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ATF Policies, Suppressors & NFA Information


Crosshairs Texas has been approved by the ATF to sell & transfer title II firearms since 2016.

  • Class 3 SOT – Dealer of NFA firearms

If you’re looking into buying an NFA Firearm, you’ve probably heard of the ATF Form 4, but you may not be sure exactly what it is, when to use it, or even how the Form 4 is used.

First, what are NFA Firearms?

NFA Firearms are a special class of highly regulated firearms. The category “NFA Firearms” includes:

  • Silencers
  • Full-auto/Machine Guns (yes, they’re legal to own)
  • Short Barrel Rifles
  • Short Barrel Shotguns
  • Any Other Weapons (AOWs), and
  • Destructive Devices (DD)

The transfer of these NFA Firearms for non-FFLs requires a tax be paid to the federal government, as well as an application and approval by the ATF…. this is the ATF Form 4.

The SOT License – What is it?

A special Occupational Taxpayer (“SOT”) is something that a Federal Firearm License (“FFL”) holder becomes to engage in certain business activities with National Firearms Act (“NFA”) firearms (also called Title II firearms) like short barreled rifles, silencers, and more.

An SOT is a Special Occupational Taxpayer. It is a Federal Firearms Licensee who pays a special annual tax in order to deal with a special class of firearms called NFA Firearms.

SOTs are sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as someone who has a Class 3 license or even an SOT License.

These are incorrect because a Class 3 SOT is a type of taxpayer you can become (not an SOT license to have). The license held by an SOT is an FFL which is one of 9 types of FFL’s. And, an SOT can be one of three classes of taxpayer – either a Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3.

If this is confusing, don’t worry – government bureaucracy is a mess.

Before we answer what an SOT is more fully, let’s first explore what an FFL is.

Q: What is an FFL? A: An FFL, or Federal Firearms License holder, is a person or entity engaged in the business of making and/or selling firearms. FFLs are gun dealers or firearm manufacturers.

SOT Licenses are:

This special class of firearms called NFA firearms incur a special making and transfer tax each time the NFA firearm is made or changes possession. For most NFA Firearms, the transfer (or making) tax is $200.

This tax is paid by the maker of the firearm and, when it comes to transfers, the transferee of the NFA firearm (who it’s going to). Unless you are an SOT, the tax is paid per firearm.

FFLs, in order to avoid the per item tax, and also to have special permission to make them, sometimes elect to become an SOT in order to pay a once-per-year tax that exempts them from the per item tax.

NFA Firearms are:

  • Silencer (or suppressor)
  • Full-auto machine gun
  • Short Barreled Rifle or SBR (rifles with a barrel less than 16″ or an overall length less than 26″)
  • Short Barreled Shotgun or SBS (shotguns with a barrel less than 18″ or an overall length less than 26″)
  • Destructive Device (grenades and certain types of ammunition)
  • Any Other Weapon or AOW (pen guns, certain special handguns, etc.)

In order to purchase an NFA item, an individual must purchase the firearm from an FFL/SOT and then apply for the transfer with the ATF.

There are special requirements for owning a machine gun. As a private citizen (without an FFL) you can only buy an old machine gun (over 35 years old), it’ll likely cost north of $15,000, and you’ll have to wait around a year for the transfer via an ATF Form 4.

Transfer approval times for individuals take up to 10 months (or sometimes longer). Whereas, the transfer times for an SOT are typically only a business day or two. This is just one of the reasons we like having an FFL and an SOT – SOTs can get NFA firearms in a matter of days.

Texas suppressors!

Suppressors Texas – How To Purchase A Suppressor In Texas

A silencer or suppressor in Texas is any device that can be attached to a firearm be it a rifle or pistol that lowers or muffles the report of a firearm. Silencers are allowed for use in Texas for multiple reasons.

  • Hunting
  • Home Defense
  • Hearing Protection
  • Any Legal Use As Authorized By Texas Law

Almost all suppressors attach to the firearm by use of threads which screw on to a threaded barrel. Threads can be added to your existing barrel by a qualified gunsmith. A silencer can lower the sound of a gun shot by as much as 45 decibels and even more in custom builds.

