Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Waffensammler-Kuratorium

OK, we didn’t get this up on time due to other requirements (had to drive to Boston to pick up Kid who was coming in from the Midwest) and so we’re just throwing one out to you: the Kuratoriums zur Förderung historischer Waffensammlungen, which means “Trustees for the Advancement of Collecting Historic Arms”.

If the Awful German Language is not among your attainments, you can read the Awful Google Translation of the site instead. The intro says (our translation, not Google’s):

Collecting weapons — a Fascinating Hobby

Do you like to look at weapons in museums or displays, and wonder at he gunsmith’s art? Are you interested in their historical background? Then we at the Kuratorium zur Förderung historischer Waffensammlungen have the information you’re after.

Normally we’d say more about it, but time, you know? There are some excellent historical articles, in .pdf format, albeit in German, for you to find. Enjoy.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Manowar’s Hungarian Weapons Page

Behind this 1990s interface lurks more information on Hungarian small arms that you can find anywhere else -- online or off.

Behind this 1990s interface lurks more information on Hungarian small arms that you can find anywhere else — online or off.

For some reason, people don’t think about Hungary when they think about European small arms. Maybe it’s because most of Hungarian history has taken place under somebody’s boot-heel or the other, like the Habsburg Empire or Soviet Union. Or maybe it’s because the Hungarian language is a complex tongue, quite unrelated to Germanic, Slavic or Romance languages, that few foreigners master. (It does, fortunately, borrow some firearms words, as “rifle” is the same in Hungarian and western Slavic languages, “pushka”, for instance).

But Hungary not only has a lot of European charm that’s uniquely its own, it also has its own small arms history. Naturally, there are collectors who focus on that nation and its fascinating small arms history. Those collectors rely on the definitive information at Manowar’s Hungarian Weapons & History page.  (The URL is www.hungariae.com).

manowars_kiralyEarly Hungarian cartridge arms, during the period of the Dual Monarchy, were sometimes Budapest-made variants of Austrian designs, and these less common variants of Mannlicher rifles and Roth-Steyr pistols are sought as variants by Habsburg weapons collectors. But during the brief Hungarian independence 1918-44, Hungarians developed many of their own weapons. The Frommer Stop pistol and the submachines of Király would be standout designs in any nation. His fascinating delayed-blowback lever design was unique (although the French FAMAS rifle owes Király a debt).

manowar_misconceptionsOne of the best things about the site is its “misconceptions” page, a small segment of which is shown at right. For example, we always thought the 7.65 Frommer Stop pistol was chambered for the 7.65 Browning or .32 ACP cartridge — Manowar sets his readers straight on that.

Even if you think you are completely uninterested in Eastern European arms in general, and Hungarian ones specifically, we defy you to spend only a couple of minutes at hungariae.com. We bet you can’t!

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Firearms History

firearms_historyThis is a first-time, never-before thing: a second shot at W4 for the same website.

Why? Because Firearms History at blogspot.com has spent most of 2016 doing a deep dive into the history and technology of black powder, starting with the raw materials, and working their way up to industrial production.

A look at as much of the archive menu as we could screencap shows you what we mean. Open up these archives, go to the bottom and find “What is a Saltpeter Man?” and work your way up, if you’re at all interested in how gunpowder — original, black, gunpowder — was and is made.

firearms_history_blackpowder

It’s a priceless resource. There is no other place where all this information is available in one place. It’ll be even better if he follows up with the early history of smokeless powder, which saw simultaneous development of multiple technologies in multiple industrial nations.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: HBSA

We had to go to acronyms or the name of this W4 (see what we did there?) would stretch into Thursday: the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association is a British fraternal organization which at once sponsors competitions with modern (i.e., not muzzleloading “antique”) firearms to the extent that such things are still permitted in Once Great Britain, and tries to defend gun rights, along with larger groups like the hunting-oriented British Association for Shooting and Conservation (144,500 members) and the target-shooting-oriented UK National Rifle Association (~20,000 members). The HBSA is more interested in the historical and collector firearms which are of secondary interest (if that) to the larger groups.

