AR-15 Ammunition And Barrel Twist Rate

Herschel Smith · 19 Feb 2017 · 6 Comments

There are a lot of articles and discussion forum threads on barrel twist rate for AR-15s.  So why am I writing one?  Well, some of the information on the web is very wrong.  Additionally, this closes out comment threads we've had here touching on this topic, EMail exchanges I've had with readers, and personal conversations I've had with shooters and friends about this subject.  It's natural to put this down in case anyone else can benefit from the information.  Or you may not benefit at…… [read more]

Scholarly Analysis Of The National Firearms Act

BY Herschel Smith
1 week ago

Dave Hardy at Of Arms and the Law links a very in depth and insightful commentary and analysis of the National Firearms Act (NFA).  Dave comments concerning SBRs.

In 1934, they were treated as gangster weapons, although I don’t ever recall hearing of gangsters using them. They tended to have their fights at pistol or shotgun range, not at 100+ yards. Originally the minimum barrel length was 18″; then the government discovered it had sold millions of M-1 carbines as surplus, and they had 16.5″ barrels. So the minimum length was reduced to 16″. Which did a nice job of showing how arbitrary it was.

If you follow the link you’ll get to the scholarly paper (PDF), and I highly recommend it to you.  It would be nice if my readers would tackle this document and make some salient points.  There are a lot of observations I could make but just don’t have the time or energy.

One thing I will observe is that on PDF pages 500 and 521, it’s noted that a “pistol” is defined as follows.

[A] weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having (a) a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s); and (b) a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand and at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).

While some shooting instructors may invoke off-hand or one-handed shooting as a small part of their efforts because of possible hand-to-hand combat situations, reaching for reloads, attempting to keep an attacker from taking the slide out of battery, or other reasons, this is usually what we might call “beyond design basis.”

No instructor in his right mind today would actually teach that it’s appropriate or preferable to shoot a pistol or revolver with a single hand.  That’s how much the science has evolved since passage of the NFA.

It’s an old, antiquated, worthless, useless, tangled, self-contradictory, laughable abomination, and the more the Congress and Senate (and by extension, the ATF) hang on to this ridiculous document, the more absurd they look.

As usual, reader remarks concerning the study are welcome.

The Hearing Protection Act And ‘Silencers’

BY Herschel Smith
4 weeks ago

David Kopel:

In the early 20th century, the most influential advocate for banning many firearms and accessories was William T. Hornaday, director of the Bronx Zoo. Using the resources of the Bronx Zoo and others for conservation, Hornaday helped save the American bison from extinction.

Hornaday’s 1913 book, “Our Vanishing Wildlife: Its Extermination and Preservation,” warned that over-hunting was wiping out American wildlife. According to Hornaday, one problem was that modern guns were too accurate. Also, hunters now had better scopes and binoculars. In Wyoming, hunters were using silencers so one shot didn’t frighten away other game.

Even worse, in Hornaday’s view, was who was hunting. Namely, lower-class Americans and immigrants. He urged new laws to “prohibit the use of firearms by any naturalized alien from southern Europe until after a 10-years’ residence in America.” Wildlife was vanishing because “the Italians are spreading, spreading, spreading. If you are without them to-day, to-morrow they will be around you. Meet them at the threshold with drastic laws, thoroughly enforced.”

In the South, Hornaday argued, the problem was hunting by “poor white trash” and blacks. In an earlier time, black Americans “were too poor to own guns.” But “the time came when . . . single-shot breech-loading guns went down to five dollars a piece. The negro had money now, and the merchants . . . sold him the guns, a gun for every black idler, man and boy, in all the South.” Hornaday favored an Alabama proposal for an annual tax of at least $5 a year on every firearm, to prevent poor people from owning inexpensive guns.

Hornaday argued that all pump-action guns should be banned, as should all semi-automatics and all “silencers.” Some of Hornaday’s proposals did become law, in attenuated form. For example, states did not ban hunting by immigrant citizens, but they did enact laws against hunting or firearms possession by legal resident aliens. North Carolina enacted a statute (later repealed) that required a license for purchasing a pump action gun. (These laws are described in my article in the Harvard Journal on Legislation, Background Checks for Firearms Sales and Loans: Law, History, and Policy.)

