Category Archives: Consumer Alert!

Deal Alert: Polymer 80

We’re forgetting that for Muggles, Memorial Day is a time of great sales. We received a very nice email from Polymer80, leading with the right sentiment. We already had a Polymer80 pistol-lower unboxing post roughed out for this week, so it was on our mind, too. We just didn’t check email ’til this morning. Here’s our excerpt from their email — plus the all important code.

Honoring the Fallen

We want to take this time to acknowledge those who have sacrificed their lives for Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.  Your courage will always be remembered.

God Bless America.

Save 20% OFF ALL 80% Polymer AR Receivers, 80% Pistol Frames, and AR Accessories this Memorial Day Weekend*.

At check-out use promo code:  p80memday2016

*Does not include BBS Kits. Expires May 31st, 2016

Shop Polymer80

New Dealer SpotLight

Still looking for the illusive [sic] Glock Gen3 parts for your PF940 Pistol Frame? We have a new source just recently added to our family of dealers.  Visit Trick Glocks and check out their e-store, they currently have 30 kits ready to sell with another 70 on the way!

Their website url is: https://www.trickglocks.com/
You can also visit their Facebok Page: https://www.facebook.com/trickglocks

As we mentioned, we have two Polymer80 Glock-off frames here and were planning an unboxing post. We weren’t sure where we were going to get parts (we were probably going to just strip our own G17), and so we’ll check out Trick Glocks, too, but only after this post goes live. (We’ve got a thing about taking advantage of our readers. To be specific, we don’t do it!).

UPDATE

We’ve just been to parts seller Trick Glocks’s website, and we’re not impressed.

It looks like they spent a lot on the polish and shine. Then when we went to actually buy stuff, the sales cart engine is… unfinished. It looks like it’s working in general, because some things are selling out, but after a flaky dance with registration and prove-you’re-real and emails to click on, it then hissed at us:

Your City must contain a minimum of 4 characters.

We can assure them, our town contains lots of characters; our very dead-end street has more than four characters. But the name of the town has only three, which is not all that rare in this part of the world. At least 14 towns in the Northeast (NH, NY, MA, ME, VT) bear three-letter names, often since some time in the 17th Century. We were jolly well here first, but apparently our money’s no good with him.

To put it in three-letter words: Him? Huh. Fie. Heh.

UPDATE II

And the contact page on their web site doesn’t work, either….

FireClean is Not Crisco

VIDEO Snakes Revenge As Severed Head Bites And Kills Chef

It slices the sssnake, it putss the piecessss in the juicer, it makesss the lotion, it putss the lotion on the gun….

Nope, it’s Snake Oil. As a bunch of stories at Vuurwapen Blog and TFB demonstrated, spectrographic analysis of FireClean is consistent with it being nothing but rapeseed oil, also known as canola oil, and/or chemically similar oils. Some people called it Crisco. But Crisco is a very pure, food-grade rapeseed oil; you can fry your morning hash browns in it, and they’ll taste delicious. Neither we nor the FDA recommend doing that with FireClean, and neither do the makers of FireClean. Your cardiologist would probably be equally distressed to see you frying up with either, but hey, if we all ate right, how would cardiologists ever make their Bentley payments?

Naturally, the guys who were buying 55-gallon drums of this stuff ($800/metric ton) and selling it (and a bunch of hype) in tiny plastic plastic squirt bottles for weren’t happy to have their secret outed, and so they sued Andrew Tuohy, the writer who first broke the news that FireClean was predominantly vegetable, specifically rapeseed, oil. They also sued Everett Baker, a chemistry student who did some analysis of the suspect formula as a college project, and published his results.

Apparently, showing the world the spectrum of FireClean is supposed to be like saying the name of God was to the Ancient Hebrews, as you can see in this clip from a Biblical documentary.

Yes, suing people for factually describing your product is certainly the way a corporation acts if its business model is based on developing advanced technology. It’s certainly not what a bunch of con artists would do when their con was exposed.

