What’s So Bad About Owning Lots of Guns?

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              Back in the 1970’s when I lived in South Carolina, my house was located about a half mile from a sand pit which measured some 200 yards across. Maybe three times a week, I would go out to my garage, load up 50 rounds of 357 magnum, 9mm or 45scp, and then take either my Colt Python, or my Browning Hi-Power, or my Colt 1911, go out to the pit and blast away.

              Over a three-year period I shot 20,000 rounds or more, every one of those rounds handloaded on my own ammunition press. It probably ran me about three bucks for 50 rounds, which was primarily the cost of the powder (I used Hercules 2400 rifle powder) and the primers since I made the bullets myself by melting down wheel weights, molding the lead and re-using the brass.

              Those same 50 rounds manufactured by Remington or Federal or Winchester would have run about fifteen bucks. So not only was my handloaded ammo much cheaper, but it performed better because every round was carefully loaded by hand.

              When I reloaded ammo, I was engaged in an activity which made shooting for me not just a hobby but an art. I never thought of my guns as self-defense ‘tools,’ or weapons of any sort. Handloading ammunition and trying to produce the most accurate round was no different than how guys took clay and shaped a landscape around which they ran their model trains.

              And by the way, back in the day if you went to a model train show, or a ham radio show, or a gun show, you saw the same guys.

              A reader recently tipped me off to an organization, The Cast Bullet Association, whose members are still doing what I did back in South Carolina fifty years ago. The group was founded in 1976, the exact same year that I started handloading, and the picture above is the presentation of a trophy to the Grand National Champion at the 44th annual national tournament held in Kansas City in September 2021.

              You’ll note that last year’s champion and the presenter of the trophy, the organization’s Vice President, are both real youngsters just like me. The group doesn’t conduct any kind of demographic survey, but I suspect that if I were to show up at one of their events I would be seen as just another kid, even though I’m 77 years of age.

              I just finished reading the CBA’s most recent Newsletter which runs some 40 pages, and on the very last page there is a brief statement of the organization’s purpose which contains these words: “Conducting the Associations affairs in a manner which presents a favorable impression of the private ownership of firearms to the general public and to otherwise support the citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.”

              This sentence is the only commentary in the entire Newsletter (the same words can be found in a page on the website) which says anything about gun politics or anything else having to do with gun ‘rights’ at all. People join this organization because they want to share knowledge about a hobby and a passion which like all hobbies and passions has its own language, its own culture, and its own lore.

              Several years ago, our good friends at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center published an article in which they found that a relatively small number of gun owners owned more and more of the guns. They referred to this group as ‘super hoarders,’ and the article got Gun-control Nation all in a tizzy because here were these guys, some of whom owned hundreds of guns. Since gun-control advocates can’t imagine owning even one gun, how come there are people out there who own fifty guns or more?

              I happen to be one of those guys. Right now, I have somewhere around 60 personally-owned guns lying around. I’m kind of light. Ask me why I have all these guns sitting upstairs, downstairs, every which way stairs, I’ll think for a moment and then say, “Because I like guns.”

              Ask someone why he is a member of an organization which promotes casting your own bullets and you’ll get the same response. The guy likes guns, and he likes making the ammunition for some of those guns. He also likes the idea that he can test his ammo-making competence by taking out one of his guns, loading it with his homemade ammo and put three shots in an inch-wide circle at 100 yards.

              Maybe one of these days my good friends in Gun-control Nation will begin to understand that paying the ATF to regulate the behavior of gun nuts like me and gun nuts like the members of the Cast Bullet Association is a waste of money and time.

              Mind you, I’m not holding my breath. I wouldn’t look very healthy if all of a sudden, I turned blue.

What’s More Important During A Pandemic?


              Want one of the dumbest statements made all time by someone representing the gun industry? Try this brief interview of Mark Oliva, chief spieler for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) last week on – where else? – Fox News. He was asked to comment on what has been a shortage of ammunition over the last year as the ammo makers have had some issues catching up with the surge in gun sales.

              Actually, it’s not so much that there’s no ammo on the shelves, but the prices are a lot higher than they were a year ago and don’t look like they will be going back down anytime soon or maybe at all. I used to pay around $30 bucks for a 500-pak of 22-caliber ammo at a nearby Wal Mart store; now they want $42 for the same 500 rounds.

              So why is ammo flying off the shelves? Because everyone is stocking up on all necessity items thanks to Covid-19.  To get this point across the NSSF spieler reminded viewers of how nobody could find toilet paper on the shelves last year.

              “When people get scared,” he said, “they want to make sure they can get their hands on everything they need, so demand always jumps ahead of supply. Last year it was toilet paper, this year it’s ammunition.”

              Now I ‘m sitting here trying to figure this out. People get scared. Fine. People begin to think that in order to protect themselves they want to be sure they have all the things they really need.

              Do we really need toilet paper? Well, kind of, I guess. Although when I lived in Spain in the early 1970’s, it was not uncommon to walk into a public toilet or even into someone’s home bathroom and find the Sunday newspaper cut in strips that allowed it to be used to wipe one’s rear end.

              But this is the United States of America and toilet paper isn’t just something we need, it’s something we buy because it has a soft texture, a matching color and if you really want to get fancy, you can order it with your initials nicely printed on each square.

              Think I’m kidding? Grandma received a carton of monogrammed toilet paper that she ordered from Bloomingdale’s every month. It was still being delivered to her apartment even though she had quietly and peacefully passed on the previous year.

              Bur let’s not kid ourselves. Toilet paper, monogrammed or not, is considered an essential item and it didn’t come as a surprise when it began disappearing from store shelves last year.

              But ammunition?  Since when has ammunition become a product that we all have to have? Since when do I need ammunition to do anything except fool around with one of my guns?
              Oh, I forgot. Darn it – I’m getting old and forgetful. How could I not understand why people need to stock up on ammunition during a worldwide pandemic which is still not yet under control? Because as everyone knows, we don’t need no stinkin’ mask to keep ourselves safe. We need a gun filled with ammunition because that’s why we own guns.

              Except the truth is that guns don’t keep us safe. Yea, yea, I know how every once in a while, some dope barges into a mini-mart, demands all the cash and then finds himself staring down the barrel of a Glock or a Sig. And there’s even a slight chance that the guy hanging around the ATM will think twice about harassing the other guy pulling money out of the machine if the guy using the machine also cranks out his gun.

              But the guy behind the mini-mart counter and the guy at the ATM have to take those guns home at night and that’s when the trouble begins. Because sooner or later he’ll forget to lock the gun away and don’t’ ask me how, and don’t ask me why, but it just so happens that the time he forgot to lock away the gun is when his teenage son wants to show ‘Daddy’s gun’ to a friend.

              You don’t need all that ammo because you really don’t need the gun.

