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So after doing some sluething on my state laws, I discovered some pretty major loopholes in handgun ownership for those under 21 (I’m 19)

From what I’ve gathered and from what I’ve been told by those I know in law enforcement and those currently serving in the military, I can legally own a handgun and actually carry the handgun in my vehicle even though I’m not 21 due to some loopholes in handgun and firearm ownership laws. 

What would be a good starter handgun to buy as my first handgun? I would like to buy one now and then get my CCW and use that handgun for when I’m legally allowed to carry it on my person. I personally wouldn’t mind carrying SOME full sized handguns like a Glock 17 or M&P 2.0

Also what would be a good starter AR to get that’s below $1,000; that’s another firearm on my list to soon get.

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Moved to the appropriate subforum.

First of all, the provisions you are outlining are not "loopholes" as they are explicitly outlined in Federal law. Specifically, 18 U.S.C. 922(b)(1) from the 1968 Gun Control Act, the BATFE advisement about which states:
 

Quote

May an individual between the ages of 18 and 21 years of age acquire a handgun from an unlicensed individual who is also a resident of that same State?

An individual between 18 and 21 years of age may acquire a handgun from an unlicensed individual who resides in the same State, provided the person acquiring the handgun is not otherwise prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law. A Federal firearms licensee may not, however, sell or deliver a firearm other than a shotgun or rifle to a person the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe is under 21 years of age.

There may be State or local laws or regulations that govern this type of transaction. Contact the office of your State Attorney General for information on any such requirements.

 

Provided that your state has no relevant prohibitions, then, yes you may acquire a handgun from a non-FFL ("unlicensed individual"), usually via gifting. I would be very careful how you conduct this as it's relatively easy to create a condition that could be regulated by state or Federal law. For example, if you live with your parents in a state with no additional regulations and are over 18, your father or mother may gift you a handgun without issue. However, if your father lives in another state, this would fall under interstate commerce and would be illegal, as interstate transactions must go through an FFL (who can't sell you the firearm).

Gun shows are dicey in this way because generally speaking you don't have any way to verify that the seller lives in your state or not. You can ask for ID, but that's not a surefire thing either. If you do decide to go this route, I would definitely insist on seeing an ID and photographing it.

 

Another thing to worry about is accidentally conducting a straw purchase. If, for example, you had the above case with your parent, but instead of a Christmas gift, you reimbursed them for the gun then that would become a straw purchase and a Federal crime. More confusingly, if this handgun were already owned by your parents (if for example it was Grandpa's gun), and you bought it off them, that would not be a straw purchase and would be legal. There are also, so far as I know, no regulations against trades of handguns between individuals who reside in the same state. So, conceivably, you could trade for a privately owned handgun, for example - but we enter yet another grey area if the gun you are trading for was purchased with the knowledge that you'd be trading for it. In this case it's possible that this could be considered a straw purchase in the same way as if you had bought the weapon from them with cash.

 

Given the above, I would go about acquiring a handgun very carefully. Some Don'ts, Dos, and Mays:

 

DON'T arrange for someone else to buy a gun for you from an online store or any place with an FFL. This is one of the key ingredients of a straw purchase - if they can prove you arranged the purchase ahead of time, bad day for you.


DON'T purchase from or trade with people who are not family members or very close friends (e.g., you've been to their house). It's the only way to be sure.

 

DON'T post on online message boards or Facebook groups conspicuous or incriminating requests for handguns


DON'T use Armslist to arrange a private sale. Armslist is a cesspit, full of scams and ne'erdowells, just avoid it. You'll thank me.

 

DON'T go "gun shopping" for a handgun with anyone who might want to sell or gift you a gun unless they agree not to buy anything from that store. Even if it's innocent, "hey dad, I want that one" followed by an attempted sale will give any decent gun store clerk the heebie jeebies.

 

DO let people you know and trust know you want a handgun, and which kind. As long as you don't plan for them to purchase a gun, this is fine. And you may get lucky, or find someone wants to sell a gun you'd be happy with. You never know without bringing it up.

