Category Archives: Weapons Website of the Week

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: RSS Feeds

Some of our favorite feeds, plus our own site, shown in our RSS reader.

Some of our favorite feeds, plus our own site, shown in our RSS reader.

This is not actually a website, but a technology, and it’s one that will help you keep abreast of as many sites as you think you need to follow.

It’s RSS, which stands for Real Simple Syndication, and it’s an invisible (to most users) technology that “pushes” every post from most blogs and sites to “subscribers.” Many people don’t use this technology; when it was first introduced it was somewhat fiddly, but nowadays it’s very easy and user friendly.

rss_feedsYou can view RSS feeds in your browser, or in a dedicated application. We use NetNewsWire, a for-pay ($10) app for Mac. It’s this simple: type the name of a site whose RSS feed you want to follow. NNW will then offer you the choice of available feeds. Most blogs let you subscribe to both posts and comments. We can’t imagine a circumstance in which we’d subscribe to comments: just the five sites on the left from our initial setup of NNW offer more posts a day than we can practically read all the time. And since then we’ve added three more site. So you can imagine how buried we’d be with comments. If you follow many more websites, you can organize the sites into folders for convenience.

Other RSS readers offer different feature sets. A great many of them are free. There are also web-based (as opposed to app-based) RSS readers like Feedly, and as we mentioned, you can set up RSS feeds in some browsers, such as Internet Explorer (if you’re stuck using that, you poor wretch).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: SIGAR

sigar_logoDo you want to understand the war in Afghanistan?

If so, good luck.

But one part of it that can be understood is the amount of resources that we have poured like sand down that rathole. Indeed, as of 30 July, the number spent on the Afghan government alone was about $109 billion. That is to say, not counting all the troops launching bullets and executing the actual war part of the war.

That number comes from a quarterly report of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The Special IG maintains a website that, apart from promoting the Great Man his ownself, one John F Sopko, provides a pretty good guide to the corruption of Afghanistan, the nation which pretty much owns the World Cup of Corruption.

The stories here are depressing. For example, the US spent a fortune to have Afghan contractors install grates to keep taliban bombers out of culverts… and the contractors just pocketed the money and left the culverts wide open for IED planters.

There are many more like that, the bleached bones of nation building baking in the Afghan sun. Tht’s why the site of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction is our Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week.

Link: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Pierre’s Western Front Page

pierres_wwi_pagesIt’s obscure, arcane, and in places, in Dutch.

It’s also fascinating.

It is Pierre’s Western Front page,, which includes a lot of photo essays on remaining world war one battlefields. The things that remain to be seen include, of course, cemeteries; monuments; some maintained or restorde field fortifications; and a surprising number of more solid fixed fortifications.

It was one of the biggest surprises for us, that the Germans especially built many concrete blockhouses.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. What an infantry unit stocks, one of the things that every former infantry soldier knows, but that never seems to be represented well in books or movies, is that you start on your priorities of work, and the very first is establishing and then improving the position. 

Improving the position never stops. Initially, you may take a knee or a prone position, ideally with some cover and concealment. Given a few minutes, you scrape out a shallow position to cover yourself in the prone. Given more time, you deepen the hole. If time permits, you make an entire foxhole. If the unit will remain and defend the sector, the next step is to improve the foxholes with various structures up to and including overhead cover (very important in this age of airburst warheads, but it couldn’t be neglected in 1914-1918 either, even though the VT fuze was a year away).

Then you join the foxholes with covered, concealed lines of communication between them, and congratulations! You now have a trenchline. Improving the trenchline never stops either, whether it’s wiring, building bunkers (of earth and wood, and then improving them). What the Western Front was, was this process of improvement taken to the extremes it might be with a front line in a static position for four years. 

Bruce Bairnsfather, previously mentioned here on

Bruce Bairnsfather, previously mentioned here on

Pierre is not so much a student of the weapons and tactics, though, as he is of the culture of the war, and he truly brings it to life, for example, here, in pursuit of infantry officer and cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather.

Sometimes Pierre’s English translation, otherwise, perfect, is a bit entertaining — was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand really the “sparkle to war”? — but hey, he’s out there doing this.