Where Can I Buy A Suppressor In Texas ?

There are multiple manufactures of various types of suppressors that are readily available, however it is not an item that one can just run out and purchase off the shelf. Silencers or suppressors are regulated items and as such fall under the authority of the National Firearms Act (NFA ) and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.

Requirements For Legally Purchasing A Suppressor In Texas

  • You must be a resident of the State of Texas
  • You must be at the least 21 years of age
  • You must be a resident of the United States
  • You must be legally able to purchase a firearm
  • You must be able to pass a ATF background check
  • You must pay a fee of $200 to the ATF for each suppressor you purchase

Suppressors Are Designated As A Class 3 Firearms In Texas

Silencers and suppressors are designated as Class 3 Firearms by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. They are regulated items under the National Firearms Act (NFA).

These regulations were passed by the federal government on June 26, 1934 as a means to discourage unscrupulous persons from obtaining Class 3 weapons and lengthening prison sentences for those to be found in violation of the law.

Types of Suppressors and Silencers

  • Rimfire: Rimfire silencers or suppressors are designed for low pressure, low power cartridges such as the .22 or .17hmr. These types of suppressors are not designed to handle the higher pressures of rifle type ammunition. Having been designed to handle lower pressures and lower power it is highly advised not to use these types of silencers on a rifle. Because they are designed to handle lower pressures these types of silencers are normally the most affordable and make for a great entry level suppressor.
  • Rifle : Rifle silencers and suppressor are designed to handle the high pressures associated with center fire cartridges. These types of silencers are designed to handle cartridges up to .50 BMG. They can be pricey in cost however, what is your hearing worth ?
  • Pistol: Pistol silencers and suppressor are designed to handle the lower pressures of handgun rounds and may even be used with some of the sub-sonic ammunition’s that are on the market.

Purchasing A Suppressor In Texas

Crosshairs Texas is an authorized dealer for most of the suppressors on the market.  Stop by the store to learn about the suppressors we have in stock or request a special order HERE.

Once you have found the suppressor you wish to purchase you will need to fill out a Form 4 which will be sent to the ATF for approval. Most dealers will help you with this paperwork. You will not be able to take possession of the suppressor until this process has completed. It can take several months for this process to complete so be patient. The following forms must be submitted to the ATF.

  • The Form 4 along with these additional documents must be sent to the ATF
  • The ATF Form 4 in duplicate
  • $200 Check to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives – ATF
  • FBI Form FD-258s which must be in black ink
  • Passport photos

If purchasing as a gun trust ATF Form 5320.23
The last thing you need to do is send a copy of your Form 4 to the local Chief Law Enforcement Official. This is required by law unless your purchasing as a gun trust which affords you more privacy.

What Is A Gun Trust And How Does It Afford You More Privacy ?

A gun trust is a revocable trust that owns property. That’s right, it owns property, such as NFA weapons. The trust can purchase NFA weapons in its name and all of those whom are on the trust can enjoy legally using these items.

Benefits Of A Gun Trust In 2022 – Why Use A Gun Trust ?

1. A gun trust affords you more privacy.

One of the benefits of a gun trust is that it affords you more privacy based on the fact that you can legally purchase firearms in the name of the trust. Inform the FFL that you are purchasing as a gun trust and then simply present your trust documentation to the FFL dealer.

The items that you have purchased will be shown as having been transferred to the gun trust and not to you as an individual.

Some FFL dealers have been known to ask for IDs such as drivers license or other forms of government IDs in order to perform background checks on YOU when purchasing as a trust, you do not have to disclose this information.

If your FFL dealer refuses to make a sell to you based on the fact you will not undergo the aggravation of producing an ID or having a background check performed, you may wish to find another FFL dealer.

2. You can place your NFA items into the gun trust.

Items that fall under the guidelines of the National Firearms Act such as suppressors, short barrel shotguns, short barrel rifles etc can be purchased by the trust and the tax stamp that must be obtained and the record of sell will be registered to the gun trust as opposed to your individual name.

3. It can protect your gun collection against personal legal actions against you such as lawsuits or divorce.

If you are ever found to be on the wrong end of a lawsuit or divorce your gun collection will be protected if has been placed within the firearms trust.

