Category Archives: Consumer Alert!

Walking in PO Ackley’s Footsteps

In a post we wrote a couple of years ago but that never appeared on this blog (because it was never finished), we wrote about legendary 20th Century riflesmith and cartridge wildcatter Parker Otto Ackley, known to all as P.O. Ackley.

PO Ackley made an entire career of making what he called “improved” cartridges. Each of the Ackley improved cartridges was based on some mainstream cartridge but with an increased powder capacity and a sharper shoulder, which implies less taper in the body of the cartridge itself.

We described Ackley similarly in another post that did get published, in 2012. That of course understates Ackley’s career, because apart from all his cartridge wizardry, Ackley was a gunsmith, barrel maker, and a writer with a prodigious capacity for work.

in a new book by Fred Zeglin, this career is explored and evaluated, and Zeglin actually emulates some of Ackley’s famous experiments, including these on Bolt Thrust that are excerpted at GunDigest.com.

Since the post-WWII years, if not before, there has been an ongoing argument concerning whether breech thrust (bolt thrust) is reduced by the improved case design. P.O. Ackley has certainly influenced the argument. The definition of an improved case is pretty simple. The case body is blown out to minimum body taper, which is described by Ackley as 0.0075 per inch taper. Shoulder angles between 28 and 45 degrees are normally considered to be improved, although it could be argued that any shoulder sharper than the original parent case is improved. Finally, an improved design allows the firing of a factory cartridge in order to fireform the brass for the new design.

…a method of recording breech trust was necessary in order to go beyond the somewhat subjective experiments that P.O. Ackley wrote about in Handbook for Shooters and Reloaders Vol. I. There Ackley used a Model 94 Winchester because, as he stated, “We often hear that the Winchester Model 1894 action was designed for low pressures and is an action which could be described as ‘weak.’” The purpose of his experiment with the ‘94 was to prove that the improved case design minimized bolt thrust; that the brass will support and contain some pressure; that oily chambers increase bolt thrust; and finally, the notion that actions are designed for specific pressure ranges is a fallacy.

Zeglin conducted a high-tech version of Ackley’s tests, using a test fixture he developed, “a .30 caliber barrel with a universal breech plug to allow for adjustable headspace, and to accommodate the strain gauge utilized by the Pressure Trace.” He developed loads beyond the SAAMI pressure limit for the .30-30 Improved, and discovered that even with excess headspace, the Improved case stayed in place, extruding the primer instead of shearing its head off. Conclusions:

[W]as Ackley right about his findings?
Yes, but he may have missed a point or two.

Since .30-30 brass is thick and pressures are low relative to brass strength and case capacity, with most appropriate powders pressure is not a big problem. To be fair, we did find some powders that will develop pressure far beyond SAAMI levels for the .30-30 AI case. Because the brass is so thick, it actually cannot stretch and cause head separations due to excess headspace. In that respect the .30-30 is not a good choice for Ackley to prove that improved designs handle pressure better.

However, Ackley used the .30-30 because the ‘94 Winchester action had been labeled weak. In this respect, Ackley did prove that the ‘94 can handle anything the .30-30 or .30-30 AI can dish out, without any question.

Bear in mind that the action of the Winchester ’94 was labeled weak by Winchester, who wanted to upsell customers to stronger rifles, like the ’95, which could handle the big-game and service cartridges of the early 20th Century with no problems.

There’s quite bit more to it, so Read The Whole Thing™. In other things in the book there is something that made us order it: Ackley’s own, previously unpublished, description of his own home-made cut rifling machine. (See the Table of Contents left).

Like any highly specialized book, it’s expensive, and has potential to go out of print at some time in the future. That’s just life in specialty book markets.

How expensive? The list price for hardcover or eBook is $60, although at this writing Gun Digest is sweetening the deal with $10 off the hardcover edition, and free shipping. (Pity they don’t offer a deal on both. We prefer hardcover books, but you can take a Kindle or iPad into the shop without worrying about getting cutting fluid on an irreplaceable heirloom). For what it’s worth, we just ordered the hardcover.

While this book rates the full price (to us at least), Gun Digest publishing does find itself overstocked from time to time, and if you’re into gun books and willing to let price be your guide, they have Under $30 and Under $15 pages, too. Free shipping if you can run the tab to $50 — we bet you can. (Dunno what the shipping is to those of you dwelling in foreign lands).

Brace for Auction!

Rock Island is up this weekend with Online Auction #2013, one day only 23 March 17. And more auctions will be following, from all the major gun-auction houses. We’ll just cover the most immediate ones here.

RIA Online #2013:  23 Mar 17

There are 683 lots currently in the auction, 243 of them containing C&R firearms and 68 antiques. Most of the offerings are common firearms with moderate collector interest, and they are expected to draw relatively reasonable prices. There are many Smith & Wesson revolvers.

There are also some oddities, like Lot 84, this “Getsem” brand trap gun. Not a recommended home security solution in 2017, and don’t even think about using it to take wildlife — the game wardens will sling you so far back in county jail the turnkeys will have to feed you with a slingshot.

Remember the mystery revolver one of our readers had, which was identified by our commenters as a Bacon revolver? Here’s Lot #165, a Bacon in considerably nicer condition.

You might want something newer, or longer (plenty of long guns), or more Teutonic (a few Lugers and Walthers)… or…. just plain weird, like Lot 479: a percussion cane gun with two Japanese-style el cheapo swords.

