Before 1989, the marketplace for semi-automatic rifles in the USA was much broader and offered consumers many interesting choices. Some 25 years later things have recovered a bit, but still there are many designs from abroad that enthusiasts in the USA simply cannot get ahold of due to arbitrary rulings.
In this list, we take a look at five guns that are legal to own, buy, and sell in the US, but are banned from import.
I’ll admit, making this video made me sad.
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– [Alex] Hey guys, it’s Alex C with TFB TV.
The topic of today’s top five is going to be the top five banned guns.
These are all firearms that are banned from import into the USA under the 1989 George Bush executive order.
Basically, in 1968, the Gun Control Act established that non-sporting firearms were not suitable for import and the very strange executive order made it so that if an AR-15 was made here in the USA, it’s legal for sale.
But when made in, say, Denmark, it is illegal because, reasons? Maybe foreign guns are just scary to politicians, or maybe the reduction in competition was just a convenient boost for domestic manufacturers, but I digress.
Anyways, let’s get on with it.
We’re gonna start with the FN FNC, which is one of my favorite rifles of all time.
The FNC was imported by HOWCO, Steyr, and Gun South, and about 6 or 7000 were brought in.
It is the standard service rifle of Belgium.
Sweden has the AK-5, and Indonesia as well.
A good amount of them have been legally converted to select fire by either a Registered Receiver Conversion, as done my companies like Fleming, or with the addition of a legally registered auto sear, like this example.
The FNC has some great features including a gas setting for adverse conditions that simply slides over a hole and allows less gas to escape.
The folding stock is very rigid, and when folded, allows for a very nice and compact package that is great for vehicle crewmen.
The rear sight is flip-adjustable for 250 and 400 meters, and the front sight is a simple post that is adjustable for elevation.
The selector is nice and intuitive, and goes from safe, to semi, to three-round burst, to auto, but this is of course only for select fire models.
A bolt hold open is present, but it must be manually operated by pulling the bolt back and pulling the charging handle out.
Like an AR-15, the FNC’s upper and lower are held together by two takedown pins, and it hinges right open for cleaning.
Many people have likened the FNC to the AK, and it’s easy to see why.
Seen here’s the piston and carrier, which are one piece, and the bolt which looks suspiciously similar.
Anyways, the FNC just works.
I’ve shot this gun thousands of times and it doesn’t jam.
It’s damn accurate, controls are great, and I really wish that FN would bring these in like they do the SCAR.
We can all dream.
So next up, we have the HK Legacy guns.
This category includes all the Cold War stamp pieces that everyone wants.
I say this because people aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to get a hold of their $3000 AR-15’s.
They say there’s nothing more dangerous than entrenched success, and you could use HK as a textbook example.
They were at one point making over 2000 G3 rifles a day, and in the 80’s every police department was clamoring for MP5’s and pretty much anything else that they made.
Hell, HK even got into the hunting rifle business because people just couldn’t get enough of their stuff.
Then, in 1989, the ban stopped Americans from getting roller delayed goodness like the HK 91, 93, and 94.
In 1989, the ATF sent letters to manufacturers seeking their input about just how sporting their rifles were, and exactly one company attempted to stop this nonsense.
Thank company, H&K.
HK even posted advertisements discussing how useful their firearms were for various sporting purposes, and encouraged HK owners to write the ATF with accounts of how they had used their products as sporting arms.
The one company to step up and say this isn’t right was the company supposedly hates us.
Maybe HK doesn’t hate us after all.
Anyways, many shooters are familiar with the stamped HK’s.
Many have been converted to MP5’s, G3’s, 53’s and 33’s, but the tap got shut off and it doesn’t seem like HK can recover.
After 89, guns like the SP89 and PSG1 were legal to import, but that all stopped in 1994 with an additional ban.
So, HK got hurt very badly twice in five years, and people wonder why they’re hesitant to place a bid on the American marketplace today.
While I can’t say I blame them, you look at companies like PTR, POF, and Zenith, and you see that the demand is there.
Damn you, 1989 ban.
So next up is the Beretta AR70, the service rifle of the Italian military.
The AR70 was briefly imported into the USA but I’ve heard all kinds of rumors regarding its importation, including one that Beretta was hesitant to ship them here.
I suppose some proof I have would be that the box says “Congratulations on “the purchase of your new Beretta shotgun,” and lists the gauge as 223.
It isn’t unusual to see something like that, I suppose, but you usually see caliber/gauge.
Anyways, the Beretta AR70 is essentially an Italian SIG 550.
Stamped, relatively simple long-stroke piston, and a rotating bolt.
Some neat features are present though, including an AR-15-like spring-loaded dust cover, easy to remove mags that rock in like an AK, rear-mounted flip sights, a fixed front sight post and a flash hider/barrel shroud combo that unscrews for grenade launching.
The trigger mechanism is very FAL-like with an offset spring.
Now, my one beef would be that to get the rifle from safe to fire, you push the selector upwards, and this is contrary to just about every other gun I have.
The receiver hinges open for cleaning like an AR-15 as well, and this is quite nice, all things considered.
It’s a shame that this piece is unimportable, but the biggest shame is that it’s being replaced by Fish Gun, I mean, the new ARX.
Next up is, well, I’ll just say it.
The best AK-pattern rifles that have ever been imported into the USA, The Finnish Valmet rifles.
The Finns have a history of taking Russian small arms and really making them their own with various improvements, and when they got a hold of AK’s, they kept this tradition.
Valmets came into the US in many configurations and calibers, stamped, milled, 5.56, 7.62 by 39, and even 308.
The common variants here in the US are the RK 62-derived guns, and this is essentially an RK 62 76 with a wooden stock.
Unfortunately, I do not have the sling, which is actually made from reindeer hide.
I’m not kidding.
Anybody familiar with the AK platform would really admire the Valmet rifles.
Controls are similar with the hybrid safety dust cover, rock-in mags, and familiar charging handle.
Not satisfied with a sight mounted on the barrel a la the Nineteenth Century? The Finns rear aperture sighted the Valmets and made it so the ladder flips forward for night sights.
The front sight is hooded, but also had a flip-up night sight.
This assembly is similar to any other AK, but you notice that the piston has a series of extensions to allow for less slop and a smoother shooting experience.
Also, if you’re like me, and you hate fumbling with the gas tube lever on AK’s, the Valmets have a small tube that comes out of a dovetailed section from the rear.
The Valmet is still hefty, though.
Coming in at 3.6 kilos…
and about eight freedoms.
I wish these guns were still being brought in for reasonable prices.
There are plenty of AK’s out there today that are truly amazing, but think, if it weren’t for the 89 ban, we could have Finnish guns like these and RK 95’s.
So lastly, we have the Daewoos.
These were cheap when they were for sale in the USA, and people really didn’t pay that much attention to them.
This model is the K1A1, the civilian version of the Korean military’s K1.
The Daewoo K1A1 could accurately be called Korea’s AR-15.
Liberal uses of aluminum, Stoner-style psuedo-direct impingement, and controls that are almost identical.
They shoot very well and are comfortable to carry, and I figure if they’re good enough to point at the minions of a certain peninsula-based dictator, they’re probably good enough for anything I’m going to do with them.
The Daewoo K1A1’s feature, a magazine release access by your pointer, a right side charging handle, a thumb-actuated safety, and a familiar ping pong paddle bolt release.
The collapsible stock has three positions, but I’m not too crazy about it.
It isn’t flimsy, but the metal tines heat up like crazy, and your cheek will not thank you for that.
The rear sight is almost identical to an M16A1’s and the front sight post is similar as well.
The rear sight is also flip adjustable.
The receiver pivots open like an AR-18, and you can remove the recoil springs, guide rods, and bolt group.
Humorously, the bolt group looks like an M16’s carrier’s tail snapped off.
All in all, the Daewoos are accurate, light, simple, and fun, and it’s a shame that we can’t get any more of them.
So the 1989 ban on foreign quote, non-sporting, end quote firearms is one of the strangest and most confusing pieces of gun legislation on the books.
The strangest part is that if any of the firearms on this list were made here, they would be legal.
What the feds deem as non-sporting can be something as simple as magazine configuration, or even the rear sight setup.
And to me, that’s some arbitrary nonsense.
Anyways, thanks for watching our new video.
We hope that, if anything, it showed you either a gun you maybe had not seen before, or got you writing a letter to someone trying to change our bizarre process for deeming what is okay and what isn’t.
Big thanks to Ventura Munitions, our ammunition sponsor, for making our videos possible.
We hope to see you next time.
(gun cocks) (bursts of gunfire)