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The Meaning of ‘High-Capacity’



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As John Rosenberg noted over the weekend, New York State’s new seven-round cap on magazine capacity is a disaster. Not only does it outlaw countless popular magazines, but it will render many guns basically inoperable unless and until manufacturers step up and design seven-round magazines that fit them.

The ten-round federal cap that President Obama has proposed is a little less problematic. Many guns — especially those designed for concealed carry, but even plenty of full-size pistols — already come standard with the capacity to hold ten or fewer rounds, and the manufacturers of other guns often make special magazines to comply with California’s current ten-round cap. A federal ten-round cap was in effect for ten years (it expired in 2004), and the world did not end, though magazines that were owned legally before the ban were grandfathered in. (Obama has called for “reinstating” the old federal ban.)

But ten rounds is a bizarre place to put the “high-capacity” cutoff, even if we start with the questionable assumption that such a cutoff is needed. Since the advent in the 1980s of the Glock 17 – a gun popular with police departments, law-abiding citizens, and criminals alike — there has been a high demand for weapons that carry a bit more, usually 13 to 17 rounds. The bump in capacity makes target shooting more convenient and can give an edge in a shootout. This is a far cry from, say, a 30-round magazine that is purchased separately from the firearm and protrudes several inches from the bottom of the gun when it’s attached.

The list that follows is not scientific — I just started with this list of firearm manufacturers and looked into the ones I’d heard of. I also did not try to list every single gun by each manufacturer that comes standard with a so-called “high-capacity” magazine. But the general rule is that if a company makes full-size pistols, it makes at least some models that would violate the White House’s proposed law right out of the box. The only exceptions I found were Colt and Remington; both companies rely heavily on the classic 1911 design for their pistols.

ArmaLite: Its pistols come in 10-, 13-, and 15-round varieties.
Beretta: Several full-size pistols
Browning: The Hi-Power
Heckler and Koch: The USP and the P30L
Kel-Tec — Most of their pistols are small, but the P-11 has a twelve-round option.
Ruger: The P95 and SR9 have more-than-ten-round options.
SIG Sauer — Has a separate section on its site for “California Compliant Pistols
Smith & Wesson: Some M&P and SD pistols
Springfield Armory: E.g., some XD guns
Walther (distributed by S&W): E.g., the PPQ and some versions of the P99.



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