Category Archives: Weapons that Made their Mark

A New Rifle, a Reliability Problem

question mark(Apologies to all for the premature launch of this post at 0600 this morning. It was originally supposed to go there, then it was moved to the 1100 spot but the night shift botched the job. Those responsible have been sacked. Your comments and poll elections should be preserved.-Ed.)

The rifle had been praised wildly on the occasion of its adoption. Years of testing had proven its superiority, and it offered a revolution in rifleman’s firepower. Some of the claims made for the new rifle were:

  • Greater accuracy in combat conditions;
  • a greater volume of fire, firepower equal to five of the old rifles;
  • more effective against modern threats;
  • less demanding of training time;
  • lower recoil, and negligible fatigue from firing;
  • average size of production rifle groups, 1.75″ extreme spread at 100.
  • accuracy “better than the average service rifle, compares favorably with [a customized target] rifle”; and,
  • “every organization so far equipped has submitted enthusiastic reports of their performance under all conditions…”

Despite that glowing report from the men responsible for the decision, reports began to trickle in of unusual, crippling, and intermittent stoppages, and this reinforced many servicemen in their reluctance to give up their Ol’ Betsy for this new piece of technology.

What Rifle are we Talking About Here? free polls

Answer after the jump!

Continue reading

Nuclear Attack, for Real (Nagasaki)

"Bockscar" at the USAFM in Dayton, OH (it embiggens)

“Bockscar” at the USAFM in Dayton, OH (it embiggens)

This is Los Alamos National Labs’ archive film of the “Fat Man” atomic bomb as dropped on Nagasaki in August 1945. It comes to us via the Restricted Data1 channel on YouTube.

To us one of the most salient discoveries is that you can’t nuke a city without duct tape, or as we called it in the Army, “100-mile-an-hour tape.” Bockscar was probably traveling at well over 100 (over 200 in fact) indicated airspeed when it released Fat Man, but Fat Man still had the seam around his nose sealed with the ubiquitous tape. (At about 0:40 in the video).

The author of the RD Channel, Alex Wellerstein, describes it like this:

This silent film shows the final preparation and loading of the “Fat Man” bomb into “Bockscar,” the plane which dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. It then shows the Nagasaki explosion from the window of an observation plane. This footage comes from Los Alamos National Laboratory. I have not edited it in any way from what they gave me except to improve the contrast a little — it is basically “raw.” I have annotated it with some notes on the bombing and what you can see — feel free to disable the annotations if you don’t want them.

He also maintains an excellent blog, of the same title, at this location: Further details on the Nagasaki raid —  and this video — at the Nuclear Secrecy Blog. Do read the comments as, with a couple of exceptions, Alex’s blog, like this one, benefits from an informed and thoughtful commentariat.

Elsewhere on his blog, he also addressed a historical mysterywhy was Kokura, home to Kokura Arsenal known to every collector of Japanese firearms, and Fat Man’s primary target, spared; whilst Nagasaki, the secondary target, was destroyed?2

Terrain model of Kokura Arsenal, the primary target. Saved by 10/10 obscuration on the day of the raid.

Terrain model of Kokura Arsenal, the primary target. Saved by 10/10 obscuration on the day of the raid. (USAAF official via Nuclear Secrecy blog).

His cautious conclusion: while there’s a case for obscuration due to an earlier fire-bombing raid on an upwind city, and a case for deliberate obscuration by Japanese defensive measures, two of which possible measures he describes. Ultimately, he concludes:

In the end, it doesn’t really matter which of these things happened. The bare fact is that Kokura didn’t get bombed and Nagasaki did. But I find looking into these kinds of questions useful as a historian. Too often it is easy to take for granted that the explanations given in narrative works of history are “settled,” when really they are often resting on very thin evidence, thinner perhaps than the historian who writes them realizes. I don’t think we really know what happened at Kokura, and I’m not sure we ever truly will.

His first sentence reminds us of something we say to people who have disturbing memories or survivor’s guilt: “In combat, there’s no right or wrong, there’s just what happened and what you did.”

Alex’s is an elegant and responsible historical blog — much recommended.