Once items are placed in a trust they are no longer considered personal items. The items within the trust are property of the trust.

4. There is no need to probate a firearms trust in event of death.

5. The firearms trust owns the assets placed into it.

All items that are placed within the trust are property of the trust. As an entity unto itself the trust is the rightful owner of its possessions. Items may be transferred into and out of the trust at any given time so long as applicable law is followed.

6. Persons named in the trust (trustees) may use all NFA items or non-NFA items placed in the trust.

People who are named as trustees of the gun trust may have legal access and use of all items that have been placed within the trust. This includes an NFA items that the trust owns.

7. Unlike a corporation or LLC a trust does not have to pay yearly taxes on the assets placed into the trust.

There have been times that individuals have set up corporations or LLCs and purchased firearms as a business entity. One of the downfalls to this is that each and every year you must pay to upkeep you filing fees and or pay corporate taxes based on the assets of the business.

A gun trust does not have to do either of these. A trust is an entity in and unto itself . The only filing fees required are those initial fees it takes to create the trust.

8. You can avoid having to have your CLEO “Chief Law Enforcement Officer “sign off on NFA weapons.

If you purchase NFA items as an individual you must inform the CLEO in your jurisdiction of your ownership of these items. When purchasing these items as a trust the trust is not required by law to inform the CLEO of these purchases. This is just one of the great benefits of a firearms trust.

9. No background check required when purchasing as a firearms trust.

You can purchase firearms and NFA items in the name of the firearms trust. There is no legal requirement for your personal information to be recorded when purchasing a firearm as a gun trust.

10. No annual taxes for a firearms trust.

There is no annual state or registration fees involved with a firearms trust as opposed to a business entity.

11. Firearms trust offers legal protections.

A firearms trust provides legal protection not only for yourself, but also others whom are members of the trust.

12. Firearms confiscation

A gun trust may help you avoid possible restrictions in the future as they pertain to gun transfers, ownership or confiscation by government entities.

13. A trust is great for estate planning

There are many people with huge firearms collections that may only have a minor child as an heir to their estate. In many states minors are not legally allowed to own firearms.

In the event of your death, if the minor child is a member of the trust, the trust can hold these firearms in its possession until the minor child reaches the legal age in their respective state to be able to lawfully be in possession of a firearm. This is just one of the benefits of a firearms trust.


Are Machine Guns Legal?

Contrary to popular belief, it is perfectly legal for a law-abiding American citizen to own/possess a machine gun (sometimes called a full-auto firearm or automatic weapon).

Depending on the type of FFL, the FFL-holder can purchase and sell machine guns, regardless of when they were made (more on this below), and they can even legally make their own machine guns or lawfully convert current firearms into full-autos. The best part about getting a machine gun as an FFL is that you can get it at dealer cost and fast.

Even without an FFL, a private citizen can still lawfully own a true machine gun if certain conditions are met. However, machine guns for non-FFLs are EXTREMELY expensive as the available supply is limited.

As an FFL, you can buy a brand new machine gun for less than $2,000 and have it transferred to you in a few days.

As a private citizen (without an FFL) you can only buy an old machine gun (over 35 years old), it’ll likely cost north of $15,000, and you’ll have to wait around a year for the transfer via an ATF Form 4.

For example, a private citizen can lawfully own a machine gun only if:

  1. the possessor isn’t a “prohibited person,”
  2. the full-auto machine gun was made before 1986, and
  3. their relevant state law does not ban that the firearm (whether banning machine guns outright or any firearm with certain features).

As you can see, machine gun possession by non-FFLs is regulated based on the person (possessor), the firearm itself (when it was made), and where the firearm is possessed (which state).

What is an ATF Form 4?

The ATF Form 4 is used to transfer an NFA Firearm to a non-FFL (individual or trust).

ATF’s “Form 4” is an “Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm”. It is used whenever you are buying an NFA Firearm that already exists (not making one). According to the ATF, it’s “typically submitted for a transfer to an individual or legal entity, such as a trust.”