The National Firearms Act of 1934. In 1934, Congress enacted the National Firearms Act, which used the tax power to set up a tax and registration system for certain arms and accessories. As enacted, the NFA applies to machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, “silencers,” grenades, mortars and various other devices.

Kopel has done a very nice job of outlining the history and technology of suppressors.  I would never actually recommend that someone visit The Washington Post and push traffic their direction except for The Volokh Conspiracy when writing about gun rights.  But this one is so well done it’s worth it.

Prior: Revisiting The National Firearms Act

No Justification Given In The Congressional Record For Inclusion Of Suppressors In NFA

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 1 week ago

Called silencers or “mufflers” in the deliberations on the NFA, a redditor has done good work trying to find why suppressors were included in the NFA.  As we’ve noted the discussions waxed emotional and did in fact mention them as covered under the NFA, but again, no reason is given.

It appears that the reason for the inclusion of silencers in the National Firearms Act of 1934 is completely unknown to the official record. The NFA was cooked up in the Department of Justice and advocated for by Hon. Homer S. Cummings, Attorney General of the United States and (especially) Hon. Joseph B. Keenan Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice. I have been unable to find any credible source outlining the reason silencers were included in the NFA, and this knowledge likely died with Cummings, Keenan, and their staff. If anyone can point me to a credible source, I’d love to see it.

And of course, no reason will be forthcoming.  The redditor also notes that the NRA supported the NFA.  How sad.

Revisiting The National Firearms Act

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 2 weeks ago

This commentary caused me to revisit the National Firearms Act (hereafter, NFA).  Perhaps there are better versions of this discussion (perhaps someone can find a PDF of the deliberations), but here is a rendering of the deliberations of the Congress on the NFA.

One of the most stark and eyebrow raising parts comes up front.  It is the testimony of Homer S. Cummings, then Attorney General of the United States.

Here are some of his statements.

“The situation has become exceedingly serious … there are more people in the underworld today armed with deadly weapons, in fact, twice as many, as there are in the Army and Navy of the United States combined.  In other words, roughly speaking, there are at least 500,000 of these people who are warring against society and who carrying about with them or have available at hand, weapons of the most deadly character.”

” … defines firearms to mean pistol, revolver, a shotgun having a barrel less than 16 inches in length.”

” … it defines a machine gun as any weapon designed to shoot automatically, or semiautomatically, 12 or more shots without reloading.”

This is the first draft of the NFA on which he is testifying.  Note that all handguns, including revolvers, and all semi-automatic rifles, were included in the first draft of the NFA.

For that matter, so was body armor, what he called “bullet-proof vests.”

But he waxes to the most earnest and emotional part thereafter when asked how laws were going to effect change in those who already had these weapons.

“I racked my brain to try to find some simple and effective manner of those already armed.”

His solution if you care to read it is to tax them, trace them and make interstate commerce and travel with these NFA items illegal.

And thus we know that his entire testimony is complete and unmitigated bullshit.  He begins by whipping up the terror.  Half a million.  Again, half a million of these nefarious workers of evil who have no compunction about killing or savagery currently have access to machine guns (which he defines as semi-automatic rifles) and pistols.  Not only that, he points out upon questioning that these are half a million people, not weapons.  Each person may have a dozen or more weapons.  Seriously,  read it for yourself.  That’s six million machine guns in the hands of cold blooded killers who have no conscience and a ready-made organization.  More, mind you, than the Army and Navy combined.

And yet, making interstate commerce in those weapons and travel across state lines illegal is supposed to work as an effective deterrent to the crimes they perpetrate.  Realistically, half a million machine gun toting cold blooded killers could have taken over the government in a day, and yet Cummings is advocating his law as an effective means to hold them at bay.

This law will go down as an abomination and obscenity, and in fact it already has.  The testimony was full of lies, the law was intended to disarm peaceable men, and the use of terror was an emotional ploy on stolid Congressmen, or perhaps those who knew and played along in the disarming of the public.

The NFA is a wicked testimony to the depravity of mankind.  It’s still the holy grail for gun controllers today who want to restrict semi-automatic weapons, pistols, barrel lengths and magazine capacity.  God will not bless a country with a history of controlling people in such a manner, and this law deserves our utmost disapprobation.  We should not and do not recognize its legitimacy.


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