More AT Rifles for Sale

If you missed last week’s Boys Mk.I., that’s OK, there are other anti-tank rifles on the market. Just the thing for when “they” come, although to be sure these haven’t been tested against flying saucers.

Collector weapons dealer Bob Adams (whose long dark night of ATF persecution seems to be over, in his favor) has several Anti-Tank Rifles for sale at the moment.

I: 20mm Lahti Semi-Auto: $10k

The first is a registered 20mm Lahti Model L-39:

Lahti AT Rifle

Bob writes:

Description and pictures to follow shortly. This is a live destructive device requiring a $200 transfer tax. It has a Russian Heavy Machine Gun (DShK) tripod adapted to it by the Finns during WWII. The tripod alone is rare.

All he has at the moment is the stock photo and a picture of such a weapon in use by the Finns.

II: 20mm Solothurn M/39 Model S-1000 Semi-Auto: $12k

This is the Lahti’s Swiss cousin.

solothurn AT Rifle

Bob says:

This was recently deactivated by drilling holes in the barrel. It can be re-activated by replacing the barrel and filing a Form 1 with ATF or rebarreled (or sleeved) to .50 BMG with no ATF registration.

We’re kind of doubtful a .50 x 99 conversion would be quite that easy, but people have done it.

Finally, we get to the king of beasts, historically speaking:

III: 1918 Mauser T-Gewehr: $10k with .50 BMG barrel and original barrel.

This is the original, single-shot, bolt-action Mauser anti-tank rifle, the gun that inspired the .50 Browning cartridge and machine gun. It’s set up as a shooter, but no irreversible alterations have been made to this historic piece.

Mauser T-Gewehr

The .50 barrel is mounted. The inset shows the original 13 x

Rare Mauser Tank-Gewehr 13mm WWI Anti-Tank rifle with extra .50 barrel. Rare and historic German military anti-tank rifle made in 1918 by Mauser to defeat early tanks. All matching and complete with original bipod. Very good condition with much blue & some brown patina. Very good or better original bore which can be improved. Excellent .50 Browning 45″ barrel w/scope rail installed on barrel for shooting. Original parts unaltered and complete with the original barrel! Note: ATF has ruled these are not a destructive device.

This is a close-up of the single-shot breech and the sturdy scope-mount rail as installed. As you can see, it attaches to the barrel, leaving the receiver unmarked.

Mauser T-Gewehr breech

Of these, in our opinion the one with the greatest historic significance and the best potential for appreciation is the original T-Gewehr. But all these guns are priced in Barrett territory, which makes them (in our opinion, for whatever value you may give that) underpriced.


Want to Own an Antitank Rifle? Here’s a Boys!

Maybe you’re going to get a tax refund in the low five figures (if so, you need to adjust fire on your withholding or quarterlies, but roll with us here for the sake of entertainment, will you?) Let’s take a quick survey of the market for original anti-tank rifles, shall we? This will be Part 1 (because we got 1200+ words out, describing the rifle that was going to be half of the original post).

Boys .55 AT Rifle, British Design, Made in Canada 1943.

Skip Edgley in Maryland, whom we don’t know personally, but with whom we think we’d get along famously, is selling a Boys .55 Anti-Tank Rifle as made by the Canadian wartime gunmaker John Inglis & Company, marked “US Government Property” like a US Military firearm. It comes with three original mags (which come up for sale from time to time) and 200 rounds of original ammo (which is much less common).

Boys .55 left side

Yes, it’s a big beautiful doll of a weapon. Pretty much a lock that it will not fit in your existing safe. It’s a rare bolt-action, magazine-fed AT Rifle.

Boys .55 action right

The sights are offset left to clear that enormous magazine:

Boys .55 front sight

And a lot of attention was paid to recoil management:

Boys .55 rear of action

Here’s his description:

Up for bids is a British Boys Model RB MKI .55 caliber bolt-action Anti-Tank Rifle with bipod. Excellent condition, totally functional. All serial numbers match. Total of 200 original rounds, 40 sets of 5 rounds in stripper clips/bandoleers in two original wooden crates, one full and one partial. DO THE MATH! 1939 dated, original British made .55 caliber ammo is selling (WHEN YOU CAN FIND IT) for around $50.00/each. That’s $10K in just the ammo. That makes the gun cost $2K. This rifle is complete with the original front mounted bipod, three original magazines and the original muzzle break. The magazines are an original WWII British issue. Condition is excellent with 95% of the original wartime finish which has darkened from age, showing only minor edge and high spot wear overall. The bolt body retains its original factory bright finish and the various parts all show their original British proofmarks. The supple cheekpiece, front and rear pistol grips still show their original wartime finish. This is an excellent, all original example of a desirable WWII British/Canadian manufactured, U.S. Army issue Boys Anti-Tank rifle. Manufactured by Inglis of Canada.

