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Our report/letter to Congress on the 7N6 5.45x39 ammo ban

Posted by KJ on 5/13/2014 to Politics and news

Here is a rough draft copy of the report we're sending to Congress, feel free to add your input so that we can make this as comprehensive and thorough as possible

Attn: Rep Salmon, Rep Franks, et al

I.  Definitions and technical details

The BATF recently made an arbitrary “decision” to ban the further importation of the inexpensive and plentiful “7N6” version of the Russian 5.45x39 cartridge by classifying it as “armor piercing” due to its steel core.  This is a popular sporting/plinking cartridge with ballistics very similar to the US 5.56x45 (aka: .223 Remington) cartridge.

The low cost of the ammunition made it popular with recreational shooters so much that numerous companies made versions of the AR-15 style rifle and AK-74 rifle for the market.  This ammunition cost less than half of what the comparable .223 round did, making it an inexpensive option for “plinking” and sport shooting.  The low cost of this ammunition was due to the fact that it is one of the few available “military surplus” rounds available nowadays since this is the same “ball” ammunition currently used by the Russian military.

The BATF used the Gun Control Act of 1968 to “justify” this policy change.  The pertinent text of the law is as follows:

“(C) The term "armor piercing ammunition" does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Secretary finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Secretary finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.”

It is obvious to a reasonable individual that the BATF is deceptively using this ban on armor-piercing handgun ammunition as a de facto ban on rifle ammunition.  Since the pertinent text of the law defining a “handgun” is as follows:

(29) The term "handgun" means --

(A) a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand”

A cut-down rifle that is 16-20” in length and 6-8 pounds in weight is not something that is designed to be fired with one hand.  That is why these firearms have a forward handguard like their rifle hosts since they require two hands to even reasonably handle.

Even with regular lead cores, the 5.45x39, 7.62x39, and 5.56x45 rounds will readily penetrate even IIIa soft armor.  This is because the firearms have nearly RIFLE length barrels, and fire RIFLE ammunition which is loaded to higher pressures, generates higher velocities, and uses bullets with RIFLE class sectional densities.  This would not be achievable with a HANDGUN length barrel, HANDGUN class ballistics, or HANDGUN class loading pressures.  Body armor as used by most LE/federal agencies is designed to stop lower-velocity handgun rounds, not rifle rounds.  This is why the military utilizes specialized hard ceramic armor plates which are much heavier than that used by LE/federal agencies.

The supposed purpose of this law was to prevent ammunition from being available which could be fired out of truly concealable handguns that would defeat soft body armor by use of a non-deforming core.  However, since the 5.45x39 and other RIFLE cartridges have more than sufficient velocity and power to defeat soft armor without needing a non-deforming core (steel, copper, etc), the banning of ammunition in this caliber/class based on that criteria is pointless.

The use of this criteria to add RIFLE cartridges to the list of prohibited imports/ manufacture is nothing less than mendacious, but is apparently what “passes muster” with the BATF.

There are two reasonable explanations for this, they are either using this legislation as a de facto ban on rifle calibers (which is an error that should be stopped), or they are completely inept about the very items they are assigned to regulate (which is an error that should warrant their disbandment).

II.  Exploration of limitations

At what point does common sense step in and determine that a rifle without a buttstock is not a handgun?  Does taking the buttstock off of something like a .50 caliber rifle suddenly make this heavy and large firearm a “handgun” in the view of the BATF?  Does a 30lb “handgun” handle any more awkwardly than an 8lb one?  Even without taking into account the relatively fierce recoil of a rifle class cartridge, would either of these “handguns” be reasonably controllable to shoot with one hand?  The answer for any reasonable person would be a resounding “NO”.  At what point are the representatives for the American public going to step in and address this complete lack of ethics and understanding at the BATF?

III.  Economic impact

It should come as no surprise that the economy is in a deep recession and bordering on sliding into a depression.  With the devaluation of the US dollar, reduction in disposable income, and increased prices for ammunition, recreational shooting has been lower as well.  The public is buying ammunition and firearms but are not shooting much due to the current costs of replacing any expended ammunition.  Considering that even the lowly and economical .22LR ammunition which has been a staple for recreational shooting for over a century is now nearly impossible to find and is commanding prices that are 2-3x what they were prior to 2008.  The lack of available .22LR ammunition has pushed its “street price” up to over 4-5x what is was prior to 2008.  Centerfire cartridges have been seeing similar price increases, with most popular calibers costing anywhere from $0.50-2.00 per round.  The 7N6 5.45x39 ammunition was available for a fraction of this and filled a void in the recreational shooting community.  By banning this inexpensive ammunition, the BATF has removed the last inexpensive and readily available cartridge from the market.  With commercial 5.45x39 ammunition costing nearly what comparable 5.56x45 ammunition would, there is less economic benefit to using any rifle in that caliber.  A reasonable person would conclude that the BATF is doing this for one of two reasons, to either use economics and pricing to oppress recreational shooting in this country, or to use economics and pricing to oppress the firearms industry in this country.  Either reason is unacceptable and should be countered with the full force of law against this agency that operates on a whim with no real oversight.