If you’re not an FFL, and you’ve purchased an NFA Firearm from a dealer or an individual, then you need this form to get approval and a tax stamp from the ATF. You’re probably anxious to buy it, so the good news is, you don’t have to wait! Bad news is, you can’t take possession of it until after the ATF approves your Form 4 application and issues the tax stamp. The firearm must stay with its owner while your application is processed.

Some ATF forms are notification forms, but the Form 4 is not. This form is an application, which means you’re requesting the ATF’s permission, and you have to wait for their approval. The approval process take months, sometimes even a year

To make or sell machine guns (and other NFA firearms like silencers) the FFL must also be an SOT.  This is sometimes incorrectly referred to as having a class 3 license.

Full-auto machine guns fit into a certain class of firearms called National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) firearms.

These NFA firearms have extra regulations and controls. For example, unlike with “standard” firearms, NFA firearms (such as machine guns, silencers, etc.) are registered with the federal government and tracked from lawful owner to lawful owner – permission must be obtained prior to the transfer of these types of firearms and the ATF keeps a log of all currently registered NFA firearms.

Machine Gun Owners

Machine gun owners can’t be “prohibited persons.”

Well, to be more accurate, a “prohibit person” can’t lawfully possess a machine gun – ownership is irrelevant.

A “prohibit person” is a class of person defined under federal law who is not allowed to possess firearms nor ammunition (not just full-auto machine guns).

The category “prohibited person” includes anyone who:

  • is a felon
  • has been convicted of any crime punishable by more than a year in prison (whether or not they were ever sentenced to or served a day in prison)
  • is under indictment for any crime punishable by more than a year in prison
  • is a fugitive
  • is an unlawful user of any controlled substance
  • has been adjudicated as a mental defective
  • has been committed to a mental institution
  • is an illegal alien
  • has a dishonorable discharge from the military
  • has renounced their U.S. citizenship
  • is the subject of a restraining order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner, or
  • who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence

There’s a few nuances that you might need to be aware of if you think that any of these apply to you – especially the “convicted of any crime punishable by more than a year,” “unlawful user of a controlled substance,” and “restraining order” provisions.  If you’d like to learn more about these prohibited person categories, see Prohibited Persons / Firearm Possession.

Legal Machine Guns

In 1934, the National Firearms Act (NFA) was passed which restricted machine gun possession, among other types of firearms.

These “special” firearms received extra regulations because of the gang violence of the time. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive (ATF), then a part of the Dept. of Treasury, was able to regulate this special class of firearms by requiring registration and taxation prior to lawful possession.

At the time, a $200 federal tax was paid and an application was made for approval by the federal government. Once approved, the paperwork was returned with a $200 stamp showing that the tax was paid and the listed person/entity was the lawful possessor of the particular NFA firearm.

NFA Firearms Include:

  • Full-auto Machine Guns
  • Silencers
  • Short Barreled Rifles (under 16″ barrels)
  • Short Barreled Shotguns (under 18″ barrels)
  • “Any Other Weapons” (AOW) (Pen guns, cane guns, etc.)

What is a machine gun?

Under federal law, a machine gun is a firearm that fires more than one bullet for every pull of the trigger.

One trigger pull + one bullet = standard firearm.  One trigger pull + more than one bullet = full-auto / machine gun.

It is important to note that the speed at which a firearm can shoot is not relevant to the definition.

This is why a device, like a slide-fire stock, can be used to mimic full-auto fire without actually making a machine gun.  This device allows the firearm to move rearward inside the stock under recoil (it “slides” upon “firing”) and it allows the shooter to keep their trigger-finger stationary.  If the shooter then applied forward pressure on the firearm, then the firearm is allowed to slide forward after it recoils thereby pulling the trigger into the shooter’s stationary trigger-finger.  This might look and sound like a machine gun, but it is still only one bullet per trigger pull.  Devices like these also create sporadic sounding full-auto fire – they typically are not as consistent in their rate of fire as a machine gun is.

Also, semi-automatic is NOT the same as fully-automatic!  Full-auto machine guns are very rare and almost never used in crimes.  In fact, most NFA firearms are only related to possession based crimes (person shouldn’t have possessed it wherever they were) and are rarely used in the commission of a crime. This is because NFA firearms are so expensive and the background check process is so thorough.  Therefore, an AR-15-style firearm is most likely NOT a machine gun.  It COULD be one, but 99.9% of civilian owned AR-15-style rifles are semi-automatic only.