It’s The Ammunition, Stupid.


Was it Jeff Cooper who said, ‘there’s nothing as useless as an unloaded gun?’ Maybe it was Bill Jordan. Anyway, I have never really understood why my friends in Gun-control Nation get all hot and bothered about regulating guns but almost never seem to be concerned about the ammunition which goes into the gun.

This issue came home to me yesterday when a judge in California stopped the state from enforcing a law requiring gun owners in the Golden State to pass a background check before purchasing ammunition for their guns. He said the law violated 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The head of the Brady Campaign said the ruling was ‘contrary to what the Framers intended.’ And I thought the daily CONOVID-19 briefing from the White House was a lot of hot air. The statements by Judge Benitez and Kris Brown from Brady are just as far off the mark.

When the law called Proposition 63 was passed in 2016, it did some good things. It banned high-capacity gun magazines, it also contained a provision penalizing anyone who didn’t report a lost or stolen gun. But the law also exempted reloaded (i.e., home-made) ammunition from any controls, which basically nullified the law’s intent.

If you are going to require that someone pass a background check to buy ammunition, all you are doing is telling the bad guys to go out and make their own ammo, or go to a shooting range and buy reloaded rounds. For that matter, anyone in California can drive to a neighboring state and buy all the ammunition they need. My state, Massachusetts, requires a background check for purchasing ammunition, but I can drive into New Hampshire and load up with ammo (and fireworks), no questions asked.

That being said, I nevertheless don’t understand how Judge Benitez could find Prop. 63 to be an infringement on the 2nd Amendment when the government has always been given authority to regulate the ownership and sale of explosive devices, which is what ammunition happens to be. Now maybe the explosion that occurs when the firing pin of a gun hits the primer of a 9mm round doesn’t create the same degree of noise or destructive power caused by a stick of dynamite going off, but it’s an explosion, nonetheless.

Here’s how the ATF defines explosive device: “Explosive materials are any chemical compound, mixture, or device, the primary or common purpose of which is to function by explosion. The term includes, but is not limited to, dynamite and other high explosives, black powder, pellet powder, initiating explosives, detonators, safety fuses, squibs, detonating cord, igniter cord, and igniters” Now take a look at the bottom of a handgun round, let’s say 9mm or 45acp. The little, round cap in the middle of the shell’s base is called the primer, and it happens to be an igniter because when it is struck by a firing pin it explodes inside the casing, ignites the powder and the round goes – boom!

Has anyone ever said that the ATF’s regulation of igniters is a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ For that matter, is there any mention anywhere in the Constitution about any kind of ammunition at all? Last time I looked at the 2nd Amendment it says something about keeping and bearing ‘arms.’ Doesn’t say anything about ammo – not a single word.

There is nothing in the Constitution that gives any guidance about whether or not ammunition should be regulated the way we regulate guns. But the courts have been very clear over the years in defining governmental authority to set limits on how we behave and what we can buy based on the compelling state interest doctrine, otherwise known as keeping the community safe. El Schmuck-o Trump learned that one in spades last week.

Next time my friends in Gun-control Nation run one of their surveys to see whether gun owners like or dislike ‘reasonable’ gun laws, maybe they should throw in a question about whether background checks should be carried out for all purchases of ammunition as well. I know the answer to that one.

Glen Artis: Tips and Tricks for Reloaders.


We all love going to the range to practice our aim or to simply keep our trigger fingers busy. Problem is ammo is expensive, and you need lots of it if you frequent the range. So how do you ensure you have a constant supply of ammunition at the lowest cost possible?

Purchasing a progressive reloading press is the best way to do it. With a progressive reloading press, you will need to stock on primers, powder, and bullets. More importantly, though, is the reloading press you decide to splash money on.

While there are several different types of reloading presses, the progressive reloading press is the best. These types of presses are capable of producing 400 rounds per hour. Also, they offer precision and efficiency that is hard to come by with other types of reloading presses. 

That being said, here are five useful tips on how to pick out the best progressive reloading press in a saturated market. 

Ease of use

There are three main types of reloading presses, single-stage, turret, and progressive reloading presses. Of the three progressive reloading presses are the most complex. As such, they tend to be a handful for beginners.

Nevertheless, some of the progressive reloading presses available today are easier to use and assemble than others. Depending on your level of experience, it may help to invest in a press that is a bit easier to use than most.

Question is, how do you know a reloading press will be easy to use or assemble? The general rule of thumb is that presses with fewer moving parts are easier to use.

The production rate

The production rate or reloading rate is the number of rounds a press can produce within a given time, typically in an hour. This factor is dependent on several things key among them, the automatic indexing feature.

So should you go for a reloading press with an automatic indexing feature or one without? Typically, those with automatic indexing have a higher production rate. However, this is not necessarily a good thing.

To understand why we need to delve a little bit into machines with automatic indexing. Presses with this feature will automatically size, prime, operate powder measure, and seat a bullet. Those that lack this feature have to be manually operated.

A manual press gives you more freedom to scrutinize the entire process, as nothing happens without your contribution. This is beneficial for beginners, but if you have experience with progressive reloading press, the automatic indexing feature will be a big plus.

Caliber changing system

When you have different caliber bullets to reload, you will need to make changes to your reloading press. This is where the caliber changing system comes in. This is another aspect that affects a reloader’s production rate.

If you frequent the range and want to produce a large amount of rounds, consider a reloading press with a caliber changing system.

Number of stations

Progressive reloading presses feature different numbers of stations, with each station having a unique function. On average progressive reloading presses can have anywhere between 3 and 8 stations.

The more the number of stations, the more simultaneous tasks can be performed. This translates to a higher production rate. However, most people can be sufficiently served by a press with 4 to 5 stations.

With 4 to 5 stations, you will be able to produce a substantial amount of either pistol or rifle ammunition. It is worth noting that presses with more stations cost more. Thus you may have to cough up to $1000 for a press with eight stations.


Progressive reloading presses cost between $300 and $1000. For most people, a $300 reloading press is sufficient. A pricier model will have extra features that allow you to do more. However, some of the features found on pricier models may not be practical to you. 

This is especially if you are generally inexperienced when it comes to using progressive reloading presses.


There are many different kinds of progressive reloading presses on the market, each with its pros and cons. When it comes down to it, the best progressive reloading press is the one that best suits you. If you are new to these types of presses, some of the more complex and pricier models may not be ideal for you. 

Don’t Ban Guns. Just Ban The Ammunition.


              Ever since my late friend Tony Scalia decided that the 2nd Amendment protected the personal ownership of guns, Gun-nut Nation has been falling over themselves reminding everyone that any attempt to regulate gun ownership is an infringement of their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Now the fact that a Constitutional Amendment isn’t a ‘right’ of any kind, so what?  It still sounds good.

