Move Over 80% Lowers!

80% lowers have been around for a while now. In some areas like California if you finish one, you have to apply for a serial number, pay a fee, and then engrave the finished lower.

The term 80% lower or frame comes from a BATFE determination that it isn’t a firearm if it is only 80% finished. Thus, there is no NICS check on an 80% lower or frame and it can be mailed to you. Given it was a determination by BATFE, you know it can be changed at any time.

Here is an alternative.

You say it is only a chunk of 6061-T6 aluminum. Not so fast. According to the manufacturer, it is the 0% billet AR-15 lower receiver. It helps to have your own CNC machine or a Bridgeport milling machine. I guess you could go all Khyber Pass and finish it strictly with hand tools. Both methods are beyond my level of skill so I’m stuck with off-the-shelf lowers from Aero-Precision, Anderson, or Spikes.

The manufacturer, 80% Arms, adds that they are restricting sale to the USA only.

While these weapons are not regulated under ITAR yet, we still don’t want these dangerous things to get into the hands of the wrong people, like Kim Jong-un. Therefore, shipping of 0% lowers is strictly limited to USA only. 

Well played, sirs, well played.

DICK’S Ed Stack On CBS Sunday Morning

When CBS Sunday Morning was announcing their stories this morning, I must admit I rolled my eyes when I heard they were interviewing Ed Stack of DICK’S. Thanks to Dianna Muller, it was more balanced than I anticipated.

The story had interviews by CBS’s Lee Cowan with Stack, Dianna Muller, and Michael Bloomberg. Dianna provided a great counter-point to Stack and Bloomberg. It should be noted that Stack is pushing his new book, It’s How We Plan the Game, which is being published by another division of the company that owns CBS.

Then there was this quote that must have executives with NSSF thinking someone is finally getting the language right:

The “it” he’s talking about is the AR-15, a lightweight semi-automatic modern sporting rifle similar to the one used in the Sandy Hook massacre. He ordered all of them be removed from every Dick’s Sporting Goods store across the country.

While Cowan did link it to the Newtown murders, he didn’t call it an “assault weapon” or “assault rifle”. That in and of itself is remarkable nowadays.

His interview with Dianna was quite good. As you can see if you watch the video, it included footage of her shooting as well as other women from A Girl and A Gun at an event in Kentucky.

When asked why she has an AR-15, she said this:

Muller has become a high-profile spokesperson for the gun rights movement. She’s testified on Capitol Hill about carrying a firearm, specifically an AR-15.  


That’s the very rifle that Dick’s is no longer selling.


Cowan asked, “Is it a fair question to ask why you need a gun like that?”


“No,” Muller replied.


“Because?


“This rifle, and any other rifle, kills fewer people than hammers and blunt objects every year, according to FBI statistics,” she said, “so it doesn’t make any sense to me that this is going to solve the problem that we are having.”


Her worry is the same that the National Rifle Association has voiced for a long time: if one gun like the AR-15 is demonized, then all guns may soon follow.


“It leads me to believe that there’s going to be another tragedy with a different gun, that they’re going to come after the next gun,” she said.


“This is the slippery slope?” Cowan asked.


“Until it’s all gone.”

The story ends with Stack being somewhat coy about his future plans for firearm sales at DICK’S. He said it was under “strategic review.” As I noted on Friday, his company is selling eight of their Field & Stream stores to Sportsman’s Warehouse. I would not be surprised to see the remainder either sold or shut down.

Seems Weird To See It Spelled Out

In a story from Washington State on how gun owners are preparing for new gun control law that go into effect July 1, there is this.

He tells Action News that as July approaches, his military surplus store, The Bunker, is selling more receivers for ArmaLite Rifle 15-style (AR-15) than expected.

 I’m glad that that the author of the story recognizes that AR stands for ArmaLite Rifle and not “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle”. That said, you see it so rarely spelled out that when you do, it just looks looks weird.

As the story itself, people shopping at this gun store in the Tri-Cities area are buying lots of AR lowers and putting them away before the new law goes into effect. There is also the question of how to sell stripped lower receivers once the new law goes into effect as it isn’t clear.

Comparison Of Old Style M16A1 To A Modern AR-15

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One of the YouTube channels I enjoy watching is from a guy who calls himself Garand Thumb. Despite his resemblance to Travis Haley, he is not his son. Mike Jones (his actual name) is, however, an active duty USAF SERE Specialist. His videos have a lot of equipment testing reviews.

One of his most recent videos examines an old school M16A1 versus a more modern AR-15 SBR with all the bells and whistles. As I’ve accumulated most of the parts to build my own retro M16A1 – though, of course, semi-auto – I was very interested in his impressions. He ran a variety of shooting drills with both rifles. With the exception of having to move around a barrier, they were very comparable. One thing he noted was how well balanced the M16A1 was in comparison to his SBR and to an actual M4 carbine.

What They Really Mean

Since the Parkland High School shootings, you have heard all manner of politicians from the president on down saying that we need to raise the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle to age 21. They along with the media have painted a picture that wants you to believe one thing when the reality is totally different.

I was 18 when I purchased my first firearm. It was a Ruger 10/22 similar to the one shown in the meme. I paid $55 for it at a long ago closed discount store called Best Products. I used my savings from mowing lawns and my job as a school bus driver.

Interesting Test Of Pencil Barrels

The original M16/AR-15 from Colt was produced with a pencil barrel. Later iterations of the rifle and carbine had a heavier and thicker barrel because it was found that the pencil barrel would flex when it got hot. The barrel flexing resulted in a change in the point of impact. The practical effect of this barrel flexing for the military was that shots ostensibly on target were missing the enemy at longer ranges.

You can see the difference in thickness between a pencil barrel and a “government” profile barrel in the pictures below. Both of these barrels (and the pictures of them) are from Faxon Firearms.

Faxon 16″ pencil barrel

Faxon 16″ M4 government profile barrel

Ian and Karl at InRange TV are doing a series called “What Would Stoner Do”. The latest in their WWSD series tests the effect that heat can have on pencil barrels and the point of impact. They tested both a modern Faxon barrel and an original Colt SP1 barrel. Faxon claims that their proprietary method of building in stress reliefs mitigates the significant change in point of impact caused by heat. Part of Ian and Karl’s reasoning behind testing pencil barrels is that a pencil barrel is a quick way to reduce the weight of the rifle.

I found this highly interesting as I am in the process of assembling parts to make a lightweight AR using this same Faxon pencil barrel. I got a great deal on one at the recent NRA Annual Meeting and decided that I “needed” another AR. I am also in the process of putting together a retro styled clone of the M16A1 using a mix of original and modern parts. This latter rifle uses a 20″ barrel from Green Mountain Rifle Barrels which has the original 1 in 12″ twist. My dad qualified Expert with such a rifle back in the 1960s and the build is partly meant to honor him.

Lawsuit In Connecticut Against Remington Et Al Dismissed



A lawsuit brought by some of the families of children killed in Newtown, CT has been dismissed. The lawsuit sought to find Remington, their distributor Camfour, and the dealer Riverview as having been guilty of “negligent entrustment” for selling the Bushmaster AR-15 used by the killer. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis found that the claims put forth by the plaintiffs did not meet one of the six exceptions found in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. She issued her ruling on this past Friday afternoon.

The basis of the lawsuit was on the legal theory of negligent entrustment. That is, did the defendants give, sell, or “entrust” their product knowing full well that it would be misused or had the high potential to be misused. An example of negligent entrustment would be loaning your car to a friend to pick up some more beer when you knew he had been drinking. In this case the plaintiffs argued that an AR-15 was so dangerous and so “assaultive” that it should never have been sold to “civilians”.

In determining her decision, Judge Bellis examined whether the actions of the defendants constituted negligent entrustment under Connecticut state law and then pursuant to the PLCAA. After first examining the history of negligent entrustment and relevant court cases both in Connecticut and outside of it, she first concluded that the actions of Remington and their fellow defendants did not give rise to negligent entrustment.

In the present case, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants’ entrustment of the firearm to the respective entrustees was negligent because the defendants could each foresee the firearm ending up in the hands of members of the an incompetent class in a dangerous environment. The validity of the argument rests on labeling as a misuse the sale of a legal product to a population that is lawfully entitled to purchase such a product. Based on the reasoning from McCarthy, and the fact that Congress has deemed the civilian population competent to possess the product that is at issue in this case, this argument is unavailing. To extend the theory of negligent entrustment to the class of nonmilitary, nonpolice civilians – the general public – would imply that the general public lacks the ordinary prudence necessary to handle an object that Congress regards as appropriate for sale to the general public. This the court is unwilling to do.

