Category Archives: Consumer Alert!

More on the Pennsylvania Registry-not-Registry

pennsylvania_state_reg_formIn comments to our last on the Pennsylvania State Police’s gun-registry-that-is-not-a-registry-because-it’s-so-fulla-holes, we were challenged by a Keystone State resident who doesn’t recall filling out the PSP form. Here’s what we’ve learned.

At one time, they just had the dealers send 4473 copies, but some time relatively recently (~10 years ago), their lawyers had them discontinue that, and generate their own form, PSP SP4-113 (+ variable numbers).

The PSP deliberately does not put this form on the intertubes. That is because their registration bureaucracy, the Firearms Records Unit, came up with a complex numbering system, where each form is uniquely numbered to the FFL that sold the gun (or handled the transfer, for a pistol between private parties). There is also a state ID number which is used not just to ID dealers but also for private transfers done by any county Sheriffs who offer this service. PSP explains:

FORMS SUPPLIED BY PA STATE POLICE – ONLY AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST:

Application/Record of Sale Form (SP4-113)

This form will be provided by the Pennsylvania State Police and all requests for this form must be submitted in writing. You can fax your requests to (717) 772-4249 or mail requests to Firearm Records Unit, Pennsylvania State Police, 1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110. Note the pre-printed numbers on this form are assigned to your dealership. Therefore, you can not loan copies to other dealers or duplicate this form. Please allow several weeks for the processing of your order. This form is not available online.

They do make a graphic instructional version available [.pdf], of which we’ve made an illustration here (it embiggens). You can see from this illustrative sample that the form was originally drafted to be used with short and long guns, but now it is required only for handguns.

While a single 4473 can cover multiple guns (our personal record is six), this state form must be done all over again for each gun in a multiple buy — even though they’re all on a single federal form. For each firearm sold or transferred, the dealer collects a $3 surcharge and a $2 Instant Check Fee, which are aggregated and remitted monthly to the State Police.

The copies our Fed friend found in a violent career criminal’s closet, in the boxes with the guns, were copies of this form — PSP SP4-113.

When the other copy gets to the Firearms Record Unit, it’s supposed to be entered in the database, but LEOs think it’s far from a certainty that this will happen, soon, or at all. That’s how you wind up with felons with over-the-counter guns in Pennsylvania —

Meanwhile, some jurisdictions are busting even licensed carriers if their guns don’t show up in this registry-that-isn’t. These cases may not stand up in court, but they’re a way to hassle gun owners — one of new Commissioner Marcus Brown’s major goals for the State Police.

How We Did at RIA vs. Blue Book

In April, we bought two lots adding up to four firearms from Rock Island Auction’s online auction. One was a Walther Model 8 pistol, and the other was a collection of three Eastern European pistols: an East German Makarov, a Czech Vz52 service pistol and a Czech Vz50 pistol.

Walther Model 8 RIA

The guns arrived and were in such good condition that our friendly FFL was surprised — pleasantly — when he unpacked them to check the SNs. After a single instant NICS check, we had them at home, and they’re still sitting out, waiting for Kid to have a break from school and from a round of doctor’s appointments. (He’s gonna live but he’s going through a tough time, and that’s all we’re gonna say about that). These four firearms were in four different European calibers: respectively, 6.35mm (.25 ACP), 9x18mm, 7.62x25mm, and 7.62x17SR, aka .32 ACP.

And on our trip to the Biddeford Gun Show, we relieved George the Book Guy of a few of his volumes, including a new Blue Book (ours being old, and this a new edition). Now, we have had a nagging feeling that we overpaid for the auction guns, especially with the stiff Buyer’s Premium typical of traditional auction houses. We were still happy with our purchases, because we always wanted one of each of these, although we’d rather have non-import-marked ones. But the question remained: how did we do?

The Walther Model 8 is important as the last all-new numbered model before the revolutionary PP. (The Model 9 was a rehash of the Model 1). Some PP features are already evident in this single-action, internal-hammer pocket pistol which was made from 1920 to 1943. We’re not very good at grading according to the percentages used by the Blue Book, but if it’s 95% (the image is our actual Model 8), the then Walther is worth what we paid — before the Buyer’s Premium. So yeah, we overpaid a little for this little jewel.

