Sunday, February 19, 2006

Reversing The Trend: Military Contractor Sells To Civilians

There has been a trend to limit the introduction of new military small arms design to the public.

Whether it be the ban on selling surplus U.S. weapons to the American public by President W.J. "Slick Willy" Clinton or President H.W. Bush (POTUS #41) banning importation of new assault rifles, this is born out of fear of the lefties and RINO's that the peasants may be able to prevent their socialist utopia from being formed.

This trend was followed by the For Law Enforcement Only trend created by the Assault Weapon Ban of 1994, an abominable infringement upon our rights that has lapsed since it was as abysmal a failure as it was an egregious violation of the second amendment.

Manufacturers like Colt, Fabrique Nationale and Smith and Wesson vied for government contracts by putting restrictions on sales to citizens of their products. Examples are the P90 submachinegun and FN Five-Seven pistol by FN which are not sold to the American Civilians nor is the ammunition commercially available. At the time U.K. based company owned Smith and Wesson followed this trend vying for federal licensed contracts by promising to report all sales information to the government on civilian purchases among other stipulations made.

The only things this has netted for the two companies involved were lost sales dollars for Colt and FN and a total shunning of Smith and Wesson by the firearm buying public leading to their sale for a pittance.

This trend has now changed with Sigarms now offering their 556 rifle, also known as the Sturmgewehr 90, to the American civilian market in semi-automatic configuration.

Notice the adjustable gas system with plug a la the FN FAL and a gas piston like the SKS, AK and FAL, a major improvement over the current gas system of the AR-15/M-16.

An informative posting on the Sigarms 556 is available on the SigForum

As the always outstanding Oleg Volk points out;

I had a chance to fire numerous modern weapons side by side. Among them were HK MP5 and G36C, FN P90 and an M16A2. Of these guns, only one, the M16 (in AR15 guise), has wide distribution among civilian users. Along with the MP5, it shares a long history of gradual refinements to the original design. P90 and the G36, on the other hand, have been in use only by police and military entities, and almost no civilian distribution. This difference may have accounted for the unexpected observations I made during the shoot.

M16 and MP5 were both extensively fired that day. We experienced zero malfunctions of any kind. None of the users ran into problems with sharp or slippery controls, excessive heat build-up, safety manipulations or anything else noteworthy. The guns felt like mature, refined designs. M16 worked the best, and the many civilian-inspired refinements added up to a very comfortable experience. The MP5 still had the infamous HK safety lever and a couple of sharp edges by the charging lever, but worked smoothly overall.

The G36, the vaunted improvement on the M16, came off poorly on many counts. For one, it failed to extract or eject half-dozen times. The small charging handle hidden below the optics rail proved hard to grab when malfunction clearing was needed. The lack of any heat shields within the forend made holding the rifle uncomfortable. The folding stock proved too long for most users
The M-16 was initially adopted only after the civilian market was purchasing the AR-15. This weapon has had a now forty year history with en masse procurement by the U.S. and refintement as well as spawning an entire marketplace for accessories.

This exposure to a vast customer base has allowed the weapons to be improved in both form and function. Noting this even FN has begun to release their ridiculous P90 as a civlian legal carbine.This would have solved deficiencies as noted which FN after ten years has not deemed fit to or not noted the need for;

In use, however, P90S showed some surprising and unnecessary deficiencies.
First and foremost, the weapon is not safe to operate because of the forward grip design. The back of the support hand touches on the trigger finger and actually presses on it if gloves are worn. That can become a contributing factor to accidental discharges, especially when the user moves over rough terrain or stairs.

Pictured above is the carbine length model, the full auto model used in the referenced test had a barrel that was far shorter.

Note as a carryover that the ammunition for it, the LEO only 5.7x28mm, is still shipped from a restricted warehouse.

All 5.7 x 28 mm restricted ammunition (armor piercing) is sold only to law enforcement and military agencies. This ammunition is only released and shipped from a U.S. Customs controlled bonded warehouse (CBW) upon BATFE and U.S. Customs approval.
Nice trick that. Selling the weapon in a U.S. citizen legal configuration per the BATFE but continuing restriction of the ammunition sales.

That weapons manufacturers are seeing the need for civilian acceptance of their weapons system as feedback and procurement leverage and our politicians are keeping away from the failed policies of gun control is a welcome reverse to the trend from the eighties and nineties.

We should maintain our vigilance in defending our freedom but I for one see progress.

1 comment:

Heartless Libertarian said...

Word is that FN will (eventually) also be selling the SCAR to civilians.

Couple of years from now. Start saving your pennies now.