Tag Archives: assault weapon

Ukraine Drawdowns Top 200 Million Rounds of Small Arms Ammo

The Pentagon on Wednesday announced the latest security assistance package for Ukraine provided by the Biden Administration, including a lot more small arms ammunition, which is everything short of 12.7mm (.50 cal).

The latest package, valued at up to $300 million, marks the 37th White House-authorized drawdown from the Department of Defense’s equipment stockpiled for Ukraine since August 2021. Besides additional 155mm tube artillery and shells, assorted anti-armor weapon systems, HIMARS rockets, TOW missiles and mortar rounds, the latest transfer also transfers more “small arms and small arms ammunition” to Ukraine. 

With a total of over $36.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, a fact sheet provided by the Pentagon this week puts the running tally of small arms ammunition at “over” 200 million rounds. This is up from the 150 million rounds listed in a similar tally made public just six weeks ago. 

DOD officials in late November listed the cumulative amount of small arms ammo drawdown for Ukraine as 104 million rounds, a figure that has seemingly doubled in the past six months. 

Besides lots of 7.62 NATO for M240s transferred with light armored vehicles, Ukrainian regulars have increasingly been spotted with 5.56-caliber M4A1 Carbines and M16A4 rifles, complete with Trijicon ACOG optics and M203 40mm under-barrel grenade launchers, so you can bet a lot of the recently transferred stockpiles will be 5.56.

Soldiers of the Ukrainian Army’s 47th OMBr (separate mechanized brigade) “Magura” train with M16A4 rifles. The newly created unit is armed with much U.S.-supplied equipment including repainted M2A2 Bradley vehicles. (Photo: Ukraine Ministry of Defense)

In related news, with over 10,000 Javelin systems transferred to Ukraine, a figure that represents something like 13 years of standard production, this contract just hit DOD’s list yesterday (emphasis mine):

Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin JV, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a $1,024,355,817 cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for the Javelin Weapon System and associated support equipment. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of May 2, 2027. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-23-D-0014). (Awarded May 3, 2023)

The ceiling on the Javelin contract, running through 2027, is actually $7.2B, with a B, or almost the cost of five new Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

Common use and the 223

A lot of folks feel that the .223/5.56 cartridge only became a thing in consumer gun culture in 2004, the year the Federal Assault Weapon Ban expired and the masses who had been forbidden from picking up such “evil black rifles” surged forward and purchased something like 20 million of them since then.

The thing is, the round and the rifles had been popular long before that moment. In fact, they have been on the consumer market since 1963– now some 60 years ago.

First developed from a commercially available sporting cartridge, the .223 Remington and its 5.56 NATO cousin, along with the guns that use them, are among the most popular in circulation.

The story began in 1950 with the rimless, bottlenecked .222 Remington, an accurate and flat-shooting varmint and target cartridge that “Big Green” introduced with a companion Model 722 bolt-action rifle chambered for the new round. That well-loved and still viable round by May 1957 had been tweaked to become what was dubbed the .222 Remington Special and was soon tapped by upstart rifle maker ArmaLite for its prototype new AR-15 rifle – with the “AR” standing for the first two letters in the company’s name. 

The lightweight carbine was based on Eugene Stoner’s AR-10 of the same manufacturer.

In March 1958, ArmaLite submitted 10 new AR-15s chambered in .222 Special to Fort Benning for the Infantry Board field trials, but the Army wasn’t enamored with the gun.

Soon the company sold the rights to the handy little carbine to Colt, which started making the guns in late 1959, with small orders filled with Malaysia and India.

The first consumer review hit the stands in the October 1959 “Guns” magazine, with the testers using ArmaLite AR-15 Serial No. 000001, chambered in .222 Rem Spl. During roughly the same timeline, the .222 Rem Spl became known as the .223 Remington, to avoid confusion.

Then, at a now-famous Fourth of July party in 1960, General Curtis LeMay, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, was given a chance to zap watermelons with a new-made Colt AR-15 and soon recommended that the service purchase enough of the new guns to replace aging WWII-era M2 Carbines used by the Air Force’s Security Police. In December 1961, the first contract for 1,000 guns was issued by the Pentagon, and just two years later, the Army was onboard for adopting the rifle in select-fire format, dubbed the XM16E1 and then later the M16.

By 1963, Colt was advertising the AR-15 Sporter, later dubbed the Model R6000 SP1 Sporter Rifle, to the consumer market.

“If you’re a hunter, camper, or collector, you’ll want the AR-15 Sporter,” reads the circa-1963 ad copy. By 1969, something like 15,000 SP1s had been made.

In 1969, only a few years after the SP1 was introduced, ArmaLite was selling a completely different semi-auto AR chambered in .223 – Eugene Stoner’s AR-180– to get around Colt’s patents. Already the AR-15 was getting competition.

Besides the SP1 and AR180 semi-autos, in 1973 – just a decade after the first .223 sporters hit the consumer market –Ruger introduced the Mini-14. Styled on the M14 but downsized to use the smaller .223 round, one of the Ruger’s rifle’s chief engineers was L. James Sullivan, a man who had done lots of work on the AR-15 previously.

About $50-$100 cheaper than other .223s on the market in 1973 dollars, and not as “scary looking,” Ruger’s downsized Garand/M14-ish rifle was a big hit with both police and consumers. Well over 3 million Mini-14/Ranch Rifles have been made since 1973.

In the early 1970s, if you were looking for a .223 sporter, you could get a side-folding ArmaLite AR-180 for $294, a Colt SP1 for $252, or a Ruger Mini-14 for $200, as seen in this vintage Shooter’s Bible.

