Tag Archives: Second Amendment

Your pistol brace countdown starts today

In the predawn hours on Tuesday morning, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives published its final Stabilizing Braces rule in the Federal Register. 

With an effective date of Jan. 31, 2023, the new 98-page rule, unless successfully challenged in the courts, will fundamentally outlaw the use of pistol stabilizing braces in their current form, instead reclassifying large format handguns so equipped with one as a short-barreled rifle to be regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934. 

Federal regulators have classified the accessories since 2012 as being compliant with the NFA, and Congressional Research Service estimates run as high as 40 million braces in circulation. 

“Any weapons with ‘stabilizing braces’ or similar attachments that constitute rifles under the NFA must be registered no later than May 31, 2023,” notes ATF. Alternatives include handing the firearm over to the agency, destroying it, converting the pistol to a normal rifle with a barrel at least 16 inches long, or “permanently” removing the brace so that it can’t be reattached. 

The modern brace as introduced and extensively patented by SB Tactical came about after USMC and Army veteran Alex Bosco went shooting with a disabled combat vet who was having such a hard time shooting on the range that the RSO stopped him over safety concerns due to lack of control. Bosco then created the prototype for the brace in his garage and submitted the design to ATF for approval. 

In a November 2012 letter from the agency, regulators at the time noted: 

The submitted brace, when attached to a firearm, does not convert that weapon to be fired from the shoulder and would not alter the classification of a pistol or other firearm. While a firearm so equipped would still be regulated by the Gun Control Act … such a firearm would not be subject to NFA controls.

The new rule seems to only be popular with a minority of gun control advocates and the White House. By the ATF’s own admission, of the 237,000 comments logged over the proposed rule last year, “There were over 217,000 comments opposed to aspects of the rule.”

There are sure to be legal challenges to the new rule by firearms industry groups and Second Amendment organizations. As for SB Tactical, they said on Monday, “We are still here and have not left you. At this point, we have to let the legal team do what they have been preparing to do for a very long time. Nothing is over, and we are still in the fight. More to come soon.”

La Tragedie…or Non-conformite?

The French Interior Ministry, on the basis that the country had as many as six million unregistered firearms in public hands, recently sought to get them surrendered. 

This gun “surplus” in the government’s eyes came due to several factors. A crossroads of large-scale military campaigns going back centuries– the first recorded European battle where cannons were used was at Crecy in Northern France in 1346– the country has seen most of the modern armies of the continent fight their way across its soil at one time or another, leaving lots of gear behind. Added to this was an extensive underground Resistance army that swelled to 400,000 freedom fighters equipped by Allied weapon drops during World War II, which saw many guns quietly squirreled away afterward, just in case. Finally, the country saw a vibrant and active shooting sports community that, in more recent years, has declined. 

Now, to get those “off-record” inherited or heirloom guns either recorded on the government’s books or destroyed, the French government held a nationwide “amnesty” for armes héritées et trouvées” or “legacy and found weapons.” The event, held from Nov. 25 through Dec. 2 at more than 300 locations, allowed individuals to bring in undeclared guns and either relinquish them or register them with the government, joining the growing list of 5 million firearms already documented. 

In other words, the event wasn’t aimed at getting guns out of the hands of criminals, but out of the average resident’s closet and garage. 

In all, only some 150,000 firearms and 4 million rounds of ammunition were abandoned while another 50,000 guns were registered, falling far short of the government’s estimate of six million, meaning that non-compliance among many off-book gun owners remains high.

Still, some of the guns turned in were amazing.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Trick or Treat: CMP Just Extended 1911 Lottery Round 3

I was lucky enough last year, after a four-month wait (and six years of writing about it), to get in on the 2nd Round of CMP M1911 lottery guns– and I love my gun!

The M1911A1 has a Colt GI Military frame, SN 904594, of 1943 production with GHD inspector’s stamp (left) complete with a dummy mark (!) and ordnance wheel/US Property/M1911A1 US Army stamps on the right.

Rather than the original slide, it has a “hard” GI replacement slide with FSN (Federal Stock Number) #7790314 M (magnaflux inspection) TZ (IMI Israeli, who supplied such slides under contract to the U.S.) with a minty chrome-lined barrel marked with FSN #7791193 91. The plastic grips have “24” rack number.

