Why Do Guns Work?

posted on August 26, 2009
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Why do guns work?

It seems like such an obvious question, but the answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Clearly, the reason that guns work is because a cartridge of the same caliber as the firearm reliably fires when the action is operated. If the cartridge and the firearm are of the same caliber, when you pull the trigger, it goes bang.

But how does that happen? How do the ammo companies and the gunmakers get on the same page?

If you think about it, there’s no reason why any company except Remington Arms, which is the only ammunition and gunmaker, should ever tell each other anything. For instance, it’s asource of huge frustration for holster makers to constantly have to modify their holsters when handgun makers implement either new models or changes to existing models.

Why do ammo and gun companies talk when holster and handgun companies don’t?

The answer is found in five letters: SAAMI.

The Sporting Armsand Ammuntion Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI) is a private association with no government oversight, yet it was established in 1926 at the request of the federal government to:

• Create and publish industry standards for safety, interchangeability, reliability and quality
• Coordinate technical data
• Promote safe and responsible firearms use

It’s because of SAAMI that if you buy a box of .30-’06 Sprg. cartridges from any SAAMI member — and all the major U.S. ammunition companies are members — that they’re all working from exactly the same specifications, dimensions, pressure standards and so forth. At the same time, all the major U.S. gun manufacturers are chambering their firearms to SAAMI specifications for chamber size, rifling and other technical details.

SAAMI is run by a board of directors composed of the top executives from the firearms industry. Currently, Steve Sanetti, formerly the president of Sturm, Ruger & Co., is the chairman. ATK President Mark De Young is the vice chairman and board members include Steve Hornady.

What makes SAAMI unique in the overall global firearms industry is that it’s non-governmental. In other countries, government-approved “proof houses” set the technical requirements for manufacturers and then proof all firearms to meet the basic safety standards by firing an over-pressured “proof round” in every gun. The firearm is then stamped with a “proof mark” to verify that it’s been tested.

In America, we police our own guns. And for coming up on 90 years, the industry group that handles this incredibly complicated task is called SAAMI.

Perhaps one day we’ll see a HAAMI to get holster makers and handgun makers on the same page!

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