent branch of the government of the United States, the state, the territory, or the district by which the watchman is employed.
  4. For the purchasing agent or other designated member of enforcement agencies, by the head of such agency, that the firearm is to be used by an officer or employee included in21c through 432.21e.

432.23 Manufacturers, Dealers, and Importers

Handguns may also be mailed between licensed manufacturers of firearms, licensed dealers of firearms, and licensed importers of firearms in customary trade shipments, or for repairing or replacing parts.

432.24 Certificate of Manufacturers, Dealers, and Importers

A federal firearms licensee manufacturer, dealer, or importer need not file the affidavit under432.22, but must file with the Postmaster a statement on PS Form 1508, Statement by Shipper of Firearms, signed by the mailer that he or she is a licensed manufacturer, dealer, or importer of firearms. The mailer must also state that the parcels containing handguns, or parts and components of handguns under 432.2d, are being mailed in customary trade shipments or contain such articles for repairing or replacing parts, and that to the best of their knowledge the addressees are licensed manufacturers, dealers, or importers of firearms. Registered Mail service is recommended.

432.3 Rifles and Shotguns

Except under 431.2, unloaded rifles and shotguns are mailable. Mailers must comply with the rules and regulations under 27 CFR, Part 478, as well as state and local laws. The mailer may be required by the USPS to establish, by opening the parcel or by written certification, that the rifle or shotgun is unloaded and not ineligible for mailing. The following conditions also apply:

  1. Subject to state, territory, or district regulations, rifles and shotguns may be mailed without restriction when sent within the same state of mailing. These items must:
  2. Bear a “Return Service Requested” endorsement.
  3. Be sent by Priority Mail Express (“signature required” must be used at delivery) or Registered Mail.
  4. Include either insured mail service (for more than $200) requiring a signature at delivery or Signature Confirmation service.
  5. A shotgun or rifle owned by a non-FFL may be mailed outside the owner’s state of residence by the owner to himself or herself, in care of another person in the other state where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. These mailpieces must:
    1. Be addressed to the owner.
    2. Include the “in the care of” endorsement immediately preceding the name of the applicable temporary custodian.
    3. Be opened by the rifle or shotgun owner only.
    4. Be mailed using services described in 432.3a.
  6. Mailing of rifles and shotguns between licensed FFL dealers, manufacturers, or importers are not restricted. USPS recommends these items be mailed using those services described in 432.3a.
  7. Rifles and shotguns may be mailed by a non-FFL owner domestically to a FFL dealer, manufacturer, or importer in any state. USPS recommends these items be mailed using those services described in 432.3a.
  8. Except as described in 432.2a, licensed curio and relic collectors may mail firearms meeting the definition of curios or relics under 27 CFR 478.11 domestically to licensed FFL curio and relic collectors in any state. USPS recommends these items be mailed using those services described in 432.3a.
  9. Firearms which are certified by the curator of a municipal, state, or federal museum which exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest may be accepted for mailing without restriction.
  10. Air guns that do not fall within the definition of firearms under 431.1a are mailable. A shipment containing an air gun with a muzzle velocity of 400 or more feet per second (fps) must include an Adult Signature service under DMM 503.9.0. Mailers must additionally comply with all applicable state and local regulations.

FedEx View:

FedEx and FedEx Ground will send any firearm including machine guns but hand guns have to be sent via FedEx overnight. When we personally called  and spoke to the dangerous goods department, the individual stated that they do not distinguish machine guns as a separate class of weapon, but that he did not consider it a handgun.  Upon arrival the shipper must also declare what is in the box.  It cannot be written on the box, but it must be declared.  FedEx will only ship from an licensee to licensee.  They will no longer allow and individual to ship to a licensee or vice verse.

There is however some unclarity about whether or not they will pay a claim in the event something happens to the package.  When we personally called on a separate occasion, to question this, the representative we spoke to said that the declared value of a machine gun would be no problem because the limit of liability clause does not specifically state firearms.  However, we have heard on numerous occasions, and have read on multiple websites that there is a limit of liability of $1,000.00 on machine guns because they fall under the collection/antique clause wherein when something has value simply because of it’s rarity, the limit of liability will be $1,000.00  For example.  Back before the 1986 law, MAC’s were $200.00.  Now, they are worth thousand’s of dollars, this is only because of it’s rarity or collectibility that it has such value, not because of it’s cost to produce.  We tend to believe the later, in that if something happens to the package, the most FedEx will cover is $1,000.00, although we were unable to get a straight answer directly from FedEx.

Straight from the FedEx and FedEx Ground’s website:

A. FedEx Express will transport and deliver firearms, antique firearms and replica
firearms, all as defined by the  United States Gun Control Act of 1968, as well as muzzleloaders and black powder firearms (collectively “firearms”), between areas served in the U.S., but only between:

1. Licensed importers; licensed manufacturers; licensed dealers; licensed collectors; law enforcement agencies of the U.S. or any department or agency thereof; and law enforcement agencies of any state or any department, agency or political subdivisions thereof; or

2. Where not prohibited by local, state and federal law, from individuals to licensed importers, licensed manufacturers or licensed dealers (and return of same).

