Bullets, High-Capacity Magazines . . .

and the Gun Show Loophole.

Today I’m going to try and address some of the misinformation I’ve heard recently concerning guns.

Since the Newtown School shooting I’ve heard numerous commentators talking about how ‘deadly” the 5.56 ammo that was used, is.

Well, it’s so deadly that many states don’t allow it to be used for deer hunting. Not because it’s too deadly, but because it’s not deadly enough.

That’s right. The 5.56mm/.223 cal. ammo used in the most popular “Assault Weapon” is not considered powerful enough to go hunting with. It boils down to the fact that the .223 is basically a souped-up .22, like kids shoot tin cans with.

The caliber, or diameter of the bullet, is the same. But it is longer, heavier, and loaded into a case that holds more powder. Here’s a photo comparing a .223 round and a .22.


But now look at the difference between the .223 and the 30.06, pretty much the standard hunting round.

30-06 v 223a

Note that I’m not saying the AR-15/.223 is not deadly. Even a .177 cal. pellet gun, much less a standard .22 can be deadly. But it is not this super-deadly round that it’s made out to be. By most standards, it’s under-powered. But the way some talk, you could take out tanks with it.

But some will point out that it’s deadly enough for the U.S. Army to use in the M-16. And of course that’s true, but its ‘deadliness’ is not why it was picked.

The M-14 that replaced the M1 after WWII both used the same .308 cartridge. The M-14 was also the first combat rifle that featured fully-automatic fire. Which required more ammo.

But more ammo was heavier to carry. So when the military was looking to replace the M-14 in the late 60’s, they went with smaller, lighter rounds that allowed more to be carried for the same weight.

Here’s a photo showing the difference between the .223 and the .308.

223 v 308a

Of course some cynics have said that a lighter, less deadlier round was chosen for another purpose. Some military tactics say that it’s better to grievously wound an enemy than to kill him outright. A wounded enemy takes others out of the battle to care for him.

But whatever the reason, many soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone back to using the more powerful M-14/.308 combination because it travels further, is not as readily deflected by intervening brush, leaves, etc., and hits harder.

Next up – High Capacity Magazines.

The first problem is to get someone to define what a “High-Capacity Magazine” is. Kind of like getting a politician to put a number to what someone’s fair share of taxes are.

Depending on the locality and type of firearm, the cutoff between a ‘normal’ capacity and ‘high’ capacity magazine is 3, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 rounds. The old federal ban set the limit at 10 rounds.

So for some, two rounds are OK, three is too many. Kind of funny when they don’t seem to have a problem with a standard 6 shot revolver.

But there are several problems with a ban, beside size.

1. The first problem is that, except for .45’s, pretty much every recent semi-automatic pistol comes with a standard 13-18 round mag. What do you do about these?

2. How do you ban them?

The last time they were banned in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, the manufacture and sale of any new ones was made illegal. The sale and possession of pre-existing magazines remained legal. This just created a seller’s market for the legal ones.

3. Do you ban them all?

There are probably 100’s of millions of “would-be banned” magazines out there. According to some stats, there are 350 million firearms in the U.S. Although I wasn’t able to get an idea of how many of these are handguns, but figuring half of them are, and figuring that each one has 4 magazines to go with it, that means there could be 700 million magazines out there, probably a large percentage of them illegal “High Capacity” magazines.

As has been called for by several politicians, how do you outlaw, ban, seize, expect-to-be-turned-in, that many magazines?

And what about making 10’s of millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans into criminals overnight?

And if you outlaw 10’s of millions of magazines, how long does it take to get new, smaller ones manufactured to replace them. I saw an article the other day that said that magazine manufacturers are now back-ordered on 1 MILLION magazines that have been sold just in the last few weeks.

4. What good would it do to have only 10 round capacity magazines available to the public?

It takes less than a second to change magazines out. You simply press the magazine release button on the side of the pistol and the empty magazine drops to the floor. The new magazine you’ve taken out of your pocket and are now holding in your hand is now slammed home. Release the slide and you’re ready to go. I can do it on my 9mm in a little over a second and I haven’t practiced.

5. Why would I want a “High Capacity” Magazine?

Because I want one, and because I might need one.

You may have read recently about the mother in Georgia who was home with her 9 year old twin daughters when someone started to break in to her house. She grabbed her six shot revolver and her daughters and started retreating up the stairs. She finally ended up in the attic crawl space with the intruder following her upstairs. When he opened the door into the crawl space she shot him 5 times, hitting him in the neck and chest. As she stood over him, telling him to stay down, she realized she was out of ammo,  so she grabbed her daughters and ran.

