Bangstick: pirtol-on-a-pole; legal or NFA-only?


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cpileri
March 2, 2010, 11:40 PM
(Duh, I meant PISTOL-on-a-pole"- mods pls modify if possible- thx,C-)

I have resurrected my interest in bangsticks from the old(er) days: http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=3197814&postcount=13

and i have anew concept and am wondering if it is either;
a. not a firearm at all?
or,
b. a 'regular' firearm?
or,
c. a NFA-only firearm? (i.e. an SBR)

Here is the concept and a picture (attached).
The concept is a pistol on the end of a long stick. The barrel length is still pistol length (i.e. short). But the whole thing is 48" long. Why 48"? becuase i have read 2 conflicting sources where someone supposedly asked the ATF who replied that the device would not be a firearm (by NFA34 definition) if over...26" in one, and 48" in another. So i am going 48" to be safe.

Besides, 4 feet is better for reaching out to things underwater.

For those who are not familiar with the bangstick in general. It is a chamber for a loaded cartridge of various calibers, that when shoved hard against a shark, for example, in defense; the cartridge is rammed backwards onto a fixed firing pin and ignites. The blast at contact range ideally goes expanding thru the gills/body of the aggressive fish; ending the attack- usually by killing the creature. See commonly available bangsticks here:
http://www.beco-products.com/beco_catalog.htm and http://www.bluewaterhunter.com/education/education_bangsticks.html

FWIW, a 'powerhead' is simply the chamber portion alone; with no pole attached. If the powerhead has a self-contained firing pin, and can theoretically fire the round by holding it like a dagger and stabbing someone, then it IS IN FACT a NFA firearm. So these are sold with a shaft of pole welded on to make 26" min OAL, and the shaft is usually chopped off by the buyer and affixed to a shaft of their choice, depending. Now, if the powerhead, or "personal protective device", see: http://www.spearfishing.cc/Personal%20Protectin%20Device.htm is 'just a tube' that holds a round of ammo and must be attached to a speargun tip (where the sharp point acts like the firing pin), then it is not a firearm at all and is sold freely.

Back to my proposed design: the pistol on a stick. I wish i could find the article, but i believe someone already tried a similar idea by welding a barrel-less revolver to a pole and this arrangement was apparently legal. But it never made it to mass commerical availability. If that one is indeed legal, then mine should be.

Also, would it matter is the device was designed to ONLY fire blanks? would that keep it from being a firearm of any kind? Since a blank gun can look like just about anything as long as the barrel is painted bright orange (matches the marine orange emergency color nicely), a blank firing bangstick should be totally legal- not a firearm at all. Of course, that is the essence of my question.

Reason for the blank is that according to articles on bangsticks; blanks do better for the purpose when submerged because its the expanding gas inside the fish against the incompressibility of the surrounding water that does the damage- and a projectile actually hinders the process.

Reason for the "gun" at all:RIMFIRE. After all, the fixed firing pin is safe, with extreme reliability from ZERO moving parts (at least in the 'ultimate bangstick' referenced in my old post); so why change anything? Because underwater it is difficult to shove a small 22LR case against a target hard enough to reliably set it off. In other words, if the target is small enough that a 22 rimfire will do the trick; then its too easy to shove it out of the way with no cartridge firing. If the object is sufficiently massive, the 22 rimfire is usually too small a cartridge. So i want the added rim-smashing ability of the spring-loaded hammer for use with rimfire, or any small cartridge for that matter.

So, if anyone can help with the legality issues of a pistol-on-a-pole-bangstick, please write in!!!

Blessings,
C-

(*) in my design, the derringer is actually a blank firing gun, and the crimp of the blank round actually protrudes from the muzzle- for reasons we can discuss later.

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CoRoMo
March 3, 2010, 12:48 PM
It's just a pistol with a firing mechanism attached. Either A or B.

It doesn't meet the definition of a rifle since it isn't designed to be fired from the shoulder.

Sam1911
March 3, 2010, 01:10 PM
If the powerhead has a self-contained firing pin, and can theoretically fire the round by holding it like a dagger and stabbing someone, then it IS IN FACT a NFA firearm. So these are sold with a shaft of pole welded on to make 26" min OAL, and the shaft is usually chopped off by the buyer and affixed to a shaft of their choice, depending.