Or is it?

You can read the lawsuit — Andrew has posted it — and form your own opinion. (His lawyers’ memo in support of motion to dismiss is located here. If you donated to his legal defense fund you helped make that document, now donate again). We’re not lawyers, but what they’re demanding is, first, that Andrew and Everett be muzzled with respect to Crisco, er, FireClean. (Please Crisco, don’t sue us for comparing your fine cooking oil to the generic version marketed as a gun lube. No defamation of Crisco is intended).

Then, of course, they want money, because, well, for the same reason you might put cheap stuff in a bottle and sell it as expensive stuff: because they want money.

Meanwhile, of course, because the only justice that American courts are really concerned about is making sure that lawyers get paid, get paid off the top of the stack, and get paid handsomely, it’s going to cost Andrew and Everett a bunch of money to defend against this shakedown.

So there are two things you can do: never, ever, ever recommend, sell, or use FireClean, and throw a few bucks the defendants’ way.

Don’t feel bad for the brothers who run FireClean — when their product was challenged, rather that post science defending their product (there’s no scientific substance in their suit, just spectra of motor oils that are not like the vegetable oils at issue here), they went on legal attack-dog attack.

And there is this: we do not now, and we will not ever, use or recommend FireClean. (Even though Andrew! says it’s good gun lube).

Not only will they lose their SLAPP suit, they, and their product, deserve to be sent to market Coventry. We’re talking nuclear Streisand Effect in the megaton range.

Their major malfunction seems to be that even though their goop is, by its spectra, generic canola oil, it’s really a blend of three vegetable oils, so you can’t call it vegetable oil. They’re also really PO’d that people (not Andrew, who has been adamant about this) are calling it Crisco. And indeed, it might not deserve such a comparison, because it’s unfair to Crisco. The FireClean oils are somewhat like Crisco, except probably not food-grade; you can cook in Crisco, and it might not be safe in FireClean.

It gets better. If you read the suit, you find out their blend of three magic rapeseed oils ingredients.

The suit (available here) is simply full of conclusory assertions and outright falsehoods. Here’s just one:

53. The suggestion that FIREClean is not suitable for military use is false.

Here’s what the US Army’s graphic maintenance publication, PS Magazine (Issue. 735, February 2014, inside front cover) says about using snake oil lubricants like FireClean:

army_on_unauthorized_lubricants

Which tells you all you need to know about how suitable FireClean is for military use. The assertion that FireClean is suitable for military use is false, according to the US Freaking Army, who apparently were not consulted by FireClean’s ambulance-chasers. The military people in charge of lubricants Just Say No (to FireClean and to many other snake oil formulations).

PS elaborates:

[I]f you think you can improve on what the TM instructs you to do, then you’re asking for trouble. For example, using … a different lubricant than what the TM lists, can leave you … not being able to fire at all because your rifle jammed.
Also, just because something has an NSN doesn’t mean it’s OK to use.

That tells you that the attorneys who wrote line 53 there, Bemara J. DiMuro, Bureau of Prisons Nº (oops, Virginia State Bar Nº, but the mistake is understandable, given that both numbers say the same thing about a person’s character) 18784, and Stacey Rose Harris BOP VSB Nº 65887, aren’t shy about just making facts up and lying to advance their lawsuit.

Well, what do you expect? They’re lawyers, not people.

What to Do

  • Gun owners, do not buy FireClean.
  • If you bought it, return it and demand a refund. If they refuse a refund, complain to the BBB and your state Attorney General or other consumer authority. They want to play with lawyers, let them.
  • Range owners and stocking FFLs, stock other products instead. Return any FireClean to your distributor and demand a refund. After all, even if the company didn’t deserve the Market Death Penalty™ for this, it’s not like you’re going to be able to sell the stuff now.
  • Most of all, support Andrew’s legal defense. We donated, but it looks to us like fundraising has stalled out and he can use some more lettuce to feed his lawyers.

