The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or BATFE or just ATF, just issued an “open letter” (.pdf) notifying Federal Firearms Licensees stating that their offices have concluded that some forced-reset triggers, or FRTs, are machineguns.
However, the ATF office did not indicate which triggers qualify as machine guns, just that some do. And while the letter is meant for FFLs, it may affect owners of FRTs as well.
Here is the letter:
“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) recently examined devices commonly known as ‘forced reset triggers’ (FRTs) and has determined that some of them are ‘firearms’ and ‘machineguns’ as defined in the National Firearms Act (NFA) and ‘machineguns’ as defined in the Gun Control Act (GCA).
“These particular FRTs are being marketed as replacement triggers for AR-type firearms. Unlike traditional triggers and binary triggers (sometimes referred to generally as ‘FRTs’) the subject FRTs do not require shooters to pull and then subsequently release the trigger to fire a second shot. Instead, these FRTs utilize the firing cycle to eliminate the need for the shooter to release the trigger before a second shot is fired. By contrast, some after-market triggers have similar components but also incorporate a disconnector or similar feature to ensure that the trigger must be released before a second shot may be fired and may not be machineguns.
“Both the NFA and GCA regulate machineguns. “Machinegun” is defined under 26 U.S.C.”
“§ 5845(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(23) as — Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.
“ATF’s examination found that some FRT devices allow a firearm to automatically expel more than one shot with a single, continuous pull of the trigger. For this reason, ATF has concluded that FRTs that function in this way are a combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and hence, ATF has classified these devices as a “machinegun” as defined by the NFA and GCA.
“Accordingly, ATF’s position is that any FRT that allows a firearm to automatically expel more than one shot with a single, continuous pull of the trigger is a ‘machinegun’ and is accordingly subject to the GCA prohibitions regarding the possession, transfer, and transport of machineguns under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(o) and 922(a)(4). They are also subject to registration, transfer, taxation and possession restrictions under the NFA. See 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841, 5861; 27 CFR 479.101.
“Under 26 U.S.C. § 5871, any person who violates or fails to comply with the provisions of the NFA may be fined up to $10,000 per violation and is subject to imprisonment for a term of up to ten years. Further, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 5872, any machinegun possessed or transferred in violation of the NFA is subject to seizure and forfeiture. Under 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2), any person who violates § 922(o) may be sent to prison for up to 10 years and fined up to $250,000 per person or $500,000 per organization.
“Based on ATF’s determination that the FRTs that function as described above are “machineguns” under the NFA and GCA, ATF intends to take appropriate remedial action with respect to sellers and possessors of these devices. Current possessors of these devices are encouraged to contact ATF for further guidance on how they may divest possession. If you are uncertain whether the device you possess is a machinegun as defined by the GCA and NFA, please contact your local ATF Field Office. You may consult the local ATF Office’s webpage for office contact information.”
This is the Honda SL350 that John Wayne bought brand new from the American Honda Motor Co. on the 21st of December 1971. It’s believed that he came into contact with the SL350 for the first time while filming the movie Big Jake in the deserts of Mexico.
There’s a famous image of him astride the Honda (image inset above), wearing full cowboy regalia naturally, and it seems that he enjoyed riding it so much he went and bought his own after filming wrapped.
Fast Facts – The Honda SL350
- The Honda SL350 was released in 1969, it’s largely the same bike as the road-going Honda CB350 with some modifications for off-road use.
- While it would never be a proper enduro bike it was a halfway decent scrambler, and the incredible reliability of its parallel twin engine made it popular with those riding in remote regions.
- It’s thought that John Wayne first encountered the model while filming “Big Jake” in late 1970. he enjoyed riding it so much he went out and got his own.
- The Honda SL350 was released in 1969 and sold until 1974, its affordability combined with its rugged reliability made it a favorite with many Americans.
John Wayne’s Honda SL350
The Honda SL350 isn’t a motorcycle that any would associate with John Wayne. He’s more closely associated with riding horses, and if he was going to ride a motorcycle you’d expect it to be something large, chromed, and probably American.
The film Big Jake was shot in late 1970, it stars John Wayne of course, along with his sons Patrick Wayne and Ethan Wayne, with Richard Boone and Maureen O’Hara. The script was originally titled The Million Dollar Kidnapping, which is an objectively better name, and it centers around The Fain Gang kidnapping “Little Jake” and taking him across the border into Mexico.
A one million dollar ransom was demanded, and the film unfolds from there. I won’t go into too much detail here as I don’t want to ruin the film for you if you haven’t seen it.
For whatever reason there was at least one Honda SL350 on set which John Wayne commandeered. Due to its relatively low weight and ease of use it was an ideal motorcycle for use in the Mexican desert, Wayne seems to have been so impressed with it he bought his own a few months later and kept it at his home in Newport Beach, California.
In the years since the bike left John Wayne’s ownership it has been through a thorough restoration back to the original condition that it would have been in when he first took ownership of it all those years ago.
The bike is accompanied by the original California ownership transfer document as proof of John Wayne’s ownership history, and it’s being offered without reserve by RM Sotheby’s on the 27th of January in Phoenix, Arizona.