B. If your shipment contains firearms, select the Direct Signature Required or Adult Signature Required Delivery Signature Option, depending on the requirements of your shipment. See the Delivery Signature Options section for details. Firearms shipments are not eligible for signature release or indirect delivery.

C. Firearms must be shipped via FedEx Priority Overnight service. FedEx Express cannot ship or deliver firearms C.O.D. Firearms shipments cannot be placed in a FedEx Drop Box. Firearms shipments are not eligible to be held at Hold at Location facilities.

D. Upon presenting the package for shipment, the person tendering the shipment to FedEx Express is required to notify FedEx Express that the package contains a firearm. The outside of the package must not be marked, labeled or otherwise identify that the package contains a firearm.

E. The shipper and recipient must be of legal age as identified by applicable law.

F. The shipper and recipient are required to comply with all applicable government regulations and laws, including those pertaining to labeling. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can provide assistance.

G. FedEx Express will transport ammunition when packed and labeled in compliance with local, state and federal law, and the Dangerous Goods section of this Service Guide. Ammunition is an explosive and must be shipped separately as dangerous goods. You agree not to ship loaded firearms or firearms with ammunition in the same packages.

Declared Value and Limits of Liability (Not Insurance Coverage)

A. The declared value of any package represents our maximum liability in connection with a shipment of that package, including, but not limited to, any loss, damage, delay, misdelivery, nondelivery, misinformation, any failure to provide information, or misdelivery of information relating to the shipment. It is the shipper’s responsibility to prove actual damages. Exposure to and risk of any loss in excess of the declared value is assumed by the shipper. You may transfer this risk to an insurance carrier of your choice through the purchase of an insurance policy. Contact an insurance agent or broker if you desire insurance coverage. WE DO NOT PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERAGE OF ANY KIND.

B. With respect to U.S. express package services, unless a higher value is declared and paid for, our liability for each package is limited to US$100. For each package exceeding US$100 in declared value, an additional amount will be charged for each US$100 in value or fraction thereof. See Rates in the FedEx Service Guide for details.

C. With respect to FedEx Express Freight services, unless a higher value is declared and paid for, our liability for each freight handling unit is limited to US$100 or US$1 per pound, whichever is greater. When the declared value exceeds the greater of US$100 or US$1 per pound per shipment, an additional amount will be charged for each US$100
(or fraction thereof) of additional declared value. See Rates in the FedEx Service Guide for details.

D. Except as limited below, the maximum declared value per package in any FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2Day A.M., FedEx 2Day or FedEx Express Saver shipment is US$50,000. The maximum declared value per shipment for FedEx SameDay is US$2,000.

E. Except as limited below, the maximum declared value per each freight handling unit in any FedEx First Overnight Freight, FedEx 1Day Freight, FedEx 2Day Freight or FedEx 3Day Freight shipment is US$50,000.

F. Shipments (packages or freight) containing all or part of the following items are limited to a maximum declared value of US$1,000:

1. Artwork, including any work created or developed by the application of skill, taste or creative talent for sale, display or collection. This includes, but is not limited to, items (and their parts) such as paintings, drawings, vases, tapestries, limited-edition prints, fine art, statuary, sculpture and collector’s items.

2. Film, photographic images (including photographic negatives), photographic chromes and photographic slides.

3. Any commodity that by its inherent nature is particularly susceptible to damage or the market value of which is particularly variable or difficult to ascertain.

4. Antiques, or any commodity that exhibits the style or fashion of a past era and whose history, age or rarity contributes to its value. These items include, but are not limited to, furniture, tableware and glassware.

5. Glassware, including, but not limited to, signs, mirrors, ceramics, porcelains, china, crystal, glass, framed glass, and any other commodity with similarly fragile qualities.

6. Plasma screens.

7. Jewelry, including, but not limited to, costume jewelry, watches and their parts, mount gems or stones (precious or semiprecious), industrial diamonds, and jewelry made of precious metal.

8. Furs, including, but not limited to, fur clothing, fur-trimmed clothing and fur pelts.

9. Precious metals, including, but not limited to, gold and silver bullion or dust, precipitates, or platinum (except as an integral part of electronic machinery).

10. Stocks, bonds, cash letters or cash equivalents, including, but not limited to, food stamps, postage stamps (not collectible), traveler’s checks, lottery tickets, money orders, gift cards and gift certificates, prepaid calling cards (excluding those that require a code for activation), bond coupons, and bearer bonds.

11. Collector’s items such as coins, stamps, sports cards, souvenirs and memorabilia.

12. Guitars and other musical instruments that are more than 20 years old, and customized or personalized musical instruments.

13. Scale models (including, but not limited to, architectural models and dollhouses) and prototypes.

G. The maximum declared value for the contents of any FedEx Envelope or FedEx Pak is US$500. Goods with a value (actual or declared) exceeding US$500 should not be shipped in a FedEx Envelope or FedEx Pak. (This limitation does not apply to items shipped in the FedEx Clinical Pak or FedEx UN 3373 Pak.)