A FOIA shows that it was still in circulation with a unit somewhere until 2010 when it was sent to AAD for a decade of storage prior to being sent to CMP

Well, the CMP just extended the 3rd round for the next batch of 10,000 guns.

It had been set to accept packets postmarked in September but now it looks like the new cutoff date is October 31, 2022.

So if you haven’t gotten yours in yet and missed out on the first two rounds, now is your chance.

Background on the CMP M1911 Program

One of the biggest boondoggles has been the Army’s repeated attempt at getting rid of its M1911 .45 ACP pistols. With over 2 million made, the classic “Government Issue” pistol was the staple of American fighting men in both world wars as well as Korea and Vietnam. The Army, after trying and failing in the 1950s and 60s to replace the old warhorse with a more compact 9mm that held more ammunition, finally managed to pull it off in 1985 with the adoption of the M9 Beretta. By then, even the newest of the M1911s in stock had been manufactured and delivered in 1945, making them downright elderly. Nonetheless, the military still used the single-action .45 throughout the Cold War and into the Global War on Terror, as the gun remained much-loved by commando types– Special Forces A-teams were still carrying it in Afghanistan post-9/11.

However, even SOCOM eventually put the old M1911 out to pasture, replaced by easier-to-maintain Glocks and SIGs. This left the Army in 2016 with about 100,000 guns still left in storage at Anniston Army Depot, with a cost of about $1.5 million a year to keep clean and dry. This led to a push from the Congressman who represented the Anniston area to donate the guns to CMP for sale and, by 2018, Congress had approved the transfer at a rate of 10,000 pistols per year provided the organization carefully secured the guns (including building a $700,000 handgun vault) and meticulously managed how they were sold– more on the latter in a minute.

This led to a lottery system that the CMP has used since late 2018 to sell the M1911s portioned out to the organization by the Army. The process is simple, with the applicant filling out an eight-page packet similar to that for an M1 Garand and mailing it to their Anniston office.

Once approved, the CMP will email the applicant a number randomly assigned in the current year’s drawing and then the fun begins with about 800 or so pistols shipped out each month.

When the lucky applicant’s number comes up, they will get a call from a usually very chipper young woman with the CMP and be told what grades are available at the time, ranging from Rack grade ($1,050) to Field grade ($1,150) to Service grade ($1,250) of which all will be functional, historic guns. There is also a Range grade for $1,100 that has been modified– usually by Army unit armorers while in service– to contain a lot of commercial aftermarket parts. Like the Garands sold through CMP, the M1911s will typically have been rebuilt a time or two either by unit armorers or Army arsenals since 1945 and usually will have mix-matched parts, for instance with a Colt-marked slide, Ithaca barrel, and Remington frame.

During that call, you can ask for a particular manufacturer (Colt, Ithaca, etc.) and may get lucky, if they have it in stock. Then, after paying, it will arrive at your FFL in a matter of days, complete with a single magazine and a reprint of the Army field manual on the gun, often all inside a very nice CMP-branded Pelican case.

A few things to be aware of is that, unlike the M1 Garand program, CMP is required to ship the M1911s to an FFL, so the transaction is much like buying an out-of-state gun from Gunbroker, Armslist, or Guns.com in that respect. Further, as the packet is only entered after the CMP does a NICS background check on the buyer, at least two such checks are done. This is part of the extra scrutiny that the Army wanted CMP to agree to before sending over the pistols.

There have been two rounds of lotteries done thus far, with a bit over 20,000 guns sold, and CMP just recently completed the enrollment period for the third round at the end of September 2022. It is likely the fourth round will occur sometime in late 2023, so stay tuned for that.

Is the price that CMP sets a lot of money for an M1911? Not if you want a legit Army surplus gun it isn’t as such pieces often resell for twice that much. If you want just an inexpensive M1911 GI pistol to bang around at the range, you may be better off with an imported clone such as a Turkish-made Tisas or Philippine-made Rock Island, either of which can typically be had for around $450-$500 but don’t have any history attached.

Kimber Sending Makos to Ukraine

Alabama-based Kimber is donating 9mm pistols and .308 Winchester-caliber rifles to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

The company announced on Wednesday it is inspired by the courage of the Ukrainian people in their struggle against an ongoing military invasion from neighboring Russia and is ready to help.