This is confusing. It SOUNDS like the powerhead with self-contained firing pin is considered a smooth-bore handgun which by definition is an "Any Other Weapon" as defined by Title II of the NFA '34.

If then welding a rod to it makes it legal because it is now over 26" then it must no longer be considered a handgun. It certainly is still smooth-bore. A smoothbore long gun must have a barrel of 18" and a length of at least 26" and is simply a Title I"firearm." Like a pistol-grip-only shotgun.

I'm confused about what legal categroy such a thing really occupies. And, if it IS a Title I firearm because it's over 26" long, then anyone cutting off the metal handle would be guilty of "creating" an unregistered Title II AOW ... correct?

-Sam

Sam1911
March 3, 2010, 01:14 PM
Regarding your ideas, this is tricky territory. Many items attached to handguns have changed the NFA status of that item. Obviously some don't.

This is not something I'd try without running the idea past the ATF tech branch and having a letter in hand regarding their decision.

On the other hand, if you start with a true blank firing "pistol" -- that CANNOT fire live ammo -- you should be ok. Personally, I'd still request a ruling. If for no other reason than that most dedicated blank-firing weapons (starter pistols, for example) could not operate the way you want this to (sending the propellant gas out the barrel) and any that WILL operate as you want would seem to be quite capable of firing live rounds.

-Sam

dirt_j00
March 3, 2010, 01:58 PM
Here's the ATF letter that says 26+ inches is OK. Linkie (http://www.sharkbangstick.com/federaldocuments.html)

I have a powerhead that I bought for alligator hunting, and I never thought about it being an AOW. Glad I made the pole for it and put it on! I hope locktite and several ft-lbs of torque qualify as "permanently attached"!

By the way I bought the .44 Mag powerhead here (http://www.budsbangsticks.com/catalog.html). Very nice unit.

Sam1911
March 3, 2010, 03:03 PM
Ahhh... I thought I remembered a tech letter on bang sticks somewhere. Good to see it posted. Thanks!

It does, however, illustrate my previous point: Anyone who gets one of these and then cuts off (or cuts down) the shaft will be manufacturing an unregistered Title II firearm. That's not good.

-Sam

RyanM
March 3, 2010, 04:34 PM
I hope locktite and several ft-lbs of torque qualify as "permanently attached"!

I'm pretty sure it doesn't. For screw-on muzzle devices to count towards barrel and overall length (so the same principle), "permanent attachment" means silver soldering, welding, pinning and welding, or something equally permanent.

Anyway, addressing the OP's concerns, let me think.

It shouldn't be an SBR unless it has a shoulder stock or is otherwise designed to be braced against the shoulder.

It shouldn't be an AOW unless the barrel is a smoothbore, or if there is any number of grips other than one, at an angle to the bore. As pictured, your design has more than one grip, and may not be kosher. However, removing the grip from the pistol would make it an AOW when removed from the bangstick assembly. Welding or otherwise permanently attaching the pistol would take care of that. And having the end of the bangstick angled gives you one grip.

I really doubt, however, that you'll be able to make it be an "official" blank firing non-firearm if the round sticks out enough for the crimp to protrude (I'm guessing so that the crimp unfolds, punctures the skin, and forms a seal). If you do that, then it could conceivably fire a .22 LR at a whopping 10 fps, or a .22 Short a little bit faster (and then it's not rifled, and it's an AOW smoothbore pistol). .22 blank firing guns are designed so that a bullet could never exit them. You could maybe find a gun chambered in 8mm blanks rather than .22 LR.

Actually, I think the easiest thing to do, from a legal perspective, would be look into what makes in-line muzzleloaders that use 209 primers legally non-firearms, and then make a muzzleloading bangstick which uses 209s (sealed with fingernail polish). Black powder muzzle blasts are considerably more damaging than smokeless ones. If you cut the muzzle at an angle so that it's sharp, and then serrate it, it should form a good seal against a fish, in lieu of an unfolding crimp. That would also prevent the muzzle from sliding off.

cpileri
March 3, 2010, 09:22 PM
Now there's an idea...

Maybe one of the 209 primer fired ones, like at Cabela's (pic attached); or a cheaper one like the Cobray/Leinad?

Same design as my concept art, but load a 209 primer and a bit of black powder and wax filling. Probably need to shrink wrap it to waterproof it, though.

