Don’t try this at home – MOA Steel vs Antitank rifle

A while back, we got a message from a friend asking if we knew anything about WWI tank armor. We didn’t, but with the power of the internet, we figured it out fast. Short version, 1/2″ AR450 is roughly equivalent in spec to what was used by the Brits. The whole project was put on by and documented by our friends at Full article linked below.


Could a Tankgewehr Really Take Out a British MkIV Tank?

October 22, 2018 Happy 50th birthday, Gun Control Act

This article has been stolen (with permission) entirely from user of Reddit. Permission is granted to repost with credit to him, in it’s entirety only.

The Wikipedia article for the Gun Control Act of 1968 lists its date of passage as October 22, 1968–exactly fifty years ago today (it’s a bit more complicated than this, but we’ll get to that below). With that anniversary approaching, I started doing some reading into exactly what the results were of that law beyond the Wikipedia synopsis, and it turned into quite a rabbit hole; the time between the GCA and the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act in 1986 was a circus for gun rights.

This turns out to be a hell of a detailed situation, and so I apologize in advance; this will be an obnoxious wall of text even by my standards.

Today, a great many gun rights advocates think of the GCA as the law that created the FFL environment we know today, and FOPA as the law that gave us the peaceable journey protection and closed the machine gun registry. Quite a few of them, based on this understanding, consider FOPA a loss or even a sellout by the NRA, as they consider the closed registry a large cost and the interstate transport protections a small benefit. This understanding is very far from the truth, and demonstrates just how much of the story of post-GCA gun law enforcement has faded from our subcultural memory. When you understand the legal landscape from 1968 to 1986, it becomes rapidly clear just why the NRA and its allies fought so hard for FOPA, and why they weren’t willing to throw it away to save the machine gun registry; the regulatory environment before FOPA was a disaster, and its reforms were ultimately responsible for the comparatively free environment we take totally for granted today.

The history is extremely complicated, and I’ll do my best to pull it together into a coherent and accurate package; but if you see any mistakes, please point them out. I’m working from a very large set of data that was presented for completeness, not for narrative simplicity.

It’s impossible to express enough thanks to attorney David Hardy (who worked closely with the NRA and FOPA’s sponsors to draft the bill and steer it through its rough course to passage) for recording and publishing so many of the individual details that come together to tell the story. His 1986 article for the Cumberland Law Review is shockingly detailed, citing everything from the official debate transcripts, to committee reports, to newspaper quotes, to personal correspondence, to dozens and dozens of US laws and court cases that formed the controlling case law across the history of American gun control. If this article has any weaknesses, they’re only in its very comprehensiveness: the story is drowned in the vast wealth of data as he covers every proposal and amendment in chronological order, and much of the compelling human drama that made FOPA so crucial plays out in the footnotes. Hardy also wrote a mainstream article on FOPA in 2011 which is dramatically more accessible, but goes into far less detail.

In addition, David Kopel’s eulogy for key FOPA sponsor Harold Volkmer (D-Missouri) is a readable celebration of the man’s service to our fundamental right to arms, covering several important highlights of the FOPA fight. Volkmer, incidentally, is one of those unsung heroes of our community, who continued defending gun rights through the Bad Old Days of the Clinton administration, was overwhelmingly elected to the NRA Board of Directors, joined the Board of Trustees of the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund, and even on his deathbed made time to study and make recommendations on case proposals that had been submitted to the CRDF. But I digress. We’ll talk more about Volkmer later.

The road to the GCA:

First, it’s not exactly accurate to talk about a date of passage for the GCA of 1968 because there isn’t precisely a gun control act of 1968. It was in fact three separate laws passed in two groups. These three laws overlapped in some ways, diverged in some ways, and conflicted with each other in some ways. For example, each of the laws defined “prohibited persons,” but each gave a different list of disqualifications. One barred only dealer sales to prohibited persons, while the others barred possession by them as well. They also defined “firearm” differently and had different criteria for regaining your rights, so you might find yourself disqualified from buying but not from possessing some guns but totally barred from possessing other guns, and able to regain your rights to some guns but not others, with the scope of prohibition and relief and penalties sometimes arbitrary depending on which language the court decided to use. Even the convictions that could disqualify you varied, with some standards including certain specified misdemeanors, while others exempted certain specified felonies. It was a mess all the way down.

The story of the GCA begins in the 1950s, when the postwar surplus boom cut into American gun manufacturers’ sporting gun profits. All the militaries of the developed world had spent years building and contracting for as many rifles as they possibly could, and then the damned Germans had gone and invented the assault rifle, rendering them all obsolete for military purposes. With most of the west clamping down on civilian arms, the American market was one vast sponge of economic prosperity and relatively liberal gun laws, ready to absorb the seemingly endless stocks of yesterday’s arsenal. If you’re Remington, it’s hard to sell as many $95 Model 700s as you’d like when Hunter’s Lodge is selling K98s out of ads in Popular Science for thirty-five bucks a pop, many of them already sporterized. Domestic gun manufacturers petitioned the State Department to restrict its issuance of import permits without success (indeed, after WWII the State Department actively facilitated the mass commercial importation of surplus, reasoning that those guns were safer in American civilian hands than arming international insurgent groups). Finding no help in the Executive branch, they turned to the legislature. The first serious attempt saw an amendment banning surplus imports attached to the 1958 Mutual Security Act. Opposed by the NRA, the amendment was defeated in the Senate.

But gun manufacturers didn’t give up, and they split the pro-gun faction in Congress (some of whom were more loyal to the domestic industry than they were to the principle of free imports in particular). Through the 1960s they worked with Senator Thomas Dodd, a conservative Democrat from Connecticut (then home of over a half dozen major gun manufacturers) on a series of efforts to restrict surplus imports and mail-order gun sales, a cause in which they were joined by anti-gun representatives. As they failed to pass in the face of resistance from the NRA and its Congressional allies, these efforts actually increased in ambition, growing from early proposals that required notarized statements of eligibility and local LEO approval to buy guns by mail, into full-blown replacements for the Federal Firearms Act of 1938. By 1968, the various proposals included lists of prohibited persons, import bans, assorted bans and restrictions on interstate sales, and the expansion of the NFA to cover “destructive devices.”

Two of these ambitious bills (S. 1-90 and S. 917) passed together in early 1968. They covered substantially the same ground, but with anomalous differences that would cause many headaches in the coming decades. They created most of the FFL system we know today, locking gun sales into a restrictive brick-and-mortar model, restricting Destructive Devices, expanding the prohibited persons list to most of its current scope, and banning the importation of milsurp handguns. But the antis were not done; 1968 was a golden opportunity for them. While the bills were still being debated in the Congress, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated; President Johnson publicly denounced the laws as a “half-way measure” that “[left] the deadly commerce in lethal shotguns and rifles without effective control.” A third bill was introduced on June 10, 1968. It added an interstate transfer ban, federal age limits for sales, more prohibited persons (uncoordinated with the other lists), restrictions on the sale and transfer of “handgun ammunition,” and mandatory penalties for possessing a gun while committing certain crimes, and expanded the import ban to all “non-sporting” firearms. All together, the provisions of the three laws constitute what we call the Gun Control Act of 1968.

The GCA in practice:

On its face, the GCA was largely acceptable to the American mainstream. The consensus we know today (that unrestricted mail-order of guns is just too scary to be acceptable) was already strong, and most Americans weren’t too upset by the idea of dealer licensing and having to buy their guns in their home states or with having to fill out a form documenting the transaction. And with all the milsurp already in the country, few people were scandalized by the import ban.

But the practical effect of the GCA would go totally off the rails as a result of two events: the ATF was made into a full bureau in 1969, and the price of sugar skyrocketed in the early 1970s.

That second seemingly unrelated event suddenly made moonshining unprofitable, and the newly expanded ATF ended up with five to six hundred field agents with very little to do, their traditional job of enforcing alcohol taxes suddenly made unnecessary. To prove that they were still relevant (and not incidentally, to please their viscerally anti-gun Executive, Richard Nixon), the ATF embarked on a series of high-profile projects to aggressively enforce the new federal gun laws. Agents and supervisors were reassigned to high-crime cities in projects like 1977’s Operation Concentrated Urban Enforcement and given quotas of prosecutions and convictions to fill. Given the choice between the difficult, time consuming, and dangerous work of infiltrating gangs and organized crime– …or shaking down honest gun dealers and collectors for procedural violations, ATF agents went after the latter hard. In 1978 William Pace, the director of an agents’ association wrote:

Enormous pressure was placed on agents…to “produce statistics.” One agent was given an advertisement from an Alexandria, Virginia newspaper offering two guns for sale. Acting undercover he purchased one (a .22 caliber target pistol) and reported that the seller was not a “dealer” and had only one other for sale, a .22 caliber rifle. He was told to return to the citizen, purchase the rifle and charge him with carrying on the business of a firearms dealer without a license…

Approximately 65 agents were transferred from the [Southeastern enforcement region] to the Washington, D.C. area for CUE. Because of the pressure exerted against them, only two of them are still in that area and only about 10 are still in the federal service. Those that were not eligible for optional retirements sought disability retirements. The Special Agent in Charge who pressured these agents was later commended by the BATF.

Also in 1978, Former enforcement agent Phillip A. Pitton wrote to a Senator his account of this era in the Bureau:

I entered the BATF, after several years of service as a border patrolman, immigrant inspector, and customs inspector, to realize a long time goal of becoming a Treasury agent. It was the biggest disappointment of my life. During those four years, I witnessed entrapment and conspiracy on the part of agents and high ranking supervisors that time and time again resulted in the arrests of honest, law-abiding citizens who had no prior arrests [sic] records. Generally these arrests resulted in [sic] the victim’s selling of three firearms to an undercover BATF agent.

In northern Illinois at that time, and probably so now, one had only to sell three firearms to be classified as a dealer in firearms. This gave enormous entrapment powers to an agent who desire [sic] to make a lot of cases to impress his supervisors. Here we had a man who owned some guns. He could go to any store and buy more. It was not illegal to own guns. Who would have thought that by selling three of his guns that he would be committing a Federal felony? Yes, in this manner hundreds of people went to jail.

Hardy describes the level of oversight of these operations in terms I can’t improve on: “At one point, the Bureau indicated that between 1972 and 1979, only seven agents were disciplined for arrest-related misconduct–and this included two oral and four written reprimands…Considering that the agency then had approximately a thousand agents enforcing firearm laws, this indicated either angelic behavior or lack of oversight. As shown infra, the former explanation is not warranted by the facts.”

The Congressional hearings before the consideration of FOPA involved the testimony of many gun collectors and legitimate dealers targeted by the ATF under their aggressive reading of the GCA. This is just a selection of that tiny subset of ATF victims:

…the lead-off witness at the first oversight hearing was a disabled veteran, set up in the gunsmithing business by the Veterans’ Administration. When approached by an informant with an offer to buy guns illegally, he had responded by telephoning BATF with the informant’s license plate number and a request for his prosecution. He was nonetheless charged with a technical violation–possession of a semiautomatic firearm with a receiver arguably, and unknown to him, meant for a machinegun. The District Court dismissed charges and apologized on behalf of the United States.

…Paul & Billie Hayes: seizure of entire inventory for six alleged improper sales; attempted license revocation after acquittal; attempted forfeiture of inventory after license issuance;

Gene Lane: attempted license revocation after acquittal; informant paid on contingency basis;

Patrick Mulcahey: prosecution of collector for “engaging in the business” of gun dealing, based upon three sales over two-year period; seizure of 89-gun collection based on that allegation; forfeiture after acquittal.

Robert Best: collector, told by one agent did not need dealer’s license, later unsuccessfully prosecuted for alleged dealing without license; Robert Wampler: same; entire collection, and some firearms stored for brother, seized, and no forfeiture action taken as of three years later.

Richard Boulin: dealer-collector prosecuted for selling firearms from collection without recording collection in dealer records; prosecution for unintentional violation, where BATF director stated even he thought conduct was legal; seizure of entire collection; unable to obtain relief from disability, since conviction was for Gun Control Act charge;

David Berry: dealer; prosecuted for inadvertent violations; conviction set aside by court

Preston Brown: hunter, arrested while on interstate hunting trip, for failure to have firearm permit while passing through a state requiring it;

Edwin Phillips: collector, prosecuted for inadvertently selling two firearms from collection to resident of another state.

David Moorhead: enforcement of strict liability, on technical point, against person with no illicit intent;

Curtis Earl: search, seizure, and unsuccessful request for indictment based on erroneous agency records;

A.W. Phillips: Attempted revocation of dealer’s license based on criminal charges earlier dismissed…

The Senate floor debate opened with a recitation of four cases, illustrative of those at which FOPA was directed. Two of the four concerned collectors charged with “engaging in the business.” … On the House floor, two of seven cases cited by Rep. Volkmer as the basis of his substitute involved collectors arrested on this charge.

…Few bills have seen as heavy a use of hearings in floor debates.

Even when the ATF blanched, other federal actors could use the GCA to extremely abusive effect:

One particularly aggravated case of overcharging was discussed at length during the Senate floor debates. It apparently involved a personal grudge on the part of a U.S. Attorney who, on his own, pressed a case Treasury had refused to take and charged the defendant with 88 felony counts, all dealing with recordkeeping. The jury took two hours to acquit on all charges. It was also pointed out that the defendant’s attorney’s fees totalled $100,000.

As you can see, one of the provisions of the GCA most weaponized by the ATF was the FFL requirement. The GCA had created these licenses as a “may issue” proposition, with only hazy guidance regarding who needed one and who should be issued one. The ATF was capricious in its own determinations. In one case, they determined that the executor of an estate that included firearms needed an FFL to dispose of those firearms. Internal ATF documents advised agents that “the term ‘engaged in the business’ is not defined in the law or regulations and is not susceptible to a rigid definition,” while simultaneously pressuring them to prosecute violations as aggressively as possible. Factors as trivial as whether or not a person placed a classified ad or possessed gunsmithing tools could be used as evidence that he was or was not “engaged in the business” depending on whether the Bureau was trying to deny a license or prosecute unlicensed sales.

The case law was equally vague, and two different standards developed in different federal districts. The test laid down in United States v. Gross held that a “dealer” is anyone who is engaged in any business of selling firearms, and that “business” is “that which occupies time, attention and labor for the purpose of livelihood or profit.” The second test (originating in United States v. Jackson), held that a person is a “dealer” if he “[has] guns on hand or [is] ready and able to procure them, in either case for the purpose of selling some or all of them to such persons as [he] might from time to time conclude to accept as customers.” You will note that this theoretically allows prosecution for “dealing” without a license of a person who does not in fact own any guns apart from the one he sold, if the prosecution argues that he presented himself as able to obtain more for sale.

Both of the tests were applied in extremely broad ways, and frequently used to prosecute collectors. In this environment, gun collectors “were required to act at their own risk, subject to felony sanctions,” with no useful way to determine ahead of time whether their actions would be considered legal. When asked by Congress to set a consistent standard, ATF director Rex Davis said that “the term ‘engaged in the business’ is not susceptible to a rigid definition…it can not be included in published regulations…the ‘standard’ changes, not only from one year to the next, but on a case by case basis.”

Hardy notes a test case organized by FOPA proponents to demonstrate the arbitrariness of the ATF’s determinations:

The accuracy of these frank appraisals was documented by one organization, which sent identical requests for advice on a given set of facts to seven agency regional offices. Two replied that no dealer’s license was needed, one sent an application for a license, one sent a question-and-answer pamphlet without further explanation, and two never replied. The last office, which was inadvertently sent two requests for the opinion, replied to one with an opinion that no license was needed and to the other with a form to apply for the license!

Under the Gun Control Act, all violations are “strict liability” offenses with an extremely high penalty: “whoever violates any provision of this chapter … shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” If a gun shop clerk makes a mistake on the 4473, that’s a felony. Under a strict liability standard, the prosecution doesn’t even need to show that you knew you’d committed the crime in question: imagine buying a used AR at a gun shop, walking out the door, and being arrested because the rifle’s previous owner had converted it to full-auto without your knowledge. This was the scope of power the ATF had to prosecute people who had done everything they could reasonably be expected to do to comply with the law. And boy howdy, they used that power. In this era it was a common sight at gun shows to see legitimate collectors led away in handcuffs after falling prey to an ATF setup.

The ATF was also empowered to seize any guns “used in, involved in, or intended to be used in any violation,” and the Bureau routinely seized entire collections and dealers’ entire inventory, on the grounds that a paperwork violation in one sale indicated an intent to commit paperwork violations in more sales. (The wording in the GCA was based on the standard for forfeiture of imported goods by Customs, which involves far fewer due process protections than Americans expect in the exercise of their enumerated Constitutional rights.) Case law established by United States v. 89 Firearms actually allowed the Bureau to seize weapons even when the accused person was acquitted or had the charges dropped.

After seizure, the ATF could initiate steps to forfeit the guns, taking permanent ownership for themselves (the Senate committee noted that as the years progressed the ATF showed a pattern of targeting increasingly valuable guns for forfeiture). But the owner’s opportunity to contest began only when that forfeiture was initiated, and they could opt to delay that process for up to five years; this allowed them to simply withhold a dealer’s entire inventory with no legal recourse for the victim, effectively forcing them out of business even if no criminal or civil action was ever taken. During FOPA debate, Senators cited “cases of agency holding seized collections for 2-3 years without filing action,” and “a consistent pattern of harassment of legitimate gun dealers by BATF.”

That pattern of harassment was also enabled by the unfettered authority the GCA gave the Bureau to inspect or demand the physical delivery of dealers’ records, resulting in harassment, business disruptions, and “fishing expeditions” in which agents could comb through the 4473s looking for paperwork violations to prosecute as felonies. If you think the antis’ modern strategy of trying to discourage banks from working with gun companies is a monstrous burden on the practical function of the trade in legal firearms– …well, you’re right. But the post-GCA environment was many orders of magnitude worse, with every gun dealer just one short straw away from prison or financial ruin.

I can sum up the situation no better than the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcomittee on the Constitution, whose seven members unanimously expressed the opinion that:

Based upon these hearings it is apparent that enforcement tactics made possible by current federal firearms laws are constitutionally, legally, and practically reprehensible. Although Congress adopted the Gun Control Act with the primary object of limiting access of felons and high-risk groups to firearms, the overbreadth of the law has led to neglect of precisely this area of enforcement…

The Subcommittee received evidence that BATF has primarily devoted its firearms enforcement efforts to the apprehension, upon technical malum prohibitum charges [that is, charges of procedural violations that cause no actual harm to anyone], of individuals who lack all criminal intent and knowledge. Agents anxious to generate an impressive arrest and gun confiscation quota have repeatedly enticed gun collectors into making a small number of sales–often as few as four–from their personal collections. Although each of the sales was completely legal under state and federal law, the agents then charged the collector with having “engaged in the business” of dealing in guns without the required license. Since existing law permits a felony conviction upon these charges even where the individual has no criminal knowledge or intent numerous collectors have been ruined by a felony record carrying a potential sentence of five years in federal prison. Even in cases where the collectors secured acquittal, or grand juries failed to indict, or prosecutors refused to file criminal charges, agents of the Bureau have generally confiscated the entire collection of the potential defendant upon the ground that he intended to use it in that violation of the law. In several cases, the agents have refused to return the collection even after acquittal by jury.

