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Concealed Carry Law and Understanding Rules and Terms

Before you consider concealed carry of a firearm and heading cross-country be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of firearm carry.

Brad Fitzpatrick

 

When Illinois was ordered to overturn its ban on concealed firearms due to a decision by a federal appeals court in 2013, it became the last state to adopt concealed carry legislation. Although every state now has specific language that covers CCW (or CCP, or CCDW, or whatever your state calls it), the lack of federal laws provides legislative elbow room when it comes to specific state laws regarding concealed carry. That means every time you cross a border you may be playing by a new set of rules, and it’s your responsibility to know them.

With more than 8 million CCW permit holders across the country, websites and books are now available that helps those traveling from state to state stay inside the legal lines. And while it would be impossible to cover all of the state laws in a single article, let’s focus on some of the key points that vary from state to state. This will help you better understand the law as it pertains to concealed carry.

Concealed Carry Glock and Kydex Holster

                            An Inside-The-Waistband Holster for Concealed Carry Made by Ares Armor 

 

Shall-Issue Versus May-Issue: The vast majority of states are known as “shall-issue” permit states. That means that anyone who meets the criteria to earn a carry permit will receive that permit based upon state law. That doesn’t mean that every state has the same requirements, though. Background checks are common in many states, but the level of training required to earn your permit is stated in the law and anyone who meets those requirements shall receive a permit.

May-issue states are different. In these states, you must show cause to the governing body (usually local law enforcement) why you are qualified to carry a firearm and they may or may not issue a permit. Simply put, there are no guarantees of issuance. The ultimate authority lies with local law enforcement, and there can be great disparity from district to district regarding the number of permits issued. Currently there are only a handful of may-issue states including California, New York, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, but this legislation can change quickly. All other U.S. states and Alaska are shall-issue.

Reciprocity: Some states honor permits issued in other states, and other do not. Furthermore, some states honor carry permits that are issued in certain states but not others. The topic of reciprocity can be very confusing, but you need to be certain that you know which states allow you to carry concealed with an out-of-state permit.

Rather than rehash the stats for each state, it’s much simpler to head to usacarry.com, which has an updated, interactive map of the states that offer reciprocity with the state that has issued your permit. My home state of Ohio, for instance, has reciprocity with 39 other states, the exceptions being California, Hawaii, Oregon, Illinois, and several northeastern and Atlantic states. This allows me to immediately recognize where I can carry and stay out of trouble.

For years, states like Florida have been issuing carry permits to non-residents who met the criteria for a Florida permit. The reasoning behind this is that a Florida permit has more reciprocity than other states, but time has leveled the legislative playing field and the majority of states now accept permits from other states. Still, be sure to check before you travel.

Restricted Areas: This is where the waters get murky because states laws governing restricted areas varies. In most states, for instance, elementary and secondary schools are considered restricted areas, though some states do have laws that allow for carry during drop-off and pick-up of students. Most state and federal government buildings are restricted, as are some establishments that sell alcohol. In some states, bars that serve food and single drinks are not restricted, and in some cases percentage of profits from alcohol products are used as a gauge. Nevertheless, knowing the restricted areas in your state is critical to staying out of trouble with the law.

Understanding Twist Rate for the 5.56

Matching bullet weight to twist rate is vital for maximum accuracy. How do you know which twist rate is right for you?

Brad Fitzpatrick

 

In the 1960’s, when the 5.56×45 and the accompanying AR platform debuted, but rifles had barrels with twist rates of 1:14 inches, or one full rifling twist for every 14 inches of barrel. That’s because at that time the standard choice in 5.56 ammo was a 55 grain FMJ projectile. And although the 50-55 grain bullet is still a versatile and effect varmint hunting bullet, for military and long-range purposes most ARs have switched to heavier bullets. That means that the barrels must switch, too.

Today you won’t find very many 1:14 barrels because, frankly, there isn’t a whole lot of demand for them. They’re good at stabilizing lighter bullets, but they won’t stabilize heavier projectiles. For that reason, the 1:12 is about the slowest AR barrel you’ll see today. Because there’s a “sweet spot” when combining bullet and barrel twist rate, you’ll need to have an idea what type of ammo you’re going to be shooting. If you’re going to limit yourself to 55 grains or less, the 1:12 will work.

 

Originally at 1:14 twist, more common 1:7-1:9 twist rates are available in the market today

But why give up the 5.56/.223’s blessed versatility? Why not get the most out of your rifle?

In that case, you’re probably going to want to look for a faster twist rate that stabilizes larger bullets. 1:10 and 1:9 twist barrels, which work just fine with 55 grain projectiles but will also handle heavier 60, 62, and 69 grain bullets. These two barrel twist rates are situated in the middle of the pack and, generally speaking, allow you to shoot a wider variety of bullets than any slower-twist barrels. But as you go beyond 1:9, barrels do better with heavier bullets and don’t perform as well with lighter ones. Just as slow-twist barrels won’t stabilize heavy bullets properly, fast-twist barrels will sometimes overstablize, which reduces bullet stability and results in poor performance. For that reason, the faster twist barrels—1:8 and 1:7—are best with heavy bullets. 1:8 twist barrels will stabilize bullets up to 80 grains, and 1:7 tubes will actually stabilize heavy, long-for caliber, aerodynamic bullets up to 90 grains.

223_Remington

A small example of the hue variety in bullet profile and weight

 

So, what’s right for your AR? That depends. If I were building a strict varmint gun—something that would almost exclusively fire bullets in the 55 grain and below range—I’d opt for a 1:10 twist rate, which has proven effective for me in the past. The 1:10 is highly versatile and will work with most bullets, from 55 grain polymer tip varmint bullets on up to heavier boat-tails for a little extra reach. If I planned to shoot a bit of every type of ammunition I’d go for a 1:9 or 1:8, which would allow me to take advantage of a broad range of bullets. If I were building a long-range target gun and knew I’d be using bullets from 77 grain on up, well, I’d have a 1:7 twist.

If you’re building (or buying) a 5.56×45 AR then it will help to know twist rates. You’ll understand how your gun and ammunition work together, and you’ll be able to get the most out of your loads.

 

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