Category Archives: Consumer Alert!

Auction Alert! RIA Online Only Auction Tomorrow

Yeah, we could have posted about this earlier. There’s some really cool stuff there. There ought to be — there are 1,133 items in about 800 lots, some of which contain multiple guns. You can view the catalog sequentially or search it here.

Of course, some are not even one whole gun, like this AR-10 parts set:

Portuguese AR-10 parts kit RIA

If that’s too retro for you, there’s an AR-180 set, too.

And then there’s this tasty Walther Model 8, a single-action forerunner of the pioneering double-action PP.

Walther Model 8 RIA

The Model 8 looks very Browning-derived, but the interesting thing is that it is closer to the Browning 1910, aesthetically, than the earlier Model 2, 4 and 6 pistols. The grip monogram is that of Carl Walther.

Don’t want a Model 8? The auction also has a Model 2, two Model 4s, and a nice selection of PP, PPK, PPK/S and P.38 pistols. And that’s just the Walthers. There’s bound to be something you like. (Our problem: we like every-damn-thing from the Brown Bess on up).

Again, sorry about the late notice. But the auction is taking place tomorrow, Saturday, and so we’re just barely in time (we may be up at 0600 bidding, actually). Good luck!

The GunLab VG 1-5 Project Update

Chuck at GunLab reports on the ongoing VG 1-5 project. Pre-orders have been taken (cards not yet charged) and a list established at Allegheny Arsenal. It’s not cheap, but you’re not going to be the sixth AR in line at the range with this thing.

We’re going to catch you up on the last several VG 1-5 2015 updates, a couple of which we might have mentioned before.

Chuck had made the first few receiver reinforcement plates by hand on a finger brake. It worked but it was an ugly way of doing it, especially with hundreds of the guns spoken for by eager collectors. So he made a special pressing jig. Here it is in action:

The Magazine Release Button comprises a threaded insert riveted into a pressed dome, which is made itself from a flat laser-cut washer. Both processes are shown in the video below and explained with many photos in the appropriate GunLab post from back in January.

And so, finally, we get to the latest update, from 9 Mar 15, in which a test-mule VG 1-5 is test-fired. As Chuck writes:

We looked at everything from the barrel chamber and flutes to the firing pin length. We needed to check the recoil spring length and tension. Is the buffer spring too strong or weak? Will the fire control group work properly? All the drawings showed that everything should work but these are all questions that can only be answered during a test fire.

A problem is found, is rapidly troubleshot, and a new problem is found.

While the videos are a brief and on point, and have the advantage of motion, we strongly urge going to see the actual posts, because the many photos there and the descriptions reveal details not clarified in the videos.

We have every confidence that troubleshooting will be successful. How much confidence? Well, our VG 1-5 is on order.

There are several other cool things happening at GunLab, and they are worth checking out. (If you’re typing the address in, try to remember it’s Someone has acquired the domain, but we don’t know who).


Sorry about the missing test-fire video. Should be fixed now.

Poly-Ticks: Comment on the ATF Ammo Ban

ATF BadgeMany are celebrating and enjoying a victory bask after the ATF retreated from its political partisan attempt to ban M855 “green-tip” ammunition.

Not so fast, basilisk.

You see, ATF didn’t say they were dropping the ban. They said they were delaying it. And in an appropriations hearing, ATF Director Byron Todd Jones, the man behind the plan for a ban, said that while he didn’t want to move forward now, he wanted Congress to help him out.


By banning all AR-15 ammo.

Jones’s anodyne prepared comments (.pdf) (does any Washington bureaucrat ever make cathodyne comments, to coin a word?) didn’t contain a peep about the ammo ban, or for that matter ATF’s controversial storefront operations (aka “let’s tattoo some retards and see if we can get ‘em to break the law) or gunwalking  efforts (“Hey, if we’re going to ally with the Iranians and the Muslim Brotherhood, why not the Sinaloa Cartel?”).


Of course, it did contain a few interesting bits, like an $8.1 million budget uptick for Martinsburg which is supposed to add ten examiners to deal with the NFA backlog. It must be hard to get good help in WV these days, if unskilled clerical help is going for $810k a pop. (We guess they all found something to do when B. Todd’s padron closed the coal mines). Some of the $8.1M, it says here, will be used for other Martinsburg efforts.

ATF-Molan Labe

One wonders why Jones’s focus is on harassing legal gun owners when he himself admits:

Recently, ATF completed enhanced enforcement initiatives in New Haven/Bridgeport, CT and Chicago, IL. In total, 350 defendants were accepted for prosecution and ATF seized or purchased more than 350 crime guns during these operations. In Chicago alone, the approximately 200 charged defendants had almost 3,000 prior felony arrests.

