Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Antifreeze

Whacky Jackie Patrick -- the murderous wife

Wacky Jackie Patrick — the murderous wife

While we’ve heard of creeps poisoning animals, especially dogs, with antifreeze, we’ve never heard of it being used on humans before.

Well, there’s a first time for everything.

Following family arguments, Jacqueline Patrick, 55, twice tried to kill her husband Douglas, 70, in October and on Christmas Day 2013, by spiking his cherry Lambrini, a drink favored by teenagers looking to get drunk on a low budget.

“Perhaps most shocking of all was the note she gave to the London Ambulance Service purporting to be from her husband, stating that he did not wish to be resuscitated,” Detective Inspector Tracey Miller, of London’s Metropolitan Police, said in a statement.

She was undone, appropriately enough for an English would-be murderess, by her poor grasp of the English language.

The forged note showed a misspelling of the word dignity as “dignerty.” When police later asked her to write the word, Jacqueline Patrick made the same mistake.

Kids, this is why they teach you spelling.

Another would-be Professor Moriarty that didn’t particularly challenge Inspector Lestrade’s so-so investigative chops.

The couple’s daughter Katherine, 21, was sentenced to three years in jail after admitting to inciting her mother to poison her father, while Jacqueline pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder at the family’s south London home.

Douglas Patrick was rushed to a hospital fighting for his life, and tests revealed he was suffering from antifreeze poisoning.

“His wife was informed who then told doctors she thought Mr. Patrick may have drunk a blue liquid by mistake. The hospital, finding it strange that she hadn’t volunteered this information earlier, called police,” said the police statement.

Look, kids, if you’re going to commit awful crimes and then brazen ’em out, you need to learn one simple mnemonic: DAMN.

This is secret SF O&I tradecraft we’re giving up here, so pay attention.

Deny everything
Admit nothing
Make counteraccusations
Never change your story.

Daffy Kathy Patrick -- the homicidal daughter

Daffy Kathy Patrick — the homicidal daughter

We see a major failure of several points on here. Of course, once PC Plod/Inspector Lestrade got going, it was all but over for our heroines. Because these two criminal masterminds were also no-gos at the secure communications station.

Mother and daughter’s mobile phones were seized and revealed a series of incriminating exchanges, including “I got the stuff I will give him some later delete txt tell no one ok,” and “He feels sick again I gave him more delete this.”

She might have gotten away with poisoning her husband if not for one spelling mistake | New York Post.

No word on what is going on with the husband/father of these two inept would-be Lucrezia Borgias. It’s our understanding that anti-freeze poisoning can cause permanent damage even when it’s not fatal, and the guy was already 70 years old.

Well, they wanted him out of their life. Now they’ve got what they want, unless he starts coming on Visiting Day.

Failing Upward at the VA

The face of evil. No, not Cruella DeVil (although the error is excusable), this is crooked Kimberly Graves taking the Fifth in front of the Senate.

The face of evil. No, not Cruella DeVil (although the error is excusable), this is crooked Kimberly Graves taking the Fifth in front of the Senate.

A week after a sham “demotion” resulting from corruption that triggered a criminal referral, the VA’s Kimberly Graves miraculously bounced back with a promotion to Assistant Director of the troubled Phoenix Regional Benefits Office. No doubt she will clean up, uh, clean it up.

We mean, really, doesn’t that just look like a face you can trust? And nothing says “trust me” like lawyering up and taking the Fifth.

The promotion comes with a plush transfer and moving allowance. Naturally.

Kimberly Graves, found to have “inappropriately used her position for personal and financial benefit” by the Veterans Affairs’ Office of the Inspector General, still faces the possibility of criminal charges as a criminal referral has been submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C.

via Senior VA Official Demoted for Unethical and Possibly Criminal Behavior Gets New Job — Even Democrats Say It’s ‘Completely Unacceptable’ | Video |

VA-veterans-affairsCurrent VA Secretary McDonald seems to have been completely captured by the thoroughly corrupt, incompetent central bureaucracy of the sprawling agency.

Here’s a suggestion: close the VA. Just put every qualified vet on Medicare with the seniors. Dump the bureaucrats at today’s VA into the Dreaded Private Sector. The Mercedes dealers, jewelers, prep schools for their snob kids, and yacht brokers will get over the financial shock in due course.


Before we could even go live with this report, this new outrage came across our transom:

Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs spent millions of taxpayer dollars promoting the Affordable Care Act to veterans who didn’t even need the coverage, but have dedicated relatively few resources to helping veterans on the agency’s long waiting list get access to their benefits, internal documents show.

Indeed, Read The Whole Thing™: they deliberately misled the vets so as not to have to deal with them.

Close it. Send them home. They’re not helping anything but themselves and their DC cronies.

SARCO has Bren Gun Kits!

SARCO is celebrating Thanksgiving with some deals, but also has dug back into the warehouse and found some Bren Gun kits. These have not been on the market much lately. The good news is that two of these old torch demils include original barrels:

SARCO Bren Mk.1 kit

SARCO Bren Mk.1 kit. Included mags not shown.

They also include some magazines and accessories, which vary by mark. For example, the Mk. I illustrated above includes five .303 magazines, and an original barrel SARCO calls “good.” On the Mk.3 kit, they rate the included barrel (a Mk. 2 and not the shorter Mk.3) “very good” and include it and five magazines (which are not shown in the kit picture).


Sarco Bren Mk.3 Kit. Included Mk.2 barrel (which does fit) and mags not shown.

The bad news? Those torch-cut receivers are almost certainly not rebuildable, at least, not economically so. If the cuts fall in critical areas of the receiver, or if there’s too much material removed, there are no easy fixes.

And any rewelded receiver must be heat-treated.

Finally, they have a true rarity, although it is barrel-less at the moment: the L4A3 7.62 NATO version. This comes with just one mag, and they’re working on having a new-production barrel which will be offered at additional cost as soon as they are available.

Bren L4A3 kit. Included magazine (1) not shown.

Bren L4A3 kit. Included magazine (1) not shown.

The reweld cautions with the other kits need to be observed here, too. In our judgment, building these guns is possible (if you’re lucky about where the cuts are) but extremely challenging and time-consuming.


Friday Tour d’Horizon, 2015 Week 47

We’ll cover the usual subjects: Guns, Usage and Employment, Cops ‘n’ Crims, Unconventional (and current) Warfare, and Lord Love a Duck!


We really wanted to write more about these gun stories. So many guns, so few fingers….

AIrsoft Goes to the Gun Show

At a regional weapons show in Tokyo, a correspondent for The Firearm Blog captured a Howa assault rifle “that appeared to be made by Tokyo Marui,” a maker of Airsoft toys.

They don’t seem to have considered the most probable explanation: that someone selling accessories used an Airsoft toy to host them for the same reason that Airsoft stuff exists in the first place: stringent Japanee gun laws. No, toymakers don’t make real guns. Mattel never made M16s either.

Remington to Launch New Pistols?

Remington Outdoor LogoNot a new pistol, but at least two of them, according to Shooting Sports Retailer. Go Read The Whole Thing™, not that doing that answered all our questions about Remington Outdoor’s segment strategy. SSR also notes that Remington sales are down about 20%, mostly because of declines in centerfire ammo purchases and bottom-feeding in the AR market, with entry-level products outselling high-end ARs (and a similar dynamic in 1911s).

When Gun Buybacks Go Rogue

The news reported that 1,000 people turned up at a gun buyback. But despite their excitement, the amount of firearms turned was not that great. In fact, they’re all visible in this picture: BBgunTurnin

Yes, the tag is correct. That is a Daisy BB gun and not a firearm at all. It was the only gun of any description turned in at the highly publicized event in Greensboro, NC. But the pols and white shirts all had something to say about how they “were getting deadly weapons off the street.” Along with the “deadly” BB gun (“You could put your eye out!”) the only other “weapon” turned in was a small sheath knife, a $5 inept copy of a Gerber Mk I.

Tracking Point Strategy

Shooting Sports Retailer gets a look in at the revivified company.


Australian Ban on 3D Printing & Machining Files

Over, Under, Sideways, Down Under. The State of New South Wales has moved to ban possession of information that can be used to make firearms. NSW is one of the states in Australia’s federal system, so this isn’t a nationwide ban yet.

This has been driven largely by hysteria and by police gleefully letting their hakenkreuz fly.

Among the provisions of the Firearms and Weapons Prohibition Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (PDF) is an amendment to the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 stating that a person “must not possess a digital blueprint for the manufacture of a firearm on a 3D printer or on an electronic milling machine.”

‘Possession’ is defined as “possession of a computer or data storage device holding or containing the blueprint or of a document in which the blueprint is recorded” or “control of the blueprint held in a computer that is in the possession of another person (whether the computer is in this jurisdiction or outside this jurisdiction)”.

That’s good. So far, the National Socialist Wussies of New South Wales don’t ban it if it’s in a paper book. Give them time, thought: people like this usually have at least one good bonfire in ’em. But hey, you can beat the rap, if… you successfully raise one of the affirmative defenses:

Defences for the offence include innocent production, dissemination or possession; public benefit (such as enforcing or administering a state or federal law); or approved research.

Who in the New South Wales government is in charge of approving research? How many Nobels has he got? (Or, for that matter, will NSW ever have, under this regime?)

And of course, there’s an exception for coppers, who in Oz are bronzes.

Here’s another Australian news story on the 3D file ban.

