Sans Overview

Update: 2014-05-19

Here is the latest update on the SAN saga. The redacted copies of the RCMP briefing notes provide an insight into the inner workings of Ottawa.

From our perspective it is very interesting that the briefing notes seem to be at odds with the comments JR initially made in the CGN posting below. It seems fairly apparent that he directly accused Calgary Shooting Centre of illegal activities.

Canadian Gun Nutz (dated: 2013-06-04)


Overview

As you may now be aware the RCMP have begun reviewing the status of the Swiss Arms (SAN) family of rifles. The review is technical in nature and based on whether the rifles sold in Canada over the past 12 years are a separate design or whether they are actually variants of the prohibited SG550 rifle.

Background

This whole story needs to be put into context to make sense. Back in 2000/2001 James B. (the author) was involved in The Shooting Edge (TSE). As such I know a little bit about the back story on how these rifles were introduced into Canada. At the time JR (President of TSE) met with and discussed the project personally with SAN. He also spoke directly to the RCMP forensics folks. I was not privy to the specifics of these discussions but I know that the general gist was to market the Blue Star rifle in Canada by building the case that it derived from the SG540 which was not prohibited by name. The actual changes made to the platform are pretty much proprietary and closely held by SAN (and presumably TSE). It is worth noting that the rifles were never physically inspected at the time and the FRT was issued purely based on discussions with SAN and JR. Over the years additional FRT’s have been added by stating that the Classic Green, Black Special etc were variants of the original Blue Star.

  • 2001 – 2008: The distributor for SAN from 2001 until 2008 was The Shooting Edge
  • 2008 – 2013: The distributor was FN Sports
  • 2013 – Present: Throughout the first part of 2013 the distributor has been MD Charlton

During the first quarter of 2013 the RCMP had been asked by JR Cox to determine whether a Swiss Arms rifle ( serial number ESF9116) was a “real” Classic Green rifle. This of course forced them to look into what makes a Classic Green rifle different from a PE90/SG550. They are currently trying to make that determination. To do so they have compared ESF9116 to a “real” Classic Green rifle, and I would assume to both a real SG550 and a real SG540 (which I personally know to be in their possession right now).

The last word I had received from the forensics people was an email which concluded that in their opinion the Classic Green rifle is indeed an SG550 or a variant of it, and they are currently looking for proof from the factory that would disprove this conclusion.

The Story of ESF 9116

During the past several years, production of new SAN rifles was rather slow and the Canadian distributor was not particularly good at keeping stock available for dealers. As a result, months and months would go by without rifles for sale. Seeing this situation, CSC arranged to have used rifles rebuilt to the exact standards of the Canadian specific Classic Green rifle. This work was done by SAN. Candidate rifles were carefully selected, parts were replaced or refinished as appropriate and the rifles were imported into Canada. It must be stressed that the imported rifles were certified by SAN to be identical in all respects to the rifles imported by the Canadian distributors since 2001, based on the standards put in place by JR Cox at that time. One such shipment contained a rifle serial number ESF9116. This rifle was sold to one of our customers 8 Dec 12, several weeks later he traded this rifle in to TSE

On 28 March 13, the directors of CSC were interviewed by NWEST who were investigating a complaint that had been lodged by an individual. The individual had made allegations that a rifle sold by CSC was in fact a converted automatic prohibited firearm and that CSC had been trafficking in these firearms. A picture of a firearm was produced, it was a Classic Green rifle serial number ESF9116. CSC told NWEST that all rifles that they had imported from Switzerland had been carefully selected and inspected and refurbished to meet the exact standards of those Classic Green rifles that had been sold for the past decade or so. It was agreed that CSC would provide a letter to this effect sent by SAN to verify these details. This letter was sent to CSC on 18 April 13.

Furthermore in an attempt to have JR retract his complaint before it forced the RCMP to open an investigation into the SAN rifles CSC forwarded this email to JR Cox:

Email – April 30, 2013.

Ultimately on 24 May 13, CSC received an email from the RCMP forensics office stating that rifle ESF9116 had been inspected and found to have been a semi automatic rifle. Unfortunately two other Classic Green rifles that had been provided as control items had been determined to have been Converted Automatics. One ESF74361 had been imported in 2012 by FN Sports, and the other ESF73096 had been imported by TSE some time before 2008. This raised the issue of whether all “real” Classic Green rifles were converted automatics. Furthermore due to the additional accusation of ESF9116 being a “spurious” copy of the Classic Green rifle, the RCMP had been forced to investigate the entire SAN line to determine what if any differences exist between the Classic Green, Black Special, Blue Star etc series of rifles and the SG550/PE 90 rifles which are named as prohibited. This investigation is currently ongoing, however the RCMP have reached a tentative conclusion that there is no appreciable difference between the SAN rifles and the SG550/PE90, and are currently waiting for factory information that will disprove this conclusion.

Email – May 24, 2013

The Allegations as presented by JR and TSE:

We hate to have to post this but unfortunately it has already been made public on several of the gun boards. The allegations contained in this post are false and those that are not already proven false by the documents included in this page (in particular the letter from SAN), will be proven false once the RCMP have completed their investigation. We consider any allegation that our rifles were counterfeit to be spurious and defamatory.

TSE JR post from Canadian Gun Nutz.

To be clear, CSC has never imported ex military rifles.

All of our imports were (as stated by SAN) identical mechanically to the rifles that had been imported by TSE in the past, military receivers were produced for fully automatic guns and are different. The RCMP have already verified that the gun in question (ESF9116) was a purpose built semi automatic rifle.

We have included a picture of a gun imported by TSE to compare to the picture of the alleged “spurious” or “obvious counterfeit” copy. You can see that the allegations of incorrect and missing markings are patently false. Furthermore if, as alleged, the serial numbers were being changed, and a 4 digit serial number was incorrect, why would SAN have not simply added another digit? The answer of course is that SAN does not change serial numbers and a 4 digit serial number simply shows that the gun was produced earlier than guns with 5 digit serial numbers.

ESF73096 one of the control rifles submitted for inspection — this gun was imported by TSE prior to 2008.

1135n_20130607_11022405

ESF74361 the other control rifle was imported by FN Sports in 2012 — it was subsequently sold to TSE.

1135n_20130607_11035602

This picture of a Classic Green receiver that is clearly marked as having been imported by TSE would have failed the criteria listed in JR’s post. Note the lack of manufacturer and commercial markings and the spacing in the serial number. Font size, style and spacing all the same. Our gun did not include the TSE logo but then again no gun imported since 2008 has either.

tse-SAN

It is quite apparent that SAN has changed the style of the engraving over time and has been fairly haphazard with what information they include.

ESF9116-1s

In conclusion it is very apparent that the above allegations make no sense because SAN, the manufacturer of the guns, states quite clearly in their letter that they are identical mechanically. Would not the manufacturer of the guns be the final arbitrator as to whether or not a particular gun was a counterfeit? How is it therefore still possible for JR to claim that one is a “spurious” copy of the other? Perhaps more importantly, why was such a claim made?

Update – 16 July

Although the RCMP had asked for all submissions to be returned no later than 30 June, this was extended and the following was posted by JR on Canadian Gun Nutz on 16 July.

“I have just finished a 38 page report for the RCMP on this matter. This was prepared with the help of the factory, the SIG museum curators and MD Charlton.

While this report is not being published publicly, I have had it peer reviewed. It clearly shows lineage of all of the proper officially manufactured and imported rifles.

JR”

It is unclear what “peer reviewed” means in this context, but apparently the final submission has been received by the RCMP and we await their final decision.

Update – 1 Feb 14

National Post article 1 Feb 2014

This article was recently published in the National Post. Once again we are forced to defend ourselves against accusations that our rifles were “counterfeit”, “bogus” and “illegal”. Mr Cox’s remarks are again inaccurate, malicious and defamatory and could very well jeopardize Canadians’ chances of owning these rifles.

