The ATF put a stop to SD Tactical’s “solvent trap” business. A solvent trap is a catch-all term for a parts kit for building a suppressor. These are similar to 80-percent firearm receivers.
Unfortunately for SD Tactical, the ATF does not distinguish between incomplete and complete suppressors. Unlike 80 percent firearms, which can be bought and sold without a background check because they are non-functional, solvent traps may be considered no different than complete, working, unregistered silencers.
Purchasing a suppressor today is complicated and expensive even where they are permitted. The idea behind solvent traps is to make a low-cost parts kit for home gunsmiths to produce their own suppressors. These need to be manufactured in accordance with NFA regulations. Builders also like these kits because they are faster to process than complete suppressors.
By itself, a solvent trap is basically a barrel plug. They are called solvent traps because if you install one on a firearm for cleaning they will catch any solvents and debris that drips out of the muzzle. But because they also contain suppressor parts, selling them or possessing them without complying with the rules of the NFA can break the law.
“Today they shut us down,” said SD Tactical on Facebook. “The ATF shut down our business of selling solvent traps. This is 99 percent of our income. [The ATF] put three veterans, my wife and son out of work. They said I can’t sell freeze plugs. NAPA can’t even sell them to us because they are a suppressor part.”
Manufacturers have produced a handful of different solvent trap designs. SD Tactical’s trap uses common auto parts as baffle components. These need to be pressed and machined before they work as suppressor components, but because they are sold as suppressor parts they still count according to the ATF.
“[The ATF] said tubes and freeze plugs are suppressor parts,” said SD Tactical. “Would that mean if you have a shotgun and a hacksaw you have a sawed off shotgun? If you own a AR isn’t that a potential SBR?”
Previously the ATF had OKed SD Tactical’s solvent trap kits since they don’t work out of the box. The company hopes this change of opinion will make waves nationally, and advance the Hearing Protection Act.
If passed, the Hearing Protection Act will remove suppressors from the list of NFA-regulated products. The bill is gaining momentum as suppressors become more popular nationwide.
Even the Center for Disease control is for suppressor use. According to a recent CDC study, “The only potentially effective noise control method to reduce students’ or instructors’ noise exposure from gunfire is through the use of noise suppressors that can be attached to the end of the gun barrel. However, some states do not permit civilians to use suppressors on firearms.”
If the bill passes these kits will become an extremely popular option for DIY builders. For now, SD Tactical’s business hangs in the balance.