The Rights Battle in Britain

In the United Kingdom (partially excepting Northern Ireland under Home Rule), shooters and collectors lost the cultural battle before they lost one legislative and judicial battle after the next. While, technically, there is a “qualified right” to firearms for British subjects, compared to the status of Americans, Canadians, Australians and even many Continental Europeans, it looks a lot more like a conditionally granted and arbitrarily managed privilege.

As far back as AD 1181, as described by Blackstone’s Commentaries on the (Common) Law, the right to arms was extant, as an “auxiliary right,” but depended on who you were, that is, your station and class of birth (emphasis ours):

The …last auxiliary right of the subject, …is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is … a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation….

You could call that “the clauses that ate the sentence.” Today, the legal battle is well and truly lost; the right of self-defense outside the home was erased in the 1937 Firearms Act, the right inside the home went in 1968, semi-auto and slide-action long guns were confiscated starting in 1988, and all pistols in 1996-7.

Britain’s gun cops continue blaming the dwindling number of legal owners for the roughly thirty firearms murders in the home islands annually. This means the shooters’ associations are stuck fighting a defensive battle in a steadily shrinking perimeter.

So, when you look around Massachusetts, New Jersey or California and think you have it rough, imagine the plight of your English cousins.

The Historic Part

And here is where most of our readers will find more to like about the HSBA. For example, this post recounts some interesting books written or co-written by French expert Jean Huon.

The historical part of the Association is evident in its annual Journal, which is high-quality but very expensive (US $12.49 for a 44-page .pdf download). But the equally interesting Lecture Notes can be downloaded from the site if you have a SlideShare account, or read online even if you don’t. Example: “Medical Aspects of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902.”

HSBA has also been instrumental in preserving some fragmentary firearms collections from the rapacious rozzers. Heritage Pistols, are a term of art under the law, must be stored at one of ten ranges nationwide.

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: LaBounty Precision Reboring

labounty_precisionWhy would we make a Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week out of a single small shop’s web page? Well, it ties in to the discussion we’ve had on rifling machines and methods, which is, incidentally, the name of Clifford LaBounty’s book: Rifling Machines and Methods. For convenience’s sake, that’s the URL of the web page, too.

As far as we know, it is the only full-length book on rifling machines that makes an attempt to describe all the major methods, and it’s even more useful because it meets LaBounty’s intent in writing it: to pass on the information that nobody ever passed on to him, when he was starting out; to tell the barrel makers of the future what he wished somebody had told him.

So if you’re really interested in that stuff, do like we did, go to LaBounty Precision Reboring, and buy the book. It’s a ≅$50 8½ x 11″ paperback of about 170 pages, but, as he discovered when he started out, there’s not a lot of books on rifling out there. There is enough information on the book on the web page for you to figure out if you want it or not.

Apart from the book, he also has several other tools that are useful for gunsmiths seeking to accurize or blueprint bolt-action rifles, and a nifty holder for letter or number stamps that lets you mark firearms (or fixtures, or anything you mark with a stamp) in a neat, legible row.

 

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Horst Held

horst_heldWhy would we make a single dealer the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week? Well, Horst Held is not just any dealer. Not when you take into consideration the historic significance and quality of the collector pieces Horst is selling. Even if some of them are priced in the nosebleed range, his collection is broad enough, deep enough, historic enough, and packed enough with odd curiosities — like the flintlock revolver currently on the front page — to be an education in itself.

We first came across his site while trying to decode the mysteries of the repeating pistols of Weipert (Vejprty), Bohemia. For example, he has two Gustav Bittners in stock. Given the prices he has placed on them, all we can do is look, but he has characteristically included numerous photographs of these peculiar and historic “missing links” between the first single-shot and double-barrel cartridge pistols, and the true semi-automatic service pistol which came along in a few years and rendered the repeaters, operated lever-action (usually by action of the trigger guard), obsolete.

