There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding solvent traps and whether or not they are legal to own in the United States. The answer is yes, in most cases. Generally, as long as your plan is to use the solvent trap as an aid for cleaning your firearm, it is completely legal to own. These traps, when used correctly, can catch and contain cleaning patches, detritus, and any leftover solvent you used when cleaning your gun. In that way, they are very useful. However, because they can be used incorrectly and illegally as silencers, there are some restrictions and regulations in place when buying these helpful devices.
No Modifications Allowed
The main thing to keep in mind if you are concerned about the legality of owning a solvent trap is that these traps only become illegal if you modify them. When you receive your solvent trap after ordering, use it only in the way its intended- for cleaning- and don't make any changes to it, and you'll never face problems or find yourself in legal trouble, guaranteed.
Solvent traps are considered "silencers" when the adapter has been attached to the containment tube, rather than to the gun barrel as intended, or when the end cap has been re-sized so as to allow a bullet to pass through it. If you don't make these modifications, you have nothing to fear. If you do, however, and you get caught, you will be guilty of breaking the law and could face various criminal charges, depending on where you live and the laws that exist there.
If you are considering incorrectly using a solvent trap, you should be aware that the punishments for doing so could be severe. People have spent years in prison for being caught with incorrectly modified solvent traps because, in some states, possession of such a device is considered a felony.
Even if you didn't face jail time, you could still potentially face other consequences, such as not being allowed to legally own firearms ever again. The risk is just not worth it!
What to Do
If you do plan to buy a solvent trap, the key is to, first of all, buy one legally from a respected store that markets them as cleaning aids. Keep your receipt and other proof of your legitimate, legal purpose on hand at all times, and never make any modifications to your solvent trap. If you can follow these simple tips, you can enjoy the convenience of using a solvent trap as a cleaning aid without fear or worry.