Category Archives: Weapons Education

Antitank Guns for the Man who Has Everything

We had a birthday in the family recently, and gave some thought to presenting one of these to a 16 year old. They’re all WWII vintage AT guns, and most of them are live. We’ve listed them based on asking price, from most expensive to most economical (for some values of the word “economical.”)

#1: M-1 57mm Anti-Tank Rifle 1943 Carriage Buy it Now: $65K

m1-57mm-01The American 57mm AT gun served throughout World War II, and was the main AT gun used in the peak years of the war. Effective against Japanese armor, it struggled to be relevant in Europe against better-armed and more-mobile German tanks. The US could, however, field a lot of them, and at close range they could make life miserable (if short) for Panzer crews.

m1-57mm-02

#2: British Six Pounder (57mm) Buy it Now: $35k

british-six-pounder-57mm-02The six pounder was the kissin’ cousin of the American 57mm AT gun and served throughout World War II. This one has been modified for movie duty, but is legally convertible to a registered destructive device (given ATF approval of manufacturing in advance. Unlike MGs, DDs can still be made by and for private owners). Don’t tell Governor Moonbeam, but it’s in California, and it’s actually CA-legal.

british-six-pounder-57mm-04

 #3: Swedish Bofors AT (37mm) Opening Bid: $33.5k

bofors-37mm-05Thanks to the annoying Swedish habit of neutrality, the next gun lacks the combat cachet of the combatants’ pieces, but it’s, live, intact, and in beautiful condition. Of necessity, you become a reloader with any gun like this — this one comes with 15 cases. For loading data? KMAGYOYO!

bofors-37mm-04

bofors-37mm-03While the mount is unique, and the muzzle brake follows midcentury Swedish practice, the gun itself seems to owe a lot to Krupp design. The Wehrmacht 37mm and the Red Army 45mm were both Krupp designs, and clearly cousins — as were the social systems the two armies fought for.

Same seller also has a carriage (no breech or barrel) available as well.

#4: WWII 25mm SA.L 1937 ANTI-TANK GUN. Opening bid $25k, Buy it now $30k

If a 37mm gun was already trending obsolescent at the outbreak of World War II, and it was, imagine how weak a 25mm gun is. Plus, this one has to wear the stigma of being from a nation defeated rather thoroughly by the Nazis in cut time: France. Still, it works, and it looks cool:

puteaux-25mm-gun

It also has an extremely thorough description, and lots of pictures:

25mmputeaux-5

Museum quality, live-firing, French WWII 25mm SA.L Mle 1937 anti-tank gun, serial number 566. This anti-tank gun was built in 1939 by the French design & manufacturing company, Atelier Puteaux, and is marked accordingly: “A.PX 1939”. These guns were manufactured and used by the French, but they were also captured and used by the Nazis, who gave them the designation: 2,5cm PaK 113(f). A quantity of the captured guns were sold by the Germans to Finland, who gave them the designation: 25 PstK/37. The gun has a muzzle velocity of 3150 feet per second, and is a very accurate weapon. We spent 165 hours performing a complete restoration on this anti-tank gun. The restoration work included: sandblasting, complete disassembly, painting, parkerizing, bluing, polishing, lubricating, new tires, reworking the recoil mechanism, and reassembly. This cannon is live firing, and has been fired several times. The gun performed flawlessly when fired…..please take a look at the video below, where we fired upon, and disabled a Ford F-150’s running engine, at a distance of 340 yards.

The chamber and rifling are in very good condition. Weighing only 618 pounds, this gun can easily be moved and fired by one adult male. The actual weight at the lunette when the gun is picked up is only 84 pounds. The gun is also very compact: 152″ in length (139″ with muzzle brake removed), 40.5″ in width, and 41.5″ in height. The cannon is equipped with iron sights, as well as an optical 3x M69C telescopic sight (very clear optics). All traversing, elevating, and depressing adjustments work completely and smoothly (see photos below).

25mmputeaux-19

For the travel configuration, the cannon’s muzzle brake / flash hider unscrews from the end of the barrel, and stows above the recoil mechanism. The armor also folds up, which is also shown in the photos below. This is an all-matching numbers gun (#566). The gun includes 22 live, arsenal-loaded, rounds of 25mm ammunition. Once fired, the brass cartridge cases can be reloaded several times for additional firings. This weapon is an ATF/NFA registered destructive device, so it will be transferred on a $200 tax paid Form 4, or on a tax-exempt Form 3 to a destructive device dealer in your state. We will crate and ship this gun anywhere in the continental United States. Crating, shipping, insurance, and transfer taxes are all the buyer’s responsibility. Residents within Tennessee will be assessed state sales tax. Please take a look at all 70 photos that are included in the auction description below. This is a great opportunity to get a museum-quality piece of history, that displays as good as it shoots! Would make for a stunning display piece in any museum, gun store, shooting range, or office.

