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Author Topic: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas  (Read 1649 times)

Offline Chad McMullen

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Hi, All --
First-time poster to this forum.
Is anybody aware of whether the topic of rifles chambered for "pistol-caliber cartridges" or "straight-wall cartridges" - and their potential for inclusion in the list of allowable weapons in WDFW Firearm Restriction Areas - is under consideration by WDFW?  A number of states back east where 'shotgun-only' restrictions are in place have recently expanded their lists of allowable big-game weapons to include rifles chambered in .357 magnum, .44 magnum, etc. -- with the rational (apparently) being that these medium-bore, slower-moving projectiles have similar trajectories as shotgun slugs (and sabot slugs in particular).  That is, fired from the level, a shotgun with a sabot load and a rifle in - say, .357 or .44 magnum - will all hit the dirt at comparable distances to each other -- unlike a .270 or 7mm or other high-powered, multi-sonic, bottleneck cartridges. The thought is that these pistol/straight-wall have range limitations similar to shotguns/slugs and so the safety rationale behind the "shotgun-only" restriction area is maintained.

According to my internet searches, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and perhaps some others now allow rifles chambered for the pistol/straight-wall to be used in firearm restriction areas -- any idea if WDFW is considering this?  Has anyone even approached them with the idea (besides me)?
« Last Edit: February 06, 2020, 10:23:35 PM by Chad McMullen »

Offline Chad McMullen

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2020, 10:08:38 PM »
And if you're just dying to read what I sent WDFW (or if you need some reading to put you to sleep), I pasted the email I sent to them a few days ago:

WDFW rule-making staff --

I am a Washington State resident and hunter. I am writing this letter on my behalf and on behalf of three other Washington residents and hunters who generally prefer to hunt locally in game management units with firearm restrictions that affect considerable portions of these GMUs.
 Concerning firearm restriction areas (FRAs), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has restrictions that apply to many locations throughout the state; these areas are listed in the WDFW rules. In an FRA, firearms chambered for center-fire, high-powered modern cartridges (such as .308, .30-06, .270, 7mm magnum, and similar bottleneck, multi-sonic chamberings) are disallowed.

 We feel it is important to recognize that WDFW rules are distinct and separate from county and local restrictions on the discharge of firearms for other activities (such as target practice or sporting clays), and that with respect to hunting practice, local/county jurisdictions generally default to determinations made by WDFW with respect to safe and appropriate weapon types.  In other words, while a variety of firearm restrictions are made by local or county ordinances, many of these jurisdictions specifically provide for the use of firearms for the purpose of hunting during the Modern Firearm season and defer to the judgement of WDFW rule-makers in determining what constitutes a suitable firearm in WDFW-designated FRAs.

 In an FRA, weapon alternatives are described in the Department’s rules, which are excerpted below (page 96 WDFW 2019-2020 Big Game Hunting Pamphlet):

It is unlawful to hunt wildlife in the following firearm restriction areas with centerfire or rimfire rifles, or to fail to comply with additional firearm restrictions, except as established below. In firearm restriction areas, hunters may hunt only during the season allowed by their tag.

• Archery tag holders may only hunt during archery seasons with archery equipment.
• Muzzleloader tag holders may only hunt during muzzleloader seasons with muzzleloader or archery equipment as defined by department rule.
• Modern firearm tag holders may hunt during established modern firearm seasons with bows and arrows; crossbows; muzzleloaders; revolver-type handguns; semi-automatic handguns of .40 (10mm) caliber or larger; or shotguns, so long as the equipment and ammunition complies with department rules.


The Department’s rules for allowable weapons in the FRAs during the Modern Firearm season represent a compromise between:
1.    reducing the practical hunting and the lethal range of weapons in use near populated areas,
2.    maintaining reasonable harvest opportunities for the hunting public during the Modern Firearm season in FRAs, and
3.    providing weapon alternatives that allow for a reasonable expectation of humane harvest of game animals

 These are reasonable weapon limitation considerations to achieve public safety goals.

