Categories of FFL Licenses

Each type of FFL can be broken down into four basic categories:

  1. Collector – This category can not “engage in the business of firearms.”  As the name suggests, it is for collecting firearms only.
  2. Dealer – These FFLs may purchase and sell guns as a business and they may also operate as gunsmiths.
  3. Manufacturer – There are two types of these FFLs: manufacturers of firearms and ammunition and manufacturers of ammunition only. Firearm and ammunition manufacturers may, of course, manufacture firearms and ammunition and also act a dealer. Ammunition manufacturers may only manufacture ammunition and may NOT act as a dealer.
  4. Importer – These FFLs may import firearms and/or ammunition and also act as a dealer.

FFL Types

There are currently 9 types of FFLs.  Federal Firearm Licenses, by themselves, allow dealing, manufacturing, or importing of GCA / Title I firearms only.  These include standard rifles, shotguns, and handguns.

Each license type allows different types of business activities with firearms. Note in the table below that the Type 3 FFL and Type 6 FFL do not allow any business activity with firearms.  This is because the Type 3 is for collecting only and the Type 6 is for manufacturing ammunition only.

You can tell which type of FFL someone has once you know what each part of an FFL number means.

The cost for each FFL license varies from $30 up to $3,000 for the both the initial FFL application fee and the 3-year renewal fee.  For a breakdown of these costs, see our article, How Much Does an FFL Cost?

Types of FFLs
  Purpose SOT Class
Type 1 FFL Dealer/Gunsmith of Firearms 3
Type 2 FFL Pawnbroker/Dealer of Firearms 3
Type 3 FFL Collector of Firearms
Type 6 FFL Manufacturer of Ammunition
Type 7 FFL Manufacturer/Dealer of Firearms and Ammunition 2
Type 8 FFL Importer/Dealer of Firearms 1
Type 9 FFL Dealer of Destructive Devices 3
Type 10 FFL Manufacturer/Dealer of Destructive Devices 2
Type 11 FFL Importer/Dealer of Destructive Devices 1


Firearm Activity by FFL
  Firearms Dealer Firearms Manufacturer Firearms Importer
Type 1 FFL X X
Type 2 FFL X X
Type 3 FFL X X X
Type 6 FFL X X X
Type 7 FFL   X
Type 8 FFL X  
Type 9 FFL X X
Type 10 FFL   X
Type 11 FFL   X


FFL with SOT

An FFL holder must also become a Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT) in order to deal, manufacture, or import NFA /Title II firearms. These firearms include specially regulated items like Silencers, Short Barreled Rifles (SBRs), and full-auto machine guns.

Different classes of SOTs may engage in different activities.

  1. Class 1 SOT – These SOTs may Import and deal NFA / Title II firearms
  2. Class 2 SOT – These SOTs may manufacture and deal NFA / Title II firearms
  3. Class 3 SOT – These SOTs may deal NFA / Title II firearms

The tax-rate for SOT registration varies depending on how much you sold for some FFLs.

FFL Types, 9, 10, and 11 are the only FFLs that allow working with Armor Piercing Ammunition and Destructive Devices.

Which Type of FFL is Right For You?

So, which one should you get? Chance are, you choice is between a Type 1 dealer FFL or a Type 7
manufacturer FFL. These are the two most common types of FFLs. For example, see the graph of the distribution of FFLs in our country.

Number of FFLs by License Type

Learn more about how to get an FFL or, if you’re ready to get your own FFL, sign up for our Get Your FFL and Become an SOT courses.

I’m looking forward to having you in our industry,

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