Category Archives: Unconventional Weapons

Dropping Acid: Low-Tech Terror With Corrosives

(There are no pictures with this story. If you must see the survivors of these attacks (and the perps, for that matter), follow the links. –Ed.)

The President says the USA is the only nation that has mass shootings. (He’s wrong of course, the US only has two or three in the top ten, with places like Korea and Norway beating our own criminals’ worst efforts). But be that as it may, Britain, which certainly has fewer shootings per capita than the United States, has an epidemic of another crime that we don’t see much here, thank a merciful God.

That crime is acid attacks. Imported to the UK by the jihadi contingent of Britain’s turbulent Pakistani minority, these attacks were once strictly contained in the Islamic underworld, but have now spread to the native English, Welsh, Irish and Scots criminal classes.

It’s become so common in Britain now, that it has got its own entry in the catalog of crimes: “Conspiracy to apply a corrosive liquid.”

Here are just a few, pulled from a single newspaper (the Daily Express) to obviate the risk of duplication:

  • 3 Sep 15: Former boxer turned drug dealer Anthony Riley (26) was convicted of the 14 Aug 14 attack on his ex-girlfriend, beautician Adele Bellis (23). Riley, unhappy about Bellis leaving him, hired Jason Harrison (27), who owed him £10,000, to throw sulfuric acid in Bellis’s face. A detail:

Riley had tested the strength of the corrosive acid by dangling a live mouse into a jar and laughed as it died.

Both men were convicted of “conspiracy to apply a corrosive liquid,” among other crimes.

  • 19 Dec 14: an 80-year-old moslem, Mohammed Rafiq, was jailed for 18 years for arranging a revenge attack on a 19-year-old (!) ex-girlfriend that left her with “devastating” scars. Several non-moslem co-conspirators went to prison, too. The judge said that such attacks are common in some other countries, but “rare in Britain.” Really?

So, a century-plus of gun restrictions including a near-two-decade-old outright ban on handguns, and Old Blighty’s still waiting for the promised restoration of Eden.

But they did manage to import this cultural practice in the last decade or so. All part of the diverse vibrancy of tapestry, or something like that.


ISIL flag

ISIL flag. Anybody’s guess what the circle represents…

It’s true. A bunch of ISIL goons became infected with HIV on Boy Love Thursdays (no, they totally insist it was from their kufr sex slaves, yeah, that’s it) and the Clown Caliphate has decided to cure them of AIDS, and all other earthly worries, in one big FOOM.

Islamic State militants infected with HIV from sex slaves have been ordered to become suicide bombers.

The twisted terrorists contracted the disease from two Moroccan women they had captured.

Now at least 16 of the militants have been told they must blow themselves up, reported the Daily Mirror.

“Islamic State leadership is planning to assign suicide attacks for its militants who are tested positive with AIDS,” a civil rights activist in the city of al-Mayadeen in east Syria said.

“Most of those infected are foreign militants who had sexual intercourses with two Moroccan women.

“The women passed on the disease to the militants before their infection was revealed.”

The men are now being held in quarantine before they are forced to meet their fate.

“We were ordered by the group’s local leadership to transfer the infected militants to a quarantine center in the city,” said a Syrian doctor.

via IS order HIV-infected militants to blow themselves up – NY Daily News.

Great. It’s bad enough to worry about these ‘splodydopes crashing one’s parties, but now you have to treat the post hoc frags of splodydope as biohazard.

College Men from LSU…

The LSU poly-sci faculty in action. They thought it was a Phyrgian Cap.

The LSU poly-sci faculty in action. They thought it was a Phyrgian Cap.

College Men from LSU…

…as Randy Newman sang, “Went in dumb, come out dumb, too.” We never understood the line until we read this complete freakout in the WashPost by a couple of second-string LSU academics (an assistant professor and a grad student) in the schools clearly-not-too-rigorous political “science” department. As usual for the breed, they’re very political and not too scientific, and what they’re in a complete state of HP 1 about is… 3D Printing. Because GUNZ!

Yeah. Google “Wooden AR lower”.Perhaps they’re going to recommend registering coping saws next.

But that isn’t even where they stop… governments need to regulate consumer printers because they can print weapons of mass destruction. This indicates that neither of the authors, assistant prof Daniel Tirone and wooly-headed grad student James Gilley, is capable of reason at the high school level, or understands the processes of biological labs or nuclear weapons manufacture at that same level. Here are a couple of gems from their op-ed:

You can print your own guns at home. Next it will be nuclear weapons. Really.

[T]echnology is a bigger obstacle to reducing future gun deaths than either the National Rifle Association or differing interpretations of the Second Amendment.

Yeah, because this asshole named Polo brought back this gunpowder stuff from China and let the cat out of the bag. Before that, the world was a Garden of Eden featuring no gun deaths.

The ability to “print” or manufacture guns privately will allow individuals to bypass background checks, the primary way that guns are regulated today.

Um, people can already “bypass background checks” quite a number of ways, considering that over 90% of gun murders are committed by career criminals who were already prohibited persons. This data is available to anyone who has any science in his political science, which clearly excludes the duds of LSU.

And that challenge will expand exponentially as the technology advances, one day enabling individuals to print chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction at home.

And this gem:

This is not a futuristic speculation; 3-D printed handguns are already on the street. The government is struggling to respond to these guns, which are hard to detect and deadly.

FOOM! (If this does come to the desktop, can they test it  at LSU?)

