Armalite .50-Caliber Rifle. Pre-Ban Sales Surge?

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AmaLite’s Arthur Steadman reports that the company’s AR50 A1 rifles are all the rage. “There’s been a sudden strong surge. We’re as pleased as punch.” Yes, well, numbers? “I can’t tell you how many ‘extra’ 50′s we’ve sold or the percentage jump from last month or last year,” Arthur reports, unhelpfully. “Let me put it this way: our dealers now have a 90-day lead time.” Arthur says his employer will trim that waiting period to “in-stock” by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the new-media maven attributes the sales surge to the .50-cal’s reasonable price (“three and change”) and the fact that even a new shooter can achieve excellent marksmanship quickly (albeit “with a decent scope”). There is an alternative theory . . .

As we reported from SHOT, when California banned the .50-caliber rifle, a whole new crop of gun owners decided they had to add one to their collection. Before that, the large caliber firearms found favor ahead of President Obama’s election—along with anything else that fired a bullet and the bullets themselves.

Is it possible an emboldened (i.e. re-elected) Obama would try a little “under the radar” executive fiat-style gun control? If so, why wouldn’t the administration target the .50? No one “needs” such a destructive gun, right? (Hey, it worked for “assault weapons.”) Perhaps gun owners are gearing-up for an ATF-sponsored, enabled and enforced ban on .50 rifles.

If you’re considering buying a .50 caliber rifle—and why wouldn’t you (aside from price, ammo cost and range limitations)—now might be a good time to act. Realizing that the ATF could make the gun’s prohibition retroactive. Which would really suck.

Oh, did I mention Illinois bill HB1294?

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Criminal Code of 1961. Provides that 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a semi-automatic assault weapon, an assault weapon attachment, any .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge. Provides that beginning 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a large capacity ammunition feeding device.

Illinois (i.e. Chicago) wants to abridge Americans’ right to keep and bear arms and it wants to ArmaLite to leave the state? That makes sense.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

30 Responses to Armalite .50-Caliber Rifle. Pre-Ban Sales Surge?

  1. avatarJust Another Matt says:

    “Illinois wants to abridge Americans’ right to keep and bear arms and it wants to ArmaLite to leave the state?”

    It is not Illinois……..it is Chicago.

  2. avatarDrewR55 says:

    Seems really stupid to me considering the sheer number of weapon manufacturer in Illinois. I mean, we’re not just talking about ArmaLite.

    “within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a semi-automatic assault weapon, an assault weapon attachment… Provides that beginning 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act,”

    Wouldn’t this apply to Springfield and all the other rifle manufacturers in the state?

    • avatarMoonshine7102 says:

      Gee, don’t firearms manufacturers and their employees pay state taxes? The law of unintended consequences once again rears its ugly head…

      • avatarDrewR55 says:

        Agreed. Maybe I’ll call my representative. Oklahoma could use a new industry

        • avatarMoonshine7102 says:

          Minnesota would be a shorter move for them… ;)

        • avatarokto says:

          Do it! I’d love to work for ArmaLite, and this state would love to have the tax dollars and jobs. Not to mention we’ve got gobs of cheap real estate, and we love us some guns.

        • avatarDrewR55 says:

          I was reading KOCO last night. A state rep wants to expand the Castle Doctrine. He made a point of saying only 7 out of every 10 homeowners were armed. He’s right, we need more guns.

  3. Ill-annoy gunmakers need to leave the state and move to more gun friendly neighboring states like Wisconsin or Indiana. That would show the clowns in Springfield a good reason to ask Windbag City to shut up.

    And, I live here in the Windbag City suburbs, so, yes, I do think that drastic action by way of an economic boycott is in order.

  4. avatarLow Budget Dave says:

    Every smart gun manufacturer is lobbying the state of California to get CA to ban their guns. If anyone can make a gun unnecessarily dangerous, then not only do they get free advertising, but panic buying.

    If you could get Sacramento to ban your website, you could charge for a subscription.

  5. avatarJoe Grine says:

    I’ve thought about buying a fifty for investment purposes. I bought four MP-5 sears back in the day and it was a great investment. But the possibility of a total possession ban has me somewhat worried. While I think a “turn-em-in” type of ban seems unlikely, I don’t think there is any legal impediment to doing so. Admittedly, I have not researched the issue. Any of the other TTAG lawyers care to opine on this topic: Chris? Ralph?

    • avatarRalph says:

      Joe, I would really like to explore the law of takings. I have not done so yet.