25mmputeaux-6

There’s even pictures of this type of gun in German, Finnish, and what looks like Soviet(!) service at the link (Finns below):

Pst. Tykki miehistöineen

Pst. Tykki miehistöineen

Some less awesomely restored examples of this gun are also available right now, one at $15k Opening, No Reserve, and a deactivated one at $10k Opening, no reserve.

#5 106mm RCL (demilled) with Prime Mover: Opening Bid, $30k

106-w-mule06

This is one of the things that replaced AT guns, a recoilless rifle, a US weapon of the 1950s-70s. Complete with a M-274 Mule, an offroad vehicle used by airborne forces of the period. An unusual feature was the semi-auto spotting rifle using a special .50 marking round (smaller than a .50 BMG casing.

106-w-mule04The spotting rig was a necessity because the firing signature of a 106 is tremendous, which means, a first round hit on the enemy tank is a life-or-death enterprise with this weapon. It was replaced by the TOW AT missile.

This is the most gun you can have and not need heavy truck and trailer, also one of the more fun toys we had in Nam. Comes with: 4 rds in tubes 2 more in displa manuels tripod (rare) breech cover muzzle cover optics battery pack< elec start This runs and drives as it should, not concourse cond. because we use and enjoy it. If you’ve seen one of these at Fl. MVPA events or the Melbourne Vets reunion in the last decade or so it’s this one This is one of the best equipted in the country. I also have a 25′ closed trailer for sale if this sells. will haul this and any Jeep type vehicle.

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Cool, but not live, alas.

#6 20 mm Lahti w/Spares. Opening bid $15k, Buy it Now $18k

lahti01

Here’e we’re down out of anti-tank guns into the high end of antitank rifles. This, the similar Solothurn, and a Czechoslovak weapon that was OBE and not produced in large numbers were the high-water mark of the infantry antitank rifle.

lahti03

This lot consists of 1 complete M1939 20MM lahti, w ski, 2 registered lahti receivers, 1 coffin 1 box of spare gun parts, 3 boxes of spare springs, 1 amorer box of tools, 6 boxes w 2 each magazines and 60 rounds of live 20 MM ammo. ALL NFA RULES APPLY!! $50% down and the balance upon transfer to your FFL dealer, buyer pays all shipping costs. and the ammunition MUST BE SHIPPED SEPERATLEY!!

This is live, but ammunition is extremely precious any more.

#7 D44 AT Gun 85mm Opening Bid $8,495.

d44-01

This World War II Russian AT gun is a postwar Polish clone. It is rather roughly demilled, but if not for that would be the clear bang-for-the-buck leader. These guns were widely used in Vietnam and the Arab-Israeli wars, among other 20th Century conflicts.

The shield on this cannon has been cut and re-welded (at Arsenal in Europe), a 12″ metal shaft is missing off of the breech block (replacement easy to create) and we recently repainted it so it looks good. We have discounted this cannon $500 in consideration. Otherwise in good condition. No obvious damage, little evidence of any major use. Working T & E, solid tires. Dem-illed to ATF specs, breech cut [easy weld], 85mm hole in bottom of chamber [donut whole included], hole is NOT visible from exterior of cannon.

d44-02

All demilled pieces [uncut breech block and cut ring] are included, a good ATF form 1 project, subcal to 30-50 BMG [no ATF reg needed], or oxy-propane conversion. We converted ours to a combination 30 cal, diesel fuel, and oxy-propane, sounds better than a real field piece, at a fraction of the price.

We will have INERT 85mm TRAINING rounds here in [about] 3 months.

Light enough to tow behind a jeep or a deuce.

d44-03

When you absolutely, positively have to get those damned kids off your lawn.

That’s about it for cannon right now. But if you’re feeling mortarous, other sellers can hook you up,

Dude, Where’s My Gun?

An Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy left an AR like this, in its case with three loaded magazines, on the trunk of a patrol car before driving away. It remains missing. (Source: OCSD)

An Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputy left an AR like this, in its case with three loaded magazines, on the trunk of a patrol car before driving away. It remains missing. (Source: OCSD)

In California, where guns are getting closer to being outlawed every time the legislature sits, a police gun that had gone missing turned up, exactly the way cops don’t want it to: in a homicide. And that got the Orange County Register curious: how many other guns are missing from SoCal cop shops? The answer: at least 329.

Southern California police agencies regularly lose track of all manner of firearms, from high-powered rifles and grenade launchers to standard service handguns – weapons that often wind up on the street.An Orange County Register investigation of 134 state and local police agencies from Kern County to the Mexican border found that over the past five years at least 329 firearms were lost by or stolen from law enforcement agencies.Dozens of these weapons wound up in the hands of criminals – and some were involved in crimes. In Northern California, a missing police gun was used in a suspected murder.But the number of guns known to be missing or stolen is almost certainly a fraction of the actual number that have made the jump from police agency to street. Not every department audits its weaponry. If agencies performed such audits, they’d find they were missing more guns

via Police might not know where their guns are, and the law says thats OK – The Orange County Register.

Despite losing a lot of guns, the cop managers say it’s not big deal, because they have a lot of guns; they should get some slack for losing a few.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, following a request by the Register, assembled a team of nearly two dozen employees to track through thousands of files on gun location and gun assignments. The research found that at least 103 L.A. County Sheriff’s Department guns, ranging from service handguns to shotguns, were lost or stolen over the past five years.

Hey, that’s only 20-point-something a year!

A spokesperson said the agency didn’t previously know how many guns were missing, and hadn’t recently conducted a centralized count of its service handguns. The missing weapons are a tiny portion of the department’s 20,000-gun arsenal.

Is it just us, or does that spokesman’s “it’s only 103 out of 20,000” sound kind of like, “Dad, it’d be a good grade if Mrs Throttlebottom graded on a curve,” or what?

But say, while LASD might look like they’re all butterfingers with their guns compared to say, you or us (hey, we had one out of place for two days, and it nearly induced a-fib), they look like the Ayatollah of Inventory Controll-ah compared to the slipshod cop shops in Northern California, a couple of whom lose guns at a rate of fifty-plus a year.

In recent years, police departments in Oakland and San Jose counted their weapons, and each found more than 300 service firearms had vanished over a six-year period, according to a report from Southern California News Group’s sister publications in the San Francisco Bay area.

(The link is to a feature at the San Jose Mercury News). And these departments are the ones that raised their hands and accepted the foul in good grace. Some of them didn’t answer the door when the cops media knocked.

At least 24 agencies contacted over the past three months didn’t respond to requests for data on missing or stolen weapons. And the Long Beach Police Department, one of the bigger agencies in Southern California, said it doesn’t track weapons because its officers provide their own guns.

Gotta love Long Beach: “Not our circus, not our monkeys.” Yeah, that’s how ATF Phoenix Group VII felt until the guns they walked started killing Feds and not just “mere” Mexicans. Although, the comparison isn’t really fair to the policemen: unlike the ATF, they weren’t trying to lose the guns.

There are about 300 million guns in America, and nobody knows how many are owned or controlled by police agencies.

That number is almost certainly low — extremely low. Almost 300 million guns have been made or imported in the last 25 years! But that’s another story.

What is known is that it’s not rare for police and their weapons to go separate ways and that, in general, lost or stolen police guns account for some of the weapons used to commit crimes.

“A significant source of guns in illegal hands, on the black market, come from stolen firearms,” said Ari Freilich, staff attorney with San Francisco’s Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“We should be concerned that police – and all individuals that keep deadly weapons – know where their guns are.”

Normally, Halley’s Comet comes around more frequently than a non-risible statement from a functionary of some gun-ban group like the Law Center, but Freilich’s last sentence is completely unobjectionable. He’s right. Of course, the news people seem to think the whole problem is caused by exempting cops from California’s violent-criminal-friendly gun storage laws:

[O]n- and off-duty police officers are allowed to store and carry weapons in ways that would be unlawful for other citizens in California. The theory behind that law is to make sure an officer doesn’t have to unlock a stored gun to use it in an emergency, but in practice it often leads to police guns being stolen.

An officer shouldn’t “have to unlock a stored gun to use it in an emergency,” but neither should any peaceable citizen. But the report, otherwise so good, seems not to have brought forward the key point. The problem of stolen guns leaching into the criminal black market really doesn’t stem from theft of guns held ready for self-defense, it primarily comes from guns stored in homes and cars and then stolen in residential and auto burglaries. Indeed, safe storage laws only go so far; as the old saying goes, “locks keep honest people out,” and a burglary in which burglars make off with a small safe or smash open a large one are distressingly common.

But you’re not helping by leaving them in an unlocked car, a common cop practice.

At least 22 of the stolen guns were retrieved. Authorities in Mexico recovered some guns stolen from U.S. law enforcement, while U.S. police found other weapons in the hands of fleeing felons.

Often, the reports show, officers treated their guns in ways that wouldn’t be legal for most civilians. High-caliber firepower was stowed in backpacks or gym bags and stuffed behind car seats. Handguns were stashed in center consoles or glove boxes. Burglars looking for weapons that on the street can be sold for several hundred to a couple of thousand dollars found them.

Makes our point about the sort of storage the criminals are exploiting, doesn’t it? A number of the thefts they go on to list (do Read The Whole Thing™) were from unlocked vehicles. Lots of shotguns and ARs were lost, including at least two full-auto M16s. Riverside PD lost a 40mm grenade launcher. And then there were these two bozos:

Two deputies, one in San Diego County and one in Orange County, separately left assault rifles worth $1,500 apiece on the trunks of their patrol cars and drove away. The Orange County deputy had put the rifle down to take a call on his cellphone, according to authorities. By the time the deputies realized what they had done, the weapons were gone. The California Highway Patrol found the San Diego rifle. The Orange County rifle remains on the streets.