Bittner Repeating Pistol, (7.7mm?) cased with tools, ammo and en-bloc clips, from Forgotten Weapons. We believe this pistol to be in the personal collection of Horst Held.

Bittner Repeating Pistol, (7.7mm?) cased with tools, ammo and en-bloc clips, from Forgotten Weapons. We believe this pistol to be in the personal collection of Horst Held.

He also has a page on those strange hybrid weapons that incorporate a pistol or revolver and some kind of knife or sword blade, with an awful lot of examples, not including the rare Elgin Sword Pistol. The Elgin may be rare in absolute terms, but it’s common compared to his examples, like this Dumonthier revolver with a folding bayonet!

horst-held-dumonthier

And then there’s a Dreyse needle-fire — but it’s not the celebrated Prussian rifle of 1870, but a double-action needle-fire revolver.

But there’s far more here than just that. If you can look at this site and not learn anything, we’ll be very surprised — “By the heathen gods that made ye, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”

And if you look at the site, you’ll almost certainly be entertained. You may not want to spend thousands on exotic antiques, but you’ll marvel at the ingenuity that went into some of these artistic creations, even as you wonder at the thought processes of the designer who thought it might be practical.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Carbines for Collectors

carbines_for_collectorsCarbines for Collectors is a website that has outrun its own name. Originally, it had pages on some of the key bolt-action carbines of the 20th Century, but over time it has evolved to contain a great deal of information on many weapons and the historical periods and events that they helped shape.

One of the reasons that this site may have been overlooked is that there are relatively few embedded pictures. Instead, the pages are mostly text, and the pictures are mostly linked. This does mean it loads lightning fast, and you don’t have to load pictures you don’t care about. But if you’re a visual learner, clicking back and forth might be frustrating for you.

carbines_for_collectors_mx_36Despite the dense, high-quality content, it is a very simple collection of pages menued off the index page. Navigation is a snap, and if you want to learn the ins and outs of, say the rifles of the Spanish Civil War (an extremely complex period) or a specific rifle like the Mexican Modelo 1936 (left) then this is for you.

It isn’t only about rifles; there’s some good pistol content, too, and it isn’t just for collectors, because there’s plenty of meat for history buffs. It also has excellent pages that try to explain the small arms history of specific countries.

There are good essays on, for instance, the small arms of Bolivia (below)…

carbines_for_collectors_bolivia

…or of many other nations, and even some small crew-served weapons like the Japanese 50mm “knee mortar” grenade launcher.

RK Smith, Dan Reynolds, and Cliff Carlisle are credited with this site, but at least some specific pages are written by well-known authorities — we noted that Ruy Aballe was responsible for the pages on Spanish pistols.

All in all, Carbines for Collectors is a good site for anyone interested in the military weapons of the world, especially those of the mid-20th Century.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: JSOU Press Publications

jsou_libraryHere is a fine example of Your Tax Dollars in Action (for our international readers, Some Other Guys’ Tax Dollars in Action), being returned to the public in the form of freely downloadable publications, all related in some way to Special Operations: The Joint Special Operations University Publications.

Is that whirring we hear the sound of hard drives spooling up? Be our guest. You’ve paid for the knowledge and expertise contained in these documents. They are yours to learn from.

In 2016 alone, JSOU published nine numbered Papers, a fistful of Occasional Papers, and some themed collections of articles. They’re all here. They cover subjects like: unconventional warfare doctrine, the history of how one 7th Group battalion task force took down an al-Qaeda underground/auxiliary network in Iraq, and an evaluation of how better to meet SOF language and human domain knowledge needs. Some of it is aimed more at the academic than the practitioner, but it’s all useful stuff.