 

DO inform those you know who may be willing to sell, trade, or gift you a handgun what the relevant laws are. Show them the BATFE regulations using your phone or computer. Make sure they do not think they are doing something illegal.


DO make an effort to shoot a variety of handguns before you buy. Since you are under 21, you generally can't rent handguns but you should have no problems accompanying a legal purchaser and shooting any guns they rent. Also, look out for folks who might be happy to let you shoot their guns at the range. A .22 LR rifle is nice for this, since you can shoot it anywhere you can shoot a pistol.

YOU MAY want to arrange a nice gift for someone who seems like they would be willing to gift or trade you a handgun. Doesn't hurt, right?

 

As for which handgun to pick, this choice is very personal. I shoot Glocks well, and most people do, so that's my default for you. Glock 19 or 17. I estimate there is an 80% chance it will work well for you. If not, you can sell it later for close to full value. If you are a part of that 20% of the population who just really does not agree with Glocks, I would give the well respected competing brands (S&W, SIG, CZ, etc, not Springfield) a try and see which one shoots best for you. "Feel" of the handgun can be related to your performance with them, but isn't necessarily. For example, the most comfortable handgun for me is the Browning Hi Power, yet I shoot Glocks better.

 

The biggest mistake in my humble opinion that a first-time handgun shooter can make is saying "hey, I'll buy a full-size or compact (G19) handgun and it'll be both my IDPA/training gun, and when I'm 21 it'll be my CCW too!" No. Do not do this. Yes, people can and have concealed full size guns every day. They are not you. You've never concealed a handgun before. You want the smallest, most concealable gun you can get that still offers good shootability and lethality (that would be a Glock 43 btw, plus maybe the SIG P365 in a couple years once it's debugged). Right now, I would just pick a good gun to build fundamentals on, and worry about what you want to carry when you get closer to getting your license. If after a year or two of actually carrying that smaller gun, you want to go up to a Desert Eagle or whatever, be my guess. But practice carrying with something that's less of a pain in the ass, first.

 

I would also keep an eye out for anything friends or relatives have that might be a good range gun, even if it's not exactly what you want. Remember, guns usually hold their value so if you don't end up liking it, you can sell it and usually lose less than the cost of renting it.

 

For your starter AR-15, there are a lot of good options. The baseline gun people are usually going to tell you to get is the Colt 6920. This gun offers basically zero nice features (like trigger, free float rail, etc) but it is mechanically still one of the best guns you can buy and makes an excellent host for upgrades. Many other guns below the $1000 mark today offer rail systems, triggers, midlength gas, and other upgrades, but in my case there aren't many of those packages that I really like as a whole, and chances are very good their quality won't be quite as high as the 6920. That's not to say the 6920 is the best rifle out there, but in terms of QC it has been the gun to beat for a while now. With a Colt OEM2, you get the rifle and none of the stuff that goes on it, too, and you are left with roughly $250 of your budget to slap on stocks, rails, etc. Even if it doesn't have all the modern creature comforts (it has a carbine gas system and the notorious GI trigger), it's hard to do better than taking one of those and decking it out the way you like. I've owned a 6920 for 8 years, and it's had close to 10,000 rounds through it. Nothing has broken. Everything still works as it should. The original upper still shoots 2 minute with quality ammo. The 6920 isn't good enough anymore that if you get anything else there'll be a riot, but if you do get one, nobody will question it either. And you'll be satisfied, I think.

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I would suggest that whatever firearm you end up buying, don't feel obligated to drop a wad of cash on gucci aftermarket parts right away. You are better off buying a brick of plinker ammo and shooting it alot to become proficient/confident in yourself of its use.

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Thank you for the in-depth answer Sturgeon. I just recently heard about this and wondered about it for some time. Owning a handgun I feel is especially necessary for where I live due to the pretty bad criminal activity that goes on. I do own a shotgun I purchased but if I ever had to use it at home which is a situation I do feel could very well happen, it won’t be convenient and could hamper me actually dealing with the situation. I’ve actually had multiple instances in the past few months where I’ve been threatened and chased and almost attacked by random people in public and something like this if I can legally defend myself would be extremely beneficial Incase the situation arises.