There was another AR that was left in a locked patrol car — with the windows down. That one was recovered from the home of the drunk that winkled it out of the car. (We suspect that surveillance video came in with that save).

It’s unclear if agencies would welcome regulations requiring regular gun counts, but some police leaders believe the profession could do a better job of keeping track of weapons.

It’s staggering to think any agency wouldn’t do audits. Ask an FFL what happens if he tells his Industry Operations Inspector he’s missing a few firearms, and, incidentally, he last conducted an audit since Christ was a corporal. Or never. (Outcome: the next ATF official he’s talking to will probably be a special agent, not an IOI, and he’s not going to like the way the conversation goes).

Chuck Michel, an attorney who specializes in gun laws, said if police agencies were gun stores, many would go “out of business for the way they keep inventory.”

Amen. Sloppy inventory? Look at what happened to manufacturers CAV Arms and Stag. Again, do Read The Whole Thing™, and the feature on 944 missing NorCal cop guns in the Murky News, and check out the OC Register’s Database of Missing SoCal Cop Guns.

One of these Guns is Not Like the Others

Sing along with us, kids:

One of these guns is not like the others;
One of these guns just doesn’t belong.
Can you guess which gun is not like the others,
Before I finish my song?

(Puzzled international readers, that’s from a long-running and hell-for-saccharine TV kids’ “educational” show which everybody’s mother made him watch at least a few times). Now that we’ve had our sing-along, here’s the photo. Which one doesn’t belong?

ghanahomemadeguns

The photo ran a couple months ago in the always entertaining Impro Guns website, with this heading:

Locally produced firearms seized in Ghana

And all of the pistol-things on the table are, indeed, the sort of thing you’d expect from Ghanaian village blacksmiths — except the Luger P.08 that’s the second one back on the right.

Wonder what its story is? Unfortunately, some Ghanaian copper has probably already either thrown it into a smelter, or sold it back onto the black market.

The constant panoply of odd creations that turn up on Impro Guns illustrate many things, but one of the major ones is, “What a simple machine a gun is to build,” and another, “How universal the desire for firearms is,” Most of these improvised guns are made where strict gun control reigns, or tries to. A great many of them are made by criminals and terrorists. Others, however, seem to be the product of hobbyists, and still others, made by or for people who simply feel a need for self-defense, a need that is never met perfectly by The State.

Indeed, in most strict gun control jurisdictions, the state makes nearly no effort to step in and defend its disarmed populace. Look at LA or Chicago, with hundreds and thousands of murders respectively, most of which go unsolved even though none of them seem to be committed by criminal masterminds. So at some point, the peaceable and formerly law-abiding person breaks out and builds himself, or has built for himself, a tool of self defense.

The criminal element, meanwhile, skips simple defensive handguns and long guns, and goes right to making suppressed automatic weapons, as the police in Australia have discovered. The Australian gun ban (semi-autos and pump and lever shotguns) has not seriously inconvenienced the criminal element, which is well armed with auto weapons on the conceptual level of the Sten or Mac-10. Criminals used to avoid these weapons because of the disparity in consequences for getting caught with one, vis-a-vis a revolver. Now, a criminal is as well hung for a sheep as a lamb, and goes direct to St. Valentine’s Massacre capability.

The only consequences you can always count on are unintended consequences.

Note: we’re still running late here, over 12 hours behind schedule, for which we beg your forbearance. Your Humble Blogger has been a bit under the weather, and dealing with it by drinking plenty of fluids, skipping PT (unfortunately) and spending plenty of time snoring in the recliner with Small Dog Mk II. These are wondrous and joyful activities indeed, but they don’t get the blog written on schedule. Bear with us — Ed.

When Stopping on Patrol

No one patrol consists of a straight-ahead walk with no pauses or stops. Sometimes the stop is momentary, to organize a crossing of a danger area or mount a leaders’ recon. (A well trained unit has these procedures embedded in SOP and there’s no thinking, planning, or orders required, while the patrol is underway). Sometimes the stop is more deliberate — you are nearing an objective, or stopping to rest, or reorganize, or stopping overnight.

If you are stopping deliberately, by US doctrine you are “establishing a patrol base.” This PB can be simple and momentary, or it can endure for some time and evolve into a mission support site, advanced operations base, combat outpost, or forward operations base. (Although doctrine says it’s not a patrol base if you hold it more than 24 hours). But we’ll confine ourselves to the initial establishment of the patrol in the halt as a patrol base.