For example, at this writing the most recent of them is The Evolution of the Global SOF Enterprise from a Partner Perspective, by Lieutenant Colonel Asbjørn Lysgård, Norwegian Army. (The .pdf is here, also). LTC Lysgård is a Norwegian Military Academy graduate and longtime veteran of an element we foreigners aggregate with all other Norwegian SOF as NORSOF, but that the Norwegian services know as NORASOC. In fact, each Norwegian SOF element has its own history and skillset, and each can reach back to earlier Norwegian SOF that were formed in close collaboration with British and American SO elements in World War II.

Norwegian SOF in training.

Norwegian SOF in training.

Norway, however, following the Second World War, disbanded all its SOF units to prioritize a larger conventional force structure to meet the Soviet threat. The legacy of OSS and SOE was still present though, especially in the reserves and the Norwegian Home Guard. Finally, almost a decade after the war, Norwegian Defense Forces started to reinvest in SOF. In 1953, the Navy established the first teams of Frogmen and, in 1962, the Army established Hærens Fallskjermjegerskole (HFJS), the Army’s Commando School, to train long-range reconnaissance units for parachute insertion behind enemy lines. During the Cold War, U.S. SOF worked closely with HFJS to shape the battlefield, fighting off a potential threat from the East. Throughout the Balkan wars and the Kosovo crisis, Norwegian SOF became an expeditionary strategic deployable force, which later developed into Hærens Jegerskole/Forsvarets Spesialkommando, the predecessor of the current strategic command.

The Norwegian Special Operations Command (NORSOCOM) was established on 1 January 2014, when its first commander, Rear Admiral Nils Johan Holte, took command of the two tactical Norwegian SOF units, Forsvarets Spesialkommando (FSK), and the Navy SOF unit Marinejegerkommandoen. Since that time, the NORSOCOM commander and his staff have strengthened the long-established relations between the different SOF units around the world.

LTC Lysgård explains, from the point of view of an Allied officer, what it’s like to be one of the over two dozen partner nations in the Global SOF Network, a functional and technical means of coordination and cooperation.

In reading his paper, we learned a thing or three about the current status of interoperation among friendly SOF, and in fact it goes quite a bit further than we thought it did. If you’re interested in such things, it’s a thought-provoking read.

And if you’re not? Keep looking around the JSOU Library. You’ll find something that’s more to your taste.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Serbu Videos

Today we’re not calling out a website so much as one guy’s, and one company’s, YouTube channel. Mark Serbu’s Serbu Firearms is known for its .50 rifles and other innovative products, which manage to combine shade-tree mechanics with practical engineering. But his YouTube channel is something else entirely.

For instance, he unearthed this video of a mid-2000s prototype .50 BMG semi-auto, the HyperDel, which seems to have vanished, since. It was a 5-round semi .50 with a tubular receiver and a Stoner-style direct-injection gas system. The barrel is screwed into the receiver with a racheting barrel nut à la Uzi. It looks like the trigger and hammer are AR-sourced, and the mag release resembles the M-14, Tokarev, AK style. It seems to have a cross-bolt safety on the receiver, but we might just be seeing that wrong.

The recoil-management and -measurement rig is pretty clever and straightforward. It looks like they went back to the drawing board after this video. Not only does the video have some possible gaps, the “design enhancements” suggest that the prototype had failures to fire, feed, and extract. According to Mark, this company did not advertise completed guns, only plans.

This thread on the Home Gunsmith forum suggests that Hyperdel (Hyper Delivery Systems) was selling the plans before they ever built the rifle, which seems a bit ass-backwards to us. A look at web.archive.org yielded these claims from 2006:

The Patented hyperDEL semiautomatic big bore rifle, chambered in either 50 BMG or 50 DTC Euro calibers, is now undergoing the second of four, live-fire, test phases. See News for more information.

