A friend with an AR asked me a question yesterday. Like most gun owners she knows how to use them, but no gun background to speak of. She wanted to know what can increase rate of fire in an AR, and why is banning bump fire stocks such a problem? Politics aside, there is a purely legal issue to this legislation. But, make no mistake, the “bump fire” legislation proposed is nothing more than a veiled gun ban. It would in fact ban bump stocks, but much more. Using the defining term as “increased rate of fire”, it encompasses much more than a bump stock.
What Alters the Cyclic rate?
You can alter the cyclic rate of an AR by changing as little as a buffer or spring. I do it all the time tuning them; I have been for at least a decade. Lightening the bolt carrier increases the rate of fire. Virtually everything you do to an AR “can” increase the rate at which it fires. Those same actions can decrease rate of fire, which is more common since the vast majority of factory and custom AR’s are grossly over gassed and poorly tuned, but they increase it as well. It really depends on what’s used as a base standard, and who chooses it.
Depending on what the “base” is, it would mean any internal alteration “could” be restricted. Dive into the mechanical minutiae and it could get worse. Also, these decisions will be made using high-speed cameras in a lab by a scientist, who in all likelihood is no fan of guns. Many of these technicians are truly expert scientists that only shoot guns in a lab. They may not even be “anti-gun” just ignorant beyond technical operations in a controlled environment. Even the slightest demonstrable increase in bolt speed would render it a restricted part by law. Some actually are gun people, but that does not necessarily matter. They pass their findings on to a lawyer that makes those decisions. If it can be demonstrated there is a rate of fire increase the part will be restricted by law. One need only look at the bump stock and pistol brace decisions. Pretty sure no one at the BATF was really interested in what amounts to circumventing the NFA essentially legalizing the SBR, or legalizing bump fire stocks, but they did, current law required it.
What does a bump fire stock do?
Bump fire stocks and triggers DO NOT increase the rate of fire. It does nothing more than use physics to reset the trigger for you. Compared to a skilled shooter the actual rate of fire is less. Sustained fire is greater, but rate of fire can be quite slow and erratic. Same with short or forced reset triggers, they are still only as fast as the human pressing the trigger. Such devices just make it easier to do so quickly. It is precisely why they are not restricted by the BATF, they just do not meet the criteria of existing law as a machine gun part. It’s also why the BATF has very strongly asserted they cannot alter their current decision on them and tossed it to Congress. Seems they learned their lesson on the pistol brace.
So what is potentially banned?
Any trigger with shorter reset or less take up than factory could meet the rate of fire criteria. So every aftermarket trigger out there – NOT just short reset or “bump fire triggers”- could be banned. If it lessens the weight of pull, shortens take up or reset, or otherwise leverages your ability to increase the rate of fire, it can be restricted.
Anyone using an AR outside a lab knows this is true, it’s why you spend $200-300 on a trigger. Buffers, buffer springs, LW bolt carriers, adjustable gas blocks, muzzle brakes, much more. As written it could restrict the alteration of most if not all the internal operating parts of the AR. It could ban everything outside the chosen “standard” effectively banning hundreds of different rifles.
Taken to the extreme it could restrict the velocity of ammunition since in most cases the greater the velocity the higher the rate of fire. Short barreled rifles and pistols in rifle calibers can be banned since shortening the barrel increases rate of fire. Not sure how that plays out when it comes to the NFA, but if this legislation bans anything increasing the rate of fire, most SBR’s would fit that criteria. Suppressors, too! All these changes net an increased rate of fire. A few very little, most quite a bit, but in spite of marketing hype none of them have proven to be zero back pressure yet so they all speed up the BCG some. Look at their operation in a lab with high frame rate cameras and every suppressor on the market will increase bolt speed. It’s why you slow the bolt down in most cases to make them work. Any suppressor legislation is dead in the water, may even conflict with the NFA, my guess is those presenting this bill know it.
Nothing has been passed, only proposed, it happens every time there is a tragedy like the one in Las Vegas. It means there is time to push back against this legislation. But, push back we must, we cannot just think this will fade with the news cycle. Congress is currently the defining example of worthless. The Senate can’t pass gas let alone legislation that does not get them a raise, donors or face time on CNN or Fox. Even if it did the President would likely veto it, but we simply cannot count on it.
Either way, don’t let the media fool you, what they have proposed is nothing more than a back door means to ban as many guns as possible. It is nothing more than typical liberal politics. Never let a tragedy go to waste, slide in what you can while the horror remains clear in the minds of the public. What’s most critical is to stay focused on what this legislation is and not get lost in the hysteria. Keep it steady and civil, and stop eating our own. Keep pressure on your legislators, and stay the course and we can prevent this from becoming law, which should be the ultimate goal.
Editor’s note: SHWAT™ Publisher Jonathan Owen did product photography for Slidefire back in 2011. He’s seen the original wood prototype, spent a day or so with the owner, and speculated on hunting hogs from a helicopter with a bumpfire stock. However, he could never quite get it running smoothly enough for that to be a possibility. Instead, he took an HK MR762 on his helicopter hog hunt. A far better system by any standard.