U.K. Offensive Weapons Bill comes with Lever-Release and .50 Ban (and bump-stocks!)

Eric B
by Eric B

United Kingdom goes on with another “there’s nothing to worry about, we are only going to ban the most dangerous firearms this time“.

This time the U.K. Government intends to ban all so called MARS / Lever release rifles with a new legislation in the Offensive Weapons Bill.

The NRA in the UK have argued that these types of rifles are suited for shooters with physical limitations.

This argument was discounted by the UK Home Office on the basis that no evidence has been provided to support NRA’s assertion.

That’s not it. According to UK Shooting News the The Offensive Weapons Bill which is before the Parliment is going to ban all self-unloading rifles and rifles with a muzzle energy greater than 10,000 ft-lbs (13,600 J in metric)

That last thing is hard to comprehend. Most people don’t even know what kind of horsepower their car engine develops, and even gun-nuts will have difficulties knowing what kind of ft-lbe their firearms are capable of.

Below: Will any of these Victrix rifles be banned under the new UK Bill? Who knows.

I don’t really see the market using terms like “this rifle is capable of 12,000 ft-lbs – go buy it!

Which rifles are going to be banned? Will some rifles be banned on the basis of what kind of ammunition you use? Should reloaders be worried if they are on the limit?

Of course, the UK will ban bump-stocks as well. Not that I see any kind of need for such a ban in the UK at all as most if not all (real) semi-autos are banned already.

It makes me wonder how many bump-stocks that even exist in the UK? If they exist at all.

Below: Would any of these hunting rifles be banned under the new 10 000 ft-lbs law? I seriously could not tell, but the AI .338 LM to the left is probably in danger.

More details from UK Shooting News:

What is the bill?

The bill was introduced to Parliament a few weeks ago. Among other things, which are outside the scope of UK Shooting News’ focus, if the bill is passed in its current form, Clauses 28-33 will ban:

  • self-unloading rifles that use either gas from a fired round or a spring arrangement to store energy from gas to extract fired cases
  • rifles with a muzzle energy greater than 13,600 joules

In plain English this means a ban on all self-unloading rifles except .22″ and a blanket ban on all rifles with a muzzle energy greater than 10,000ft-lbs.

This not only means .50-cal rifles but a whole host of historical rifles of huge value and cultural importance, such as the big-bore African game cartridges of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

It does not cover shotguns; the bill’s wording refers to “rifles” only, which should mean a rifled barrel.

Punt guns and cannon are safe. Believe it or not, preserved tanks and artillery pieces with rifled barrels and that were designed for autoloader mechanisms are at risk as well.

The bill will also ban bump stocks. UKSN’s author can’t see the point of this as they have no practical use in the UK whatsoever, but a worthless pound of flesh tossed at the antis is better in political terms than leaving them with nothing at all. Humiliating your enemies merely breeds hatred and a determination to do more harm next time.

What is this 13,600J limit?

The 10,000ft-lbs muzzle energy limit (13,600J in metric) is the same one used for Home Office Approved rifle clubs. Briefly, an approved club’s members can share any rifle and ammunition provided its muzzle energy is below 10,000ft-lbs. Anything above that cannot be shared, which is why most 50-cal rifles can’t be used even by your fellow club members unless you have that rifle on your FAC.

There are exceptions, of course (this is British firearms law!) but these are the broad principles. Section 15(1), Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 refers.

UKSN’s author believes the ‘limit’ was plucked out of thin air decades ago and that there is probably no real reason for its existence other than some government official demanding an arbitrary dividing line. If anything, an amendment ought to be tabled to have the limit deleted as serving no useful public policy purpose.

Below: AI 338 LM closest. Others are variations between 308 Win and 6,5 Creedmoor for hunting.
Potential problems in the future

It is said that the Bill is “only” intended for .50 Caliber rifles, but I think the 10,000 ft-lbs ban is also aiming at calibers as the .338 Lapua Magnum (and similar, of course) as well.

I see a lot of problems here. As an owner of a rifle, how do you know what kind of ft-lbs your firearm develops? How do you measure it?

Imagine you want to apply for a .338 LM (or similar). What if some of the cartridges will take your rifle beyond the limit, and some not? It’s a no-win argument versus the Police.

And we all know, as soon as there is a limit it is there for bureaucrats to play with – usually never in your favor!

If you think that this kind of ban is UK only beware. There are already talks about similar bans in Sweden and other European countries as well.

Sources: NRA UK and UK Shooting News.

Previous TFB article on the subject.

Eric B
Eric B

Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with a European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatics, optics, thermals and suppressors. TCCC Certified. Occasionaly seen in a 6x6 Bug Out Vehicle, always with a big smile.

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3 of 243 comments
  • Pistolero Pistolero on Jul 23, 2018

    OK, I am going to admit my ignorance here. I know what a "lever action" rifle is, but what is a "lever release" rifle?

    • Secundius Secundius on Jul 23, 2018

      @Pistolero "Lever-Release Rifles" were or was an ingenious solution to the problem in 1988 on Self-Loading Rifles. The mechanism of the Lever-Release rifle means it unloads itself automatically but stop shot of reloading, chambering a new cartridge. Also known as a MARS (Manually Activated Release System) action achieves much the same thing but is released by repeated trigger pressure. One press of the trigger fires a shot, the second press releases the working parts for the next round. Most Police Departments have Banned the use of these firearms as being an Annoyance to the Shooter. As a violation of the KISS Principle...

  • Bad Penguin Bad Penguin on Aug 15, 2018

    They don't want you to be able to protect yourself from the muslim invaders.