If you want to participate in this online-only auction, Thursday is the day, starting at 0900 Central Time. If you’re inclined to participate, we recommend that you mess around on the website, learn what the total costs will be, set your limit early, and then bid and forget it until you hear if you won.

And, here are brief blurbs on some of the other upcoming auctions, the nearest (temporally) first:

Amoskeag Auction Nº 113 : 25-26 Mar 17

These two auctions are coming right up, too. We’ve already featured some of the highlights of this auction. Bids for the Silent Auction can be received as late as Sunday 26 March. If you plan to participate, register now. Silent Auction catalog (.pdf). Live Auction catalog (.html).

James Julia “Spectacular” Auction: 11-12 Apr 17

RIA Premier Auction #70: 5-7 May 17

Unlike the utilitarian and fundamental collector pieces in the Online auction this weekend, RIA’s Premier Auctions are where the fancy stuff is, like Elvis Presley’s revolvers.

The full catalog isn’t up yet.

There are more auctions coming up… but these will have to hold you for the moment.

 

 

For the Man who has Everything: 60MM mortar M224

When you see a 60mm mortar for sale, it’s usually the old vintage M2 or M19 that was the United States infantry’s go-to enemy grunt-whomper for decades, from the 1920s through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and various smaller wars.

Rare picture! A TF Smith mortar crew in action 11 Jul 50. Half of the mortars in B Co had just been condemned by ordnance inspectors in Japan. They fought with them anyway [Signal Corps Photo #FEC-50-4100]

Mortars rule the battlefield; they are short-range, high-angle artillery in the hands of infantry commanders and their THOONK is one of the most reassuring, or terrifying, things you can hear on the battlefield. They are prodigious casualty-producers in the defense, but can also be (and are) carried on the offense or even on patrol. They can be fired in direct or indirect mode. “Direct” doesn’t mean straight at the target, like a rifle, given a mortar’s high trajectory. It means the gunner can see and aim at the target. In “indirect” fire the gunner is firing from behind terrain, and does not have line of sight on the target — he aims at a stake in the ground and adjusts from that position using corrections fed to him by the fire direction controller, who uses a whiz wheel or calculator that’s built of pure trigonometry. (You can do FDC doing the trig “by hand” but man, does it ever slow things down).

Mortars are generally smooth-bored and so their projectiles are generally fin-stabilized. Do not mistake this for “inaccurate”; an experienced mortar crew is capable of first-round direct fire hits anywhere in range.

There is nothing wrong with an M2 or M19. These licensed-built versions of the French Brandt-Stokes mortar differ only in that the early one has a trigger (which is good for aimed direct fire), and the later a fixed firing pin (better suited to fire for effect). They use the same ammo and the same firing tables, are simple as a hammer (although indirect fire with forward observers not in the gun-target line, and fire direction control for mortar batteries, can get complicated), and persisted for decades because they were hard to beat at their job.

But it is rare to see an M224, the widowmaker, life-taker and morale-breaker that replaced the M2/M19, on the civilian market. Here’s one:

When the USA replaced its 1950s vintage 81mm mortar with a new and better one, it seemed logical to apply that same technology to the 1920s-tech light mortar, which produced the M224, a mortar that is as easily patrolled with as the old 60 but which has the firepower, range and terminal effect of the old 81. The fixed-pin-or-trigger debate was solved by providing both and making the feature operator-selectable, so you can squeeze off single rounds in direct fire or to meet an exact  Time On Target, or you can have your well-trained crew deliver a steel rain of shells on your foes. In trigger mode, that hinged bar inside the carrying handle is your trigger… and no, Wolff does not make a spring for reduced trigger pull. Sorry ’bout that.

Even the Marines like this mortar, although they have grumbled about the lack of a thermonuclear round, and absence of a bayonet lug. (Maybe they can get HK to copy it and add the lug. Not sure if turning Oberndorf loose on nuclear physics is a good idea).

The 224s very seldom come up for sale in the civilian Destructive Device market. With the price being asked for this, it’s more likely to go to a well-heeled collector than a casual shooter. It’s a nearly complete mortar with the sight, bipod, T&E, and tube, but it doesn’t seem to have the smaller “patrol” baseplate, just the big one that changes it from an instantly-firing one-man carry to a 30-seconds-to-TOT two-man carry.

Whether those thirty seconds are a long time or not, depends entirely on whether someone is shooting at you (and who). Incoming aimed fire does weird things to time.

The seller, who’s in Oklahoma (relax, New Yorkers and San Franciscans, you’re out of mortar range), says:

This is a live 60mm M224 mortar and this a registered destructive device and will need to be transferred to an NFA dealer. Very nice overall shape and highly unusual to see this trigger fired mortar available for sale.

Ammo is also restricted by the National Firearms Act — if it’s explosive rounds. Training/practice and homegrown non-warhead rounds are fine. You can also roll your own, as the current owner says he does.

It functions well and can be shot with practice rounds or I have been using aluminum beer bottles full of plaster with 12 gauge blanks for engines.

via 60MM mortar M224 : Destructive Devices at GunBroker.com.

And then there’s the other target market — the ones who want to be ready when THEY come.

Because, really, who doesn’t want to be ready when THEY come? THOONK!

This Fokker Needs Your Help

There are not many Fokker Dr.I Triplanes left in the world.

How few are they? Well, actually, there are zero survivors of the thousands made. There are, however, replicas of varying quality, some of them, like this one, built from original plans and therefore quite good.

But it has a problem. Maintenance has been deferred for several years while museum management kept the once-flying bird inside on static display, and now that a new generation of managers want it back in the air, it needs a ton of work.

Which needs a ton of money ($90k). And with barely over a week to go, the plane’s owner, the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum at the Rockland County Airport in Maine is tens of thousands short of their goal on Kickstarter…


Moreover, this is the kind of Kickstarter campaign that is funded all-or-nothing — if the Kickstarter clock runs down and the Fokker isn’t Fokking funded, then  the curators get zero for the project (and those who put up money get it back).

Here’s some of what they say about their fund-raiser.

We’re in the middle of the centennial of World War I, and the Owls Head Transportation Museum is embarking on a mission to return the Red Baron to the skies with its full-scale, flying 1917 Fokker Dr.I reproduction. This aircraft is one of the most iconic aircraft in history, and none are better known than those flown by Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron. Even 100 years after his death, people of all ages still recognize his name and can conjure the enduring images it provokes.

Since the doors opened in 1976, the Owls Head Transportation Museum has been a bastion of transportation technology in its truest form. As an operational museum, virtually every vehicle in the museum’s collection runs, flies, or drives. As one of our original pieces, the Dr.I was built in the 1970s by founding Trustee Kenneth Cianchette and has been seen flying over the skies of Owls Head, thrilling and teaching audiences for decades. That is, until recently.

In 2014, it was discovered that the Dr.I was in need of considerable repair and maintenance. From new fabric to cover the wooden wings and body, to repairs to the intricate and delicate wooden structures, and a complete engine overhaul, this airplane requires total restoration. Because there are no original examples in existence—and artifacts are few and far between—getting this aircraft running and back in the sky is especially important. This flying example is one of only a few in the world, and it is the duty of Owls Head to preserve its historical significance by returning it to airworthiness.

In telling the story of the infamous flying ace, the Owls Head Transportation Museum brings visitors face-to-face with the technologies that fueled the early 20th Century and teaches younger generations about why those technologies are still significant today. Once completed, our Dr.I will enlighten, entertain, and educate our visitors through first-hand interaction with the plane. Please help us return this piece of history to the skies as we honor the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I.

What is it worth to you to see the Red Baron back in the skies of the Western Front mid-coastal Maine? Perhaps nothing, if you live far away. That’s OK; as always, when we plug some charity here, we have donated or intend to, even though we don’t always get out there to see it.

(We used to fly into this airport a lot, and so we had a membership at the museum. But that was over ten years ago).

Your Ghost Gunner Results: Good, Bad or Mixed?

The WeaponsMan Ghost Gunner, early in its testing, hogs one of the gunsmithing benches with a Mac and a PC (we were checking that a connection problem was not emulation-related. It wasn’t, it was a driver issue).

John Crump has an interview with Cody Wilson at AmmoLand.com. It brings us up to date, but if you’ve been following Wilson and Defense Distributed it doesn’t really break any new ground. But what interested us was the colloquy on the Ghost Gunner. In the interview, John said this about the CNC mill, a device we know and have used a little.

John Crump: Why did Defense Distributed decide to make the CNC machine, The Ghost Gunner (GG)?

Cody Wilson: We needed to make a product we could sell to raise the money to sue the State Department over Liberator. I’m being totally serious. GG came from ideas given to us through the course of Wiki Weapon and the success of DEFCAD. People often suggested we should make a CNC and stop being silly with the printables.

John Crump: The Ghost Gunner 2 is truly revolutionary. Why do you think the NSSF decided not to give membership to Defense Distributed which basically banned DD from shot show?

Come and Take It: by Cody Wilson
Come and Take It: by Cody Wilson

Cody Wilson: Honestly I think it’s the simple trouble of the association. We are suing the DDTC, a bureau in the State Department that enforces export controls and is a group the NSSF has to make very nice with so they can pretend to continue to influence policy directions. Nevermind that they have humiliated themselves with DDTC’s most recent guidance on gunsmithing, not to mention the outright disaster that the last six year of “export control reform” have been. Great work NSSF!

Cody Wilson is probably right about why NSSF wants to keep him at arm’s length: he has no interest in playing nice with others; his Spirit Diplomat is Gavrilo Princip.

But John Crump’s positive description of the GG produced this response in the comments to the article:

I bought and received a GG machine in March 2016. I read all the instructions several times and sent several emails with questions and then began to mill out a lower AR.

The machine milled it out well until about 5 minutes into the job and then the bit became stuck in the aluminum block and the milling program shut down after the bit broke free.

I contacted GG in Texas and I told them I do not understand why the machine did whet it did nor did I know how to correct the problem as I am {{{ NOT }}} a mechanical engineer nor am I a computer programmer . I told them I only have a 10th grade education and asked if the machine was idiot proof, they said it was….. I felt safe!

In Feb of this year, GG sent me a email telling me I had to order a new second generation spindle as the old part did not work very well (as I learned). It is now one year after I first received my GG machine. I still have 9 unmilled lowers and one damaged unfinished lower and a GG machine that is locked up and won’t work. Basically I have given up on it all!

A year has passed and I have not yet milled out my first lower AR15 lower! ……….. PERFECT!