If they want to know why you’re returning it, tell them you thought it was Crisco. But now that you know this product with uncannily similar spectrum to Crisco rapeseed oil is not Crisco, you don’t want it; you want your money back. Because it’s not Crisco, right?

It’s snake oil.

More Retro/Vintage ARs, This Time from Troy

A routine email from TFB reminded us that Colt’s Retro ARs are not unique after all, but that since this year’s SHOT Show, Troy has been promoting retro ARs. At SHOT they introduced a retro GAU-5A/A, and at the NRA show, an XM177E2.

They are promoting these rifles at the cleverly selected URL, myservicerifle.com. And they’re sensibly priced ($1,200-1,300 MSRP).

Here’s the GAU. A great deal of attention to detail has been applied here. It’s the right color grey.

GAU_5AA_rightThe lower receiver is contoured correctly for the A1-era CAR-15, and has almost exact rollmarks, until you look closely. It even has the “pin” for the auto sear — actually, just an engraved marking. GAU_5AA_right_rearThe pistol grip is an original surplus part — the only one. The barrel is about an inch longer than an original, and the profile of the false “moderator” — which is pinned and welded to make the barrel an ATF-legal 16″ — is a little bit off, but this is the closest any manufactured gun has gotten. Note that the bayonet lug has been milled off (this is correct to the originals).GAU_5AA_left

Care has been taken with the 2-position (period correct) stock. It is made of aluminum and then coated (probably not with the original vinyl acetate dip… that would be asking for OSHA to come a-viking to one’s factory). GAU_5AA_left_extTroy has not forgotten people who dwell within the Moonbat Curtain. You can also get one with the stock pinned in place and with the magazines gelded, and you can even go Full Harem Guard with a California-Legal (at the moment) Bullet Button. And each GAU (and the XM177s as well) comes with a package of accessories.

GAU_Included_accessories

And let’s have a look at the XM177E2.

As you can see, it comes with all the same features and accessories as its Air Force / Son Tay brother, down to the “strap, utility” sling improvised with 550 cord loops….

XM-177E2_leftBut looking at the other side, we see the difference between the GAU and the XM, the yin of the Air Force and the yang of the Army — the forward assist, an Army-peculiar feature, originally. XM-177E2_rightHere’s the forward assist in close-up. Note how accurately they got the part colors, the lower receiver contour, and the dead-on look-and-feel of the stock.

XM-177E2 forward assistIt can’t turn you into Dick Meadows, but it can damn well give you his sight picture:

XM-177E2 sights

Here’s sthe stock with the field improvised sling.XM-177E2 stock

And here’s the other end of the sling showing how it’s attached., as well as the period-correct .625″ barrel OD. XM-177E2 FSB and slingThe moderator looks almost perfectly right.XM-177E2 false moderatorThis selector switch photo shows the false selector markings and the little fake-auto-sear “pin”. XM177E2_SCAR-XM11-14YT-00-autoMarkings-1-1024x512They’re also available with limited-custom, tasteful, laser personalization.

XM-177E2 custom laser engraved

They also include such things as copies of inspectors’ paint marks.

The Charity Angle

But wait! there’s more. For every one of these retro blasters Troy sells, they’re going to make a contribution to an appropriate charity. For instance, the GAU supports the National Leage of Families; the XM177E2 supports — what else? — the Special Forces Association and the Special Operations Association. The SFA is the regimental association of the SF Regiment, and the SOA restricts full membership to veterans of behind-the-lines or cross-border units and

We’re life members of both SOA and SFA, and yet we never heard of these things before so we’re extremely glad we picked up Nathaniel F’s report thanks to the TFB email.

