Not Ready For Prime Time

Does new California law spell the end for the states junk-gun makers?

The price disparity explains why the so-called junk guns are the weapons of choice for many low-income people—criminals and law-abiders alike. But the true price of these affordable weapons is their danger. Gun Tests Magazine, which rates handguns and other weapons for safety and accuracy, doesn't have anything nice to say about most Ring of Fire handguns, including at least two models that continue to be manufactured at Bryco's Costa Mesa factory: the Bryco J-22 and Jennings Bryco Model 59.

Of the Bryco Arms J-22, Gun Tests reported, "Due to the large number of malfunctions we encountered with this pistol, we cannot recommend it." The verdict was even harsher for the Jennings Bryco Model 59: "A somewhat reliable performance isn't too much to ask, and we didn't get that. Jennings needs to refine its magazines before we would even consider recommending this 9 mm."

Perhaps Bryco and the rest of the Ring of Fire companies that haven't already declared bankruptcy will fare better in January, when all handguns made in California will have to pass muster in Sacramento before they can be shipped out-of-state by the boxload. "Bryco's prospects remain to be seen," said Mabie. "Hopefully, our bill will keep Bryco and other manufacturers from cutting corners on safety. Either way, they won't be making junk guns anymore, that's for sure."

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