What are Class 4 Weapons? (The Ultimate Guide)

What are Class 4 Weapons?

Class 4 weapons (also known as Class IV weapons) are identified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) as Destructive Devices.

According to the National Firearms Act of 1934, a destructive device is defined as any explosive device, any weapon that launches a projectile through an explosive, or any firearm that sprays fire.

So, bombs, mortar launchers, and artillery pieces!

NFA Weapon Types

Before we get into all of the weapon classes, it’s helpful to define some terms that you’ll see later. After all, laws and regulations can vary greatly depending on the meaning of words.

The firearms below are regulated by the ATF under the NFA. Explosive devices are regulated under the Organized Crime Control Act.

What does this mean?

This means that ownership, transfer, and manufacturing of any of the firearms listed below will require an extensive background check, paying $200 excise tax, and submitting an ATF form.

Short Barreled Shotgun

A shotgun with a barrel shorter than 18 inches. This also includes a weapon made from a shotgun with a barrel that’s less than 18 inches long and an overall length less than 26 inches.

Short Barreled Rifle

A rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches. This also includes a weapon made from a rifle with a barrel that’s less than 16 inches long and an overall length less than 26 inches.


Suppressors or silencers are regulated by the ATF because they can be used by criminals to get away with shooting someone . . . maybe . . . I honestly don’t understand it.

Machine Gun

A machine gun is a fully automatic firearm that’s loaded with rifle cartridges and is designed for sustained direct fire. These firearms can be dangerous when in the hands of criminals.

Destructive Devices

Examples of destructive devices are bombs, mines, grenades, dynamite, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, missiles, artillery, poison gas weapons, and any weapon (and tactical gear) with a bore over one half of an inch. This excludes rifles and shotguns used for sporting purposes.

Any Other Weapons

Any Other Weapons or AOWs are devices that can discreetly discharge shots through an explosive, any handgun with a smooth-bored barrel that can fire fixed shotgun shells, firearms with shotgun/rifle barrels 12 to 18 inches long “from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading.”

AOWs are mostly disguised devices such as umbrella guns, cane guns, pens, knives, and cigarette lighters.

Weapon Classifications

Class 1 Weapons

Examples of class 1 weapons are rifles with barrels 16 inches or more in length and shotguns with barrels 18 inches or more in length. These include bolt actions, semi-automatic actions, lever-actions, pump-actions, and break or hinge actions.

Class 1 weapons are designated under the Gun Controls Act of 1968 as Title 1 firearms.

Class 2 Weapons

Class 2 weapons include any semi-automatic rifles, handguns, and shotguns. These firearms can only expel one round with every pull of the trigger.

Class 3 Weapons

Class 3 weapons or Title 2 firearms are fully automatic firearms. These weapons have a high burst fire rate because they can fire shots continuously while the trigger is pressed or pulled.

Class 3 weapons include short barreled rifles and shotguns, Any Other Weapons (AOW), and suppressors.

Class 4 Weapons

Finally, we arrive at today’s main attraction – the class 4 weapons or destructive devices. Rocket launchers, grenades, dynamite, tanks, are just a few examples. But as awesome as these weapons are, they also (as the name implies) bring destruction.

How You Can Legally Purchase and Own Class 4 Weapons?

You can’t! Destructive devices or Class 4 weapons are regulated by the ATF so no civilian (criminals, in particular) can get their hands on DDs, legally at least. So unless you work in law enforcement or in the military, your dream of owning a class 4 weapon will remain a dream unless you apply to be an importer or manufacturer of Class 4 weapons.

Antique DDs can be exempted, however, if they’re rendered unusable and not considered as “destructive”. 


We know it’s kind of a bummer now that we know we can’t own class 4 weapons. Just keep in mind that this is how the government tries to keep us safe.

Need to complete your hunting OOTD? Check out our picks for the best tactical pants!

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