And that was 50 years ago…

Go ahead, spitball how many guns are in circulation

Of course, this is a moving target and in most cases would be considered something of a wild ass guess in most cases, but the NSSF, working with industry and regulatory data for the past couple of decades, came up with some interesting figures when it comes to the number of guns in private circulation in the U.S.

The big numbers: 434 million firearms, 20 million “modern sporting rifles” such as AR-15s, and 150 million magazines which are considered in eight or nine states to be “high capacity.”


More in my column at Guns.com.

You know the C20, eh?

The Colt Canada-produced C20 semi-automatic Intermediate Sniper Weapon is being acquired for the Canadian Army in small numbers.

Produced domestically by Colt Canada in Kitchener, Ontario, the semi-automatic C20 has an 18-inch barrel with a 1-in-10 twist and is reportedly pretty friggen accurate. Testing showed the rifle to fire 8,000 rounds with no stopping and deliver an average of .66 MOA over 144 five-round groups using 175-grain Federal Gold Medal Match.

The overall length on the C20 is 38-inches while weight is 9.1-pounds. It has a 46-slot continuous MIL-STD-1913 top rail and a handguard with M-LOK accessory slots in the 3-, 6-, and 9-o’clock positions. (Photo: Colt Canada)

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Don’t miss those gun registration windows…

A Soldier serving overseas while his home state of record updated their regulations on owning certain firearms says he was left inadvertently in violation of the law.

“I recently returned to Connecticut and contacted the state police because I thought there must be some legal provision that allowed a returning veteran to register their weapon and legally exercise their constitutional right,” he told me, when he went to register the AR-15 he bought in the state in 2011, but had been banned in 2014 while he was in Korea.

“I found out that there was no such provision.”

More in my column at Guns.com.

End of the line for VEPR?

A classic Molot VEPR in .308 with the long 22-inch barrel and Counter Sniper Mil-Dot 4-16x44mm optic with illuminated reticle. Now more expensive than ever!

Back in January, I spoke at length with people over at Molot who were working hard on extending their exports of VEPR rifles and shotguns to the U.S. They were hopeful that the new Trump administration would be friendly to lifting some sanctions on Russian-based companies. Russian-made firearms were popular export items to the states until the conflict in the Ukraine and the resulting international backlash triggered a host of official embargos.

Per figures from the International Trade Commission, 204,788 firearms of all kinds were imported from Russia in 2013.

This figure plunged to just 9,556 in 2015 — mainly from Molot, the only large firearms maker not named in sanctions.

Well, it looks like that figure is going to be a lot lower in 2018…

Will Russian AKs and Korean war surplus M1s come ashore post-Trump?


Some are hopeful the new management in Washington will be able to lift barriers to overseas firearm imports erected over the years, though the going could be slow.

President Donald Trump on Friday said it was “very early” to tell if the United States should lift sanctions on Russia, but that he seeks a “great relationship” with Putin and Russia.

On the campaign trail, Trump’s platform on trade concentrated on American jobs while floating the possibility of a tariff on all imported goods to help ease the current trade deficit. However, the Republican’s position on gun rights promised to curtail federal gun bans and limits. The two concepts, when balanced against one another, leaves open the possibility of action on foreign-made guns currently off-limits to buyers in the U.S.

I talked to industry insiders on both sides of the pond, the ATF, and the International Trade Commission to get the scoop on if bans going back to the 1960s could be reshaped.

More in my column at Guns.com

The all-seeing eye (of the networked FFL)

Go ahead, tell me you wouldn't shop there...

Go ahead, tell me you wouldn’t shop there…

Following the news that the terrorist in the Orlando attack was able to legally purchase his firearms from a local store after he was turned down by one licensed dealer just days before, I spoke a couple weeks ago with software developer and long-time gun owner Seth Banks who came up with an idea that gun shops could help network to keep this from happening in the future.

The idea is simple. A private network for verified Federal Firearms Licensees to share and report incidents they have with suspicious buyers, and communicate with each other. When one shop in the network posts an alert, other dealers within driving distance are alerted via email, in-app notification, and/or text message.

“FFLs deny gun purchases for all sorts of reasons; including mental health, straw sales, intoxication, violent comments in the store, etc. … FFLs are on the front line protecting our community from bad actors already. Why not make their jobs easier?” Banks argued.

And with that Gun Shop Watchlist was formed.

More in my column at Guns.com

What IS an Assault Weapon?

With all this talk about assault weapons, let’s look at what they are talking about. Just what makes something an ‘assault weapon’ and how does this term compare to the concept of what lawmakers are looking to regulate.

The first true assault rifle was born in 1943 Germany. Invented by firearms engineer Hugo Schmeisser, it was a select-fire (either full auto or semi-auto at the flick of a switch) rifle that fired an intermediate caliber round (larger than a pistol but shorter than a rifle round), and had a large detachable magazine that could be changed quickly. This gun was dubbed the StG44 or ‘storm rifle model 44’ and was a crucial addition to the German arsenal in the end of World War Two.

This rifle was very popular and the Soviets soon had a modified version they adopted a few years later as the AK-47. The current assault rifle of the US military is the M4A1 carbine, which has a select-fire trigger, 14.5-inch barrel, and can fire at 750-rounds per minute until its ammunition is exhausted. For a private citizen to own one of these types of weapons, it has to be made before 1986 as the Hughes Amendment banned production of select-fire weapons for private sales that year. Even if a ‘pre-86’ gun is available, they run upwards of $10K and take 3-6 months to transfer from a Class III dealer after an extensive ATF approval process that includes a $200 tax stamp.

AKS-74U ‘Krinkov’ of the Russian Army. It is 19-inches long with a 8.3-inch barrel and fires 30 rounds of 5.45x39mm at about 700 rounds per minute. Its a true assault rifle…..now lets talk about the mythical creature that is an ‘assault weapon’…..

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com