These were bought by the United States, not for the US Army, but for Lend-Lease purposes, for Commonwealth forces and for China. As they were quickly obsoleted by improving Axis armor (and improving Allied infantry AT weapons)

This beautiful Anti Tank Rifle was designed and manufactured in Canada for the British and Commonwealth Armies. It is the most powerful rifle ever issued to any modern army. It was the infantry Anti Tank weapon of the British Forces in France and, at Dunkirk, helped to stave off the attack in the German Panzer forces, to permit the evacuation of the Allied forces. It was again prominent in holding intact the British defenses covering Egypt and the nerve center at Cairo”. The Boys Anti Tank Rifle weighs 33 lbs (including bipod) and is 63 inches long. Has three, five shot magazines in an original steel magazine box, muzzle brake, and a thick and soft recoil pad.

Gun is in MD on a Form 4. Curio and Relic. $12,000.00.

One of the reason we like Skip, even though we don’t know him, is his sense of humor (bold emphasis below is ours):

My hi-def close-up photos are part of my description. They are not taken from the Hubble or even a foot away. They might show imperfections that may or may not be apparent to the naked eye. They may also show reflections and some dust/lint that will not be included with your purchase. Please examine them closely. I attempt to list ALL imperfections in my description. Shipping includes insurance. AK & HI slightly higher. My email will not accept mail through the GB board. Please contact me directly at Plastic +3%. NO RESERVE! Thanks!

via Boys Antitank Rifle 55 Cal MKI DD WWII British : Destructive Devices at

Starting bid is $12k; because it’s > .50 caliber, this is a Form 1 Destructive Device and needs an ATF transfer. (If you’re diffident about owning an enormous AT rifle chambered for a bizarre caliber obsolete for 80 years, he’s also got a bargain-priced ($6500) Stemple Sten that will transfer on Form 1, Form 3 if you’re an appropriately-licensed SOT of course).

More pictures of the Boys Rifle are after the jump at the end of the market survey!

Coming soon (hopefully Monday!): More Vintage AT Rifles!

Bob Adams has resolved his long battle with the ATF (entirely in his favor, it seems; the ATF decided to make an example out of him for being an FFL dealing with non import marked pistols, which is perfectly legal, and, mirabile dictu, the courts followed the law). Why does this matter here? Because, along with his usual high-end collector pistols, he has a treasure trove of anti-tank rifles for sale, including some examples that even the advanced collector seldom sees. Look for them RSN (Real Soon Now®).

Click More for (duh) More!

Once again, the “excess” pictures are after the jump, for the lover of AT Rifle porn.

Continue reading

Pictorial History of the Walther P.38

Illustrated mostly with guns coming up for sale at Rock Island Auctions, most of them from the Brotherton Collection (thank you, Bear).

The 9mm Blowback MP

First, Walther tried scaling up the classic PP (Polizei Pistole) to the German 9 x 19mm service cartridge. This was called the MP (Militär Pistole) and had the problems you’d associate with making a 9mm blowback firearm. With the unlocked breech, the firearm needed a heavy slide and stiff spring to be safe (although it’s much safer to rely on bolt [slide] weight than spring tension). While you can see a touch of P.38 ancestry here, it’s mostly just a PP with thyroid issues.

Walther 9mm blowback mp

Like an Uzi as much as like Browning’s original slide patent, this massive slide. How heavy does the slide have to be? Orion’s Hammer makes use of this equation from Chinn :

bolt mass in pounds = 1.09×10-5 * bullet mass in grains * bullet velocity in fps * (diameter of bolt face / diameter of bullet base)2

To make an approximate calculation of 1.7 lbs. which is a pretty heavy slide weight, mostly well forward. (Good for bullseye accuracy in rapid fire, unlikely to be popular as a service pistol). He uses a somewhat odd 9mm load (88 grain bullet at 1600 fps) but changing the load at the same chamber pressure should, ceteris paribus, give us the same bolt weight (because any changes in weight should produce a change in velocity).

So, a blowback 9mm worked — we think the owners of any of these rare birds can shoot them with perfect safety, Walther engineers could do math — but it wasn’t optimal. Time for a new gun.

The “Hammerless” MP and AP series

This early prototype is named “Walther Armee Pistole MP” and it’s fairly close to classical P.38 form. The departures include: lack of a slide arch at the front, slide reinforcements, and a “hammerless” (really, internal hammer) design. We don’t know why Walther went with the internal hammer. They had used an internal hammer decades earlier on some of their pocket pistols, like the single-action PP forerunner Model 8, and perhaps they thought the Army did not want an external hammer (the P.08 Luger was striker-fired, and the Army’s problem with it was primarily its cost — in Reichsmarks, machine time, and materials). There are some small and subtle differences from later P.38s, also, like the checkering pattern on the grips. This image also lets you see how the proto-P38 frame retained some of the features and aesthetics of the 9mm PP-based MP.

Walther Armee Pistole MP

According to Rock Island, the pistol above is Serial Number ?? The following one is serial 044. It has taken several steps closer to the final P.38 in the shape of the slide and in some details such as the takedown latch, the bolt catch, and the grip checkering. walther armee pistole no 44

This firearm, serial number 09, we’ve already seen in an earlier post. It appears to be a cousin of #44 above, and is labeled Armee Pistole. The long barrel and stock/holster are original.

Armee pistole no 09

A “Sheet Metal” P.38? Or an Early Toolroom Prototype?

This weapon is hard to figure out. RIA describes it as a sheet metal P.38 prototype, but it has many very early features, and may be the original P.38 prototype or toolroom mule, in the white, with some parts like the slide built up from sheet or plate due to lack of forgings.

toolroom armee pistole prototype

Note that the takedown latch, sight, and safety all resemble early designs, but the slide release resembles the later design. A fascinating  one-off, whatever it is.

These weapons evolved into the P.38. First, though, they passed through the Heeres Pistol stage. This is a 1939 made HP for Sweden. It is for sale by Hallowell & Co. We’ll show you both left and right.


In most details, this resembles the later P.38. In comparison to the earlier guns, the HP has a smooth-sided slide, and most clearly visible, an exposed hammer. The grips have the same checkering pattern as some of the prototypes, but are made of a bakelite-like thermosetting.


Next we have a typical wartime P.38 (although it has an uncommon manufacturer code, 480) which is, again, for sale by Hallowell & Co. in Montana. And again, here are  both left and right.

p38--6075--left p38--6075--right

Changes are cosmetic and small, although the replacement of checkering with serrations on the takedown lever probably saved some manufacturing time. While the grooved grips that replaced the checkered ones are obvious, the much larger recess for accepting a lanyard snap is typical of the many small improvements in the wartime Walther.

The P.38 in turn evolved into the postwar P.1, which was basically a P.38 with an alloy frame. Due to loss of engineering documents, at least some parts of the P.1 were reverse engineered from production P.38s. The grips reverted to checkering. There are several versions of the P.1, and many variations of the postwar commercial P.38.

Walther also produced a modified, slightly shorter-barreled version as the P.4.

Then, finally, the P5 was the end of the line for Walther’s 1930s DA/SA tilting-locking-block design. The Walther P88 and subsequent service pistol designs used a modified Browning tipping barrel. The Walther style tipping block of course made a jump to Beretta in the M1951 and all its successors, including the M9.


Rock Island Auction Update – the last one, the next one

We posted, a few days ago, that Rock Island was having an auction. We didn’t get either Little Tom we planned to bid on (so we soothed ourselves with a consolation Little Tom off GunBroker; unfortunately, not a Czech one, but it’s still the same Alois Tomiška design), but a lot of other people got the firearm they wanted from the massive February 25th-28th Auction.