 Accordingly, because they do no constitute legally sufficient negligent entrustment claims pursuant to state law, the plaintiffs’ negligent entrustment allegations do not satisfy the negligent entrustment exception to PLCAA. Therefore, unless another PLCAA exception applies, the court must grant the defendants’ motion to strike.

McCarthy, which Judge Bellis references, was a case brought by Carolyn McCarthy against Olin for selling Black Talon cartridges. Her husband’s murderer had used these Winchester cartridges in his killing spree on the Long Island Railroad. The McCarthy case was dismissed under the PLCAA.

Though Judge Bellis did not need to consider whether the defendants’ actions constituted negligent entrustment under the narrower definitions set forth by the PLCAA given they failed to meet the broader standard set under Connecticut state law, she did so in the “interest of thoroughness” and to provide further support for her decision.

After examining the plaintiffs’ case in the light of the more limited definition of negligent entrustment, Judge Bellis concluded that the immunity provided by the PLCAA prevailed. She also examined the plaintiffs’ argument that the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act allowed them to bring this action as an exception to PLCAA due to a violation of a state statute. This, too, was dismissed.

Although PLCAA provides a narrow exception under which plaintiffs may maintain an action for negligent entrustment of a firearm, the allegations in the present case do not fit within the common-law tort of negligent entrustment under well-established Connecticut law, nor do they come within PLCAA’s definition of negligent entrustment. Furthermore, the plaintiffs cannot avail themselves of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUPTA) to bring this action within PLCAA’s exception allowing lawsuits for a violation of a state statute applicable to the sale or marketing of firearms. A plaintiff under CUPTA must allege some kind of consumer, competitor, or other commercial relationship with a defendant, and the plaintiffs here have alleged no such relationship.

For all of the foregoing reasons, the court grants in their entirety the defendants’ motions to strike the amended complaint. 

Judge Bellis’ opinion ran to 54 pages. I surmise that one of the reasons she took so much time to lay out her arguments for approving the motion to strike is so that it will withstand scrutiny by an appeals court. The plaintiffs’ have vowed to appeal this ruling.

As might be expected, this ruling was attacked by both Hillary Clinton and the gun prohibitionist lobby. Clinton quickly released a tweet saying it was “incomprehensible that our laws could protect gun makers over the Sandy Hook families. We need to fix this.” Robyn Thomas of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (sic) attributed the decision to “the gun lobby’s destructive grip on Washington.” Lest anyone forget, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was enacted in 1995 as a response to multiple municipal lawsuits seeking to destroy the firearms industry through litigation. It also provides only limited immunity and not a blanket immunity against negligence.

The Sicilian Widow

I came across an editorial in the National Review from June 14th. While I’m a little behind times as we have family visiting, the editors of the National Review said we don’t need a new assault weapons (sic) ban. You can read the whole editorial here.

However, what caught my eye was this characterization of the AR-15:

An “assault weapon” is the Sicilian widow of the firearms world: a little scary-looking and all dressed in black. 

I love it! This can lead to a whole plethora of names for new AR builds. The old style one could be named Mrs. Corleone. A more modern one could be Francesca or Isabella or Carmella or Elena. The possibilities are endless.

No word, though, on whether an AR-15 can pull off the malocchio or evil eye.

Dom Raso – The AR-15: Americans’ Best Defense Against Terror and Crime

NRA News just released a new video commentary from former Navy SEAL Dom Raso. He launches into a very vigorous defense of the AR-15 as a self-defense weapon. I really like these couple of lines from his commentary:

AR-15s are fine for Hillary and her family. They’ve been protected by armed guards who use them for three decades. But average Americans who watch the news and feel genuine fear for their safety, and their families’ safety—Hillary wants to deny them the level of protection she insists upon herself.

The elites will always have protection, usually government-supplied, against threats from their enemies, domestic and foreign. As to the rest of us, we are, as Michael Bane and others have noted, on our own. That means you and I are our own first responders. Why should we be denied an easy to use, fairly lightweight, highly functional, medium-powered firearm that is rarely, if ever, used in criminal attacks just to appease the powerful and the ignorant?

The answer is we shouldn’t.