              Meanwhile, the Scalia opinion does create some problems for Gun-control Nation because the last thing that any liberal wants to be accused of, is being against the Constitution. After all,  wasn’t it a very liberal Constitutional scholar, Sandy Levinson, who reminded us liberals that if we want to use the Constitution to protect free speech, we also have to use it to protect private ownership of guns?

              But it occurs to me that in all this talk about what the 2nd Amendment means or doesn’t mean, there’s one thing for sure that it doesn’t cover. Nowhere in the Constitution can we find the slightest mention of ammunition, and since it’s the ammunition which is what really causes all those gun injuries every year, who cares about whether or not everyone can walk around with a gun?  Just ban the ammunition for those guns; there’s absolutely no Constitutional protection for ammunition at all.

              Hey, wait a minute! How can you have a gun without ammo?  How can you use a gun without ammo?  I play around and shoot unloaded guns all the time. Last night I was watching one of my favorite movies, The Usual Suspects, and every time that Kevin Pollak (Hockney) or Stephen Baldwin (McManus) stuck his gun in someone’s face, I raised my Sig 226 and shot the guy dead.  I have probably pulled the trigger of my Sig or my Colt Python thousands of times sitting on my couch and nobody’s ever gotten hurt. You show me a gun-nut who doesn’t dry fire his guns all the time and I’ll show you a gun-nut whose wife made him sell all the guns.

              If you take the trouble to read Scalia’s Heller opinion, you’ll note that he makes a distinction between guns that have always been found in the home, as opposed to ‘unusual’ weapons; i.e., weapons of war. The former are protected by the 2nd Amendment, the latter not. So, in making a somewhat arbitrary definition of civilian versus military arms, his opinion rests on what he and other conservative judges call the ‘originalist’ interpretation of legal texts. But when it comes to the ammunition used by these so-called personally-owned guns, the argument falls flat on its face.

              The most popular ammunition caliber currently sold to civilians who own all those self-defense guns is the 9mm caliber, sometimes called 9×19, sometimes called 9mm Luger, but whatever it’s called, it was designed specifically for military use. The inventor of this caliber was Georg Luger, who also happened to be the inventor of the Luger pistol, a.k.a., the P-08. The gun and the ammunition were standard issue to the German Army from 1900 until 1943.

              Want the second most popular ammunition caliber? It is probably the 45acp round that was developed by John Browning for his Colt 1911 pistol, the military sidearm for the U.S. Army until 1976.  Both the 9mm and 45acp calibers were developed for one reason and one reason only – to give soldiers and other armed forces a highly-lethal round that could be carried in a handgun.  Now if anyone out there wants to claim that ammunition developed for the sole purpose of killing human beings is a ‘sporting’ round, go right ahead.

              It seems to me that if my friends in Gun-control Nation really want to get serious about reducing gun violence, they might consider coming up with a plan that will strictly regulate the ownership of ammunition because those products don’t have any Constitutional protection at all.

              Of course, I can just see my Gun-nut Nation friends starting to yell and scream about ‘threats’ to their ammunition ‘rights.’ Good. Let ‘em yell and scream.

Walmart Versus Shannon Watts: Guess Who Wins?


The announcement by Walmart that their stores will no longer sell handgun or assault-rifle ammunition is, if nothing else, a testimony to the hard work and energy of our friend Shannon Watts which has been on display now for the past six years. Shannon began a national gun-control campaign shortly after Sandy Hook focusing on women, particularly women with children, and using public spaces where most women could be found, namely, at the entrance to retail stores, Walmart being at the top of her list.

I remember seeing a group of red-shirted women from MOMS marching in front of the entrance to a Walmart store in 2015.  I had often seen other public advocacy efforts in front of this store, usually people asking shoppers to sign a petition to get someone on the ballot of the upcoming election in the nearby town. But I had never previously encountered anyone marching in front of any public space with messaging that had to do with guns.

Of course right now Shannon’s Walmart strategy has had plenty of help, unfortunately help of the wrong kind. Because until recently, mass shootings were still infrequent enough that if you gave it a couple of days, like any other natural disaster, the media would stop talking about it and public concerns about gun violence would subside. But lately, it seems like once every week a bunch of people get mowed down in a public space.

We’re not talking about an ‘epidemic’ of mass shootings, which means an event which creates a lot of injuries but occurs only from time to time. We are talking about something which, to quote our friend Katherine Christoffel, has become ‘endemic,’ i.e., it’s happening all the time.

The significance of Walmart’s announcement lies in the fact that retail chains tend to watch each other in the same way that drugstore chains are usually clustered where they can keep an eye on what each chain is promoting in a particular week. If overall revenues for Walmart don’t take a hit from this announcement, which I suspect they won’t, it would come as no surprise if other discount chains follow suit. And nobody, but nobody cared when the NRA whined about Walmart’s ‘shameful’ decision.

On the other hand, my friends in Gun-control Nation need to understand that the importance of Walmart’s announcement is much more a symbolic gesture rather than representing anything real. Not that symbols aren’t important – all advocacy relies on symbolic messaging to get their arguments across. But let’s not kid themselves into thinking that a decision by Walmart to pull out of the gun business will have any real impact on injuries from guns.

My gun shop is located less than a mile from a Walmart. The store was never a competitive element when it came to gun sales, because Walmart doesn’t sell handguns and never sold used guns of any kind. And generally speaking, what creates foot traffic in every gun retailing establishment are handguns and used guns of all sorts.

Where Walmart did hurt me was in ammunition sales because there was simply no way I could compete with a big-box’s pricing structure for a commodity as common as ammunition, particularly calibers bought in bulk, like 22LR for target shooting and shotgun shells. But these calibers don’t represent the type of ammo which trauma surgeons have to dig out of people’s chests or heads. I can guarantee you that if I were still doing retail ammunition sales, that within 30 minutes after Walmart’s announcement, my gun wholesaler would have contacted me with a ‘great deal’ on 9mm and 40 S&W rounds.

The real importance of the Walmart announcement is that it places the issue squarely where it belongs – on products that have nothing to do with sporting or hunting guns. In this respect, Shannon has won a major victory that pushes the gun business back to where it really belongs.

Commercial Ammunition: The Untold Story


From Ammo.com.

To understand how American citizens today can get their hands on ammo, which rolls off the same factory lines as those that supply the world’s largest militaries, it’s important to first understand how munitions technology developed. Starting in medieval Europe, on a battlefield where a mounted knight in armor could defeat almost any number of peasants, the development of more advanced and accurate ways to destroy enemy personnel and equipment by launching a projectile is one which combines trial and error, scientific ingenuity, and private enterprise. It’s a story of power and technology dating back to the 13th century, at the height of “the divine right of kings,” and tracks the subsequent diffusion of that power held by a chosen few as the individual became capable of breaking the state’s monopoly on violence.