Interestingly, Mr Cox is now no longer suggesting that our rifle was an ex military rifle, and in fact seems to concede that it may be mechanically identical to his rifles. His current story seems to be that our rifle should be prohibited because of its “lineage”even though it is or could be identical to those imported by him.

“Cox said it didn’t matter what the specifications were. At their core, they were still variants of the SG550s. It’s the lineage that counts — “a pig is still a pig.””

So now even after SAN has confirmed that our rifles were identical to his, Mr Cox is maintaining that they are different because of their “lineage” but not their actual physical characteristics. Even though every part interchanges between our two respective rifles, and every part and dimension is exactly the same, his guns are ok and ours are “bogus” and should be prohibited. It is not hard to imagine where this argument will lead and gun owners should probably prepare for the worst.

Given some of the negative comments that have been made about our company I feel it is necessary to address some of the issues here:

We did not simply buy some prohibited rifles and pass them off as non restricted rifles. The donor rifles were selected and sent to SAN (the original manufacturer of all the products) for refurbishment to meet Canadian standards. Since the exact alterations were proprietary, we asked only for the required work to be done and paid a substantial amount to have it done. Factory refurbishment programs can and sometimes does involve the replacement of receivers.

Mr Cox has brought up a lineage argument but has never once specified what changes are required to make a PE90 rifle Canadian compliant. Furthermore at no time has anyone (SAN included) offered a definitive means to determine lineage other than by accepting the word of SAN. We have a letter from SAN which appears to do just that for our rifles. It is also possible that Canadian compliant receivers are in circulation in Switzerland sold off as overstock over the years. Thus it is even (remotely) possible our donor rifles were originally built on the correct “lineage” receivers to begin with but Mr Cox would like people to believe that only he can determine the real from the fake.

The very real possibility still exists however that regardless of lineage, all of the rifles may still be identical to one another and identical to a prohibited variant. This has come as something of a surprise to us, but apparently Mr Cox has known this all along and has relied on the lineage argument to ignore it. This is troubling. For example if I take a Mosin Nagant rifle and rework it so that it is a semi automatic rifle that uses the same mechanism as an AK47, and interchanges all parts with an AK47, it does not remain a Mosin Nagant rifle. Alternatively, one could imagine the factory developing the SG550 rifle, and then a parallel department taking a SG540 and improving it to the point where it coincidentally is identical to the SG550 rifle. One would have to suspend belief that the design was independent and separate especially when dealing within the same factory. In any event we are supposed to believe that these identical but different production streams were devoid of any specific markings to determine the correct lineage of the rifle in question, SAN can be mistaken in it’s determinations, and Mr Cox is always correct.

Things do not look good!

Update 27 Feb 2014

The RCMP have just amended the FRT and listed all Swiss Arms rifles as variants of the SG550 and therefore prohibited.

Old RCMP FRT

New RCMP FRT

In summary it appears as though the RCMP have finally decided that the PE90 is a variant of the SG550 and therefore prohibited. It is important to note that there were no differences between the PE90 Classic Green rifles sold by The Shooting Edge and those sold by Calgary Shooting Centre. The entire issue that has been presented by JR Cox that somehow our rifles were “counterfeit” or “bogus” has been proven to be incorrect. Unfortunately the RCMP have only just changed the FRT, owners of these rifles are now effectively in limbo concerning what their next action should be. Will compensation be paid? What about an amnesty period?

All Canadian s need to contact their Members of Parliament and let them know that this type of arbitrary regulatory change is unjust and can seriously affect a normally law abiding citizen in the most dire ways.

Update 16 March 2014 – Amnesty

Government issues an amnesty for those possessing the newly prohibited firearms. Unfortunately there is still no detail on how this situation will play out.

Amnesty

What Can We Do?

Please write to your member of parliament and let them know that the firearms act is vague and illogical. Because it is poorly drafted gun owners are suffering financial and legal problems.

Here are two proposed letters if you don’t know what to say: