Shoestring Machine Gun

In September 2004 the ATF decided that a 14 inch long shoestring was considered a machine gun:

Here is an official letter stating the facts:

In 2007 the ATF decided the shoestring alone was not a machine gun.  It was only considered one when added to a semi automatic rifle in order to increase its rate of fire:

Thank god they reversed their 2004 ruling.  It would have been pretty difficult to prosecute the entire shoe wearing population of the United States for constructive possession of a machine gun. :lol:

The first picture in this post is allegedly a “registered” shoe string, that the owner paid to be able to use legally.  That metallic tag apparently has a serial # on it.

This raises a couple of questions in my mind…

  1. Why is the ATF so specific of the type of string used?
  2. Why is the ATF so specific with the length of the shoestring?

I wonder what would happen if someone was caught using a 13 inch piece of fishing line?  I suppose since it still would increase the rate of fire, it would be deemed a machine gun no matter what type of string or length.



NiCK January 25, 2010 at 09:47 am

Now remember Shotgun barrel 18″, Rifle Barrel 16″, your shoe laces not 14″.

I am the only person in this room qualified to handle this weapon. POP

bill February 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

I am the only one is this room professional enough to handle a glock 40. BOOM! is everyone alright?

*call an ambulance*

Lee Paige October 28, 2021 at 09:53 pm

Hey Brian, bring that other gun out, yeah that AR15… don’t worry kids it’s empty!

Josh January 25, 2010 at 10:19 am

The ATF is being specific as to the type and length of string because it seems that they examined, at Mr. Blakely’s request, a 14 inch piece of shoestring to determine legality. Clearly, anything that modifies a weapon to cause it to fire automatically causes the classification of the weapon to be changed to a “machine gun.”

The type and dimensions of the string used as reference in the letters appears to be to address the specific string Mr. Blakely was inquiring about.

Mike W January 25, 2010 at 02:55 pm

to me that looks no different than the “bump fire” devices- which, as I understand it, are all considered legal.

Walker May 9, 2013 at 09:12 am

This is different than “bump firing” because you are not physically pulling the trigger each time while when bump firing your finger presses the trigger for each shot fired.

Josh January 25, 2010 at 04:26 pm

I’m not familiar with all the “bump fire” devices, but from what I’ve seen, don’t they operate on the principle that the shooter’s finger still actuates the trigger for each shot? Recoil causes the weapon to move backward slightly to allow the trigger to reset, and the device pulls the weapon forward again to make the shooter’s stationary finger actuate the trigger again.

This device doesn’t operate on that same principle. In this configuration, the key ring essentially becomes the trigger. Once the key ring is pulled, the weapon continues to fire until it is released. The weapon physically moving backward with recoil doesn’t cause the trigger to reset either, the slack on the string from the bolt blowing back causes the reset.

As I said, I’m no expert on bump fire devices, but I recall reading about an “Akins Accelerator” (I think that was the name) that caused a 10/22 to essentially fire fully automatic. I’m pretty sure that was ruled illegal by the ATF as well. Someone might be able to correct me or add more information.

Robert February 22, 2013 at 03:25 pm

Your theory is flawed. Both devices require pressure on the trigger to maintain an automatic firing system.

Andy November 5, 2019 at 04:44 pm

The string is what is applying the pressure.

Bryan Spiegel January 26, 2010 at 07:17 am

The atkins accelerator was a stock that had the receiver free float on a spring mount in the stock. The stock stayed still, and the receiver 9and by effect, the trigger) would move slightly back and forth, allowing controlled bursts of bumpfire.

The ATF said it was acceptable… and then changed their mind, and required confiscation of the spring in the stock or face the time and fine for making a machinegun.

(I thought once you were found not guilty of a crime you could not be tried again. isnt that changing of their mind doing just that? Oh wait.. they arent law enforcement, they are tax collectors with guns.)

Josh January 26, 2010 at 09:19 am

The fifth amendment prevents double jeopardy. It means, in essence, that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime after acquittal, retried after a conviction unless that conviction is first vacated, or punished multiple times for the same crime.

You’re likening that to a change in a rule or law that previous held that something was legal. This happens all the time. By your logic, cocaine, and nearly all other illegal drugs, would have to still be legal since they were, at one time, not illegal to possess or use.

Bryan Spiegel January 26, 2010 at 09:33 am

Good point :)

You would think that since they had said that these were legal, then existing sold stock would be accepted as legal, and future sales would be restricted.

Admin (Mike) January 26, 2010 at 03:58 pm

I agree, it would have been nice to see the people that already owned the atkins accelerator, grandfathered into the NFA system for free, and with all the paper work done for them. I suppose that’s asking too much…

egeger February 22, 2019 at 10:32 pm

Which happens to be why, when people are charged with crimes, they’re held for years in jail and given about 40+ counts of crimes to have to be determined guilty or innocent.

its a workaround for the whole fifth amendment issue. With so many regs and laws and codes on the books, you may not get someone for crime A, but then you can retry them for crime B.

Fifth amendment was essentially killed off by this legal trickery.

Robert February 22, 2013 at 03:29 pm

Double jeopardy isn’t what you are looking for. Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution clearly states “Ex Post Facto laws will not be passed” which simply means if you owned a bump fire system before it was illegal to buy one, it is unconstitutional to confiscate it. On the other hand, legislators have been wiping their ass with the constitution for decades.