 

I’ve actually shot quite a few handguns including a lot of Glocks like a 17, 19, 22, 23, etc, some CZ’s, S&W, and some Ruger’s. However as you pointed out I’ve never CCW’d before obviously so I don’t know how it would work out for me. It sounds ridiculous but even though I don’t have a problem with Glocks, I do like them and how they shoot and feel, I don’t really want one because of aesthetic reasons. As retarded as that sounds. I’ve shot the S&W 2.0 and I did quite enjoy that along with a CZ of which I can’t remember the name (it was some compact model) and they were both really nice. Are there any specific handguns you’ve shot that you can recommend? If I can’t really find anything other than a Glock then I’ll of course get it because I know it’ll work no matter what but I do wish to avoid it for the reasons I stated.

 

As for AR’s, have you had experience with the Bushmaster XM-15 or the Delton Armory AR’s I’ve shot the latter once before and it seemed like a decent rifle however I’ve not done anything other than fire a full magazine through one. The Bushmaster is one I’m looking at because it’s within my price range and from what I remember of Bushmaster it should be of good quality? I’ve also looked at the River AR-556 and the M&P 15 which I’ve also seen cheap enough for me afford. 

 

I’m actually going to join the police academy next year for my city and try to become a police officer so I’m wanting to broaden my experience a little bit due to the nature of that job and where it’ll be located at.

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3 minutes ago, Conner Webb said:

I don’t have a problem with Glocks, I do like them and how they shoot and feel, I don’t really want one because of aesthetic reasons

 

Yeah I didn't either. You'll get over it, trust me.

 

4 minutes ago, Conner Webb said:

Are there any specific handguns you’ve shot that you can recommend? If I can’t really find anything other than a Glock then I’ll of course get it because I know it’ll work no matter what but I do wish to avoid it for the reasons I stated.

 

I thought I already made a few recommendations. I've shot a lot of different handguns. I'd stick with the mainstream striker-fired guns, the best of those being the various Glocks and the M&Ps.

 

6 minutes ago, Conner Webb said:

As for AR’s, have you had experience with the Bushmaster XM-15 or the Delton Armory AR’s I’ve shot the latter once before and it seemed like a decent rifle however I’ve not done anything other than fire a full magazine through one.

 

Yes I have some experience with them and would not recommend spending your money on either. It's a roll of the dice. Bushmaster mostly made its name through being referenced in CNN articles about school shootings. They aren't the best choice.

 

7 minutes ago, Conner Webb said:

I’ve also looked at the River AR-556 and the M&P 15 which I’ve also seen cheap enough for me afford.

 

Of everything you mentioned the M&P 15 Sport II is the best, but the Colt 6920 is better yet.

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If it doesn't start with a "4" it's for women or commies. 

 

Best to buy one gun that you can use for  carry and home defense.

 

But always have a spare gun of the same type for extra parts. One is none, two is one.

 

Based on this, a KRISS vector in .45 Almighty Caliber Proper is probably your best bet. Buy two, one with a brace and one as a pistol so you can carry it easy. 

 

I suggest a chest holster. 

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11 hours ago, Sturgeon said:

I'd stick with the mainstream striker-fired guns, the best of those being the various Glocks and the M&Ps.

 


A big part of the reason why this advice is so valuable is that mainstream = cheap and easy accessories. No, you don't need to rice your handgun out at first, but having access to the best holsters, cheap and good magazines (as opposed to cheap or good), and easily accessed spares for if/when things breaks is reassuring.

 

 

11 hours ago, Sturgeon said:

Of everything you mentioned the M&P 15 Sport II is the best, but the Colt 6920 is better yet.


Agreed, but I would like to add something. As I'm sure Sturgeon can attest (having held everything from the first to the latest AR-15s), the AR is delightful in large part because of it's modularity. Although it won't be an issue for you within the first, say, 1-2 years of owning and shooting an AR-15 (possibly more!) the dated components of a Colt 6920 are primarily in the upper receiver group, which is not legally a firearm. It is thus entirely possible to keep your existing AR-15 and buy or build a new, hyper-modern, whiz-bang upper receiver and install it on your rifle merely by popping a few pins. There is a lot of upward growth potential in a rack-grade 6920 when you're ready to do so.

