Monday, May 09, 2005

The Big Fifty

From Say Uncle, we get a link to this story out of the St. Petersburg Times.

Go read the article. I'll wait. - - - - Good, now pay attention.

We all know of Mark Serbu and Ronnie Barrett, guys who build rifles for the .50 BMG cartridge. That cartridge, chambered in the Browning Machine Gun M-2, was my favorite cartridge during my stint in the army and is still serving soldiers well. Mark and Ronnie build target rifles for that cartridge, and they have come under some criticism lately. Anti-gunners say that no one needs a rifle that will shoot a mile accurately. California recently banned those rifles, based on the cartridge alone.

This affect all of us who like shooting long range cartridges. The common-as-dirt .308 will fire a bullet a mile, accurately to about 800 yards. Marine recruits used to regularly qualify at that range. Long range gunners routinely fire Reminton 700s in 7mm Magnum accurately out to that range. The magical one-mile isn't limited to garden variety cneterfire rounds, either. Read the end flap on a box of .22 ammo and you will see that it will carry for a mile under certain conditions.

The anti-gunners say that I am overstating the case, that they want the powerful .50 limited to military and goverment use. The .50 BMG isn't the first cartridge to fire a half-inch bullet. Way back in the late 1800's a guy named Billy Dixon used an 1874 Sharps in .50-90 to shoot an man off a horse at a range of just under a mile. Dixon did it with his Sharps buffalo rifle and black powder.

As I examine my battery I find three rifles that will shoot a bullet a mile and will be accurate enough to shoot a man at 800 yards. All are replicas of rifles built before WWI.

The anti-gunners say that the .50 BMG cartridge will penetrate targets, but that is what rifles are for. Depending on a variety of considerations, all rifles penetrate targets from paper to game animals. We have to go back to 1879 to find the first tests by the US Army on accuracy and penetration at long range. The Sandy Hook Tests showed the relative effectiveness of the current cartridge of the time, the .45-70. Using inefficient black powder and heavy lead bullets, the Army showed that the .45-70 would fire accurately at 2 miles, and would still penetrate through three wooden planks and eight inches of sand.

The fact that the .50 BMG has never been used in a crime has no effect on the anti-gunners. The fact that the .50 BMG is simply an update of cartridges that were first offered in the late 1800's has no effect on the anti-gunners. The fact that the rifles are long, unweildy and impossible to conceal has no effect on the anti-gunners.

Folks, this legislation is a fore-runner to more onerous legislation. They are getting us familiar with the concept of banning individual rifles. Once we are comfortable with that concept , the list will grow.

No comments: