Tag Archives: Bump-Fire

Teach something, learn something

Once again, I indulged in my hobby of confronting less than accurate media reports. This one turned out considerably better than some, and Ed Palm deserves some kudos. I think I taught him something, but he set me straight on something, too.

The ingratitude of the NRA
Along the same lines, I’m sure it’s fun to play with a “bump stock” — a device I hadn’t even heard of before Stephen Paddock used a few of them to kill 58 people and wound 546 more in Las Vegas on October 1. Soon after that senseless slaughter, we all learned that a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock can simulate fully automatic fire.
Such was my experience in 1967, when I was in Vietnam. The Marine Corps had just transitioned from the semiautomatic M14 to the new M16. Unlike the M14, all M16s featured a selector switch, allowing for semi- or fully automatic fire.

Regarding the first bump-fire point, I noted that: “Nope. A bump-fire stock is training wheels for people who have trouble pulling the trigger quickly. It’s inaccurate, and bump-fired rifles are prone to malfunctions. There’s a reason that police and military don’t use them, despite being far cheaper than automatic weapons. (And since LE sources reported the Mandalay Bay shooter had at least one rifle converted to full auto as well as bump-fire stocked rifles, and the sheriff claims the asshole fired over 1100 round s in 9 minutes — more than two rounds per second, even with weapon and magazine swaps — I wonder how many of the rounds came from bump-fired rifles.)”

Major Palm still had doubts:

“My understanding is that a bump stock will enable an AR15 to cycle more rapidly than by just pulling the trigger.”

To which I replied: “No. A bump-fire stock is a purely passive device in which the receiver slides freely, back and forth. It in no way changes the action of the rifle. For a somewhat more detailed description, written for someone who admitted knowing nothing about firearm so excuse the simplistic language, see “Training Wheels,” at the The Zelman Partisans (a Jewish pro-RKBA group).

“In fact, some rifles are less reliable when bump-fired, because the weapon is not properly supported; rather like limp-wristing a 1911. Add in the loss of accuracy, and I think they’re silly.”

He thanked me for the information. Score one for me, I hope. It may not change his mind, but he strikes me as honest enough to consider the point, unlike most to whom I’ve reached out.

Where I blew it was on the M14: “Since the M14 is actually a selective-fire rifle like the M-16, I find myself a bit dubious regarding your firearms knowledge. And military experience. It seems unlikely that your Vietnam combat unit had all been issued the M14M “developed for use in civilian rifle marksmanship activities such as the Civilian Marksmanship Program.” Or the M14 SMUD, unless yours was an EOD unit.”

And there I made my mistake. While I knew there were (and still are) semiauto variants, I didn’t think they were all that commonly issued in Vietnam. Obviously I’m a little too young to have been sent there to fight, so my impression was anecdotal, based on conversations with VN vets who had carried M14s. For whatever reason, each one I spoke to described a select-fire weapon (one with an amusing tale of a lost front sight).

(And yes, I was unnecessarily rude. I apologize for that, too.)

Major Palm set me straight:

“I take it that you have limited knowledge of the deployment of the M14 in the Marine Corps. The M14 selector-switch is a modification that the great majority of Marine Corps M14s didn’t have. When I was stateside, and when I was in the rear with the gear in Vietnam, my M14 didn’t have a selector switch. Before the M16, the Table of organization called for one man out of each four-man fire team to have a selector switch and to be able to fire fully automatic. Whether that was really the case in infantry units, I don’t know.”

In fact, he checked with some other vets and found that one select-fire in twelve was more common than the TO 1:4

Major Palm is the first person I spoke to who admitted to having a semi M14 in Vietnam. Whether by chance I had previously happened on the one-in-four (or twelve), or they had original issue rifles before the need for the semiauto modification became clear, I don’t know. Maybe some of them were even blowing smoke up my… where ever.

Point is, I took tales for fact, and hadn’t checked it for myself. So I was wrong.

