The Federal Assault Weapon Ban Wikipedia page notes that it banned cosmetic features that make a gun look like a fully automatic rifle, that it only banned 10 such weapons, and those weapons manufactures quickly found ways around the law.

The 1994 law in theory banned AK-47s, MAC-10s, Uzis, AR-15s and other 'assault weapons'. Yet the gun industry easily found ways around the law and most of these weapons are now sold in post-ban models virtually identical to the guns Congress sought to ban in 1994

-What constitutes an assault weapon?

-Which guns were banned, and how did their post-ban models differ?

  • @shog9 - please see my last meta Q re: tags
    – user4012
    Dec 20, 2012 at 17:18
  • Wonderful question! Dec 20, 2012 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


The assault weapon ban expired in 2004.

It banned the following things:

  • Assault style rifles. (a rifle having at least 2 of: folding or telescoping stocks, pistol grip, bayonet mount, flash suppressor or threaded barrel for one, barrel attached grenade launcher.
  • Certain modifications to semi-automatic pistols and semiautomatic shotguns. (these are pretty similar to the rifle ban and can be found on wikipedia, I won't list them here).

As you can see, most of the things included in the ban were cosmetic enhancements to a gun. It would be impossible to list specific models as many guns are customizable with any and all of the enhancements that are listed here. So a few specific guns (those listed in the question) were banned, but mostly the ban was governing the style of rifles that could be sold, not the models.

This graphic from the Violence Policy Center shows the modifications made to popular guns to make them compliant with the assault weapons ban. Model numbers we changed, and features were modified (note the lack of a flash supressor on the TEC AB-10, the shorter clip on the Match Target etc), the SSR-74-2 is based on the AK-74 (same family as the AK-47), but uses a different caliber bullet. (It should be noted that as with the SSR-74, some of these are more than cosmetic changes, this is due to the entire model being banned, not the cosmetic bans)

enter image description here

As far as how the banned models differed. You'd see a shotgun with either a folding stock or a pistol grip, not both. Or a rifle with just a pistol grip, but not a folding stock. Or just a bayonet mount, but not a pistol grip, or folding stock.

There was one provision that did have to do with ammunition capacity. High capacity magazines were banned under the law. The law set the maximum capacity for a magazine at 10.

  • 1
    Hm... I'm far from a gun expert, but if SSR-74 is based on AK-74, then that last row is completely wrong. AK-47 and AK-74 (despite minimal letter difference) are different weapons. Like, completely different, using different ammo (7.62x39mm vs 5.45x39mm from cursory glance).
    – user4012
    Dec 20, 2012 at 15:18
  • @DVK while true, the AK-74 is in the same family as the AK-47. There seems to be a derth of information on the SSR-74-2. The image is taken from the PDF provided by the violence policy center, take it up with them.
    – wax eagle
    Dec 20, 2012 at 15:30
  • 6
    OK, let me be clearer. You can not "cosmeticize" one gun into another, "family" is irrelevant. They are different calibers!!! This leads me to believe that most likely, the rest of the information they provide is equally BS. (don't take it personally, I am criticizing your source, not you)
    – user4012
    Dec 20, 2012 at 15:43
  • 3
    @DVK did you actually examine the claims or sources or are you merely discrediting via speculation? The guns listed are different models that are cosmetically similar. They are legal replacements for guns that were out right banned. NOT examples of cosmetic replacement. There is no implication of such. However, other than the specific model bans, the rest of the ban was cosmetic.
    – wax eagle
    Dec 20, 2012 at 15:45
  • 1
    Welcome to Politics.SE. Please take time read the ... Hi @Wax! Dec 20, 2012 at 23:38

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