If you’d like to read more about this SL350 or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing. It’s due to roll across the auction block next month in Arizona with RM Sotheby’s.
Honda SL350 Specifications
- The SL350 is powered by the same engine as the CB350, an air-cooled parallel with with a single overhead cam, two-valves per cylinder, and a swept capacity of 325cc.
- This engine produces 33 bhp at 9,500 rpm, and the motorcycle has a top speed of 86 mph and a 0 to 60 mph time of 8.6 seconds.
- A number of different frame, suspension, and wheel options were offered over the production run of the SL350. The most important of which is probably the switch to a stronger double down tube frame from 1970 onwards.
- The dry weight of the SL350 is listed as 145 kilograms or 320 lbs, however the wet weight was a considerably more hefty 167 kilograms or 368 lbs.
Ben has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with millions of readers around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.
Though the U.S. is one of the largest markets for civilian firearms in the world, certain types of guns rarely make it to our shores. Sometimes it’s due to laws and import restrictions. Other times it’s just a combination of features or the cartridge for which the firearm is chambered in, that there isn’t a market for it here. Just because they weren’t actively cataloged or marketed in the U.S. doesn’t mean that some of these models weren’t sold here, or an intrepid collector hasn’t found a way to bring one into this country, but the following is a list of some types of firearms that you’re unlikely to find on the rack at your local gun shop:
One: Handguns In .30 Luger Or 9×21 mm And Rifles In .222 Rem.
In many countries around the world, civilians are not allowed to own firearms chambered in cartridges used by military forces, including 9 mm Luger, .45 Auto and .223 Remington/5.56 mm. Consequently, many popular firearms in which one of these rounds is the standard chambering are offered in an alternative, non-military cartridge.
For 9 mm Luger handguns, the original popular “civilian” alternative was . 30 Luger, or 7.65 mm Parabellum. This bottlenecked cartridge, introduced in 1898, not only predated the 9 mm Luger, it is the parent case for the popular round. This makes adapting handguns designed around the 9 mm Luger to .30 Luger an easy task. Popular 9 mm Luger handguns that can be found in .30 Luger include the Beretta 92, Browning Hi-Power, Colt Commander, SIG P210 and P220, Ruger P-89, Smith & Wesson Model 39 and 59, and Walther P-38. While these designs were rarely marketed in .30 Luger in the U.S., small batches would be sold from time-to-time. For example, Browning imported about 1,500 Hi-Power handguns in .30 Luger in the late 1980s.
A Beretta APX Tactical chambered in 9×21 mm. Inset: A 9×21 mm cartridge (left) compared to a standard 9 mm Luger (right). Source: APX – beretta.com, Cartridges – wikipedia.com
In 1980, Israel Military Industries (IMI) sought to adapt their 9 mm Luger firearms designs to a caliber that could be purchased by civilians in restricted countries. To this end they developed the 9×21 mm. The 9×21 mm took the 9 mm Luger case and lengthened it slightly. Bullets were seated deeper, so that both rounds had the same overall length. IMI introduced the cartridge to the Italian market in their Micro UZI pistol.
The popularity of the 9×21 mm meant that it eclipsed the .30 Luger as the go-to “civilian legal” handgun round. Nearly every modern 9 mm Luger handgun design has been chambered in 9×21 mm, including the Beretta 92, Glock 17 and the Smith & Wesson 5904. Some 9 mm Luger carbines, such as the Beretta CX-4 Storm and CZ Scorpion, are also chambered in the round.
On the rifle side of things, manufacturers looked to the parent case of the .223 Remington, the .222 Remington, to adapt their rifles for the civilian market. Colt made a small run of SP1 AR-15s in .222 in the late 1970s and later, an AR-15A2 Sporter II in the same caliber. Many classic ‘80s semi-auto military-style rifles, including the Beretta AR-70, FAMAS, FNC, Valmet 62 and 76, and SIG SG-540 were made in .222 Rem. Not limited to military-style rifles, even sporting semi-auto .223s, like the H&K 630 and Mini-14, were also made in .222 Rem. Although increasing restrictions on semi-automatic firearms outside the U.S. mean few recent .223 Rem. semi-automatic rifles have been adapted to an alternative caliber, Heckler & Koch recently made a .222 Rem. version of their SL8.
To a lesser extent, the same process happened to .308 Win. and 7.62 mm NATO rifles with M1A, FAL and SIG SG-540 models made in .243 Win.
Two: A Different Definition Of Short-Barreled Rifle
A Beretta PMXs semi-automtatic carbine chambered in 9×21 mm. Source: beretta.com
Here in the U.S,. our laws dictate that a rifle’s barrel must be at least 16” long, so as not to fall within the purview of the National Firearms Act and its associated restrictions on ownership. Many other countries don’t share our arbitrary barrel length standard. For example, the Heckler & Koch SP5 and SP5K are sold in the U.S. as stockless pistols. In Europe, however, they are supplied from the factory with a stock.