Retro Rejoice: Colt to Reissue “Collector’s Edition” M16, XM177E2

Retro heads, rejoice: You have nothing to lose but your slavish obsession with parts gathering. Because Colt, the original maker of historic firearms like the M16A1 (Colt Model 603) and XM177E2 (Model 639), has something new in the works: the Model 603. The 639. The 602. Maybe even the 601, the 605, the 608, and all those other rarities. Here’s the first two of what is promised to be a line:

colt_retro_guns

We learned this in an excited email from Shawn of LooseRounds.com this weekend, as he shared what Colt spokesmen have told him. (And the photo, a detail of which you see above). He has two posts:

Taken together, they cover most of what Colt has let out about the new vintage reissues. Here’s our distillation of it:

  1. The showing at the NRA Annual Meeting was just a tease, the “real” product intro will come at next January’s SHOT Show.
  2. Colt will make a short run, maybe as few as 1,000 pieces, of two models of these rifles every year for the next 10 years.
  3. Colt will make every effort to accurately produce the weapons as they were produced, except,
  4. They’re all going to be Title 1 firearms — no NFA weapons.
  5. The first two up are believed to be the M16A1 and XM177E2, the two key weapons of the Vietnam War.

Personally, we think this is brilliant. Guitar makers have done it for decades — we believe the first to get on the Vintage craze was Rickenbacker, whose use by the Vietnam War’s contemporaries like the Beatles and the Byrds made them a natural for vintage reissues (but it might have been Fender). Naturally other makers like Gibson and acoustic-guitar specialist Martin joined in. Soon the drum brands followed suit, and the amplifier makers, and by the time the Beatles Anthology was released in the mid-90s, a Ringo, John, Paul, or George wannabe could equip himself with everything but the talent by swiping his credit card at Manny’s or George Gruhn’s. For the guitar makers, this opened up an entire new market — aged-out rockers who had never given up their desire to sound like, say, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, could at least buy a ringer for his 12-string. Unlike today’s starving musician, the aged out former-starving-musician-of-the-70s now has the disposable income to buy the guitar he couldn’t in his Ramen Noodles days.

Your humble blogger may resemble that fictional aged-out rocker, with vintage reissues from Fender, Gibson, and Gibson’s budget brand Epiphone sharing guitar racks with real vintage instruments. (Some of which were merely “old” when put away, but emerged from storage “vintage,” like Schrödinger’s Guitar or something).

It’s not hard to conceive Colt’s marketing move as a parallel to what the guitar makers are doing. Yes, they’re still trying to reach today’s guy but they also want the dollars of the guy inspired by yesterday’s heroes. Colt, like Rickenbacker, ought to be able to survive as a nostalgia, vintage brand, but they are hoping, perhaps, to be more like Gibson — something for everybody, including the free-spending nostalgia buff.

Colt’s representatives promise attention to detail. Another photo Shawn has shows a rep holding an unfinished aluminum buttstock, as all Vietnam “submachine guns” bore (albeit coated by being dipped in vinyl acetate — it will be interesting to see how Colt handles this).  Colt has done something very similar, already, with the Colt 1903 pocket pistol; Colt also, now, stocks parts for the pistol that work in the new reissue and the originals.

We don’t know what this new Colt line is going to be called: Historic, Vintage, Reissue, Retro, or some combination, or maybe something with the model year (M16A1 Vintage ’66?) or a famous fight or hero (“Dick Meadows CAR-15”?). And that shows other paths that open up for Colt now:

  1. They can constantly tweak and reissue the reissues (Fender does this with guitars); or,
  2. They can support a two-tiered market with a standard mass-produced vintage reissue on the entry tier and perfect replicas of a specific firearm at higher tiers. But wait! They can also:
  3. Use the parts engineered for the retro clones to make new and interesting takes on modern AR15s. They could even support mass customization / personalization. The sky’s the limit.

If we have a squawk with Colt’s plans it’s the low production numbers they envision — perhaps as few as 1000 rifles of each model. That more or less ensures that they go direct to the kind of collectors that will keep them new in the box in a climate controlled vault in a salt mine somewhere deep beneath the lair of Dr. Evil.

Because we’re totally going to buy one. Of each.

Do go to Loose Rounds and read Shawn’s two posts if you’re interested in these guns.

Surplus Pistol Deals at Bud’s Gun Shop

buds_cz_exampleBud’s Gun Shop is a high volume dealer that sells stuff retail for, in some cases, less than your local guy can get it for wholesale… so when you do buy from Bud’s, it’s good manners to tip your transfer dealer.

Right now they have quite a collection of surplus guns, including some rack grade CZ’s that they’re putting forward as Good condition (the Good units sell out quickly) and Fair condition, with the “condition” mostly referring to exterior finish. Most of these are pre-Bs (and so, they have the mag brake and may not work with current CZ mags without some modification). But the prices are pretty good, as this example shows.

Here’s the whole surplus list, including a lot of FNs and Clones (FeG, Mauser — which is an FeG, Kareen etc.) as well as the CZs (and some Jericho clones). These are apparently all surplus cop guns from somewhere, perhaps Israel. Sometimes they sell out, sometimes new stock comes in. Heads up!

buds_surplus_guns

 

Here are their clearance guns, which are a mix of desirable oddities and things that were born to die on a clearance list.

Update

Thanks to Dave in the comments. At least one buyer of a CZ-85 (now sold out) got a shock when he got it home and stripped the firearm:

Buds CZ slide failure

Man, that’s ugly. Reddit thread here, original image posted on imgur here. It will be interesting to see what action Bud’s takes.

Auction Action: Bicentennial Colt Revolvers at Amoskeag

We’ve often featured lots from some of our favorite auctioneers, like James Julia in Maine and Rock Island Auctions in Illinois. It’s time to put the relatively local Amoskeag Auctions of our own New Hampshire into the rotation. And what better launch than this set of three commemorative Colt revolvers, issued during the Bicentennial Year of 1976. It’s Item 95 in the upcoming firearms auction, Amoskeag’s Nº 110, taking place at 0900 on 4 June 2016.

Amoskeag Bicentennial Colts lot 95

If you’re too young to remember, we who were there can tell you: America went Bicentennial Bonkers. Everything had a Bicentennial Limited Edition, from crappy Chryslers (all cars were crappy in 1976, unless you lived in Europe, and Chrysler and American Motors were competing for the bottom of the market) to chopsticks and placemats in Chinese restaurants. By the time the hangover for the Bicentennial Binge came due, around the swearing-in of Jimmy Carter in January of 77, we all had Bicentennial Burnout.

This was Colt’s top commemorative offering that year. Now, commemoratives, often mass-produced faux collectibles, seem to struggle in the market, but we suspect that these revolvers will sell for higher than Amoskeag’s high estimate of $5,500. The revolvers are three iconic Colts, the then-modern Python in .357 Mag, the century-earlier Single Action Army in, naturally .45 Long Colt, and the .44 blackpowder Third Model Dragoon. These guns are beautifully and tastefully finished (not the case with most Bicentennial chachkas).

The Python alone is a hell for rare variant with an unfluted cylinder engraved with the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty. The SAA has a case-hardened receiver and an ufluted cylinder, engraved with the US flag of 1776 and that of 1976. The Dragoon has the famous old indian-and-Texas-Rangers battle scene on it. Each gun’s left grip is inlaid with the Great Seal of the United States.

Coming this Year: A Book on Czech and Czechoslovak Pistols

I have mentioned in the past working on this book, and you may be pleased to know that this work is continuing. It’s time to formally reveal some of the details, even though we’re still months from publication. A few of the cast of characters appear below.

czech_pistol_array

Along with a 1961 Czechoslovak People’s Army paratrooper jacket and a few of the books we’ve used for research, there are seven Czech or Czechoslovak-made or -designed pistols in the picture. Can you name them all?

