Letters To SAR: March 1999

By Dan Shea

Dear SAR,

As a subscriber to the former Machine Gun News, and a charter subscriber to Small Arms Review, I am an ardent supporter. Therefore, I believe it necessary to correct one point in J. David Truby’s “The Welrod Suppressed Pistol” in the January issue of Small Arms Review.

In the text (page 34) and beneath the caption of the photograph on page 38 the Welrod (and the Hand Firing device) are referred to as “assassination” weapons. This description is incorrect.

Assassination is an act of murder for political purposes. In contrast, killing enemy military personnel in war is lawful. If the target is legitimate, the means is irrelevant. Killing an enemy solider with a suppressed weapon such as the Welrod is as lawful as killing a soldier at close quarters with a knife or garrote, shooting him at longer range with a rifle, or dropping a 2,000 pound laser guided bomb on him. A suppressor permits silenced killing, which may be necessary to maintain the element of surprise. Surprise also is essential to an effective ambush, using small arms fire, Claymores and hand grenades. Noise – or lack thereof – does not determine legality of the weapon or the act. Any weapon can be used to commit murder, but that makes the act, not the weapon, illegal. The fact that a weapon is equipped with a suppressor does not make it an “assassination” weapon.

This is a point that often confuses, perhaps due to works in fiction and Hollywood portrayals. In February 1991, as U.S. forces were about to commence the ground offensive to liberate Kuwait, I received a telephone call from a colleague in the Persian Gulf. A Marine brigadier general had ordered the Marine reconnaissance personnel and Navy SEALS going ashore to exchange their Heckler & Koch MP-5SDs for unsuppressed weapons for the same erroneous reason. I was able to correct the situation and the SEALs and Marines went ashore as equipped.

This distinction should be important to Small Arms Review and its readers. Perpetuation of the misperception that a suppressed weapon equals assassination suggests that suppressed weapons are used only for illegal purposes. I will leave to your respective imaginations the suggestion that offers to persons not as knowledgeable of or as supportive of the lawful ownership and use of firearms (and suppressors) as you and your readership. Misuse of words potentially can do as much harm as illegal use.

W. Hays Parks, Special Assistant to the Judge Advocate General of the Army

The correction has been noted, and passed on to the readers. SAR is grateful for the input of all the RKI (Reasonably Knowledgeable Individuals) in our midst, and we look forward to listening to Hays Parks’ paper on disarmament at the June National Defense Preparedness Association (NDIA) meeting in New Jersey.

Dear SAR,

I greatly enjoyed seeing the spread about the Mac Waffle project in SAR. In all fairness, however, there were many people who made our winning entry possible. First off, I’d like to thank Phil LaBudde for the actual welding work. I’d also like to thank Dr. Ed (IIRC) for coming up with the idea, Dan Shea for making the contest a reality, Geoffrey Herring for providing transport, Tom Bowers for providing the flats, and Mark Serbu for making sure I found out where the contest was going to be this time around. Also, I’d like to thank Jay “Lottaguns” for two things, his entry, and more importantly, his super homebrew. I’m looking forward to seeing y’all again this April, and competing in the “open” class!

Thanks, Dave Wigand

The MacWaffle contest was a fun event. We enjoyed every delicious part of this fiasco/festival, especially the buildup to it. The joking, teasing, puns, challenges, and camaraderie were outstanding. Glad to see you giving credit where it’s due. Hope you enjoyed the ribs at Mark’s Feed Store!

Dear SAR,

I can’t handle CA anymore (yet, it’s the gun restrictions and prohibitions that are driving me zonkers). Would you please let me know how Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas compare as far as being machinegun and suppressor friendly? (I realize it will be your opinion based on what you’ve heard and I’m not expecting any perfect knowledge of the entire state and all the details, etc). However, just on your feeling, are these machinegun friendly states? Is one of them better than the others? Any info you would share with me would be greatly appreciated!

Michael W.

I wish you hadn’t included Texas in your list…if we don’t declare Texas the best, we’ll probably get a lot of letters, emails, and phone calls from the Great State of Texas, explaining all about how they are actually the only state that was a country before becoming a state, and guns are bigger there, bullets are bigger there, and most assuredly, the women are better looking there. I don’t want to get in any hassles with the Texas division, even though I am from the NorthEast and my personal recipe for Chili is the best in the States…

To try to answer your question is more complex that throwing out a few jocular dualing words. All three of these states are free states in regards to NFA firearms. You can exercise your right to keep and bear arms in all three. Unfortunately, there are unfriendly sections of each. In Texas, Houston is not a good place to try and get a CLEO signature. In Pennsylvania, forget it if you want a CLEO signoff. Any where you go has problems, but where you are coming from is bound to be the most noxious of all. California now has a Democratic governor with the Democrat controlled legislature. You can expect more hassles on an almost daily basis. I would recommend you bail out to friendlier turf if you expect to own Class 3. Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, all are firearms friendly although they do have some encroachments. Texas has a wonderful bunch of shooters, you can meet them at the Dallas Arms Collectors shows. Tennessee has a good group of shooters, as does Pennsylvania.

States to avoid for Class 3 shooting? California, Washington, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, South Carolina to name a few. Good luck to you- take a trip to Knob Creek or one of the other shoots to get a taste of what civilian Class 3 ownership is like.

Apologies to AWC Systems Technology:

In the November 1998 issue of SAR, author Doug Olson erroneously stated that the Nexus suppressor only achieved an 18dB reduction “Wet”. When I read this, it seemed low, so I asked Doug if he was sure of the data from the six-year-old testing he was referring to. He replied that he was, and we went with the data.

It turns out that was incorrect. The testing that Doug was referring to was part of the Offensive Handgun Weapon System suppressor program. The Navy had called for a 30 dB reduction “Dry”, which proved to be unachievable. From Doug’s letter to me:

“I went through all the old records that I had and was fortunate enough to find the test data and a report that we (Knight’s Armament Company) made to Colt involving the Nexus and another AWC Systems Technology prototype. To summarize the data, the Nexus did 16.2 dB reduction dry, and 28 dB reduction wet. Sorry, I was in error in what I wrote in the article. The other unit, a prototype, did 18.6 dB dry, and 19.2 reduction wet. Enclosed are copies of the reports. I was obviously confused as to the “Wet vs Dry” readings and apologize to Lynn McWilliams for the oversight. Another item of note is that the “Wet” environment in the testing was water as this was the only acceptable medium for the Navy requirements. These tests were in January of 1992.”

SAR also apologizes to Lynn for the mistake, and we hope that the readers will understand how this happened. I did not have time to send the article on the birth of the Offensive Handgun Suppressor to our Suppressor Technology Editor, Al Paulson. He probably would have caught the mistake, especially since he has the correct data in his excellent book on suppressors.

It is our hope that when SAR publishes information, that the data is technically correct. We allow writers leeway on their opinions, but we try to get the facts nailed down. I take full responsibility for this error, for not chasing this down further or sending it to Al Paulson or AWC for review.

Dan Shea

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N6 (March 1999)
and was posted online on July 1, 2016


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