In 1986 federal legislation, called the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA), prohibited the possession of “new” machine guns by citizens.  This meant that only machine guns made prior to this date in 1986 were lawful to be possessed by citizens (this is still true).  Of course, this prohibition did not apply to FFLs (certain gun dealers / manufacturers) nor law enforcement.

This ban on machine guns created a significant supply/demand price increase. Although it is perfectly legal for a law-abiding citizen to own a full-auto machine gun, it must be one made before 1986. This means that an AR-15-style machine gun made before 1986 likely carried a price tag of less than $1,000 when it was brand new. Now that it is over 30 years old, however, it can easily fetch a price of $14,000.

Compare that to a brand-new machine gun, which can still be found for around $1,000. Remember, though, if you want to possess these modern machine guns, you must be a government employee possessing the machine gun in connection with your official duties OR you must get your Federal Firearms License or (FFL) and become a SOT.

As an FFL, you must also pay a special yearly tax to become a Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT) – this allows you to purchase and sell NFA firearms (including machine guns) without paying a tax per item/transaction.

How to Own a Machine Gun

If you aren’t a “prohibited person” you can own a machine gun in one of two ways as a non-government/law enforcement officer:

Purchase a pre-1986 machine gun (expensive and slow), or

Become a FFL/SOT(cheap and fast).

How to Purchase a Machine Gun as an Individual:

Confirm that they are lawful to possess in your state

Find a currently registered machine gun made before 1986 either at a gun shop or a private individual.  You can search locally or online (but out-of-state online sales of all firearms must go to your local gun shop).

Purchase the machine gun as an individual or through a trust –  but, no, you can’t take it home yet!  Trusts were popular to avoid certain requirements (fingerprints, law enforcement approval, etc.) but ATF changed the rules last year.  Previously, your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) approval was required, but the ATF changed the rules last year to only require notification.  Also, members of a trust could obtain new NFA firearms without fingerprints/photos but now every lawful possessor is required to submit them each time.  These rule changes removed much of the reason to get a trust.

Fill out an ATF Form 4 application to transfer an NFA firearm. This application will include a $200 check for your tax, your fingerprints, a passport-style photograph, and information about you and the firearm.

Wait 9-12 months for the ATF to approve and return your paperwork.

Take your machine-gun home and enjoy!

How to Fill Out an ATF Form 4

ATF Form 4 contains fillable fields for Adobe Acrobat, which makes things much easier because you’ll only have to fill out pages 1, 2 & 3. Acrobat will populate the information you’ve input on the first three pages, into the remainder of the form including ATF Copy 2 (pages 7, 8 & 9) and the CLEO Copy (pages 10, 11 & 12)

1. Type of Transfer: Every item is $200 unless it’s an AOW, and those are $5.

2a. Transferee’s name and address: This is the name of the individual or gun trust, as well as the address where the NFA firearm will be stored. Make sure to check the appropriate box at the bottom of 2a.

2b. County: This is NOT country. It’s the county, parish or borough where the NFA item will be stored.

*Sections 3 & 4 are typically completed by the SOT / Class 3 dealer.

3a/b/c. Transferor’s Name and Address: Name and address of the SOT / Class 3 dealer.

3d. Descendant’s Name, Address and Date of Death: Only to be completed if the item is being transferred to a gun trust because it was inherited by the customer as an heir.

4a. Manufacturer: The manufacturer of the NFA firearms name and address.

4b. Type of Firearm: Indicate which type of NFA firearm you want a tax stamp for which could be silencer, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, Any Other Weapon (AOW), destructive device or machine gun.

4c. Caliber or Gauge: List the caliber or gauge of the NFA firearm. You must list the proper term, such as .223 Cal or 5.56 MM. You may not use nicknames such as 300 Blackout. For machine guns, write “n/a”.

4d. Model: The model name of the NFA Firearm.