 As technology has changed, WDFW has modified their rules to accommodate development in hunting technology. Recent examples include the incorporation of 209 primers for muzzleloading, and the adoption of crossbows for use in certain circumstances. Firearm technology continues to change and there is a growing list of state wildlife agencies across the United States where straight-wall cartridges (some which are considered “pistol caliber cartridges”) fired from rifles are now legal in areas previously considered “Shotgun-Only”. These pistol caliber cartridges have been incorporated into amended game hunting rules of other game management jurisdictions for reasons similar to why shotgun restrictions were enacted in those locales in the first place: shotguns provide limited range and substantial energy “on-target”, both of which serve to retain hunting opportunities within the restriction area. States that have recently added “straight-wall” or “pistol-caliber” rifles to the list of legal weapons within shotgun only restriction areas include Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. If consideration of amending WDFW rules to include weapons chambered for such cartridges as a legal option is a conversation not already underway, we would like to start this discussion. If this discussion is already in progress, we would like to add our voice and our support for the idea.

We have surveyed the manufacturers’ published values for muzzle velocity and trajectory for a number of shotgun slugs – which we take to be the predominant shotgun ammunition being used in FRAs (though legal, few shotgun hunters are using buckshot, which has very limited application for big game hunting).  Based on manufacturer data we reviewed, the muzzle velocities of conventional foster slugs and sub-caliber sabot slugs are very similar to a variety of available straight-wall cartridges including common revolver-type cartridges such as .357 magnum, .44 magnum, and straight-wall “brush gun” cartridges such as .454 Casull.  It is also worth noting that many pistol cartridges – when chambered for a rifle – have significantly less recoil than a shotgun shooting slugs and are much more manageable for smaller-framed hunters.

.45-70 Government, .444 Marlin, and .450 Marlin are at the upper end (i.e. they are faster/flatter-shooting) of what is typically considered for straight-wall cartridges meeting shotgun area safety objectives. Some states exclude these cartridges from their firearm restriction area rules; other states include them. While we anticipate that these cartridges could be considered “overkill” by most deer hunters, they would be appropriate for taking of bear and elk in an FRA and we ask that you consider their inclusion in the amended FRA weapon exceptions suggested later in this letter. Inclusion of these cartridges could entail specifying a maximum cartridge length of 2.25 inches.  Alternatively, these cartridges would be excluded by specifying a maximum cartridge length of 2.00 inches.

The trajectories of the straight-wall cartridge ammunition choices mentioned above are quite similar and (when adjusted for similar “zero” ranges) share similar practical ranges to a shotgun slug – particularly for sabot slugs, which are a commonly selected ammunition for deer hunting within FRAs. The practical range of conventional foster slugs tends to be somewhat less – while they retain enormous downrange energy (well in excess of pistol/straight-wall cartidges) they tend to be much less accurate than the sabot slugs, and responsible hunters avoid shot opportunities where they do not have strong confidence in hitting vitals and producing a humane harvest. To make up for their relatively poor accuracy, conventional foster slugs often “anchor” an animal with the brute force of enormous downrange retained energy.

In our opinion – and apparently in the analyses of a growing number of fish and wildlife departments elsewhere in the country – rifles chambered for pistol cartridges and/or “straight wall” cartridges (within certain dimension and energy limits) offer an improvement in accuracy, retain sufficient lethality, and improve hunting opportunities and options for hunters who hunt in firearm restriction areas. We suggest the following modifications/additions (in bold text) to the WDFW FRA weapons restrictions in order to expand suitable options while retaining the safety objectives of the FRAs:

It is unlawful to hunt wildlife in the following firearm restriction areas with centerfire or rimfire rifles, or to fail to comply with additional firearm restrictions, except as established below. In firearm restriction areas, hunters may hunt only during the season allowed by their tag.