We have to say that our experience with the GG was different than what Ben describes, too, but it was not without glitches. We have successfully milled out lowers with both the Windows and Mac versions of the software. We had some difficulty with setup, early on, and Defense Distributed’s Ben Denio was extremely helpful in getting things sorted out and in production.

We’ve also had one head-crash, trying to cheat a little and use a lower without a 100% milled out takedown pin pocket. In our case, the head crash did no permanent damage, but did cause an overload indicator to light up and we had to reset the whole machine (instructions are included in the manual, but they’re hardly crystal clear).

The manual is difficult to follow and we suspect that it would truly be a nightmare for a less computer-savvy person.

One final problem that we’ve had is that we get fine lines between each depth of the trigger pocket cut. We believe that that is due solely to our GG being on a wheeled cart, and moreover, set on a thin rubber mat on top. The axes of the machine move with considerable vigor, and it is not heavy enough to hold itself down. We suspect that these lines will resolve, giving us an appropriate surface finish, if we lock the GG down better.

File Photo of a GG.

The GG community, such as it is, really feels the lack of the forum originally envisioned for open-source solutions sharing. It didn’t happen, not by any fault of Cody’s, Ben’s, or anybody’s at Defense Distributed, but because the State Department took it in its Deep State head to ban anyone talking about making guns. (Rifle-caliber small arms need to come off ITAR, but that’s a whole other issue).

We seem to recall that several WeaponsMan readers have also bought a GhostGunner, and also have had mixed, but mostly positive, results with them. Perhaps we can share some solutions here, and troubleshoot the woes of Ben Miles and anyone else experiencing technical problems.

Future Firearms Prototyping Enabled by 3D Printing

We’ve been on to the 3D Printing thing for years now. In fact, we have mentioned it in a staggering 165 posts, going back five years. In a post on 8 March 2012, we wrote:

Several new manufacturing technologies are creating an “Army of Davids” effect on arms manufacture. These are partly driven by computing technology and Moore’s Law, which makes uneconomical manual process suddenly automated — computer controlled machining and manufacturing, and partly driven by materials and manufacturing technology advances, like high-strength composites and 3D printing.

These technologies have the potential for great societal and economic benefit, but at the cost of making governments lose control of arms and ammunition manufacture. As we’ve seen with drugs, failure of a prohibition policy seems to lead to wider and more annoying (to the non-criminal majority) prohibitions.

In addition, traditional manufacturing technology including casting and machining have become more available to the general public recently, due to increased performance, smaller size, and vastly lowered cost of the tools required.

The half-decade since has seen an increase in all these trends. For 3D printers, most of whom are restricted to low-strength plastics like ABS (styrene) and PLA, and the edge cases are 3D printing nylon with fiber reinforcement, being able to print metal has been the Holy Grail, a seemingly unattainable, but highly desirable, object. Our own blog has contained the words “3D” “print” and “metal” in 52 posts in that same period, almost a third of all 3DP references.

So where are we today, in the first quarter of 2017? We can report that the technology to print 3D metal directly and indirectly is still industrial-priced, but it remains the subject of much effort, and the industrial price is a fraction of what it was five years ago. In particular, we’ll look at three ways to print and produce metal parts — one we mentioned before which didn’t pan out, and two new ones, one which has been commercialized and one which is freshly invented.

Sinterhard Filament: Failed Kickstarter.

You can’t win them all, but this was a big disappointment. The idea was simple: new filaments would contain a plastic binding agent as a substrate, and carry a payload of powder metal. The plastic could then be burned out and the net-shape powder metal part sintered to solidity in an industrial oven, Unfortunately, the project appears to have failed.

The sintering part of the process was never in doubt; it’s been used for automotive and firearms parts for a very long time. But if you can’t feed the material to print the parts, you have to fall back on the sort of mold technology that sintering has long relied upon.

But there were technical problems. For example, loading enough metal into the plastic for the sintering to work had a tendency to make the plastic too brittle to be rolled onto a feeder spool. There were also issues with nozzle wear.

The technical problems may have been overcome. It was other business problems, including the anti-business stance of the local community (Sinterhard came from Massachusetts) that appear to have knocked Sinterhard off any probability of early success.

The principals do continue research, they say, but it’s hard to imagine this project succeeding.

MarkForged Metal X

We’ve been as remiss in writing about last year’s Mark X as we’ve been in using our original Mark One or upgrading it to the Mark Two. But if the nylon with fiber reinforcement (Kevlar, carbon fiber, fiberglass) of the earlier Marks was something, this year’s Mark X is the defense and aerospace prototyper’s dream machine (<2 min video):

It’s an industrial machine that has industrial costs (budget $100k) and requirements (480v three-phase power; a floor that will support a 2500 lb. machine). But it does produce metal parts… by a sintering process remarkably similar to what Sinterhard tried, and failed, to achieve. The MarkForged process, though, appears to be entirely encased in the machine — not requiring the separate 3D printing and part sintering workflows that Sinterhard envisioned.

The materials currently available and shipping are stainless steel 17-4 and 303; materials in beta test include 6061 and 7075 aluminum, titanium 6-4, and tool steels A2, D2 and M2, and for all you turbine and rocket designers out there, Inconel 625. (Make the GyroJet great again!)

MarkForged calls their process ADAM — Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing.

Speed time from design to strong metal parts with this accessible and compact process. ADAM prints your part using a bound metal powder rod that transforms into a dense metal part in one easy step. Bulk sintering provides crystal growth through all axes giving your parts excellent mechanical properties in all directions.

ADAM also enables the creation of unique geometries such as closed-cell honeycomb infill. Parts can be printed like the structure of bones – a closed cell inner core encased in a solid outer shell. This geometry is not possible using traditional subtractive manufacturing processes or DMLS.

The brake handle above illustrates (top complete, bottom cutaway) this type of construction which is, as they say, not possible to make using milling or powder-based Laser Sintering processes.

Comprehensive information on the MarkForged website.

Vader Systems MagnetoJet Technology

Vader Systems is not named after the fictional character, but after the principals of the company, inventor Zachary Vader and his father Scott Vader. They have invented an entirely novel 3D metal process that is best suited (at present) for aluminum alloys and others that liquefy in a similar temperature range. A magnetic field is used to deposit droplets of the molten metal, where it bonds to the adjacent droplets to make a solid part.

Here’s the how it works:

And here’s an overview of the advantages of this system, with Zach and Scott explaining the particular advantages of their system over other metal additive technologies.

It can be fast: this video shows the manufacture of a small cylinder in real time (with, later, an inset of the droplet production shot with a high-speed camera). The part is only near net shape, but it’s sufficiently solid to be brought to final net shape with traditional subtractive methods. Of course, just as the resolution of inkjet 2-D printers improved rapidly, the same process is likely to take place with metal 3-D printing, bringing the manufactured part closer to the golden ideal of print-to-true-net-shape.

Vader is finalizing the design of a printer which is planned to ship in 2018  — it will not be consumer priced, though (probably $250,000), and is a forerunner for future systems that would use a gang or array of nozzles to produce much higher metal throughput.

Aurora Labs S-Titanium Pro

It’s only fair to mention that Australia’s Aurora Labs claims to be shipping their S-Titanium Pro, a multimode printer that sells for $50k (FOB Down Under, net of GST), runs on open-source software, and can reportedly use a wide range of powdered metals. The company website is a bit confusing but a .pdf brochure is somewhat clearer as to what Aurora offers.

Your Class III Wishbook for the May Rock Island Premiere Auction

You want one. Admit it. With the slipping of the Hughes Amendment into law on a questionable voice vote in 1986 — no Congressman, apart from Hughes (D-NJ), put his name to it — all of the explosion in Class III weapons quantities on the registry has been in short-barreled weapons and suppressors. With quantities of machine guns frozen in perpetuity, values have exploded. That means that for most of us, these gorgeous pictures are as close as we will get to some of  these wonderful collector pieces.

Fortunately, Rock Island photographs them so well that we can truly enjoy the pictures. These photos are part of a much larger set they’re using to tease Premier Auction #70 in two months (5-7 May, 2017). We’ll just show you some of the machine gunny stuff.

To start with, here’s the model of Johnson we have not got. Yet.

Fun fact about the Johnson LMG: the receiver’s pretty much exactly the same as the less rare rifle. While the rifles were famously used by the Marine Raiders and Paramarines in the early years of World War II, the LMGs were used mostly by the First Special Service Force and to a lesser extent by the OSS, which was a catch-all for oddball weapons that the major services didn’t want. The magazine is a very unusual, long, single-stack curved mag. It works okay, but the LMG is strangely unbalanced laterally, i.e. around the longitudinal axis. It wants to bank left on you, although we’re told with experience you can learn to judge when it’s about time to change the mag by the decreasing left wing-heaviness.

Possibly the ugliest LMG ever was the Danish Madsen. It was very reliable, and was pressed into second-line service by the Third Reich. One of those is in the sale, and will sell for far less than this, possibly the most atrractive LMG ever (well, rifle/LMG/all-purpose bullet propulsion device), the German Fallschirmjägergewehr 42. Two variations of FG-42s were made; this is the first second (thanks to Max Popenker and John McGill in comments, and Josey Wales by email). It was packed with innovations, and American postwar ordnance officers were obsessed with it and copied many of its features into the M60 general purpose machine gun — including its operating rod and bolt design, which itself was copied from the Lewis gun, haughtily rejected 40 years earlier by the ordnance officers’ predecessors.

This will be bid to a very high number, assuming that it is a transferable firearm.  Many of us may have less equity in our homes than the price this will go to. Still, we can dream, no?

And if you already have your Johnson and FG-42? Bet you haven’t got one of these:

Paparazzi would definitely change their plans for taking drone pictures of your sunbathing daughter if you gave her this for her Sweet 16 party. 20mm Oerlikon.

(For those who may be diffident about a poolside 20mm AA mount, they also have a .50, or dual .30s).

By the way, all these pictures do embiggen with a click.

More pictures and captions after the jump. And all these fine firearms are for sale in the May Premiere Auction, the catalog for which has not been posted (nor the paper shipped to subscribers). We will surely tell you when that day comes.

Continue reading

Auction Coming Up: Amoskeag Nº 113

This is a considerably smaller auction than those that are conducted by Rock Island Auctions and James D. Julia, but there are some absolutely fantastic and rare firearms being auctioned here this month.

Auction Nº113 is a 2-day live auction sale, offering over 1700 lots beginning at 0900 on 25 and 26 March 17  (which are a Saturday and Sunday, for those of you who are not autistic and don’t know that already). On Day 1, Saturday 25 March, Lots Nº 1 through 821 go under the hammer; on Day 2, Sunday the 26th, lots Nº 1000 through 1909. (There aren’t 909 lots, because there are some gaps).

