From NSSF, here is a copy of the full study on Micro-stamping as released by UC Davis. Pay very special attention to this:
At the present time, therefore, because its forensic potential has yet to be fully assessed, a mandate for the implementation of this technology in all new semiautomatic handguns sold in the state of California is counter-indicated.
As I read over the full study, I keep seeing references which indicate the group pushing for micro-stamping because they control the technology is deliberately misleading people with their agenda. One of the key things they talk about is how “easy” and “cost-effective” it would be to implement this technology at a manufacturing level. The study from UC Davis would contravene that statement:
The vendor was supplied with 14 firing pins which were subsequently engraved at a cost of $3,500 or ~ $250.00 per firing pin.
$250.00 per firing pin? That additional cost, even if it ends up being less, is going to either kill manufacturers or be passed directly on to you and I as the final consumers of the product.
Here are a couple of key excerpts from the study document on how easy it would be to remove the “micro-stamp” marks from the firing pin:
Two different methods were designed to evaluate the ease with which lasermachined micro-characters could be intentionally defaced or obliterated. In the first method, the firing pin for an AMT “Backup” 380 Auto semi-automatic pistol was held perpendicular to a household sharpening stone and rubbed back and forth for 30 seconds. The second method involved placing the firing pin for a Sig Sauer P229 semi-automatic pistol on its side on an anvil and rolling it back and forth while lightly peening it with a ball peen hammer for 15 seconds. The firing pin was then stood on its base and the tip was peened for an additional 15 seconds.
Finally, both defacement/obliteration methods demonstrated that the microcharacters could easily be intentionally destroyed with the firing pin removed from the firearm.
“Easily intentionally destroyed”. Here’s another quote from the study regarding the ability of the markings to be easily read after repeated firings in a rimfire firearm:
Given the nature of this rimfire firing pin and firearm design, it was determined that a maximum of five out of the eight alphanumeric characters can contact the rim of the cartridge case, thus providing a maximum possible transfer rate of 63%. Over the 250 rounds of ammunition test fired, the average transfer rate of legible alphanumeric characters was 16%.
Essentially, this technology doesn’t work for rimfire firearms, and would add a significant amount of cost to the production of said firearms.
I want to go back and focus on is how easy it is to remove/deface the encoding information on the firing pins. You hear micro-stamping advocates say “Oh, criminals won’t be able to get the firing pins out of these guns, it’s too complicated and takes tools”. Table 4 in the study shows how long and what tools it took the researchers to get the firing pins out of the guns. The longest time listed to remove the pin is 3 minutes, and the most complicated tools required are a punch, a hammer, and a bench block.
The best part is that once the test firing pins were out, the researchers were able to completely destroy the markings on the firing pin, re-install the pin, and still fire the gun – however none of the markings then transfered over. For example, the Sig Sauer that they tested took 3 minutes to remove the pin, 30 seconds to destroy the markings, and 3 minutes to put it back in. That’s 6 minutes and 30 seconds to make a complete end run around the new law. Criminals may be dumb, but I’m pretty sure they can figure that out.
This is an actual peer-reviewed document, not some press release piece thrown out there. While they did find that some types of laser engraving can transfer to cartridges, no single method transferred 100% of the encoded information to 100% of the cases 100% of the time. Most hovered around the 60% range of data transfered, and several methods had much lower averages than that. Couple that with the fact that all the encoding methods can be easily obfuscated in 6 minutes and 30 seconds (or less), it’s no wonder that the researcher’s final report says that there is no mandate for this technology.