Selecting the Patrol Base

There’s no way to learn to select a patrol base from a book, or a blog post. You need to think about a position that is at once defensible, but at the same time not so obvious as to beg for recon by fire. It should provide observation and fields of fire back in the direction you came from (in case you’re being tracked), and in the most probable direction of the enemy. It should not be athwart or adjacent to a high-speed avenue of approach.

It should be as concealed from the likely enemy observation means as possible, with enough room in concealment for everybody in the patrol, but they should still be very compact. (Again, how much you tighten up in the patrol base depends on the threat posture. Big danger is enemy recon seeing you? Get small. Big danger is enemy artillery or air? Get some space between your guys).

In short, the patrol base location is any place where your patrol can hide for a bit, without it being obvious or logical to an enemy that someone might be hiding there.

Occupying the Patrol Base

Book doctrine conflicts, at times, with practical doctrine on this. The book says you always secure the patrol base prior to occupying it, for example, by observing it and covering it with fire, and conducting a recon around the area. With small patrols, it may be most practical to secure the base by occupation — in other words, walk right in. Then conduct your perimeter recon.

Pass by the tentative patrol base location and hook back into it. Some call this a fishook or buttonhook maneuver. Why do you do this? If an enemy is following you, you want to drag him past your PB’s fields of observation and fire, mentioned above, which are set up to ambush your own backtrail. When you branch off to go into the patrol base location, at least temporarily place a listening post/observation post at the branch post (you will likely reposition the LP/OP later).

As the point man moves into the base, direction of movement is called 12 o’clock. The patrol leader drops off at 6 and then describes where in the patrol base perimeter each subordinate element (each guy, in a squad patrol; each platoon, in a company patrol) will be positioned. Each crew-served weapon is positioned individually. (Crew-served weapons guard the most probable and fastest routes of enemy approach). The PL walks (or crawls) the perimeter and assigns sectors to crew-serveds and subordinate leaders, who assign sectors to their subordinates in turn. The PL also assigns an initial rally point. Initially, the patrol remains on 100% security and treats the PB as a listening/security halt.

The headquarters of the patrol (in a small patrol base, this may just be one or two men) is positioned at the geometric center of the patrol base, which is usually circular or elliptic (it may resemble a football, in planform).

The perimeter recon ensures that you didn’t put your six-man recon element downhill from a sleeping enemy regiment (laugh if you want, it has really happened!) and ensures there isn’t some threat, obstacle, or high-speed avenue of approach that was just out of sight prior to occupation. The PL needs to be ready to pack up (figuratively; no one unpacks, and the team remains at 100% security, while the recon is out) and move if the recon brings back bad news.

Ensconcing these procedures in a set of SOPs known to all hands has many benefits, including prevented wasted time standing around disseminating orders, increasing the speed of execution, and enabling rehearsed, building-block activities when the men are tired and fearful. (A little fear is a good thing, forward of friendly lines. Not enough to paralyze; just enough to heighten perceptions and put you on edge).

Patrol Base Activities

The most important patrol base activity is security. After an initial period of 100% security, the PL may allow a reduction in security. While this is usually expressed as a percentage, it’s really a fraction. Normally, forward of friendly lines, security levels below 50% must be approached with caution. Very small units in a clandestine patrol base (4-6 men, see below) can go to just one man on watch, once security is assured, because that one man can rouse the others rapidly and silently.

Apart from security, always priority one, the PL assigns priorities of work. The usual priority is:

  1. Security
  2. Equipment maintenance
  3. Foot maintenance
  4. Mission planning (selected personnel)
  5. Water (the recon teams may have found a source)
  6. Food & sanitation
  7. Rest

These priorities are not always addressed in every patrol base. They can also be addressed in depth in standard operating procedures, which minimizes time spent giving, receiving and reading back orders that are already understood.

When anyone is outside the perimeter, whether it’s your initial recon team or Joe Tentpeg seeking a tree to hang from whilst relieving himself, everyone in the perimeter must know who is out and where he is expected to be. Failure on this measure gets friendlies shot.

Sanitizing and Clearing the Patrol Base

When the patrol departs, nothing should be left behind — no equipment, no trash, no disturbance of the vegetation — to indicate that it was ever there.

Before you leave the patrol base, set a new rally point by map recon and confirm it as you move. Leave the patrol base directly, do not return on your backtrail at all. Once you have left the patrol base, never return to it. A well-resourced enemy, having discovered that you used the site, will place human or technical surveillance on the site.

Patrol Base Variations

Very small units on longer missions can set up a clandestine patrol base. In this case, a small element — a recon patrol or a very small special-purpose combat patrol like a sniper team plus security — can establish a clandestine or passive patrol base, in which all the men are tightly together, within touch, and only one remains on watch. The goal is to minimize movement and size and therefore the signature of the bedded-down patrol.

