The Guns You Don’t See: Five Types of Guns That Rarely Arrive in the U.S.

Although the United States is one of the largest markets for civilian firearms in the world, certain types of weapons rarely make it to our shores. Sometimes this is due to import laws and restrictions. Other times it’s just a combination of features or the cartridge the firearm is chambered for, that there isn’t a market for it here. Just because they weren’t actively cataloged or marketed in the United States doesn’t mean some of these models weren’t sold here, or that an intrepid collector couldn’t find a way to bring one to this country, but the following is a list of some types of firearms that you probably won’t find on your local gun store rack:

One: Handguns In .30 Luger Or 9×21 mm And Rifles In .222 Rem.

In many countries around the world, civilians are not allowed to own firearms in cartridges used by military forces, including 9mm Luger, .45 Auto, and .223 Remington/5.56mm. Therefore, many popular firearms in which one of these cartridges is the standard chambering are offered in a non-military alternative cartridge.

For 9mm Luger handguns, the original popular “civilian” alternative was . 30 Luger, or 7.65mm Parabellum. This bottleneck cartridge, introduced in 1898, not only predates the 9mm Luger, it is the parent case of the popular bullet. This makes it easier to adapt handguns designed around the 9mm Luger to the .30 Luger. Popular 9mm Luger handguns that can be found in .30 Luger include Beretta 92, Browning Hi-Power, Colt Commander, SIG P210 and P220, Ruger P-89, Smith & Wesson Model 39 and 59 and the Walther P-38. While these models were rarely released in .30 Luger in the United States, small batches were occasionally sold. For example, Browning imported approximately 1,500 Hi-Power handguns in .30 Luger in the late 1980s.

A Beretta APX Tactical chambered in 9x21mm. Inset: A 9x21mm cartridge (left) compared to a standard 9mm Luger (right). Source: APX –, Cartridges –

In 1980, Israel Military Industries (IMI) sought to adapt its 9mm Luger firearm designs to a caliber that could be purchased by civilians in restricted countries. To this end, they developed the 9x21mm. The 9x21mm takes the 9mm Luger case and lengthens it slightly. The bullets were set deeper, so both cartridges had the same overall length. IMI introduced the cartridge to the Italian market in its Micro UZI pistol.

The popularity of the 9x21mm meant that it eclipsed the .30 Luger as a “civilian legal” handgun. Almost all modern models of 9mm Luger handguns have been chambered in 9x21mm, including the Beretta 92, Glock 17, and Smith & Wesson 5904. Some 9mm Luger rifles, such as the Beretta CX- 4 Storm and CZ Scorpion, are also chambered. in the circle.

On the rifle side, manufacturers looked to the .223 Remington’s parent case, the .222 Remington, to adapt their rifles for the civilian market. Colt made a small run of SP1 AR-15s in .222 in the late 1970s and later an AR-15A2 Sporter II in the same caliber. Many classic military-style semi-automatic rifles of the 80s, including the Beretta AR-70, FAMAS, FNC, Valmet 62 and 76, and SIG SG-540, were made in .222 Rem. Not limited to military-style rifles, even sporting .223 semi-automatics, like the H&K 630 and Mini-14, were also made in .222 Rem. Although increasing restrictions on semi-automatic firearms outside the United States mean that few .223 Rem. semi-automatic rifles have been adapted to an alternate caliber, Heckler & Koch recently made a .222 Rem. version of their SL8.

To a lesser extent, the same process happened with .308 Win. and 7.62mm NATO rifles with the M1A, FAL and SIG SG-540 models made in .243 Win.

Two: a different definition of the short-barreled shotgun

A Beretta PMXs semi-automatic rifle chambered in 9×21 mm. Source:

Here in the United States. our laws state that the barrel of a gun must be at least 16 inches long, in order not to fall under the National Firearms Act and its associated restrictions on ownership. Many other countries do not share our arbitrary barrel length standard. For example, the Heckler & Koch SP5 and SP5K are sold in the United States as non-stock pistols. In Europe, however, they come from the factory with stock.

Another example is the CZ Bren 2 Ms and Scorpion. In the United States, versions with a 16-inch barrel are sold with a stock and those with a shorter barrel are sold without a stock as a pistol. This is not the case in Europe, where all semi-automatic versions of the Bren 2 Ms and Scorpion are sold as a folding stock rifle, regardless of barrel length. In Italy, Beretta offers a “Pistol Caliber Carbine” semi-automatic version of their PMX submachine gun with a 7″ barrel. In some countries, a rifle is simply something you shoot from the shoulder. Barrel length does not is not important.