It looks like almost all lots sold and Rock Island is sitting on a pile of 7.3 million dollars (the bulk of which, of course, goes to the consignors). Don’t feel bad about them having to pass the money to the consignors, as they get commission on one side and buyers’ premium on the other — trust us, the fine folks at RIA are very happy this week:

We had a new record on our hands during the third day, but the unprecedented FOURTH day of firearms for auction, put it above and beyond our expectations. We have you to thank for that!

As a site that also sets records from time to time — January was our record for unique visitors at 203895, until February broke that record — despite being only 29 days — with 217158 — we know how good it feels. We’ll bid more on our next rarity, but first, here are a couple of RIA’s top -grossing firearms from this past auction.

  • Lot 544: A Colt-Vickers Model 1915 “Balloon Buster” —  $16,100 hammer price. This was an unserviceable firearm in poor condition, but NFA registered and thus restorable. Of course, good luck finding the proprietary 11mm ammunition (approximately .43). It was a special incendiary-only round that was made for splashing the Boche’s hydrogen-filled observation balloons.

Colt Vickers Balloon Buster L

  • Lot 4006: An ultra-rare Smith & Wesson .31 lever action pistol, a rare transitional firearm between Volcanic and Henry (which then would lead to Winchester). This mint-condition firearm fired the Volcanic .31 “cartridge,” which comprised a hollow bullet with powder and primer in its base. — $10,350.

S&W lever pistol

And those prices weren’t the peak at all. A couple of engraved Henry rifles went to well-heeled collectors (or maybe a really wise interior decorator?) for $23k apiece.

RIA engraved Henry

Rock Island has more auctions planned, of course. The March 25th online-only one, however, has slid to May for reasons known but to RIA. You can get on their mailing list for free (and Forgotten Weapons can get you a discount on their catalogs, which are beautiful gun wishbooks; search that site for “RIA Discount”).

The next auction that will have really primo stuff like these firearms you see here will be the April Premier Auction, which will take place 29 Apr- 1 May. Even if you don’t subscribe to their listings, you can see the 16 page teaser catalog for the April auction at the link (warning — it’s big and wants a fast computer). The cover looks like an explosion of gold and engraving, then you go inside.

  • Two pages of glory represent the 350 Winchesters in the auction (plus some Henry and Volcanic arms).
  • Two pages represent the 500-odd Colts.
  • Two more of the Bear Bretherton collection. In the days ahead, expect us to feature more of the guns from this collection. There are even two we are going to bid on. (We expect to get creamed by deeper pockets, but … we shall try… we could sell some Johnsons or something, if that doesn’t make the ATF declare us a dealer.

As we said, we’ll be featuring the Bretherton stuff in the days ahead. For now, here’s just one. 

Armee pistole no 09

Walther Armee Pistole, serial number 09. Yes, it’s a prototype or pre-production of the pistol that would become the P.38 service pistol of the Deutsche Wehrmacht — in a one off long-barreled, shoulder-stocked version. Kaiser Wilhelm and Napoleon Solo got nothing on this!

The stock is original and matching serial number: 09.

The thing is, this is not a featured or outstanding gun in the Brotherton collection. It’s unique, and historically significant, but in that collection it is absolutely typical. 

Yes, it’s going to go for something between a king’s ransom and the GDP of a small country (or a large one after an application of socialism, aka “bad luck”). That we can’t afford it is sad, but we’re just delighted to live in a world where Mr Brotherton could collect such a number and quality of important collector arms.

And hey, if we had it, we’d just shoot it anyway.

More on the Federov Automatic

V.G. Federov as a Guards Colonel in the Imperial Russian Army.

V.G. Federov as a Guards Colonel in the Imperial Russian Army. Great mustache! (He kept it as a Red Army Lt. General, too).

Gun writer extraordinaire and friend of the blog Max Popenker has a good run-down on the famous granddaddy of all assault rifles, the Federov Avtomat of 1916, over at The Firearm Blog. We recently had a post on this firearm, and either in the comments there or via email Max gave us a heads-up his TFB piece was coming. Not long ago Ian at Forgotten Weapons had an excellent video and photo post with images (including disassembly) of several of these rare birds.

Vladimir Grigoryevich Federov (Fyodorov, depending on how you transliterate his name; “Federov” seems most common, so we’re going to give up on typing it the hard way) was an interesting character. He was originally a Tsarist officer, well-trained as an engineer and a weapons designer, and worked on automatic weapons design very early.

He kept working on it very late — it was widely issued to Red units in  the Russian Civil War — and developed it into a range of weapons, including air- and water-cooled LMGs. In some of these he partnered with Degtyaryev, who would succeed him in the leadership of the arsenal.

Considering all the trauma involved in the Russian Revolution and the Civil War, the Russians maintained a remarkable consistency in their firearms development and engineering, with many of the Tsarist leaders staying on and becoming Communist leaders. Most of the arsenals stayed in Red hands, and Izhevsk was only briefly held by the Whites, and was not very productive for them while they held it. The Whites wound up in lifelong or generational exile (those who accepted Stalin-era invitations to return only regretted that error briefly), and while that deprived Russia of such aeronautical engineering talent as Sikorsky and de Seversky, Russia’s gun designers, mostly, stayed put.

The Avtomat was a short-Recoil operated firearm; two pivoting lugs on the barrel locked the bolt. The firing mechanism had an internal hammer.

One of the two pivoting locking lugs or blocks in the AF-16. Image from Forgotten Weapons.

One of the two pivoting locking lugs or blocks in the AF-16. Image from Forgotten Weapons.

It fed 6.5mm ammunition — originally, its own proprietary cartridge, but later, 6.5mm Japanese ammunition which was available in quantity — from a 25-round double-row box magazine.

Federov "Avtomat," 1916.

Federov “Avtomat,” 1916.

Rather than simply quote large sections of Max’s article, which is really excellent, we’d just as soon send you there. Instead, we’re going to give you some supplementary background on things he covers in his outstanding piece. For instance, its designer wasn’t the one who gave it its famous name. Historian Yuri Alexandrovich Natzvaladze, then Senior Curator of the St. Petersburg Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Sapper and Signal Troops wrote this:

In Russian, this sort of weaponry is generally called avtomat, the word having been derived from the Greek automatos (self-propelled). Assault rifles have automatic reloading, cocking, firing, extraction and ejection of spent shells based on the usage of powder gases’ energy.

The new weapon had originally been designated in documents and military literature as “machine rifle” or “light machine rifle.” In 1919, N. M. Filatov, the prominent Russian expert in the field, called the model an avtomat. This was how the automatic carbine designed by V. G. Federov forever acquired its short, descriptive Russian name, thus beginning a whole new class of individual infantry weapons.1

By that time, of course, the exotic, novel rifle had already been used in combat, by the so-called Special Company of the 189th (Ismailsky) Infantry Regiment on the Romanian front in January 1917. It would later see much more combat with Red units in the Civil War. (Max goes into how then-Guards Colonel Federov sided with the Bolsheviks and helped convert a gun plant in Kovrov — which had been making Madsen LMGs — to make Avtomats. 

Max’s article has some very rarely seen photographs of some of the later Avtomat successors, some of which are also found in Natzvaladze’s and Daniel Naumovich Bolotin’s works.


  1. Natzvaladze, Yuri A. The Trophies of the Red Army During the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945: Volume 1, Antitank Weapons — Aircraft Machine Guns — Assault Rifles. Mesa, Arizona: Champlin Fighter Museum, 1996. pp. 166-167.

Brownell’s Retro M16A1 Receivers

It had to happen, someone other than NoDak Spud getting into the Retro AR receiver business. And that someone is Brownell’s.

Well, sort of. Because NDS is providing either the receivers or at least the forgings to Brownell’s, so they’re the same quality retro heads have come to admire. The principal difference, then, is the markings on the lower, and the finish — Brownell’s receivers are finished in a late-model black anodizing, not the original Colt-style “AR Gray” that NoDak uses. Here’s Brownell’s intro video:

Both receivers list for $150 each.

The upper is the style used on Colt Model 603 XM16E1/M16A1 rifles and XM177 submachine guns, including many oddballs and prototypes; it has no Brunton bump for cartridge deflection, but does have a forward assist boss.

The lower is a late XM16E1/M16A1 type with a fully-formed guard around the magazine release, no A2 reinforcements of the pivot pin bosses and buffer tower area, and no label on the right side of the safety/selector hole.

NDS will continue to sell a whole range of Retro AR lowers, in a whole range of styles, mostly in a period-correct “XM Gray” anodizing.


As God is our witness, we thought turkeys could fly these things were In Stock when we wrote this post. By the time it went live: Backorder, Out of Stock. Sorry about that. Brownell’s is good with backorders, though.

When CMP Got Some Carbines In…

…they sold out. In one day. Twice.

Let us explain that. They sent a message on 28 January to their mailing list:

Monday, February 1, we will begin accepting orders for a limited number of M1 Carbines for mail order. Two grades will be available, Service and Field. They include the following manufacturers; Inland, Winchester, IBM, Quality Hardware, Saginaw, Standard Product and Underwood. The manufacturer you receive will be luck of the draw, please no requests. Each customer is limited to one total Carbine this year. You will not be allowed to purchase both a Service and Field Grade. You may put down your first choice and second choice.


We DO NOT time stamp orders, we only date stamp them. All orders received the same day are put in one basket. Please do not call about your order. If information is needed for your order, our sales department will contact you. Be sure to complete the checklist for the order before you send it in. Questions about orders already in-house slow down our processing which means it takes longer to send out the end product. If your payment method is a check, we will not deposit your check until your order is processed. However, some orders may go on backorder. You will be contacted prior to depositing your check should your order be placed on a backorder list. To be placed on the backorder list, you must have a form of payment with your order.

There were two grades available, in a quantity of a few dozen each. (Images below are of a Service and Field grade carbine, but these rarer Saginaw-made firearms came from the CMP auction site).

M1 Carbine Service Grade: R017SERVICE $685/each Free S&H

M1 carbine saginaw service grade

Carbines may have been rebuilt and refinished at least once and will exhibit, in most cases, varying degrees of wear on many parts and generally nosignificant pitting on metal. Metal parts are mixed USGI. While all Carbines are USGI, some may have foreign markings. Muzzle may gauge 3 or less on muzzle gauge. Stocks may be replacement marked M2 type birch, beech pot belly or USGI walnut, but may have seen heavy use with possible rebuild or other markings. Each carbine will be shipped with an empty chamber indicator, CMP Safety Manual and a CMP reprint of FM23-37. The Carbine is also shipped in a CMP hard rifle case.

NOTE: Carbines will not be sold or shipped with magazines, slings or oilers.

M1 Carbine Field Grade: R017FIELD $625/each Free S&H

M1 carbine saginaw field grade

Carbines may have been rebuilt and refinished at least once and will exhibit, in most cases, varying degrees of wear on many parts. Bores may have some heavy pitting and exterior finish may show significant wear and surface pitting. Metal parts are mixed USGI. While all carbines are USGI, some may have foreign markings. Muzzle may gauge 3 or more on muzzle gauge. Stocks may be replacement marked M2 type birch, beech pot belly or USGI walnut, but may have seen heavy use with possible rebuild or other markings or repairs. Each carbine will be shipped with an Empty Chamber Indicator, CMP Safety Manual and a CMP reprint of FM23-37. The Carbine is also shipped in a CMP hard rifle case.

NOTE: Carbines will not be sold or shipped with magazines, slings or oilers.

They received enough complete orders (with eligibility information and payment) to cover all the carbines they had, except for a few dozen they’d reserved for in-store sales.

Note that we don’t have a dog in this fight, as we didn’t read any of these messages until after the sell-out had occurred.

So then they put the remainder… under 70 M1 carbines… out in their two stores at Anniston, AL (the Talladega Marksmanship Park) and Port Clinton, OH (Camp Perry) yesterday.

CMP M1 Carbine Release in CMP Stores

M1 Carbines will be released in our stores in Anniston, Alabama, and Port Clinton, Ohio, on Thursday, February 4. Since our mail orders sold out in one day, we thought it would be wise to notify our store customers that there will be less than 35 full M1 Carbines in each store. This is the extremely limited quantity referenced in our previous email. They will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. No rifles will be held. Please bring all necessary paperwork with you to the store. No agent purchases.