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13 minutes ago, OnlySlightlyCrazy said:


A big part of the reason why this advice is so valuable is that mainstream = cheap and easy accessories. No, you don't need to rice your handgun out at first, but having access to the best holsters, cheap and good magazines (as opposed to cheap or good), and easily accessed spares for if/when things breaks is reassuring.

 

 


Agreed, but I would like to add something. As I'm sure Sturgeon can attest (having held everything from the first to the latest AR-15s), the AR is delightful in large part because of it's modularity. Although it won't be an issue for you within the first, say, 1-2 years of owning and shooting an AR-15 (possibly more!) the dated components of a Colt 6920 are primarily in the upper receiver group, which is not legally a firearm. It is thus entirely possible to keep your existing AR-15 and buy or build a new, hyper-modern, whiz-bang upper receiver and install it on your rifle merely by popping a few pins. There is a lot of upward growth potential in a rack-grade 6920 when you're ready to do so.

 

Yes I have three uppers for my 6920 now. The lowers last practically for forever.

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13 hours ago, Oedipus Wreckx-n-Effect said:

My vote is for 1911. It's been around this long, it has to be doing something right.

I think I’ll pass on that suggestion.

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17 hours ago, Oedipus Wreckx-n-Effect said:

My vote is for 1911. It's been around this long, it has to be doing something right.

Not a beginner's piece.  Too easy to get burned/frustrated with one "as your first".

Lots of the low priced ones are iffy about QC, some of the high dollar ones can be pretty bad as well, and overall they need a bit more "logistical support" than some more modern offerings.

Mags for example. LOTS of really really shitty 1911 mags floating around out there.

 

4 hours ago, Conner Webb said:

I think I’ll pass on that suggestion.

As your first, yes.

Once you get a bit more familiar with handguns, they are tough to beat.

But they are not something you slap training wheels and a bright orange flag on, and toodle down to the range with, as "babby's first pistola".

 

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7 hours ago, Conner Webb said:

I think I’ll pass on that suggestion.

Here's the thing.

 

I think about what I would have changed about my life all the time. What would I do differently if I had a chance? Woke up one morning and it was 2005. You see? Scenarios play out before me. 

 

Should I have taken a different route?

 

Told her how I really felt?

 

Stopped him from taking the shot? 

 

Stolen those keys?

 

But what really keeps me up are all the gun choices I made. I chose a lot of stupid guns and I had way too many by the time I was 21. 

 

If I were to do it again, I could have easily gotten by with the following.

 

A 9mm Glock (19 probably).

A decent AR.

A milsurp bolt action for cheap thrills.

Pump action shotgun (for the meme)

 

That's it. 

 

And I had way more than that. Just ask @Sturgeon.

 

My first center-fire pistol was a Smith and Wesson 625. Literally the worst of both worlds.

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8 hours ago, Oedipus Wreckx-n-Effect said:

Here's the thing.

 

I think about what I would have changed about my life all the time. What would I do differently if I had a chance? Woke up one morning and it was 2005. You see? Scenarios play out before me. 

 

Should I have taken a different route?

 

Told her how I really felt?

 

Stopped him from taking the shot? 

 

Stolen those keys?

 

But what really keeps me up are all the gun choices I made. I chose a lot of stupid guns and I had way too many by the time I was 21. 

 

If I were to do it again, I could have easily gotten by with the following.

 

A 9mm Glock (19 probably).

A decent AR.

A milsurp bolt action for cheap thrills.

Pump action shotgun (for the meme)

 

That's it. 

 

And I had way more than that. Just ask @Sturgeon.

 

My first center-fire pistol was a Smith and Wesson 625. Literally the worst of both worlds.

Never ever sell a first gen G17, in the hopes that a G17L will come into the shop. 

You will end up with a Pre B CZ-75 longframe.