The rebuttal presented to the Subcommittee by the Bureau was utterly unconvincing. Richard Davis, speaking on behalf of the Treasury Department, asserted vaguely that the Bureau’s priorities were aimed at prosecuting willful violators, particularly felons illegally in possession, and at confiscating only guns actually likely to be used in crime. He also asserted that the Bureau has recently made great strides toward achieving these priorities. No documentation was offered for either of these assertions. In hearings before BATF’s Appropriations Subcommittee, however, expert evidence was submitted [by Vernon Acree, former US Customs Commissioner, who had been hired by the NRA to investigate the ATF’s conduct] establishing that approximately 75 percent of BATF gun prosecutions were aimed at ordinary citizens who had neither criminal intent nor knowledge, but were enticed by agents into unknowing technical violations. (In one case, in fact, the individual was being prosecuted for an act which the Bureau’s acting director had stated was perfectly lawful.) In those hearings, moreover, BATF conceded that…only 9.8 percent of their firearm arrests were brought on felons in illicit possession charges [and that] in the months following the announcement of their new “priorities”, the percentage of gun prosecutions aimed at felons had in fact fallen by a third… All this indicates that the Bureau’s vague claims, both of focus upon gun-using criminals and of recent reforms, are empty words.

The road to FOPA

The situation was so bad that within the first decade after the GCA passed, the NRA and its allies in Congress set out to pass a new pro-gun law to defang its worst excesses. This was a huge task: at the time, gun control was ascendant and no ambitious pro-gun law had ever been passed at the federal level. To that point, gun rights organizations had been waging a long, agonizing delaying action, fighting like hell decade after decade just to lose as slowly as possible. But the ATF’s excesses had gotten so bad that they energized opposition. Senator Sasser called the GCA an “ill-conceived law […that] does not deal with or even purport to deal with misuse of firearms. It is purely and simply a regulatory statute…” joining other representatives in opining that the Gun Control Act was having no practical effect on violent crimes, and so they saw no social cost in restricting its scope. Rep. Hendon said “The present law has not done anything to the crooks…” Senator Stevens said “pervasive regulation is not the answer to the growing incidence of violent crime.”

Representative Harold Volkmer, a Democrat from Missouri, was one of the chief sponsors (indeed, at one point the bill that would become FOPA was called the McClure-Volkmer Act). He said of the bill that it would direct “enforcement toward those who illegally traffic in firearms, toward those who criminally use firearms, and away from regulation of the law-abiding citizen.”

Still, getting FOPA passed was a monumental effort. It took seven years to fight it past the defenses of the anti-gun opposition.

And they worked hard to prevent FOPA from passing. Originally introduced as the Federal Firearms Reform Act of 1979, getting it before the Senate required years of debate and negotiation on specifics between the NRA and the Treasury Department (absolutely nothing in FOPA is an accident; there were months-long fights over individual words), a showdown over tacking it onto a vital appropriations bill, the installation of a new Senate majority leader, mediation by the Reagan administration, and an unusually large number of Congressional hearings and conferences aimed at illuminating the abuses of the GCA. At long last, after years of work by hundreds of dedicated advocates, FOPA went to the Senate floor on July 9, 1985, and was passed after only one day of floor debate. The bill moved on to the House of Representatives.

But the House Judiciary Committee killed it instantly. In an act of bald hubris, the Committee chair Peter W. Rodino, Jr. (D–NJ)–instead of simply ignoring the bill, as is customary in these cases–immediately made a public statement that “the bill is dead on arrival in the House,” indicating his total refusal to allow it to come to the floor for a vote before his committee had even discussed it.

Even if the Judiciary committee had approved FOPA, it would still have to get past the crime subcommittee which was headed by Rep. William Hughes (D-NJ– …yes, that Hughes), and be scheduled by the Rules committee. The first two were dominated by anti-gun Democrats, and the third had a history of complying with the wishes of the staunchly anti-gun Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill (D-MA). The bill’s prospects were hopeless.

Or so it seemed. Volkmer, working with his pro-gun allies, filed a rare discharge petition to force the bill to the floor without the cooperation of the committees. Discharge petitions are very difficult to pass: they require the signatures of a majority of the House, and the list of signers is not published until the petition succeeds, so members can quietly decline to sign with little concern about political accountability. And signers can withdraw at any time, so any existing consensus must be constantly maintained while the leadership attempts to court more supporters. In the quarter-century before FOPA, only seven discharge petitions had succeeded. It took almost five months for FOPA’s supporters to get the necessary signatures (Volkmer had to personally persuade dozens of his fellow Democrats to defy their party leadership) but get the signatures they did. Allowed to examine the list of signatories but not to take notes, pro-FOPA representatives repeatedly divided up the task of memorizing the current list of hundreds of signatures, each committing to remember five names and combine their lists afterward. (Incidentally, some Congressmen who joined the petition cited Rodino’s inappropriate statements as part of their motive for signing.)

Days before the last signatures were secured, Rodino tried to kill the bill again by offering a watered-down replacement written by himself and Hughes, but by then it was too late. The House ultimately forced the discharge and brought FOPA to the floor.

There, the anti-gun faction attempted to kill or weaken FOPA with amendments that would have:

  • Imposed a nationwide 21-day waiting period on all handgun sales.
  • Imposed a nationwide 14-day waiting period on all handgun sales.
  • Neutered the “scienter” requirements (largely keeping the “strict liability” system for GCA violations).
  • Removed the due process guarantees for dealers.
  • Formally allowed multiple warrantless searches of FFLs’ premises per year.
  • Limited the interstate transport protections to only rifles and shotguns.
  • Limited the interstate transport protections to only guns transported for sporting purposes.

These amendments were all defeated. Unfortunately, the discharge petition that had been necessary to get FOPA to the floor also put a ten-hour time limit on amendment debates to prevent a filibuster, and its opponents saved one dirty trick for last. When the infamous Hughes Amendment was introduced, only minutes remained of the allowed debate time. It was declared passed on a hasty voice vote, and requests for a recorded vote were ignored. This one of their amendments made it alone into the final bill.

With the time for debate ended, the House made its final vote on the amended FOPA, and the bill passed by a surprisingly decisive 292 to 130, the Yea votes including 131 Democrats. President Reagan signed the bill, and it finally became law.

The effects of FOPA:

FOPA was not merely the law that lets us bring guns through anti-gun states while we’re traveling and terk er machern gerns.

Anti-gun representatives were incensed by FOPA specifically because of its extremely ambitious reach. James H Scheuer (D-NY) called it an “almost monstrous idea,” and Theodore S. Weiss (D-NY) called it a “national disgrace.” It overruled nearly two decades of case law by negating seven important Supreme Court decisions and about 70 lower federal court rulings, constituting about a third of the total post-CGA federal firearms case law. Among the greatest hits of those wiped out by FOPA:

  • United States v. One Assortment of 89 Firearms, and Dickerson v. New Banner Institute, which held that the ATF could force individuals to forfeit guns for alleged violations even after the owner had previously won a criminal acquittal.
  • United States v. Biswell, which upheld unlimited warrantless searches of licensed firearms dealers’ premises without reasonable cause.
  • United States v. Freed and United States v. International Minerals & Chem. Corp., which had imposed strict liability on GCA violations.
  • Galioto v. Department of Treasury, which turned on whether a person can get relief from a non-felony prohibition. (This case was still in litigation in 1986, and was mooted by FOPA. The GCA says you can get “relief from disability” for a felony conviction, but has no mention of relief for any other prohibitions. FOPA expands the scope of relief.)
  • United States v. Cody, and Thrall v. Wolfe, which held that expungement and pardon for a state-level conviction did not relieve the federal gun prohibition.
  • United States v. Jackson, which suppressed gun shows by preventing dealers from conducting transactions on those premises.

Among its specific provisions, FOPA:

Consolidated the three existing lists of prohibited persons, harmonized their requirements and consequences, and expanded options for relief of prohibition. It also allowed relief due to pardon and expungement, which had not granted relief under the GCA.

Introduced “scienter” requirements for GCA convictions. No more could a person be convicted without even knowing he’d committed a crime. The negotiations on this one were especially fierce, as the ATF was very strongly opposed to the higher burden of proof; but given their campaign of terror against harmless people, it was one of the top priorities for the NRA and pro-FOPA reps. In the final Act, conviction for some of the more serious GCA violations requires that the prosecution prove a “knowing” state of mind, and the rest carry the higher bar of proving a “willful” state; that is, to convict a person of possessing a stolen gun, the prosecution must only prove that he “knew” the gun was stolen, not that he knew it was illegal to possess a stolen gun and “willfully” broke that law; which, to be fair to the ATF, would be a kind of irrational standard of evidence in that case). Either requirement is a substantial improvement over the strict liability of the GCA. In passing this provision, Congress relied on a report estimating that a full three quarters of the ATF’s post-GCA prosecutions would have been forbidden under this new scienter requirement.

Substantially reduced penalties for procedural violations. The penalty for violating “any provision” of the GCA was a fine of up to $5,000, and/or up to five years in prison. FOPA reduced false or incomplete records to misdemeanor. (The buyer lying on the form is still a felony, and an illegal sale itself can still be a felony, but the Act ends felony prosecution for paperwork anomalies in otherwise legal sales.)

Substantially restricted the ATF’s authority to conduct warrantless inspections of dealers’ sale records. In general, inspections now had to be made with reasonable notice, while attempting to trace a firearm as part of a bona fide criminal investigation, and not for the purposes of prosecuting the dealer. Only one annual inspection was allowed to determine whether any willful violation of recordkeeping laws was being committed. In the event that records have to be seized for an investigation, FOPA limits the seizure to only those records material to the case (which shouldn’t have to be specified, but in the case of the 1970s ATF, it did), and copies must be furnished to the dealer. In response to an earlier ATF attempt to use its record-inspection powers to build a partial gun registry, this section also adds the formal ban on assembly of “any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions” by the Bureau.

Substantially narrowed the definition of “engaging in the business” of gun sales. The broad case law that allowed nearly any collector to be prosecuted for unlicensed sales was swept away in favor of a much narrower four-part test. To convict, all of the following factors must be proven:

  • devotion of time, attention and labor to such dealing;
  • as a regular course of trade or business;
  • with the principal objective of livelihood and profit;
  • through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms.

