Dallas Sniper Rifle Controversy: Who Knows the Rifle?

Dallas Shooting Rifle Controversy
SKS Rifles left, Saiga with AK74 Magazine, Right

By Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)-
There is considerable controversy and confusion about the firearms used in the Dallas sniper attack against police officers.  Early in the aftermath, numerous disarmist pundits proclaimed that it was an AR15 rifle, without any substantive verification of any kind.  One of them was the “gun guy” on the Huffington Post.  Another was Dallas Mayor (D) Mike Rawlings.  From newswest9.com:

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says the suspect in the sniper slayings of five officers used an AR-15 rifle.

Rawlings said that's the type of weapon 25-year-old Micah Johnson used in the attack Thursday night in downtown Dallas. A similar assault weapon was used in the attacks at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people.

Early reports are often wrong.  It is common for politically motivated individuals to put out false reports in an attempt to hijack the narrative.

A couple of days later, many major news outlets were citing sources that the rifle used was an SKS. Some were from authoritative sources. From nytimes.com:

 “It’s talking not only about how to kill but how to keep from being killed,” said Clay Jenkins, Dallas County’s chief executive and director of homeland security and emergency management, who said he had not read the original journal but had reviewed summaries of it. “It shows that he’s well prepared.”


Mr. Jenkins said Mr. Johnson had used a semiautomatic SKS rifle and a high-capacity handgun. He drove his vehicle to the demonstration and parked it, Mr. Jenkins said, but was on foot at many points throughout the attack.

Another statement from Chief Executive Officer and Judge Clay Jenkins throws a bit more information into the mix. From sunny1015.com:

 Johnson had two weapons, both purchased legally — an SKS rifle and a handgun — and was prepared with many magazines for the rifle, the judge said.

This is the first mention of “many magazines” for the rifle.  I do not know how well educated Judge Jenkins is about firearms. There is the possibility that the rifle is one of the SKS types that was converted to use detachable magazines.  It is possible that he is referring to stripper clips as magazines. It is possible that he has bad information about the type of rifle used.

A photo has started circulating on the Internet of a Saiga rifle in 5.45X39 using AK74 magazines.  It might be the rifle used, but it is too early to tell.  The provenance of the photo is unknown. The context of the photo seems plausible, but the rifle is very clean considering the C4 used while the sniper was supposedly holding the rifle.

We have three rifles put forward as the one used by the Dallas sniper.

1.  AR15 – seems to be based completely on ignorance and a political agenda.

2.  SKS – based on numerous unnamed police sources and at least one named source, Judge Clay Jenkins.

3. Saiga with AK74 magazines – based on a photo of unknown provenance and an anonymous source.

Eventually we will find out, and likely have photographs as well.  We will also find out what handgun was carried and if it was used.

Definition of disarmist

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 17 thoughts on “Dallas Sniper Rifle Controversy: Who Knows the Rifle?

    1. same type of uninformed crap as Oswald the lone shooter,
      was there or not ! we will never know.
      Is it the gun or not ? were there more ? speed , timing, accuracy,
      don’t forget military trained makes you wonder

    2. Tapco 20rnd detachable magazines for the SKS work quite well. No modification of the rifle is required. They may not fit in some SKS, but it’s easy to modify the magazines (and better than modifying the rifle).

    3. If the above photo is of the actual firearm, the safety on the side pegs it a some AK variant.
      A restocked SAGA would be an OK bet.
      At this point Dean, I’m not thinking that what kind of rifle it is matters very little.
      Those committed to taking away our right to have semi auto rifles are less interested in what
      type it was, so long as it was something they can call an assault weapon.
      As to the SKS, we all know that that gun hardly qualifies as an assault weapon. but
      the general public had no idea, or frankly any interest in this fact. If it can be called military
      style, that’s bad enough for them.

    4. I have here on my desk 19 stripper clips that are damn near impossible to reload my ’52 Tula with, the SKS is the most awkward reloading simi-auto I’ve ever seen.
      Legend has it that the aftermarket AK magazine adapters are unreliable, but the Chinese factory made one are somewhat reliable, both are beyond my experience.
      Take a look at the YouTube clip “SKS at Speed”, and compare it to the opening salvo in Dallas..

      1. Use a drop of 2 of a light oil on the stripper clips before you add ammo to them and they will slide off into the SKS very easily …..

      2. The bolt carrier stripper clip guide is often too narrow for the 7.62×39 case to slide through. The steel is soft enough that a standard mill file can open the gap so the KS stripper clips load 10 rounds in a few seconds.

        The rifle pictured above appears to be a Russian SS with a laminated and dirty stock. The bayonet is Russian type.

    5. The guys at Ammoland hit it right, the gun does not matter itwas the nut behind it. And it could been many other ways for this lunni to accomplise his evil.

    6. The first time I saw the video, it struck me as not being an AR type rifle, it looked too long and straight. More like a SKS, which could be reloaded fairly quickly.

    7. We probably don’t know the type of rifle because it wasn’t an AR-15 so therefor does not fit the anti-gun crowds narrative. If you showed most people an SKS they would have no idea what it was and it doesn’t look as threatening and mean as an AR-15.

    8. Brian, all “modern” military rifles– the SKS ceased to be a mainline military rifle years ago– can be loaded quickly and fired rapidly. The standard SKS loads 10 rounds into a fixed magazine from stripper clips. There is a 20 round fixed magazine I’ve seen installed. It seems more than a little strange that we don’t know the type of gun even though “he acquired his guns legally.” There has been more than enough time to clear up this rather simple question.

    9. Perhaps a SKS with aftermarket stock and “duckbill” mags. It doesnt really matter what tool was used. There are several ways for the evil doer to have accomplished his goal. The gun model is just a distraction.

    10. Not an SKS. Speed of shooting & reloading well beyond SKS capability.
      I vote for the Saiga AK-74, a rather unusual, quite modern rifle.

      1. You know little of after market parts for this rifle. I have one that uses AK mags that load quite easy. Also the stocks that can be added to this gun make it quite reary for action

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