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Debate over Adler shotgun is emotional and ill-informed

By Brendan O'Reilly - posted Monday, 24 October 2016

The pro- and anti-gun lobbies are at it again, with neither side being reasonable. Senator David Leyonhjelm and the gun lobby are making an unnecessary fuss to overturn a temporary ban on Adler A110 lever-action shotguns (that have a seven round magazine capacity). The anti-gun lobby, on the other hand, wants to ban the A110 permanently for most shooters, and some even want to ban all lever-action shotguns and rifles. While most of the misinformation is coming out of the anti-gun lobby, Leyonhjelm et al should have left well enough alone.

The A110, in a scare campaign by its opponents, has been variously described as "rapid-fire", "capable of firing up to eight cartridges (seven from the magazine plus one from the chamber) in as many seconds", and "easily convertible to an 11-shot firing capacity". Activist group Gun Control Australia is claimingthat "due to improvement in firearm technology, the Adler is now a faster more lethal weapon than ever".

The reality is a bit different.


The public are not widely aware that the Adler A110 is already available in Australia from most gun shops for about $850. The qualification is that it is the five shot magazine version that is available. What's more, broadly similar shotguns (with five shot magazines) have been available in Australia since the late 19th century, originally from Winchester, and subsequently from the Italian firm Chiappa,and the American firm Interstate Arms Corporation(IAC), all without much fanfare.

The Adler and other lever action shotguns are based on the Winchester Model 1887 invented by John Browning. Browning later designed the Model 1893 pump-action shotgun, which was a more robust and user-friendly action. Subsequently pump action shotguns and (later) semi-automatics largely replaced lever action shotguns in most parts of the world, and Winchester stopped making the Model 1887 in 1920.

Lever-action shotguns are only significant in Australia because the Howard Government banned (for most people) pump action and semi-automatic shotguns by giving them (restricted) Category C and D classifications. Thus the lever action became the most viable alternative shotgun that facilitated more than two shots. I myself bought an IAC Model 87 lever action shotgun following the introduction of Howard's gun laws. (As a primary producer I could legally buy a pump action but wished to avoid the bureaucratic aggravation.)

There are only minor (quality) differences between the latest Adler and other (IAC and Chiappa) lever action shotguns. The actions are broadly the same in all these guns. Lever-action shotguns are inferior to many other shotgun types insofar as each actioning of the lever requires the shooter's finger to be removed from the trigger, and, if they are not well made, they are prone to jamming on eject. 12 gauge shotguns are well known for heavy recoil and are only a short range weapon, so the idea of firing off "up to eight cartridges in as many seconds" (an exaggeration anyway) and actually hitting anything (especially a moving target with the later shots) is farfetched. Bolt action guns (shotguns and rifles) are only a little slower in their potential speed of fire.

I supported the ban (for most shooters) on military style semi automatic rifles with large magazine capacities. Along with most other shooters, however, I also believe that pump action shotguns of up to five rounds magazine capacity should never have been banned. Be that as it may, it is clear that most States and most gun-owners don't have the energy to re-open the divisive gun debate again, so that core regulations are unlikely to change much.

In respect of lever action shotguns, essentially there is little practical difference in utility between the currently available 5 shot magazine lever actions and the currently banned 7 shot magazine version, so I can't understand why Leyonhjelm is making such a fuss. It is also noteworthy that the main shotgun used in crime actually is the common break-action shotgun (because the barrels can easily be sawn-off for concealment purposes). Most other shotguns (including lever actions) cannot be shortened without destroying the action or the magazine. It is possible for a handy metal worker to lengthen the tube magazine on a lever action, but then again, it is not that difficult for a skilled metal worker to make a gun from scratch.


The whole Adler debate is a storm in a teacup. Much of the demand for the gun is the result of publicity following activists' efforts to ban them. On the other hand David Leyonhjelm is not helping the shooting fraternity by rekindling emotions and effectively putting the whole issue of gun control back on the agenda.

Personally, I am fed up with this debate and think we should let sleeping dogs lie.

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About the Author

Brendan O’Reilly is a retired commonwealth public servant with a background in economics and accounting. He is currently pursuing private business interests.

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