We paid, in effect, $400 for each of the three Eastern European guns. How did we do?

On the minty Makarov, near-100% condition, we were shocked to see the Blue Book valued it at only $250-295. The CZ 52 and CZ 70 are worth even less…we took a bath of $100-250 per gun on these. No wonder we won the lot!

And no wonder Rock Island keeps calling us to bid in the next auction. “We got a live one here, Ethel!”

Will we do it again? Yeah. There’s a certain amount of “what the hell” in plugging three holes in your Warsaw Pact collection with a single bid. (We still need a Skorpion SBR, a CZ 82, CZ 83, PM 64 and a few other odds and ends). We also think that the Blue Book is lagging a bit on these prices, as some of the supply of new imports seems to have dried up during the Great Obama Gun Sale-a-Thon Years. We’ll probably upgrade the guns to non-import-marked ones gradually, one at a time, over the next decade or so (the Blue Book says that draws a 30% premium — seems higher in our experience). And we’ll shoot the living daylights out of ’em.

Is Colt Toast?

colt_logo_mWe’re hearing rumblings about something we’ve discussed before: the parlous financial state of the privately held, and hedge-fund-looted, firearms manufacturer, Colt.

Colt’s hedgies (several generations of them, currently Sciens Capital) have taken it through multiple unnecessary reorganizations, each time stripping as much cash out of the company as possible, pocketing as much as they can get away with, and leaving it saddled with unsustainable debt. The company has hundreds of millions in debt that it has no reasonable chance of repaying. Now, faced with inability to pay a $10.9 million interest payment owed this month, the company’s managers seek to stave off default with hedge-fund chutzpah: offering investors the “opportunity” to take a 70% haircut on $250M of their bonds, or, alternatively, the company will bang out bankrupt — in a prepackaged bankruptcy modeled on that of the Government Motors rip-off and using the same obscure section of the bankruptcy code. Like the Chrysler and GM  bankruptcies, this plan will preserve the equity of favored creditors — the hedge fund managers — while ruining, or at least haircutting, disfavored creditors — like the bond holders.

The Colt Official Police, the cop gun of most of the 20th Century (along with its Smith & Wesson competitor). But Colt can't count on half the market any more.

The Colt Official Police, the cop gun of most of the 20th Century (along with its Smith & Wesson competitor). This one’s a little pimped-out for a cop. But Colt can’t count on half the market any more.

Colt bonds have had a very high effective rate, reflecting their high risk, for a long time. In 2012, two or three fits of borrowing ago, it was already 19%, deep in “junk bond” territory. (The $250M they’re trying to replace is 8.75% due in two years, but it’s trading at a deep discount. The new bonds are nominally 10% due in 2023 — as if managers can keep kicking the can down the road another eight years — and they will also trade at a deep discount, if they’re ever issued).

So it’s not as if bondholders didn’t know that theirs was a speculative gamble. But now, Colt is saying, essentially, “give us 2/3 of your investment, or we’ll take it all.” But their move, described in a press release that was slipped onto the Colt site last month, is extremely risky: if they can’t get the bondholders to accept the 70-30 haircut or the prepackaged bankruptcy (“prepack”), bondholders can and probably will sue, plunging the 1858-vintage company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy or even Chapter 7 liquidation.

They’re gambling that the bondholders’ fear of being left holding a bag containing much less than 30% of the company’s capitalization, divided among the holders of $330 or so million in secured and unsecured debt, will be stronger than their indignation at being 70% expropriated so the managers and hedges can be made whole.

Colt All American 2000. Like many flops (Edsel? Anthony dollar? R51?) it's ugly as a mud wallow. The polymer frame version is uglier yet.

Colt All American 2000. Like many flops (Edsel? Anthony dollar? R51?) it’s ugly as a mud wallow. The polymer frame version is uglier yet.

All the borrowing has not been reinvested in products, where Colt lags the market, or production efficiency. While Colt has a proud heritage and many desirable models, they capitalize on the advantages poorly, and, because of management-induced chaos and labor-induced uncompetitive costs, they saw markets they created, like the enormous 1911 pistol and AR-15 rifle, slip away from them.