Yes, we’ll be bidding (probably absentee). There’s stuff here we really want. Of particular interest to collectors (and to us as an ongoing gun blogging enterprise) are some of the fine 1911s and Lugers. A good example of either pistol is a point of pride in many a small collection; in childhood, the most impressive gun in the family was certainly an uncle’s Luger.

Many fine auto pistols in the collection came from the Walt Rauch collection; we didn’t know Mr Rauch, but after looking through this auction catalog, we’re very impressed with his taste and pursuit of quality. Most of his guns are in can’t-be-improved-on-or-upgraded condition. In addition, they have many firearms and books from the collection of noted gun writer Craig Brown.

At first it was the 1911s that first caught our eye. Many people are familiar with the Argentine Sistema 1927 Colt. This was a very slightly modified 1911 that was built in Argentina on a line set up under Colt license and with Colt cooperation. But most Americas have only seen the beat-up end-of-life police guns imported a decade or so ago by Century. Lot # 8 in the auction — one of the first to go Saturday morning — is a near new in box, non-import-marked Sistema 27 that is easily the best one on the market at present.

This one was made in 1953, and comes with its original box and two spare mags, still in the wrappers.

Amoskeag estimates that Lot Nº 8 will go for $1500-2000. While auction houses often estimate low deliberately to encourage bidding (and so that they can brag about beating estimates, and thrill their consignors with surprise upsides), we’ll go out on a limb and say it’s going north of $3k, maybe even 4.

Want a beater? Saw one in a shop yesterday for $650, and had a sense they were ready to negotiate. Remember, in Collector World the three words are condition, condition, condition. Rarity is also a factor, but a preference for high condition produces a rarity all its own. You are unlikely to see another Sistema 27 like this for years.

Those of us not bidding can be thrilled just to look.

Our personal favorite 1911 is not the Argentine, although that’s ver’ nice (said with an Italianate Spanish accent like a native Argentine would). Nope, our favorite is the Norwegian 1914, basically a ringer for the Colt 1911 apart from a glove-friendly slide release, a nod to an Arctic nation that has eight months of skiing around Harstad and Narvik, and 12 months further north. Amoskeag has a near-new 1914 a couple lots later, Nº 10. This pistol was assembled and finished postwar, in 1945, after the Norwegian Resistance took the surrender of the massive German army in the nation. (How massive? The Heimevernet, the Home Guard, would be armed and equipped with German stuff for forty years after the war, and a Guardsman took his Kar 98.k home with him after his draft service).

In any event, this one seems to have gone right onto a shelf (perhaps in the Harstad tunnels) and stayed there until the Norwegian Army surplused it as excess crown property.

Lugers? There are 91 of them, all German, Dutch (Vickers made) or Swiss, except for one oddball, a stainless steel Stoeger made in the 1980s from castings. There are 37 P.38s, mostly wartime guns, with Lot Nº 1701 being one oddball custom job, shortened almost to Man From U.N.C.L.E. proportions, and featuring rich re-bluing and gold-plated small parts. Just the thing for that hard-to-please Wehraboo pimp on your Christmas list!

Plenty of long guns, too. Winchesters, Mausers, exquisite sporting shotguns, they have it. There are several Prussian needle fire guns including a rare M1857 carbine (it’s one of the first lots up).

But wait… there’s more. The lots mentioned above are all from the live action auction catalog. There’s also a silent auction, with thousands more firearms. Most of these are modern or lower-condition firearms, that will not sell for nosebleed prices, but will thrill their new owners. Some are oddities. One such was entertaining:

2241. A.H. FOX STERLINGWORTH BOXLOCK DOUBLE SHOTGUN serial #52744, 12 ga, 28” solid rib barrel choked modi ed and improved modi ed with a very good bore on the left barrel and the right barrel has had a catastrophic failure and is blown out along with much of its length. …. This is an excellent display gun for the walls at camp or as a Hunter Safety teaching aid.

Not all the silent auction lots are illustrated, so if you can’t make it to Amoskeag’s Manchester, NH offices for a showing (like all the terms and conditions, explained in the auction catalogs) then you’ve got to put faith in their descriptions. But the Silent auction is not aimed at advanced collectors; many of the bidders will be retail dealers looking to stock their shelves with the guns customers want; others will be individuals who want the guns themselves. A few may be fools who overbid, even! You can’t get too invested in an auction item until the auction is over and your list of winning bids is in hand. (If you don’t know who overbid at that point… it’s you).

The silent auction, along with its great quantity of modern and sporting firearms, also has a few lots of gun parts, a lot of .22 1911 conversion kits (including a rare Norwegian one, in which you load .22 rounds into faux .45 casings), and — be still, beating heart — lots of books. Here’s a different non-gun item that caught our eye.

3674. VERY RARE GERMAN SNIPERS TRENCH PLATE This lot consists of a German military steel sniper’s trench plate. This breastplate shaped heavy steel plate measures 18” tall and is about 13 1/2” wide. The plate features two folding legs which extend to support it in standing position and it has a 4” x 2 1/2” window with pivoting cover. The plate is a solid 3/8” steel which has a small crack at the top center that is about 2” in length and has light oxidation throughout. Much of the original green paint remains and included is a tan canvas carry strap. Designed to protect a sniper in the prone shooting position it offers protection from counter attack and stray re.[sic] A unique piece of German military history. (47884-63) [Craig Brown Collection]

Body armor, OG style.

