SIG Sauer suing ATF

MPX-C-Detail-Hero

At SHOT Show 2013, Sig Sauer announced a version of the MPX Carbine that would have a 6.5 inch barrel and come standard with a permanently welded 9.5 inch long muzzle brake. The get up looked like this:

MPX-C-Detail-Hero

The ATF took one look at the gun and said “that’s not a muzzle brake because those are clearly the baffles from a suppressor, and we’re saying that device is officially a suppressor.” Usually when that happens, companies will return to their offices, tails tucked between their legs, duly chastised. But not this time. Not Sig. In fact, Sig has gone the opposite route, deciding instead to spit in the tyrant’s eye sue the ATF.

[Sig Sauer’s] suit, filed in the U. S. District Court of New Hampshire, states that it submitted a rifle, with its muzzle brake, to the ATF on April 4, 2013 for evaluation. The device is described as 9.5 inches long and permanently attached with a weld to a 6.5 inch barrel, making the overall barrel length 16 inches.

The ATF responded, by letter dated Aug. 26, 2013, that the device is constructed as a silencer component commonly referred to as a “monolithic baffle stack,” the suit states.
“Welding it to a barrel does not change its design characteristics or function,” Sig says it was informed by the ATF.

The news of this lawsuit from Sig comes on the heels of the ATF’s recently letter declaring that the Sig Pistol Brace is not a stock, regardless of how it’s used by the end user. It seems to be part of a trend from Sig on pushing the limits, and honestly, it’s one that we here at Gun Nuts support wholeheartedly. In a perfect world, there would be no NFA list; in a nearly perfect world the only things on the NFA list would be actual machine guns and destructive devices. I’d love to see the NFA deregulated and suppressors and SBRs moved off; and maybe that will happen some day.

In the meantime, we wish the best of luck to Sig with this lawsuit. The analysis of the merits of the suit are interesting, because if the muzzle device does not suppress sound in any way, can it really be classified as a suppressor? If the case is interpreted purely on the performance of the muzzle device as it is attached to the barrel, then it’s clearly not a suppressor. However, the ATF seems to think that because it could be readily made into a suppressor, that it should be classified as one from the get-go.

3 thoughts on “SIG Sauer suing ATF”

  1. It seems like the ATF argument is not “it could be made into a suppressor” but rather “it isn’t a barrel or part of a barrel”

  2. I thought it was the external tube that makes a suppressor. It’s the part that has the serial number on it, not the internals. Some companies make multi-caliber suppressors. You pay the tax on the tube and then you can buy any number of internal baffles of differing calibers so you can use the device on any gun you own.

  3. Nope — being permanently attached to the barrel means it is part of teh barrel, no matter what it looks like or what functions it may perform. That’s decades old, consistant ATF interpretation, dating from well before ATF was even the ATF.

    The argument ATF is making is that, SINCE it COULD function as a suppressor baffle if you sleeved it, it MUST be a suppressor part.

    Problem with ATF’s case is that the history of ATF rulings, case law, and common sense, all “conspire” to say that something is a “suppressor part” ONLY if the only use of it would be as part of a suppressor. Otherwise, pipes, tubes, small machine screws, rubber disks, and metal washers would all have to be controlled as NFA items as “suppressor parts”, regardless of what they were actually manufactured for.

    The three nails in the ATF’s legal coffin here will be:

    1. ATF just lost a functionally identical case (that was actually an easier case for them to win — that device DID reduce the sound in the direction of teh shooter by focusing it towards the target. . . so at least SOME reduction in sound at some point was involved). ATF said, “Looking at you design, we can tell it has features in common with silencers, so despite having test equipment to test it, we’ll just classify it as a silencer based on appearance alone.” The court spiked that ball right down ATF’s teeth.)

    2. This device fails the “silencer parts” claim, because Sig can show data that the “open air” baffles DO actually do something, even when no suppressor sleeve is involved — it DOES reduce felt recoil and muzzle jump slightly (and, slightly is all it takes — it’s effective for SOMETHING other than just suppressing the sound).

    3. This device fails the all-over silencer claim, because the statutory definition of a silencer requires it actually suppress at least SOME of the gun’s muzzle blast — this thing INCREASES it, when tested IAW industry and ATF testing standards.

    So, it DOESN’T silence the gun and actually makes it louder, it DOES do something desireable other than silence the gun, and appearances or design commonality simply doesn;t cut it when the device actually does something else.

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