But the intruder was able to exit the house, get into his car and drive away, although he didn’t make it far due to blood loss.

The mother said she wants a bigger gun with more bullets.

This encounter turn out OK for her this time. Her 6 shot revolver worked for her this time. But what if in the heat of the moment she missed a couple of times and he kept on coming?  Would she and her daughters just be another crime statistic?

Recently in OK a woman was home alone and three intruders kicked in her front door. But she was waiting with her gun, and when they saw it, they turned and ran.

But what if they had kept coming? Want to take on 3 bad guys with 6 shots? I know I would rather not.

A blog reader recently sent me an article written by a supposed “ex-FBI agent”. I don’t know. While I agreed with some of what he had to say, I found this quote hard to swallow.

“When I came out of the FBI Academy in 1984, I was issued a six-shot revolver and 18 rounds of ammunition, and I felt well-armed. To this day I cannot for the life of me understand why someone would want to own, much less carry, a weapon with a magazine holding 15 rounds and more. If you need to do that, join the Armed Forces.”

Are we suppose to believe that he doesn’t know that for years FBI agents have carried the Glock 22 or 23 that holds 18 rounds? So he thinks they should still be carrying 6 shot revolvers?

Or that I should?

One last thing about magazines.

A clip and a magazine aren’t the same thing. This photo might help.


A clip is used to feed rounds into a weapon with a fixed magazine. An example would be the M1 Garand Battle Rifle from WWII.

A magazine actually holds the rounds and feeds them into the weapon as they are fired.

One last thing on this overly-long blog post is the fabled “Gun Show Loophole”.

In reality it is just a “Private Sale”. It really has nothing directly to do with Gun Shows. It’s just one private individual selling or giving a weapon to another private individual.

It could just as easily be called the “Father-Son Loophole”. or the “Brother-in-law Loophole”, or maybe the “Next Door Neighbor Loophole”.

Want to sell or give your spare rifle or shotgun to your brother-in-law or son without going to a licensed dealer, filling out forms, and paying a fee. You’ve just availed yourself of the “Gun Show Loophole. Don’t you feel like a real criminal now?

The vast majority of gun show sales are made by Federally-licensed dealers, who fill out the Form 4473’s, run the NICS background checks, and cross all the paperwork T’s and dot all the I’s.

Even the Department of Justice says that over 95% of gun show sales involve licensed dealers and are perfectly legal.

Yes, sometimes an individual does sell a weapon to another individual at a gun show. But it could have been done anywhere. And most of these are legal transfers too.

Your average drug lord or gang member are not getting their weapons from gun shows. They buy them on the street, or from a friendly ATF agent. (Google “Fast and Furious” for more info.)

One final note. Stag Arms, just one manufacturer of AR-15/.223 rifles, says they have now sold out their entire output for the next two years.

That’s about it. My rant has run its course. But hopefully I’ve corrected some of the misinformation that’s floating round out there.

It’s also possible I’ve introduced some of my own. If I have, let me know.

Getting down off my soapbox and putting away my moccasin stick, it’s all yours.

Coming soon. Ban knives!


Thought for the Day:

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government, those entrusted with power have, in time and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. – Thomas Jefferson



19 Responses

  1. Excellent blog Greg. Couldn’t have expressed it better!


  2. Ditto to Marvin’s reply. Should be required reading for the “media”.

  3. Thanks Greg,Your blog should be very informative to gun control zealots. Also,people should “google” the FBI and US Census reports on murders.You can read the types of weapons used and the “type” of people using them. Very eye-opening info!

  4. I enjoyed this article and the earlier one too. They were both very informative.

    We had a gun registry in Canada for a few years. Don’t know too much about it except that I had to register 6 rifles left to me by my dad. The registry, to my knowledge is no longer in practice. My biggest beef while I was struggling to find all the serial numbers on the rifles was that only the good citizens were registering their guns not the criminals, so what was the point……. I expect the same in the USA, the criminals, bad guys and anyone else that needs any kind of rifle or weapon will get it…..