While the gun auctions are all for individual firearms, the accessory, parts and book auctions often are for lots, but the lots often have some internal coherence to them.

Finally, Amoskeag has been doing this for a while (and its principal, Jason Devine, has been doing it for longer) and they’re, naturally, very savvy about firearms (they are a firearms and related materials auctioneer only) and about auctions. Accordingly, reading their site can be very educational for a bidder. For example, this page demystifies absentee bidding and explains what bidding strategies are effective and which are not, in plain English.

Firearms Addiction, or just a Collecting Problem?

Honest honey, it’s not just a collection, it’s an investment.

Do you have a problem with firearms? Or are you a full-on gunaholic? Before you start looking for a Dropkick Murphy’s Drying-Out Academy for gun addiction, you should consider the signs and symptoms of this increasingly common addiction. Adapted from this site’s list of issues with an older but equally common addiction.

It’s hard to be objective when it comes to figuring out whether you or your loved one has a problem with gun collecting. Emotions run high, rationalizations and denials lead to confusion and it can seem hard to draw the line between what’s acceptable and what’s going too far. Although the boundaries are fuzzy, issues with guns are either classed as “gun problem” or “gun dependence.” Problem gun collectors don’t have a full-fledged addiction to guns, but their acquisition may be starting to take its toll on their everyday lives and they are at greatly increased risk for becoming dependent later. So while some of the warning signs of gun dependency are technically signs of problem gun acquisition, there is a lot of overlap, and identifying either one is cause for concern. Here are 10 of the most important things to look out for in yourself or your loved one:

  1. Lying About or Hiding Your Gun Collecting – Denial is common with people having problems with gun collecting, so both problem gun collectors and addicts might buy secretively or lie about how much they buy to make it seem like less of an issue. This can be hard to spot for anybody but the individual, due to its very nature, but it’s an important sign of a more serious problem.
  1. Collecting to Relax or Feel Better – Almost all people struggling with addiction abuse their substance of choice for emotional reasons. Whether it’s stress, depression, anxiety or anything else, using GunBroker as a method of easing negative feelings is a risky habit—the “relief” it provides is only temporary and it ordinarily makes things worse in the long run. If you bid more when you’ve had a stressful day or need to refresh your Watch List to feel like you can really relax, it’s a big sign that you’re using gun collecting as an emotional crutch.
  1. “Blacking Out” Regularly – Buying so much that you have no memory of what you have bought is another red flag for a problem with collecting. So is buying something because you forgot you already own one, or talking yourself into “upgrading” a piece when you know you’ll never part with the original. Simply put, it means you buy way too much. If you find this happening to you (or notice it happening to someone else), you have to ask what is driving you to collect so excessively? You don’t need to black out to have fun, so what’s the real reason?
  1. Being Unable to Stop Once You Start – If you always pursue every roll-marking variation once you’ve bought one piece, or hunt down every exotic sub-version when even another specialist’s eyes glaze over when you try to explain the hair-splitting difference, it’s another sign you aren’t in full control of your collecting and you may have a problem.
  1. Collecting in Dangerous Situations – Buying when you really shouldn’t—like browsing GunBroker at work, rerouting your convoy to go to the village where the elder’s uncle  is a gunsmith in Darra Adam Khel, or buying against your wife’s orders when she’s one more little .25 from taking the kids and going back to her mother with half your stuff—is an important sign of problem collecting. Even if something hasn’t gone wrong yet, every time you do something like this you run the risk of serious consequences. Regularly taking those risks strongly implies that gun buying is the main priority in your life.
  1. Neglecting Your Responsibilities – If you’re having problems at work, school or with your household responsibilities because of your gun buying, you have a problem. Guns have crossed the line from an occasional indulgence to something that seriously impacts your day-to-day functioning.
  1. Having Trouble in Your Relationships – This is closely related to the last point, but it’s in many ways more important. If your collecting is causing problems with your closest friends, your significant other or your family, it’s an indication that guns are a bigger priority than even the most important people in your life. These last two symptoms are general signs of any addiction, and might mean that your issues are going beyond the problem-collector stage.
  1. Being Able to Collect More Than You Used To – Tolerance is another key sign of addiction, so if you can collect more than you used to and need to buy more than you did before in order to get that happy feeling, it’s a strong indicator that you’re becoming an gunoholic. It means your body is exposed to firearms regularly enough that it has adapted to cope with it better.
  1. Experiencing Withdrawal – Withdrawal is different from a hangover; it’s the reaction to the lack of gun acquisition rather than a direct effect of too much buying. If you start to feel irritable, tired, depressed, nauseous or anxious when you haven’t bought a gun, there’s a possibility you’re going through withdrawal. Other signs include having trouble sleeping, losing your appetite and experiencing shakiness or trembling.
  1. Trying to Quit but Being Unable to – If you have realized your gun collecting is becoming a problem (or someone who cares about you has) and tried to make a change but have been unsuccessful, you should seriously consider finding additional help. Deciding to quit gun collecting shows that you understand the impacts it’s having on your life, but the fact that you’re unable to means there’s a big chance you’re struggling with gun addiction.

(If you do seek help and decide to divest yourself, we can help you. Just sayin’. Not that we have a problem or anything. -Ed.)

It’s important to note that experiencing just one of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a problem collector or an gunoholic, but if you’re experiencing a few of them (or you see numerous signs in a loved one), there is a very strong possibility your collecting has gone too far. The latter five symptoms in particular are signs of addiction rather than problem buying.

It might not be an easy road ahead, but one day you’ll see deciding to get help as the day your life started to change for the better.

And like we said, if one of the guns screwing up your life is rare and Czech, give us a ring, we’ll make sure it finds a good home. Heh, heh.

Is this a Record for a Colt AR-15 Sporter? $4,000!

A most surprising sale at GunBroker in which hot bidding led to a relatively ordinary Colt AR-15 Sporter (Serial SP1 11001) selling for a mighty high four large.

There are reasons it might have gone that high. For one thing, as pictures showed, it was in very, very good condition, and if we know one thing about collectors, “Condition, condition, condition” is as much their mantra as “Location, etc.” is to realtors. This rifle shone as if new.

It also had a memorable serial number that tracked it to 1968.

SP1s of that period still retained most early-production AR-15 features, because as rolling changes replaced parts on the .mil side of production, any leftover parts of the old, obsolete variety were diverted to civilian SP1 production. Early parts include a front sight base that has been ground smooth front and rear, and a second-type three-prong flash suppressor. The three-prong was eliminated from new production of military firearms in 1966, but would remain in inventory until the A1s were replaced with A2s, twenty years and more later.

Another early feature is the “Edgewater” buffer, so called because it was packed with edgewater washers.

While the three-prongs are common as a loose part, the Edgewater buffer, scaled down from the one used in the original AR-10, sells for hundreds when one is available.

One of the few late M16A1 features was a Parkerized bolt carrier, cut for forward assist. The previous chrome finish was easier to clean but was thought to conceal the development of cracks; military officers also complained about the rifle’s shiny bolt in the field.

Here’s how the seller described the gun:

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL EARLY PRODUCTION EARLY 1968 COLT AR-15 RIFLE IN INCREDIBLE NEAR MINT CONDITION! IT IS 100% ALL CORRECT AND ALL ORIGINAL FROM END TO END!

He also noted that it was a re-listing due to a deadbeat buyer. Hopefully, second time did the trick. Here’s some more of his description (paragraphs added for legibility):

This is a stunning AS NEW near mint “Early 1968 (January, 1968.) ” production Colt AR-15 SP1 semi-automatic rifle with its original and unaltered parts.

This rifle has NEVER had any parts replaced or exchanged at any time. Nothing has ever been reworked or refinished.

It has the early style upper receiver with no provisions for a forward assist. The lower receiver has the Colt three line markings with the 6 digit serial number “SP1, GREAT Serial Number 11001” indicating production in January 1968, the 4th full year of Colt AR 15 production.

It is fitted with the early original Colt marked parts such as the original non-chrome lined barrel. Barrel has the MP marking on the right side under the sight post. The barrel is fitted with the early three-prong flash hider with fine checkered split washer. It still retains its original first generation (and very rare) old style, large head, two-piece type recoil edgewater buffer.

Note also the front sight is finished smooth front and back with NO drain hole. Later on, they added the drain hole and the flashing ribs remained front and back.

It is also fitted with it original black plastic pistol grip, early triangular handguards with no L and R markings on the inside shields.

The stock is also the early version that lacks any provisions for the internal storage compartment. It is correctly fitted with a solid rubber/plastic buttplate with no provisions for the later trap door. Rear stock has swing sling swivel. (Those were later changed to a fixed configuration).

Complete with one original Colt marked AR-15 20 round magazine.

(Also note, that by mid to late 1967 the bolt carriers had the notches for the forward assist which is correct for this rifle. Those assists were only on the Military M16a1 Models and not the commercial rifles. However, the carriers were still used on the commercial AR15s and only modified at the rear bottom base of the carrier (milled back a bit) to deactivate it’s a ability to shoot in full automatic mode. So the notched carriers are completely correct for this gun. I’ve seen several and it’s totally right! They would not be correct for SP1’s from 64 through 66. And perhaps to about mid 67.)

Condition: Outstanding near mint with 99.9% of its original Colt parkerized/anodized finish on all the parts with the least bit of wear on the most moved parts. The bolt carrier assembly retains 98% of it’s original finish. The plastic components are near mint! Mechanically as new.

This is probably one of the finest early Colt AR15’s that remains in existence today. It’s a truly high end collectible museum quality piece that is completely original and 100% all correct as issued in early 1968. These are sure getting incredibly hard to find at all, let alone this nice!

For a long time SP1s were unwanted by collectors and even by the rabid retro heads, leading to many rifles like this being parted out to make M16 clones. This auction is an early sign that it is a more rewarding path to keep a high-condition SP1 intact. (That’s good, as worn rifles are currently like African rhinos: due to the rarity of one or more parts, they’re worth more dead than alive!)

Now that this mint-condition rifle has sold for $4k, expect a spate of neckbeards to list shagged-out beater SP1s with a starting bid of $4k, and wonder why the things don’t sell. But anyone sitting on a minty early SP1 might want to start thinking about following prices, and perhaps adjusting his insurance. Remember: Condition, condition, condition. And if the market doesn’t clear, price is not set right.