Shop Now, or Else!

Only two Saturday nights remain before Christmas to shop for the Bryco J-22, the special little junk gun that has been slapped together by the thousands at Bryco Arms in Costa Mesa. But that's not the only reason you've gotta hurry. One Saturday night after that, state law will make it illegal to buy a Bryco J-22 at all, so most local gun shops don't have many—if any—in stock. Factor in the 10-day mandatory waiting period to buy firearms, and the pressure to please the little thug with the J-22 on his wish list is enough to make any heat-seeking Santa sweat, um, bullets. But it could be worth it. The Bryco J-22 is the cubic zirconium in Southern California's crown as the cheap, dangerous Saturday night special-manufacturing capital of the world. (Gun Tests magazine wrote in 1996 that the J-22's “functioning was unreliable with all the ammunition we tried.”) And the $75 or $80 quoted by a few local gun shops—or even the $149 price tag we found online—isn't just buying a bargain-basement widowmaker, but also a collector's item. Or, depending on its notoriously prone-to-jamming mechanisms, an heirloom.

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