This change can hardly be overstated. Many collectors and firearms researchers will sell a privately owned gun and use the proceeds to buy a different gun, gradually cycling through firearms as interests change and as guns are learned from. Many people right here in this thread do this regularly. The prosecution of those people under the GCA was not regarded as a bug: FOPA’s opponents said plainly that they believed the GCA should target those collectors. The hostile House committee report, arguing against FOPA, said that under the proposed Act “occasional sales and exchanges for advancement of a hobby and sale of all or part of a ‘personal collection of firearms’ are expressly [permitted]…one who maintains that he buys and sells guns to make a little extra money to add to his personal collection of guns [is] for all intentions and purposes, a firearms dealer… A principal concern of the Committee is that we not permit individuals to buy, sell and distribute firearms on a repetitive, continuing basis… In a prosecution for engaging in the business without a license it is unreasonable to require that the prosecution prove that livelihood and profit was the principal objective of one who maintains that he buys and sells guns to make a little extra money to add to his personal collection of firearms, or because he enjoys learning about all the various firearms that pass through his hands in buying and selling them.” It’s only because of FOPA that an American today can sell his own guns over the course of owning them or dispose of more than one privately owned gun at once without fear of felony charges. This part of FOPA also swept away the disturbingly broad case law that allowed prosecution of people characterized as “able to obtain” guns for sale even if they owned no actual guns.

Restricted the ATF’s power to seize firearms. Because strict liability was no longer the standard, the ATF was implicitly restricted to seizing firearms connected to a knowing or willful violation. To end the mass seizure of collections and inventories, the Bureau would be required to separately specify each seized firearm’s relation to the violation, backed by clear and convincing evidence. The ATF’s practice of forfeiture of guns even from people who had been acquitted or had the charges dismissed was ended, and the practice of holding guns for up to five years without opportunity of appeal was restricted by a 120-day limit. As Hardy puts it, “A mandate that the judicial action be commenced within 120 days will, to be sure, place certain time pressures upon the enforcing agency, but Congress appears to have shown far more concern for the claimant’s deprivation than for the agency’s convenience.”

Established an award of attorney’s fees for defendants unjustly prosecuted or deprived of his property when the action “was without foundation, or was initiated vexatiously, frivolously, or in bad faith.” This was a radical step. As Representative William “Machine Guns REEEEEE!” Hughes put it, FOPA “would have us paying attorneys’ fees for persons charged with illegally possessing weapons who successfully defend themselves, something we do not do for others that in fact avoid conviction in criminal offenses.” Hardy cites case law to give examples of Bureau behavior that can provoke these awards “ranging from pleading factually unfounded or legally barred claims to failure to make reasonable inquiry into the law or use of harassing, though not technically illegal, tactics to outright perjury based on personal spite. The availability of awards for defense against an unfounded part of an action may militate against ‘overcharging’ a defendant.” This provision got ahead of the post-FOPA ATF, giving the Act teeth and preventing them from experimentally probing at the edges to see what they could get away with, and contributing to their following retreat from aggressive enforcement.

Protected interstate transportation of firearms. We all know this one, but it’s a really big deal. Without it, residents of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire would be unable to bring their guns out of that trio, hemmed in as they are by the license requirements of New York, Massachusetts, and Canada. As previously noted, FOPA opponents tried to attach a “sporting purposes” amendment to this provision, which would have barred the transportation of guns used for personal defense or collecting; Hughes was particularly annoyed by the defeat of this amendment, galled by the idea that a citizen might transport a gun “for any reason he chooses.”


The GCA was a disaster for gun rights in ways that few modern gun rights advocates appreciate, and FOPA was far more necessary that it’s typically given credit for. We have the luxury today of being so upset about the closure of the machine gun registry only because we’re accustomed to a dramatically safer regulatory environment in which the residents of free states have very few significant legal threats to worry about; and we have the luxury of being outraged at the ATF over the occasional import spat or absurdly botched Fast and Furious project only because the age of their agents aggressively entrapping honest dealers and collectors by the hundreds is largely forgotten. Before 1986, the ATF was an agency wildly out of control, trying to fill ambitious quotas of lives and businesses ruined and guns confiscated. FOPA didn’t instantly end every hint of misconduct in the Bureau (indeed, they’d get carried away six years later in the Ruby Ridge debacle), but their priorities rapidly tacked away from harassment and entrapment on a large scale of ordinary American citizens, and their major operations became increasingly rare.

Today the ATF has been reined in so effectively that they’re actively avoiding prosecution and regulation over trivial matters, deliberately interpreting the NFA as permissively as possible when the industry invents things like “pistol braces,” Shockwave-style “firearms,” or that stupid straight-rifled non-SBR. They studiously avoided regulating bump stocks until directly ordered to by the President. They circulated a white paper expressing their support for deregulating suppressors and liberalizing the “sporting purposes” import restriction. It’s a tamed agency that acts more like an office trying to get its job done in good faith than like a predatory agency aggressively ruining lives and suppressing civil rights to justify its budget.

FOPA was desperately needed, and was passed only through years of heroic, sustained effort by the NRA and a coalition of dedicated Congressmen. They defeated attempt after attempt to kill it, neuter it, and attach anti-gun amendments, and it would have been absolute madness to drop it right before the final vote just because one of those amendments got through. Bluntly, as much as so many modern gun rights advocates hate to hear it, machine guns just aren’t that important. FOPA was a deliverance from oppression for the American gun culture, and the Hughes amendment was a small price to pay for it.

Appendix: A note on machine gun conversion kits

While researching this, I learned about an incredibly stupid wrinkle in NFA regulation that I’ve never heard of before, which I believe actually allows the registration of unregistered “machine guns” under an extremely obscure and limited set of circumstances. I include it here just as a curiosity. If you do this, be sure to tell the judge that some guy on Reddit said it was fine, and you’ll be okay.

The National Firearms Act, as we all know, defined a “machine gun” as any firearm that fires more than one round with a single operation of the trigger. Prior to 1968, “M2 conversion kits” could be widely sold as surplus, making it easier to convert an M1 carbine to full-auto (the actual conversion would still be illegal without registration, but the ATF was displeased by how easy this made it to ignore the law). In order to close that venue, the Gun Control Act expanded the definition: from that point, any “combination of parts” intended to convert a firearm to full auto was itself a machine gun, and required registration.

What does a good capitalist do? Why, he designs a single-part conversion kit (usually a modified trigger or interrupter) that won’t trip the “combination of parts” definition, of course. And the market did provide.

To address this extremely silly situation, FOPA further amends the definition to “part or combination of parts,” making those triggers and interrupters into machine guns in their own right, requiring registration.

Simultaneously, the Hughes Amendment says “it shall be unlawful for any person to transfer or possess a machinegun,” with an exception for “a machinegun that was lawfully possessed before the date this subsection takes effect.” We paraphrase this as “closing the registry,” but that’s not exactly true. The ATF could theoretically go right ahead and register the three-hole AR you just made in your garage, but owning it would still be illegal even with the tax stamp.

But if you happen to have a contraband single-part conversion kit that was “legally owned” under the pre-FOPA oversight, the ATF can register it for you and you’re good.

…as long as you can fit all the required engravings on the part.

Link to /u/tablinum’s original post

Thanks for your hard work dude!

Reactive target stand options

You have been crushed by a wall of text. Take 2d6 damage.

Tl;dr Full album on Imgur with descriptions.

This post is based on a request for information from a client who objects to my haphazard way of doing my website. 😀

Standard angle iron base (BATTLEBORN)

Battle born stand
Utilizes 3” angle iron and 2×4 pockets with a set screw to build a simple H-frame with a vertical 2×4. Three sections of 2×4 approximately four foot long required. Simple, beefy. Service pistols do nothing, magnum pistol may dent it but do no damage. Rifle will zip right through. Most damage can be fixed with a die grinder (monster dremel) or file. Stable as all get out if you use four foot 2x4s, can be set up at fairly aggressive angles. If you shoot up the vertical 2×4, you can always swap it for a horizontal and keep shooting. Depending on the target you have mounted on it, you can get away with one horizontal leg. Has to ship UPS/FedEx. Recommended for people who plan to buy a base for every target.

Modular base (MODB)

Modular base
Utilizes 2×4” rectangular tubing and a set screw to build a simple H-frame with a vertical 2×4. Modular, additional vertical 2x4s can be added by slipping on the vertical component and 2×4. Four sections of 2×4 approximately four foot long required (assuming one vertical component). Simple, light. Service pistol may damage the pockets (dents), magnum will damage the pockets (deep dents) rifle will zip right through. Most damage can be fixed with a die grinder or file. Easily replaced components if you really mangle them. Stable as all get out if you use four foot 2x4s, can be set up at fairly aggressive angles. If you shoot up the vertical 2×4, you can always swap it for a horizontal and keep shooting. USPS Flat Rate shipping available. Recommended for people who will be setting up each time they go out and tearing down at the end, and who want to potentially have multiple targets on the same stand. May require use of shims depending on your specific 2×4 dimensions.

Formed AR base (ARMORBORN)

Formed AR armored base and upright
Utilizes formed 1/4” AR400 and 2×4 pockets to build a simple H-frame with a vertical section of formed AR 400. Two sections of 2×4 approximately four foot long required. Simple, overkill for many applications. Pistols do nothing, rifle if used as directed does nothing (occasional “JFK Magic Bullet” situations may punch the crown of the formed section, but it doesn’t affect use). table as all get out if you use four foot 2x4s, can be set up at fairly aggressive angles. Formed AR upright is held in by a set screw on the base. Has to ship UPS/FedEx.  Recommended for high volume ranges, machine gun use, and people who just really hate servicing targets and stands.

(Special order, contact MOA for this item)

A-Frame base (AFB)

MINIMO mounted on a-frame bracket
Utilizes 3/8” AR500 brackets, steel electrical conduit, and one 2×4 about four feet long. Simple, light. Stray rounds won’t hurt the brackets, but it’s a good idea to bring spare conduit. Stable as all get out, but can be jostled apart with high energy projectiles or machine gun fire. Duct taping the conduit to the bracket can solve that if need be. Great for suspending targets as well as stubbing 2x4s onto the cross bar for reactive target use. USPS Flat Rate shipping available.×4-bracket,%20target-stand

As always, good luck, have fun, don’t die.