“The people of Ukraine are enduring tremendous hardships and are in need of support from around the world,” said Leslie Edelman, Kimber owner and CEO.

In terms of support, Edelman says Kimber is sending 200 R7 Mako 9mm subcompact pistols (my current EDC for the past several months), 10 Advanced Tactical rifles in .308 Win., and 10 bolt-action rifles in .308 Win. Each rifle will include two magazines and a replacement firing pin assembly while the Makos will ship with 800 extra 13-round magazines.

While shipping such pistols to a modern European combat zone seems curious at first, handguns are in common use as sidearms for officers, specialists, pilots, and heavy weapons operators.

Of note, the Mako is roughly comparable in size to the PM Makarov, long a standard pistol in Eastern European service, while offering a higher magazine capacity and a more effective cartridge.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

SUB2000s in Ukraine?

Florida-based firearms maker KelTec made the most of a sudden surplus of 9mm carbines and donated them to Ukraine. 

Adrian Kellgren, director of industrial production at KelTec– and son of the company’s legendary founder, George Kellgren– told local media the company was recently left with a $200,000 order for SUB2000 carbines. The original order, to a longtime vendor in the Black Sea Ukrainian port city of Odesa, was unpaid for, and the vendor was unable to be contacted.

The 400 9mm carbines had been ordered last year, but by the time the red tape cleared the client was unable to accept them and Ukraine is now fighting off a Russian invasion– with enemy troops closing in on Odesa. The solution hit on by Kellgren was to donate the guns to the Ukrainian government to aid in the resistance to the invasion. 

Introduced in 2001, the KelTec SUB2000 9mm pistol-caliber carbine is now in its second generation. Lightweight at just 4-pounds while still retaining a 16.1-inch barrel, it folds in half for easy storage and transport, able to be carried in a pack.

The SUB2000, while not a frontline weapon by any means, can for example fill a role with static defense/home guard-style units posted at local infrastructure to keep an eye out for sabotage, or in guarding POWs, of which there seems to be an increasing amount.

Post-9/11 M1911s Downrange

Other than a couple of heirlooms that are steeped in family history, the most cherished firearm in my collection is the Colt M1911A1 mixmaster that I received through the Civilian Marksmanship Program via the “Army’s attic” at Anniston Army Depot.

I just refer to it as “No.24” for obvious reasons. Gotta love the 19-year old PFC that probably put the dummy mark on it…

So far about 20,000 of these veteran pistols have been transferred to the CMP over the past few years from the Army’s stockpile of about 100K held in long-term arsenal storage at Anniston. The guns, remnants of more than two million produced for the Army between 1912 and 1945, were withdrawn from front-line duty in the mid-1980s, replaced by the M9 Beretta.

However, to be clear, some of these guns were very much in recent 21st-century martial service.

Retired Green Beret Jeff Gurwitch covers the “re-adoption” of the M1911A1 by U.S. Special Forces after 9/11 in the below very interesting video. The half-hour piece covers the timeline, how it was employed, accessories, and its performance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tip for the Week: Get Right on Your Mags

While ammo prices are still sky-high– if you can find it (anyone seen a box of .38 SPL lately?)– and firearms themselves are slowly coming back down to normal, probably the most affordable accessory on the market today that could someday, with little notice, vanish, are detachable magazines.

Metal or plastic, look for those mag deals now, kids, and keep em clean.

I’ve been picking up Okay Industries aluminum mags for $8 (with no tilt followers and textured bodies) and Magpul PMAGs for like $10. Likewise, factory Glock doublestacks are running $20 ish. If you have an HK G3/ HK 91 pattern battle rifle, you can grab West German surplus mags for $3 (yes, three dollars).  

To reiterate: you should still be buying magazines. They’re so cheap and so plentiful right now it’s crazy. I am old enough to remember during the 1994-2004 Federal Assault Weapon Ban when a clapped out USGI mag was $75 in Clinton-era dollars.

Don’t be caught unprepared if that happens again. Eger warned you.

Just 5 Days Left to Get Brace Comments In

Ironically, the rule would allow you to keep this pistol, just get rid of the base, because, somehow, “the brace is what makes it dangerous”

The public comment period on a plan by the White House and federal gun regulators to crack down on the legal use of stabilizing pistol braces is closing in the coming days. 

