Without a doubt, the SIG SAUER MPX rifle is one of the coolest things to be unveiled in the last couple years. It’s a pistol caliber carbine that has all of the same controls as an AR-15 and feels just ever-so-pleasant to hold. But while the gun itself is cool, one of the best things about it is that the civilian version has the same barrel length as the military and law enforcement versions, but with a gigantic muzzle brake out front to bring it up to the required 16″ in length. And not only is it a functional muzzle brake, SIG claims that you could buy a shroud for the brake later on a form 4 (as a registered silencer) that slots over it to turn it into a silencer — a part they will happily sell you down the road. Except there’s a problem . . .
The ATF didn’t like it. They saw it as a baffle stack, not a muzzle brake and as such classified it as a silencer. From a press release:
The Newington gun maker’s suit, filed in the U. S. District Court of New Hampshire, states that it submitted a rifle, with its muzzle brake, to the ATF on April 4, 2013 for evaluation. The device is described as 9.5 inches long and permanently attached with a weld to a 6.5 inch barrel, making the overall barrel length 16 inches.
The ATF responded, by letter dated Aug. 26, 2013, that the device is constructed as a silencer component commonly referred to as a “monolithic baffle stack,” the suit states. “Welding it to a barrel does not change its design characteristics or function,” Sig says it was informed by the ATF.
In a Sept. 6, 2013 followup letter, Sig asked the federal regulatory agency for reconsideration, while reporting that sound meter testing proved the device amplified, not muffled sound, when a gun with it was fired. It also included evidence showing the device offsets and corrects recoil of a firearm when attached, Sig claims.
SIG SAUER is none too pleased. The gun would have been a huge seller in the United States if not for the ATF’s ruling. So they decided to fight back and filed a suit against the ATF to re-classify their device as a muzzle brake.
Gun maker Sig Sauer has filed a civil suit against the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives claiming the federal agency wrongfully classified a “muzzle brake” Sig designed to reduce recoil, as an item “intended only for use” when making a silencer.
Sig claims that gun silencers are “subject to burdensome legal requirements” and by calling its muzzle brake a part for a silencer, the federal agency is subjecting it to “economic injury.”
ATF Director B. Todd Jones is named as defendant in Sig’s lawsuit and has 21 days, after being served, to respond to the civil action, dated April 7.
I’ve got to give SIG some points for having the testicular fortitude to stand up to the ATF and try to get them to reverse one of their notoriously opaque decisions. I’ll be up at SIG SAUER HQ next week testing out their guns and such, so stay tuned for more news as it becomes available.