• Archery tag holders may only hunt during archery seasons with archery equipment.
• Muzzleloader tag holders may only hunt during muzzleloader seasons with muzzleloader or archery equipment as defined by department rule.
• Modern firearm tag holders may hunt during established modern firearm seasons with bows and arrows; crossbows; muzzleloaders; revolver-type handguns; semi-automatic handguns of .40 (10mm) caliber or larger; rifles chambered for straight-wall cartridges discussed below; or shotguns, so long as the equipment and ammunition complies with department rules. Allowable straight-wall cartridges fired from rifles shall have a minimum diameter of 0.35 inches. Legal cartridges must have a minimum case length of 1.25 inches and a maximum case length 2.25 inches. .38 special, .44 special, and similar cartridges of reduced energy are not legal for use on big game.


We view rifles chambered for straight-wall pistol and brush-gun cartridges (within specifications above) to be an appropriate addition to the list of allowable firearms in FRAs. Addition of such weapons would be a valid approach to maintaining the public safety considerations for FRAs while at the same time increasing projectile accuracy.  Accurate shot-placement is a critical aspect of ethical hunting and humane harvest.

Please consider these suggested FRA rule modifications and let us know if you have any questions or would like to pursue this discussion further. I have included (as an attachment) a PDF version of the text above in a letter format.

Chad McMullen
Kingston, WA

Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2020, 05:57:21 AM »
Do you think besides you 3 guys there is more hunters wanting this restriction revised?

Offline hunter399

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2020, 06:25:10 AM »
Just wondering if hunting in firearm restricted area with a firearm would go against some county and city ordence.And make some areas really confusing on where your allowed to hunt.So you have some examples of firearm restricted areas where this is not conflicting with other ordence.

Hay great first post .
Good luck with it .I don't hunt firearm restricted areas. :tup:
Two birds in the Bush is always better than one in the hand-that way you can always go to the Bush and hunt another day .conservation=Better hunting.
Wrote by hunter399

Offline CP

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2020, 06:33:13 AM »
I’d like to see this change.   I put together a 450 Bushmaster pistol for firearm restricted hunting.  Seems pretty stupid that a rifle in the same caliber is illegal.

But if they made this change I’d have get another upper.


Offline Chad McMullen

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2020, 09:50:58 AM »
Do you think besides you 3 guys there is more hunters wanting this restriction revised?

I know for certain that there are more hunters interested in this.  Certainly in Kitsap County and San Juan County.  I assume there are more areas where hunters dealing with FRAs would appreciate a greater list of options. I think a pistol-caliber rifle could be an excellent option for smaller-framed hunters and teenagers, whose options are basically flinching and punishment to the shoulder (shotgun with slugs) or else somewhat esoteric options to the younger/less enthusiastic hunter: pistol hunting, muzzleloading.  While I personally am interested in those last two - and I am adequate with a zeroed-in 12 gauge - I think we should be increasing the range of options for ANY hunter in an FRA.

Offline Chad McMullen

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2020, 09:57:59 AM »
Just wondering if hunting in firearm restricted area with a firearm would go against some county and city ordence.And make some areas really confusing on where your allowed to hunt.So you have some examples of firearm restricted areas where this is not conflicting with other ordence.

Hay great first post .
Good luck with it .I don't hunt firearm restricted areas. :tup:

Oh, yes - it's certainly confusing, but in the counties I hunt where there is an FRA, the county defers to WDFW judgement/rules on what constitutes an allowable hunting weapon.  And as it stands now, you are most definitely allowed to take big game with certain revolvers, pistols, and shotguns, plus muzzies and bows.  I think for certain situations and hunters, a pistol-caliber rifle is better than any of those other options.

This doesn't mean a county couldn't say "nah, we're not going to allow that" - but that should be up to the county to figure out.  As it stands, the WDFW should allow ANY suitable hunting weapon that meets the public safety objective of the FRA rules.

Offline Chad McMullen

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2020, 10:42:59 AM »
I’d like to see this change.   I put together a 450 Bushmaster pistol for firearm restricted hunting.  Seems pretty stupid that a rifle in the same caliber is illegal.

If you like this idea then please please send an email to WDFW. It doesn't have to be long (unless you are long-winded -- like me  :chuckle: ).  A quick email supporting the adoption of pistol-caliber rifles into the FRA rules would suffice.  Point out the equivalent ranges, the easier shooting, improved accuracy - whatever seems most relevant to you.

I spoke with a WDFW rep. last week who said that a major factor in adopting 209 primers, other mods. to the muzzie equipment rules, and adoption of crossbows was the significant amount of public comments WDFW received.  I would LOVE to generate a similar buzz, if that helps to steer WDFW in this direction.  It is the primary reason for my original posts.

I directed my letter to these three WDFW email addresses:
wildthing@dfw.wa.gov
anis.aoude@dfw.wa.gov
Eric.Gardner@dfw.wa.gov



Offline Bango skank

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2020, 10:47:40 AM »
I’d like to see this change.   I put together a 450 Bushmaster pistol for firearm restricted hunting.  Seems pretty stupid that a rifle in the same caliber is illegal.

If you like this idea then please please send an email to WDFW. It doesn't have to be long (unless you are long-winded -- like me  :chuckle: ).  A quick email supporting the adoption of pistol-caliber rifles into the FRA rules would suffice.  Point out the equivalent ranges, the easier shooting, improved accuracy - whatever seems most relevant to you.

I spoke with a WDFW rep. last week who said that a major factor in adopting 209 primers, other mods. to the muzzie equipment rules, and adoption of crossbows was the significant amount of public comments WDFW received.  I would LOVE to generate a similar buzz, if that helps to steer WDFW in this direction.  It is the primary reason for my original posts.

I directed my letter to these three WDFW email addresses:
wildthing@dfw.wa.gov
anis.aoude@dfw.wa.gov
Eric.Gardner@dfw.wa.gov


I suggest adding commission@dfw.wa.gov to your list of email recipients.

Offline Chad McMullen

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2020, 12:16:29 PM »
Thank you, Bango Skank - I'll forward my initial email to that address too.
 -- C

Offline jstone

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2020, 12:44:54 PM »
I am glad they took the archery cows out of the early archery in the 300s

Offline Chad McMullen

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2020, 09:30:33 PM »
Well, I received some feedback from WDFW today, which is sooner than I expected...so that's good? Some copy-paste wording, but nice to know the letter is now in their rulemaking suggestions log. The timeline Mr. Hoenes describes is consistent with what I discussed on the phone a weeks or two ago...

Hey Chad,

The recommendations you propose below are something we would consider during our 3-year season setting process, which will be initiated later this summer when we request ideas from the public.  I encourage you to keep an eye out for that opportunity.  That being said, I have also documented your request on my running list of ideas I get from the public throughout the year.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Respectfully
Brock Hoenes, Ungulate Section Manager
"

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2020, 08:29:08 AM »
I’d like to see this change.   I put together a 450 Bushmaster pistol for firearm restricted hunting.  Seems pretty stupid that a rifle in the same caliber is illegal.

But if they made this change I’d have get another upper.

Unless something changed, that wouldn’t be legal based on my conversations with WDFW. The “revolver type handgun” wording would rule out an AR pistol. I was told (probably 10 years ago) that not even a single shot pistol like a TC Contender was legal in a FRA. I went round and round about my 44 Mag contender not being allowed, but my 45-70 revolver was.
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Offline Bob33

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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2020, 08:44:55 AM »
Here is the current WAC.

(d) Modern firearm tag holders may hunt during established modern firearm seasons with bows and arrows; crossbows; muzzleloaders; revolver-type handguns; semiautomatic handguns of .40 (10 mm) caliber or larger; or shotguns, so long as the equipment and ammunition complies with department rules.

https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=220-413-180
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Re: Proposal to Amend WDFW allowed weapons in Firearm Restriction Areas
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2020, 09:02:37 AM »
I think a number of Easter/Midwestern states have even moved from pistol caliber to straight walled cartridges.  That has allowed rifles in .38-55 wcf, .405 wcf, .375 Win, etc.  As a result, ammo manufacturers have tweaked loads to appeal to people looking for 'more'--velocity, energy, range.  They are basically catching up to some of the bottlenecks.

 


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