While Army doctrine sometimes teaches a different approach to the last hole-up before a combat patrol hits its objective, we have found that treating this halt, called an Objective Rally Point in Army doctrinal terminology, just like a patrol base simplifies training without compromising security.

For More Information

Here’s a link to one of the many editions of the Ranger Handbook, a generally good source of patrolling doctrine.

https://www.atu.edu/rotc/docs/3_21-76_Ranger_HB.pdf

Any Weapons Website of the Week Ideas?

Because, even though we delayed this post for over 12 hours, we’re still drawing a blank. so we’re throwing it open for suggestions. Because we know there’s lots of ’em we haven’t covered yet but they’re not in the forebrain at present. For the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, it’s Thursday noon, and we still got nothin’. So… help!

One hopes the feature will return next week, eh?

Third World Weapons Maintenance, Part II

OK, they weren't quite this bad. This one was dug up in Kuwait. But they were pretty bad.

OK, they weren’t quite this bad. This one was dug up in Kuwait. After being guest of honor at a fire. But they were pretty bad.

Commenter Aesop wrote, reference our Latin American men-without-boots:

… their weapons probably lack basic individual cleaning kits, and their crew-serveds would likely give an armory NCO a case of the screaming shitfits, followed by a life-ending stroke.

Oh, he nailed it. The very same unit whose boots looked like the product of the cobbler’s apprentice’s first day on the job, proudly carried the same Para FALs their nation bought them… in 1958. They cleaned them in communal half-barrels full of gasoline, with steel-wire painter’s brushes. Not one had any finish left on it. If one thought that the rifle had a little finish in the low places, closer examination showed him that what he was seeing was just grime.

You might ask, “Hognose, how did they clean the bores with nothing but a steel-wire painter’s brush?” Good question, but based on a faulty assumption. You see, they didn’t clean the bores.

Asked about this, the commander explained that they didn’t need to: they never fired. That was the secret to the incredible longevity of those AARP-eligible FALs.

Another fun feature of FAL is that it needs a tool to adjust the sights. They had one. One. For the battalion. The jealously guarded property of the armorer, and he would not allow it to leave his arms room and go to the range.

Another fun conversation with our counterpart, one of the battalion officers:

Hognose: “We’ve noticed that the officers seem to be all white, the NCOs mestizos, and the enlisted full-blooded indios.

El Capitán: “Sí, that’s the way it is in my country. Every kind of man in the best job for his abilities. So the officers are white guys like me.”

Hognose: “But you seem to welcome the advice of Sergeant [Black Dude] or CW3 [American Indian].”

El Capitán: “Ah, but you Americans are all gringos all the same, not like us. Your blacks and indians are white.”

Hognose: “Are there any officers in your army who are indios?

El Capitán (giving a look that suggests he thinks ‘Nose has lost his grip): “Why would we do that? We have a couple that are NCOs, that’s enough.”

 

100% Inventory Underway

weaponsarmorym9m4m16racksgunrackgsansnweaponcabinetarmymilitarygunscabinetsThe other day, we came up short a gun for a photo shoot. Whaaa? Well, it’s past time to tidy up around here. (OTR dropped by recently, and threatened to report the Manor in general, and the office in particular, to one of those TV Hoarder shows). There’s a fine line between a collector and a hoarder, isn’t there? We’re determined to stay on the non-bat-guano-crazy side of the line and not be like the crazy cat ladies where they find mummified cat carcasses among the piles of old gun magazines and rusty toasters.

For all that we preach physical security, we’d gotten lax. The light in the main safe went out, and we didn’t fix it. (Failure one). We took guns out for photo ops and they sat around the office, library or even the kitchen for days before being returned. (Failure two). We used various non-standard bags and boxes to move guns around, and didn’t always remove the guns when they got more-or-less to destination (that’s failure three). We had more guns than practical safe storage for them (failure four) and occasionally hosted guest guns that were commingled with our own guns (failure five). We had guns that were not logged into our database (and we’re up to six, and counting).

Most of all, we were casual about putting down books or other stuff on top of guns. So we might well have a gun on a desk, then five books in three languages, then a bank statement that came in and a few press releases from manufacturers. And where was that gun again?

Now, as a private owner of firearms, you have relatively few legal regulations about how you store them, unless you live in some lawless hellhole like North Korea or Massachusetts. Manufacturers and FFLs have more regulations, and those regs can act as a guide to best practices for the private gun owner or other non-licensee who has more than one pistol and a pair of hunting guns. The ATF publishes guidance on inventory control and booking, and licensees that follow it have a lot fewer troubles with an Industry Operations Inspector’s visit that licensees that think they know it all. So the ATF way can guide you.

So can the way the military keeps track of guns. Unlike the Federal criminal investigative agencies that lose scores of guns every year, the services seldom lose a firearm outside of combat; and when they do, it’s usually not lost for very long. (Anyone remember the agency that lost an M4 and a couple of handguns — and never got the M4 back, or made a case against the thief or the criminals caught in possession? It wasn’t the military).