But wait! Australian police are also demanding a ban on the dread lever-action shotgun (semis and pumps are already banned). Apparently Australian officialdom believes their rank-and-file ‘Strines can’t be trusted with technology patented in the 1850s. “A traditional shotgun has double barrels,” some national socialist cop tut-tuts.

When they came for the lever actions, I was good, because I was Fudd. Then they came for my over-under… because real traditional shotguns have their barrels disposed laterally.

Hackaday Catches Up with Weaponsman

And covers the 3D Printed Washbear revolver. Didn’t we write about that in the Pre-Cambrian Era or something like that? (In case we didn’t, you might as well know we liked it and thought it was clever).

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way. (Nothing this week).

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

Cop or Crim?  The Case of the Stolen Selfies

pamela held with clothes on

Pamela Held, in case you didn’t recognize her with clothes on.

In Sean Christian’s favor, the NYPD hired him, so he’s a cop, right? And he hasn’t been charged with anything in criminal court. Not so fast. Against that, he’s accused in Federal court of the tort of forwarding nude selfies and videos from Pamela Held’s phone during a DUI stop, and he can’t find a lawyer that will take his case — even the PBA, the Court Officer of Last Resort for bad cops, has declined to rep him. (Although, reading between the lines of that article, he may have only searched for a lawyer to take his case for free. Sean, dude, lawyers are not a public charity, and there are times in life when the wise thing is to pony up).

Without the pictures, we have no way of judging the merits of the suit. With her clothes on, Held is kind of plain, and distinctly man-jawed, but that doesn’t mean it’s alright to burgle her amateur pr0n, even if the picture pilferer is a cop. So we don’t have any sympathy for Christian’s plight. Just like all those guys you collared over the years, guy, you are the author of your own fate. Of course, there’s an element of he-said-she-said to this story:

She counted 20 nude photos and five sexy videos of her that had been forwarded to the phone number. Fearing the worst, she contacted lawyer Richard Soleymanzadeh, whose private investigator traced the mystery number on Held’s phone to Christian and learned he was a cop.

In a brief interview with The News, Christian, on the job 10 years, denied swiping the photos and videos from Held’s phone. He denied ever meeting Held or working at the 104th Precinct. Christian, who remains on the job, claimed the number that appeared on Held’s iPhone belonged to his brother.

Note to parents of daughters: they will never wind up in the New York Daily News with WeaponsMan inter alia speculating about their appearance naked and dancing around a pole, and they will never be off on the fool’s errand of recovering their nekkid selfies, if they don’t take dozens of nekkid selfies (and videos) in the first place. Famous New York non-cop (and ex-Congressman) Carlos Danger could have told you that.

And Speaking of Nekkid Women

Dallas Archer mugshotHere’s Dallas Archer, whom we mentioned when she was charged with trying to sneak a pistol into prison in her… ah, well, in her. (At least it was a North American Arms mini-revolver and not a Desert Eagle). The wheels of justice are done turning in that case and she’s earned herself three more years inside.

After, we suspect, a careful strip search by a guard familiar with her back story.

Cop or Crim, II: The answer is both.

The sheer creepitudinous of this guy requires you to Read The Whole Thing™, but just the lede gets the main ideas across:

A former Sacramento, Calif. police officer who raped a stroke-disabled woman twice in her senior home received a life sentence Tuesday.

No word on what the PBA did for him. Something, probably.

Just Another School Killing

In this case, a teacher raped and murdered by a then-14-year-old whose lawyers have him playing up mental illness to try to get off. You might not have heard about this MA killing — no guns involved, you see. The mental illness angle is being explored, imperfectly, in court. Other angles aren’t.

Cop and Crim, III (not that we’re counting)


A disgraced NASA officer was busted at the Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan when he showed up for a job interview Thursday armed with a loaded pistol and a fake badge, the Daily News has learned.

Cops are trying to determine if Cory Curley, 29, was also responsible for a bomb threat that was called into the Fed minutes earlier, sources said.

When he arrived for his interview, Curley told federal police officers that he was armed and was an active officer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, sources said. He also showed police a NASA badge.

But he had no official NASA police ID card — so federal police at the bank on Liberty St. detained him and alerted the NYPD.

NASA officials told authorities in New York that Curley had been fired on Oct. 8 and the badge he was carrying had a number different from the one previously assigned to him, sources said.

Did he get the job? With the Federal government, you never know.

Cop vs. Crim IV & V

Two bozos with NYPD and family troubles.

Honest, most cops are out there making trouble for criminals, not themselves. This is just an unrepresentative week.

We hope.

The Secret Lives of Dentists

One criminal the cops made trouble for was Dr John W Wolf of Manhattan, although you could say he made trouble for himself: meth and kiddie porn.

We always thought there was something artificial about his smiles!

Thanks, you’re a lovely audience, we’ll be in the blog all week. Actually, there’s something really strange about this: most meth users not only aren’t dentists, but look as if they’ve never been to one.

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

What goes on in the battlezones of the world — and preparation of the future battlefields.

Counterfeiting as a Military Operation

Perhaps its more of an espionage or clandestine operation, but a favorite 20th Century dirty wartime (and cold war) trick was counterfeiting and distributing your enemy’s or adversary’s currency, with a view to spurring inflation (not that demagogues and guns’n butter spending don’t produce inflation on their own with perfect reliability). It was also a cheapskate’s way to finance your own operations.

It’s long been understood that the irresponsible deficits and careless printing of Continental state scrip were the primary driver of Revolutionary War inflation, but a great article at All Things Liberty describes how the British did their bit by counterfeiting the living daylights out of the rude Colonial money as a deliberate policy of economic warfare.

Budget Cuts and Posturing

A remarkably frank discussion between former SecDef Gates and Senator James Inhofe on budget cuts, how the DOD cuts things designed to produce an outcry, and how the Pentagon has had a great deal of headquarters bloat.

The Good Nazi met a Bad End

Wilm Hosenfeld with a Polish infant on his arm, September 1940

Wilm Hosenfeld with a Polish infant on his arm, September 1940

If you ever saw the movie The Pianist with Adrien Brody and Thomas Kretschmer (which we’re astonished that we haven’t reviewed; we could have sworn we had done), you saw Polish Jew Władysław Szpilman (Brody) saved by a kindly Nazi officer, Wilm Hosenfeld (Kretschmer), who shared his love for classicial music. But it turns out that Szpilman was far from the only Jew Hosenfeld, who has been honored by Yad Vashem as one of the  “Righteous Among Nations,” saved. As the Daily Mail explains (at some length):

Far from being a one-off act, the book ‘I Always See The Human Being Before Me’, by Hermann Vinke, shows that the man who hailed Adolf Hitler as a ‘true genius’ in 1940 rediscovered his own conscience long before the war was over.
The book is the first about Hosenfeld and draws on letters, diaries, memories from his children and even the widow of Szpilman who still lives in Warsaw, to show that his act of mercy towards the pianist was no one-off affair.
‘His moral and ethical compass remained intact during the war,’ said author Vinke, whose book has been received to great critical acclaim.
‘Hosenfeld did not only save Szpilman but numerous other Polish citizens, among them other Jews, from a certain death.
‘Against the backdrop of murder and deathly blows this officer was like a lighthouse in a time of darkness. Probably there were over 60 people who owed their lives directly to him. He was both saviour and in some ways a victim because he could not save himself in the end from death in a Soviet prison without ever seeing his family again.’

Several of the Jews Hosenfeld had saved, including Szpilman, had tried to get him released from the Soviet concentration camp. But the last person the Soviet system was willing to let go was one who had resisted the nearly identical Nazi system. They had no qualms about working with former Nazis, but former anti-Nazis got the Roach Motel treatment from the Gulag.

Like the 12 years of the Eternal Nazi Reich, the 70-odd years of Soviet Communism were a grinding nightmare for the ordinary people.

Is There Enough Money?

Not in Europe, there isn’t. Well, there is, but they’re spending it on stuff other than defense. Their defense budgets are somewhere between “too-small” and “notional” with an average of just about “tiny.”

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to.

Interesting: Harvest Right Freeze Drying

Freeze drying does more than just preserve food, for 15 to 25 years if sealed with care, and occasionally this creative freeze-dryer company’s blog features one of those oddball stories (like the case of the iPhone saved from total immersion by overnight use of the dryer cycle only (without the freeze, before you try this at home, kids.

We’ve talked to a rep from Utah-based Harvest Right and we’d really like one of their freeze-dryer units even though we don’t have a practical use for it at the moment. We already have too many new gadgets backed up awaiting tinkering time already, but you might enjoy checking it out even if you don’t have $4k to drop on a freeze dryer (a couple grand more for the research model with more control over parameters). Harvest Right. Naturally they have a Black Friday/Christmas sale, and there’s also a giveaway for the contest-prone among you.

Another Negligent Fed, Another Murder Victim

ICE badge

Now it’s ICE’s turn to cover for a negligent agent.

Not long ago we had the death of an innocent woman in San Francisco because an irresponsible criminal investigator with the Bureau of Land Management couldn’t be bothered to secure his handgun.

Add to that a government that at its most senior levels will not deport or imprison violent criminal aliens. And there you have the death of Kate Steinle, at the nominal hands of criminalien Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez. Lopez-Sanchez had a strong assist from the US government at several levels: the agent, the BLM (which has never held the agent accountable), and every open-borders enthusiast who draws a government paycheck.

Did Feds learn from that? No, since there were no consequences for the careless bum who left his firearm unsecure, they did not. Now we have a new murder victim, who was reportedly shot with a gun negligently left unsecured in a car by a special agent with ICE ERO.

[M]uralist Antonio Ramos was killed on September 29th with a gun stolen from an agent about two weeks earlier.