 

Never pass up an inexpensive early Bushmaster SP-1 clone, as you will end up with a 1 of 2000 R6700CH, that , while stupidly accurate, weighs as much as your Garand, and cost three times as much as the Shrub.

 

Never build "the perfect" 870, as you will sell it , thinking "I can build another". Eventually the world runs out of good, old, sub $200.00 870's to build on.

 

Never buy an Enfield. Let alone a No4Mk1*, as it will get you into handloading, then black power cartridges, then collecting odd British Militaria, then odd CANADIAN militaria , followed by collecting Japanese then French.

A Lee-Enfield will also spoil you on bolt-actions. A Krag comes close.  Maybe a Winchester 54.

Everything else will be "clunky".

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2 minutes ago, Oedipus Wreckx-n-Effect said:

@Meplat the only gun I regret selling is my Ishapore .308 enfield. Picked it up for 100 bucks. Sold it for 100 bucks. 

Well, a lot of the early imports of the Ishapores were abject garbage.

I dealt with at least eight that were basically force-matched junk.

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1 minute ago, Oedipus Wreckx-n-Effect said:

 

The one I had was decent. Good bore. fed great. Decently accurate. Kind of a unicorn.

And..You sold it?

 

W.what. Were you HIGH!? I managed to get one of the junkers to feed from a 30 round L4 magazine....

Why!?

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2 minutes ago, Oedipus Wreckx-n-Effect said:

 

told you it's the only gun I regret selling! :)

You only regret not selling it to MEEEEEEEEEE!

 

FFS, I wanted to make an "Air Service Rifle" from one of those with a L4 LMG mag.. But most of the ones I came across were just shit. 

 

(And by "shit" , I mean "Would not feed a single round, were grossly out of headspace, would reliably unlock the bolt upon firing, or could not hit a flock of barns from inside one of them..)

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      Earliest Origins


      Animated diagram of the AK-107/108
       
      Balanced action recoil systems (BARS) work by accelerating a mass in the opposite direction of the bolt carrier.  The countermass is of similar mass to the bolt carrier and synchronized to move in the opposite direction by a rack and pinion.  This cancels out some, but not all of the impulses associated with self-loading actions.  But more on that later.

      Long before Soviet small arms engineers began experimenting with BARS, a number of production weapons featured synchronized masses moving in opposite directions.  Generally speaking, any stabilization that these actions provided was an incidental benefit.  Rather, these designs were either attempts to get around patents, or very early developments in the history of autoloading weapons when the design best practices had not been standardized yet.  These designs featured a forward-moving gas trap that, of necessity, needed its motion converted into rearward motion by either a lever or rack and pinion.
       

      The French St. Etienne Machine Gun
       

      The Danish Bang rifle
       
      At around the same time, inventors started toying with the idea of using synchronized counter-masses deliberately to cancel out recoil impulses.  The earliest patent for such a design comes from 1908 from obscure firearms designer Ludwig Mertens:


       
      More information on these early developments is in this article on the matter by Max Popenker.
       
      Soviet designers began investigating the BARS concept in earnest in the early 1970s.  This is worth noting; these early BARS rifles were actually trialed against the AK-74.
       

      The AL-7 rifle, a BARS rifle from the early 1970s
       
      The Soviet military chose the more mechanically orthodox AK-74 as a stopgap measure in order to get a small-caliber, high-velocity rifle to the front lines as quickly as possible.  Of course, the thing about stopgap weapons is that they always end up hanging around longer than intended, and forty four years later Russian troops are still equipped with the AK-74.

      A small number of submachine gun prototypes with a BARS-like system were trialed, but not mass-produced.  The gas operated action of a rifle can be balanced with a fairly small synchronizer rack and pinion, but the blowback action of a submachine gun requires a fairly large and massive synchronizer gear or lever.  This is because in a gas operated rifle a second gas piston can be attached to the countermass, thereby unloading the synchronizer gear.

      There are three BARS designs of note from Russia:

      AK-107/AK-108
       


      The AK-107 and AK-108 are BARS rifles in 5.45x39mm and 5.56x45mm respectively.  These rifles are products of the Kalashnikov design bureau and Izmash factory, now Kalashnikov Concern.  Internally they are very similar to an AK, only with the countermass and synchronizer unit situated above the bolt carrier group.


