Training Wheels

In my recent spare time, I’ve been amusing myself by sending rebuttals to various columns by confused writers. For some strange reason, outlets that print ignorant rants don’t seem to want to run my responses. So I’ll take advantage of my position with The Zelman Partisans to post here.

First up, we have a young Virginia Tech college student who probably wasn’t ready for college.

Ambiguous gun laws trigger grave consequences for public safety
“You have to know something really well to hate it, and guns haven’t been much of a part of my life”

Mr. Redman should have stopped right there, and gone to someone who knows a little about firearms, because…

“That might be scary enough, but he had also obtained 12 bump-fire stocks to make his semi-automatic weapons function more like automatic weapons.”

That is incorrect. An automatic weapon — a machinegun — is designed to fire multiple rounds per trigger operation. Bump-fire stocks in no way affect that operation/rounds relationship. If you put a bump-fire stock on a semiautomatic rifle, you still individually operate the trigger for each round fired. Bump-fire stocks don’t make the weapon fire faster. The theoretical rate of fire of the rifle is determined by the physics of the internal parts.

Now, some people often say that bump-fire stocks help the shooter pull the trigger faster. No; that isn’t the case.

“However, bump-fire stocks existed neither when the law was initially passed, nor when it was updated in 1986;”

Bump-fire stocks are a relatively recent innovation, but bump fire has been around as long as there have been semiautomatic rifles. I have bump fired rifles (when I had a safe location and the ammunition to waste) but I’ve never even seen a dedicated bump-fire stock in person.

Redman has admitted that he don’t know firearms very well, so allow me to explain that, and elaborate on my comment that such stocks don’t help you shoot faster.

To fire a rifle with reasonable expectation that the round will hit the target, you normally hold the rifle firmly with both hands, and pull it against your shoulder. This provides a stable shooting stance.

A rifle has recoil. When fired, it pushes against your shoulder.

But let’s trying hold that rifle a little differently. With your off hand (the hand you don’t use to pull the trigger) grip the rifle. Your trigger hand does not grip the rifle. Nor do you pull the rifle butt snug against your shoulder. It isn’t a stable stance, and accuracy will suffer.

When your rifle is on target, extend your trigger finger into the guard. Now, with your off hand grip, push the rifle forward until your trigger finger pulls the trigger.

The rifle fires. Recoil pushes the rifle back so your finger disengages the trigger. Your rifle-gripping off hand acts like a spring and pulls the rifle forward again. If your shooting finger was held steady, the trigger is pushed against the finger again, firing.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

A silly way to waste ammunition because, as I’ve mentioned, accuracy suffers due to the unstable shooting platform. Personally, I prefer to use a normal stance and just pull the trigger rapidly.

But some folks feel otherwise. Enter the bump-fire (or slide-fire) stock.

The bump-fire stock is simply a device that can be pulled snugly to the shoulder, and provides a grip to help keep the trigger finger in position. The rifle proper just recoils back in a channel into the stock. It is training wheels for folks who have trouble bump-firing. And since it’s a bit more stable, it helps with accuracy compared to normal bump-fire. However, accuracy even with the stock is poor compared to conventional stance with conventional stock. Folks who don’t want to bother with silly, expensive bump-fire stocks also hook the rifle to belt loops on their pants to the same effect.

Training wheels. A bump-fire stock no more makes a rifle work like a machinegun than training wheels turn a child’s bicycle into a high performance motorcycle.

Note the subtle differences.
Note the subtle differences.


If you want to see fast shooting, go to a 3-gun match. You’ll see people who can make a pump-action shotgun sound like full auto, much less a semiautomatic rifle. In 3-gun, speed matters. But you won’t see a competitor using a bump-fire stock because accuracy matters, as well.

The alleged use of bump-fire stocks in the Mandalay Bay shooting is one of the most perplexing aspect of a puzzling case. The shooter, a multimillionaire who could certainly afford several real machineguns — and had the clean record to obtain such — who, based on the timeline of weapon purchases, began planning this at least a year prior didn’t use those resources to obtain automatic weapons or spend the range time learning to pull the trigger quickly? Instead, he bought and used a novelty toy that would degrade his accuracy?


3 thoughts on “Training Wheels”

  1. I’m sorry they either aren’t smart enough to realize they have zip/nada credibility left and don’t choose to take the opportunity to correct their stories.

    I’m happy as a clam that you put it up for TZP!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *