View Full Version : How simple can a 'gun' be to only fire one round?

Jeff Thomas
July 12, 2000, 01:12 PM
Earlier this week I attended a federal hearing regarding the Bob Stewart .50 BMG case. The government's expert witness described how he assembled one of Stewart's kits, and then test fired a .50 BMG blank - brass, with a primer and small charge of powder. The defense attorney argued that this was insufficient, and their expert never truly assembled a working firearm. The government expert (BATF) argued that it could have fired one projectile, and that would have been sufficient (note, he didn't weld the shroud, pin or weld the muzzle break, adjust the headspace).

My question is this - if the BATF's contention is that anything capable of firing a projectile at least once is a firearm, wouldn't a lot of stuff at Home Depot qualify?

Seems to me, I could buy a length of pipe, and create something at the back end to hold the cartridge. All I'd need is some sharp object to jab the primer then, no? I've heard of 'zip' guns, and maybe this is what they are, essentially.

So, I'm not trying to make my own guns ... I'm just quite curious about this attitude on the part of BATF. It seems overreaching.

What do you 'smith's think?

Thanks. Regards from AZ

July 12, 2000, 01:49 PM
As a child, I rather stupidly fired .22LR rounds from a piece of pipe nailed down to a tree stump with a bushing inserted by hitting it with a hammer. :eek: My target was "the enemy forces trying to board my ship." I did have enough sense not to point that thing at anyone. To my young ears, it sounded like a great cannon from some old ship. ;) I guess that makes me guilty of manufacturing a gun. Maybe the statute of limitations will keep me out on the street. :)

July 12, 2000, 04:05 PM

That's exactly what a zip gun is. You can make em out of anything.

July 12, 2000, 07:56 PM
As a kid we would build bottle rocket tubes (launchers, what ever you want to call them) from lead pipe. We used them to fire bottle rockets and Roman candels. Eventually some of the more enterprising among us started mounting the pipe to old rifle stocks for increased acurracy. According to the "state" arguement this to, I suppose, would constitute a firearm. Although their arguement would also include black powder firearms, which were, of course, escluded from the 1968 GCA.
This is an interesting and thought provoking topic Jeff. Perhaps it should be in GD. I understand why you put it here in the Smithy forum but a lot of members don't come here that would be interested in the states arguements in this case.


Dave McC
July 13, 2000, 07:57 AM
During WWII,the Phillipino Resistance killed lots of Japanese soldiers with improvised shotguns made from two lengths of irrigation pipe, one a slide fit inside the other, a nail and a shell. The idea was to catch a Jap by himself,kill him and take his nice, shiny new milspec rifle and ammo. That's about as basic one can get.