       

      Close up of synchronizer and dual return spring assemblies

      This is configuration is almost identical to the AL-7 design of the early 1970s.  Like the more conventional AK-100 series, the AK-107/AK-108 were offered for export during the late 1990s and early 2000s, but they failed to attract any customers.  The furniture is very similar to the AK-100 series, and indeed the only obvious external difference is the long tube protruding from the gas block and bridging the gap to the front sight.
       
      The AK-107 has re-emerged recently as the Saiga 107, a rifle clearly intended for competitive shooting events like 3-gun.
       

       
      AEK-971

      The rival Kovrov design bureau was only slightly behind the Kalashnikov design bureau in exploring the BARS concept.  Their earliest prototype featuring the system, the SA-006 (also transliterated as CA-006) also dates from the early 1970s.



      Chief designer Sergey Koksharov refined this design into the AEK-971.  The chief refinement of his design over the first-generation balanced action prototypes from the early 1970s is that the countermass sits inside the bolt carrier, rather than being stacked on top of it.  This is a more compact installation of the mechanism, but otherwise accomplishes the same thing.


       

      Moving parts group of the AEK-971

      The early AEK-971 had a triangular metal buttstock and a Kalashnikov-style safety lever on the right side of the rifle.



      In this guise the rifle competed unsuccessfully with Nikonov's AN-94 design in the Abakan competition.  Considering that a relative handful of AN-94s were ever produced, this was perhaps not a terrible loss for the Kovrov design bureau.

      After the end of the Soviet Union, the AEK-971 design was picked up by the Degtyarev factory, itself a division of the state-owned Rostec.



      The Degtyarev factory would unsuccessfully try to make sales of the weapon for the next twenty four years.  In the meantime, they made some small refinements to the rifle.  The Kalashnikov-style safety lever was deleted and replaced with a thumb safety on the left side of the receiver.


       
      Later on the Degtyarev factory caught HK fever, and a very HK-esque sliding metal stock was added in addition to a very HK-esque rear sight.  The thumb safety lever was also made ambidextrous.  The handguard was changed a few times.



      Still, reception to the rifle was lukewarm.  The 2018 announcement that the rifle would be procured in limited numbers alongside more conventional AK rifles is not exactly a coup.  The numbers bought are likely to be very low.  A 5.56mm AEK-972 and 7.62x39mm AEK-973 also exist.  The newest version of the rifle has been referred to as A-545.

      AKB and AKB-1


      AKB-1


      AKB


      AKB, closeup of the receiver

      The AKB and AKB-1 are a pair of painfully obscure designs designed by Viktor Kalashnikov, Mikhail Kalashnikov's son.  The later AKB-1 is the more conservative of the two, while the AKB is quite wild.

      Both rifles use a more or less conventional AK type bolt carrier, but the AKB uses the barrel as the countermass.  That's right; the entire barrel shoots forward while the bolt carrier moves back!  This unusual arrangement also allowed for an extremely high cyclic rate of fire; 2000RPM.  Later on a burst limiter and rate of fire limiter were added.  The rifle would fire at the full 2000 RPM for two round bursts, but a mere 1000 RPM for full auto.

      The AKB-1 was a far more conventional design, but it still had a BARS.  In this design the countermass was nested inside the main bolt carrier, similar to the AEK-971.

      Not a great deal of information is available about these rifles, but @Hrachya H wrote an article on them which can be read here.
       
       
    • By Sturgeon
      As a current side project stops and starts according to my whims, I figured I might as well create here and keep updated a list of rules/guidelines for design of lightweight automatic/autoloading rifles and other weapons. Here's what I have so far:

      1. Volume is mass; smaller means lighter.
       
      2. The lightest, strongest shape is the sphere, and it has the least surface area for its volume. Cubes, though conceptually simple, should be avoided where possible. All light weapons desire to approach the shape of the cylinder, an elongate sphere.