H. When the shipper sends more than one package on an airbill, the total declared value for all the packages moving on the airbill must be written in the appropriate section of the airbill. Our liability will be limited to the total declared value (not to exceed the per-package limit of US$500 or US$50,000 or the per-shipment limit of US$2,000, as described in this section). The declared value for each package will be determined by dividing the total declared value by the number of packages on the airbill unless you provide verifiable evidence supporting a different allocation.

I. If a multiple-piece shipment is tendered to FedEx skidded, stackable, forkliftable, banded and/or shrinkwrapped as a single freight handling unit, the maximum declared value for that single freight handling unit is US$50,000 and not US$50,000 per package contained within that multiple-piece shipment.

J. The maximum declared value we offer for shipments tendered to FedEx using FedEx Stamps purchased from anyone other than FedEx is US$100.

K. The maximum declared value for FedEx Print Return Label and FedEx Email Return Label shipments is US$1,000 for FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2Day A.M. and FedEx 2Day, and US$50,000 for FedEx 2Day Freight and FedEx 3Day Freight. The maximum declared value for FedEx ExpressTag
shipments is US$50,000. We are not liable for any damage to a shipment or any claim arising out of the use of a return option unless the shipment was lost during delivery or there was visible damage noted by the FedEx courier at the time of delivery. We are not liable for any concealed damage to items returned using FedEx Print Return Label, FedEx Email Return Label, FedEx ExpressTag or FedEx Stamps. Receipt of the shipment by the recipient without notice of damage on delivery is prima facie evidence that the shipment was delivered in good condition. Our liability for any loss or damage will not exceed the actual amount of the damage or the declared-value amount, whichever is lower.
All other terms and conditions related to FedEx Express claims regulations apply for shipments sent via a FedEx return option.



N. The shipper is responsible for accurately completing the airbill or other shipping documents, including completion of the declared-value section. We cannot honor requests to change the declared-value information on the airbill.

O. See the Liabilities Not Assumed section for other limitations and exclusions on our liability.

P. Additional restrictions may apply to a shipment if sent pursuant to an airline interline agreement.

Q. In the event that FedEx Office procures, accepts tender of, performs, or otherwise undertakes the transportation, delivery or release of a package by FedEx Express, whether directly or indirectly, FedEx Office shall have the benefit of every right, defense, limitation and liberty of whatsoever nature contained in these terms and conditions or otherwise available to FedEx Express as if such provision were expressly for its benefit.

UPS view:

UPS will ship long guns and shotguns from an individual to a dealer and back again. They will ship handguns the same way but the handgun has to be shipped overnight. They DO NOT ship machine guns of any kind anywhere period.

Straight from the UPS website:

UPS does not accept automatic weapons, including machine guns, for shipment. Firearms (including handguns) and firearm parts are not accepted for shipment internationally. UPS Returns® Services are not available for packages containing firearms.

How do I pack and prepare my machine gun for shipping?

You will want to pack it tightly and securely.  After it’s packed, you should be able to shake it up and down and side to side and hear no or very little movement inside the box.  We are not responsible for how the package arrives. If you or your dealer are shipping it via USPS Registered Mail, they will require you to wrap all seams with brown paper packing tape.  Some Post Offices will have this tape available for you to use.  Others will not.  You can buy such tape at any office supply store.  Yes, it’s annoying that you must wrap the box in special tape but there is a good reason for it.  This is because they will date stamp all over the tape seams.  This insures no one has tampered with the package while in the USPS’s possession.  You will also need to complete a “Receipt for Registered Mail” and a “Domestic Return Receipt.”  If you can get everything to fit into a Medium or Large Flat Rate Priority Mail box, you may save on postage.  We always try to do this on our return packages.

DomRetReceipt Form3806 PriorityRegPackage PackagePaperTape

What about Shipping Insurance?

 We recommend that you insure your machine gun for it’s current market value.  In other words, if the package turns up lost or destroyed, what would it cost you to buy another?  That magic number is what you should use for insuring your package.  Before shipping, you may want to check with your homeowner’s insurance or if you have your firearm collection insured through another policy, check with them because often times, the firearm is covered during shipping by your insurance policy, so there is no need to pay for additional shipping insurance or to claim a high value. But unless this is the case, we always recommend paying for the insurance.  When we send your machine gun back to you, we will insure it for market value unless you request otherwise.

What information do you need from me?

It is an ATF requirement that any time your registered firearm is on the move that you have a copy of your form 3 or form 4 with you.  This is the same when shipping it. We will need a copy of your form 3/4 (just the front).  We don’t care about the back of the form.  If the firearm is owned by a Trust, we will need a copy of your driver’s license or some other paperwork tying you to the Trust.  If your form 3/4 has an address on it other than where you live now, we will also need a copy of your driver’s license showing your new address.  This is because by law, we are required to send it back to the address of the form. Further, we cannot send it to you anywhere other than where you live.  We cannot send it to you at work, for example.  We will need your contact information, and we will need a description of the work you would like us to perform.  If you don’t give us your contact information, we will not be able to contact you with a diagnosis or estimate.  Seems obvious, but we do get machine guns with no contact information.  They just sit in our safe until they owner contacts us.  For your convenience, we have created a form and checklist for you to complete and send with your machine gun.  This should help you AND us!