“He was painting the mural and he had taken a break and was taking some pictures so he could memorialize it and put it up on the website, so he had some of his camera equipment out there,” said Roland Holmgren of the Oakland Police. “I believe that’s what sparked the whole incident.”

A 20-year-old career criminal killed Ramos so he could steal the Ramos’s camera. Who says the welfare-and-crime-class won’t help themselves? They’ll help themselves to your car, to your cash, to your camera, to some inept and apathetic Fed’s gun, and ultimately, to your life, and then bien pensants will whine about all the vital potential wasted by putting human pathogen Marquise Holloway in prison for the next 70 years. #BlackLivesMatter, they say.

#Blackcrimesmatter. That’s usually how black men wind up in prison, because our society isn’t self-confident enough to have an immune system able of swinging pathogens like Holloway — black, white, or any shade between — from a lamppost, or parting them out as living organ donors the way the practical Chinese do with their domestic criminal class.

A Vaccination for Human Viruses? It's called, "hanging."

A Vaccination for Human Viruses? It’s called, “hanging.”

If we treated human virions like Holloway the way we treat an ebola infection, prison overcrowding would be a thing of the past. And the basic difference between Holloway and ebola is this: you can learn something useful by studying ebola.

Naturally, the agency whose agent was so criminally irresponsible disclaims all responsibility:

In a written statement ICE said, “A duty weapon belonging to an officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) was stolen Sept. 13 in San Francisco from a vehicle being used by the officer. The theft was properly reported to local authorities and through official federal channels.”

Shorter ICE: “We made a report. That erases our blowing off our responsibility to secure our firearms, so get off our back.” The BLM used similar boilerplate when they put a gun in a murderer’s hand, too.

While ICE acknowledged a gun was stolen, they did not verify if it was used in the shooting.

Marquise Holloway, 20, is facing murder charges in the death of Ramos. Holloway is also accused of several street robberies.

Stealing guns from careless cops is a favorite technique of violent criminals in the San Francisco Bay Area, where punitive state and local controls have reduced the number of non-police legal gun owners, and the culture of law enforcement impunity means that negligent cops and feds who arm murderers are never held accountable.

The bonehead Bureau of Land Management special agent who facilitated Lopez-Sanchez’s murder of Kate Steinle faced no consequences, and the idiot ICE ERO whose irresponsibility enabled Holloway to murder Ramos will face no consequences too.

Hey, at least the BLM and ICE agents’ guns have been recovered, of course, only after being used in murders. One stolen from a negligent San Jose police cadet’s trunk in October hasn’t turned up in a murder… yet. (Note that the idiot who wrote the story identified the stolen weapon as a “service revolver…” plus, “three high-capacity clips.” That’s what layers and layers of editors will get you).

And the SJPD, too, is fully tapped into the culture of police impunity: they high-handedly refused to discuss the theft, as it was a “personnel matter.” No one at SJPD cares if some muggle gets murdered, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience a cop or crimp his career.

When we’re done hanging all the Holloways in our future perfect world, maybe we can fire all the cops who are negligent with their firearms.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Murdercycles

Darwin fishJust a couple of lines tell the whole story:

Gomez’s helmet lay in the middle of the street, blood dripping from it, as cops investigated the crash.

Further down the road, the mangled black Honda motorcycle lay on its side on the sidewalk surrounded by debris.

via Motorcyclist dies after losing control of bike in Queens – NY Daily News.

Nathaniel Gomez won’t be down for breakfast.

You know what a doctor friend of ours calls motorcyclists? “Organ donors.”  Hope Mr Gomez checked the box, some good might have come of this.

Of course, it’s a free country, and you’re entitled to indulge in sports that have a nonzero risk attached to them. And we’d never suggest that motorcycles be banned because some people die in accidents. Cyclists know they’re taking a risk, and they ride anyway. Maybe some of them rationalize the risks, but that’s their business.

It’s a free country, and they can do that.

Now, if only we could make more people see it that way. About motorcycles, and maybe about firearms.

Tank Destroyer Fatalities — Caused by Bad Reloads?

Investigators on the site of the mishap that killed two M18 Hellcat Gun Motor Carriage restorers.

Investigators on the site of the mishap that killed two M18 Hellcat Gun Motor Carriage restorers.

An anonymous commenter using the name “Cannonman” has made some serious allegations about the cause of the deaths of Steve Preston and Austin Lee during a live fire demonstration of an M18 Hellcat tank destroyer in Oregon, previously covered by WeaponsMan here on 27 October and here on 29 October.

The folks were loading their own ammo, the only “correct” component being the M26 cartridge cases. They did not use long enough primer flash tubes. M30 smokeless propellant, triple-based, smaller grain size, was used vice large-grained M1 single-base propellant. Navy projectiles, having longer and larger-diameter driving bands as opposed to Army, were being used. Cases were loaded with 1/2 lb. black powder dumped in base of case, cardboard wad, then 3.5 lbs of M30 propellant.