FOOM! (If this does come to the desktop, can they test it at LSU?)

Number of people killed by 3D printed guns to date? We’re thinking it’s zero. These two dud Political Scientists (Political Science is to science as Christian Science is to open-heart surgery) praise the State Department for trying to ban gun data, and curse the annoying and irritating First and Second Amendments that unfairly restrict the ability of their benevolent Government to crush any dissenters. Because they’ll have nukes next!

The threat of privately printed weapons will soon grow beyond the lethal handguns now in circulation. As we argue in research forthcoming in the October issue of the Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism2, considering expected advances in the technologies, terrorist groups will threaten nations with 3-D printed chemical, biological and nuclear weapons within a couple of decades.

And these ultramaroons are teaching your kids, if you’re dumb enough to send them to LSU.

Randy Newman was right!


  1. HP — “Homosexual Panic”. Old SF term. No insult to any actual gay people who are not in a permanent state of panic is intended.
  2. The Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, gives every appearance of being an academic circle-jerk, pretty well devoid of any perspective by anyone who’s ever conducted any policing, intelligence, or counterterrorism.

Guest Post: Russian Internally Suppressed, Captive Piston Quiet Weapons (Max Popenker)

This is a guest post by the Russian firearms expert and historian Maxim Popenker, co-author (with Anthony Williams) of several reference works1, and the founder and owner of the indispensable website. some time ago, we mentioned in a story on the Quiet Special Purpose Revolver that the US had not pursued such technology, but the Russians had, and Max asked if our readers wanted to know that Russian history. We said they certainly did, and he shared it with us — and now, with you. It has been very lightly edited, which is amazing given that Max is writing in what is to him a foreign language. We have added amplifying footnotes here and there. — Ed.

A very brief history of the internally suppressed, captive piston ammunition and firearms in Russia.

The basic concept of suppression of the firearm’s sound by capturing powder gases inside a closed volume in not new. In fact, it is quite old, with patents to that effect issued in USA as early as 1902 (see US Patent # 692,819 “Means for effecting noiseless discharge of guns” by J.E.Bissell)2.

Gurevich's design.

Gurevich’s design.

In Soviet Russia, a similar concept was first researched shortly before and during the Great Patriotic War3. So far we know about two concurrent developments, one by designer Gurevich and another by the Mitin brothers (who also designed more conventional sound suppressors for Nagant revolvers4 and Mosin M1891/30 rifles successfully used by Soviet partisan and NKVD troops against invading Nazis).

Gurevich experimental pistols.

Gurevich experimental pistols.

Gurevich's revolver.

Gurevich’s revolver.

The design by Gurevich was quite similar to that of Bissell; it also used a special cartridge with a piston in front of the powder charge, and a portion of water, which was used to push the 5.6mm or 6mm projectile through the bore; the powder gases were contained inside the case by jamming the piston inside the case mouth. Ammunition was based on 20 Gauge brass shotgun shells, and fired from the single shot, break-open pistols, or, later, through a special revolver with a necessarily long and wide cylinder.

Mitin Brothers' captive-piston Nagant revolver.

Mitin Brothers’ captive-piston Nagant revolver.

The Mitin brothers’ design was more unorthodox, in a sense. It featured a heavily modified Nagant revolver with two coaxially mounted cylinders. One cylinder sat in its conventional place, holding seven rounds of ammunition with sabots and subcaliber bullets. The second cylinder, mounted on the same axis and rotating synchronously with the first, sat at the muzzle of the gun. The front cylinder was bored through with seven bores, slightly squeezed or choked at the front. When the gun was fired, the projectile with its sabot travelled through the barrel in the traditional way; then, its 7.62mm sabot jammed itself in the constricted bore of the front cylinder, and the smaller-diameter bullet continued forward and to the target. Neither design was successful, and for some time the concept was abandoned.

A couple of Stechkin's "cigarette cases."

A couple of Stechkin’s “cigarette cases.”

During 1950s, the famous Soviet gun designer Igor Stechkin5 was tasked to design several deep concealment, noiseless weapons for KGB and GRU6; He then produced an experimental SP-1 cartridge7, similar in concept to that of the Mitin brothers. It used a specially designed bullet which could be squeezed through a constricted bore with an entry (throat) diameter of 9mm and exit (muzzle) diameter of 7.62mm.

Another of Stechkin's experimental hideout guns.

Another of Stechkin’s experimental hideout guns.

A special 9mm wad, placed between the projectile and powder charge, jammed itself in the bore to capture powder gases inside the barrel. Stechkin produced several prototype three-barrel guns on this concept, concealed inside a flat tin case imitating a contemporary cigarette case.

Stechkin's original SP-2 design, showing both the exterior and a cut away.

Stechkin’s original SP-2 design, showing both the exterior and a cut away.

Later on, Stechkin produced an improved round,  SP-2, with long, 7.62mm projectiles consisting of the jacket from 7.62mm TT bullet8, fitted with long aluminum core. The cartridge case contained small amount of powder and a pusher piston, which captured powder gases at the neck of the case.

During the sixties, similar developments were conducted by KGB’s own research institute (yes, they had their own well-funded and top secret scientific and R&D branch at the time). For their own use, KGB produced two similar captive piston rounds of same basic design but of different size and power.

Ammunition: a live and expended round each: PZ, PZAM, SP-3 and SP-4.

Ammunition: a live and expended round each: PZ, PZAM, SP-3 and SP-4.

S4m pistol.

S4m pistol. Holds two rounds in a spring clip, and opens by tipping, like a shotgun.

The smaller (and better known) one was the 7.62x63mm PZ “Zmeya” (Snake) cartridge, which later evolved into cheaper and more reliable PZAM cartridge of the same basic dimensions. It featured a massive steel case with a single-stage piston which propelled a standard 7.62mm PS projectile, taken out of the 7.62×39 M43 intermediate cartridge. Combined with the derringer-type break-open S4 pistol (see ) with two barrels, the PZ was intended for use by undercover agents, as well as by military Special Forces (Spetsnaz) to take out sentries or other enemy personnel during critical missions behind enemy lines.

Ammunition: a live and expended round each: PZ, PZAM, SP-3 and SP-4.

Ammunition: a live and expended round each: PZ, PZAM, SP-3 and SP-4.


Ammunition cutaways. From top to bottom: PZAM, SP-3 and SP-4.

The larger cartridge is noticeably scarcer even now. It is quite big and heavy (case length is 93mm), and it is available in two varieties, based on the same machined steel case. The PFAM “Falanga” cartridge was loaded with a heavy, pointed 9mm projectile made of hardened steel and equipped with a brass driving band. It was intended to take out NATO personnel wearing body armor, who can be found in the vicinity of critical installations such as C3I, ammo depots, airfields and tactical missile launchers. The PMAM “Mundstuck” propelling round was loaded with an aluminum push rod, used to silently propel a 30mm AP-I grenade, which would deal with the targets listed above, once the guard personnel were accounted for using PFAM rounds. Both rounds were fired from a huge, single shot pistol known as “Device D” (see ), and, later on, through a multi-shot carbine / launcher “Device DM” (see ).

Device DM in front of some other exotic weapons

Device DM, the latest Russian silent weapon, in front of some older exotic weapons

Firing Device DM

Firing Device DM

The MSP pistol with two rounds.

The MSP pistol with two-round clip of SP-3 ammunition. The pistol is completely unmarked.

During the early 1970s, the Tula Arms factory developed a more compact alternative to the PZAM ammunition and S4 pistol, in the form of a 7.62×35 SP-3 cartridge and a double-barrel, derringer-style MSP pistol (see ). This ammunition also used 7.62 M43 PS bullet, but featured a noticeably shorter and lighter case with a two-stage telescoped piston. To ensure safe containment of a high pressure gases, the thin-walled steel case is noticeably “fireformed” during the discharge. The same SP-3 ammunition was later used for the single-shot NRS shooting knife (see ).

Firing the NRS. Note the guard is the rear sight.

Firing the NRS. Note the guard is the rear sight.

NRS with accessories. The knife and sheath resemble those for the AKM bayonet, but the sheath extends to form a buttstock.

NRS with accessories. The knife and sheath resemble those for the AKM bayonet, but the sheath extends to form a buttstock.CORRECTION: Per Mac, the sheath is just a sheath. The hinged part is a wirecutter. The sheath stays on the belt, while the operator fires the gun with the blade toward his face, as in the picture above. Recoil is very low so that this is safe. –Ed.

Loading the NRS. The barrel comes out of the base knife, the round is loaded in the barrel, and then it is restored to its place.

Loading the NRS. The barrel comes out of the base knife, the round is loaded in the barrel, and then it is restored to its place.

The MSP is compact, and was deniable when first issued.

The MSP is compact, and was deniable when first issued.

The current author can attest that MSP pistol with SP-3 ammunition is quite silent; it is noticeably quieter than, say, integrally suppressed PB pistol firing 9×18 PM ammunition. However, KGB and GRU wanted their agents to be armed with silenced guns that could offer more than 2 shots and more lethality. This was achieved during early 1980s with introduction of the now well known PSS semi-automatic pistol (see ) and its 7.62×40 SP-4 ammunition.

PSS internally suppressed pistol.

PSS internally suppressed pistol.

PSS with action open and magazine of ready rounds.

PSS with action open and magazine of ready rounds.

The latter featured a single-stage pusher piston, jammed at the neck of the case, and unique projectile, made from steel rod and equipped with brass driving band at the front. This weapon is still issued to special elements of Russian army and police, and appears to be quite popular for its intended role – taking out bad guys (these days it’s mostly Muslim terrorists or organized crime strongmen) with as little sound as possible. The only weak spot of the PSS, besides its unique and expensive ammo, is, surprisingly, its semi-automatic action, which produces most unwelcome sounds during the cycle.

OTS-38 showing the unusual reload process.

OTS-38 opened up to show the unusual reload process.


OTS-38, side view, closed.

To alleviate this problem while maintaining adequate capacity, the late Igor Stechkin designed an unique OTs-38 revolver (see ). This five-shot revolver produces noticeably less sound when fired, compared to the PSS. It also features a barrel, aligned with the bottom chamber of the cylinder, a manual safety for cocked and locked carry, and a built-in laser pointer above the barrel. And if all that is not enough, it also features a unique side-swinging cylinder, a  system developed to ensure ideal coaxial alignment of the bore and cylinder chamber, which is especially important due to blunt shape and hard nose of the SP-4 bullet.

Finally, we must mention two underbarrel grenade launchers, built to same concept of capturing powder gases inside the closed volume. The first is “Tishina” (Silence) system, developed during 1970s to be mounted below the barrel of AMK / AKMS rifle. It used 30mm AP-I grenade, similar to that of used in D and DM devices, and propelled by a special blank 7.62×39 round Powder gases were captured after each shot gy a piston, located inside the rear part of the launcher’s barrel. With introduction of the 5.45mm small arms systems into the Soviet Army, it was reworked into the “Kanarejka” (Canary) system, mounted below the AKS-74U assault rifle. It was similar to the predecessor in concept, but used 5.45mm blank cartridges (see ).

Artists rendering of a carbine with the "Kanarejka."

Artists rendering of a carbine with the “Kanarejka.”

Actual weapon, shown with ammunition, including a sound suppressor for AKSU carbine.

Actual weapon, shown with ammunition, including a sound suppressor for AKSU carbine.

Editor’s Notes

  1. Those books include (stolen links from Forgotten Weapons, containing his code, so Ian gets any Amazon kickback):
    1. Assault Rifle: The Development of the Modern Military Rifle and its Ammunition
    2. Machine Gun: The Development of the Machine Gun from the Nineteenth Century to the Present Day
    3. Modern Combat Pistols: The Development of Semi-automatic Pistols for Military and Police Service Since 1945
    4. Sub-Machine Gun: The Development of Sub-Machine Guns and their Ammunition from World War 1 to the Present Day
  2. While we’ve linked to the patent, you can also find it in a previous article Max wrote for Forgotten Weapons. Yes, if you’ve read that you still need to read this one. And vice versa (it’s Part III of a three-parter on Spetsnaz weaponry).
  3. You guys probably know this already, but The Great Patriotic War is the Russian and Soviet term for World War II, which began for them when Hitler broke the non-aggression pact and invaded the USSR on 22 June 1941.
  4. Russian Nagants were well-suited to suppression because of their gas-seal design, unlike other revolvers (even other Nagants, many of which were produced in Belgium with no gas-seal mechanism).
  5. Stechkin is best known in the West for his select-fire pistol with a stock holster, the APS, which was produced in the early 1950s and remained in Soviet and Russian service for a long time. Some were exported to friendly states and guerrilla movements; one was a favorite of Argentine Communist revolutionary, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
  6. Two Soviet intelligence agencies. The KGB stood for Committee for State Security and was a political/civilian intelligence and counterintelligence organization like the FBI or CIA (although its officers had military ranks, and in some assignments, wore uniforms). Its successors in the Russian Federation are the SVR (foreign intelligence gathering) and the FSB (counterintelligence and domestic security) of Russia. The GRU was the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff — military intelligence; it still exists except as a function of the Russian not Soviet General Staff.
  7. “SP” stands for Spetsianiy Patron, “special cartridge.”
  8. This is the 7.62 x 25mm Russian round of the TT (Tula-Tokarev) pistol of 1930 and 1933, also used in the wartime submachine guns PPSh-41 and PPS-43.

The Spetsnaz Ballistic Knife

From the collection: ballistic knife.

From the collection: ballistic knife.

Here’s an item from the Cobwebbed Arms Locker here at Hog Manor. Acquired during the weapon’s brief flowering of legality in the USA in 1984, it was sold as a “Spetsnaz ballistic knife.” Recent research has convinced us what we believed at the time was true, that this knife was a US-made knife intending to capitalize on the “ballistic knife” craze. In this post, we’ll tell you what we’ve learned about these knives, and our still-unsatisfied search to see if Soviet Spetsnaz ever did issue such a toad-stabber.

And yes, we’ll tell you how it works.

The “ballistic knife” hit the weapons world like a cannon shot in 1983 or 1984. In 1978, a series of books by a Soviet defector to Great Britain appeared in the West. The officer, Viktor Belyayev, was a GRU man who had served in the Soviet Army, then in Spetsnaz reconnaissance, then finally as a GRU officer under official cover in Switzerland. He used the pen name “Viktor Suvorov,” the name of a great Tsarist era general and legend of Russian arms whose name honors a series of Russian military academies (including the one the defector graduated from). We get the impression that modesty is not among his traits. In any event, people in the West (especially the US and UK) were always curious about the Soviet Union and its secret organs, and “Suvorov’s” books were very successful. They were well written and, we know now, told both deep truths and fanciful tall tales about the Soviet services.

We were absolutely sure that the first story of the Spetsnaz “ballistic knife” came from Suvorov’s Spetsnaz, but recently reread the book in e-format and even searched for instances of knife with no joy. So where did it come from? We still like him as the source, but wonder if it was a Soldier of Fortune article or something that spawned the Ballistic Knife craze.

Florida Knife Company ballistic 2

Knife identical to ours, from a GunBroker auction.

And craze it was. In a matter of a couple years, the usual foes of liberty in Washington, led by Five Families associate and later-disgraced corrupt senator Alphonse D’Amato (R-NY), had drummed up enough hysteria to push through a bizarrely written Federal ban. Their handmaidens in many state legislatures followed suit, and there is a spotty and uneven ban in effect that has stopped the interstate manufacture and sales of these knives, although “parts kits” are intermittently available. In some states, manufacture for personal use is also banned, and you have to be leery of “constructive possession” statutes and case law. The Federal statute has some exceptions, including for military personnel.

Why any military person would want such a knife is another question. We wanted it because it was a “Spetsnaz knife,” a story which seems to have proven a total fabrication.

(Due to the length of this post — over 2600 words — it continues after the jump, with The History, The Ballistic Knife in Use, Auction Action, and Misinformation and Information subheadings).

Continue reading

The Quiet Special Purpose Revolver

We were sure we’d written about this before, but if we did, we can’t find hide nor hair of our previous report. So, just maybe we haven’t. Recently, we got some new information, and will share it with you.

The QSPR is an extremely rare special-purpose revolver that was developed and produced by the AAI Corporation. Formerly Aircraft Armament Incorporated, the name was abbreviated officially because they never sold any of their aircraft armament concepts. They worked on several ill-fated futuristic small arms of the 1960s (like the SPIW) and one very successful one, the M203 40mm grenade launcher.

The QSPR from the original report (the bad reproduction is due to the records being stored on microfilm or microfche).

The QSPR from the original report (the bad reproduction is due to the records being stored on microfilm or microfche).

The QSPR was made from a Smith & Wesson Model 29. Frames in white were provided to AAI by Smaith, and they were modified with a .40 caliber smoothbore barrel and the cylinders were bored out to 0.528″, leaving a minimal web between chambers. (The lost strength was made up for by the strong cartridges). The weapon was innocent of any sights — it was meant to be used at contact range, inside tunnels, although accuracy to 25 feet was claimed (and Vietnam users reported it was more accurate than their .38 revolvers). Both standard large-frame Smith and aftermarket or custom grips were tried.

The gun was issued with a flap shoulder holster and two ammo pouches holding an odd 7 rounds each.

The gun was issued with a flap shoulder holster and two ammo pouches holding an odd 7 rounds each.

The objective was to provide a weapon for tunnel combat, a weapon with reduced blast, noise, flash and yet increased lethality over the standard pistols and revolvers of the era. It was designed to produce a column of lethal buckshot at very close range, with no flash and very limited blast. Noise in the enclosed tunnels was equivalent to a .22LR firearm outdoors, which was a great improvement over the eardrum-shattering blast of the alternative, the M1911A1 .45 pistol.

Eleven QSPR revolvers were made, of which one was retained by AAI (and is still reportedly retained by a successor, Textron systems). Ten were deployed in 1969 for combat testing in Vietnam; one was reported as a combat loss. Of the existing revolvers, apart from the AAI reference piece, two (#5 and an unknown example) are in a US Army museum, and one is in the ATF reference collection. It was the missing Vietnam gun, which was used in a homicide in California and recovered, according to Dockery.

THE QSPR seems very sophisticated for a first shot, and that’s because it wasn’t. A previous S&W based tunnel revolver was a Model 10 M&P with reduced cylinder gap, a suppressor and an aiming light. It was part of a comprehensive suite of gear assembled by the boffins in the Army’s Land Warfare Laboratory and called the Tunnel Engagement Kit, illustrated here. (The vane switch in the guy’s mouth turned on the VC aiming point on his cranium). You can almost hear them saying, “Do bring it back this time, Mr Bond.” But this bit of lab genius was not what the guys needed, and so the boffins went back to the lab and cooked up the QSPR.

Different tunnel rat rig

Ladies and gentlemen, here is a recent photograph of a unicorn — a live QSPR round. This is believed to be the last and only live round in existence (the ATF caused the destruction of most of them maintained by AAI and the military museum system by declaring them suppressors). The material is high-carbon steel, because the case contains the entire energy of the round, inside a piston. An end cap is screwed on the base of the round; threads in the muzzle end act as a trap to catch a piston. A plastic sheath called a “sabot” wraps around the projectiles and is discarded, much like the sabots used with subcaliber projectiles, when the projectile column exits the muzzle. The muzzle end of the round has a silicone (we think) material applied as a sealant.

QSPR Round 01

The round has a dark finish which appears to be some kind of high-tech proto-melonite coating, although most resources describe the ammo as “blued.”

This is a schematic of the round from what appears to have been the final report on the weapon after development and combat testing in Vietnam. The report recommended further improvements and then general issue to Infantry and Ranger units. Those improvements were not pursued, and the firearm was never manufactured.


The high pressure inside the round breaks the “rim” of the piston free of an annular slot that initially retains the piston in the rearward position and forces it forward, ejecting the sabot-contained shot load, until the pressure snaps the piston rim into a similar annular slot positioned to receive it, and drives the “nose” of the piston into the muzzle-end threads. These two engagements arrest the piston’s forward motion. One purpose of the rearward slot is to retain the pistol and prevent it from sliding and ejecting the payload during normal gun handling.

This is the muzzle end of the round. As you can see, the sabot (or the sealant atop it) comes closer to the muzzle than indicated in the diagram.

QSPR Round 03

This is the breech end. As you can see, there are no markings on the round. The revolvers themselves were marked with the S&W trademark, so we suspect the lack of markings on the ammunition was more a reflection of the toolroom nature of the project than in any attempt to make a deniable or clandestine weapon.

QSPR Round 02

The missing detail from most of the reports, the reason the initial report was classified (albeit only at the Confidential level), and the cause of the QSPRs unusually high terminal effect for a handgun was in a material breakthrough. While most open source reports suggest that the projectiles in the shot column were lead, steel or even tungsten (Wolfram to you Europeans), they were actually depleted uranium.

DU is uranium from which the fissionable isotopes have been removed. It is a side product (a waste product, really) of uranium enrichment for weapons production and has a number of properties making t an excellent choice for projectiles.

While the US was developing the QSPR, Soviet scientists were working on similar captive-piston technology. But in the end, the complexity and cost of the system seems to preclude it from ever being made in more than nominal numbers. The ATF’s Firearms Anti Technology Branch has rendered research on this type of weapon in the USA functionally impossible; Russian designers, who have produced a great many widely varied quiet weapons, seem also to have moved on away from this technology.

The resources below are all worth reading but the most valuable is certainly the official report:

ACTIV QSPR Report OCR .pdf

Sources & Resources

Dockery, Kevin. Tunnel Weapon: The Bang in the Dark. Small Arms Review, Volume 5 Number 9. Retrieved from:

Popenker, Maxim. Smith & Wesson / AAI Quiet Special Purpose Revolver / QSPR / tunnel revolver (USA), World.Guns.Ru. Retrieved from:  Note that Max’s report on the QSPR is pretty accurate but his photoshop job has the barrel a tad too long.

Schreier, Conrad F., Jr. The Silenced QSPR Revolver: An Answer to an Age-old Military Problem. Guns and Ammo Magazine, “Ordnance Department” feature, Guns & Ammo Magazine, October 1971, p. 64. Copy: Guns & Ammo QSPR Article .pdf

Weddington, David E., LTC, IN. Final Report: Tunnel Weapon. Army Concept Team in Vietnam (ACTIV), (Linked above).


Will Israel Nuke Iran First?

BLOWING UP PARADISEDefense intellectual and former Strategic Defense Initiative planner John Bosma argues in the American Thinker that for Israel the options are closing rapidly, and the least bad option may be to make a nuclear preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, aiming to disrupt development but also to kill the maximum number of scientists and technicians, and to leave any surviving facilities fatally irradiated.

Far from producing peace, Bosma claims, the deal negotiated between two preferentially antisemitic teams could be extremely destabilizing; it…

…also augurs the possibility of a nuclear war coming far sooner than one could have imagined under conventional wisdom worst-case scenarios. Following the US’s betrayal of Israel and its de facto detente with Iran, we cannot expect Israel to copy longstanding US doctrines of no-first-nuclear-use and preferences for conventional-weapons-only war plans. After all, both were premised (especially after the USSR’s 1991 collapse) on decades of US nuclear and conventional supremacy. If there ever were an unassailable case for a small, frighteningly vulnerable nation to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to shock, economically paralyze, and decapitate am enemy sworn to its destruction, Israel has arrived at that circumstance.

Why? Because Israel has no choice, given the radical new alignment against it that now includes the US, given reported Obama threats in 2014 to shoot down Israeli attack planes, his disclosure of Israel’s nuclear secrets and its Central Asian strike-force recovery bases, and above all his agreement to help Iran protect its enrichment facilities from terrorists and cyberwarfare – i.e., from the very special-operations and cyber forces that Israel would use in desperate attempts to halt Iran’s bomb. Thus Israel is being forced, more rapidly and irreversibly than we appreciate, into a bet-the-nation decision where it has only one forceful, game-changing choice — early nuclear pre-emption – to wrest back control of its survival and to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.

via Articles: Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War.

A limited Israeli strike could produce the nuclear disarmament of Iran that Obama and Kerry had claimed, before some of the terms of the deal put the lie to their statements, that they sought. Nuclear weapons are one effective solution to the underground bunkers used by Iran to shelter its systems.

Israel cannot  service this target set with conventional weapons — its stocks are not deep enough, and it’s clear that they can’t rely on the United States, at least under this Administration, for resupply.

The deliberate American silence over Iran’s genocidal intentionality sends an unmistakable signal to Israel that the US no longer recognizes a primordial, civilizational moral obligation to protect it from the most explicit threats imaginable. It is truly on its own, with the US in an all-but-overt alliance with its worst enemy. The shock to Israel’s leaders of this abrupt American lurch into tacitly accepting this Iranian intentionality cannot be understated. Iran is violating the core tenets of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, a US initiative after the Tokyo and Nuremberg war-crimes trials to codify genocide as a crime against humanity. Now the US is silent.

But this shift is also recent. Every US government prior to President Obama would have foresworn nuclear talks with such a psychopathic regime or would have walked out in a rage upon such utterances. Yet Iran’s genocidal threats have had no discernible effect on Obama’s canine eagerness for a deal.

The two main factors Bosma sees making the nuclear option “almost mandatory” for Israel are the Iranian government’s continued propaganda and doctrine calling for nuclear weapons explicitly for the extermination of Jews, and, as recounted above, the US’s sudden tilt to the Iranian position. But he also lists a number of other reasons, which we’ll paraphrase:

  1. Iranian nuclear progress is self-sustaining and can’t be stopped with conventional weapons or sanctions. For Israel, it is a matter of nuke, or be nuked.
  2. Iranian progress is concrete hardening has essentially neutralized such weapons as the 30kp Massive Ordnance Penetrator, meaning it’s nukes or nothing.
  3. The presence in the agreement of a new US-Iranian limited military alliance targeted against Israel.
  4. The Russian agreement to deliver to Iran S-300 anti-ballistic and anti-aircraft weapons. This dual-purpose weapon is in the improved Patriot class and complicates strike planning (to put it mildly). The weapons are enroute to Iran already. (Russia is also delivering nuclear weapons delivery technology, including ICBMs). Some of these Russian missiles come with Russian mercenary crews. In addition, with Russian and Iranian assistance, the terrorist group Hezbollah has been converting its ineffective rockets into precision guided munitions with defense-evading technology.

While Bosma’s grim predictions may never come to pass, his position has a certain logic. (We believe it won’t come to pass because the Israeli government will shrink from following that logic to its inevitable end). In any event you should Read The Whole Thing™. It’s a brief but very information-dense piece.

If the Israelis did take this approach to survival, how would they do it? Given that the US Government is likely to share any intelligence indicators of a strike with Iran, Israel will have to proceed under an unprecedented cloak of secrecy. But at this point, their very least worst option for the long term survival of Israel and its people may well be to nuke Iran.

This is one consequence of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for lofty intentions, standing alone.

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.




Burn, Baby, Burn, With Your Own Flamethrower

We keep seeing vintage flamethrowers come up at auction — they’re interesting weapons, and not being firearms they’re completely unconstrained by Federal or State law, except for two non-fun-loving jurisdictions that ban them, California and Maryland. (How could the legislators of MA, NJ and NY have missed this? Well, they’re totalitarians, but nobody ever said they were competent totalitarians. They tend to be the dissipated nephews of competent totalitarians past, these days). But anyway, these vintage flamethrowers always get bid up to nosebleed territory.

So it was only a matter of time before someone created a modern civilian flamethrower, for the sheer joy of burning stuff. Somebody now has. The question is, would it come in cheaper than the vintage scourge of Iwo Jima?

Naaah… We’ll get to that later.The first question is… does it burn?

It burns.

We’re betting this shows up in an action movie next summer. Because they’ve already demonstrated the most necessary of all Hollywood weapons skills, the dual wield:

This might be just the ticket for those annoying chipmunks or ground squirrels burrowing into your lawn.

Or those damn kids who won’t get off it.

And now for the money.

The X-15 flamethrower is available at a discounted price of $1,600 (from $1750 list). It runs on gasoline, runs better on diesel, and runs best of all with a napalm-like thickening agent that they’ll gladly sell you on their very website, cleverly called

Here, somewhat tongue in cheek, Jerry Miculek examines its concealed carry potential, complete with “real firearm” and “fire ant” puns.

You know, if people started using these for home defense, criminals would be showing up with some interesting mugshots.

Anybody else have, uh, a burning desire for one of these gadgets?

Five Depressing Developments on the OPM Data Compromise

1: How Did It Happen? Well, Why Did Your Car With The Top Down, Keys In, Parked in Da Hood Get Stolen?

The OPM Logo: an eagle being stretched on a rack, or maybe drawn and quartered.

The OPM Logo: an eagle being stretched on a rack, or maybe drawn and quartered.

First, here’s Charlie Martin on why it happened:

Someone, somewhere, decided that they didn’t want to spend the money: undoubtedly they had budget constraints.

So the sensitivity of the data wasn’t properly identified, passwords were used instead of a stronger scheme, the systems involved had “superuser” or “root” accounts that by definition have access to everything, and the users who had access to those root accounts were Chinese nationals in China, who — I think we can fairly say — didn’t meet the U.S. government’s standards for computer security.

Perhaps the biggest issue of all is that the government had centralized the collection of that data into a single web-based system, e-QIP, which means that all this data was collected in one place.

I would bet money that each of these decisions came down to someone saying: “Oh, that’s too hard,” “Hiring offshore workers is cheaper,” “That’s too inconvenient.”

At each of those steps, some security was lost because someone decided it was easier to relax the requirements than to get the more expensive and annoying solution. And while the inspector general was calling out the hazards, no one was willing to rock the boat.

It’s worth it to Read The Whole Thing™ — Charlie’s been around long enough to see a Death March software project or two — but the bottom line seems to be, because OPM secured it like the Last Guy Still Using AOL® secured his cute-kitten .jpg files.

2: Nobody Knows How Big The Numbers Are — Because Execs Are Lying

Second, there are some new numbers, and we’re expecting the release of even larger numbers Friday (too late for the evening news). We’ve seen the numbers build from 2.9 to 4 to 14 to 18 to 29 to 32 Million. It gets hazy fast. For instance:

  • OPM Director Katharine (“Fat, Incompetent and Stupid is so a way to go through life”) Archuleta, selected for that job by the usual process of Washington racial/ethnic/sex beancounting, insisted that the agency’s final number was 4.2 million. At the same hearing, an FBI officer, Acting Assistant Director for Cyber James Trainor, stood by the Bureau’s 18 million estimate, briefed earlier to Senators by FBI Director James Comey. Trainor, unlike Archuleta, showed his work: an OPM memo, exposing Archuleta as either an incomptent, a liar, or (the smart money says) an incompetent liar.
  • House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, brought up the 32 million number. However, that’s just the cleared personnel and applicants that OPM has mishandled data for; each person’s 150-page questionnaire or electronic equivalent also exposes the data of numerous other persons (references, employers and supervisors, family members, foreign friends) and, more alarmingly yet, the threads that form the skein of relationships of all those people have also been exposed to a hostile intelligence service.

Of course, their defense is, they’re not lying, they’re just so wrapped up in their own red tape they can’t generate diddly.

what OPM usually does

But the bottom line is this: if you have completed an SF 86 paper security questionnaire or the replacement Electronic Personnel Security Questionnaire (EPSQ) on e-QIP at any time since the early or mid-1980s, you had best assume your secrets are secrets no more.

OPM did not investigate all DOE clearances, so if you had a nuclear clearance but not a DOD one,  your information may be safe.

3: They Say They’re Not Lying Now; Forget Lie They Got Caught In Already

Third, the data was exposed as early as 2013 and the OPM senior executives cooperated, de facto, with the hostile intelligence service by minimizing and concealing the extent and seriousness of the breach then. CNN again (emphasis ours):

The roots of the recent OPM breach could be traced to an earlier 2013 OPM breach, investigators now believe. At the time, OPM officials minimized what was taken by hackers, who are believed to be the same responsible for the latest breach. But it turned out what was taken provided blueprints to the OPM network, valuable information for future intruders.

At Wednesday’s House Oversight hearing, Donna Seymour, the agency’s chief information officer, said that in the 2013 breach, hackers took “some manuals about our systems.”

Asked if those manuals were akin to blueprints of OPM’s computer systems, Seymour answered, “It would be fair to say that would give you enough information that you could learn about the platform, the infrastructure of our system, yes.”

Seymour called it a breach of security.

But that contrasts with earlier statements by OPM officials.

What do you think… are they lying now, or were they lying then? Does what we should do with them change based on the answer to this question? (What should we do with them? And should it involve tar, feathers, fire, a trebuchet, and easy assembly instructions?)

In a 2014 interview with WJLA-TV in Washington about the 2013 breach, Archuleta minimized the damage.

“I can tell you the most important piece: No personal identification information was compromised,” she said. “That’s the most important thing. That happened because of the good work and dedication of our employees.”

About the 2013 breach, Archuleta added: “Again, we did not have a breach in security. There was no information that was lost. We were confident as we worked through this that we would be able to protect the data.”

She’s right about one thing: this has happened because of the good work and dedication of her and her employees. Although we’re not sure what the adjective “good” is doing in there.

But it now looks like they didn’t just minimize the response. They deliberately misrepresented the scope and scale of the compromise, according to the Wall Street Journal (requisite Google Search if you’re paywalled out).

The Obama administration for more than a week avoided disclosing the severity of an intrusion into federal computers by defining it as two breaches but divulging just one, said people familiar with the matter.


An OPM spokeswoman said the agency had been “completely consistent’’ in its accounting of the data breach.

Well, yeah, she and her agency have been completely consistent. They’ve consistently lied. Example? Here’s one from that same article:

A day after the public announcement, an OPM spokesman said there was “no evidence to suggest that information other than what is normally found in a personnel file has been exposed.’’ By that time, the FBI already knew—and told OPM—that security-clearance forms had been tapped, officials said.

You can tell when Archuleta and Co. lie. Their lips move.

4: Did You Hear The One About The Screwed-Up Response?

Fourth, when the OPM went to notify even the initial 4.2 million victims they admit having, they botched it all over again, using a wildly insecure and unverified email system. (Hardly a surprise. Most key OPM systems were and are running with no or self-generated encryption and signing certificates). According to Navy Live (an official DOD site):

OPM began conducting notifications to affected individuals using email and/or USPS First Class mail on June 8, 2015. Recognizing the inherent security concerns in this methodology, with OPM and CSID support, DoD suspended notifications to employees on June 11, 2015, until an improved, more secure notification and response process is in place. Late June 15, 2015, OPM advised that email notification resumed. Email notifications should be complete by June 22, 2015. U.S. Postal mail notifications will take longer.

By the way, here’s what an email fraud alert for the crapola lowest-bidder “credit monitoring” service OPM bought no-bid from some crony and is force-feeding to victims looks like:


Yeah, just like a Nigerian scam!

Are that company’s servers as secure as OPM’s (which is to say, not terribly?) Or do you just get hacked yourself if you’re dumb enough to click the Log In Now button in a shady-smelling email like this? Click that red button and you may just find out. (Not here of course. Here it is just a harmless picture. We think).

5: FLEOA’s Recommendation Doesn’t Work

Fifth, here is what is happening when federal Special Agents, intelligence agency staff and contractors, and other cleared personnel call up the credit bureaux about their records, they’re getting blown off. As one disillusioned Fed put it to us:

The credit companies have so many calls from government employees for fraud alerts that they want you to go online and do it. They do not want your call.

At first, the staff at Experian, TransUnion, etc., may have fielded the calls personally, but soon the party line was “Don’t waste time on Federal employees and contractors.” Those unfortunates should not expect personal service; after all, the credit resellers aren’t getting paid for helping victims of enemies foreign (hackers) and domestic (OPM brass). Instead, some outfit you never heard of got a huge no-bid contract to further surveil you. (Wonder if there’s a kickback to the OPM panjandrums).

“Hang up and order a credit report online.” Click.

Soon, the firms’ initial voicemail menus were changed to cut hack victims off before even getting to that point. When you dial in, before you get the voice menu, you’re told not to bother calling the telephone line, if you’re an OPM victim. They can’t stop you from getting your one statutory credit report per year, but they can make it as difficult as they like — and they do.

The Bottom Line

OPM, after doing just about everything they could do to give away the security data, now is finger-pointing, to the extent it’s doing anything. (Hey, you can’t interfere with the 10 AM-3 PM Federal workday with a two-hour lunch. That’s an entitlement for these drones). They haven’t even updated their own data breach information page since the 23rd — two full days ago.

Director Archuleta seems to think that these so-called “workers” are more useful to the taxpayers than the same number of empty chairs. Where’s the evidence for that proposition?

She also thinks that OPM has been a good steward of secret and sensitive information. On which planet, in which galaxy, does this remarkable condition obtain? Not, we submit, on ours.

She has decided, to the extent this idle bag of suet decides anything, that what the OPM really needs to recover from this Grand Slam of Beltway hackery is to hire another Beltway tusker, to be called a “Cybersecurity Advisor.”

Sounds like a job for Jamie Gorelick.