A couple of years ago, when they thought they could always find a greater fool to flip the junk debt to, the company’s managers bamboozled the State of Florida  and Osceola County into putting up hundreds of thousands in benefits to draw a plant to Kissimmee, Florida, but never took possession of the plant. Colt’s now shaking the county down for another $150k to get the deadbeat firm out of the plant it never installed a single machine in, or hired a single Florida worker for.

UPDATE

Moody’s rates the restructuring proposals credit negative, but doesn’t change Colt’s already low, low, low ratings:

Colt Defense’s Caa3 corporate family rating (CFR) and Caa3-PD probability of default rating (PDR), with a negative ratings outlook remains unchanged. However, on execution of the restructuring transaction, we would consider either the exchange offer or prepackaged plan of bankruptcy, if the company pursues that option, as a default per Moody’s definitions.

Standard & Poors last changed its ratings for Colt in February, downgrading from CCC/Developing/– to CCC-/Negative/–). S&P Capital IQ/LCD’s Restructuring Watchlist welcomed Colt as long ago as September, 2014.

For more information on Colt’s financial state:

ITEM 27 APR 15: “Colt teeters on edge of bankrupcty” a somewhat inflamed analysis by Rich Duprey on The Motley Fool. He also has Colt entering the market for 1911s in 2010, off by a century, with the R1 (a Remington product. Colt of course entered the market for 1911s in 1911 and has never left it).

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/27/colt-teeters-on-the-edge-of-bankruptcy-how-this-gu.aspx

ITEM 17 APR 15: The New York Times’s Steven J. Lubbin tries to analyze the bond haircut/prepack offer, and concludes it’s “one of the strangest… ever.” His analysis is a lot less breathless and overheated than Duprey’s.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/18/business/dealbook/gun-maker-colts-curious-exchange-offer.html?emc=edit_dlbkam_20150420&nl=business&nlid=57544040&_r=1

ITEM 15 APR 15: Restoring one’s faith in reporters who actually watch their lanes and do their jobs, the Wall Street Journal’s Stephanie Gleason analyzes the offer, the very day Colt issued it.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/gun-maker-colt-launches-exchange-offer-1429107521

If you’re paywalled out, this Google link should get you in:

https://www.google.com/search?&q=Gun+Maker+Colt+Launches+Exchange+Offer

ITEM 15 APR 15: Colt’s official bond-exchange offer and bankruptcy threat (they call it “reorganization,” but it’s bankruptcy):

http://www.colt.com/ColtintheMedia/PressReleases/tabid/252/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/125/Colt-Defense-LLC-Launches-Restructuring-Transaction.aspx

ITEM (periodically updated): Colt’s Press Release archive:

http://www.colt.com/ColtintheMedia/PressReleases.aspx

ITEM 12 FEB 15: Colt Secures Another Loan, but May Still Miss Bond Payment

http://www.guns.com/2015/02/12/colt-secures-another-loan-but-may-still-miss-bond-payment/

ITEM 15 DEC 14: National Defense (NDIA magazine)’s Guest Commentary:Firearms Maker Colt a Cautionary Tale for Defense Contractors.

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1699

ITEM 29 MAY 14: Bloomberg flunky Paul Barrett navigates the hedge-fund guys’ financial maklertum with the assistance of a cast of anti-gun characters, including fellow astroturf anti Richard Feldman and his bogus “Independent Firearms Owners Association.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-05-29/colts-curse-gunmakers-owners-have-led-it-to-crisis-after-crisis

ITEM 26 DEC 12: Colt’s 19% Junk Bonds (by an extremely anti-gun writer)

http://seekingalpha.com/article/1082171-colt-defense-19-percent-yield-junk-bonds

The Gun Feed notches 2 Years

One of our former Weapons Websites of the Week has had a 2-year blogiversary, which we learned through Lee Williams. Lee wrote:

The Gun Feed is celebrating its two-year anniversary, in a market where making it to two years is not an easy task. It’s a major accomplishment.

Kudos to all involved.