Caliber: 50 BMG or 50 DTC Euro
Dual Caliber Rifle, Barrel Assy Interchangeability

Patented hyperDEL Gas Reciprocating Action
ON/OFF Gas Toggle for Bolt-Action-Like Touch-Offs
hyperBUFFER Adjustable Damping System
Free Floating 29 in. Kreiger Barrel, Chromed Chmbr
Dry Weight: 30 lb. (no scope, no ammo)
Overall Length: 60.1 in.
Four Lug Bolt and Barrel Extension
Alloy Steel Barrel/Action Construction
Aircraft Aluminum Receiver
Patented hyperTAME Recoil Brake
Patent Pending hyperTIGHT Group Size Reducer
Fixed Head Space
“AR15” Fire Control

hyperGRIP
Pistol Grip for Man-Sized Hands
hyperLIGHT Trigger Break
Patent Pending hyperPOD Bipod
Two 10 rnd., Dual-Stack, Parkerized Steel Mags
Ambidextrous Magazine Release
Magazine Accommodates Both Calibers

Finishes: Hardcoat, Parkerizing, DuraCoat®
Easily Breaks Down into Receiver & Barrel Assys

Field Strips w/o Tools
Rotatable Butt Pad To Fit Any Shoulder Pocket
Sorbothane II Shock Dissipating Butt Pad
MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny Rail, 50 MOA Declination
Closed-OFF Ejection Port While Bolt in Battery

By 2010, the site was occupied by domain squatters, cheating advertising networks with bogus searches and hits. It last resolved in DNS at all in 2015.

Recently, Mark has been engaging with the much reviled experimenting kid, Rick, whose YouTube persona is Royal Nonesuch… helping both to educate the boy and keep him from killing himself. We suspect that Mark sees in the tinkering youth a shade of his own young self, and his own tinkering keeps him young at heart.

Of greatest interest to WeaponsMan.com readers, perhaps, is his series Gun Design 101 in which Mark originally intended to talk about conceptual and detail design (like some of the books on our Gun Design Books page linked at the top of WeaponsMan.com) but has wound up, instead, talking design of simple, almost improvised, firearms. So watch these three videos, and be Ready for Hillary.

December 2014: “The Making of the $7 12-Gauge Zip Gun Shotgun”

He calls it the ZG-12 for “Zip Gun 12,” heh, and doesn’t give dimensions directly as a “barrier to entry” — if you can’t figure it out, he says, you’re a “punk.” It’s not a terribly practical gun, but it exists “as a testament to what can be done,” with minimum costs, materials, and time.

The video is actually a good “Design 101” because it shows the conceptual design and engineering substantiation of the firearm, as well as its production. If you’ve been listening to Dyspeptic Gunsmith about the power of a file, you’ll be nodding along when Mark applies the unexpected combination of a massive industrial CNC turning center and a hand-held file together on the same operation!

Firing the gun lets him check his calculations.

Even in oppressive environments where guns are outlawed, the last ammunition to become unavailable is birdshot.

The next video in Gun Design 101 makes a slam-fire .22 pistol.

May 2016: Apocalypse Hardware Store Gun Build!

“We’re not talking a complete apocalypse, where you’re running around in a loincloth in the woods.” And “We used some pretty expensive equipment, but we didn’t have to.”

And the latest (and possibly ultimate?) version: the GB-22. The “22” in the name is obvious… the “GB” stands for “Gun Buyback,” which is one suitable deployment for such a firearm… used to convert doo-gooders’ cash into money to buy that Serbu .50 you’ve had your eye on.

October 2016: World’s simplest homemade pistol…the GB-22! Gun Buybacks beware!

“16 years ago I came up with the idea for this really simple gun to turn in on a buyback.”

World’s simplest homemade pistol…the GB-22! Gun Buybacks beware!Skills displayed here include making and heat treating a spring with improvised tools, including a toaster oven as a heat-treating oven (including a temperature botch that didn’t produce the desired temper)

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Historic Naval Ships Association

The HNSA is a sort of online clearinghouse for information about museum ships and related facilities. As they put it on part of the website:

We promote visiting the world’s historic naval ships and advocate for the need to save these important vessels for future generations so that they may continue to proudly serve their countries in honor of those who served and continue to serve at sea.