He has a great page of English-language reviews of books in several languages (and there’s a lot of good new stuff being published right now, thanks to the centenary of the war). Of his reviews, he writes:

In November 2009 I opened my series of Pierre’s Book Reviews with these words: “The moment I decided to write English book reviews, I also decided to write only about interesting and recommendable books. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time with bashing less interesting works.” Merely based on the fact that I took the effort to write this book review about Barton’s “ARRAS”, you may consider this concise article as my enthusiastic recommendation to read this book.

Like Pierre, we put something here every Wednesday because we like it and want to share it with you. In this case: Pierre’s Western Front. Enjoy, and many thanks to the commenter who suggested the site to us.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: 3D File Repository on GitHub

fosscad_megapack_repositoryWe have a couple more 3DP articles percolatin’ in the queue, and every time we do that, somebody wonders, where to get the files? We have posted in the past some links to places to get the last pre-1st-Amendment-repeal DEFCAD and the FOSSCAD megapacks, but what if you’re looking for just one wee file?

Go here: Maduce’s GitHub Repository.

It contains five repositories, actually:

  • defcad-repo is a no longer maintained version of the Defcad Megapack. Historical interest only.
  • fosscad-repo is the repository you want. It is the latest Megapack: the last DEFCAD release, and all FOSSCAD material released since Defcad went Tango Uniform, at least, as a source of crimethink 3D files. Among the Megapacks included are 4.2 (Saito), 4.3 (Tetsuo), 4.4 (Raiden), 4.5 (Otacon) and 4.6 (Tachikoma).
  • cryptocad is an app-in-progress that lets you encrypt STEP files (no others, yet) from the command line.
  • fosscad-host is another command-line utility that “Generates a website that will update itself with the lastest from fosscad-repo.”
  • projectgnome is supposed to contain files for “Whimsical designs by FOSSCADers” but was empty when we checked.

Note that the newest files will not be in the repo until Maduce gets to them. In the meantime, new updates to the files will appear in the FOSSCAD IRC channel or twitter feed (latter linked below). For instance, the 3.0 updates to the Shuty pistol have not been posted to the repo, nor has the latest rev of an MOE-based pistol grip or the Vanguard JT AR-15 lower (which is optimized for printing on consumer printers with limited ability to support overhangs). They tend to appear on Sendspace in the interim: for instance, the MOE update is here and the  Vanguard update is here.

For more information about FOSSCAD, check the FOSSCAD website, subscribe to the twitter feed, and join the IRC chats (address/instructions available at the website).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Stormbringer

Stormbringer is the callsign of a former Special Forces NCO, who goes by the pseudonym Sean Linnane. (It’s a good choice of pseudonym; it suggests he’s of Irish ancestry, and you can’t throw a rock in a team house without hitting a couple such, so it doesn’t give much away). It’s also the name of his occasionally-updated, very high quality blog.

Linnane was a rough contemporary of ours, but stayed on active duty when we discovered the Reserve and Guard SF, and learned that it made far more sense as a hobby than it did as a living. Here’s what he says about himself:

Sean Linnane is the pseudonym of a retired Special Forces career NCO (1st SFG, 3d SFG, 10th SFG). I served with honor on five continents; I continue to serve in other capacities.

via Sean Linnane.

What we like about his blog is the same sort of reflective and even sentimental tales of SF lore and legend that we’ve been known to get up to ourselves. Linnane, of course, is intelligent and a clear writer — the first is mandatory, the second almost-so for an SF sergeant. (A few outstanding guys with abominable English skills have always been carried by the teams’ literati on grounds of their other contributions. In the very early days of SF, these non-English-speakers were often from SF areas of interest, like Hungary or the Sudetenland; today, they’re often from SF AOIs still, it’s just that the areas and languages are different. Plus, Hispanics have flocked to SF in throw-a-rock-you’ll-hit-one numbers, too).

His posts are interesting here, whether they’re on the curious history of Rolex POW watches (didn’t know there was a such thing before), or his own take on the warrior ethos:

Looking back, something drew me to it like a magnet, almost as if it was Fate. I was fortunate to make my way to America as an immigrant and to find my way into the greatest Army that ever marched across a battlefield. A series of good decisions and a lot of hard work got me into Special Forces where you don’t earn the Green Beret after graduation – you earn it every day, by deed and thought.