The first recorded use of gunpowder appeared in Europe in 1247, although China had used gunpowder for centuries before that, mostly for fireworks. The cannon appeared nearly 100 years later in 1327, with a hand-sized version making its debut in 1364. The first ordnances were made of stone, and while it might have been theoretically possible for anyone to own one, this would have been outside the financial reach of anyone but the nobility.

Stone was quickly discarded as a source of materiel for one simple reason: It wasn’t effective against stone fortifications. Thus did the first ever arms race begin, as medieval armies sought ways to fire heavier and heavier projectiles. The first recorded example of a metal ball being fired from a hand cannon came in 1425, with the invention of the hand culverin and matchlock arquebus, which led to lead balls becoming the gold standard for projectiles. This is where we get the term “bullet” – boulette is French for “little ball.”

Ammunition remained largely the same for centuries: Little balls of metal virtually anyone could make. This was true until the invention of rifling in the mid-19th century. Even this invention was, at first, not terribly useful for military purposes. Not only did the barrels quickly become useless, but the barrels often could not be fitted with a bayonet. This made early rifles impractical for military use and mostly a bit of a toy. Not until the advent of progressive rifling (which came, depending on one’s point of view, fortuitously or not, in the middle of the U.S. Civil War), did rifles become practical for military, and also widespread civilian purposes.

Copper jacketed bullets arrived in 1882, but since then the development of both military and commercial ammo has largely been about degrees rather than revolutionary innovations like rifling. The same basic design for cartridges has been in place since the late 19th Century.

Advancing technology was likely a driver in the move toward ammunition produced for commercial purposes, rather than simply military use. While in the past, it was common to simply make lead balls in front of the fire as a family after dinner, making a modern rifle cartridge is far beyond the means of most people. Further, it requires safety procedures above and beyond simply molding lead balls.

What Is the Difference Between Civilian and Military Ammunition?

For the most part, the distinction between civilian and military ammunition is largely down to marketing. However, there are some important differences between civilian and military (often known as “milspec”) including:

Treaty Restrictions

All military ammunition is full metal jacket. There are military treaties requiring this on an international scale, beginning with the Hague Convention in 1899. Civilian ammo is not subject to such requirements and can be full metal jacket, composite, hollow point or any other configuration.

As a rule, civilian ammunition is designed to expand upon impact. Military ammo is not, due to treaty restrictions. Military ammunition frequently passes through a target with no serious damage, whereas civilian rounds are designed for “one shot, one kill.” This is not a purely humanitarian consideration: Wounded soldiers are a greater burden for an army than dead ones.

Climate Protection

Military ammunition comes with moisture sealant, while civilian ammunition does not. This is due to the wide array of climates that military ammunition might be used, as well as the fact that military ammunition might be stored for decades before it is actually used.


Military ammunition primers are harder than its civilian counterparts. This helps to prevent accidental discharges, the worst case scenario of which is when a weapon gets stuck in automatic fire mode.

Chamber Pressures

The chamber pressures are different between military and commercial ammunition, though the degree to which they are different varies significantly from one caliber to another. As an example, the  7.62x51mm NATO and the .308 Winchester are basically the same round, but the NATO(military) version has lower pressure.

Sometimes the military version of a round can be fired through a weapon chambered for the civilian version and vice versa – but sometimes the compatibility only works one way. For example, the military weapon can fire the civilian round, but the civilian weapon cannot fire the military round. Never assume that a military and civilian round and chamber are cross-compatible.


Civilian ammunition tends to be far more consistent in terms of its dimensions than military ammunition. Because every round simply must feed and fire properly, military ammo allows for looser tolerances than civilian ammunition.


Military ammunition casings tend to have thicker walls because, as a general rule, they are subject to higher pressures than civilian rounds.

It’s common for civilians to buy military ammunition, either because they want the particular qualities of that cartridge or because they simply want to get a deal on price. For the most part, there’s no problem with buying surplus ammo provided that your weapon can handle it. You should also examine the ammunition when you receive it — as stated above, it’s not uncommon for rounds to sit in storage for decades.

The Springfield Armory and Commercial Ammunition

Commercial Ammunition: How Ammo Went From the Military to the Civilian Market

Today, the Springfield Armory is a historic site. However, it used to produce the lion’s share of American military hardware and, through the secondary surplus market, a good deal of the commercial ammunition floating around. All told, the site manufactured ammunition from 1777 all the way until 1968. It was both the first federal armory and one of the first American factories dedicated to the manufacture of ammunition.

The use of the location for military training dates back to the colonial days, when George Washington personally scouted and approved of the site during the Revolutionary War. The entire city of Springfield was built around the armory, which wasn’t much to speak of at the time: Little more than an intersection of rivers and roads. These features, however, are what made the location optimal for the manufacture of weaponry for the war effort. What’s more, the Connecticut River provided a natural defense against naval attack.

Shays Rebellion attacked the Armory, but was unsuccessful, as the state militia was able to defend it from attack using grapeshot. The Armory started producing ordnance in 1793, which included everything from paper cartridges and musket balls all the way up to howitzers. Flash forward to the post-Civil War period, and for a brief time this was the only federal armory in operation after the destruction of Harpers Ferry. It produced the first firearm native to America, the Model 1795, a .69 caliber flintlock musket.

The Springfield Armory was a huge driver of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. This was part of the United States military’s need for replaceable parts on the battlefield under the theory that it was easier to replace parts than it was to repair weapons on the battlefield. In turn, this made it easier for the average person to own and maintain a firearm. No longer did one have to know anything about gunsmithing or pay a gunsmith to keep a weapon in good working order. Now one could simply replace parts as they broke down.

Commercial Ammunition in America: The Big Four

For clues to where the story of commercial ammunition comes from, it’s worth looking at the history of America’s oldest weapons and ammunition manufacturers: RemingtonSmith & WessonColt and Winchester. These are four American brands as iconic as Coca-ColaLevi’sMcDonald’s or General Motors. And they all play a role in the transformation of the arms industry from a martial enterprise into a commercial one.


Remington Arms is the oldest gunmaker and operates the oldest factory still making firearms and ammunition to this day. It is also the largest domestic producer of rifles and shotguns. Remington is responsible for the development of more cartridges than any other ammunition manufacturer in the world. As such, they are not just an early adopter in the world of commercial ammunition manufacturing and sales – they are also a world titan of commerce.

The transformation of Elijah Remington from a shooting enthusiast into a gunsmith gives us a bit of insight into commercial ammunition development. He designed his own flintlock rifle for a shooting competition. He didn’t win, but observers were so astonished with his custom-made weapon that offers started pouring in.