There’s information about preserved ships around the world. In a brief visit, we saw that this rare (2 built) classified-until-2011 OSS infiltration semisubmersible boat codenamed Gimik, is just two hours away in Massachusetts…

gimik-underway

…but we also looked at pages for other vessels, like BAP Abtao, a sub that was built by Electric Boat for Peru and is on display in that Andean nation after a career that included over 5,000 dives and the rescue of the crew of another Peruvian sub sunk by collision.

We particularly like their reference library.

So what’sknow-your-pt-boat there? How about the text and some illustrations of a 1945 PT Boat manual, Know Your PT Boat. Written in a style reminiscent of the German Panzerfibel with cartoon illustrations, it gives the sailor newly assigned to PT Boats an overview of its systems and operations. Unfortunately, this version has been slightly bowdlerized; cartoons that made racist caricatures of Japanese have been removed. (And some haven’t).

Know Your PT Boat even deals with maintaining the refrigerator:

Your refrigerator can make ice cream, ice cubes, and frozen delights (especially good is frozen fruit cup). Once a Jap bullet punctured a refrigerator unit and drained it of all its freon. Several of the boats then decided to put armor plate about the refrigerator. So you see it’s really very important, for it contributes to the living comforts which are all too few in the Area. Your refrigerator pump and motor need servicing. Don’t let them wear down or overheat. To keep meat, your refrigerator must be in top shape. It is rare to have fresh meat and when issued it comes in 100-pound quantities. Hence the necessity for a good freeze or reefer. Have a drip pan properly placed or the meat juices will leak into the bilges and in a week you’ll be accused of carrying a dead Jap around in your bilges.

Of course, WeaponsMan.com readers will probably be most interested in the gunnery.

Don’t be like one boot who ducked down inside his “armored” turret during an attack and then later when he discovered that the turret was made of 3/4″ plywood he fainted.

Aside from the actual firing of the guns the important thing is the preparation. Everything must be in perfect operating order. “Be Prepared” is not just a Boy Scout motto, it is the watchword of every fighting ship. You can make no excuses to the Japs for a jammed 50, a weak drive spring, or a 20-mm. magazine with no tension on it. The guns must fire when you want them. They will, only if you have done your drills so that you can do everything automatically. Strip your guns regularly, exercise the springs, and make other routine checks. Then you will know in times of action how to put tension on a magazine and how to blind load.

37-mm. Gun.-To the “Barge Hunters” this is a fondly loved gun. Its flexibility, ease of firing, destructive power, and flat trajectory make it a grand gun against targets at moderate range. A 37-mm. seldom jams of itself. The few jams that do occur are usually traced to faulty ammunition.

20-mm. Gun.-This gun is so powerful that it has earned the name “cannon.” When you hit something with a 20-mm., you really do some damage. Not small punctures but gaping holes are the marks left on the enemy by this powerful shell. Aside from the usual preparation and care of a 20-mm., the following are helpful hints:

  1. Precaution must be taken in clearing a 20-mm. jam. Always have a bucket of water on hand. When a jam occurs, souse the breech and barrel. If you cannot get the projectile out in a few seconds, secure the gun for about 5 minutes. In any case, never stick your nose or fingers into the breech. Keep clear and use your ram rod.
  2. Practice cocking of the 20-mm. It is a tricky operation and should be done speedily and with ease, especially in the dark. It is the only war to clear a jam, and to get the gun set to fire again.
  3. The loader must get a rhythm in his task and eliminate groping at night. The gunner and loader who drill in the daylight with their eyes closed are doing a wise thing. The magazine is quite heavy. On a high trunnion gun, the loader should be both strong and tall.20mm-spring-cartoon
  4. Be sure that prior to any imminent action all magazines are on full tension at 60 pounds. If your magazines have been in use a long time, it is wise to pull out a few rounds before loading, but be sure you still have on the full tension. This precaution will give the last few rounds in your magazine an extra push and will prevent jamming.

There’s a lot more in Know Your PT Boat, but it’s only one of the features to be found on this site.