The proposed rulemaking by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives largely bans the use of popular stabilizing braces on pistols by proffering a complicated multi-part test to determine if large-format handguns equipped with such braces could stray into being illegal short-barreled rifles.

The comment period is open until Sept. 8 and, as of Thursday morning, only had 149,960 comments listed. By comparison, almost twice as many comments were logged on the ATF’s proposed rule change on firearm frames and receivers, which ended last month.

Keep in mind that there are as many as 40 million braces in circulation right now, meaning only like 0.37 % of brace owners have taken five minutes to weigh in on the issue. My bet is that most don’t know what is coming, which could be bad for them. Like 10 years in prison kinda bad.

Submit your comments in these easy steps:

  1. Visit regulations.gov using this hyperlink
  2. Click the “Comment” button on the “Proposed Rule”
  3. Explain how it would affect you in a reasoned, polite comment that specifically says that you are opposed, or somehow in support of, the rule. 
  1. Enter your e-mail address (scroll down)
  2. Fill out the “Tell us about yourself” section
  3. Hit submit

The Pistol Brace Test is a Stone Cold Nightmare

With a 71-page proposed rule to clarify when attached stabilizing brace accessories convert pistols into illegal short-barreled rifles now open for public comment, we disastrously attempted to apply it.

In a test with a pair of unloaded large-format AR-style pistols, I sat down with my buddy Ben Philippi to honestly wade through the minefield of potential disqualifiers on proposed ATF Form 4999 to determine if a pistol/brace combos selected– which are legal now– would continue to be so should the rule goes into effect as-is.

And it didn’t work out very well.

The proposed rulemaking, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces” as of June 24, has 102,000 public comments.

The last day to file comments is Sept. 8.

Kafkaesque Pistol Brace Rules Released

There are between an estimated 3 and 7 million (that’s a big swing) stabilizing braces on the market right now, all of which got there after the SB15 brace was released just a decade ago. ATF has been notoriously squishy on the legality of braces, especially at the intersection of its use on a handgun to the point that it turns a pistol into an illegal short-barreled rifle or SBR. Unregistered SBRs can get you a dime in the federal hoosgow.

You sitting in the federal hoosgow, looking to trade a pack of mackerel fillet to make unwanted friends in the shower:

“What are you in for?” says the broker

“I added a plastic stock that is not a stock to my pistol and the ATF found out and, it turns out, they ruled it was a stock,” says you.

“That mack got soybean oil or water?”

“Water…”

Zipppppp

Anyway, to keep clear of just what is illegal or not, the DOJ today released a proposed rule that is so simple it has a 71-page explainer to it. It includes a new ATF form (#4999), a two-sheeter that walks you through if your pistol with a brace on it is legal, or an SBR in three easy-to-figure-out sections.

Heavier than 64 ounces and between 12 and 26 inches? Boom, just failed Section I on ATF 4999, head to Section II.

There, if you earn a maximum of three points, proceed to Section III. Have over four points, and you are out of compliance and have an extremely dangerous SBR. So dangerous it only magically becomes safe for the public to own after you pay a $200 tax and wait 10 months for the paperwork to clear. 

At Section III, you can earn a maximum of three more points to keep your brace/pistol combo legal. Four or more, which can be earned even by installing “peripheral accessories” that would show you “intend to shoulder” your pistol, such as a bipod and/or short eye relief optics, or BUIS sights and it’s an SBR even if you passed Section II.

Sounds “simple”, right?

Check out these three examples in the proposed rule. One is (barely) legal, with 3 points in both Sections II & III; the second is an SBR, with 8 and 5 points in each section, and the third is also hot with a combination of 23 points on the worksheet.

 

The thing is, the photos, to the average user, look almost identical.

It is almost as if the feds want to make it so complicated and sow so much confusion and angst over the legal use of braces that most gun owners won’t even bother in an abundance of caution.

HEYYYY-OH!

Worse, what about the average gun owner who bought one of these, legally, at their local gun store thinking it was neat or cool, then they take it to the range five years from now (the proposed rule has no grandfathering) and a picture from that trip makes it to social media and someone casually tags the ATF in it. 

Oof. 

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