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Tue Jan 10, 2012, 10:03 PM

Pistol grips on long guns, and rifle crime in general. [View all]

I ran across a discussion in another thread regarding pistol grip stocks on rifles, and rather than further hijack that thread, I decided to start a new thread on pistol grips, and rifle crime in general. It's a topic that comes up from time to time, but I think it's worth revisiting.

The initial statement that piqued my interest was this:

What do you need a pistol grip for? Again, no real purpose but killing a lot of people real fast.

From a design standpoint, separating the handgrip from the shoulder stock allows the receiver of a firearm to sit well back over the hand, allowing a better weight distribution and (in some designs) a longer barrel (or longer receiver) for the same overall length. This was probably the main reason pistol grip designs were first introduced. However, their ergonomic advantages are what made them dominant in the civilian realm, first in high-end target rifles and then mainstream civilian guns.

However, as it turns out, vertical handgrips on long guns also put the wrist at the ideal angle when firing from the shoulder, allowing a more secure grip and a better trigger pull, and making it unnecessary to stick your dominant elbow up and out like a chicken wing when shooting from the shoulder. That's why almost all very-high-end European target rifles used in unlimited-class target shooting have either pistol grip stocks, or thumbhole/extreme Monte Carlo stocks that approximate pistol grip angles.

For example, here's an Anschutz single-shot bolt-action target rifle:



and a thumbhole design (same principle, same grip angle):



Here's an Olympic biathlon rifle (also bolt-action); notice the grip angle:



Next time you see an Olympic biathlete "spray firing from the hip", let me know.

Finally, here's a civilian AR-15 at a range. Notice the natural wrist angle, and the perfect alignment of the barrel axis with the shoulder.



That's not an accident; that's good ergonomics, and it's why all kinds of new rifles designed in the last decade or two have imitated the AR's design.

FWIW, if that guy dropped his arm to hip level, but kept the natural wrist angle, the rifle would be pointed at the ground about 3 feet in front of his feet. That's another nice thing about pistol grip stocks; they make it easier to point a long gun safely down at the floor while keeping the gun close to your body for security, instead of encouraging a less-safe muzzle high hold like straight stocks do. You can do a low hold with a traditional straight stock, but it bends your right wrist like a chicken wing and weakens your grasp on the gun. A pistol grip also makes it somewhat harder for an attacker to snatch a long gun away from you if they get close (muzzle-down carry also helps with this), and makes it easier to "short-stock" the gun if needed.

(pistol grips) make firing from the hip after concealment much easier.

This line of thought surprised me a bit, as I believe it's the first time I've ever pistol grip stocks associated with concealability. Let me put that to rest by posting a pic of my first rifle (Ruger mini-14 Ranch Rifle, a little .223 caliber carbine) with the three stocks I owned for it:



It was by far the most concealable with the straight stock, due to how slim it was. Even with the bottom stock (folds for storage), it was harder to conceal than with the straight stock; the grip probably added six inches in height to the rifle. And while none of them could be readily concealed under a coat by anyone not named "Sasquatch", the straight-stocked rifle would be easiest because the stock and receiver would align with one's arm, rather than sticking out several inches off-axis.

Letting the AWB expire was stupid and politically motivated.

It was the rational thing to do. Rifles of any type are the least misused class of weapon in the United States, and pretty much always have been.

Table 20 - Murder by State and Type of Weapon 2010

Rifle homicide - FBI UCR

Criminal rifle possession - BATFE YCGIS

The 6-year trend in rifle homicides, 2005-2010, per the UCR:

2005: 442
2006: 436
2007: 450
2008: 375
2009: 348
2010: 358

By comparison, blades were used to murder 1,704 people in 2010, and bare hands/shoes/knees/elbows were used to murder 745. Rifles are simply not commonly used in either homicide or aggravated assault in this country, contrary to the hype.

Finally, a disclaimer.



As the old saying goes, it's like ham and eggs; if you're a chicken, you're concerned, but if you're a pig, you're involved. I'm very much involved in this one; it was the "assault weapon" fraud that got me interested in gun politics to start with. I'm now down to three rifles---one bona fide weapon of war, and two roughly comparable civilian carbines, my favorite being a Rock River Arms 16" middy (a self-loading centerfire .22 in the AR-15 mold) that serves as my competition gun, plinking gun, target gun, and HD long gun.



I'd like to keep that and the SAR-1, and pass them down to my kids someday. Of course, since the AR-15 platform has long since become the most popular civilian rifle in the United States, I think the chances of another AWB---especially one that actually banned anything---are pretty slim. But that's an important issue to me, which is why I still follow the discussion as much as I can even though I have a whole lot of other stuff going on these days.

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Simo 1939_1940 Jan 2012 #1
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