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Handgun buyers living in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. or California must choose their new gat from a state-approved list. Like to keep up with modern handgun design, safety and innovation? California’s added exactly one handgun to their buyers’ list since 2006 (Chris Dumm’s preview to follow.) If the cops catch you with the “wrong” gun you’re going down. In terms of long guns, the Golden State has all sorts of arbitrary and inconsistent rules about “assault rifles.” One thing’s for sure: no .50 caliber rifle for you Dude. Fortunately, the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA) is out there, somewhere . . .

I caught up with jefe Reid Woodward [above] at SHOT. Reid defended the “sporting aspects of the .50 BMG cartridge.” The FCSA works to protect their members’ passion for shooting the big-ass bullet at targets that are a long, long way away. Preferably 1000 yards. It’s a small group that’s grown in fits and starts.

“We got between 3600 to 4500 people,” Ried told TTAG in an Arkansas drawl thicker than a pair of Glocks strapped to the side of a doublewide. The overall pool of potential members is “gittin’ bigger. Whenever the government takes a run at the fifty, people start buyin’ ’em. They know it’s the tip of the spear . . .

“When California banned the .50 we had a mad rush. People coming in that would say, ‘I don’t own a fifty, but I want to stop them taking it away from people . . . After the ban, the FSCA came in with the .50 DTC to get around the laws.”

[Wikipedia: The .510 DTC Europ uses the same bullet, but has slightly different case dimensions. The new round has almost identical ballistics, but because of the different dimensions, rifles chambered for .50 BMG cannot fire the .510 DTC, and therefore rifles chambered for .510 DTC do not fall under many of the same legal prohibitions.]

When I mentioned the connection between the .50 and Mexican drug lords (the purchase of which was enabled by our friends at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), Reid didn’t want to go there. “I’m more afraid of being shot by a .22,” the transplanted Arizonan admitted, sensibly enough.

Citizens who fall afoul of the law in Maryland may not be so sanguine. reveals that state police are “investing” taxpayer’s money in a new range toy an “anti-terrorist” .50 caliber rifle.

After some finagling last year, the county Police Department cobbled together a .50-caliber Zel Custom Manufacturing sniper rifle for $2,723.

“We are here to prepare for the worst,” said Capt. Frederick Plitt, the commander of the department’s Special Operations Division, which includes the county’s SWAT teams.

Only one other police department in Maryland appears to have a .50-caliber rifle in its arsenal: the Maryland State Police. According to a spokesman, the state purchased two Barrett M95 rifles in 2007 for its SWAT team, officially referred to as the Special Tactical Assault Team Element. The pair cost $9,800.

“They are used in high-risk situations,” said Elena Russo, a spokesman for the state Police Department. “They can defeat a lot of barriers other ammunition cannot.”

Such as?

The problem, Plitt explained, was that the department had few options if a terrorist tried to drive a truck bomb into a local building. County snipers – there are about a dozen – routinely carry .308-caliber rifles. The guns are powerful and accurate, but not great at stopping a runaway truck.

One shot from a .50-caliber rifle, however, can take out a vehicle’s engine, according to Sgt. Jim Phillips, a leader of one of the county’s Quick Response Teams.

“You’ve got a little league pitcher and a major league pitcher,” said Phillips, comparing a .308 rifle to a .50-caliber rifle.

Plitt stressed last week the gun would only be pulled out for “extraordinary police events” – like a terrorist attack. It will not be deployed for more routine hostage stand-offs and bank robberies.

“It’s not an anti-personnel gun,” he said.

Hey California! Did you hear that? The fiddy ain’t no damn good for shootin’ people. (If nothing else, concealed carry is a bitch.)

Meanwhile, people, do the right thing: buy a .50 caliber rifle ASAP. Our friends at ArmaLite await your call. [h/t/ to David Brown for the news link]


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  1. I once won a 500S&W Encore barrel in a raffle. I shot enough factory ammo out of it to learn that I was going to want to hand load down for it…..I loaded light for caliber bullets (350grn JHPs) and moderate charges but even they were hard on mounts, optics and old dude’s wrists. I ended up donating it for a benefit auction when one of our forum members got sick.
    The largest diameter I rock these days is a .41 in 414 Super Mag and it is a very nice hard hitting but manageable round.