Here are some suggested Best Practices, and we’d welcome discussion in the comments, based mostly not on the right way or the wrong way, but the Army Way:

  • Have an inventory. This seems trivial, but a shocking number of people do not. Our local police chief estimated that in only one in ten residential burglaries that had firearms taken, could the owner produce a list of the firearms by serial number for NCIC entry. This not only prevents the owner from recovering his firearm, but also prevents police from prosecuting criminals who receive the stolen firearms. Very often a stolen firearm is sold on the streets, but they may also be pawned, and ethical pawnbrokers welcome stolen firearms alerts from the cops.
  • Make the inventory easy to use. The more arcane and complicated it is, the more likely it will get neglected and not be 100% complete when you need to broach the subject with the police or insurers. Simplicity is your friend: Manufacturer, importer, model, year, caliber, serial number, other significant markings and a photo are optimal, but make/model, caliber, serial will do in a pinch. (The Army uses NSN, SN, and a couple-word description, plus the line number of the item on the unit’s Modified Table of Organization & Equipment [MTOE] or Table of Distribution and Allowances [TDA]; that’s all that’s in the inventory dump).
  • Have enough storage. This is commonly violated by citizen gun-owners because it’s more fun to buy guns than buy safes. What do you do with overflow? A Job Box bolted to a basement floor or wall and secured with good padlocks is a $300 solution, until you can get that $1000 safe.
  • Tag in, tag out. If the gun is out, hang a tag in its place indicating who has it or where it is (the Army does this with a Weapons Card. There are many versions: here’s one as a .pdf that you can print, four to a page, duplex. In Army use they’re generally laminated).
  • Limit “Withdrawals” The kind of limitations include requiring a need to remove, removing a limited number at a time per user, and a limited duration.
  • Keep Storage Locked. Check it daily, a great time is when you walk your perimeter to ensure doors and windows are closed and locked before bed.
  • Store Magazines and Ammo separately, but also locked. See the Job Box mentioned above.
  • Maintain climate control. In our normally damp, cool basement, we do this with a room dehumidifier that keeps the basement ≤45% humidity, and a rechargable dehumidifier insider each safe. Belt and suspenders humidity management.
  • Conduct frequent inspections. The reason for doing this should be self-evident: it’s to ensure that all your other control measures are working effectively. Here you’re looking for condition, primarily (rust is the secondary enemy of firearms, after national socialists) and

Looking at this list of best practices, it’s clear where we came up short. In the end, the missing vz. 24 that we wanted to A-B compare to a vz. 22 turned up — the dealer that sold it to us shipped it in a Smith & Wesson revolver box, and the whole box was still out of the safe. That was a bad turn of affairs, because it was not only out of our control, but also in an packaging irresistible to burglars.

Want a Project? Here’s a Half-Track that Needs Everything

Every so often, we find something at auction that cries out for just the right buyer. This early World War II halftrack is just such a case.

m2-overview

m2-6120As you can see, this M2 (serial number 6120 of about 13,500 M2s made from 1940 to 1943) is lacking all its armor aft of the A pillar, plus the windshield assembly, plus all the stuff that was attached there. It does have an intact driveline that needs maintenance but does work — pretty amazing after at least 73 years.

One of the most interesting things is the original 6-cylinder flathead motor, still trucking after all these years. If you look closely right of center, you can see the “White” script trademark cast into the engine block.

m2-motor

This picture shows the other side of the motor in its native habitat:

m2-original-motor

Reproduction and restoration parts for halftracks are available, but you see what we mean when we say this vehicle needs the right buyer. (Welding and riveting skills a plus!)

While the body is mostly missing (lets you pick your own variant, perhaps), the office looks pretty much untouched since GI Joe last turned it in.

m2-office

The M2 was used as an artillery tractor, mechanized MG squad bus, and reconnaissance track, whilst the more common M3 (~45k built) and less common International Harvester M5 and M9 (~11,000 built) were mostly used as infantry carriers. All variants of halftrack were made into specialized AA, field artillery / tank destroyer, and other special-purpose vehicles, and many of them were supplied to American allies both under Lend-Lease and postwar.

They soldiered on with Israel through the Yom Kippur War, and served in South America into the 21st Century. Bolivia still may operate some ex-Argentine models (or they may have run out of spares, always a problem for the poorest nation on the continent).

How this one wound up at a US Government auction this month, with a minimum bid of $7,000, is anybody’s guess, but there’s a hell of a story in there.

Minimum bid is $7k, and you’ll have to pay a 10% kicker and Illinois state taxes, and remove it within eight days of the auction close (which is 28 September).