Three: most firearms made in China, after 1994

When China began to open its economy and trade with Western countries in the 1980s, its exports to the United States included firearms. Beyond typical Soviet-designed pistols, such as the AK-47, SKS, Dragunov, and Makarov and Tokarev pistols, were copies of Western-designed firearms, including the Browning 22 semi-automatic rifle, CZ at .22-cal bolt. rifles, Winchester 9422, Walther TT Olympia, pre-64 Winchester Model 70, 1911, UZI and M14. Some of us remember the heyday of the $75 SKS rifles and 7.62x39mm ammo that was as cheap as .22 LR.

The Chinese CF98, a 9mm Luger, rotary-barrel locking, semi-automatic pistol that is an export version of the country’s service pistol, the QSZ-92. Source:

A series of events ended the importation of most Chinese-made firearms into the United States, including the banning of products made by Norinco and the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. t the time, nearly two million Chinese firearms were imported into the United States each year. While the Chinese continued to produce (and copy) other models of firearms for export, most were not allowed into this country. Ironically, guns made in China are sold in many countries that have stricter gun control laws than the United States, including Canada and Australia.

Here are some examples of interesting current production Chinese firearms that are not imported into the United States:

  • AR-15: The Chinese version of the M16, the CQ, was manufactured in semi-automatic form for the civilian market in the M16A1, M16A2, and M4 styles.
  • M14 in 7.62x39mm: Known as the M305A model, this semi-automatic version of the American M14 not only fires 7.62x39mm, but also uses AK-type magazines.
  • JW-105: A bolt-action shotgun chambered in 7.62x39mm and .223 Rem., marketed in some regions as the “Bush Ranger”.
  • Copies of handgun models including the Glock 17, SIG-Sauer P226, CZ-75, and Colt Woodsman.
  • Civilian versions of native Chinese designs, including the QBC-97 bullpup rifle and Type 77 and QSZ-92 handguns.

Exemption? Over the years, certain Chinese-made shotguns deemed to have a “sporting purpose” have been allowed to be imported, including copies of the Winchester 1897 pump-action shotgun, the Winchester Model 1887 lever-action shotgun, a double-action trainer hammered barrel pistol” and Remington 870 shotgun. Savage also imports two Chinese-made shotguns, which it sells under its Stevens brand, the 301 and 320.

Four: Straight Pull Bolt Actions

A close up of the Beretta BRX-1 straight pull bolt action. Source:

The Haenel Jaeger NXT Straight Bolt Shotgun. Source:

Restrictions on semi-automatic shotguns left straight pulls as the fastest firearm for hunting moving game in many European countries. Straight-pull bolt-action rifles have never been more popular in the United States, although the recently introduced Savage Impulse may change that. Consequently, most American shooters and collectors are only familiar with straight-pull bolt actions from military surplus rifles and many straight-pull commercial models were never sold here. Companies like Beretta, Chapuis, and Haenel make bolt-action shotguns that they don’t sell in the United States…yet.

Five: “Straight-Pull” and “Release” versions of semi-automatic firearms

As noted above, many countries outside of the United States restrict the sale of semi-automatic firearms to civilians. This has led to a creative alternative for those who want a quick-firing firearm for hunting or competition, but are not allowed to own a semi-automatic. Popular semi-automatic designs are modified to a “straight pull bolt action” system, in which the action must be manually cycled for each turn. Often these firearms are known as “linear assisted reloading” because the action spring is left in place, so the charging handle is pulled back and then released to allow the bolt to reload. move in battery under spring pressure, as if you were chambering the first shot in a semi-automatic rifle.

The Browning Maral SF Composite HC Straight Lock. Source:

Some examples of these include modified versions of the Ruger Mini-14 and the Heckler & Koch SL8. Browning makes a manual version of its BAR called Maral. AR-15s are a popular candidate for this “assisted straight pull” modification, with companies like LMT and Patriot Ordnance Factory offering .223 Rem versions. and .308 Win.

Another version of “assisted” loading is a “release” design. In what can only be described as “semi-automatic” firearms, the action fires and ejects the spent case, but the bolt remains locked in the open position and a lever must be depressed for it to closes so that the next round is chambered. Savage makes a version of its A22 and A17 rimfire rifles that uses this system and French manufacturer Verney-Carron offers a “Stop & Go” system on rifles and shotguns, where a prominent lever, placed where it can be operated by the shooter’s thumb hand, allows the action to chamber the next round after each shot.

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