Bikers Clubs 103
members because of the limited contact and scholarly research on these deviantand often criminal groups. One can make a "best guess" estimate of membershipby using the numbers 6 as a minimum (necessary for resisting other clubs andmentioned in several club by-laws as minimum) and 25 maximum (most chapterssplit when membership goes over 25) for a chapter. The author will use this "flawed"method to provide an estimate of club membership. There may not be agreementon club and membership numbers, however, there is general agreement among lawenforcement authorities and biker experts that five
clubs--Hell 'sAngels, Bandidos,Outlaws, Pagans, Sons of Silence--are
the largest in membership and chapters.
The Big Five One Percent Biker Clubs
Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club
(HAMC)The HAMC is by all accounts the most prominent and numerous internationalmotorcycle club. Law enforcement estimates put their membership at 2000 world-wide and 700 in the United States (interviews with Federal Special Agents). Theclub is also known as Local 81 after the placement of the letters H (8) andA (1) inthe alphabet, They are also known as the Big Red Machine, and the Red and Whiteafter the color of their patches. Supporters and Known Associates are allowed towear Local 81, Big Red Machine, and Red and White patches and other supportgear but not the Hell's Angels (without the apostrophe) which is a registered nameworn only by patched members. Their puppet clubs (discussed later) are the only1% biker clubs that are allowed to wear red and white patches in their territory,anyone else wearing the same color patch is subject to losing it after a stomping.The club's logo, the winged Death's Head, is also protected by copyright and canonly be worn by patch holders. The HAMC will and have sued to protect theircopyrights.The first
chapter was formed in San Bernardino, California onMarch 17, 1948 by World War II veterans who were former members of the
PissedOff Bastards of Bloomington.
The present day Hell's Angels were formed in Oak-land, California in 1957 by Ralph "Sonny" Barger and his gang of young toughswithout them knowing that other HA chapters existed (Barger, 2000). Within thenext ten years the Oakland chapter became the mother chapter, disbanding or tak-ing in the other Hell's Angels chapters. In 1966, the Hell's Angels incorporated asa club "dedicated to the promotion and advancement of motorcycle riding, motor-cycle clubs, motorcycle highway safety and all phases of motorcycling and motor-cycle driving (Lavigne, 1996: 1)." After their incorporation, the HAMC beganmoving out of California. Today, they are considered to be the largest 1% bikerclub in the world.The actual number of Angel charters [chapters] is unknown and probably un-knowable by outside sources. The official HAMC website lists 30 charters in theUnited States and says that not all the charters are listed (the author is aware of