By David Schlake
In states that allow the use of pistols during designated hunting seasons, legislators are starting to take a look at a “gray area” of firearms that has developed.
That niche is AR platform and similar pistols with barrels under 16″. Particularly those mounted with pistol braces. While these guns are in fact pistols by definition, they offer most of the stability of a rifle, making them much easier to shoot.
Missouri, a state that allows hunters to use handguns to take deer during its “alternative methods” season, has decided to clear up the differences between traditional handguns and a shortened AR-15 pistol.
“There’s a lot less recoil with one of these [AR pistols],” Nick Newman, owner of Cherokee Firearms in Springfield, told The Springfield News-Leader. “It’s easier to shoot this gun well than this [.44 magnum revolver].”
Not only do AR-15 pistols offer a more accuracy, but they also allow hunters to add a slew of different accessories, such as large capacity magazines, forearm stabilizing braces and forward grips.
“And there’s the cost,” Newman said. “The AR pistol is $800, versus $1,300 for this Smith & Wesson Model 629 revolver.”
The Missouri Department of Conservation is updating its definition of a “handgun” to include AR-style pistols, which the Conservation Commission has approved. They’re taking public comment on the proposed new definition until May.
Previously, the definition was . . .
“a firearm with a barrel length less than 16 inches and designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand. The essential distinguishing characteristic of a handgun is its ability to be operated with one hand; although, a second hand can be used as a brace. Any firearm with a total length of over 26 inches will be considered a rifle.”
The MDC hopes to provide more clarity with its new definition, which reads . . .
“Handgun: Any firearm designed, made and intended to fire a projectile from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s), with a barrel less than 16 inches in length, measured from the face of the bolt or standing breech, and an overall length of less than 26 inches; excluding any firearm designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.”
Shouldering a brace-equipped AR pistol would violate the proposed new regulation.
In an interview with The Springfield News-Leader, MDC spokesman Joe Jerek said the decision to revise the definition didn’t come from any incident, but rather just confusion about the regulations.
“We have had some questions over recent alternative methods portions of deer season on what defines a handgun versus different types of firearms. Therefore, we want to provide better clarity for staff and the public to understand what type of firearm is allowed during the alternative methods portion of deer season.”
He also added that Missouri’s regulations limit magazine capacity during pistol season to 10+1 rounds. There’s no magazine limit during rifle season.