Now I’m no altruist – I’m not Mother Theresa and I’m no Boy Scout – and I know I was fortunate to fall into a profession that in many ways is a cause; I fight Evil. I got here almost by chance because growing up everybody I knew – to include my family – was against me joining the military. They made fun of my dreams and ambition to be a soldier, told me I was misguided and out of my mind.

It’s probably not for everybody, but then, neither is SF. Linnane, like many of us, was born just a little bit “off,” and when he finally “joined a minority group,” (an old SF recruiting slogan that is also a play on our fundamental theater-level organization, the Special Forces Group, about 1800 men that can overthrow a country in a month or less), he felt like he was finally at home.

We can relate.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week 2015 35: Vitaly Kuzmin

vitaly_kuzmin_netAs you might guess from the name Vitaly Kuzminthe website in question belongs to a Russian — in this case, a Russian photographer who’s well wired into the Russian defense and security establishment, or at least, into those parts of it that Russia likes to show off.  Vitaly is an excellent photographer, whether of equipment or of action, and his site is a good visit for anybody who thinks today’s Russian military and paramilitary forces are unchanged from Soviet days.

His posts are in Russian, usually with an English translation or at least an English gist so that foreigners who don’t know the language of Tolstoy and Chekhov (the writer, not the fictional space officer, thank you) can follow along.

He has some excellent photo essays on Spetsnaz, including a multipart rundown on the weapons used by the “Saturn” corrections Spetsnaz element. (These guys are, in effect, the SWAT team for prisons in the Moscow area. While the Gulag is no more, to the relief, we’re sure, of Russians and the world, Russia has its share of criminals, and has to lock them up. Here’s their official site, in Russian of course… we wonder how many of the photos were taken by Vitaly Kuzmin!)

You might also like his archive of posts that are explicitly labeled “arms,” which includes detailed pictures of rarities like the KS-23M shotgun, used primarily with nonlethal ammunition…



This is not your dedushka’s 870. Note the stamped receiver: it was built to work, not to catch attention on a gun-store shelf.

Here’s the internally silenced (in the style of the Vietnam era Quiet Special Purpose Revolver, QSPR, the ammunition contains the expanding powder and kicks the projectile out with a piston) 7.62 x 41mm pistol PSS Vul:


This pistol is a fascinating blend of conventional and unconventional. The rough finish of the grips not only provides a good gripping surface but also (important in an assassination weapon) rejects fingerprints.

Note that the PSS has typically European slide safety (presumably a hammer-drop in the Walther/Makarov style) and butt-heel magazine catch. The sights are fixed, but highly visible, reminiscent of the TT-33 which had excellent fixed sights for its day.


And just so you don’t think Vitaly’s all about little popguns, here’s a type of combat vehicle that is, in 2015, unique to the Russian forces of all the world’s militaries: the BMD-4M airborne combat vehicle, called Bakhcha-U.. This airdroppable light armored vehicle is the latest iteration of a concept the Russians have been using since they were Soviets in the 1970s; BMD-1s spearheaded the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. This latest version is well armed with a 100mm main gun that can also fire ATGMs, and a 30mm coax, controlled by computerized systems.

2015AlabinoFirst-17In the 1960s through 80s, the US had a conceptually similar vehicle, the M551 Sheridan light tank. It was used in the armor unit of the 82nd Airborne Division but also in Armored Cavalry Brigades in Korea and Germany. The M551 had a lot of problems and few were sad to see it go, even though its absence adds to the “speed bump” nature of US airborne forces.

The M551 could be delivered by a C-130 aircraft at conventional drop altitudes (1,000-2,000 feet) or delivered out the back on a skid pallet by the Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System, where a gigantic ring parachute of the sort developed for the Apollo spacecraft recoveries drew it out of the back of the 130 like a veterinarian delivering a calf. When a unit had to provide a Sheridan for a LAPES drop, they never gave up their best one.