Weapons like the Remington Model 1858 were a big part of what won the West. Buffalo Bill Cody carried a modified version of this weapon, in the form of a New Model Army .44 with an ivory handle – which sold for $239,000 at auction in June 2012. Likewise, the Remington Rolling Block rifle helped to clear the West of buffalo, and it’s estimated that more of the American bison fell to this weapon than any other, along with the Sharps rifle.


The next big name to appear on the scene was Samuel Colt. While his company did not incorporate until 1855, his game-changing percussion revolver, the Colt Paterson, hit the markets in 1836. This was the first revolver and Colt held a monopoly on the production of revolvers through his patent until 20 years later. Unlike earlier weapons designed by Springfield specifically for the purpose of the military, Colt designed his weapon and then later, in an act of shrewd business, was able to sell his design to the United States military. While the innovative design was able to give troops some firepower advantage, the weapons were also notoriously unreliable in combat and were more suited for civilian purposes.

Colt’s New Model Revolving rifle, an attempt to port revolver technology to the rifle, was likewise a hit on the civilian market. It was the preferred weapon of armed guards on the Pony Express, particularly those guarding the extremely dangerous stretch between Independence, MO, and Santa Fe, NM. This particular leg never lost any mail.

Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson first began tinkering around with weaponry in 1852. The fruit of their labor was the Volcanic rifle. They were also the first company of note to develop a revolver after Samuel Colt’s patent expired in 1857.

The Civil War represents a turning point in the history of American commercial ammo. Many of the pistols carried by enlisted men, and officers alike, were purchased privately. What’s more, in middle of the war, modern rifling was invented, meaning that weapons became far more accurate, useful and deadly. Handloading became a far more niche hobby – and in any event, the innovation was mostly coming out of the Big Four. Though, it was also the post-Civil War period which saw the rise of wildcatting, where amateur gunsmiths and handloaders were finding ways to improve the commercial offerings on the market.

The post-Civil War period also saw both the United States military and civilian communities turning toward the final conquest of the Old West from the native population. While the impact of the United States Army on this cannot be overstated, it was armed American civilians who settled the West, and demand for weapons and ammunition was high.


It was also the period after the end of the Civil War that saw the entry of the final of the Big Four onto the scene: Winchester. The pre-history of Winchester lies in the first company incorporated by Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson, not to be confused with the famous company bearing their name to this day. Their original company was responsible for the Volcanic rifle, the world’s first repeating rifle. Known as Volcanic Repeating Arms Company, it was largely funded by Oliver Winchester. The pair left the company and it was reorganized as New Haven Arms Company, and then as Winchester Repeating Arms Company. While Winchester was the last entrant on the market, they quickly made up for lost time by debuting the Winchester rifle, which quickly earned the sobriquet “The Gun That Won the West.”

While the Winchester rifle saw action in the United States military during the series of conquests known collectively as the Indian Wars, it was an enormously popular civilian weapon, with a whopping 720,000 sold and built. The original Winchester rifle, the Model 1866 (nicknamed “the Yellow Boy”) saw high demand all the way to the end of the century, due to their low cost. The weapon continues production to this day and is approximately as synonymous with the Old West as a Stetson.

Its successor, the Model 1873, was the first Winchester rifle chambered for the 44-40. If the Winchester rifle was the Gun That Won the West, this was certainly the “Cartridge That Won the West.” The primary market for this round was not the military, but lawmen, settlers, and cowboys for the simple reason that it could be used in both a rifle and a pistol. This eliminated the need to carry two different types of ammunition at all times and was a genius stroke of both engineering and marketing on the part of Winchester. Their competitors quickly scrambled to release their own weapons chambered for this enormously popular round. The 44-40 is, among other things, known for killing more deer than any other cartridge.

The Decline of Commercial Ammunition Manufacturing in America

Commercial Ammunition: How Ammo Went From the Military to the Civilian Market

As with other sectors of the manufacturing economy, ammunition and weapons manufacturing went into deep decline, beginning in the late 1960s.

Somewhat ironically, the Springfield Armory was one of the first to go. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced to the public that the plant would close in 1968, because it was in his view “excess to the needs of the federal government,” believing that private arms suppliers would be more efficient.

Many of the outer parts of the Armory were sold off. The core of the campus became property of the City of Springfield and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the site is now a party of the National Park Service, known as Springfield Armory National Historic Site. Several former buildings of the campus are now home to the Springfield Technical Community College. The main building is the home of the Springfield Armory Museum, which houses the Benton Small Arms Collection.

Colt has a slightly different story. It ceased production entirely between 1945 and 1947, with several big retirements occuring at the end of the Second World War. However, the Springfield Armory’s destruction was a boon for Colt, as Secretary McNamara moved a lot of the business from the Armory over to Colt – which finally started seeing its profits fall after the budget cuts at the end of the Cold War.

It all began with a five-year strike. The Colt factory employees were organized by the United Auto Workers, one of the longest-lasting strikes in American history. Replacement workers took the line and there was a noticeable decline in the quality of arms, which negatively impacted the brand’s reputation. By the end of the strike, Colt was sold to a group of investors, the State of Connecticut, and the United Auto Workers. By 1992, the company declared bankruptcy. A boycott, organized in response to CEO Ron Stewart’s statements to the Washington Post that he would favor a federal permit system, didn’t help matters. In 2002, the company spun off its military, defense, and law enforcement wing entirely as Colt Defense. The company reunited in 2013, but declared bankruptcy again in 2015.

Winchester’s decline came in the late 1960s, largely due to a unionized workforce and the increased labor costs that come along with it. A number of hand-tooled weapons were discontinued because the company could not compete with the cast-and-stamped Remington competitors. Much of their product line had been replaced in 1963 and 1964. And for the commercial market, it was no longer seen as a prestige brand, but rather another company selling discount firearms for the mass market. Winchesters made after 1964 continue to be less valuable and less sought after than their earlier counterparts.

A labor dispute proved to be the beginning of the end for Winchester. The strike took place between 1979 and 1980, and ended with the company being sold to the employees as the U.S. Repeating Arms Company. It went bankrupt in 1989, and is now owned by Belgian firm Fabrique Nationale de Herstal. The New Haven plant closed in 2006. Winchester is now an ammunition brand owned by Olin Corporation. It does not produce its wares in Connecticut.

Smith & Wesson fared the best, perhaps, after being sold to American conglomerate Bangor Punta, who diversified the company’s products to include gun-related products such as holsters, as well as breathalyzers and handcuffs for law enforcement. The War on Drugs served to break the back of the company, as law enforcement agencies adopted GlockSig Sauer and Beretta. Between the years 1982 and 1986, Smith & Wesson profits fell by a whopping 41 percent, with ownership changing twice during the decade. A boycott organized in response to “smart guns” development nearly destroyed the company. Its current marketing is extremely commercial focused, with the main target being customers at big box stores.

Remington was able to weather the storm a little better than its competitors, in no small part because it was acquired by the DuPont Corporationduring the Great Depression. The manufacturing was moved from Connecticut to Arkansas, and from New York to Alabama. Nevertheless, the company took on hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and suffered from an increasingly diminished reputation among the commercial market.

The commercial ammunition market is now bigger than it’s ever been. Popular and common rounds can be purchased at just about any big box retailer in a state with a high degree of gun freedom. Smaller mom and pops have a smaller selection, but if what you need is common enough, you can get it there. Online retailers like us cater to virtually every ammunition need, from the common to the incredibly niche and obscure. And whatever the commercial market doesn’t cater to, handloaders and wildcatters can make.

It’s important to note that when reading the history of commercial ammunition manufacture in the United States and abroad, the commercial market takes a definite backseat to the military. Indeed, the downturns in military spending are a key factor in the downturn of American ammunition manufacturing in general. As unfortunate as it is to read, it’s simply the honest truth that the needs of the military shape the needs of the overall ammunition market in the 20th and 21st Century.

Wildcat Rounds: A Guide to Wildcatting and Customized Cartridges

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From Our Friends At Ammo.com.

Wildcat cartridges, sometimes referred to as simply “wildcats,” are custom-designed cartridges – meaning they are not mass produced, but instead made by individual shooters. The purpose of a wildcat is the cultivation of some attribute not sufficiently present in a commercially available round. Wildcats aren’t great for law enforcement or military purposes, but they aregreat for hardcore shooting aficionados, handloaders looking to take things to the next level, and gunsmiths who want to homebrew ammunition for their homebrew weapons.

The number of ways that a round can be wildcatted is theoretically endless, as there are thousands of wildcat cartridges created and available for gunsmiths and handloaders with a “can do” attitude. A wildcat round could be built from scratch from the ground up, but most are commercially modified. The equipment for reloaders and gunsmithing can frequently be found through the same distributors, which is another reason why shooters who are into one are frequently into the other. The wildcatting hobby is, unsurprisingly, concentrated in the United States.

A Brief History of Wildcat Cartridges

The term “wildcat” is derived from the same source as the other meaning of the term – a labor strike not authorized by the union brass. Wildcatting probably began after the American Civil War, when the .30-06 was considered by most shooters to be the only round that a hunter was going to need. American ingenuity and innovation, however, quickly decided that something more could be made out of the materials at hand.

In the late 1800s, Charles Newton was perhaps the first American to leave his profession (in his case, law) out of a desire to spend all of his time wildcatting. Along the way, he developed a number of rounds that became indispensable for shooters of his era. He tuned the .30-06 into the .25 Special and 7mm, which were the raw materials that crafted the 25-06 and .280 Remington. Newton wanted to build rifles more than anything, but circumstances beyond his control eventually shut down his business. In the end, he was the man who lit the fire of wildcatting in the United States – and many were more than willing to pick up where he left off.

Some of the first names to follow in his wake are legends among wildcatters in the know. These are names like Harvey Donaldson, J.E. Gebby, Grosvenor Wotkyns, John Sweaney and J.B. Smith. By the 1940s, Parker “P.O.” Ackley changed the wildcatting game by making small adjustments to rounds that greatly improved their overall performance. The most famous of this era, though, was Roy Weatherby, the son of Kansas sharecroppers.

Roy was earning $200 a week at the Automobile Club of Southern California in San Diego, which was a seriously solid wage back in those days. When the shop was closed, however, he used a lathe and a drill press purchased at Sears to make his own homebrew ammunition. Among these was the .220 Rocket, built off of a Swift parent cartridge.

Wildcatting developed as a way for the amateur shooter to tailor rounds for their individual purposes. This was commonly to comply with caliber or bullet weight permitting regulations for specific game, though performance also drove the rise of wildcatting. Metallic silhouette shooting is a popular field for wildcatters, as many competitors seek to adapt rifle rounds they can fire through their pistols. Autopistol hunters and competitors have also used wildcatting as a means to improve feeding.

In the last 30 years, wildcatting has taken off as a common man’s hobby – resulting in a lot of great, innovative rounds as well as many that are not so great. At the end of the day, it’s the chase for a better round that matters.

Main Features Wildcatters Seek to Develop

  • Higher velocities: This feature is selected for by either reducing the caliber of a round or increasing the capacity of the case.
  • Increased energy: Increasing the capacity of the case or the caliber increases the overall energy of the round.
  • Increased efficiency: Shortening the case, reduction of the case taper or increasing the shoulder angle all result in increased overall efficiency, which means increased accuracy.
  • Greater consistency: Tinkering around with the weight, diameter or velocity can increase the consistency of a round, which likewise leads to improved accuracy.

Methods of Altering Wildcat Rounds

  • Increased case length: When the case length is increased, more propellant can fit inside. This is what transformed the .38 Special into the .357 Magnum – with the latter having three times the energy. It’s much easier to create a new case from scratch than it is to modify an existing one (commercially produced rounds). It’s possible to modify existing cartridges through stretching them out, but this is a very advanced form of wildcatting requiring highly specialized tools.
  • Cold forming: A heavily lubricated case is carefully forced into a reloading die for the desired caliber. This can only be used to reduce the overall dimensions of the round.
  • Fire forming: This is actually a rather ingenious method of wildcatting, whereby a parent case, or case partially formed through cold forming, is fired out of the desired firearm using only a light load of powder and bullet. Sometimes fast-burning powder is topped off with Cream of Wheat, creating a specialized blank that will expand the size of the case.
  • Rim modifications: Highly precise turning is required to modify a rim, making this another wildcatting modification primarily done by commercial enterprises. Most rim modifications remove the rim entirely or make a rimless round into a rebated one. This allows for larger rounds to be loaded into the weapon than the action was designed for.
  • Trimming to length: Both cold forming and fire forming come with the same problem: The case is generally still too long for the purposes the wildcatter is looking for. So the case has to be trimmed down to the appropriate length, which is a standard reloading procedure.
  • Changing the shoulder angle: This is a means of making the casing more closely resemble a standard cylinder, allowing for a more efficient burn. Moving the shoulder back requires cold forming, while moving the shoulder forward requires fire forming.
  • Case taper reduction: A hot forming procedure whereby a cartridge is made into more of a standard cylinder, similar to changing the shoulder angle.
  • Changing the Case Diameter: Also known as “necking up” or “necking down,” this is the most common method of wildcatting. It changes the range of bullets, which can be loaded into the case. That significantly increases the velocity, power or wind resistance of a round. It is the most common method of wildcatting because it is relatively easy and also so versatile.
  • Necking back: This cold forming operation reduces the overall case capacity, making rounds more appropriate for shorter barrels. It is useful when trying to change a rifle round into something more appropriate for a pistol.
  • Blowing out: A fire-forming variety of wildcatting a round that increases case capacity by moving the shoulder forward.

Each of these methods requires a different set of equipment to execute, so don’t think that because you can do one you can do them all. Some companies catering to the hobby offer special dies designed specifically for the purpose of making wildcatting easier. Even if you’re looking to wildcat an unusual round, these companies generally have these dies available for special order. What’s more, some are very simple, albeit powerful, while others take extensive training and have a very small margin of error. As with any hand reloading, be very careful and err on the side of caution. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll end up learning the hard way.


Notable Wildcat Cartridges

It makes sense once you hear it, but it might surprise you to find out that there are more wildcat calibers than there are commercially available rounds on the market. To make a list of all the wildcat cartridges of the world would be a book, not an article. However, there are some wildcat cartridges that are representative of the field in general and are worth mentioning:

  • Thompson/Center Ugalde: This is an entire family of wildcat rounds. Necking up .223 Remington cartridges to accept larger bullets is the main modification. These were created for the Thompson Center Arms Contender single shot pistol. The basis of this is the Contender pistol. Because of its bolt action, all that is required for a caliber change is the changing of a barrel. Variants include .30 TCU (.308 caliber), 6mm TCU (.243 caliber), 7mm TCU, .25 Ugalde, also known as .25 TCU (6.35 mm) and 6.5mm TCU (.264 caliber, really a 6.7 mm bullet).
  • .22 Eargesplitten Loudenboomer: Perhaps one of the craziest wildcat cartridges ever made, this was specifically designed to set a world record for firing at over 5,000 feet per second. It failed to do so, topping out at 4,600 fps. This is a modified .378 Weatherby Magnum cartridge case necked down to .224 calibre. The round is primarily a curiosity without any practical applications.
  • 6MM PPC: The 6mm PPC (Palmisano & Pindel Cartridge), commonly known as the 6 PPC, is a centerfire rifle cartridge prized for its accuracy. At up to 300 yards, it’s one of the most accurate cartridges on the market, which makes it ideal for benchrest shooting, where it finds almost exclusive use. The accuracy is made possible thanks to its barrel of a frame. This aggressively necked-up round is based on the .22 PPC, which is in turn a modification of the .220 Russian round.

Wildcatting Around the World

Wildcatting is most popular in the United States, which isn’t surprising considering the gun culture and degree of gun freedom in the U.S. However, there is one other country where the hobby of wildcatting ammunition is relatively common: Australia. While gun grabbers were mostly successful in eliminating private firearms ownership in Australia, gun ownership was not completely eliminated. Wildcatting still persists, albeit in an extremely niche circle of die-hard participants.

One of the cool things about wildcat cartridges is that they tend to be regional in nature. What works for hunting local varmints in South Carolina might be useless in Australia – where wildcatting is generally used for making better hunting rounds for game like deer and kangaroo. Nearly every Australian wildcatter is operating off of the .303 British round, thanks to the widespread availability and popularity of these after the Second World War. What’s more, there is an abundance of inexpensive Australian Lee–Enfield MkIII military rifles capable of firing them. Surplus rifles are often re-barrelled into .257 caliber, also known as the 303-25.


Wildcat Rounds on the Commercial Market

Some wildcat cartridges are so good that the market can’t help but pick them up and start making them on their own. Typically, this requires a commercial weapon manufacturer to make a firearm with a chamber to accommodate the round. This can be a tipping point for a wildcat cartridge. Word spreads that the round is ideal for some purpose, then a company begins manufacturing an appropriate firearm, then the cartridge is effectively no longer a wildcat round, but a standard commercial round.

Some former wildcat cartridges that became standard commercial rounds include:

  • .22 CHeetah: This was originally a 308 BR benchrest round, until wildcatters began necking the round down for a flatter trajectory. It’s one of the most effective varmint rounds within 300 yards. Wichita Arms and Shilen Rifle Company both manufacture weapons specifically for this round.
  • .303/25: This is one of the Australian rounds we talked about above – a .303 British that has been necked down to fire a .25 caliber round. Primarily used in pest and varmint control, the round is largely obsolete, but still popular among a group of collectors and enthusiasts.
  • .454 Casull: This is an extremely powerful round developed from the Colt .45 specifically for big game hunting. For years, Wyoming-based Freedom Arms was the only real manufacturer of this round. However, due to its popularity and its power, Ruger and Taurus began manufacturing firearms chambered for this round in the mid-1990s. In 1998, SAAMI released its first specs for the .454 Casull, which meant that it was no longer a wildcat round.
  • 7-30 Waters: People have been wildcatting this round out of .30-30 Winchester ammunition since the 1890s. Wildcatters wanted to improve the performance of this lever-action round, making it much faster than the parent round without sacrificing much in terms of bullet weight.


How to Get Started With Wildcatting

You’ll likely need to read several books before fully understanding how to make the best wildcat cartridges in your home. However, we can give you some information so that you can decide whether or not wildcatting is something you want to learn more about and pursue further.

The first question is whether you want to start making wildcat rounds of someone else’s development or if you want to start coming up with your own improvements. The latter is a far more involved task and one that requires gunsmithing know-how if you ever want to actually fire the rounds – not to mention, you’re going to have to accept trial and error as part of the process. If you’re just making something someone else has already developed, you’re going to have a much easier time.

The good news is that there are programs that provide theoretical outcomes of potential rounds. Two of these programs are QuickDesign and QuickLOAD – programs used by wildcatters to see what their rounds are going to do when fired in the real world. This allows you to get a look into what your dream round will perform – or not perform. An example of how programs like this can save you time and money, is that they allow you to make crucial changes in your experimental ammunition before you start actually making the rounds. This also provides a safer way of checking to see if your pet design is actually going to work when fired.

Most of the equipment needed for wildcatting is the same as what you need for reloading. Anything you need beyond that depends on what kind of ammunition you want to make and what processes you want to use to make your rounds. You may need additional equipment, but your hand-reloading gear will have you off to a good start.

Is Wildcatting Ammo Worth It?

This is one of the big questions you’ll run into early on, and the answer is mostly a function of two other questions: First, do you absolutely need (or at least really, really want) the features provided by your customized ammunition? And second, do you enjoy the process?

Both of these questions will provide you with the answer to whether or not you’re better off just buying wildcat ammunition from a small provider or skipping it altogether and just using standard, commercially available rounds.

Don’t look at the hobby of wildcatting as a way to save money, or you’ll likely find yourself frustrated. Instead, look at it as a way to spend more time enjoying your firearms hobby, while getting a better feel for the ammunition you use. When approaching wildcatting this way, the frustration will become part of the fun. At the end of the day, the best part about wildcatting might not be improved ammunition, but rather what you learn about something you already love.