  2. lolol the anne arundel county cops have a fifty?? i’m not surprised. As to why the COUNTY cops this they would be the ones interdicting terrorists is pretty funny. This part of Maryland is saturated with no less than the, MD state cops, AA county sheriff dept, MD transit authority cops (the one who are at BWI airport all the time) and then the county cops. Add the close proximity to the fed’s as well, i doubt the AA co police would be on the front lines, this guys is delusional. Typically, AA county cops deal with speeding tickets and breaking up fights (like the homeless people i saw beating the S*** out of each other this past weekend in Annapolis in front of a liquor store). But they have their PD as well.

  3. So let me get this straight….
    They have a 5K dollar gun so that in the event a truck is racing towards a building with bomb (they know of ) on board, they can shoot it and stop the truck right there.
    They of course will have this ONE gun deployed and ready when the truck they KNOW has a bomb on board is ready to strike
    Complete bull$hit.

    • Well, as we all know, a single .50 round will cause any vehicle operated by a “bad guy” to immediately explode with a fireball akin to a 55 gallon drum of gas.

      After all, that’s what happens in the movies, so it must be true.

  4. You can buy guns off the state roster in California, it’s just not as easy. The statement about going down for owning an off roster handguns is COMPLETELY false. There are no laws pertaining to what handguns you can own(provided they’re not assault weapons), only to how you obtain the gun. Please get your facts straight here.

    • Iw as going to chime in and say the same thing. The off roster pistols, here in California, can be purchased as “Single Shot” Pistols. SSP’s. The law has, get this, a loop -hole in it, that allows lawful owners to modify their pistols once they are in legal possession. You can purchase pistols with a SSP conversion, and once you wait your 10 days (yup, even if you own several other firearms, you still need to wait 10 days to “cool off”) you can remove the SSP kit and send it back to the FFL who either received and transfered the gun to you, or installed it. You’ll receive you deposit back once they receive the SSP kit back. All this hoopla over magazine disconnects (on the M&P fore example), and fees paid to the state to evaluate firearms for sale in California. A nonrefundable $80k OEM fee (correct me if I’m wrong) to have your firearm evaluated (For the children). This fee is used once per make and model. XD9mm in parkerized and black finish? $80k. Same model firearm, only the frame is flat dark earth, $80k. Same pistol in Olive drab? $80k.

  5. I think those police officals should read American Sniper. A 50 to the engine block will sooner or later stop a truck but it is not instant. Best way to stop a truck bomb is to shoot the driver.

  6. In MA, we still have an AWB. It’s the dumbest law ever invented by the numbnuts in Boston. For example, I have an AR with a fixed stock. It’s perfectly legal to buy, sell, own or trade. If I attach an adjustable stock, I’ve suddenly created a bunny-murdering evil black rifle. Ten round mags are lovely. Larger “assault clips” are of course evil. AKs are legal with ten round mags. But put a banana mag in that baby and you’re a fiend. Compensators are just peachy. Flash hiders are evil. Suppressors? Don’t make me laugh. Bolt action rifles and revolvers that pass the regs are generally ok, even big bore tyrannosaurus guns like the Barrett .50 and the Smith & Wesson 500Mag.

    The handgun laws are crazier still. First, there’s The List — and there are a lot of guns on the list. Then there are the AG’s bullshit “safety” regulations. Not many manufacturers are willing to submit a bunch of pistols for destructive testing, especially when the rule in MA requires twice as many destructions as CA requires. And not too many manufacturers can or will modify their pistol triggers to conform to the MA regs requiring a minimum ten pound boat anchor and a visible loaded chamber indicator with specs that change every five minutes. Glock won’t, so their guns are on The List but they’re still banned in MA. No new Glocks have been sold here since very early Gen 3 in 1998 (IIRC).

    If a gun isn’t on The List and also cleared by the AG, I can own it and I can buy or dispose of it in a face-to-face deal with another subject of the realm. But I can’t buy it from or transfer it through an FFL unless it was in the Commonwealth before 1998.

    I am licensed for “high capacity” guns, so I own them. But I can only use “high capacity feeding devices” that were in the state before the AWB became effective in 1994, and I better have the paperwork to prove it. The bullsh!t just goes on and on. I haven’t even scratched the surface.

    There really are two “Bay States.” The one comprising Boston and its suburbs are run by dictatorial a$$holes. The rest of the towns vary, but most are accepting of guns at worst, and very pro-gun at best. I have chosen my residences carefully, and the PDs in both my current and former towns are very supportive of gun rights.


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