There may be someone who got a carbine in the store, and already had his paperwork in for a mail-order carbine, in which case he gets the one he picked out in the store, and his mail-order paperwork is void, and someone gets plucked off the back-order list. Other than that:

CMP’S Carbine Inventory has been exhausted and we do not expect to receive any additional shipments.

Expect many of them to appear on GunBroker at a $400-600 markup, CMP’s small contribution to the neckbeard contingent, which otherwise would only be able to survive on the profits of .22LR arbitrage.

CMP does have a few premium (condition, or rarity) carbines that were culled from the pack, including an M1A1, that they offer on their auction site.

Inland M1A1 Carbine

Note that the prices get high (here’s a carbine bayonet that’s into the hundreds with eight days yet to go in the auction). With eight days to go, this M1A1 is over $2k (it will likely wind up much higher than that).

Inland M1A1 Carbine 2 Inland M1A1 Carbine 3

It’s also worthwhile to look at the auction site to see what top-notch carbines and Garands are going for, and what CMP’s Service and Field grades look like.

See what we have to look forward to on the 1911s?

Revenant Rifle

With the new movie, The Revenant, about to open, we found on the Contemporary Makers blog a fascinating story by Ron Luckenbill about the two identical rifles he built for the movie — in less than 60 days for both.

Revenant Rifle

Ron is justly proud of the work he’s done here.

Luckenbill Revenant 01

This is the gun that I built for Leonardo DiCaprio to use in his portrayal of Hugh Glass in The Revenant movie.  The movie will be released to the general public on Jan 8, 2016.  I have been getting a number of  request for photos of the gun, but was restricted from posting them until the movie release.


I was contacted in July of 2014 by the prop master for the movie relative to building two guns exactly alike.  They were initially interested in an Angstadt rifle that I had on my web site, but I just sold the gun and it was no longer available.  After discussion other possible guns they decided to go with this Bucks Co gun that I had in stock.  I then built an exact duplicate and had both guns in British Columbia by the end of August.  It was exciting to be involved in a project like this.  I like many others am waiting to see the gun in the movie.  I hope it helps to raise awareness of the sport of muzzleloading.


Luckenbill Revenant 06

via Contemporary Makers.

Ron LuckenbillRon builds hand-crafted rifles in the 18th and early 19th Century Pennsylvania tradition. He has made a third copy, which he’s going to be offering for sale at the 18th Century Artisan Show this year. He also has a number of other fine rifles and fowling pieces, reproductions and originals, on his own website, where he shares further details of the Revenant rifle.

The gun was built on a moderately figured piece of curly maple in the classic Bucks County style.

Luckenbill Revenant 11

(Look at those stripes! If that’s moderately figured, we’d like to see what Ron calls fancy maple).

The build is based on an original which was handled and photographed by the builder. The hardware is copied from an original John Shuler, Sr. rifle. The barrel is a 44″ Colerain B weight 50 cal. While many original Bucks Co. rifles had English import locks, the original had somewhat larger than normal Germanic lock.

Luckenbill Revenant 03

I found that a Jim Chambers Golden age lock was a near match for the original. The carving of this rifle is somewhat atypical for a Bucks Co. gun in that it is a blend of both raised and incised carving, showing a decided Lehigh Co. influence.


Luckenbill Revenant 04

We don’t presume to be able to ID classic frontier rifles by state, let alone county. But we sure can admire this kind of work.

Luckenbill Revenant 09

We double-dog dare you to go to Ron’s website and not come away with a jones for these classic guns, a uniquely American extension of a German gunsmithing tradition (which is why they’re Pennsylvania rifles, and not New York or Massachusetts rifles; early German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania and points west). You can spend a lot on one of Ron’s creations, or one of the higher-end originals he has for sale. But he also has some reasonably priced original rifles and fowling-pieces, especially the later, percussion firearms.

He does make a very good point: given the antiquity of these guns, if you want a shooter, you’re probably better served by a replica than by an original. And given the current prices of the better mass-produced replicas, having a smith like Ron make you your own heirloom might not command the premium that it really deserves.