      MA avoided the taking problem when it enacted its AWB by grandfathering all the otherwise banned guns that were in the state prior to enactment. Those guns are legal to own, possess and transfer, either through an FFL or in face to face transactions with non-FFLs. Thus, there were no takings, and those who held “pre-ban” guns saw an immediate and sometimes dramatic increase in the value of their so-called “assault weapons.”

  6. avatarShane from Kanuckistan says:

    “any .50 caliber rifle”

    Would this also apply to muzzle loaders? Cuz when I think WMD, muzzleloaders jump to the front of my mind.

    • avatarMoonshine7102 says:

      From the full text of the bill:

      8 (4) “.50 caliber rifle” means a centerfire rifle
      9 capable of firing a .50 caliber cartridge. The term does
      10 not include any antique firearm as defined in 18 U.S.C.
      11 Section 921 (a)(16), any shotgun including a shotgun that
      12 has a rifle barrel, or a muzzle-loader used for “black
      13 powder” hunting or battle re-enactments.

      • avatarGreg in Allston says:

        How about .50 AE, .500 S&W Magnum, .577 NE, etc? Are they limiting it to .50 BMG?

        • avatarMoonshine7102 says:

          Again, full text:

          (5) “.50 caliber cartridge” means a cartridge in .50 BMG caliber, either by designation or actual measurement, that is capable of being fired from a centerfire rifle. The term “.50 caliber cartridge” does not include any memorabilia or display item that is filled with a permanent inert substance or that is otherwise permanently altered in a manner that prevents ready modification for use as live ammunition or shotgun ammunition with a caliber measurement that is equal to or greater than .50 caliber.

          Just the BMG, apparently. Time to get to work on a new cartridge: the .50 Moonshine Special. Slightly alter the external dimensions of a .50 BMG case, and away we go!

        • avatarGreg in Allston says:

          the .50 Moonshine Special, American ingenuity and resourcefulness at its finest.

        • avatarMr. Lion says:

          “.50 caliber cartridge” means a cartridge in .50 BMG caliber

          So a Browning Machine Gun cartridge is a caliber onto itself. Neat.

        • avatarIFR says:

          .50 DTC already exists.

        • avatarMoonshine7102 says:

          You just saved me the hassle. Thanks, but I was really looking forward to firing up the lathe. Oh, well.

  7. avatarRecoveringAtheist says:

    Les Baer moved in part to Iowa for this very same reason. Illiois really, really does suck.

  8. avatarLevi B says:

    The rationale behind starting a gun company in a state that clearly doesn’t want you is beyond me.

  9. avatarTom says:

    it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a semi-automatic assault weapon, an assault weapon attachment,

    So exactly what is an assault weapon? A semi auto shotgun?
    What is an attachment? A scope?

  10. avatarTom says:

    Provides that beginning 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a large capacity ammunition feeding device.

    So what is a large capacity feeding device? A magazine extension for an 870?

  11. avatarUncle Lar says:

    Illinois is a quiet conservative farming state except for that unfortunate festering boil in the northeast corner that has spread its infection to Springfield, the state capitol. Born there and a resident until the mid 80′s when I left for a better life.
    Last year they almost doubled personal and corporate income tax rates which is helping to drive business out of the state. Should this AWB succeed it would certainly eliminate any gun related business without a death wish. Geneseo is spitting distance from the Mississippi river and Iowa is just on the other side. Your employees wouldn’t even have to move, just a slightly longer commute.
    As for the .50 BMG, John Browning scaled up the .30-06 to 50 cal as an anti armor round right after WWI. A collateral benefit was its ability to reach out and touch a target at extreme range. Ronnie Barrett among others has been experimenting with the case necked down to .416 or thereabouts and the new Cali legal round seems to have even better ballistics at distance.

  12. avatarDean Weingarten says:

    I think they should move to Arizona.

  13. avatarChuck says:

    I will be releasing a new wildcat cartridge for fans of the soon to be banned 50BMG. It will have virtually identical ballistics. the .499 GM, short for Girly-Man, will be named in the dual honor of Rahm Emanuel and Arnold Schwartzenegger.

  14. “Ban” and “regulate” are two entirely different words with two entirely distinct meanings. The 2nd Amendment clearly states that “regulation” is desirable, but that the right to own and carry arms is absolute. 50 cal can legally be regulated, but not banned. It’s all about the militia, which as defined by the U.S. Constitution, U.S law and recent Supreme Court decisions, is the “people” – all American citizens. 50 cal is a legitimate militia weapon. Until the “Unorganized Militia” (see Sec. 313, Title 32, U.S. Code) and the 2nd Amendment are banned, militia weapons cannot be banned.

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