S.A.D.W.: December 2000

By Nick Steadman

SADW is a monthly electronic publication from Nick Steadman Features. Nick, intrepid world traveling reporter for much of the arms industry, files this 40,000 to 50,000 word report once a month to his loyal subscribers. Those lucky ones pay a mere $50 (US) £32.50 (UK) per year for the privilege of getting the hot tips and insights from one of the industry’s insiders. Nick’s unique perspective is globally based, as is his wit. Here is a small sampling of a few of the September 2000 SADW articles. You can contact Nick at the email above, and make arrangements with him to obtain the full service sent directly to your email address. In order to receive SADW your e-mail system must be capable of receiving attached files, and the e-mail software system or settings do not reject files as large as 400kb. Each issue is full of insight, information, and a sizable list of Internet sites worth visiting for those with an interest in Small Arms, as well as his observations on world travel.

Issue No 40 - September 2000
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UK MOD - NO KNOWLEDGE OF SA80 SIERRA LEONE SCREWUPS: the UK MOD says it has had no reports confirming any problems with safety catches on SA80 weapons preventing British Pathfinders’ rifles being used in the 17 May firefight at Lungi airport in Sierra Leone (see previous issues). It claims SA80s were in fact used in this engagement, and fired over 200 rounds. The ministry’s line is that there’s nothing to suggest any ‘generic problem’ with this weapon’s safety catch, which was modified in the early 1990s. Since then, the MOD says, no further problems have been notified. Incidentally, the MOD has also clarified details of the ‘surplus’ ammunition it’s supplying/has supplied to local forces in Sierra Leone. The first 5m rounds of 7.62mm were for L1A1 rifles, the second batch of 5m rounds was 7.62mm linked for GPMGs. In addition there are 4,000 81mm mortar bombs. The total value is quoted as £50,000.

The ministry emphasises that it has received ‘further reassurances from President Kabbah that the ammunition will only be used in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights standards, and not by child soldiers’. This we’ve got to see.....: “OK guys, in the spirit of international law and human rights, commence firing!” Only New Labour could come up with such tripe. Finally, with all the self-righteous nonsense from the British government about no-one under 18 being allowed to fight for the local forces, we note the UK MOD itself admits it has deployed 14 British forces personnel under this magic age to Sierra Leone..........

HOT STUFF - NEW ULTRACHILI TO BE USED IN ANTI-RIOT WEAPONS: a Daily Telegraph report said that boffins at the Indian Defence Research Laboratory in Tezpur had discovered the world’s hottest chili, the naga jolokia variety of the capsicum frutescens, which comes from Assam. It reportedly has a heat factor of 855K on the Scoville scale, while the fiery red savina habanero chili only rates a puny 577K. The Research Laboratory now hopes to be able to use it to manufacture new teargases and pepper sprays. Apparently Assamese tribesmen (who must be tough little blighters) gulp the naga jolokia down with all their meals. Its aggressive effects reportedly can only be mitigated by milk or yoghurt; drinking water merely makes things worse. We learnt all about hot chilis at a very early age by chewing some we’d filched from a sack of parrot food in a pet store. Never again!

POLICE G36Ks ACCORDED VOODOO STATUS: in something of a non-story, at the end of Jul 2000 the Independent on Sunday highlighted the use by the City of London police force of the 5.56mm H&K G36K, the short version of the German G36 assault rifle, though (for UK use) in semi-auto only. The report maintained, rather fruitily, that this was one of ‘a new breed of ultra-high-velocity assault rifles’, which ‘delivers obliteration via a bullet that leaves the muzzle at 850 metres a second (3,000 mph)’, and said that this type of weapon was necessary to defeat crooks wearing body armour. Warming to its theme, the paper added that - though the City police had semi-auto versions - the manufacturer claimed that ‘it is one of the easiest weapons to convert into a fully-automatic machine-gun’. And there was more. It said that 5.56mm bullets can ‘ricochet in unpredictable directions’ and quoted the editor of Jane’s Infantry Weapons as saying: “....if you had a target without body armour, the round would go right through him”. All of which is rather misleading - there’s nothing special about the G36K that makes it easier than a host of other weapons to convert to selective-fire. And 5.56mm ammunition is considerably less likely to cause dangerous ricochets than 9x19mm - which is precisely why more police forces are adopting the smaller calibre.