Why is “Cannonman” using the comments here at to send this message?

I am putting this info here because authorities won’t release any info and the facts need to get out. The very dangerous load caused an extreme overpressure in the chamber shattering the breechblock and cracking the breech ring, sending hot gas and fragments into the occupied turret.

If that was really what they were doing, including using black powder as a sort of gaine in the ignition train, it’s amazing they ever got the thing to fire.

Right now, all we have on this is a single, anonymous source. We welcome further input in the comments or to hognose at network impossible dot com.

Where RPDs are Reborn as Semis

Earlier this week, we visited Project Guns, a tanmall manufacturer in Florida and the home of an interesting project to recreate the Communist Bloc RPD light machine gun. The RPD is the 7.62 x 39 mm squad automatic weapon used by Soviet, satellite and “fraternal socialist” armies and “national liberation movements” from the 1950s through the 1970s. It’s a gas-operated, belt-fed truly light machine gun that evolved from the ancient pan-fed DP through the DPM and DP-46 from Degtyaryev; the RPD, Ruchnoi Pulemyot Degtyaryeva, was, in keeping with its intermediate cartridge, smaller, lighter, and handier.

These Project Guns RPDs are shown on the website, but have already shipped to their new owners.

These Project Guns RPDs are shown on the website, but have already shipped to their new owners. They’re all made on Polish surplus RPD kits — while the metal is in great condition, the wood varies from “new” to “pretty beat up.”

Along with Russian production, RPDs were made in China and several satellite countries. The quality of manufacture varies from nation to nation.

In recent years, there have been numerous attempts to build RPDs from demilled kits into working semi-autos. The best known is probably the Wiselite build, but there are several small shops out there, and DSA is currently shipping RPD semis.

Stan Szalkowski of Project Guns took time out of his production day — the company comprises Stan and a guy who’s his helper and understudy — to show us how he did it. When he invited us in he was test-fitting parts in one of a batch of guns nearing completion.

A semi-auto RPD approaches completion with careful hand-fitting on the gunsmith's bench. When it works and passes test-fire, it'll be blued, packed, and shipped to its proud new owner's FFL.

A semi-auto RPD approaches completion with careful hand-fitting on the gunsmith’s bench. When it works and passes test-fire, it’ll be blued, packed, and shipped to its proud new owner’s FFL.

The shop is neatly organized into three parts in an industrial zone of many small businesses. The main shop includes the desk Stan’s seldom at unless he’s on the phone to a customer or subcontractor, or designing a part or fixture in CAD (of which more later); the production benches and machinery, including manual lathes and mills, a Tormach CNC, presses, and of course, the gunsmith’s standard standbys: stones and files. Attached to the main shop is the stockroom, where the remainder of 150 RPD kits recently delivered await attention and some completed firearms for foreign destinations await the necessary paperwork drill: approval by national authorities, customs clearance and so forth. (Project Guns has a manufacturer’s license — in fact, as you go in the door, all the required licences are displayed on the wall in case officialdom ever comes looking). The third section of the company, which we didn’t personally see, is in a separate unit, and it is where the messy and noisy processes happen: test firing and hot blue. Each rifle is test fired for forty or fifty rounds into a bullet trap (and remediated if needed). The hot blue process is extremely time sensitive, if you want to avoid having the whole thing flash to rust; so the separate shops encourage concentration on the job at hand. There are assembly days and bluing days.

To rebuild an RPD, Project Guns uses their own receiver design, milled from solid 4130 steel for them by a large Florida machine shop. Stan bead-blasts the receivers, then fits the parts to them, test fires them and disassembled them for rebluing. Apart from the US-made barrels and receivers (and many small parts), each RPD is assembled with parts that came from a single demilled RPD. Each kit came from Poland individually boxed and serial numbered, and the boxes are used to keep each set of parts together along its course of modification and assembly.

A row of in-process RPDs. The nearest ones have their new, US-made chrome-lined barrels installed.

A row of in-process RPDs. The nearest ones have their new, US-made chrome-lined barrels installed.

While the cut receiver parts from the original guns can’t be reused (Stan has been down the path of receiver rebuilds before, but with hundreds of RPDs under his belt, having a custom receiver is much easier), the front sight, bipod and gas system must be removed from the stubs of the demilled barrel. The barrel stubs are also scrap.

The design of the receiver is modified so that full-automatic parts don’t fit. Neither the internals nor an unmodified trigger group housing from a full-auto RPD can go on to a Project Guns receiver. This is required for ATF compliance. The Tormach CNC comes in handy making the required cuts to modify the trigger group housing, operating rod/slide and other internals, as we’ll see when we talk about CAD below.

Here's one of the US-made barrels installed in an RPD. If you peek over to the left, you see a batch of customer guns -- Czech UK Vz.59s -- in for troubleshooting.

Here’s one of the US-made barrels installed in an RPD. If you peek over to the left, you see a batch of customer guns — Czech UK Vz.59s — in for troubleshooting.

The barrels are a story in themselves. The new barrels are US-made compliance parts, but they’re made for Project Guns by a major barrel maker: they’re chrome-lined like the originals. One problem with RPDs has been sight, barrel and gas system alignment. Some satellite nation guns, and some US semi builds, have been constructed with canted parts, which in a sight is inimical to accuracy, and in a gas system can be damaging to function. Stan has designed and built not only a special tool that ensures the perfect alignment of the parts, but also a specialty press for barrel installation that works with the tool.

Scratch-Built Custom Barrel Press. Barely visible on the right is the RPD barrel, sight and gas system alignment tool.

Scratch-Built Custom Barrel Press. Visible immediately to the left of the parts sorter on the right is the RPD barrel, sight and gas system alignment tool.

(He also uses a press that started off as a factory Harbor Freight press, but that he has extensively rebuilt, trued, and reinforced so that it actually works).

He showed us how he makes a custom tool, like the barrel/sight/gas system alignment tool, once he has it visualized in its component parts. (There are three parts to the tool: a base with a hole for the barrel and one for the mandrel, a mandrel that holds parts in alignment, and an insert that notches into the ejector cut in the barrel to ensure that everything’s directionally oriented and aligned properly). He envisions the part, and then sketches it in CAD. The program he uses is not something ridiculously expensive like CATIA, or something cutting-edge like SpaceClaim (which is a relatively reasonable $5000 or so). Instead, he used a combination of free and inexpensive PC software that meets his needs perfectly.

Initial design is done in the free application that’s downloadable from E-Machine-Shop. It also allows you to put your part out to bid. Stan has found that doing that, rather that working with shops he’s got experience with, can produce parts with so-so tolerances. But while the E-Machine Shop tool can produce a 3D file, it’s simply a drawing or representation — it’s not machine-ready.

For that, he uses Vectric’s VCarve Pro ($699 direct). We’re familiar with Vectric’s software (which is made in a confusing variety of versions, but they will help you find the right one for your application) for 2D cutting applications like laser cutting or CNC routing, but Stan uses it to generate tool paths. It accepts input for specific machine, for tool type (i.e. four flute end mill), size and, of course, feeds and speeds. Stan does these from experience, but a beginner can use feeds and speeds from Machinery’s Handbook and come out alright. In VCarve Pro, one can visualize the tool path in a simulation and correct it all on the screen before committing to metal. When the part looks like it’s being cut properly in the simulation, Stan saves the file to a thumb drive, and carries it a few feet to the Tormach.

The Tormach also comes in handy for the repetitive work involved in, for instance, modifying the trigger group housings. It repeats so well that if you design a fixture that doesn’t move when you remove and replace a part, you can set up the fixture and indicate in the first part, and then just run the Tormach and replace the parts without touching the indicator again.

Apart from parts modification, the in-house CNC is used mostly to make prototype parts and production tooling. Stan has a long-established relationship with production shops that make parts in mass quantities. These include semi-auto internals like linear hammers, small pins and dowels, muzzle nuts, and anything that’s unsat or not reusable in the basic kits.

Project Guns' small parts come from US short-run machine shops. After inspection, they go in this parts sorter for the assembly gunsmith.

Project Guns’ small parts come from US short-run machine shops. After inspection, they go in this parts sorter for the assembly gunsmith.

Stan has built and shipped 450 RPDs in the past, and notes that the quality of this batch of kits shows that they’re more well-used than the early batches, which were guns that had been stored new and never fired until they were demilled. With a new receiver and barrel, and many new small parts, and new bluing, the metal parts will look new, but some of the wood in this shipment shows that some of these guns were used hard by the Polish Army during its Warsaw Pact days. You can probably make a request for a more pristine or a more “characterful” RPD at this point, but there’s no assurance there’s any more kits to be had after these, and as they get used up your choices may dwindle.

Of the 150 kits he’s building, 100 are earmarked for United States customers and 50 are spoken for by a Canadian distributor, assuming the Canadian can get clearance from the Mounties, something he’s been working on for some time already. It’s pretty hard to imagine a collector firearm like this, essentially an expensive toy, finding a criminal use, but the mere look of it casts an icy blast of terror on hoplophobes.

Project Guns is not a retail gun dealer. If you want to get your name on the list for an RPD — they’re $2,500 a pop — it’s time now, and the gun will be delivered to your local FFL.



Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: The Selous Scouts Home Page

Selous Scouts cap badgeWhile this website does not appear to have been updated since 2007, in other words, in eight years, it still contains a great deal of useful information.