“I made this” : A story of steel target design and meme warfare (CLAYSTAR)

Tldr The guy who has a history of getting butthurt about other companies building similar (or identical) steel target designs got called out for ripping off my new design.

Last summer I started prototyping a new version of a steel target system

Basically, I took the standard competition texas star concept and turned it on it’s head. Instead of shooting the first paddle off and then picking off the rest as it spun, you had to shoot clay targets out of the paddles. If you hit a paddle, you’d get penalized, and it would then start swinging, making it harder.

Jade Struck @ Superstition Mystery Mountain 3Gun (SMM3G) 2018

I kept the system a secret until a big 3gun match in Arizona this spring, Superstition Mystery Mountain in Mesa AZ. It went great, everyone loved (hated) it and a fine time was had by all.
One of my major competitors, Travis Gibson of MGM Targets, was at the match.

The system has been used in another major 3gun match since then, and a couple minor ones. I’ve sold a few system and the paddles. Time passed.

Here’s where things get interesting. The Lucas Oil PCC Championship was this weekend. I started getting messages yesterday from people asking if I had a Claystar at the Lucas Match. Nope.

Turns out MGM provided all the steel, including a claystar system compatible with their star, which they called a claystar (which is what I’ve been calling it).

All good, I don’t patent these things, I just want the credit. There’s a long history in the steel targets industry of not patenting things, and competing on your ability to make a solid design at a fair price backed with good customer service, and giving credit to the creator when they come up with something new. Texas Stars are generally attributed Terry Ashton of Texas, utilizing oil field scrap and pipe. Polish plate racks I’m fairly sure are the creation of North Salt Lake Welding. The first dueling tree documentation I have found involved Jeff Cooper and Seligman Shooting Products. The pepper popper is named for instructor John Popper. The claystar is my current contribution to the industry, IDGAF if other companies make it, I’d just like a crack at selling it to people along with the targets that hold it.

So, I posted up on my biz facebook, tagged him and his biz. Shit blew up reaaaaaal good.

A few hours later I got a from someone who indicated he’s with MGM, and that they had no idea that Travis had done this and that he wanted me to know what good people the are, and that they won’t be selling the claystar, and if they do they will credit me. I told him that’s fine, I just want credit. A post on their site or FB thanking me for letting them use my concept in the Lucas match would be nice, I said. I mean, calling ahead of time to ask for permission rather than forgiveness would have been better, but we can’t change the past.

I kinda doubt that is coming.

I’ve gotten some real nasty reviews from his sponsored shooters at this point, but I also picked up a bunch of new nice reviews from people who saw what was going on and finally chimed in on their own targets they bought from me, or shot at events. It’s been interesting to see it unfold.

Ah well, at least we have the memes.

So, at the end of the day, I dunno how this will play out long term, but at least I’ve got a cool story bro to go with the target design now.

On why silencers were included in the National Firearms Act of 1934

This article has been stolen (with permission) entirely from user of Reddit. Permission is granted to repost with credit to him, in it’s entirety only.


WARNING: Wall o’ text! tl;dr for the lazy:

In the official congressional record, no reasons were given at all. In fact, in any official record, “silencers or mufflers” were not mention on the house or senate floor, outside of when the bill text was read aloud, and only mentioned twice in the committee sessions:

  • During the Hearing for the Committee of Ways and Means (House), to state that the only use for a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or a silencer is criminal, outside of the use be officers.

    Mr. Fuller [Committee member from Arkansas]. If a man is carrying that type of weapon, if he is not an officer, he ought to be taken into custody anyway, because we know that he is carrying it for an unlawful purpose; I am referring to such a weapon as a sawed-off shotgun or machine gun, or silencer. General Reckord [Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association of America]. We agree with that.

  • During Hearing for Subcommittee on S. 885, S. 2259, and S. 3680; Committee on Commerce (Senate) to add “therefor” after “a muffler or silencer” in the definition of “firearms” for the purposes of the act, makes it clear the mufflers or silencers being regulated are just the one for use with a firearm (as opposed to all mufflers or silencers for anything). A mistake that wasn’t made in the house version of the bill.

It appears that the reason for the inclusion of silencers in the National Firearms Act of 1934 is completely unknown to the official record. The NFA was cooked up in the Department of Justice and advocated for by Hon. Homer S. Cummings, Attorney General of the United States and (especially) Hon. Joseph B. Keenan Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice. I have been unable to find any credible source outlining the reason silencers were included in the NFA, and this knowledge likely died with Cummings, Keenan, and their staff. If anyone can point me to a credible source, I’d love to see it.

I will also note, that the National Rifle Association of America, the American Game Association, and the American Legion strongly advocated for many changes that were, in my opinion, the sole reason we’re even having this fight today. More on that at the end. (Also, Colt Patent Firearms Manufactuing Co. and Auto Ordnance Co. can suck a bag of dicks.)

In depth discussion

Back in this thread on r/firearms about the Hearing Protection Act, u/Average_Sized_Jim claimed the reason for inclusion of scilencers in the National Firearms Act of 1934 was to prevent poaching (one of the most frequent reasons given). u/Estaban2 asked for a source for this reason, and u/DaSilence responded that (s)he’d never been able to find a source online, but that you could go to the Library of Congress (LOC) and get the transcripts of the floor speeches that were made on the record in 1933, and that they talk extensively about poaching.

That response was interesting enough, that I decided it was time to do a little investigating. Typically the LOC (and any government documents repository) will have many of these records digitized and available online, so I was surprised that u/DaSilence handn’t been able to find them. After a quick Google search, I learned that the NFA was passed during the 73rd congressional session, and that transcripts are available online via the LOC for most US Congressional Sessions, but there is a gap between the 43rd congressional session and the 104th. Damned, the NFA was passed right in the middle of the gap. So, let’s just ask a librarian at the LOC if the transcripts are available online anywhere. (Note, I could just request the transcripts via InterLibrary Loan, but as you’ll see, talking to the librarians first saves a bit of effort.)

My Inquiry:

Is there a digital archive containing transcripts of speeches made on the house and senate floor during the 73rd US Congressional session? I am researching the political conditions surrounding the passage of the Nation Firearms Act of 1934 and I’d like to be able to read the discussions surrounding the passage of that act. Thank you, ~ u/CookingWithoutWater

I also mentioned I had looked at the above LOC webpage in the “Resources Already Consulted” section of the Ask-A-Librarian form.

Inital response:

Thank you for using the online resources of the Library of Congress. The Digital Reference Section has received your question. Your question will be assigned to a digital reference specialist and you should receive a response within five business days.

Okay cool.

The very next day, I recieved this reply:

The Congressional Record, which contains House and Senate floor debates and speeches, is not available on the Library’s website from the 1930s.

That being the case, we have attached three PDF files to this message that contain the floor debates related to the National Firearms Act of 1934 as they appear in the Congressional Record. According to the legislative history of the National Firearms Act of 1934, this act was only discussed on the following three dates:

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD: 78 Congressional Record, 73rd Congress, 2nd Session (1934)

June 13, 1934, Rules suspended; passed House June 18, 1934, Amended and passed Senate; Senate receded from amendment June 18, 1934, House disagreed with Senate amendment

For future reference, you can find the Congressional Record from 1876 to 1988 at a local Federal depository library. Federal publications such as the Congressional Record are made available for free public use in Federal depository libraries throughout the United States. The Congressional Record is available in print, microfilm, and through online subscription databases such as ProQuest Congressional and HeinOnline. A listing of Federal depository libraries in Tennessee can be found on the GPO website at:

From this page, click on the link “Locate a Federal Depository Library Near You” to find a listing of Federal depository libraries in your state.

You may also find useful the following hearings and reports that are part of the legislative history of the National Firearms Act of 1934. The full-text of these hearings and reports can be found on the HathiTrust Digital Library at:


TITLE: National Firearms Act DATE: Apr. 16, 1934 Apr. 18, 1934 May 14-16, 1934 COMMITTEE: Committee on Ways and Means. House LENGTH:170 pp.

TITLE: To Regulate Commerce in Firearms DATE: May 28-29, 1934 COMMITTEE: Subcommittee on S. 885, S. 2258, and S. 3680; Committee on Commerce. Senate LENGTH:108 pp.


TITLE: Taxation and Regulation of Firearms DOCUMENT-DATE: May 28, 1934 COMMITTEE: Committee of the Whole House. House; Committee on Ways and Means. House DOC-NO: H.rp.1780 SERIAL-VOLUME: 9776 LENGTH: 4 pp.$b633011?urlappend=%3Bseq=1111

TITLE: Taxation and Regulation of Firearms DOCUMENT-DATE: June 6, 1934 COMMITTEE: Committee on Finance. Senate DOC-NO: S.rp.1444 SERIAL-VOLUME: 9770 LENGTH: 3 pp

Thank you for using the Library’s Ask-A-Librarian service.


The Digital Reference Section/KD Library of Congress

Hell yeah, librarians are the best. You can see the three attached transcripts here (PDF WARNING!): PDF1PDF2, and PDF3.

78 Congressional Record, 73rd Congress, 2nd Session (1934):

Unfortunately, silencers and mufflers were not discussed on the house or senate floor at all, except to declare that the act regulates them. So, the reason for inclusion of silencers cannot be found in the transcript of floor speeches (sorry u/DaSilence).