      3. (For conventional-layout weapons) Adding one ounce of weight in front of the point of balance adds two in total.

      4. The primary mass is the primary driver of the total system mass. As a rule of thumb, adding 1 gram to the bolt mass adds 10 grams total to the rifle.

      5. The only way to achieve exceptional lightness of weight is to reduce weight wherever possible, no matter how minor the savings in each case. The best way to lighten a rifle by 10% is not by cutting the weight of one component dramatically, but by reducing the weight of all components by 10%.
    • By Toxn
      This post is probably going to be a bit ramble-y, but bear with me as I get to the point. 
       

       
      It has become apparent to me, over time, that the United States has something of a strange pathology regarding violence and authority. With the recent racially-tinged unrest in Ferguson, I thought it might be time to both chat about this and offer a concrete, material, all-American solution to the problem.
       
      Firstly, there seems to be a strange (and, from what I hear, common) misunderstanding in the US and some other places about the role, effect and legitimacy of violence in bringing about social change. All too often, there seems to be an implicit understanding that protest can only be legitimate if it is non violent - with any incidence of violence during a protest being used to tar that movement generally. This, combined with a frankly disturbing cult of worship centred around law enforcement officers and members of the armed forces, results in 'seen but not heard' syndrome.
       
      The way this works is pretty interesting: if a movement uses non-violent means to protest, then it gets ignored and beaten up by the cops (who are, by virtue of their magical status in society immune from substantial criticism for doing so). If it uses violence, then the cops suddenly play nice while the media takes on the task of delegitimising the movement. Finally, if no protest occurs then nobody notices.
       
      There are, so far as I can see, only a few ways out of this trap:
      Be white, upper-class and non-violent. Push your agenda through using the existing state apparatus and a friendly media (who will treat a rich and pretty white woman with kid gloves 99% of the time and a handsome, well-spoken white man damn near 100%) Be white, of any class and violent. Rely on the fact that the target of your violence isn't on the right side of the media divide and that you can use existing state apparatus to push your agenda from within. Be non-white and form a massive coalition with prominent white backers and supporters. Be aware that any non-white leaders/figureheads will have their lives scrutinised ruthlessly and thus need to be saints. Also be ready to have said leaders/figureheads posthumously canonised by the very same people who would happily feed them to the dogs in the present. The above is, of course, intentionally provocative.
      However, what is indisputable is the fact that no movement that doesn't already have the nation substantially on its side (in as far as that phrase includes such diverse things as existing biases in media, power dynamics and politics) can achieve much in the way of change in the US if it is peaceful or directly violent. As a consequence, any movement should look to the careful cultivation of the media, a strong and continual attempt to use existing state structures to further your agenda and the ability to credibly threaten violence if it wishes to succeed. Central to all of this is to have very strong discipline and control - something which is especially hard in a surveillance state such as the US.
       
      Here is where I (finally) get to the reason why this post is in this forum. What the libertarians get right (even if it is damn near the only thing) is that being well armed suddenly makes people take you seriously. Unfortunately, the people who need to be taken seriously tend not to be well armed: weapons are expensive and weapon controls tend to push down on the undesirables more than the privileged. What people who want to affect change in their societies need, then, is a way to arm significant numbers of their members in ways that are both credible and cheap.
       
      For this (overly) simplistic solution to an intricate problem, I am going to ask my fellow forumites to do two things:
      1) Debate the use of violence as part of a legitimate strategy of social change in a paradoxically docile and reasoned way, and
      2) Design a weapon that can be made simply and very cheaply to provide our would-be protesters the means to march in peace while the cops stand far, far away.
       
      Having had a bash at number 1), here is my bid for number 2):
      For the US - with its easy access to ammunition, parts and machinery - it might be best to design a rifle of some sort. My pet solution here is an intermediate calibre weapon using a gas-delayed blowback action (basically a straight blowback with a gas tube venting to the rear of a very heavy bolt) and firing from a closed bolt. People who know more about gun design than me (a low bar to clear if ever there was one) can feel free to propose something less idiotic.
       
      Have at it, gents.
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