IV.  Environmental impact

Recreational shooting in this country amounts to billions of rounds fired every year.  These rounds are a known environmental issue due to the deposition of toxic lead into the ground, groundwater, and environment in general.  With how much lip service the government pays to “being green”, it seems ironic that they would be forcing hunters to use steel shot for shotguns and solid copper bullets for rifles yet bullets expended hunting account for a microscopic percentage of the total ammunition fired annually.  Even the US military is pushing for “green” ammunition that is lead-free.  Why then, would the BATF ban a round that has replaced most of the toxic lead in its core with “green” steel?  As previously discussed earlier in this report, even lead core 5.45x39 ammunition would easily penetrate soft armor.  So why would the BATF make a useless ruling that will put millions of additional pounds of lead into the environment?  A reasonable person would conclude that they either have no regard for the environment, or their desire to oppress the recreational shooter in this country trumps their concerns about the environment.

V.  Further inconsistencies in the “testing” criteria

The BATF requires that the “handgun” be “commercially available” and in the past they’ve waited anxiously for firearms like the Olympic Arms OA-93 to be made so that they can use it as justification to further their de facto rifle ammunition ban.  It seems that only 6-7 of these guns were actually made and those were basically prototypes, far from being “commercially available”.  Even though the OA-93 in 7.62x39 was so rare that most people couldn’t find one let alone buy one, the BATF trotted this monstrosity out as their reason to ban the importation of inexpensive 7.62x39 ammunition.  Much to the chagrin of the recreational shooters in this country, they were unwilling to discuss this decision and worked around the clock to shut off the supply of this ammunition and stop the American public from being able to affordably shoot popular firearms in this caliber.

Fast forward to 2014 and the latest “vaporware” that the BATF is using as justification for this ban is the previously unheard of “
Fabryka Bronie Radom, Model Onyks 89S” which was approved for importation in 2011 but seems to have never actually been imported.  So now, rather than using a prototype non-commercial gun, the BATF is resorting to using guns that are neither in this country nor “commercially available”.  Is this the proverbial “ghost gun” that Rep DeLeon of CA was screaming so rabidly about recently?

How is it that our access to affordable ammunition is being arbitrarily curtailed based firstly, on a “handgun” which is nothing more than a cut-down rifle, and secondly, on a “handgun” that is so far from “commercially available” that even pictures of it are rare?  Does this sound like something that occurs in a “nation of laws”?

Further, most of us are familiar with a certain excerpt from the Bill of Rights worded as follows:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

If you are unfamiliar with this text, feel free to punch the key word “infringed” into Google and you’ll pretty quickly find the source.  Webster defines “infringed” as follows:

to do something that does not obey or follow (a rule, law, etc.) (chiefly US )

 to wrongly limit or restrict (something, such as another person's rights)”

This recent ban and the ones that preceded it seem to be a similarly concise definition of “infringe”.  Not surprisingly, in the same body of text from the Bill of Rights, I have repeatedly failed to find any legal justification for a revenue agency that acts like a law enforcement agency yet does not have to follow any of its own rulings and has no federal oversight or checks and balances to keep it from operating in an out-of-control manner (as it does nowadays).  The duty of the federal government is to protect our freedoms and rights, neither the BATF, nor Congress, nor the President are doing that which means we are pretty much living under a polite dictatorship at the moment.  The BATF is a revenue agency, and should be limited to collecting taxes rather than dictating law to the “peasantry”.  There needs to be oversight to rein in this rogue agency since it is openly violating the duties of the federal government that they work for.

VI.  Further inconsistencies in the “testing” criteria

The BATF has an arbitrary form for “determining” what handguns can be imported into the United States.  Using Form 4590, there is a checklist with a randomly decided number of “points” assigned to various features of a handgun with 75 points being required for it to be deemed “worthy” of importation.  The AK pistols “approved” yet never imported for importation would have only passed this litmus test because of their rifle-esque length (1 point for every ¼” over 6 inches) and rifle-esque weight (1 point per ounce.  The other criteria hardly apply to it because they are properties generally found on actual handguns rather than cut-down rifles billed as handguns by the agenda-driven simpletons at the BATF.  When a cut-down rifle such as an AK “pistol” can get a passing score of over 300pts while only actually scoring on 4 of 18 applicable features simply because its rifle-esque size and weight, you’d think that someone would notice the error of classifying it as a “handgun”.  This form is nothing more than another unchecked and unjustified ruling by the BATF giving them arbitrary “authority” to decide how and when they want to infringe on the American public’s right to “keep and bear arms”.