Screenshot 2015-05-04 06.57.01

Here’s their press release:

For immediate release:

The Gun Feed Marks its Two Year Anniversary
May 2015 marks the two year anniversary of the launch of the firearm news website called The Gun Feed.

The Gun Feed is a 24/7 news website (Its like Drudge Report, but for guns) that is proudly devoted to the online firearms community. The site showcases the latest firearms news headlines from around the web and is updated many times throughout the day, everyday.

via Congrats: The Gun Feed marks its two year anniversary – The Gun Writer.

We find The Gun Feed and the similar The Gun Wire extremely useful. Not that we’d ever be flailing for blog ideas — Heaven forfend (what we run out of is time to write about the ideas, actually). But if we were, we’d go to those websites and root around for a while. Just like we have some go-to places for .mil and SOF news, we have some favorites for gun news, and “Feed” and “Wire” are both indispensible; and right now the staff of “Wire” are taking a spring break, so The Gun Feed is the only game in town. You might say there’s never been a greater aggregator in the swamp.

Congrats to the staff at The Gun Feed for two years of dedicated service to the firearms community.

Winchester SXP Shotgun Recall

We don’t have one of these things, but if we did would be concerned:

Fortunately, Winchester has a recall program for the affected shotguns. They are the SXP or “Super-X Pump” shotgun. If you do have an SXP, check to see if it’s one of the problem guns. If so, check it. First, is it a 12 Gauge with a 3½” chamber? If not, you’re OK (well, your shotgun is, anyway. Only you can vouch for your general okay-ness). If you have a 12 Ga. 3½” SXP, and it’s one of these submodels, you need to get your serial number out and call Winchester.

  1. SXP Waterfowl Hunter, 26″ or 28″ barrel;
  2. SXP Black Shadow, 26″ or 28″ barrel;
  3. SXP Turkey Hunter, 24″ barrel;
  4. SXP Long Beard, 24″ barrel.

If you have one of the affected guns, call Winchester at 800-945-5372 and they’ll take it from there. (Alternately, you can email to SXP@winchesterguns.com). First, they’ll check the serial number against a list they have (they know when they began fixing this on the production line… if you gun is really new, it might not have any problems, or if it dates from before the manufacturing problem began). Assuming Murphy is still your co-pilot and you have an affected firearm, they’ll walk you through how to return your shotgun for inspection and, if necessary, repair. We suggest that you retain the paperwork involved for the convenience of the next owner. (Although he should always be able to call Winchester and confirm that their records show that the fix has been applied to this particular serial number).

Details of the Winchester recall in a .pdf on the official site:

http://www.winchesterguns.com/support/files/images/wfa/2015-All/2015-Recall-Info/SXP_Recall-Notice_2.pdf

The guy in the video (whose name we don’t know) makes an excellent point: this is why we observe gun safety rules and control muzzle direction at all, repeat all times. If this fellow had shot his kid or hunting partner, our first instinct might have been to say, “Yeah, right, sure he had the safety on, and yeah, he didn’t have his booger hook on the bang switch. Riiiight.” But as you can see from the video, this particular firearm could and did discharge with the shotgun on Safe and no finger anywhere near the trigger. Even six sigma quality control lets a non-zero number of defective products through, and even Remington and Winchester, who make millions and millions of safe guns, have shipped a few lemons. Like this one.

The difference is, a lemon Chevy is a problem for its owner (usually a low-budget car-rental firm). A lemon firearm is a matter of

We doubt our readers are big upland and waterfowl hunters, that’s its own thing, but even if you don’t have one of these firearms, the safety message is universal.

Hat tip, Lee Williams. Spread the word to anybody who’s bought a shotgun lately, and make sure the owner of your local gun store knows about it. These shotguns were intended to kill ducks and turkeys for the table, not unwitting hunters.

Upcoming Course at USIP: Civil Resistance / Nonviolent Movements

hippie peace symbolThe first course we ever did at the US Institute for Peace (USIP) was done for a somewhat off-label reason: we thought it would be a wild hoot to have a USIP certificate to hang, say, between SFQC and Ranger School diplomas on the Wall Of Excessive Self-Adoration.

To our shock, the course, in Conflict Analysis, was more than what we’d expected (which was a graduate seminar in concealing our identity and politics from Birkenstock-shod peacenik instructors), and we actually did indeed learn useful conflict-analysis tools from the course’s case-study based analyses of nasty (and generally misreported) man-made disasters like the Rwandan genocide and the Kosovo War. Yes, there’s never going to be a meeting of the minds between USIP instructors and unconventional warfare practitioners, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to teach us — quite to the contrary.

Since then, USIP and its offerings have expanded quite a bit. They’re not free any more, but it seems like this upcoming course, for example, gives value for the money ($395).

Course participants will learn about the theoretical foundations of civil resistance through historical examples and first-hand accounts of nonviolent struggle. They will also be introduced to a variety of strategies and tools for waging nonviolent action, from time-tested methods to leveraging new media. The course culminates in a computer-based strategy game, People Power: The Game of Nonviolent Resistance, in which students are invited to apply their new knowledge and skills.

July dates listed for this course are approximate and will be finalized soon.

Via Civil Resistance and the Dynamics of Nonviolent Movements | United States Institute of Peace, where they have also posted the whole course’s four-week agenda.

We think this course is of interest to practitioners of UW foreign and domestic. On the page linked above, there is a video with the lead instructor explaining the pros of non-violent movements and the benefits of understanding them. After you go see the video, come back here and we’ll have some comments and criticisms.

The first comment is that the course may suffer from a common USIP bias, the whole Baby Duck World thing: only what’s recent is visible to the youthful instructors. Nonviolent resistance has a pedigree that is not merely 50 or 100 years long, the attention span of the GWU / American University / Ivy League types that usually populate these courses; it goes back millennia.

The instructor in this case, Daryn Cambridge, is a lefty’s lefty with a bio heavy on the ivory tower and feather-light on engagement with the real world. He does not appear ever to have held a job in the productive economy, just a string of parasitical Beltway non-profits.

He has worked or consulted in this capacity with organizations such as Common Cause, The Close Up Foundation, The Democracy Matters Institute, The Student Conservation Association, Learn-Serve International, One World Education, and the Institute for Technology and Social Change.

He serves on the boards of the Democracy Matters Institute and the Peace and Justice Studies Association. He has a M.A. in International Training and Education and a professional certificate in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, both from American University. He received his B.A. from Middlebury College.

AR_IronSight_PeaceSignNonetheless, I expect that there are things we can learn from him. We’re thinking it’ll be worth the $395. Unlike the Conflict Analysis course, we don’t see it as useful down range. Instead, it’s best employed here. 

Non-violent resistance is something that Americans are already practicing — if they are gun owners behind enemy lines in California, DC, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, etc. Our Canadian cousins recently overturned the long-gun registry that Canuck gun-controllers hoped would lead, as registration always does and is always intended to do, to confiscation, some day. They did this through a nonviolent, decentralized and leaderless campaign of passive resistance.

So maybe you, too, might benefit from a little nonviolent resistance theory. Go get it.

Part-Original Colt Armalite Model 601 on GunBroker

A very rare M16 variant, fully transferable, is up for auction on GunBroker. It’s the retro AR guy’s Holy Grail — an original Colt Model 601. It has a low serial number (605), meaning it was one of the first production ARs, making it a gun of notable historical significance. It’s being offered by a reputable seller (Frank Goepfert/Midwest Tactical).

That’s the good news. The bad news? It’s going to be very expensive. They’ve set a buy-it-now of $35K, and the no-reserve auction is already bid up to over $19,000 as we draft this (we suspect it will be higher yet; ordinary M16A1s bid up to this level all the time). And the ugly news? While the gun is described as original in the auction writeup, which we excerpt below, it’s not. Not even close. After the blurb, we’ll tell you what’s missing, and what’s “off” about this rifle.

Colt Armalite model 601. These were the gun that started it all. They are considered the first production M16. These primarily went to military buyers but a few were sold to LE, some of which made it into civilian hands. The 601 is the only M16 on the C and R list! The “01” would be one of my personal top picks for an NFA investment due to the limited number available, the Colt name and the fact that they are a C and R gun. The gun you are bidding on is in nice condition. We have it here on hand. The bore is good, all parts are original and the gun works perfect. The caliber for this firearm is .223. According to the ATF paperwork, Colt Ind. is the maker for this firearm. This will transfer direct to your c3 dealer tax free from our inventory on a Form 3 without delay after payment is made. This is the fastest type of transfer so approval and shipment to your ffl should not take long.

via M16 Colt Armalite Model 601 C and R : Machine Guns at GunBroker.com.

Note how the mag-well bosses in the lower receiver match the upper receiver exactly.  That is a 601 characteristic; by the 603 model (with the forward assist, the one that went to the Army for general issue in Vietnam) these did not align perfectly any more.

While this rifle clearly contains some rare and hard-to-find 601 parts, like the dimpled pins, straight ribbed magazine release and bolt release, and slightly-differently-cut 601 upper and lower receivers, it’s also got a lot of later-AR pollution on it.

The characteristic green-then-black- oversprayed brown mottled fiberglass 601 furniture appears to have been replaced with more durable, but dirt-common, M16A1 furniture.

The early-601 barrel has been replaced by a not-quite-as-rare and distinctly different 1967-vintage chrome-chamber-only M16A1 barrel, a so-called MP-C barrel, and the early barrel, FSB and flash suppressor are not included with this firearm.

This is the C that marks chrome chamber, quite rare in its own right but not correct for a 601:

The bolt carrier group has been replaced by a common M16 or AR BCG.

It’s also been refinished a later, darker shade of anodizing.

Whoever buys this will have to spend thousands (and probably take years, waiting for parts to come on the market, or for repros to be manufactured) to really own a 601 — and even then it will be a restored firearm, not an original. For example, the last set of 601 handguards we saw in really nice shape was five or six years ago, and the guy wanted $1,500 for them.

So how to appraise this semi-601? Its mixmaster status means that it’ll never have the appeal to auction with Rock Island, James D. Julia, or even Poulin unless that long and costly resto is done, and even then, some of the deepest-pocketed collectors will shy away from it (unless it’s described inaccurately or dishonestly… but now the Intertubes know that this firearm, SN 000605, was a mixmaster as of April 2015, and the Internet never forgets).

The bottom line? It is what it always is.

Caveat emptor.

SIG MPX QC Trouble? Or One Guy Got One Lemon?

We are big fans, in theory, of the SIG MPX. We’ve been following the saga of the gun itself, and of the company’s battle (a losing battle, so far) to get their innovative muzzle-brake-converts-to-suppressor-with-a-registered-tube version approved by ATF. We like the look of this modernized take on the MP5 form factor, and now people are starting to get them out in the field. And that, as Art Spiegelman wrote of his dad’s experiences, is where the troubles began.

Several versions of the MPX are shipping -- but this one looks dead for the forseeable future.

Several versions of the MPX are shipping — but this one looks dead for the foreseeable future.

Bearing Arms had a report on a problem with a production MPX. The problem was experienced by a guy named Darrell with a YouTube channel he calls “Tactical Existence” (really?); his tagline (gagline?) is: “Tactical is not just a word it’s mindset & a lifestyle.” (Punctuation his).

You don’t say.

Anyway, the guy’s website has the MPX video at the top. However, he does not show the MPX malfunctioning out of concern for his own liberty.Initially, he loved the MPX, firing it with the SIG Brace against his cheek and fastened to his arm. But then it began to double on him. His explanation:

We started with a fresh case of PMC 9mm brass ammo, and much to our surprise the gun almost immediately started to have serious malfunctions. At first we weren’t sure if the guns having some weird sort of bumpfire situation, or if it was something more serious like a double fire. After running a few quick test there was no doubt that the gun was in fact having a double fire malfunction. The weapon would fire with a pull of the trigger and then again on the reset of the trigger. this is a big problem because as most of you already know if you are in possession of a firearm that fires more then one round with a single pull of the trigger it’s your fault no matter if it is or not, well in the eyes of the ATF anyway.

That’s a reference to US v. Olofson, right there, although he might not know the name of the case he understands its legal import. And that’s why his video isn’t embedded here — since it doesn’t show the failures, it’s not really of interest to us, but we understand why he didn’t want to put incriminating evidence, at least as the ATF sees it, on the web.

The cause of the double-fire was a bit unusual:

After figuring out that we had an issue I took the lower receiver off the gun to inspect the trigger group. I found that the trigger group pins had walked out of the gun and was causing the hammer not to catch the disconnector. We then put the pin back in the gun and test fired to see if this fixed the problem, which it did for a second anyway. After about 20-25 rounds both trigger group pins were starting to walk out of the receiver again, at this point we stopped shooting the gun and called Sig for repair.

We’re not really sure how you fail to notice the pins walking out of the gun in the first place. The original AR-15 trigger module design used the springs themselves, riding in grooves in the pins, to retain the pins and was very effective at doing that. People who’ve had pins walk have usually had grooveless pins, the el cheapo kind.

Here is a video showing the trigger mechanism of another guy’s MPX at about 3:22 to about 3:50. At 3:36 you can see two pins, one of which has faint grooves and one, no grooves at all, in the upper left quadrant of the video. (We’ve cued it up to start at 3:02. You can wind it back if you want the whole thing).

This guy had the trigger mechanism out to replace the trigger spring with a lighter one, to reduce the trigger pull.

The MPX enters a crowded market for 9mm carbines and submachine guns. (The gun’s original design concept was a product-improved MP5). It’s not the market’s incumbent entry (that position is held in the LE market by the MP5, still marketed in a desultory way by HKUSA, and in the civilian market by 9mm AR clones), and it’s not the low cost entry (that would be the CZ Skorpion Evo, less than half of what scalpers are getting for MPXes right now, and with mags perhaps 1/4 of the SIG’s Lancer polymer mags). So it’s vital for SIG to get this right.

The modular rifle-caliber suppressor-host SIG MCX, which shares some components and concepts with the pistol-caliber MPX, has also had, in some examples, feeding problems. This suggests SIG still struggles with QC, but seems completely unrelated to the walking pins in this one example of the MPX.

The fanboys at SIGForum.com have been watching this for some time. This link picks up the MPX thread on p.24 in March and you can continue forward from there, including a discussion of the Tactical Existence report. Several forum members have fired more rounds that Darrell managed to do, and none have had walking pins. A more common problem cited by the forum members is a complete lack of spare mags, so far.

Notes

  1. Darrell is thinking, no doubt, of US v. Olofson, where a guy was convicted for a gun that ATF SSA Jody Keeku and the amateur gunsmiths of Firearms Technology Branch spent four months massaging; they bubba’d it until it doubled 50% of the time. David Olofson spent several years behind bars (he’s been out for years now, but he’s a felon forever). Showing the MPX doubling would be giving the ATF all the evidence they need to throw Darrell in prison on the Olofson precedent, not that they really pay any attention to precedents.

 

 

Some Thoughts on Police Trade-Ins

Favorite FFL emailed his list of customers to say that he had some police trade-ins:

Available starting tomorrow at 9AM are these police department trade in guns.

Bushmaster XM15E2S 5.56mm rifles.  16″ barrel, collapsible stocks, will come with one 30rd mag.  Used, cosmetic blemishes from being in cruiser racks however mechanically sound.  We also have a special going with our Cerakote vendor to get $25 off a refinish with Cerakote gun coating if you so desire.  $475

File photo of a Remington 870 tactical police shotgun

File photo of a Remington 870 tactical police shotgun

Remington 870 Police Magnum 12ga pump shotguns. These have 18.5″ standard barrels with sights.  Two have BlackHawk recoil reducing stocks and two have regular stocks with side saddle shell holders. These also will have some finish wear as well but are mechanically sound.  $325

They’re going to be gone by now, probably; he just had single-digits of each.

Meanwhile, SF Buddy on the phone described his new score:

An HK imported Benelli shotgun that the local detectoves used to use. They have changed (not upgraded) to Mossberg pumps.

Aside: asks your humble host: “Wha’s wrong with a Mossberg pump?”

Turns out, lots of things, but basically, the single aluminum alloy op-rod is prone to bending when used hard. When Army Mossbergs had this problem, the answer was, per Mossberg, a thicker aluminum op-rod… result? One thicker bent aluminum op-rod.

He’s very pleased with the new gun so far. It was a lot more expensive than the above-referenced 870s, but it was a good buy for an HK-era Benelli.

Pros and Cons of Police Trade-ins

Police trade in weapons when they buy new ones, in most states and cities. This lets them save a lot of money on this vital equipment, while keeping their equipment pool up to date (and sometimes, even, under warranty).

The strengths of these weapons usually are:

  1. The weapon design and manufacture was generally good. Police agencies seldom buy junk. When they trade them, it’s more likely to be because they are out of fashion than any real substantive difference between the new guns and the old.
  2. Police weapons are usually chambered for what is thought at the time to be an effective cartridge. All 20th and 21st-Century police firearms can be effective on homo sapiens, to the extent that a handgun can be, with well-selected or handloaded rounds.
  3. The weapons are usually little shot and in good mechanical shape. 90% or more of cops would sooner attend a Free Mumia rally that shoot a single round more than minimum to qualify, so few of these weapons are shot out.
  4. The weapon was subject to some kind of periodic maintenance and inspection.
  5. The police provenance may give you an entertaining story to go with the gun. Or not.

 

PSP Patch Beretta 2

The Pennsylvania State Police is one agency that disposes their used handguns — in this case, a Beretta 96.

 

Weaknesses of these weapons usually are:

  1. Because PDs so dependably follow trends, you’re probably picking up something from one trend ago.
  2. They generally only come in limited configurations. If you prefer, say, the 9mm to the .40 S&W, you don’t get to choose, the way you would with a new gun.
  3. The weapons are usually in fair to poor cosmetic shape, and may not have been cleaned in a long time — if ever.
  4. Cop trades, unless a very large agency suddenly gluts the market or the agency’s version of the gun had market-toxic lawyer “improvements” like a New York or DAO trigger, tend to be priced a little higher than similar used guns.
  5. Police guns are bought by collectors as well as users, especially if the firearm is marked with police identification.

SIG-nificant Shipping Update: MPX pistols, SBR

Back in January, 2013, we were pretty excited when SIG announced the MPX submachine gun, along with civilian-legal pistol, carbine and SBR variants. The piece we wrote then put this part-polymer MP5 analogue with AR-like ergonomics in its tactical, technical and historical context, but rereading it now, we were excited about this thing. We really wanted an SBR-SD version (and still do, and when we’re back in New Hampster we’ll enquire at the Pro Shop).

MPX-SD-Detail-L

It’s also just the thing for PDs looking at dog-eared 1980s MP5s and cringing at what HK wants for replacements; the SMG version is priced a lot more attractively than the German firearm.

And then, of course, came the long wait for shipping, compounded by SIG and the ATF going to war (well, going to law, actually) over SIG’s design for a convertible carbine/SD variant. That one is still generating billable hours, so the very welcome news that MPX variants are shipping must except, at this time, the MCX carbine. But the first three variants are shipping, says SIG on Facebook:

Good news, SIG SAUER fans! The 9mm SIG MPX is now in full production and shipping! Three variants are on their way to distributors as we speak (Pistol, Pistol with SBX brace and Short-Barrel Rifle).

And they include this triumphant picture (you know the embiggen drill):

” 9mm_mpx_shipping

That looks like the new building to us, too. Well done, SIG.

The shipping variants include the pistol (illustrated), the pistol with folding SIG brace (naturally), and the SBR. No caliber conversions or variants, but these are coming: SIG has staked its future on modularity, it seems clear from the firearms it’s promoting on the SIG Evolution website. (That’s for specs and tech. For promotions and news, the place to look is the facebook site, or the Promotions page on the website).

The polymer magazines are molded for SIG by Lancer.

If you’ve been waiting to decide on one of these until you can see and handle it in your LGS, the hour is soon at hand. Hmmm… wonder if they’ll sell us an SBR now and let us trade it on an SBR/SD when it’s ready?