  5. Greg, Your blog today was great,
    I couldn’t have said it better.
    I was issued a 38 on my first LE job.
    Then the second at the Sheriff’s Office we had 357. Then moved to a 9mm and lastly 40 cal.
    I hate the saying clips! People have no clue the difference in clips and magazines.
    I’ll always remember the saying from USMC boot camp. “This is my RIFLE and this is my GUN”

  6. I carried an M-16 (which uses the 5.56mm) for part of my 14 months in Vietnam. I saw several enemy soldiers who were hit two, three, and even more times and were not knocked down. They may have died later, but they were not immediately out of the fight, which is what we want a gun to do, put the other guy out of commission before he can hurt us.

  7. Like Nick said above, I carried an M-16 in Viet Nam.. But when I was a perimeter bunker captain, I managed to get an M-14 to use in the perimeter wire… Because it stopped the sappers dead in their tracks and didn’t require the use of the much heavier M-60 that was on a tripod in the machine gun aperture on the lower level of the bunker… The point is that our so called assault weapon wasn’t up to the task.. Nice post, just wish folks that need this info would be your readers………. But alas, it is just us folks that already know the truth…….. Rod

  8. Greg, great post today and I agree with you that the criminals won’t worry about registering their guns. Now if you could only get the media and gun control advocates to read this blog it would be great. However, these people have made up their minds and don’t want any facts to interfere with their thinking.

    Also, re smaller magazines. The solution to having more fire power is to carry more than one magazine. Not hard to figure that one out.

    I also find it interesting the number of actors who have come out in favor of gun control and then go out and make the most violent movies there are. Seems sort of hypocritical to me.

    I also wonder how tv shows like Criminal Minds can be allowed on the air. Some of the episodes are so sadistic and violent that it is no wonder that people on the edge go over the cliff.

  9. Thanks for great information, Greg.

  10. Yea, ban knives…and baseball bats…and how about those wonderful large cast iron skillets?? I think if one were quiet enough you could even make that a lethal weapon…sigh…it never seems to end does it?

    I heard that that mom and twins went into a closet…good grief, they went clear up into the attic?? That guy was not interested much in stealing if you ask me…he had other plans in mind!! Smart woman!!

  11. Thanks, Marvin.

  12. Thanks, Maurice.

  13. This is for fighting and this is for fun.

  14. Maybe that’s why you like the Thompson .45 cal so much?

  15. Thanks, Rod.

  16. Thanks, Davy.

  17. Thank You Again for an excellent blog that uses common sense and accurate descriptions . The M16 rifle and ammunition that a lot of us used in Vietnam was a very different rifle than the ones available today . My current rifle uses 5.56 75 grain match grade ammo and is deadly and tight at 600 yards – I wish my eyes were as good . For many of us , our worlds are different , but our goals are the same – Be Safe !

  18. Thanks, Marvin.

    There’s more to come on tonight’s blog.

  19. The preferred weapon for assisantion among Mafia used to be a 22 to the temple. I bounces off the other side of the skull and tumbles through the brain. I knew a young man who killed his father across the room with a single shot from a 22. The first case I studied in gun safety was a man driving down the road near a bay in California. The killer was a fellow shooting at a fish 2 miles away and the bullet richocheted off the water entered through the open back window and into the brain of the driver 2 miles away. The bullet was a 22 long rifle. A 22 is just as deadly and requires the same safety procedures as any other weapon.
    A stripper clip goes into a fixed magazine and that is where the two terms became interchangable. So what difference does it make what you call it. Do you think the 6 year shot 11 times at Sandy Hook cared what you called what held the bullets that came out of the gun?
    You point out that the woman under the stress of facing an attacker failed to dispatch the guy with 5 hits. Do you really think that the adrendline of being the attacker would not affect the effectiveness of their changing out magazines? If you have watched Top Gun, these experienced competators have frequently failed under stress to properly lock in a magazine. So saying that it takes you less than a second on a range does not speak to what it would take an inexperienced young shooter under stress to change them out. As with you it is likely to add to the frustration. As far as you needing one, just carry a spare or two if it only takes a second to change it out then what difference does it make except convience?
    When you give or sell a car to your relative or neighbor do you feel like a criminal because you have to change over a title? Why would you feel like a criminal to do the paper work to sell a gun? The guns that are making it to the streets for sale to criminals are coming from somewhere and that somewhere for the most part is made easier to find by careless gun owners who don’t secure their weapons when not in use and private sales to strangers or by people who just don’t care because they are not currently breaking the law. I have been to gunshows where people will say “I can sell you this gun because it is a personel weapon without having to do a background check.” No matter what small percent of these sales are to criminals, each is one more gun in the wrong hands that we have to deal with.

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