4e/f. (Length) Of barrel and (Length) Overall: List the length of the barrel itself and the overall length of the NFA firearm. For silencers, write “n/a” in box 4e and the length of the silencer itself in box 4f. If you don’t know, you may obtain this information from the silencer manufacturer.

4g. Serial Number: List the serial number which is engraved on the NFA firearm.

4h. Additional Description or Data Appearing on Firearm: Typically, this box remains blank. You can opt to add additional information or markings that appear on the NFA firearm.

5. Transferee’s Federal Firearms License: For individual buyers, list their FFL information. For gun trusts, leave the box blank.

6 a/b. Transferee’s Special Tax Status: The individual buyers federal EIN or social-security number. For gun trusts, leave the box blank.

7. Transferor’s Federal Firearms License: This is the seller’s FFL information and should be completed by the dealer. If transferring an already owned NFA firearm into your gun trust, leave this box blank, unless the item is located at an FFL dealer.

8 a/b. Transferee’s Special Tax Status: This is the dealer’s Federal EIN or social-security number, which you’ll get from your dealer.

9. Signature of Transferor: The dealer you are purchasing the NFA firearm from will sign this box.

10. Name and Title of Authorized Official: This is filled out by the dealer.

11. Date: This is filled out by the dealer.

12. Law Enforcement Notification: List the agency name, the agency official’s name, and his or her title and address. This location is where you will forward the CLEO copy of this form. As defined in Section 2d, the CLEO is “The chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) is considered to be the Chief of Police; the Sheriff; the Head of the State Police; or a State or local district attorney or prosecutor [of your county].”

13. Transferee Necessity Statement: This will be the name and title of the individual or settler of the trust. For the reason, you may list either “Investment and All Other Lawful Purposes” or “Any Lawful Purpose” or “Investment and All Other Lawful Purposes”.

14 – 17. Transferee Questions: This section is only to be completed by individuals purchasing, not purchases through gun trusts. For individuals, answer the questions truthfully and affix your passport photo.

“CERTIFICATION”: For individuals, sign and date with your name, as shown in box 2a. For gun trusts, include your signature, as well as your title (ex. Trustee), and the date.

*18 & 19 are only applicable for gun trust transfers. Individuals do not complete these.

18. Number of Responsible Persons: List the number of responsible persons in the gun trust or legal entity, including the settlor and co-trustees. Successor trustees and beneficiaries are not responsible persons.

19. Responsible Person Name(s): You may list up to 8 persons on this form. If there are more than 8 responsible persons, list them on a separate sheet and include it with your application.

*For each responsible person listed, a completed ATF Form 7 – Part B must also be submitted.

20. Method of Payment: Choose which payment method you will use and fill out the credit/debit card information if applicable. If your application is denied, the money will be refunded.

*All signatures must be signed in blue or black ink.

Submit the following to:
National Firearms Act Division
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
P.O. Box 5015
Portland, OR 97208-5015

ATF Form 4 (ATF Copy: Pages 1-3 & Registrant Copy: Pages 7-9)

ATF Form 7 – Part B for all Responsible Persons (if applicable)

Two Passport Photos. (Only needed for individuals. Photos must have been taken within 1 year prior to the application date. On back of photograph print full name, last four digits of your social-security number and the business address if any. Tape or paperclip the photos to ATF Copy 1 & Registrant Copy 2.)

Two Fingerprint Cards on FBI Form FD-258:

Only for individual transferees – not manufacturers, importers, or dealers.

Extra information for “Yes” answers to Section 14 A-H (if applicable)

Check for $200 for all NFA firearms except AOWs which are $5

Gun Trusts Only: a photocopy of your NFA Gun Trust Documentation including a copy of all amendments, if applicable.

Submit the following to your CLEO:

ATF Form 4 (CLEO Copy: Pages 10-12)

ATF Form 5310.12a (Form 7 – Part B) for all Responsible Persons (if applicable)

ATF Form 4 Wait Times

The wait times for the ATF Form 4 vary depending on ATF’s backlog. Typically, you’re looking at a 10-12 month waiting period, but you can monitor current wait times with the NFA Tracker.

You can also call the ATF for a status update – 304.616.4500. You’ll need to provide your name, as well as the name of the transferor and the serial number.

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