The .50 Caliber BMG Regulation Act of 2004
is a law in the state of California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...
that effectively banned all .50 BMG
The .50 Browning Machine Gun or 12.7×99mm NATO is a cartridge developed for the Browning .50 caliber machine gun in the late 1910s. Entering service officially in 1921, the round is based on a greatly scaled-up .30-06 cartridge...
-caliber rifles from being sold in the state. The law took effect on January 1, 2005.
The legislature of California declared that "proliferation and use" of .50 BMG rifles posed a terrorist threat, as well as a threat to the "health, safety, and security of all residents" of California. The act required existing .50 BMG rifles to be registered with the state and prohibited the sale of any rifle after the ban went into effect. To quote the state web site, the act "regulates the .50 BMG rifles in essentially the same manner as assault weapons." The law specifically allowed a registration period of one year, now passed, to register any such firearms, after which unregistered weapons would become illegal firearms.
.50 BMG rifles are defined in the act as "a centerfire rifle that can fire a .50 BMG cartridge and is not already an assault weapon."
“.50 BMG cartridge” is defined as a cartridge that is designed and intended to be fired from a centerfire rifle and that meets all of the following criteria:
(1) It has an overall length of 5.54 inches (140.7 mm) from the base to the tip of the bullet.
(2) The bullet diameter for the cartridge is from .510 to, and including, 0.511 inches (13 mm).
(3) The case base diameter for the cartridge is from 0.8 inches (20.3 mm) to, and including, .804 inch.
(4) The cartridge case length is 3.91 inches (99.3 mm). (PC § 12278.)
The law does not apply to the law enforcement officers with permission from their employing agencies.
Exceptions are granted to rifles classified as antiques or Curio and Relics as defined by the BATFE.
Out-of-state owners may bring .50 BMG rifles into the state for shooting competitions.
Limited exceptions are granted for exhibitions, displays, and education projects sponsored by law enforcement or government agencies.
As a result of the ban, the Barrett Firearms Company
Barrett Firearms Manufacturing is an American manufacturer of firearms and ammunition. It was founded in 1982 by Ronnie Barrett for the single purpose of building semi-automatic rifles chambered for the powerful 12.7×99mm NATO ammunition, originally developed for and used in M2 Browning machine...
announced it would no longer sell to or service any of its rifles in the possession of any California government agency.
Despite the legislature's claim of a terrorist threat, as of 2010, there has been no terrorist attacks involving a .50 BMG. In fact, not only has the .50 BMG never been used to harm or kill anyone in California, there is no record of a .50 BMG rifle ever being used in the United States to commit a crime.
The .510 DTC Europ
The .510 DTC EUROP is a French rifle cartridge developed by Eric Danis in order to comply with firearms legislation in Europe which regulates .50 BMG rifles...
has since been introduced to take advantage of the highly specific language used in the act. The round provides almost identical ballistics and performance, but cannot be used in weapons chambered for .50 BMG.
Barrett has since produced the .416 Barrett
The .416 Barrett or 10.6x83mm centerfire rifle cartridge is a proprietary bottlenecked centrefire rifle cartridge designed in 2005. It is an alternative to the .50 BMG in long-range high-caliber rifles. It was designed in response to a request for a medium/heavy rifle/cartridge combination that was...
, a necked-down .50 BMG case using a .416 caliber bullet, which is not subject to the .50 BMG Act because of the smaller caliber. It has the benefit of having a flatter trajectory than the .50 BMG.