Thursday, September 28, 2006

Gun People Can Make Lemonade

It's funny. Some people can take a bad situation and make something good out of it. Case in point: the now defunct assault weapons and hi-cap magazine ban.

Let's set the scene. It's 1993ish, and the world is a good place. The economy is decent, and a man (or woman!) can buy a REALLY good SKS rifle made in China for less than $100. You can buy a GREAT AK-47 (Chinese) for about $250 new. Sure, there are some $1,000 - $3,000 pieces out there, but you can buy some fun to shoot stuff for cheaps.

And every pistol is 9mm with 15+ rounds with spare mags for pennies. Okay, maybe not EVERY pistol, but you get the point.

I was preparing to buy my first cheap AK when the dreaded "assault weapons ban" went into place. My $250 rifle was now about $700. Bummer. The world was coming to an end.

See, I'm not in the militia or anything like that. I'm not a survivalist. I'm not even paranoid. I like to put little holes in paper with a firearm. That's about it. An "assault weapon" is perfect for this as it's fairly inexpensive, shoots inexpensive ammo, has decent iron sights, and is MADE to shoot thousands of rounds without blinking. Plus, as stupid as this will sound, it's REALLY HANDY to have a 20-30 round magazine so I don't spend half my shooting day reloading. Hey, it's not a glamorous answer, but it's pretty accurate.

Anyway, all the "gun people" were weeping and wailing and gnashing our teeth. Gone were nice AK clones for Saturday shooting. Gone were 18 round 9mm mags. Gone were the days of freedom and liberty.

Okay, not really, but the drama is good, right?

Given all these lemons, it's only natural SOMEBODY started making lemonade.

A couple of years into the "ban", somebody finally figured out that since the 9mm had no "firepower" advantage, anymore, it would be a good idea to start looking at new ways to toss a .45ACP bullet downrage. BRILLIANT!!! You mean it might be a great idea to improve handguns that shoot arguably the best self-defense handgun round ever made? Wow! Way to go guys. Of course, it didn't hurt that during this time state after state was enacting handgun carry permits. Hmmmm . . . maybe people might want a decent gun to carry?

Someone then came up with this brilliant idea. Lots of people think the .45ACP kicks too much and isn't suitable for smaller/weaker people, BUT the 9mm just wasn't enough (especially with the 10 round limit). Thus the .40 S&W was born. Oddly enough, S&W didn't make the first gun to shoot this round. I believe it was Glock. Feh, doesn't matter. Born was possibly the best caliber to come out in a decade or two. It's at least one of the most practical.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, American gun makers were figuring out ways around the verbage in the ban. The BIGGEST loophole was that most of the disqualifiers for "assault weapons" were based on country of manufacture. If a certain percentage of the parts were made in the U.S., and the gun itself was assembled in the U.S., the gun was legal to sell.

Before you knew it, there were gun companies you'd probably never heard of making semi-copies of normally REALLY expensive rifles. Even more amusing was that x% of the cheapo "knockoff" was actually the expensive parts. An HK91 might cost $2,000 to $3,000, but a Federal Arms "knockoff" was about $300 to $400 with an HK91 design, HK barrel, HK action, HK mags, and various other HK parts all over the gun. Yeah, the receiver was BUTT UGLY American and the stocks were el cheapo, but, feh, who cares? For $300, you had MOST of a $3,000 rifle, and it tended to work flawlessly. And they were everywhere.

The height of comedy has to be the AK clones. Americans actually found ways to make "quality" AK clones better than the originals at about the same price. With parts, magazines, and accessories all over the market, it was financial genius. Sure, you could no longer import 30 round magazines for an AK-47. You would just have to make due with one or two of the 300 million that were already in the country. Basically, the ban drove AK mag's prices up from $7 to $15-$20. Feh . . .

Back to handguns. About 7 years into the ban, there were .45's and .40's everywhere. One of the speed freak guys came up with an AMAZING idea. What if . . . what IF you could come up with a round for an automatic that’s ROUGHLY a .357 Magnum with regards to energy and all. So, the brilliant people took a 40 S&W, necked it down, and made the .357 Sig round. That's the story. Actually, I think it's a 10mm they necked down, but it doesn't matter. Fine round, though.

Also, oddly enough, I don't think Sig was the first gun to chamber the Sig round. Once again, I THINK it was Glock. Go figure.

And speaking of the 10mm . . . Once the .40 and .45 became popular, the "yeah, but ours go to eleven" guys felt the need to move up a notch. Before the ban, carrying a .45 ACP made a statement. It said "I take my self-protection more seriously than others." Okay, maybe not. Maybe more accurately it said "I can handle the extra kick." Seven years into the ban, feh, .45's were everywhere. Taurus had LITTLE .45's that held 10 rounds and were comfy to shoot. Lots of, dare I say it, little women were learning that the feared .45 really wasn't that bad to shoot at all.

So what were the macho guys to do? While a "big ole" revolver can pack lots of punch, they're so . . . 3 decades ago. With the .45 becoming "common", where is there to go for the auto-lover looking to standout. Ahhhh, the 10mm! It's an "old" round with lots of punch. And didn't it used to actually BREAK guns chambered for it? And doesn't GLOCK make one that WORKS? AND TED NUGENT LOVES THE 10MM!!! What more could you ask for?

Okay, so it's not THAT popular, but it IS seeing lots of fresh interest and plenty of companies make ammo again. I know I like mine! :)

I think someone should mention Cowboy Action Shooting really sprung up strong during this time, too. Honestly, I don't know much the sport other than it has a huge following, and it's made a lot of people look at the .45 Long Colt cartridge as a serious fun and self-defense round. They should.

So, to recap, basically if it weren't for the assault weapons ban, we probably would not have the .40 or the .357 rounds. People would probably STILL be arguing over 18 rounds of 9mm vs. 7 rounds of .45 ACP. We probably would still have to pay big bucks for a decent AR-15 or HK rifle. And who knows if Cowboy Action Shooting would even be around?

The ban is now, happily, dead, and we don't see anymore $100+ magazines for Glocks and Sigs. Fortunately, we still see lots of inexpensive semi-auto rifles that take military repair parts and accessories. I still miss $89 SKS rifles and $250 MAK-90's from Norinco, but, oh well. I wouldn't trade them for my .357 Sig or my 10mm (or my .40 S&W for that matter). I DEFINITELY wouldn't trade them for my wife's PT-145.

So, once again, Americans prove that if you put us in a "bad situation", not only do we survive, but we figure out a way to make it a little better for a while and then we turn it to an advantage. And, lol, we figure out a way to make a LOT of money off of it.

God Bless America! LOL!

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