M2 Half Track Truck
ITEM NUMBER 766646
LOCATION
Maywood, Illinois, United States. 60153
AUCTION DATE
Sep 28, time TBD

METER READING 41 Hours
SERIAL # M2 6120
White 6 Cylinder Engine, Manual Transmission, Stake Sides, Bench Seating, Tool Box, Additional Undercarriage Components

via Surplus M2 Half Track Truck in Maywood, Illinois, United States (GovPlanet Item #766646).

It does seem to have a second flatbed-load of bogie and idler wheels and other gear, all of which look like they could use overhaul. At that link there are over 100 photos and a video of the motor running (it’s image number 55 if you want to skip ahead in the gallery).

If you buy it, we’ll come out to Illinois and help you load it!

Listening / Security Halt: in Domestic Practice

Last night we got a chance, unexpectedly, to reduce  what we preach to practice. In the middle of a wild dream we were awakened by the growling of Small Dog Mark II. A glance at the watch: 01:09.

Whisper: “What is it, boy?” Instantly awake, as that tripped him into full bark mode. A moment later, P-01 in hand, fully alert, door silently opened and positioned at the top of the stairs, we paused to think. At that point, a small idea gnome suggested that this was the perfect time to practice listening security, per our recent post and various helpful comments attached thereto.

The dog shushed himself without any human urging.

Five elapsed minutes later, by watch — yes, time drags when you’re keeping still — we knew a number of things:

  1. It was evident that no other living thing was moving in the house.
  2. The alarm was never armed last night (human error).
  3. Changing modes on the watch produced an audible beep. Uh, maybe this is the wrong watch. We need one for lurking, and another to run the heart rate monitor?
  4. There was a light on downstairs that shouldn’t have been. That could have been human error, or could have been an intruder who was now gone.
  5. We’d have to go downstairs to see.

Down we went. The little doglet, who is usually within feet if not inches, opted not to follow us down. Interesting. He is probably picking up on our emotion.

The extra light was in the office. Mental replay of the shutdown sequence explained why it was still on. We planned to turn it off after giving SDMkII his post-last-relief-pause-of-the-day treat, but we never gave him the treat and went straight upstairs. With the hall and stairway lights on, the office light wasn’t obvious; and when we switched ’em off, we were looking into the master bedroom.

Probably, no intruder. A perimeter check confirmed that the perimeter was secure. Our telltales and sacrificial burglar baits were in place. There was the sound of the fountain in the downstairs, and after the very expensive window upgrade that should have been inaudible (finally determined that the sound was coming through a window AC unit, and only audible because the general ambient noise was so low).

So why did the dog alert? At 0522, when he did it again, we got the answer. Dripping water in the MBR shower was a ringer for steps on the stairs, and creeped the little guy out. Eh, we were getting up at 6 anyway. The shower head didn’t have a drip last week. Wonder how long it would have taken to catch, without canine assistance? Adopt for the companionship, sure, but who expects plumbing benefits from a dog?

Lessons learned:

  1. Gun under pillow beats gun in night stand drawer, especially when stealth is a factor.
  2. Under pillow is a good place for a DA/SA firearm like this CZ or a Beretta or SIG, or an SA/safetied auto like a 1911 or BHP.  Not a good place for a striker-fired, trigger-safety gun like a Glock or M&P. (Trigger work increases this advantage of the old style guns).
  3. The fewer clothes you’re wearing, the less noise your clothes make. And clothes materials make a big difference in the sound or lack of it as you move around.
  4. Five minutes is a long time to stand still but hardly impossible. It should certainly suffice to flush out any prowler.
  5. Just as your eyes adapt to low light smoothly but not immediately, your ears adapt to low ambient sound levels and over that five minutes, your discrimination of discrete sounds improves markedly.
  6. This is a blast of cool hard obvious, but a dog — any dog — is an excellent extension of human senses, apart from all the other things that are splendid about dogs.

Some sounds are ambiguous. Some are distinctly human. No one who has ever heard it forgets the plastic snap of M16A1 handguards on anything, or the sound of an AK clicking off safe.

A Last Great Act of Defiance

We don’t know this cat. We don’t know his name, his history or why he wound up where he was. It was what he did next that assured that his name is written forever in the saga of the great warrior race, the Pathans (Pushtuns).

We don’t even know he was a Pathan, as he says not a word. He might not have been; the ISIL followers in Afghanistan, like the Taliban before them, have made their ate-up religion an excuse for the ethnic cleansing of minorities such as Tajiks, Uzbeks, and especially Hazaras. (Our hero doesn’t look like a Hazara to me, but it’s a crummy video). So the Pathans who remember his story for the centuries may be his own people, or whatever survivors ultimately remain of the doomed tribe he was fighting.

This is what it comes down to: the choice between life, and perhaps death, as a free man, and the slavery inherent in allah hu akbar. 

Some day, that phrase will sound exclusively in the ears of the demons of Hell, because it is incompatible with the existence of free men, and free men shall win.