The AR-15 is not legally a gun?

The gun related media has been set ablaze. No that’s not a bad pun about it being fire season in California. And oddly enough it has nothing to do with the tyrannical, unconstitutional laws signed by the governor this past week. Instead it was CNN of all sources that brought to light something that was going on in the deep dark recesses of the federal government that got everyone all spun up.

What I am referring to, is the the astonishing piece of journalism by CNN’s Scott Glover. You can read the original story here (and I STRONGLY encourage you to do so regardless of how you feel about firearms ownership). What Mr. Glover exposes to the American public is what the ATF and other federal agencies have been trying to keep secret for decades: they have been illegally re-writing the laws.

As the report explains, federal law regarding what is defined as a firearm requires the receiver to have among other things a bolt or breech lock. Based on the design of the AR platform (a split receiver design) neither half of the receiver group has all the features as defined by law to make it a firearm. This means that the requirements the ATF has been enforcing on anyone who manufactures/sells/buys an AR lower receiver by itself have been unjustly, and illegally enforced since the US Constitution clearly give the power to make/replace/change laws to the legislative branch, not the executive branch that the ATF falls under. So to recap, buying a complete AR15 is buying a firearm by law; buying a completed AR15 lower by itself is not.

What is perhaps more astonishing is the efforts that the ATF has gone to try and hide this clear overreach of constitutional authority. In order to hide the fact that the ATF was acting outside its authority, it not only once but twice decided to not prosecute a someone for violating their unlawful regulations. Of course what is more appalling is they did this after 2 different judges in 2 separate cases issued a preliminary ruling claiming the ATF had gotten the regulations for AR style firearms wrong. So to avoid creating legal precedence they instead decided to drop the charges, and try to hide their dirty deeds.

To be fair, I personally feel that firearm frames/receivers should be treated as the legal definition of a firearm. I have no issues with them being subject to background checks before transfer. I am however 1000% against a federal law enforcement agency ignoring the separation of powers clause in the Constitution to do whatever they want and make up new laws instead of simply enforcing the ones on the books. The AR15 has been around since the 1940’s. That means the ATF has been breaking the law since at least then. The law does need to be updated, but as of right now, AR15 lowers are not legally guns.

What impacts accuracy in an AR?

I see it all the time. Some tacticool Joe goes out and spends $1,500 on parts to build his AR15 and then puts a $30 scope on top of it. He then goes out and tries to make “sniper” shots and can’t hit the broadside of the barn. “its got a <fill in the name of some high priced barrel> on it. Why doesn’t it shoot well?” is always the follow up to which some harsh truth gets dropped on this poor soul.

When it comes to getting the best accuracy performance out of your rifle, ammo is the biggest influence over performance. After that comes optics, then trigger, and finally barrel. If we take a step back and think about what perfect accuracy is, it is the ability to send the bullet out the barrel over some distance and hit what we are aiming at dead center all in the matter of seconds. When in the barrel, the bullet doesn’t have much room to move around, but once it leaves the barrel all sorts of physics laws impart their harsh reality on it. If the bullet you are shooting has a low ballistic coefficient, then the bullet will go off course easier. Likewise, if your optic doesn’t provide a clear target image due to cheap glass or poor parallax adjustments, the barrel of your rifle may not be lined up with target even though the cross-hairs say they are. Last, but definitely not least, if your trigger is too stiff then what ends up happening is you apply so much pressure that you pull the barrel off target when the hammer gets released. All of these things can result in fractions of an inch change which translates to feet off target down range.

The bottom line is that the barrel has not as much influence on the overall accuracy of the gun as most people think. Yes having a barrel from a good manufacturer is paramount to accuracy, but to be honest its more about their QC processes than anything else. I have shot both high dollar rifles and budget ones and I have shot well and horribly with both. At the end of the day it’s your money and you get to decide what to do with it, just don’t be surprised if that $300 barrel with a $20 scope pairing doesn’t make dime sized groups.

Making the most of your time at the range

I was talking with a friend the other day and they were telling me how frustrating their recent shooting outing was. We’ve all had the not so successful day at the range where that latest build didn’t work as anticipated or that new load recipe wasn’t as accurate as we hoped. Those failures are productive though. My friend however had a different kind of bad range day (if there is such a thing) that is 100% avoidable every time. His problem is he went out with one agenda that didn’t match his shooting buddies’ or the location. Continue reading “Making the most of your time at the range”