Clarification on crimping

Interesting article by John Maxwell (Shooter, April 2019) on the cabinet documents behind the NFA fiasco, but he’s out on one point. The shotgun magazine crimping proposal, if memory serves, came from someone (I believe a gun dealer) in Queensland and to its credit Cabinet did indeed look favourably at retaining pump and self-loading shotguns if they could be successfully crimped.

The task was not, however, given to the Special Air Services armourers to evaluate, as stated in the article. For all their remarkable skills, and I’ve known several, they possessed neither the requisite engineering authority nor were they the appropriate organisation to conduct such a task.

Instead, the job was given to the organisation in which I worked at the time, the Small Arms Engineering Group within the Land Engineering Agency (LEA), then located at Maribyrnong, Vic and which has been known by several acronyms - ADE, EDE, AEA, ATEA - over the years since being formed during WWII.

We did indeed conclude the process was reversible and while our workshops were busy crimping the magazines of a number of shotguns provided by the Victoria Police Forensics library, our group was tasked with trying to reverse the process. While a couple required new magazine tubes from stock, most were able to have the crimps removed with simple hand tools, often in less time that it took to crimp them!

As most of the staff were sporting shooters, some owning the affected shotguns and many being SSAA members, you can appreciate this task was carried out with significant emotional angst. But since our primary task was to conduct engineering evaluations of small arms and ammunition for the ADF “without fear or favour” the job was given to us.

Greg Sheppard, via email

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