The BMD, conceived by designer Arkady Vassilievich Shabalin, is dropped from a larger aircraft (usually an Il-76, although the BMD-1 could be delivered by An-12) at a higher altitude and descends under a cluster of parachutes. An Il-76 can deliver two BMDs to the same or separate drop zones. Its integral cargo crane can pick them up and move them in on to the cargo rails. Because the parachute cluster descends at a faster rate than, say, a normal personnel parachute’s 18-22 feet per second, a secondary deceleration means is required. In the 1970s, this was retro-rockets that were part of the parachute rigging up above the heavy load. Currently, a system of airbags that inflates under the vehicle’s delivery pallet after exit from the aircraft is used.

The Russian system has always been designed with a view to the idea that the crews can be dropped inside the vehicles and be combat ready straightaway. For that reason, the Russian heavy drop system cuts away all the canopies once the pallet is firmly on the ground. Dropping BMDs with live paratroopers inside is a capability the Russian airborne arm VDV very rarely exercise, but Russian sources say it had been done in the recent past (2010) with BMD-2 vehicles.

When they drop a BMD and crew separately, the crew uses a homing beacon to find their own vehicle and get underway in minutes.


Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Sturgeon’s House

sturgeons_houseWe thought we’d mentioned this before. Maybe we did. The eponymous owner of Sturgeon’s House uses a photo of the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, who he most likely isn’t (the writer expired decades ago, although we’re told his 1954 More Than Human is still fresh).

In any event, the site is primarily a set of forums inhabited by some people you will recognize from around the serious gunosphere. There are forums for air, naval, strategy, archaic weapons, and of course, small arms. If you go there, a little exploration will tell you more than we can.

You will find more here than you will have time to read, if you’re remotely interested in the same stuff.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Handguns of the World

Before we dive into this website, we want to ask you a question: what is the serial number of this Browning Hi-Power?

Numberless Hi-Power L

Oh, you want to see the other side? OK. Here it is:

Numberless Hi-Power

Didn’t find it? That’s because it’s not there. Trick question! This Hi-Power is one of a small (and, we think, unknown and unknowable) number of firearms assembled in the war-wracked FN plant in Liège after Allied forces drove out the German occupiers, who had been merrily building and employing these pistols since the fall of the Low Countries in May 1940. The only markings on this firearm are the marking on the frame in front of the trigger guard, and a single German WaffenAmt marking (WaA140) on the rear of the barrel. Not only is this time capsule innocent of any serial number, it’s also lacking any proof marks (he says… but isn’t that what the trigger guard marking is, a Liège proof?).

This is what the serials would have looked like, had the gun been produced under Nazi inspection a few months or even weeks earlier (image from this forum):

Typical Wartime HiPower Serials

This is one of the guns for sale at David Rachwal’s modestly titled Handguns of the World web site, which is, for those of you with cash on hand, a boutique of collector-quality vintage firearms. If you’re not in spending mode, it’s a worthwhile site for the education and entertainment value alone.

Some of the firearms are mystifying. Here’s an 1869 Bavarian Werder, looking like a prop from Firefly:

1869 WerderWe’ve never heard of that one before, but it’s growing on us.

Here’s a .35 caliber Dreyse needle fire — revolver. We didn’t know a firearm like this existed until pulling it up on David’s site. Obviously it’s a dead end branch of the revolving firearm tree, but no less interesting for that!

Dreyse .35 Needle Fire RevolverIf these are not exotic enough for you, David has a fine and comprehensive collection of Gyro-Jet rocket pistols. These 60s artifacts are extremely rare today. David’s are not for sale but he has graciously shared photographs of them with the public here:



Shortly stated, if you don’t find something you like and something that’s entirely new to you at this website, we’ll be very surprised. On the few things where we have a handle on values, such as Hi-Powers and Walthers, the pricing is reasonable; on everything, the firearms are interesting.




Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week 2015 32: ICE News

ICE patchIf you want to see what our elite corps of investigators of criminal aliens are doing, and by inference, what they’re not doing, look at the rogues’ gallery of literal rogues they’re putting away at ICE News, the official catchall for the agency’s press releases.

