Posted by: admiralfrum | November 1, 2009

Looking to Buy a Rifle

Note: Postdated from Sunday, October 25.
These past few weeks I have been looking into buying a rifle or two. I plan on moving to New Jersey in less than a year, so it would be wise to pick up a few “bixen” while it is still convenient. In NJ they make you wait to buy a “Firearms Purchaser ID”, often with waits of up to a year for spite depending on the whim of the paper-pusher who will be stamping it. And get this – you need one to buy a slingshot. Yes, SLINGSHOTS are considered firearms in New Jersey, along with BB guns and pellet guns. If you buy one without an ID (or under 21) you go to jail. Even Soviet Russia never reached such levels of creeping bureaucratic nanny-ism. For shame. My current state of residence has the usual gamut of idiotic laws found in any Northeastern state, but it is a veritable utopia of libertarian freedom compared to New Jersey. I would rather buy here than there.
At any rate, I looked into the possibility of a Face-to-Face transfer. At the federal level such sales take place just the way G-d intended them to be – paperless, as free as a chassidishe wind blowing through Lubavitch in Elul. You need a proof of state residency, he needs reasonable belief that you are not a convicted felon. He takes a small bundle of cash and you walk away with your shiny new pea-shooter. Thomas Jefferson would be beaming proud.
With such a possibilities, I began to peek around in the classifieds seeking an instrument worth my while. I was flirting with the idea of buying something to keep under my mattress. I live in the dorms here in college and wouldn’t want to provoke hysteria for being caught with a military-industrial-kiling-spree-evil-black-assault-rifle, but as long as sufficient precautions were taken (past the 99th percentile) it seemed considerable.
Pretty, but a 9-pound trigger pull sucks.

the gorgeous MSAR STG-556

The most interesting prospect was an MSAR STG-556, a clone of the Steyr AUG, selling for ~$2000. It is a dandy little bullpup, a joy to shoot and far more ergonomic than it’s unusual appearance suggests. At only 30 inches long you don’t need a conspicuous rifle case – you could probably even fit it inside a tennis-racket bag. If you do housework it is the perfect little rifle to sling over your shoulder in case of zombie attack.It is for sale in my state by a Police Sergeant. There was also a garden variety AR-15 going for $750 in Greenwich of all places. Both are pictured below.
ho hum

The generic AR-15.

Ironically enough, the STG-556 happens to be a creation of New Jersey’s “assault weapon ban”. An assault weapon is a style of rifle that cannot be exactly defined, so New Jersey law picked five features on a gun that make it ‘evil’ if you have two or more of them, and appended a long list of named rifles that didn’t fit the criteria but were deemed sufficiently scary to ignorant legislators. The Steyr AUG (designed by the Austrian military and not found for less than $6k in the US) was listed and couldn’t be sold. However a knifemaking company named MSAR came along and fixed that for us. They took the AUG’s plans and improved upon them – adding a bolt hold-open, a forward assist, and tinkered internals. Out comes an improved clone of the AUG, but since it does not carry the name “Steyr AUG” it is now deemed safe and acceptable for NJ’s citizens to own. Thus Gun ban => improved guns; stupid legislation and capitalism working together at their finest. To my lament the FAL, my dream of a rifle, did not enjoy such treatment. AR-15’s (the de-facto assault rifle) managed to end up legal while the Marlin 60 (the de-facto children’s rabbit gun) did not.

FAL Para

Oh FAL, how I pine for thee!

It looks bad, doesn't it!Marlin_Model_60_22LR.JPG
Above: an AR-15 – Legal in New Jersey

Below: The Marlin 60 - Illegal Assault Weapon

With further inquiry I found out that state law may require a state form to be filled out for face-to-face transfers (the DPS 67-C and the DPS 3-C), as well as the usual 14-day waiting period and so on. This would make it about the same as buying from a regular Gun Dealer, with no advantages at all. At the end of the day I think I will probably just buy some stock 308 Winchester and keep it in the safe of the university Rifle Club.
To be continued…


  1. What, exactly, would you do with something that large?

    • Probably just practice marksmanship at the range from time to time. I’ve been involved in competitive shooting since high school. As far as rifles are concerned the ones I mentioned are all rather small, much smaller than popular hunting rifles.

  2. Know of any good places to get prop guns similar to that STG above that only shoot blanks, or disabled guns? Do you have to go through a similar process to get disabled weapons or weapons for theatrical work?

    • ey there darksim!

      3 options:

      Blank firing guns are commonly used for stage productions, and don’t seem to be heavily regulated (they cannot safely fire anything but blank ammo). Note that it can be a felony to abuse a replica gun (brandishing in public) so check your laws. You can buy them online at websites such as . However these seem to mostly be pistols; there aren’t too many modern blank rifles out there.

      If it doesn’t need to fire you can always buy an airsoft replica. These are competitively priced with prop guns, and offer similar (to better) realism. The MSAR is itself a clone of the AUG, and there are a bunch of airsoft ones ranging from $30 – $300. Here’s one: and another: and another: and another: Like blank guns, airsoft is not heavily regulated in the US, but in other countries (and certain parts of the states eg NYC) they are. It’s totally banned in Australia. Check your local laws. With an airsoft you have the added benefit of being able to shoot your friends (safely of course).

      Your other option would be to buy the real thing. Then you’ll have no problems with realism, you can easily fire blank rounds, and you’ll have a beautifully functioning rifle as well. If you ever stop wanting it I could help it to find a nice home ;-)

      Hope this helps

  3. Do you have any idea how reliable the electric BB guns and/or prop guns are? I’ve heard different things from different sources. Someone who works in movie stunt work said prop guns typically work only 30% of the time. I am looking for something that works every time, and is as real as possible for dirt cheap.

    Thanks for the links. Some of them I’ve some I haven’t. The electric bullpup is tempting – I used to shoot pump-action type bb-guns when I was little that you could buy at Wal-Mart. How things change.

    You live in Jersey now?

    • I don’t know about specific reliability but there are extensive reviews and reports on the electric airsoft guns that should give you an idea. For the most part you get what you pay for. As for the prop guns I have no idea but I don’t fully understand what you want in terms of functionality. A plastic pellet won’t have the same dramatic impact as a muzzle report – if you’re doing a stage production. Perhaps you’re not.

      I have a Red Ryder BB gun that I still shoot – the model has been produced since 1938. Some things don’t change ;-) But an airsoft electric would be nice if I didn’t have my eyes on other things.

      I don’t live in Jersey ATM, but I may be living there in the near future.

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