Here are some quick facts about the book:

  • The working title is: Firearms of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic 1918-2018. Volume I: Handguns. Yes, that is kind of dry.
  • Objective: the single most comprehensive book on the subject in English.
  • It will be available as an ebook; if there is demand, a print version will follow.
  • The reason for doing it as an ebook is for the book never to go out of print. 
  • It will be DRM-free.
  • We are aiming for .epub and .mobi versions. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Kindle uses .mobi, iBooks .epub; ceteris paribus .epub is a better format. Once you own a specific title, as long as we’re in business we’ll send you a copy in another format so you don’t suffer format lock.
  • Likewise, if we revise the book, anything less than a major rewrite is a free upgrade. 
  • Look back up at that working title. If it succeeds, it will be followed by other volumes on long guns and machine guns.
  • While Czechoslovakia begins in 1918, the story of Czechoslovak arms has to begin before the creation of the new state as a consequence of the defeat of the Central Powers and the breakup of the Habsburg Empire.
  • It discusses the Czechoslovak and Czech arms industry at some length.
  • We’re going to discuss the work of ethnic Czech designers working for foreign nations, and for the predecessor Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as the foreign inventions
  • We’ll also include the efforts of the Slovak arms designers and companies we’ve been able to identify, even though they are fewer (by far) than the Czechs.
  • We expect to have timelines and graphics to explain complicated things like the history of Czech and Czechoslovak service pistols, and the many descendants of the CZ-75.

It’s a book for specialists and gun nerds. Most people won’t want or need a copy.

czech_pistol_set_ii

For each firearm, we’ll cover:

  • Its design history and features;
  • How it works;
  • Its operational history and significance;
  • How to field strip and maintain it.

After the jump, we’ll name the pistols, clockwise from 12 o’clock.

Continue reading

Silencerco SWR Radius Rangefinder

Silencerco says the objective of its Silencerco Weapons Research subsidiary is “to bring advanced technology to the public at an attainable price.” We had not heard of that, or of SWR for that matter, until they came up claiming mission accomplished: “with the announcement of a capability-heavy range finder for only $999, we’ve done just that.”

Have they? Here’s a silent (apart from music and maybe gunshots) video of the SWR Radius in action.

This video describes some of the capabilities:

Sure, it’s not TrackingPoint, but TrackingPoint is not available for pre-order at $995, either.

The Tracking Point system includes several other modules, such as an air data computer that accounts for atmospherics (density, ambient pressure, altitude, temperature), a ballistics computer that knows the bullet performance at a given range, an aiming point module that adjusts the digital reticle on to target, a target reference module that “understands” where a marked (“tagged”) target is in three dimensions, and trigger control that, in a digital update to the way a Contstantinesco gear interrupted fire of a World War I fighter plane unless the propeller was clear of the trajectory, only allows the trigger to fire when the aimpoint is on target.

A unit like this, if it were able to output data through an RS232/RS422 port or something like that,  could be a component of such a system, and if the rangefinder alone succeeds, the likelihood that SWR builds in this direction is increased.

Of course, the one nut that even TrackingPoint has yet to crack is wind.

None of these developments are really, in the truest sense of the word, inventions. They’ve all been around for a century, manually calculated and optically ranged, in naval gunnery, and for most of a half century (including laser ranging) in tank gunnery. The new development is this technology reaching levels of portability and affordability where it can be installed on (or in) an individual weapon.

There are  couple less in-your-face developments embedded in the Radius. One of these is the display of not just one, but the top three range returns. This is a big deal if you’re engaging a target screened by vegetation, a chain link fence, or any of the other embuggerments that give a laser rangefinder a false return.

Another is the selectable use of visible and IR laser. The two lasers coalign, so that the laser can be boresighted or sighted-in with the visible laser, and then switch to the IR for actual field use, and use it with confidence.

This suggests that, while full firing system integration à la TrackingPoint is one way this can go, there are other ways. For example, a unit integrating this laser capability (in milspec strength) with current IR/visible laser floodlight and point illumination would be catnip to the military services.

How would you use this? No manual is posted yet, but a .pdf spec sheet is available.

And as an exit video: here, they’re hinting at some future capabilities.

Dude, where’s my jetpack?

Collectors are Nuts. But You Knew That, Right?

strait_jacket_obliqueThere are echelons and ranks of gun collectors, like there are of any other human activity. And like some activities and unlike others, collectors are bat-guano, moonbarking nuts. Firearms collecting is one of those areas, and the way two equally functional firearms might reach galactically disparate values is one of those indicators that we collectors ought to be in rooms with neoprene wallpaper.

But we’ll take the risk of trying to analyze why these values diverge, even if it requires the intervention of the nice young men in their clean white coats as they’re coming to take me awaaay, ha haaa!

Consider condition. Collectors certainly do. The single greatest prime value driver for collector firearms is condition. Like other collectors’ firearms value drivers, it can be plotted as a logarithmic or asymptotic value on a scale, with very high-condition arms taking off stratospherically compared to even high-condition ones

But wait. Condition only counts if the firearm is authentic. So the single greatest prime value driver for collector firearms is originality. “Real” collectors are only interested in original firearms, and indications of rework, refinish, parts replacement (as in flintlock reconversions) and other post-factory jiggery-pokery are generally anathema.

But wait, wait. A collector firearm that is in perfect condition, and perfectly original, still won’t draw a lot of interest (thereby amping up the demand curve and causing values to rise against the supply) if it is not significant. This may not mean that it is the best, only that it has some historical or personal connection to the world and to the market. An example of a personal connection is the current popularity of the simple early Ruger Mark I .22 pistol, which has risen in value, proportionately, much more than arguably superior .22s like Hi-Standard, Browning or Colt target pistols. This is because it was many current collectors’ first exposure to pistol shooting; the reliable, inexpensive Mark I was more likely to be the gun your dad or uncle pressed into your hand than, say, a tack-driving Hi-Standard Victor. So that gives Mark Is personal significance. Personal significance fades, as cohorts of men march down the Avenue of Time to their own rendezvous with history. We’ve seen this in other markets, where, say, the demand for vintage Model A Fords rose and fell with the car collectors who were young in the 1930s and 40s. The other significance is historical significance: weapons that are readily related to a time in history, such as a war or the Wild West era, are generally more sought after than ones that lack such a historical peg upon which to hang their values.

An example is the relative value of a pre-World War I German Model 98a Mauser, and the Swiss M1911 rifle of the same period. The Swiss gun is beautifully made and less common by far, but the German gun beats it on price; not much of a benefit, perhaps, but it’s what Germany got for starting, and losing, the war.

If you’ve stayed with us this far, by now you’ve figured out that the perfect collector gun is the one that was carried in Pickett’s Charge, hasn’t been touched by human hands since it was dragged out from under an expired Rebel on the slopes of Little Round Top in 1863, but is in as-new condition.

See what we mean? Collectors are nuts.

In any event, we wind up with a triangular model that looks like this:

The Collector Calculation I

 

Of course, at least one of you will be jumping up and down right now, the Hermione Grainger of this lesson, and insisting that our triangular model is oversimplified. (Of course, all models are simplified; that’s why you make models in the first place, because considering the Entire Data Set of Every Damn Thing™ is too taxing on the Brain Housing Group. So the devil of oversimplification is in the details).  What would you add to such a value model?

One of the first things we can think of is Provenance. Because of the weird dual primacy or originality and condition, an entire ecosystem of fakery has emerged over the last century or so. It gets pretty thick at times. We have come to think, based one ones we’ve personally observed lately, that flintlock reconversions of early American muskets outnumber genuine flintlocks by wide margins. But if a family has an 1860 estate inventory listing the firearm as a flintlock, and a 1920 photo of it hanging in flintlock state on the wall of the family manse, this documentation is hugely helpful. It speaks to provenance. 

Writing down a family legend that a 1911 was Great-Uncle Gerald’s in the Great War, which he neglected to turn in at the end of hostilities, provides provenance, but not from 1918. If you do it this year and put it with the gun, though, at least it is provenance from 2016. The story can’t be proven either way. Most guns come without a family legend or even a good story; they’ve been changing collector hands for a while. For them, provenance may include sales receipts, auction catalogs, and that sort of thing. If your gun is mentioned in books or online articles — for example, serial number lists of USMC-used and postwar-sold Johnson rifles are out there — then that material becomes worthwhile proof of provenance.

So let us add provenance to our model. Anything else?

There are things we can rule out. For instance, rarity. The supply and demand curves are relativistic and operate independently of the actual quantity of items available. To boil it down

What about the simple attractiveness of various firearms? Compare the price, say, of a German Luger to a utilitarian P.38. You have to call the eye-friendliness, visual exudation of power, or just plain styling of firearms something, because it often (not always) influences prices. (Among minor Axis powers’ pistols, why does the Beretta 1934 claim higher values that the Frommer Stop?). We have to call this X Appeal something, so why not Sex Appeal. After all, sex sells.  

So here is our second shot at the model:

The Collector Calculation II

Makes us wonder, what else are we missing?

Not, “Collectors are nuts,” at least. We got that.

A Pathetic Fake on GunBroker

We’ve seen some blatant fakes, but this one retires the trophy.

fake nazi holster

The auction title: “Nazi Scorpion VZ 61 Holster and Magazine Pouch.” Do you see the problem yet? Here’s the reverse of the holster and pouch:

fake nazi holster reverse

And here’s the proof of its Nazi bona fides, a gen-you-wine Waffenamt marking!

fake holster waffenamt 2

And here’s another Waffenamt. That Hitler SWAT sticker is way, way clearer on this one.

fake holster waffenamt 1

Have you figured out the problem yet?

The holster and pouch are not for any weapon the Nazis would, or could, have used. They are for the Czech Vz61 Škorpion submachine gun / personal defense weapon, a .32 ACP hybrid pistol/SMG used by some military elements but mostly by internal security elements of the Ministry of the Interior.

While some Czech guns were made and used by Nazis during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia 1938-45, the Nazis left after that (as did, at bayonet point, those ethnic Germans who had invited them in); with the exception of a few war criminals in pokey and a quantity of Nazis-made-good in the graveyards. So you will not find authentic Waffenamt markings on anything made after 1945.

(But you can, and these images suggest someone did, find not-so-authentic Waffenamt stamps on eBay).

The abbreviation Vz stands for the Czech (and Slovak, and a couple other Slavic languages) word Vzor, meaning, “model,” as in, “Model of –“, and of course, the Vz refers to a year.

Anyone daring enough to make a guess as to when a firearm called Vz 61 was adopted?

Next question, is 61 > 45? We may be dealing with someone who is not only a faker, but also suffering from bitchy resting face pre-terminal innumeracy.

Let’s look inside the holster and pouch and see what we can learn there. Hey, there’s a stamp inside the holster flap!

fake holster pouch dates 3

In this stamp, K6 is a manufacturer code, the crossed swords are a Czechoslovak Army marking, and 66 is the year of manufacture.

See, there was this one Nazi who refused to believe the war was over, and hid in the mountains… making holsters.

Next up, the marking inside the pouch for the Škorpion’s spare mags.

fake holster pouch dates 1 fake holster pouch dates 2

So to recap: the gun belonging in this holster was designed in 1961, the mag pouch was made in 1965, and the holster itself in 1966.

But the leatherwares somehow acquired marks from the Waffenamt, an inspectorate defunct for 16, 20, and 21 years respectively at the time. While simultaneously bearing the marks of the postwar Czechoslovak People’s Army.

Last interesting facts: He has this priced a lot higher than a generic Škorpion holster; and, a lot of the seller’s other sales are claimed Nazi stuff, mixed in with admitted replicas.

Don’t take any wooden nickels — or time-traveling Nazi holsters for future guns.