These are all short PDFs and actually a interesting to read, so I’d suggest reading them; points I found particularly interesting:

  1. This act was to prevent “criminals, racketeers, and gangsters” from gaining access to the types of regulated arms. Dillinger and Capone were the bogeymen of the era, and much of the discussion revolved around them.
  2. “Ladies’ organizations” and “promenent women” were lobbying hard for keeping pistols and revolver in the bill, but the Committee on Ways and Means removed pistols and revolvers because:

    The majority of the committee were of the opinion, however, that the ordinary, law-abiding citizen who feels that a pistol or a revolver is essential in his home for the protection of himself and his family should not be classed with criminals, racketeers, and gangsters; should not be compelled to register his firearms and have his fingerprints taken and be placed in the same class with gangsters, racketeers, and those who are known as criminals.

  3. Self-defense was a prominent reason in the 1930s to own a pistol or revolver, a fact that should shock no one.
  4. The $200 amount for the tax as set because that was about the cost of a machine gun of the time — effectively a 100% tax.

Okay, so that was a bust in terms of silencers, so what about the other documents referenced that are part of the legislative history?

Hearing for the Committee of Ways and Means, House:

The only time mufflers or silencers were mentioned was to state that the only use for a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or a silencer is criminal, outside of the use be officers.

Mr. Fuller [Committee member from Arkansas]. If a man is carrying that type of weapon, if he is not an officer, he ought to be taken into custody anyway, because we know that he is carrying it for an unlawful purpose; I am referring to such a weapon as a sawed-off shotgun or machine gun, or silencer. General Reckord [Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association of America]. We agree with that.

Hearing for Subcommittee on S. 885, S. 2259, and S. 3680; Committee on Commerce, Senate:

The only time mufflers or silencers were mentioned was to add “therefor” after “a muffler or silencer” in the definition of “firearms” for the purposes of the act, makes it clear the mufflers or silencers being regulated are just the one for use with a firearm (as opposed to all mufflers or silencers for anything). A mistake that wasn’t made in the house version of the bill.

Report for the Committee of the Whole House; Committee on Ways and Means, House:

Just a short summary of the bill.

Report for the Committee on Finance, Senate:

Just a short summary of the bill.

Total bust; no real mention, discussion, or debate around them in the entire legislative history (sorry again u/DaSilence).

Okay, but, having read all that, I did find quite a bit of interesting stuff in there. Mostly, we have been having exactly the same [redacted] debate for near 100 years! The arguments that took place in the record (in no particular order):

  • Automobiles; “but licenses and registration because they are dangerous”
  • But [insert favorite country]’s homicide rate is ____
  • Pistol licensees are some of the most law abiding citizens
  • defensive gun use happens all the time and here are newspaper clippings to prove it
  • New York sucks a bag of dicks
  • criminals will get guns anyways
  • Only use for ____ is criminal (even body armor came up because it’s “for armament and purely a matter of criminal use.”)
  • NRA are propagandists (but the antis are honest and forthright) and publishing magazine articles about legislation and informing their members is nefarious (because informed citizenry has always been a bad thing apparently) [Note: senate committee meeting has the text of most of the NRA publication about the NFA of the time. Someone asked the NRA to bring in copies to submit to the record.]
  • Wont someone think of the children?
  • “Crime literature” is bad and influences our poor children (why won’t someone think of the children?)
  • for manufacturers to “keep on file at least one bullet fired from each gun”.
  • Micro-stamping of bullets. (I didn’t know that argument was so damn old either.)
  • Magazine capacity (original definition of machine gun had it as any automatic or semi-automatic gun capable of shooting more than 12 bullets without reloading)
  • Regulating ammunition like a firearm
  • Criminals mostly steal their weapons
  • Firearms are designed to kill
  • Police, in general, don’t know marksmanship
  • The great equalizer

I cannot believe how amazing close to word-for-word this argument was compared to today’s arguments.Reading this whole shit show has been… interesting… to say the least.

On the NRA

When this bill was first introduced, the NRA had only gotten wind of it the day before, but came in on a train that night to testify in front of the house committee. General Reckord [Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association of America] was by far the main voice of opposition to this bill. I believe he alone speaks as much as the DoJ does. The NRA focused their entire effort on preventing:

  • Machine guns being defined as any automatic or semi-automatic gun capable of shooting more than 12 bullets without reloading. It was General Reckord that proposed the single action of the trigger definition we are all familiar with today.
  • Removing pistols and revolver. From the testimony, it is clear this is entirely due to his advocacy, and that of members of the NRA, and was bitterly fought by the DoJ.
  • Registration of all pistols and revolvers, and the ability to transfer them between citizens. Again, NRA vs DoJ.

Overall, I’d suggest that this was the most critical time in terms of the ability of a citizen to own, carry, and use firearms in general. It was very clear machine guns and sawed-off shotguns were going away and there was nothing anyone could do about it. All the congressmen balked at even the slightest hint of not including those. The machine gun and sawed-off shotgun clearly, in the eyes of the nation, were super evil scary things thanks to Dillinger and Capone (who gave them this whole regulation-by-tax idea, btw). Evenmore so, the Department of Justice really, really, wanted to essential end civilian firearms ownership, and without the NRA, I believe today we’d essintially be there. I’d say the NRA picked the right battles of the time and we (the firearm owners of America) all came out as best we could.

Likewise, silencers some how gained the same status of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns in the eyes of the DoJ, but I can’t think of any particularly high profile use of them for the era. There was more discussion of not regulating machine guns and sawed-off shotguns than all talk of silencers combined. It’s still utterly mystifying that they were included at the same level as machine guns, but not discussed at all, nor challenged by the NRA.

On last tidbit: at the time, Annual membership to the NRA was $3/year at the time; lifetime $25. They had approximately 1/4 million members. At the very end of the senate committee hearing, there is a income and expense statement for the NRA in 1933. A rather large, and well funded organization for the day. Oh, 1/2 of membership dues went to printing the American Rifleman magazine.

Link to /u/cookingwithoutwater’s original post

1/4″ AR400 as a Long Range Rifle Target

MOA Targets currently makes targets from four different steels. 3/8″, 1/2″, and 1″ AR500 for rifles, and 1/4″ AR400 for service pistols and rimfire. The 500 & 400 part is the Brinell hardness, where 400 is softer than 500.

We’re always working to improve our data and widen the use of steel targets. Being based in northern Nevada, we’ve got lots of wide open spaces to shoot long range. 300 yards is common and up to 1000 yards isn’t unusual for long range shooters out here. Recently, we figured out at what distances you can shoot the 1/4″ AR400 pistol targets with rifle.

The tl;dr is 556 at 300 yards, 308 at 500 yards. Limits on use are: 2500 fps at the target (as opposed to 2800 fps with AR500) and 1000 ft/lbs of energy at the target. The details of the test are below.

Our testing was primarily conducted with 5.56x45mm 55gr ammo fired from a 16″ barrel AR15 and 7.62x51mm 147gr ammo fired from a 16″ barrel AR10. The initial test was at 300 yards.

MOA AR500 steel target gong
Initial test platform. 8″ diameter 1/4″ AR400 gong, on MOA A-Frame bracket based stand.

At 300 yards, 5.56x45mm put a visible hit on the metal target but did no damage. The 7.62x51mm dented the target pretty badly.

556 at center, 308 at 4 o’clock, and 6.5CM at 2 o’clock
Deformation of edge strike by 6.5CM at 300 yards. 1/4 AR400 steel gong.

With these results in hand, we backed out to 800 yards and switched to 7.62x51mm and 270WIN. We also upped the target to a 18×12″ 1/4″ AR400 test plate, which is a standard size MOA product.

At 800 yards we got a great ring sound off this thinner than usual rifle gong and no damage. Ditto when we moved in to 600 yards. At 500 yards, the sound was excellent, and we did a careful examination for damage on the target. No damage noted at 500 yards.

12×18″ 1/4″ AR400 steel rifle gong. As engaged at 800, 600, and 500 yards with 7.52x51mm and 270WIN. No damage.
Edge view of 1/4″ AR400 steel rifle target. As engaged at 800, 600, and 500 yards with 7.62x51mm and 270WIN. No deformation of target noted.

At this point, we discontinued the test, as the math showed that if we moved in much closer we would start seeing deformation of the target. At distances less than 500 yards, long range shooters typically aren’t using a very large target, which reduces the need for a thinner (lighter) gong.

Advantages with using 1/4″ AR400 for long range rifle include: reduced weight and cost by going with the thinner material; improved sound return by going with the thinner steel; improved visibility of swinging target when struck, by reducing target mass.

Disadvantages  with using 1/4″ AR400 for long range rifle include: increased minimum engagement distance to prevent damaging the target, 300 yards for 556 instead of 100 yards with 3/8″ AR500 and 500 yards for 7.62x51mm (308WIN) instead of 100 yards with 3/8″ AR500; and explaining to your friends why you are using 1/4″ AR400 and what that means.

The minimum distances are recommendations only. These distances are based off the calibers and conditions as tested, with a result of a maximum velocity of the projectile at the target of 2500 fps and a maximum energy at the target of 1000 ft/lbs.

That means you’re gonna have to break out your ballistics charts before you go throwing rifle projectiles at pistol targets.

As a result of this testing, we have a new package deal for long range shooters. This package includes a 10×20″ 1/4″ AR400 steel rifle target, a set of A-Frame brackets, and 18″ firehose hang kit to put it all together. This package runs $100, and ships for free USPS flat rate. For another $60, you can add a second 10×20″ gong and the hardware to combine the two gongs into a 20×20″ target. Neat.

As a follow up to the new 1/4″ AR400 long range kit we did the same thing but in 3/8″ AR500, so you don’t have to worry about the increased minimum engagement distance. Same package details but in 3/8″ AR500. Out the door at $150, plus $100 for a second 10×20″ gong if you want to go big.

Four Ways to Mount an AR500 Target Gong

Phase 1: Buy an AR500 gong
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: SHOOT

MOA Targets offers gongs in three different basic configurations: Just a bare piece of steel with no holes, tabs or whatnot; 1-3 holes; or with what we call the Universal Mounting Tab.

Bolt on, two chains, two firehose straps, or the Universal Mount.

If you chose to go with the bare piece of steel, it’s a fair guess that this isn’t your first rodeo, and that you plan to weld it to something. We don’t like welding AR steel, due to the trouble with weakening the temper of this heat treated steel, and failed welds being difficult to fix in the field. Knock  yourself out if you want to do so though.

