Is the self-loading sporting rifle on the way out in Europe?

We British lost the right to own self-loading, centrefire rifles (SLRs) in 1988. Which was the result of the Hungerford shootings where Michael Ryan went on a rampage with a legally owned, semi-automatic AK47 and other weapons. An act impossible to defend by any right-minded sports shooter! Unlike Europe, the majority of British SLRs were of the military-type and semi-automatic only and used for Practical Rifle competition, which is a dynamic or action sport. Few if any used the hunting-types typified by Browning’s Automatic Rifle (BAR) etc. Today we use manually-operated (mann-opp) straight-pull guns mainly based on the AR15 for competitive shooting.

Days are numbered

But attitudes are changing in Europe as more countries are taking a look at sporting semi-autos and feeling they are perhaps a bit too much? And it seems that their days might be numbered, or certainly restricted! But manufacturers are adapting! Browning’s Maral is a good example; it’s essentially a BAR, but with no semi-auto operating system! Instead, a larger operating handle is substituted, which makes the gun a mann-opp straight-pull action like a Blaser R8 and still quick to use. Another unusual adaptation is the Speed Line from Verney Carron. This self-loader is built to interrupt its operating cycle so that after each shot the bolt locks rearwards and can only be released by operating a separate lever so making it a mann-opp.

Not quite but almost

We have a similar concept in the UK called the Lever Release, but even though not technically an SLR by legal definition and a Section 1 (Large Firearm) our Government is still not happy with it. Amazing as they re-wrote the law to ban SLRs in 1988. One aspect of the 88 ban always hurts; our National Rifle Association (NRA) turned to the Government of the day and stated: “they could see no reason why sports shooters would need a self-loading rifle.” With that the SLR was doomed! I hope that the various European shooting bodies do not sell out their members as ours did!


What’s your opinion about it?