What NFA Firearms Are Legal to Own in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts you can own short barreled rifles (SBRs), machine guns (if you have a machine gun license or “green card”), factory manufactured short barreled shotguns (SBSs) — theoretically anyway (see below), “Any Other Weapon” (AOWs), and Destructive Devices.  Only law enforcement personnel (while acting in their official capacity) may possess silencers (suppressors). Below we’ll discuss some further details and caveats regarding ownership of NFA items in Massachusetts.

SBRs Are the Most Common NFA Firearm in Massachusetts

Massachusetts SBR Short Barreled Rifle Gun Trust NFA Firearm
The Short Barreled Rifle or “SBR” is a sought-after NFA Firearm in Massachusetts

In Mass, the SBR is king — it is most common NFA firearm for a Massachusetts gun owner to make/acquire (whether individually or using a Massachusetts gun trust).  In fact, due in large part to the restrictions imposed by the Massachusetts Assault Weapons Ban, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and the Executive Office of Public Safety, our gun trust clients in Massachusetts generally make their own SBRs since lawfully acquiring an SBR in Massachusetts can be difficult.  The effect of Maura Healey‘s decree unilaterally expanding the scope of the Massachusetts Assault Weapons Ban has complicated the process for making SBRs. 

But it bears repeating (because we get asked this all the time): Yes, you can still build an SBR in Massachusetts!  

An Important Note About Short Barreled Shotguns

As you may already know, it is unlawful to make a short barreled shotgun, as these are considered “sawed off shotguns”, which are prohibited under Massachusetts law. But complicating these further is this: the Massachusetts Attorney General has asserted that short barreled shotguns are actually handguns. Unfortunately, the ATF is presently accepting this interpretation. For this reason, unless and until a short barreled shotgun is added to the EOPS roster and complies with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s additional regulations (or comes to a different conclusion), short barreled shotguns are effectively prohibited in Massachusetts.

Using a Massachusetts Gun Trust Offers Benefits

In addition to sharing your NFA items with other Massachusetts gun trust trustees and enjoying estate planning benefits, a properly-drafted gun trust will allow your trust to acquire items not allowed in Massachusetts (which can stored and enjoyed in any state where they are legal to possess.

Here’s how: if a gun trust is used to make or acquire an NFA firearm, then a Massachusetts resident who has a close friend or family member in Maine or New Hampshire, can appoint that friend or family member as a trustee of the gun trust. This trustee can then acquire suppressors on behalf of the Massachusetts NFA trust, and which can be used and enjoyed by trustees in Maine or New Hampshire. Just keep in mind: the suppressor cannot enter the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This

Red Dog Legal is the Best Choice for Creating Your Massachusetts Gun Trust

Our Massachusetts NFA trusts have been used by countless clients in Massachusetts seeking one or more SBR tax stamps. Along the way, we’ve helped our clients address the Byzantine nature of Massachusetts firearms laws — including Form FA-10 reporting, the AWB, and more.  And our gun trusts are designed specifically for Massachusetts (we don’t just swap out the state name like some of the nation-wide trust vendors or generalists with gun trust software). If you have questions about what can and can’t be done in Massachusetts, don’t hesitate to contact us

10 Comments for : What NFA Firearms Are Legal to Own in Massachusetts?

    • Jamison Viera
    • March 7, 2020
    Reply

    Hello,
    I’m interested in opening a trust for an SBR. I’d also like to know the legality of transferring a factory built SBR’d Zenith Z-5, or if I’m better off SBR’ing a rifle myself. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you

    • Reynaldo Rivera
    • March 17, 2020
    Reply

    Am I able to buy a 10″ upper assembly and put it on my already registered lower?

    • Robert knox
    • March 28, 2020
    Reply

    I have a family Trust. Is a firearms Trust a separate trust or is it incorporated into the present family trust? What is the cost associated with setting up a firearms Trust.? (All in MA)

    • eryk g thomas
    • June 19, 2020
    Reply

    Is there any other paperwork to submit other than a 5320.23?

    • Rudi Pierotti
    • May 26, 2021
    Reply

    Are TWO INCH barrel revolvers legal to own in Massachusetts?

      • Pat
      • July 14, 2022
      Reply

      Yes

    • john
    • February 24, 2022
    Reply

    So If i put a Magpul SGA stock on a mossberg shockwave- that is an SBS? and therefore not legal in MA? any ways around this?

      • jeff bussell
      • April 14, 2023
      Reply

      Hi John. Please reach out to me via email or phone so we can discuss.

    • Neil
    • April 25, 2022
    Reply

    Your statement that a SBS is effectively prohibited by the failure to list it on the approved firearms roster is entirely legally incorrect. The approved roster only provides a list of what can be obtained assembled and functioning from a dealer, not what can be possessed legally.

      • jeff bussell
      • April 14, 2023
      Reply

      Hi Neil. Thanks for your comment. The fact that a Massachusetts resident cannot purchase a short-barreled shotgun from a Massachusetts NFA dealer due to the approved roster restrictions combined with the fact that making an SBS is illegal in Massachusetts does *effectively* prohibit the ownership of SBSs in Massachusetts. This is because acquisition is a prerequisite for ownership.

      Unless a Massachusetts resident has dual residence in another state where they may legally acquire an SBS, the only option to legally acquire an SBS would be purchase an SBS from another Massachusetts resident. In practice this does not seem to occur very often. In the nine years I have been providing NFA-related guidance to Massachusetts residents, I have yet to work with a single client who has identified the acquisition of a SBS as an objective. To be sure, there are short-barreled shotguns registered in Massachusetts. According the ATF’s Firearms Commerce in the United States: Annual Statistical Update 2021, there are approximately 1,000 SBSs in Massachusetts. However, it is unclear how many of these are owned by civilians versus registrations to law enforcement. To put it in perspective, according to the report, there are over 10,000 registered silencers in Massachusetts (presumably all registered to law enforcement agencies), over 7,000 machine guns, and over 6,000 SBRs.

Reply to Rudi Pierotti. cancel