Still, it woudl solve the legal issues. Problem is waterproofing and the Cabela's version is 200+$$.

Since the original concept doesn't have a barrel of any kind, it has no bore; so it cant be a 'smooth bore'- it has NO bore. And it isn't designed to be shoulder fired. I can see the 2 grips arguement, even though the foward grip is clearly not where the thing is meant to be held. Agent Schmuckatelli might well disagree...

And it is still a blank firing pistol as designed. so why would cutting the barrels off down to "crimp protrusion" length suddenly make it a firearm. Even a flare gun is CAPABLE fo firing numerous firearm cartridges (with inserts) but is still dangerous to do so and is not 'designed' to do so.

I really wish icould find the link to that guy who did this witha revolver.

Any other ideas?

C-

oneounceload
March 3, 2010, 09:50 PM
bangsticks are sold here OTC for gator hunting - 357 or 44 - your choice, no legal issues at all

RyanM
March 3, 2010, 10:59 PM
Since the original concept doesn't have a barrel of any kind, it has no bore; so it cant be a 'smooth bore'- it has NO bore...

And it is still a blank firing pistol as designed. so why would cutting the barrels off down to "crimp protrusion" length suddenly make it a firearm. Even a flare gun is CAPABLE fo firing numerous firearm cartridges (with inserts) but is still dangerous to do so and is not 'designed' to do so.

It's illegal to have a gun which is physically capable of firing live ammo, where the bullet can go flying but does not go through rifling, unless it's a shotgun or AOW with the appropriate paperwork. No barrel at all means no rifling at all. If you look at the AOW "pen guns," they're typically cut so short that the tip of the bullet peeks out a little bit. Even with a grip at an angle to the bore, they would be AOWs because the barrel, such as it is, has no rifling.

If all you've got is a chamber, then that still counts as the "barrel"/"bore" to the ATF. For instance, the really small .45/.410 derringers are so short that the crimp of a longer than average shell will peek out a little, after firing. But that's legal, because the "chamber" is rifled (per .45 Colt specs).

Blank guns usually have a bore which has a pin through it crosswise, or are even 100% blocked where the powder gas can only exit sideways instead of frontways. NEF starter revolvers don't have any bore whatsoever, the barrel is just a peg, and the blast all comes out of the cylinder gap. Get rid of the false barrel and turn it into a pepperbox, and you're the proud new owner of a bouncing baby felony.

And flare guns, actually, the only reason why the "pirate buster," or whatever that crazy thing was called, was illegal, was because it was a smoothbore adapter. Matter of fact, if you bought one of these (https://www.dinaarms.com/The_Dina_Adapter.php) (in a pistol caliber, not one of the shotgun-to-shotgun ones), and put it in a flare gun, you would be 110% legal as long as you aren't a wifebeater, drug addict, convicted felon, etc. (though it's still a really bad idea since even the recoil of a .22 will crack the frame sooner rather than later). Same legality as putting a conversion cylinder in a black powder revolver, you "manufacture" a brand-new firearm. If it has a rifled barrel, you're legal. If it has no barrel, then the non-existant barrel is not rifled, and thus it's illegal.

Unfortunately, the Constitution does not say that laws have to make sense.

I would guess that the other bangstick you're referencing, made from a revolver, either is exempted under the same criteria as standard powerheads, or is a felony waiting for an ATF agent to stumble upon it. For the purpose of my legal advisement (which is worth exactly what you paid for it), I'm assuming that powerhead exemption is made on a very specific, case-by-case instance, and that all other designs will be considered guilty until proven innocent. That's how the ATF tends to operate.

JASmith
March 3, 2010, 11:09 PM
If gas is what you need, could a CO2 cartridge provide sufficient gas fast enough to have the intended result?

This could remove the whole thing from the firearm/not firearm debate (except for those who are in the UK!)

cpileri
March 4, 2010, 05:45 AM
CO2 would work (with a LARGE bore double sided needle- needed for fast gas transfer) but only for larger fish. A small fish would not be massive enough to provide enough resistance for the needle to pierce the CO2 cap, and would just be pushed away.

Hence the need for a reliable rimfire device.

So, if i could attach the derringer such that the derringer's handle was significantly altered as to be unusable; eliminating the seond downward protruding grip, AND if I either left or added a tiny bit of rifled barrel; then i would be legal?

C-

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