27 Nov 12

I’m asked frequently about a “full-auto” capability in a military rifle, and how important/desirable such an option really is.

Not all states even allow “NFA” weapons in private hands, but most do, including mine. Of course, actually owning one requires a substantial paperwork exercise, but it can be done, and many do. “NFA” stands for the National Firearms Act of 1934, which represents a typical panicked federal-level over-reaction to “Tommy Guns” and other firearms associated with the classic “Gangster Era,” which traces its beginnings to the inception of the Volstead Act (“Prohibition”), which lasted from 1919 to 1933.

Police departments own NFA weapons under the same law as do private citizens. The only difference is that police departments are exempt from the “transfer tax” of $200.00, which is little more than a special sales tax, collected by the federal government when NFA weapons change ownership. In 1934, of course, $200.00 was a substantial sum. It was the decade of the “Great Depression,” and, in those days, a yearly salary of $1,500.00 was considered most respectable, when one was lucky enough to find any kind of gainful employment!

In any event, how genuinely useful is a “full-auto” capability today in a typical military rifle, such as an AR, an AR that is owned for serious purposes, such as personal defense?

In my opinion, a full-auto capability is little more than a distraction from the crucial business of confidently, precisely placing individual, well-aimed bullets where each one will do the most good, and simultaneously arranging for no bullets going where you don’t want them. In fact, in the police business, we fervently hope violent criminals will bring and use full-auto weapons! When we confront them, they invariably blow an entire magazine unproductively (imitating all the sexy rubbish they’ve gawked at on TV since they were infants). Then, they make easy targets as they stand there, stationary and confused, trying to figure how to get their glamour-blaster reloaded. They rarely live through it!

In military scenarios, one might argue in favor of full-auto fire, particularly during the “charging Mongolians” event. But, even then, carefully-aimed, individual shots will usually carry the day. Full-auto fire and panic invariably go hand-in-hand!

Full-auto fire from belt-fed, crew-served machineguns can be effective, in a military scenario, assuming a proficient, accomplished crew, but that is not what we’re talking about. Even when shooting from a bi-pod, full-auto fire from most military rifles is difficult to keep under control in any kind of effective way. In most cases, it just overheats the rifle and wastes ammunition.

So, in my Rifle Classes, we emphasize, among other important subjects, individual mastery of sighting systems and trigger-control. The subject of full-auto fire rarely even comes up, and, when it does, it is customarily dismissed as insignificant/unimportant. Only those who have the patience to learn to perform simple tasks perfectly, ever acquire the ability to perform difficult tasks easily. Thus, the superficial and easily-distracted never get far, no matter what they use.

It may be generally said of most areas of human endeavor, the higher the “glamour-factor,” the lower the actual, practical utility. “Glamour” is of interest only to the shallow and self-centered. Most effective machines, like most effective people, are, at least by today’s standards, dull and boring!

“When you have personal integrity, nothing else matters. When you don’t, nothing else matters!”

B Franklin