Monday, October 25, 2010
Neither Fish Nor Fowl
I wanted to make mention of Overload's comments on my previous post on AR/AK pistols. I mentioned that I need to pick up one of the new Rock River PDS pistols based on their new gas piston system.
I've been a bit surprised (and not a little amused) at the rise of the neither-fish-nor-fowl AR pattern pistols. When friends of mine starting building AK pistols back in the Back When, our response was, "Whatever for?" My friends responded, "Why not?"
There has been a steady submarket of AR pistol parts (primarily a pistol-length buffer system) for years, but it has only been in the last 2 years or so that AR companies have started not only making AR platform pistols available, but heavily marketing them as well. Okay, I'm exempting the Olympic Arms pistol, which was an early version. Part of this is the rise of the gas piston variants, which allows a pistol without the AR buffer tube in the rear. Sig, I believe, lead the way with a pistol-version 556.
I wasn't surprised to see a pistol-length AR on the cover of one of the tac-mags as a "Tactical Alternative." "To what?" I wondered.
I think the market is really for SBRs, but that $200 transfer tax (or even the $5 AOW) and all the paperwork is a real buzz-kill. Hence the pistol version, available without paperwork or transfer taxes.
I've said this before, but the pistol ARs/AKs seem to be an American version of the popular-in-Europe PDWs. PDWs tread the no man's land between carbines, submachineguns and pistols, ostensibly aimed at military troopers who need more than a handgun and less than a carbine...say vehicle drivers, etc. Part of the appeal of the PDW in Europe, I think is that Europe never had a hardcore pistol culture like the one that developed in the U.S. That, coupled with the fact that most European nations didn't have a particular problem with equipping their police forces with full-auto weapons, virtually mandated the creation of a Personal Defense Weapon category.
As far was where the jumbo-sized pistols fit in the self-defense continuum, the answer is something of a reach. The pistols are a litle easier to maneuver with in a constrained space, but are harder to shoot than either a traditional handgun or a carbine. The best way to shoot the little beasts seems to be with the weak hand gripping the forearm (I apply forward pressure on the weak hand and rearward pressure on the strong hand to give me some kind of dynamic tension). If you put the obvious vertical handgrip on the AR pistol's lower rail, you have created a controlled weapon covered under the 1934 Firearms Act (an AOW, Any Other Weapon) and you're in very expensive hot water with the Fed. If you add a folding stock to make the gun easier to shoot, it's an SBR, Short-Barreled Rifle, and equally controlled. You can indeed build your own AOW or SBR, but you must file the appropriate paperwork and pay the tax FIRST, before you all that vertical fore grip or folding stock.
Granted, that's nonsensical, but it is the LAW ands BATFE isn't known for their great sense of humor.
Sooooooooo, how to best use the AR pistol? If it has a pistol-length buffer tube, you can use that tube as sort of a defacto stock. There are slip-on butt pads for buffer tubes, but by my reading of the law those butt pads can be construed as adding a stock to a pistol, definitely a no-no. If any of you guys have info that contradicts that view, PLEASE let me know. Again, I shoot the AR pistols the same way I shoot a T/C Contender, weak hand on the forearm.
An alternative would be using a single-point sling to provide the rearward tension. I've got a sling and mount around here to try out, but I just haven't had the time to mount it up and test it out.
Since these guns are not exactly long-range paper-punchers, I like the small red-dot sights. I have used an Aimpoint Micro on my Spike's Tactical 9mm pistol [photo below] and it works great. I don't see any reason why the small pistol-type red dots, such as the Insight, Trijicon, Docter or even a C-More should work just as well.
I've carried the Spike's pistol on long driving trips because it's a lot of firepower in a small package, but you could probably say the same of a collapsable/folding stock carbine. The advantage of the pistol in a vehicle is the same as the advantage of a PDW — easier to deploy with the shorter barrel and the absence of a stock. Ditto as a grab-and-go bedroom gun...portability and storage advantages at the expense of shootability.
Still, AR pistols are a blast (quite literally) to shoot...I think of them as ammo exterminators....when I go to the range with the Spike's, everybody, and I mean everybody, wants to shoot the little monster. Keep in mind that the 5.56 versions are LOUD — the perfect accompaniment for your .30 Carbine pistol in the Race to Complete Deafness. The muzzle blast can also be...impressive...depending on the flashhider.
Obviously, you can go FMN (Full Mall Ninja) and slip a light/laser on one of the rails (maybe an integrated system like the Streamlight)...if you're going to use the pistol as a self-defense tool, that probably makes sense.
I wish ATF would allow "packaging" controlled features under one $200 tax and set of papers — if I could get a folding stock, vertical foregrip and a suppressor on the same sheet of paper, I'd be there, dude!