SAN ANTONIO – For just a couple of hundred dollars, anyone can turn a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun – legally.
The retrofit that makes it possible is called a slide fire. It was invented by an Air Force veteran and is manufactured near Abilene.
There are countless demonstrations of the slide fire packing a punch on YouTube.
"You get up to 900 rounds per minute,” a gun owner says in one YouTube video. "Let me show you what it really looks like. So you see, that's just as fast as an M-16."
The National Firearms Act outlawed owning a newly-manufactured machine gun for personal use. But the slide fire used with a semiautomatic weapon is legal, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"It's a letter of the law issue,” Chris Anda with Alamo Tactical says. “What makes something a machine gun is codified in the law. It does not meet the criteria to meet a machine gun."
News 4 asked Anda, a retired Marine who now sells tactical weapons, to demonstrate how the slide fire works.
"We borrowed one. We threw it on an AK,” he says. “The slide fire stock is essentially this piece that goes back and forth."
It’s similar to the “bump firing” technique, a finger trick that simulates automatic firing.
"For fun, realistically speaking,” Anda says. “I think most people who bump fire – if they go out and shoot for a day on the ranch, they'll bump fire a little bit here and there just to goof off a little bit and enjoy it."
The slide fire is a bump up from bump firing because the retrofit does the hard work.
But Anda calls it a novelty.
"It's expensive,” he says “It goes through a lot of ammo."
And ammo prices have skyrocketed in recent years. Plus, Anda calls the slide fire unreliable.
"It's not a controlled way to fire,” he says. “It's not an accurate way to fire. It really has almost no practical use."
To prove his point, Anda picked up a gun with the slide fire. Ready, aim, fire: the results were slower shooting and missed targets.
"Well, that's about the best I can do with it,” he says.
And remember: he’s a trained, combat-proven Marine.
We compared the slide fire results to a regular semiautomatic. His shooting was rapid and on target.
He says this experiment is proof: the slide fire can be fast if the user practices with it, but it’s not accurate.
"If someone were coming after my family I'd really rather them be coming with a slide fire stock than not,” Anda says.
News 4 reached out to the makers of the slide fire to find out, when they made it, what was the practical application they had in mind? They did not respond to our phone or email messages.