Dedicated_Dad April 1, 2011 at 10:56 pm

I know this is old, but I can’t resist a comment…

You said “…The first picture in this post is allegedly a “registered” shoe string, that the owner paid to be able to use legally. That metallic tag apparently has a serial # on it…”

For this to be true, one of two things must ALSO be true:
(1) He registered it prior to 1986 – an impossibility since the first ATF “Ruling Letter” came in 1996.
(2) He’s a “SOT” – in which case he could only use it as a “dealer sample” to LE Agencies or the .Mil.

I really can’t believe we’re having a serious conversation about ending up in prison for a gorram SHOESTRING!! WHAT F***ING COUNTRY IS THIS AGAIN??!!


Noway May 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm

That’s not correct.

There are FFL Manufacturers licenses that combined with a Demo Letter allows those manufacturers to make ‘Post Samples’ or machineguns to this day.

Hammerhead November 27, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Even with the shoe string the trigger is being operated each time which is legal. two words for the atf Fuck YoU!

Nick December 8, 2011 at 07:10 pm

Were free and the government should let the public do what they want

Andy November 5, 2019 at 04:49 pm

As long as you don’t limit another persons freedom.

Cooolll September 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I think according to the ATF letter where it says manual reloading and single function of the trigger would not allow them to stop us from using bump devices.
The law is the law and this is very clear bump devices pull the trigger each time to reload and its not a single function.

bakeca livorno May 16, 2013 at 12:40 am


just blume September 10, 2013 at 06:54 pm

If anyone has fired and tried to hit anything with a full auto weapon they would realize how silly the whole thing is… a whole lot of wasted ammo and you usually only hit the target with the first two or three rounds…

chris March 19, 2014 at 01:23 pm

Just blume: “If anyone has fired and tried to hit anything with a full auto weapon they would realize how silly the whole thing is… a whole lot of wasted ammo and you usually only hit the target with the first two or three rounds…”
might I add shoulder fired ” full auto weapon” My UGWS shoots 50cal and MK19 fully auto just fine!!! :)

Tango January 30, 2015 at 07:40 am

No consideration of experience, knowledge or training and a person is considered a “firearms expert” based on their job title alone?

No use of scientific methodology, no application of the Daubert or Frye standards, and Stare Decisis (precedent) means nothing from one decision to another?

The same agency involved in the rule making is involved in the investigation AND prosecution?

Time to disband this bunch.

CitizenX January 23, 2016 at 01:12 am

When throttle cable end broke on motorcycle at handgrip, out on the road, I attached key ring loop (like this) for thumb control to work throttle. It not only got me where I was going and back, it worked so good I drove it that way for a few weeks until finally replacing the cable. Since this device does not change the operation of one shot per manual pull of the trigger, it is not a modification. Consider the hand crank mechanisms that attach to the trigger guard which are clearly designed and intended to increase the rate of fire – and are not illegal, as they do not modify or alter the gun or operation of one shot per trigger pull. As well as the bump fire stocks designed to utilize wasted recoil energy to increase rate of fire without any modification of fundamental operation, and completely legal. How then could a simple cleverly placed string achieving the same result be illegal?

Allen Benge February 6, 2016 at 11:14 am

When dealing with the BATFE, their foundation is on sand and mud, What they determine one day they can turn around and determine the opposite the next. I had a friend in Arizona who applied for an FFL, and they asked him how many guns he intended to sell per year. When he responded ten or twelve, the told him they did not consider that a business, but a hobby, and he did not need an FFL. Three weeks later, they raided the home of an elderly couple and arrested them for selling two guns from their personal collection. View any dealing with BATFE, or the DOJ with extreme caution.

Steve Parr April 4, 2016 at 08:32 pm

Who’s the stupid f**k who brought this to the attention of the ATF in the first place? Jesus Christ, without prior knowledge of what it was and what it was for, they’d have still considered it a length of string. Now it’s a fricking felony and why? — because some ignorant bastard brought it to the attention of the ATF.

Thanks, dude.

Jim April 11, 2016 at 02:38 pm

I wanna know if the shoestring breaks, do you seek out a gunsmith or a cobbler?

POed July 21, 2018 at 01:44 pm

Let the government pukes run around in circles for a few years with bump stocks, while we all learn to do it with our finger. Next they will ban our finger. There is no limit to human stupidity; and that hold in spades for the government.

rashed March 28, 2019 at 05:36 pm

Murica is the last refuge. The final frontier if you will in gun control. All other nations hold no candle to the founding fathers intentions of the peoples will to be heard… over heavy gunfire if need be. Christ himself said sell a cloak get a sword. And all the while, it seems, the plan is to “brainwash people about guns”. As each generation grows older and as the brainwashing continues, you will happily give your only means of defense against an elite who have abandoned you to 3rd world ministrations. They don’t care. Why would they? They don’t attend the same schools, they certainly don’t play by the same rules. so why should they care about… common “salt of the earth”.

Dennis L Marler September 14, 2021 at 01:32 pm

The only trouble with our Government is the stupid people that lie to everyone to get elected it can be fixed if people just open their eyes and start suing then when they come up with stupid laws

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