As to whether a 5.56mm bullet from a G36K is likely to cause a ‘through & through’ wound, we doubt it. For starters, police shootings typically take place inside 100 metres, where even FMJ bullets in 5.56mm are likely to break into several pieces, and in the case of police we would, in any event, expect expanding ammunition to be used, making it even less likely bullets would overpenetrate. 7.62mm NATO/.308 Win, however, is another thing. We really do not need ill-informed copy like the Independent piece, which essentially plays on heightened public sensitivity in the UK about anything to do with firearms, all of which - in due course - rebounds in the form of increasingly repressive gun laws.

DENVER POLICE EVALUATING PEPPERBALL: the PepperBall anti-riot system that first came to public attention when it was used during the WTO demonstrations in Seattle is now being evaluated by police from Denver (Colorado) and a number of other cities, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reported. Denver police currently carry no non-lethal weaponry in their patrol cars. Manufacturers Jaycor Tactical Systems of San Diego say some 140 police agencies in the USA have adopted PepperBall since it was launched in Dec 99. The launcher is essentially a paintball gun. Maximum rate of fire is reportedly 12 balls a second; Reuters described the projectiles as ‘hard plastic spheres’ filled with pepper powder.

NEW AIRBORNE / SPECOPS MUSEUM IN NORTH CAROLINA: the News & Observer reported in mid-Aug 2000 the opening of the new $22.5 million Airborne & Special Operations Museum on Bragg Boulevard, Fayetteville (North Carolina). The 59,000 sq foot museum, partly funded by the City of Fayetteville, with $1m donated by Ross Perot, was originally an Army enterprise planned for Fort Bragg itself, but that project eventually ran out of funds. The balance of the money for the new project mostly came from Congress, the state of North Carolina and local businesses, though the museum reportedly still needs nearly $4.5m to square its books. Fayetteville is now hoping the museum, which is a former rundown area, will help revitalise the city.

However, one woman at the opening ceremony was quoted as saying she was ‘especially concerned that some of the exhibits in the museum depicted acts of war as great adventures, in ways that might appeal to children.’

Ermm, yes. And what exactly was your point, madam? War may well be hell, but for many it can indeed also be a ‘great adventure’. Why else would anyone ever want to join up? In fact, it’s the removal of the ‘adventure factor’ in military service that’s undoubtedly responsible for today’s serious recruitment crisis.

FOR ‘DEFLAGRATOR’, READ ‘BIG RIFLE’: according to its house magazine, the UK MOD’s Defence Procurement Agency is working up to placing a new order for .50 rifles for use in the EOD role, under the bizarre project name of Long-Range Deflagrator (LRD). It wants to give EOD staff the capability to destroy unexploded ordnance, particularly ‘large bombs’, from a safe stand-off distance. It’s also envisaged that the rifle could be remotely fired, so this will be an option. So far, seven suppliers have registered interest, and a contract is expected before the end of 2000. The planned ammunition was not described, but Raufoss .50 MP (APHEI) is already widely used in the EOD role - it usually blows explosive ordnance such as landmines to pieces without high-order detonation of the HE charge.

ROYALORDNANCE NOTTINGHAM TO CLOSE - PATTERN ROOM MUST ALSO MOVE: according to JDW & other sources, Royal Ordnance has now confirmed that its Nottingham facility is to close by the end of 2001. Though not directly stated, this will effectively mean the end of RO’s small arms production capability in the UK, though the Nottingham small arms line has actually had very little to do since the SA80 order was completed some years ago, and now has only 60 staff assigned to it.

Though SA80 is currently scheduled to be upgraded, all this work is to be done at Oberndorf rather than Nottingham; the Financial Mail on Sunday quoted one British MP as having suggested this might be a ploy to boost H&K’s order book and thus its likely sale price. The artillery activities at Nottingham will be relocated to the former Vickers facility at Barrow-in-Furness. H&K (UK) at Nottingham will, JDW said, be transferred elsewhere and become a 10-strong sales & distribution unit (clearly only for German H&K weapons), though since Heckler & Koch is itself up for sale, this could prove academic.

Numbers of staff at Nottingham have reportedly dropped from a privatisation total of 1,600 to only 410 today. JDW said that Nottingham’s prospects had recently been dented by slack orders for its 105mm Light Guns, 120mm Armoured Mortar Systems and Combat Engineer Tractors, and Nottingham had also lost out to Vickers on the US army lightweight 155mm howitzer deal. Keen observers of the Nottingham saga will immediately be asking what will happen to the MOD Pattern Room now that site’s fate is finally sealed.

The Pattern Room buildings belong to Royal Ordnance and are rented to the MOD; due to a dispute over the rental fees the relocation of the Pattern Room collection has already been under consideration for some time.

Two alternative locations are still being pondered; the Royal Armouries at Leeds and the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham. It’s also possible the weapons could be split between the two, with the historical items going to Leeds and the more modern stuff to Shrivenham. In either event, avid collectors in the US should not get too excited - this is an immensely valuable national reference collection forming part of the UK MOD’s technical intelligence resources, and it’s not about to be sold off.

SOLOMON ISLANDS - AUSTRALIANS TO ASSIST IN GUN BUYBACK?: ABC Radio in Australia quoted that country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, as saying:
“If the ceasefire talks are successful, then we’ll be sending a team of people from Canberra to the Solomon Islands to talk through some of the issues which will be central to peace, and one of those is to get the guns back off the streets and back into the armory from where they were stolen. And one of the options there is to put forward a gun buyback scheme. That might, unfortunately, be the only way it will be possible to get the guns off the streets, and we would be prepared to help with that.”

US TIGHTENS SCRUTINY OF WEAPON & AMMUNITION IMPORTS IN LIGHT OF INTERNATIONAL RESOLUTIONS: the information below has recently been issued to all licensed firearm importers in the USA. In summary it requires in future that importers provide details of end-users, copies of suppliers’ export licences and reduces the value of items importable without a licence to just $100.

It also requires certification of origin and a statement as to whether the items concerned were produced by or for the US military or under a US overseas technical assistance programme, or supplied as foreign military aid along with details of any individual involved in the transaction as a broker.

No weapons made by or for the US, or with US technical help, or provided as military assistance abroad, can now be imported; observers note that this may well cut off all supplies of old US favourites such as the M1 Garand which have, in the past, been freely imported by major dealers. What’s particularly bugging American dealers is the fact that these regulations are being adopted not because of US domestic legislation but ostensibly as a result of the government’s involvement in new international weapon-control and crime-reduction forums which pay no heed to key provisions such as the 2nd Amendment. On the other hand, one doesn’t need the wisdom of Solomon to deduce that the Clinton regime, having failed for more than a year to railroad Congress into passing any new gun legislation, now finds it very handy to use this alternative route to further restrict the availability of firearms back home.


June 26, 2000
NOTE: Copy of Open Letter is being mailed to all importers the week of July 9, 2000
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is committed to keeping industry members informed of regulatory and statutory developments that affect them. In furtherance of this commitment, we have prepared this open letter, which contains information about recent changes which may affect your day-to-day operations and/or long range plans. We hope you find this letter helpful in your business pursuits. Some of the changes will also be announced through other channels, such as the Federal Register and ATF’s Internet site, www.atf.treas.gov.

CICAD Model Regulations

On April 18, 1998, at the second Summit of the Americas held in Santiago, Chile, President Clinton announced that the United States would issue regulations implementing the “Model Regulations for the Control of the International Movement of Firearms, Their Parts and Components, and Ammunition” (the Model Regulations). The Model Regulations were drafted by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (“CICAD”) at the request of the Organization of American States. The purpose of the regulations is to provide standardized procedures for the international movement of firearms, their parts and components, and ammunition so as to prevent illegal trafficking in these items.

To further these objectives, the President directed the U.S. Secretaries of State, Commerce, and Treasury to implement the Model Regulations. In response to the President’s directive, on April 12, 1999, the Department of State published in the Federal Register amendments to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (64 FR 17531). The Department of Commerce published its amended regulations in the Federal Register on April 13, 1999 (64 FR 17968). Now, through a final rule published June 20, 2000, in the Federal Register, ATF is amending its regulations and affected forms to comply with the Model Regulations. Changes made by this final rule were effective upon publication and include:

- Inclusion of final recipient information on import permit applications (ATF Forms 6).

- Presentation of an export license to U.S. Customs to effect the release of firearms, firearms parts, and ammunition. The requirement to present an export license is in addition to the ATF Forms 6 and 6A already required. If the exporting country does not issue export licenses, the importer instead must present a certification, under penalty of perjury, to that effect.

This requirement applies only to commercial (i.e., imports by licensed and/or registered importers for purposes of resale) importations of firearms, firearms parts, and ammunition.

- Reduction of the value of parts and components that may be imported without a permit from $500 to $100.

Technical and Conforming Amendments to Import Regulations

We have identified several amendments and conforming changes to the regulations that are needed to provide uniformity in Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations. These amendments to 27 CFR Parts 47 and 178 were published in the Federal Register along with the CICAD amendments. They merely improve the clarity of the regulations, simplify regulatory requirements, or implement foreign policy as directed by the Department of State. The amendments are as follows:

- Certification of Foreign Origin on ATF Form 6. At the request of the Department of State, ATF will add a new Item 9 to ATF Form 6, which asks the applicant to certify the origin of articles intended for importation. The change will be set forth in 27 CFR 47.42(a).

- Ordinarily, applicants will check the blocks in Item 9a if the articles sought for importation were produced for the civilian market and were not associated with the U.S. military or manufactured abroad under a technical assistance agreement or technical data packet provided under a Department of State export license.

- Applicants should check the block in Item 9b if the articles were manufactured by or for the U.S. military or if the articles were manufactured abroad under a technical assistance agreement or technical data packet provided under a Department of State export license.

- Limited importation of U.S. Government granted or sold defense articles on the United States Munitions List. By letter dated November 2, 1999, the Department of State directed ATF to deny applications, with limited exceptions, for the import of these articles.

- The limited exceptions allowed by the State Department will require importers to submit with their permit applications a copy of the State Department’s re-transfer authorization issued to the party proposing to transfer such articles to the importer.

- Required reporting of firearms serial numbers on ATF Form 6A within 15 days after their release from U.S. Customs. This change puts into regulation the requirement already stated on the ATF Form 6A.

- Record Retention Periods. Federal firearms licensees are required to keep ATF Forms 6 and 6A for at least 20 years and Arms Export Control Act registrants not licensed under the Gun Control Act are required to keep these forms for 6 years.

- Item 4 of the ATF Form 6 was also amended to collect the name and address of any broker employed to facilitate the import transaction. A broker means any person who acts as an agent for others in negotiating or arranging contracts, purchases, sales or transfers of defense articles or defense services in return for a fee, commission, or other consideration. The Arms Export Control Act regulations in 22 CFR Part 129 require, with certain exceptions, the registration and licensing of brokers. Questions about such registration and licensing requirements should be directed to the Department of State, Office of Defense Trade Controls at (202) 663-2714, or at www.pmdtc.org/brokering.pdf.’

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V4N3 (December 2000)
and was posted online on October 3, 2014


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