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New Violence Policy Center Study Warns of "Next Wave" of Assault Pistols for Sale in the United States

AK-47 and AR-15 Assault Pistols that Combine the Power of an Assault Rifle with the Concealability of a Handgun Lead the Way

WASHINGTON - Not since the late 1980s and early 1990s has there been such a wide variety of assault pistols available for sale on the U.S. civilian market warns the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) study Assault Pistols: The Next Wave ( The study contains more than 20 examples of assault pistols currently marketed in the United States, led by AK-47 and AR-15 pistols that offer assault rifle power in a compact pistol format. Each of the assault pistols detailed in the study would be banned by legislation introduced last week by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The study notes that in addition to next-generation AK-47 and AR-15 assault pistols, assault pistols that were banned by name under the now-expired federal assault weapons ban, such as the UZI pistol, MAC, and Calico, are also being marketed.

Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director and author of the study states, "There is now a wider variety of assault pistols available on the civilian market than ever before. Able to accept high-capacity ammunition magazines filled with assault rifle rounds that can penetrate police body armor, concealable next-generation AK-47 and AR-15 pistols place law enforcement at an unprecedented risk. At the same time, assault pistols that defined the drug wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as the UZI pistol and MAC-10, are being sold under federal law with no more restrictions than a traditional six-shot revolver.”

In a YouTube segment ( from his cable television show Ted Nugent’s Spirit of the Wild titled “Uncle Ted’s Favorite Guns,” National Rifle Association Board Member Ted Nugent cheerfully acknowledges the military pedigree and lauds the rifle power of the Century International Arms Centurion 39 AK-47 pistol, “This is a variation of what they lovingly refer to as the Kalashnikov, the AK-47....This is a handgun version, almost what you see the bad guys in Afghanistan use...7.62 x 39mm, out of a little, short, rifle basically, but it’s a handgun, this is a handgun."

Research by the Violence Policy Center and others makes it clear that AK-47 pistols are a “weapon of choice” of cross-border illegal gun traffickers who purchase firearms in the United States and then smuggle them into Mexico. A VPC review of 114 federal gun trafficking prosecutions in 16 states ( catalogued more than 4,800 firearms detailed in court and other legal documents. Of the 262 assault pistols tabulated, almost all were variants of AK-47 assault pistols (the remainder were mostly AR-15 assault pistols).

Examples of assault pistols presented in the study include the following:

--A headline for catalog copy for the aforementioned Century International Arms Centurion 39 AK Pistol boasts, “We brought you the 1st 100% American Made AK. Now we bring you the 1st 100% American Made AK Pistol!” The ad text reads: “Wow! This new Centurion 39 Pistol is totally awesome and is 100% made in the good old U.S. of A.! The new bird cage muzzle brake and ‘shark fin’ front sight, gives the small package a sexy new look. An ergonomic pistol grip and our proprietary quad rail, high-tech, poly furniture, gives an incredibly cool appearance that just oozes strength, quality and style...Perfect for home protection, CQB [Close Quarters Battle], or a fun day of inexpensive shooting at the range, the C39 is a trusty tool that is ready when you are. Takes all standard AK type magazines.”

--According to the 2010 catalog of Masterpiece Arms, which manufactures MAC-10 pistols, "The MAC is back, and its [sic] better than ever before." The company promises that its products have "the tactical look and feel so popular in today’s market. There is nothing that will catch the attention of a fellow gun enthusiast like the MAC."

--The 2012 catalog for I.O. Inc. explains, “The Hellpup is the little brother to the Hellhound [AK-47] rifle. This tactical AK pistol is in 7.62x39 caliber with a 9.25” barrel and no rear stock…and almost every assault rifle option known can be fitted to this five pound pistol.”

--Catalog copy for the DSA Inc. SA58 PKP pistol brags, “The power of the 7.62x51 cartridge in a package a little larger than a full-size UZI. Despite it’s [sic] size, the FAL Pistol comes with the standard features you would expect to see on a full size FAL.... “

--A 2011 article published in Handguns magazine titled “AR Pistols: The Hugely Popular Rifle Platform Makes a Pretty Cool Handgun as Well” noted, “There's no doubt in the last few years that AR pistols have become extremely popular.”


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The Violence Policy Center is a national tax-exempt educational organization working for a safer America through research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy. The VPC provides information to policymakers, journalists, organizations, advocates, and the general public.

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