Sad but true: a long-serving ICE Special Agent of our acquaintance just learned about this site himself.

It’s hard to say what is creepier: that these people exist, or that they’re most likely going to be given a pass on their crimes, if they’re illegal aliens and the crime isn’t murder.

The cases show a remarkable range of human malefaction. There’s the immigration lawyer who pled guilty to identity theft; the international counterfeit veterinary medicine ring; the ballsy guy who pretended to be an ICE agent himself, so he could shake down detainees’ families; the guy running his own Nigerian scam; a (now, former) Fort Hood soldier who ran an alien smuggling conspiracy on the side; the NYPD officer dealing oxycodone; the sushi chef wanted in Mexico for murder; and more guys dealing nuclear-weapons stuff to Iran or collecting kiddie porn than you can possibly imagine. And that’s just in the last couple weeks.

Mexican Procurator General cops put the habeas grabbus on Julio Cesar Reyes-Rodriguez, 42, the murderous sushi chef, at the San Ysidro, CA, border crossing. Maybe they can find him work in the carcel kitchen!

Mexican Procurator General cops put the habeas grabbus on Julio Cesar Reyes-Rodriguez, 42, the murderous sushi chef, at the San Ysidro, CA, border crossing. Maybe they can find him work in the carcel kitchen! Just not near the knife block (he slashed a woman to death in a Mexico City cab). Hasta la vista, Julio.

Kiddie diddlers and other nations’ wanted murderers are among the “politically correct” wrongdoers that ICE can still bust, and who will be extradited to face foreign charges or deported once their US sentences are over.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: N6CC

What’s that? It sounds like a ham callsign? And we think that’s what stands for, although the site breaks it out as Navy 6 Combat Coms. But what we were flagged to was the site author, Tim Sammons’s, stories of his service in the Navy on a forgotten class of small combatants, the Trumpy class PTF patrol boats. The boats were American-made licensed copies of the Norwegian Nasty class boats that were used by the maritime operations wing of SOG in the Vietnam War. Tim has great stories of the Trumpys he knew, PTF-17, -18, and -19, boats that resembled in style, construction and size the classic Elco PT boats of World War II.


The names? The source of Nasty is not clear; during their brief service in the US Navy they were known only by numbers. Trumpy is easier to figure out; the American boats were built to the Norwegian plan by now-defunct yacht builders John Trumpy & Sons.


They were powered by the bizarre and tremendous Napier Deltic diesels, strange engines with three crankshafts arranged triangularly, with cylinders in between, and two pistons in each cylinder — one coming in from each end, until they’d compressed the charge enough to fire. The Deltics were turbosupercharged, put out a staggering 3100 horsepower each (the boats had two) and could drive the wooden Trumpys to 45 knots, sea state permitting.


They were also armed with a small arsenal of 40mm, 20mm, .50 caliber guns and an 81mm mortar. Tim has a page specifically on armament — you guys might like that.

In Tim’s day, he patrolled the Great Lakes, but he has some interesting information about the Trumpys’ predecessors, the Nastys, in Vietnam, and the Trumpys’ ill-fated successors, the Osprey class (whose aluminum hulls were found to be too fragile for the mission).

If you want more info on the boats’ wartime adventures, see and where there are a lot of firsthand stories of these fast little combatants.

It isn’t just boats. Naturally, there’s a lot of cool commo gear on his website, including a clever hack that uses a VFO to stand in for a crystal in an AN/GRC-109 radio. (If you don’t know what that is, just crank this generator while Tim and I tune the antenna….). The hack will work with the OSS/Agency clandestine RS-1, too, which is a very close sibling of the 109.

Other cool stuff on Tim’s website include camouflaged or covert antennas and many other communications rigs, and annotated photos of the communications gear from the commo wing of the museum that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam made of the Presidential Palace of once-free Vietnam. Poor Thieu’s, or maybe by then it was Big Minh’s, situation map still is stuck to a wall in there.




At Cu Chi, he laid out $17 to fire 10 rounds out of an AK. The NVA fought capitalism before succumbing to it.


There’s also an interesting exploration of the wreck site of a rare B-17C (no B-17 that old survives intact).