And this is one reason I continue contacting folks write on gun control. Sometimes it’s possible to get correct information across. And sometimes they can teach me something.

Thank you, Major Palm.

Carl is an unpaid TZP volunteer. If you found this post useful, please consider dropping something in his tip jar.



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?


The Zelman Partisans Statement on Proposed Legislation to Ban “Bump-Fire Stocks” and other accessories.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, long a foe of free and armed people, is introducing legislation (PDF) to ban “bump-fire stocks.”

“It shall be unlawful for any person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a trigger crank, a bump-fire device or any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun,” the bill states.”

Since The Zelman Partisans do value free and armed people, having an understanding of history when wanna-be tyrants like Feinstein succeeded, we utterly oppose this legislation.

We oppose it for the usual RKBA philosophical reasons. It is yet another infringement on the very right to life, as expressed through self defense.

We oppose it for practical reasons as well.

The rate of fire of a semiautomatic firearm is based in physics. Force is applied to the firing pin. That force and the pin’s mass determine it’s acceleration into the cartridge primer. The primer ignites at a given velocity for that cartridge; that in turn ignites the powder with its own ignition velocity. The bullet is propelled forward; force and mass again.

The force of the detonating powder also works to move the bolt backwards; the old “equal and opposite reaction.” How fast the bolt goes back is determined by its mass and the resistance of the spring behind it. When it has traveled all the way back, the spring applies force and pushes the mass forward once again.

The bolt is slowed as it strips the next round out of the magazine. Finally it moves the round’s mass into the chamber.

In a machine gun, the firing pin would continue forward starting the cycle over again. In a semiautomatic firearm, the pin does not go forward until the trigger (with its own mass and springs) returns to the ready positionand is manually operated again. So semiautomatics have an inherently slower rate of fire than machine guns, all else being equal.

The only way to even approach the theoretical maximum rate of fire of most semiautomatics is to have a fast finger.

Old-timers know the trick of pushing your rifle forward with your grip on the stock or barrel shroud as you fire. Recoil pushes the rifle back, and your hand acts as a spring to pull it forward driving the trigger into your finger. The mechanicals have typically cycled already, so the rifle fires again. It’s a fun trick, but wasteful of ammunition, and very inaccurate.

Thus were born “bump-fire” stocks. They merely provide a way to hold the rifle a little steadier while you perform the same silly stunt. They absolutely in no way increase the theoretical rate of fire. They help folks with slower fingers get a little closer to the theoretical.

Should Feinstein’s bill pass, it would necessitate outlawing holding the rifle by the stock like we did in the old days. I suppose possession of an off hand would be a felony.

In fact, this bill is so broadly written that far more than “bump-fire” stocks would be banned. Light-weight after-market bolts can increase the rate of fire, as can different replacement buffer springs. Likewise nicely polished and sensitive trigger groups.

Polishing the parts in the stock trigger group would be illegal.

Basically this Constitution-shredding Senator wants to redefine “machine gun” by how fast you can make something fire, rather than being designed to fire automatically as long as the trigger is depressed. Apparently Jerry Miculek is going to be outlawed.

We understand that other people are reacting in shock and grief to the horrible incident in Las Vegas. But if we are to ban every fun or useful thing that has ever been misused, we will have to eliminate microwave ovens, sandpaper, fire extinguishers, doctors, and senators, among many other things.

The Zelman Partisans opposes this, and any other legislation with similar Bill of Rights violating intent, on the grounds that it is both wrong and stupid. We urge Senator Feinstein — clearly in her dotage — to withdraw it and to retire in ignominy.

We urge anyone with a lick of sense to also oppose it.

Please contact your Senators and House Representative to voice your opposition.

We also note that the National Rifle Association has issued a statement in support of further regulating or banning fun stuff, saying, “devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.” We disagree, and urge principled members of the NRA to consider quitting and joining a real pro-RKBA organization.