Holes and tabs are where it’s at for us. With holes, flexibility is king. One hole is good, two holes is better, three holes can be useful but is generally overkill.

One hole hanging options.

With one hole, we recommend using a firehose strap, or two chains. You can get away with one chain, but it’ll twist and be a PITA to engage rapid fire. A single firehose will twist as well, but not nearly as bad as chain. With two chains you get away from most of the twist. Worst case, you can always just screw it to the crossbar.

Two holes gives you some redundancy as well as stability.

Two holes give you a more stable setup, and gives you some redundancy when you invariably blow out a bolt head or chain. Just like with one hole, you can always screw it to the crossbar.

Do you want to build a snowman?

With two holes, you can also do fun stuff like daisy chain targets.

KISS – just bolt the sucker to the 2×4.

The two down sides to just bolting the target to the 2×4 crossbar (or whatever) is the inability to use carriage bolts, which reduce splash, and the reduced noise from strikes. Our testing has shown that the ability to swing has virtually no effect on target life, and increases the risk of engaging while the target isn’t facing at an appropriate angle.

Three holes are generally put on a 2, 6, 10 o’clock pattern, with the 6 o’clock used to tie the target back at the optimal angle to and keep it from swinging. Neat, but often overkill.

There’s a general recommendation, especially while shooting pistols, to lean the targets with the top towards the shooter at an angle of about 15 degrees. This helps direct splash (projectile fragments) towards the ground, and not the shooter.

The MOA Universal Mounting Tab system slips over the top of the standard 2×4, and leans forward just right. This gives you a boltless mounting system that’s durable and easy to use. With a long vertical 2×4 (four foot or so), you can use the whole thing as a dropping target. A more refined version of that concept is available from MOA as the 417 Determined Attacker system.

MOA Universal Tab and mount bracket, from the front.
Universal System, from the back.

Using the dropdown options when ordering a gong from MOA, you can request that a gong be cut with a Universal Mounting Tab, for use with the MOA Universal Mounting Bracket. Brackets are specific to target material thickness, but otherwise are interchangeable.

So there ya go, four easy ways to mount  your gong target.

A-frame bracket system, a simple way to get in the field quickly.

For those who are wondering what the wonderful A-Frame is, that’s the MOA A-Frame 2×4 bracket system. Stupid simple, and made of 3/8″ AR500 for long life. Also available to take round stock instead of a 2×4.

2×4 brackets, for quickly building your own a-frame

Good luck, have fun, don’t die.

Cola Warrior East 3 – Innocence Lost

September 2015 brought fair weather, green grass, and vomit to the wild woods outside Appomattox, Virginia for the third year running. Cola Warrior East once again interrupted the quiet rural lifestyle of the remote bit of humid subtropical Piedmont, with so much history, as a band of sugar charged locals and visitors converged to test their mettle.

As in the previous two events of the year, Cola Warrior West (Kingman, AZ) and Cola Warrior 5 (Liberty, MS), the format was five obstacles, an AK-47 to field strip, a package of Peeps to consume, a half mile of dirt to run, pistol and rifle targets to shoot, and 72oz of Freedom to chug.

East had been accused of being “diet” in past events, with the feeling by some that their obstacles weren’t up to snuff. Several East Vets came out to the inaugural West event, and are often found at the Classic event in Liberty MS. The obstacles at East 3 far more resembled Classic than West, and were decidedly *not* diet.

First, a wall that had about one board you could get a toe on, if you took a running launch. Climb up and over, without grabbing the sides. There was a trick to threading a belt through the wall, about six feet up, to give a hand hold. Didn’t help me or a bunch of other people summit the wall, but a fair number made it over.

Click on the photo for a gif of it in use (hosted on Imgur)

Second, a Salmon Ladder. There’s no trick to help here. It’s just torture. Lots of penalties assessed here.

Next, throw the big, ungainly chunk of wood over the cord. The cord was attached with a magnet, you could bump it, but not dislodge it. This was as close to a “gimmi” as East had, and it still racked up a lot of penalties. Incidentally, it’s the only obstacle I didn’t fail.

Apparently, there’s a trick to climbing ropes. I wouldn’t know, we don’t have any trees in Nevada.

Name one thing we’re going to need this stupid fucking rope for?

Nothing if not determined, the Cola Warrior Juniors (Soda Squirts?) run a kid scale version of the event.

Last, drag the disintegrating pallet/sled with about 900 lbs of cinder blocks on it back and forth some arbitrary distance that was farther than the 1/4″ I was able to wiggle it.

These obstacles were obscene. The diet of yesteryear was purged under a nigh unstoppable tsunami of penalties.

The AK was battle worn. The peeps were stale and warm. The run undulated along the forest dirt road.

The range portion of these events, with about eight pistol targets, and about the same rifle targets, is usually an afterthought for most experienced Cola Warriors. Calm down just enough to squeeze off the pistol rounds, you’ve got two full mags after all. After you clear the pistol and your heart rate is down, go prone, and clear the rifle, it shouldn’t even take a full mag.

Not at East 3. Rifle targets were scattered the length of the narrow ascending forest track. Heavy vegetation and constantly shifting light would bring targets in and out of visibility. Difficult, with the 300m target being a 2/3 scale IPSC Metric (equivalent to a full scale IPSC at 450m). Doable, but not easy. I cleared the rifle targets with less than a mag of 5.56 from a Colt 6940 with an ACOG TA31 optic.

The pistol targets, on the other hand, were a nightmare. Set at 25m from the line, the eight pistol targets were staggered above and below a horizontal cross bar.

At 25m, this is a tough target to hit, 8″ diameter paddles just about entirely disappear under a standard pistol front post. Unnoticeable at 25m, and in the poor light, are the two counter weights at either end. Invisible are the bearings at the center, over the single center support. As soon as a paddle is hit, it falls off, unbalancing the whole affair. At 90*, a counterweight falls off, causing the now heavier “up” end to rapidly be the down end, dumping it’s weight. Now the whole thing is spinning on the center like a propeller. Three of the Cola Warriors cleared this target system. Many failed to get more than three paddles off of it, including myself. As much as MOA has been blamed for this monstrosity, we didn’t do it. Sure, we will soon, but we didn’t do it. We do a similar target, the Red Neck Texas Star. Soon, and rifle rated to boot, we’ll be torturing people.

All in all, a fantastic event. Great location, great people, great food, amazing sponsors (listed below, check ’em out, and thank them for their support), and a good time had by all.

Top Woman prize pile


ALG Defense

SLR Rifleworks


Arson Machine

Arisaka Defense


ADW Custom Knives

Dynamik Blades

NUoSO Concealment


Nightlong Industries

Quanitico Tactical


B5 Systems

AIM Surplus

Weapon Outfitters

2A Arms


Gun Goddess

MOA Targets


Please join us at Cola Warrior West II, Reno NV March 31 – April 2

Cola Warrior 5 – West Was Harder



Cola Warrior 5 was run the last two weekends of May 2015, at the FEMA Camp outside Liberty, MS. For those who don’t know what Cola Warrior is, the tl;dr is obstacle, AK/peep, run, shoot, chug. Also for those who don’t know what Cola Warrior is, good on you for making it this far in the blog post after watching that emesis introduction. This was the fifth annual event in Liberty. I ran at CWWest a couple months earlier in Kingman AZ, and placed well enough to get invited to CW5.

I sponsored a custom target and a prize, and had some steel to deliver to customers also attending the event. Turns out steel is heavy, and doesn’t pack well in airline luggage. So, four days of solo driving and 2,100 miles later, I arrived in the swamp late Thursday as the event kicked off.

I was welcomed with open arms, it helps to bring steel targets and beer to salve wounded spirits and bodies after the runs.

The kid as cover for his cyborg structure is a nice touch.
You’d hardly believe that this chill looking dude is actually into soul crippling S&M.
It turned out spray plastidip didn't come off quite as well as they hoped.
The locals took a shine to me quickly, and absconded with my sign.

Without further ado, let’s run through the course.

The ninja rolls over this were awesome. The failed runs were even better. #pistoldidit
Obstacle one: clear the unstable vert bar four times in a row. A decent number of people were able to do this. I wasn’t one of them.
No putting your belt over the top.  #summitclub
Obstacle two: hand over hand on the edge of a 20′ conex, there and back (40′), and then over the top. 11 of 77 competitors were able to do this. I was not one of them.
Turns out a broken hand doesn't make this easier. :/
Obstacle three- Next, hand stand along the 20′ conex, a 25lb barbell in each hand. A fair number were able to do this, I was not one of them.
Obstacle four- Starting with hands in the rings and the right side, work your way to the middle, shimmy up, transition to the bar, hit the far left post, then come back and reverse the process until you can hit the far right post. A fair number got this. I *was* one of them.
#pyramidpals got to see the MOA logo while they succeeded.
Obstacle five – Simply lift the 150 lb tire up, and casually toss it up and over the 6′ or so wall. No biggy. 12 of 77 competitors accomplished this one. I was not one of them.

This was possibly the most amusing of the various ways people failed to accomplish the tire toss. While it made for great photo ops, I worry that putting the MOA logo there may lead to lost sales. Few want to see that logo ever again after having their body and soul crushed by that tire.

Three runners, including the cyborg who started it all, were able to do all the obstacles. Three. That’s insane.

29 of the 77 runners failed every obstacle, and a new hashtag was born.


Now the real fun begins. Field strip the AK, while eating a package of peeps. Peeps lead to hate. Hate leads to anger. Anger leads to AK in the trashcan.

Note the MOA targets set up to the left. I'm special, ya'll, and forgot to put them in any good pictures.
CWARs. CWARs everywhere. And the prereq trashcan AK, of course.
A total of six women ran, the highest placed 13th overall. Don't fuck with Colaettes.
Pakitape is most halal.
See what I did there?
Some people take to peeps better than others, and blitz through them.

A leisurely peep fueled 1/2 mile run down the muddy roads winds up the last of major physical torture. Thankfully, the run is mostly flat or down hill. I suspect with extra rain, it would be hell, but we lucked out on weather to some extent. It didn’t rain any more in the four days I was there than we get in a typical year in Nevada.

MOA's future Ms. June
Now we shoot! Rocking the CWock with the ALG 6-Second Mount, TR-1, and extended mag, this overly happy lady blasted through the targets.
All ARs all the time, it seemed.
MOAR! Rifle targets from 50 to 300m, with a custom MOA FEMABOT at the center. The FEMABOT was a full size IPSC M equivalent, and ended up being the reference point for all the rifle targets at the far end of the mud bog / range.

Keep an eye on MOA’s site, Fantasy Monster category, for the FEMABOT to be listed for your own shooting pleasure.

I totally didn't shoot it myself. I may have bribed a kid to do so though...
Homemade mild steel peep, which worked as an awesome advertisement for MOA’s AR500 hardened steel targets. Thankfully, I had brought out a replacement sabertooth peep from Cola Warrior West.

And with that, there was nothing left to do but chug, and puke.

This is how a winner pukes, folks. With a time of 11:07, arfcom’s Kaik managed a come from behind to win. He gets an asterisk for having run twice, a week apart, but he earned it, and showed he had what it took to take home the title.

So much MOA branding in one image. Hurray!
So much privilege!

After that, it was time for more food (which there was tons of, in huge variety, and it was awesome) and to announce placements and prizes. Make sure you scroll down to check out the sponsor list, it’s pretty amazing.

Prizes aren't why we go to Cola Warrior, but they're awful nice to have when you're recuperating. Much of the prize package gets added to the competitors daily use gear.
SWAG! Pretty much everyone took home a pile like this. It even includes a Geissele SSA-E!
FEMABOT knows where you live, and is in league with the NSA. Shoot to neutralize.
MOA got in on the prize giving out madness. Another FEMABOT, this one pistol rated. Given to the competitor who left the most pistol targets unmolested. Get out there and practice, yo.

Overall, this event was much, much tougher overall than Cola Warrior West (my only other experience). The obstacles is what killed it, and ironically, that made it easier overall for me. As I was only able to complete one obstacle, and had to skip one entirely due to a broken hand, I was in way better shape going to the AK and peeps than I was at West. My West time, sans penalties, was 31:48. Here, sans penalties, 22:54 for a 19th place finish. Top time here was an insane 11:07 (RustedAce, the guy who started it, was 8:07, which is nuts). Top time at West was pushing 15 minutes, and the runner who did that has been competitive in every CW event he’s been in. We apparently broke him at West, he was unable to make CW5. West was harder, but CW5 was a different level of challenge entirely.

Note the insane low time for the first runner. Note the penalties on everyone else.

Thanks again to everyone for making me welcome. It was a hell of a long drive, but it was worth every mile. I’m going to try to hit CWE3 in September/October in VA. I’ll be sure to make CWSE and CWTX next year. And, don’t forget I’m hosting CWWII in Reno, NV the first weekend of April 2016. Send me your ringers, your runners, your pyramid pals. Kaik can come if he helps West’s Dirty Inky cook, I suppose.

There's now an MOA logo right under the Geissele. Kickass!
The gang’s all here.


And finally, thank you to the sponsors who help take the pain away.

Business type Cola Warrior Sponsors
MOA Targets – NVGeologist (hey that’s me!)
ADW Custom Knives – DamascusKnifemaker – custom badass blade
Corporate Sponsors
Geissele / ALG Defense triggers, rails and so much swag
TNVCESSTAC – old is new school gear
AIM Surplus 

2A Arms – Balios Lite receiver set and 12″ MLOK BL rail.

Arson Machine

Arisaka Defense

Forward Control Design

Blue Panda Arms – Cerakote job for most ink visible immediately after their run

Nightlong Industries

American Kami – Ti sporks, maybe a blade

Dynamik Blades – something sharp

SLR Rifleworks

SKD Tactical

Ballistic Advantage


ODIN Works





Beer, it's not just for breakfast.
Beer yoga is best yoga.

Cola Warrior West 2015 – How the West was Run

Several years ago, the Cola Warrior series of fitness, shooting, and willpower competitions were founded by RustedAce, a cyborg who lives in a swamp and fights in a desert. Cola Warrior a competition in five parts: several difficult obstacles, field strip of an AK pattern rifle while eating five marshmallow Peeps, run half a mile, shoot rifle and pistol targets from field positions, and chug 72 oz of carbonated soda.

No one in their right mind would do this. May 2015 will be the fifth consecutive year of events at RustedAce’s FEMA Compound in the Swamp (now known as CWOG). This fall will be the third CW East (CWE). Late March 2015, P2tharizo hosted the first Cola Warrior west of the Mississippi, outside Kingman, AZ (CWW). As owner/operator/Chief Guy in Charge of Stuff for MOA Targets, I sponsored the steel targets for the CWW event and also ran in the event. I would like to take this moment to reiterate- no one in their right mind would do this.


12m pistol target (spaceship) with alien hostage.
300m target, which had to be put in place way out in the desert, up hill (both ways) in the snow, barefoot. Or at least that’s what I was told.

The obstacles at CWW were designed to break each contestant, forcing you to use your body in new and horrible ways each time, after you were already chewed up by the previous one. Every obstacle you fail adds five minutes to your total run time in penalties. First, flip end over end a 200+ pound tire uphill about 25m, then return it to where you started. This obstacle was especially tough for those under 5′ 4″ or so, due to lack of leverage.

View post on

Next, drag two 50 lb kettle bells on a cord about 25m through the sand and return them to where they started. This obstacle didn’t penalize many, it was just hard work.

Next, push the godawful huge ATV up the road- about 15m. At about 800 pounds, this obstacle killed anyone who was under about 150 lbs, due to lack of traction and inertia.

All tuckered out from moving heavy objects uphill, both ways, and through the sand, we come to the fourth challenge. The hand-over-hand angle iron bar eliminated many the heavy guys who rocked through the first three challenges like they weren’t even there.

20′ of wobbly overhand angle iron goodness. The flex on this was pretty epic with anyone over 200 lbs, making it difficult for them to keep their grip while making forward progress. Payback for making Battle Midgets move heavy objects.

The final obstacle (of the first section of the course, this keeps going) was a low crawl through sand and rock, with rattle cans above you, and a keg to push. Despite being the physically least demanding, this obstacle accounted for more penalties than any that came before it. Most who were penalized shop in Men’s Big and Tall sections, but exhausted flailing limbs nabbed a few more normals.

Of course a geologist is chasing a beer keg.
Hit a string hard enough to rattle a can, or hit a can directly, five minute penalty. The ultimate winner of the event had nightmares about this crawl the night before.

Excellent. We’ve had a nice bit of exercise, time for a snack. The next challenge is to gobble down five marshmallow peeps while field stripping an AK-47.

Enjoy that sugar, you’re going to need it to fuel your run.

With the AK field stripped (and the dust cover beat back into shape), grab a stuffed animal and start the 1/8″ of a mile downhill run. At the end of that, swap the stuffed animal for another to prove you made it there, and start the 3/8″ of a mile uphill run, ending at the firing line. Oh yes, don’t forget this is ultimately a shooting competition.

Turns out 34 grams of sugar in a food coloring glazed marshmallow format isn’t the best way to start a 1/2 mile run in the desert.

Onto the range. Spread across the landscape were a total of seven pistol targets from 12-40 meters and eight rifle targets from 100-300 meters. Targets were designed to show bad habits. Long skinny horizontal axis targets show anticipating recoil (flinch) as well as breathing control and vertical tall skinny targets show wind drift and poor trigger control. Rifle targets also had odd shapes and color, were scattered all over the place, and were simultaneously loved and hated by all. Shooters were limited to standard capacity mags, two each pistol and rifle.


200m “angry dragonfly” target. So much hate. Available from MOA Targets to infuriate your friends and coworkers.
Field positions, run what you brung, two mag max. Everyone used an AR variant rifle, mostly AR-15 in 5.56x45mm.
Vegetation made the 12m targets even more difficult, obscuring the already small (39 square inch) targets.

I was surprised to learn during the award ceremony that I had the fastest pistol time during the event, about 38 seconds, with 11 shots fired to clear 7 targets. I was not, however, surprised that I missed a rifle target. 40 rounds of 7.62x51mm were fired to clear 7 of 8 targets. The long and skinny 100m coyote target proved to everyone that I didn’t have my dope dialed in, and it cost me a five minute penalty for one missed target.

With the easy parts of the event wrapped up, it was time for the willpower challenge. Chug 72oz of carbinated soda, your choice, with a five minute penalty for each can not finished. There was a 2L option with a 5oz chaser, and a hefty 30 minute fail penalty if you couldn’t finish. Go Big or Go Home. Although Diet Mt. Dew was popular, I chose 6 cans of Squirt, getting all of them down with no penalty.

First can, no problem.
Several cans in, considering my choices in life.
All six down (no penalty!), and here they come back up.

Final Result: 9th of 46, with a time (including five minute rifle penalty) of 36:48. For reference, first place was 15:25, 23rd was 52:22, and last was 103:20 for a night vision run with lots of penalties.

All said and done, I regret everything. I can’t wait for the next one. MOA will be hosting CWWII the first weekend of April, 2016, outside Reno, NV.


Hope to see you there.

Full Cola Warrior West 2015 sponsor list:

2A Armament
MOA Targets
Precision 3D Targets
Dynamik Blades
Nightlong Industries LLC
GMTG Tactical
Blue Panda Arms
Geissele Automatics:
NUoSU Concealment
AIM Surplus
SLR Rifleworks
American Kami
Primary Arms
SKD Tactical
Arson Machine
Fortis Manufacturing
Arisaka Defense
Bobro Engineering
B5 Systems
Gun Goddess
V7 Weapon Systems