Another example is the CZ Bren 2 Ms and Scorpion. In the U.S., versions with a 16” barrel are sold with a stock and those with a shorter barrel are sold stockless as a pistol. Not so in Europe, where all semi-automatic versions of the Bren 2 Ms and Scorpion are sold as a folding stock rifle, no matter what the barrel length. In Italy, Beretta offers a semi-automatic “Pistol Caliber Carbine” version of their PMX submachine gun with a 7” barrel. In some countries, a rifle is simply something you fire from the shoulder. Barrel length is not important.
Three: Most Firearms Made in China, Post-1994
When China began to open its economy and trade with Western countries in the 1980s, among their exports to the U.S. were firearms. Beyond the typical Soviet-designed guns, like the AK-47, SKS, Dragunov, and Makarov and Tokarev pistols, were copies of Western-designed firearms, including the Browning 22 Semi-Auto Rifle, CZ bolt-action .22-cal. rifles, Winchester 9422, Walther TT Olympia, pre-64 Winchester Model 70, 1911, UZI and M14. Some of us remember the heydays of $75 SKS rifles and 7.62×39 mm ammunition that was as cheap as .22 LR.
The Chinese CF98, a 9 mm Luger, rotating barrel locking, semi-automatic pistol that is an export version of the country’s service pistol, the QSZ-92. Source:cjaie.com
A series of events ended the importation of most Chinese-made firearms into the U.S., including a ban on Norinco-made products and the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. At the time, nearly two million Chinese firearms were being imported into the U.S. annually. While the Chinese kept producing (and copying) other firearms designs for export, most have not been allowed to come into this country. Ironically, Chinese-made firearms are sold in many countries that have stricter gun control laws than the U.S., including Canada and Australia.
Here are a few examples of interesting current-production Chinese firearms that aren’t imported into the U.S.:
- AR-15s: The Chinese-version of the M16, the CQ, has been made in semi-automatic form for the civilian market in M16A1, M16A2 and M4 styles.
- M14s in 7.62×39 mm: Known as the Model M305A, this semi-automatic version of the U.S. M14 not only fires 7.62×39 mm, but also uses AK-type magazines.
- JW-105: A bolt-action hunting rifle chambered in 7.62×39 mm and .223 Rem., marketed in some regions as the “Bush Ranger.”
- Copies of handgun designs including the Glock 17, SIG-Sauer P226, CZ-75 and Colt Woodsman.
- Civilian versions of indigenous Chinese designs, including the QBC-97 bullpup rifle and the Type 77 and QSZ-92 handguns.
The exception? Over the years, some Chinese-made shotguns deemed to have a “sporting purpose” have been allowed to be imported, including copies of the Winchester 1897 pump-action shotgun, Winchester Model 1887 lever-action shotgun, a hammered double-barreled ”coach gun” and Remington 870 shotgun. Savage also imports two Chinese-made shotguns, which it sells under its Stevens brand, the 301 and 320.
Four: Straight-Pull Bolt Actions
A close-up of the straight-pull bolt action of the Beretta BRX-1. Source: beretta.com
The Haenel Jaeger NXT straight-pull bolt action hunting rifle. Source: cg-haenel.de
Restrictions on semi-automatic hunting rifles have left straight-pulls as the fastest firing firearm for hunting moving game in many European countries. Straight-pull bolt-action rifles have never been as popular in the U.S., though the recently introduced Savage Impulse may change this. Consequently, most American shooters and collectors only know straight-pull bolt actions through military surplus rifles and many commercial straight-pull designs have never been sold here. Companies like Beretta, Chapuis and Haenel make straight-pull bolt-action hunting rifles that they do not sell in the U.S….yet.
Five: “Straight-Pull” And “Release” Versions of Semi-Automatic Firearms
As we pointed out above, many countries outside the U.S. restrict the sale of semi-automatic firearms to civilians. This has led to a creative work-around for those who want a fast-firing firearm for hunting or competition, but aren’t allowed to own a semi-automatic. Popular semi-automatic designs are altered to a “straight-pull bolt-action” system, whereby the action must be manually cycled for each round. Often these firearms are known as “assisted linear reloading,” because the action spring is left in place, so that the charging handle is pulled to the rear and then released to allow the bolt to move into battery under the spring’s pressure, as if you were chambering the first round in a semi-automatic rifle.
The Browning Maral SF Composite HC straight-pull bolt action. Source: browningmaral.eu
A few examples of these include modified versions of the Ruger Mini-14 and the Heckler & Koch SL8. Browning makes an manually-operated version of its BAR called the Maral. AR-15s are a popular candidate for this “assisted straight-pull” modification, with companies like LMT and Patriot Ordnance Factory, offering versions in .223 Rem. and .308 Win.
Another version of “assisted” loading is a “release” design. In what can only be described as “semi-semi-automatic” firearms, the action fires and ejects the spent case, but the bolt stays locked back in the open position and a lever must be pressed for it to close so that the next round is chambered. Savage makes a version of its A22 and A17 rimfire rifles that uses this system and French manufacturer Verney-Carron offers a “Stop&Go” system on both rifles and shotguns, where a prominent lever, placed where it can be actuated by the thumb of the shooting hand, allows the action to chamber the next round after each shot.