Its owner, Troy A. Lettieri, is an Army Special Forces soldier who not only shares the usual SF fascination with Rhodesian COIN, but also has made an avocation of man-tracking, bringing him closer, perhaps, to the long-disbanded unit than he would be otherwise.

Welcome to the SELOUS SCOUTS, once the most feared counter-insurgency force on the African continent.

During the course of the war the Selous Scouts were officially credited with either directly or indirectly being responsible for 68% of all terrorist killed, while losing less than 40 scouts in the process.

With this site I tried to obtain as much information on the Scouts to give the reader hopefully clear idea of who and what the Scouts were and what they were fighting for in and around the former country of Rhodesia.

In putting this site together there is a lot of general information on many facets of this counter-insurgency conflict, so it truly becomes a site of not just the Selous Scouts but also a Rhodesian interest site.

This site should be helpful for some, due to the fact in some African countries information on the Selous Scouts and the Rhodesian/Zimbabwe War of Independence (Chimurenga War, 1966-1980) was or is BANNED!

This site is still in the working and as I find and obtain more information on the scouts, I will continually update the site as needed.


It’s a pretty good source of general information on the Scouts as well as photographs and stories, most of it pulled from period media but some of it sent in by veterans of the Scouts or other units.

Happy Thanksgiving from WeaponsMan

wild turkeysHappy Thanksgiving to all of you. To our foreign readers (apart from Canadians, who have their own Canadian Thanksgiving custom, but at a different date), the last Thursday in November is the day that has been set aside for giving thanks for all our blessings, in the tradition of some of our earliest white settlers at Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, did after surviving the winter of 1620-21. They probably survived in part because they landed in such an austere area that the local Indians, insted of stomping the settleent out, made common cause with the newcomers, because they were barley surviving, too.

It would be barely a couple of generations before the Indians and Englishmen were at each others throats, but in 1621 they were mostly getting along. Lets all try to do that, for one day. The day after we can begin strangling one another again.

In that spirit, will be off its normal publishing schedule on Thanksgiving Day. Instead, please look at some of our back stories that may appeal to you (The Categories links may help), or take a look at the links on the top of the page for our Pages on Gun Design Books and Resources and our not-recently-updated Best of Weaponsman Gun Tech (we’ll take suggestions for either in the comments to this post).

Thanksgiving = Black Friday Gun Deals?

For some, the Thanksgiving Holiday is without religious or even historical significance. Instead, ir marks the brief pause before the onslaught of the Christmas shopping season. You know who you are. For those of you inclined to put a firearm in someone’s gun stocking (or maybe a gunsock in someone’s Christmas stocking, if you’re a cheapskate New Englander), you might want to check out Slick Guns’ Black Friday Deals Page. It’s not entirely comprehensive (we didn’t see Brownell’s which has a rolling menu of deals all week, for example) but it’s a good place to start.

Conversely, has a pile of deals (as usual) but makes nothing out of Black Friday. AmmoSeek has a couple of coupons. Their gun deal search is worthless; search on “9mm Luger” for a 9mm handgun, for instance, and you get a lot of listing for bb guns and airsoft toys.  God knows what you get if you search for that stuff; probably 9mm handguns.

Our message to many of those “deal” offerers: If your idea of a Black Friday Deal is 30% off your closeout 2015 logo t-shirt, don’t waste our time. (Springfield Armory USA, we’re lookin’ at you).

Our observation is that the present softness in the market has produced some very good bargains. We’ve seen S&W AR15s in the $500 neighborhood, Bushmasters below $600, and your local retailer might just have some Glocks at prices he can’t advertise (ours does). We’ve seen prices hundreds lower than last month on such disparate guns as the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine repros and the silencer-ready version of the CZ-75 SP01.

How do we have softness in the market, even though we continue to have sales at record or near-record levels? Let us don our Master’s Hood (which is totally a thing) and explain. Prices are a function of supply and demand. When demand went through the roof after political moves for gun control in 2012, and supply became exhausted or limited, prices rose. (In fact, they didn’t rise fast enough for the market to remain in equilibrium, producing shortages; but buyers heaped opprobrium on sellers who raised prices). These high prices incentivized people who were holding guns but not using them to sell, and (producing greater numbers of firearms on the supply side) incentivized producers to produce more guns. New production lines opened up; new products were released to production; new vendors piled on the production of such commodity products as AR-15 parts.

So now, in the holiday season of 2015, we have production capacity at a level it would have been at had demand kept rising nonstop at the unsustainable rates of 2012-13. But demand didn’t do that.

On the other hand, despite crowing from the anti-gun press, demand didn’t really recede much. We still, as we just said, “continue to have sales at record or near-record levels.” This reflects new shooters who have joined the gun market (and who will provide, long-term, exponential growth as they “infect” new shooters in turn). But the supply has increased by an even greater amount. Hence, softness in the market, or, a buyer’s market.