A Little Seminar On Gun Lethality: Let’s Start With Handguns.


What follows is a work in progress so please feel free to respond with ideas, reactions, etc.  Last week I published a New York Times op-ed in which I called for the regulation of guns based on their lethality as a more efficient and logical way to keep guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’ Because otherwise we run into a dead end when someone like the Orlando shooter acquires gunslegally and then uses them for a bad end.

What I am proposing is that that persons who want to own highly-lethal weapons do more than simply pass a background check.  This is not the Canadian or the European approach, which imposes stiff regulations on just about every kind of gun.  Instead, it borrows a page from the ATF which currently approves applications for importing guns based on whether the particular model is judged to be a safe, ‘sporting’ gun or not.

So what I have done is create four different categories of lethality: concealability, caliber, ammunition capacity and flexibility (e.g., how quickly a gun can be reloaded or made ready to fire), with the guns that score highest total being the most lethal and therefore requiring a greater degree of regulation in order to be bought or owned.  Next week I am going to publish a detailed study covering lethality measurements for every kind of gun, but today I thought I would give you a little preview of how a lethality scorecard might actually work.

For this exercise I chose nine different gun models currently manufactured by Smith & Wesson, including two standard revolvers (586, 67,) one very concealable revolver (351PD,) two target pistols (SW22, 41,) two full-size pistols (M&P 40, 1911SC,) and two very small pistols (Shield, BGA360.)

Here are the pictures and lethality scores for each gun.  Remember, the higher the score, the more lethal the gun:

Model 586, 357 magnum revolver, 6″ barrel, LETHALITY – 17



Model 67, 38 special revolver, 4” barrel, LETHALITY – 16



Model 351 PD, 357 magnum revolver, 2” barrel,  LETHALITY – 21



Model 22, 22LR caliber, 5” barrel, LETHALITY – 15



Model 41, 22LR caliber, 7” barrel,  LETHALITY – 12



Model M&P 40, 40 S&W caliber, 4” barrel, LETHALITY – 23



Model 1911SC, 45acp caliber, 4” barrel, LETHALITY – 22



Model SHIELD, 40 S&W caliber, 3” barrel, LETHALITY –  21


Model BGA380, 380acp caliber, 2” barrel, LETHALITY – 19

And the winner is – the M&P 40 pistol, which happens to be Smith & Wesson’s standard gun carried by police.  The reason it gets the most lethal score is because it holds more than 15 rounds of a very powerful cartridge; in fact, the only cartridge more powerful in the above list is the 357 magnum, and while the 351PD revolver only holds 5 rounds of this extremely lethal ammunition, the gun scores high on the scale because the ammo is very powerful and the gun is very small. Let’s not forget that lethality is not just a function of the amount of ammo loaded into the gun; it’s also based on how easy it is to carry the gun around.

Notice that the BGA380 gets a score that is not in the range of the bigger guns because while it is very concealable it also loads with only a moderately powerful round.  But Smith & Wesson also markets a version of this gun with an integral laser, which means that you don’t have to aim the gun at all.  Just pull the trigger halfway and the laser lights up; now you’re playing a video game with a real, live gun.  And I have decided to award 3 points to gun with integral lasers, which means the laser model of the tiny BGA380 would almost match the lethality of the full-size M&P.

The lowest lethality score was awarded to the Model 41, which is a beautiful, hand-crafted target gun designed specifically for sport and competitive shooting at the range.  But the barrel length makes it very difficult to conceal, and hence I don’t consider it to be an extremely lethal gun.

Over the next few days I am going to publish similar lethality lists for other handgun manufacturers plus rifles and shotguns as well.  Feel free to offer suggestions or comments so that I can tighten and improve my work.


There’s A Ballot Initiative Coming To California And The NRA Better Watch Out.

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Everybody knows that the United States was formed by settlers who moved from East to West. But whether it’s Ronald Reagan or Half-n-Half, what starts in California usually then moves back East.  Which is why when a citizen’s ballot initiative to limit magazine capacities and ammunition sales in California was first announced back in January, the NRA threw an especially big fit because they know that if this kind of measure can be passed in our most populous state, then gun-control legislation can pop up anywhere and no amount of Capitol Hill noisemaking can necessarily hold the line against such reforms.

ammo           The California initiative is particularly interesting because, for the first time, it is aimed (no pun intended) not just at the regulation of guns, but the regulation of ammunition as well. And for all the talk about gun violence on both sides, what is rarely mentioned is the fact that while gun ownership is more or less regulated in all 50 states, the control of ammunition is usually left entirely undone.  For example, despite a strongly-held belief among many GVP advocates to the contrary, most internet gun sales involve a background check before the buyer can actually take possession of the gun.  But in most states that same buyer can purchase an armory-full load of ammunition for that same weapon and there is no requirement that such purchases be tracked or reported at all.  The Aurora shooter, James Holmes, for example, amassed a stash of more than 6,000 rounds, much of it bought online.

To a certain degree the California initiative follows from ordinances that were passed in Los Angeles and Sacramento which require that ammunition purchasers identify themselves in face-to-face transactions with ammunition sellers, and that the latter keep records of everyone to whom they have made a sale.  The problem, of course, is that these laws are only useful to law enforcement engaged in an investigation after-the-fact; they really don’t do much to prevent ammunition from getting into the wrong hands before it’s used in an improper way.   The new ballot initiative, known as “The Safety For All Act,” would require a background check for all ammunition sales, making California the first state to impose the same requirement for ammunition purchases that exist for the purchase of guns.

Frankly, if I were the NRA, I’d be freaking out too.  And I would be particularly freaking out right now because the folks who are spearheading the effort to put this issue on the ballot have just announced that they have collected the necessary 365,880 signatures to put the item before statewide voters this Fall. Actually, they are going to submit over 600,000 signatures, because like all citizen initiative campaigns, signatures on a petition are one thing, valid signatures are something else.  But I get the clear sense that putting this issue before the voters come November is really a done deal.

You know, of course, that the NRA will pull out all the usual 2nd-Amendment stops to try and defeat this bill, but in a funny kind of way they are hoisted by their own petard.  Because the NRA doesn’t let a single day go by without reminding the world that they represent the most law-abiding citizens on God’s green earth; namely, the folks who under law (a law that was supported by the NRA) are allowed to own guns.  So if the government imposes the same legal requirements on ammo that it imposes on guns, why should any good-guy citizen (or non-citizen, for that matter) have a problem with this law?

This ballot initiative is also going to test one other, heartfelt NRA argument, namely their self-promoting nonsense that they are a true, grass-roots movement whereas the other side is an artificial creation of Mayor Mike and his big bucks. Let’s see how that one flies in the Golden State – it sure didn’t work when I-594 was passed in a state right up Interstate 5.

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