VII.  “Sporting purpose”

The BATF has bantered about the term “sporting purpose” for decades and has yet to define it.  Generally if you see the term “sporting purpose” used in any BATF rulings, you can pretty safely replace it with the phrase “something we arbitrarily approve of”.  Whether in the previously cited GCA ’68 text “a projectile which the Secretary finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposesor the unenforceable and pointless 922r ruling, “sporting purpose” is a placeholder for the BATF to “change its mind” as it sees fit.  In this case, the BATF issues an exemption for the M855 5.56x45 and M2 30.06 rounds because they deemed them to be for “sporting use”.  It seems a bit ironic (or perhaps moronic) that the steel-cored issue round of the US military is exempt from these regulations yet the steel-cored issue round of the Russian military which is pretty much ballistically identical (but 1/3 of the cost) is “evil” and must be kept from the recreational shooting public even though they’re used in the same types of rifles.  As shown here, this isn’t about safety, nor legal “requirements”, this is about the BATF doing what it wants with zero accountability or oversight.  Neither the 5.56x45mm or 5.45x39mm (or 7.62x39 for that matter) rounds are fired in an actual “handgun”, they’re fired in rifles and cut-down rifles that the BATF deems to be “handguns” simply because the buttstock has been removed which is neither a logical nor technical conclusion.  One could likewise deem most personnel at the BATF to be “vegetables” due to the lack of a brain, but a reasonable man would still consider them to be “humans” since most of their other features and their size is not consistent with a “vegetable”.  The use of the term “sporting purpose” needs to be replaced with basic common sense.

VIII.  Possible solutions to this situation

Although the GCA ’68 is both outdated and unconstitutional, it will likely not be repealed anytime soon.  My proposal is two-pronged:

First, issue a “sporting exemption” for 7N6 5.45x39 rifle ammunition just like what is in place for 5.56x45 steel-cored ammunition.  Since the law and the “loophole” are already on the books, this is the quickest way to right the wrong and return this inexpensive ammunition to the recreational shooting public.  As previously stated, because it is rifle ammunition fired in rifles (cut-down or otherwise) it is already capable of defeating body armor so there is no point in trying to ban it based on bullet material.  To issue a “sporting exemption” for essentially identical ammunition yet prohibiting this economical alternative is unacceptable.

Second, propose an amendment to the GCA ’68 legislation.  Strike out the bold text as shown in 921(17)(B)(i):

(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun

…and replace it with the following change

“(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun which (a) accepts a magazine in the grip and (b) has an overall length of less than 12 inches

This would eliminate the unscrupulous use of cut-down rifles in BATF criteria for ammunition purposes since rifle cartridges are generally too long to fit within the dimensions of a handgun grip and these cut-down rifles have a magazine that fits outside the grip.  This would also prevent the BATF from using this handgun legislation as a de facto ban on rifle ammunition.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter

Joe Venters –Owner/RA at King Armory Mfg LLC
“Sic Semper Tyrannus”

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Chuck Millstein Date 5/14/2014
Para III: The entire paragraph needs to be reviewed and re-written. It is awkward and confusing. Using terms like "laughable" takes it out of the realm of reasoned discussion and enters the arena of satire or ridicule. I stopped reading there and so will your target audience.
Derek Huffman, AZEX Date 5/14/2014
I read the whole thing, instead of levying a half-opinion based on half-reading. I think it is remarkably well done, but you should remove the comments about that idiot DeLeon. "Dubious", "unscrupulous" or "arbitrary" are all good replacements for "laughable". The best word is "treasonous" but these suited scumbags never want to be reminded that most of what they do does not past constitutional muster.
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King's "Culture Corner"
Interesting stories, gunsmithing projects, reviews of cigars and beers, political musings, and general fallout from middle-aged angst in a world gone mad.

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 Have ya checked out our "Gunsmith's Bench" episodes on Youtube?
 KA-1222A reviewed on (TTAG)
 Review of Domingo's Upholstery here in Casa Grande
 Our report/letter to Congress on the 7N6 5.45x39 ammo ban
 Review of La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero "Digger"
 "Bad Idea" AOW builds
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 King Armory KA-1212BR breacher for CGPD
 Recent moves by the BATF to ban the importation of 5.45x39 7N6 ammo

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