Cause of problem (pick one):

[  ] too many guns on the streets; or,

[  ] revolving door that turned loose criminals with an average of 15 felony arrests per skell.

Naturally, Jones and his gang pick what’s behind Door Number One, because that lets them, in true Washington style, punish the innocent.

But Here’s What He Said

As so often happens,  the written testimony is prolefeed for the reporters, but the real discussion happened in the Q&A. And when asked about it, Jones clearly indicated his sustained interest in banning AR ammunition, not just Green Tip. When asked about the M855/SS109 ban, he had this to say, according to the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard:

It probably isn’t going to happen any time soon. We are not going to move forward.”

Instead, he suggested that he needed a broader ban, and he wanted Congress to write one. Bedard again:

…Jones said all types of the 5.56 military-style ammo used by shooters pose a threat to police….

“Any 5.56 round” is “a challenge for officer safety,” he said.

Any ATF director is a challenge for individual liberty, but this one is a constitution-burning armor-piercing cop-killer assault director.

What You Can Do:

Comment on the proposed ban. Keep your remarks temperate (i.e., quoting our “constitution-burning armor-piercing cop-killer assault director” is probably a bad idea) and keep them on point. Remember, this move by the ATF:

  • Does not reflect a real threat — cops are being shot, but mostly by people encouraged by his boss the Attorney General and his buddy Reverend Al, and not with these rounds.
  • Attacks ammunition that does not even meet the standard in the Act
  • Is a politically partisan move, as betrayed the fact that no members of the ATF’s political party signed on to the House and Senate letters opposing the ban.
  • Making the ATF an overtly partisan one-sided political police is likely to redound to the disbenefit of the ATF and its missions, as FFLs, SOTs and individuals who are the source of most of ATF’s enforcement leads come to understand that ATF is abusing their trust for partisan political ends.
  • Distracts from a focus on crime which is (at the risk of being hit with the Tautology Tautog) unlawful things that criminals do by focusing instead on “stuff” that criminals (and literally millions of non-criminals) have. 
  • Violates the Administrative Procedures Act by not being published as a full NPRM (yes, we’re using Alinsky’s Rule #4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules”, on one of Alinsky’s own disciple’s disciples).
  • Disrupts the channels used by DOD contractors to dispose of large quantities of ammunition that meets commercial SAAMI but not stricter DOD standards.
  • Because it will require the above ammo (for example, that sold by Federal as “XM855″) to be scrapped rather than sold, will have negative knock-on effects on military and law enforcement budgets and training.

Bear in mind that the ATF only asked for comments on how to implement a ban, not on whether to implement a ban. Therefore you should probably make two comments, one with your objections overall, and one with specific, targeted comments on how the ban be implemented, so that even if the ATF waves its magic bull-scat wand over the comments and deletes all that take about the whether as “not germane,” they still have another comment of yours that they have to field.

You have until close of business on the 16th (Monday) to comment. Details per this prior post:

ATF will carefully consider all comments, as appropriate, received on or before March 16, 2015, and will give comments received after that date the same consideration if it is practical to do so, but assurance of consideration cannot be given except as to comments received on or before March 16, 2015. ATF will not acknowledge receipt of comments. Submit comments in any of three ways (but do not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method):

ATF email:

Fax: (202) 648-9741.

Mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments.

As of Jones’s testimony (and his heart-dump of his intentions vis-a-vis all 5.56mm ammo) on Friday, ATF had received 90,000 comments, almost all negative. If we can launch this post whilst dealing with a family issue, the least thing you guys can do is push the ATF’s comment counter into the six figures.

Most Recent Ghost Gunner Update

We received the following from Cody Wilson on 7 March 2015. We could pontificate at great length on what he’s saying here, but we’d rather just pass it on. It wasn’t on the GG website.

Ghost Gunners,

No doubt many of you heard of our recent shipping snafu with FedEx. If you haven’t, Wired had a relatively thorough coverage. The short story is that FedEx has capriciously declined to ship the machine, citing the mere suggestion of a legal controversy in doing so.

You and I know there isn’t any. But for better or worse the chatterati does not. So firstly, I’d like to assure you that only FedEX has actually declined to ship the product and that, as a very last resort, USPS is bound as a government agency to ship it. We are not without shipping solutions, and I would like to thank many of you for offering your help when you learned we had been left hanging. This has so far been only another unexpected annoyance.

On Monday I’m making a test shipment with our new preferred shipper. And shortly thereafter you backers in the first group will be seeing your fulfillment emails.


Though you haven’t heard from me in a while, these GG boxes have been on the move and, before it became unpopular, were actually shipped by FedEx and another courier from independent locations. We’ve even tested air shipment.


Someone’s interested in our work.


As for the manufacturing, our supply problems are completely reversed. Since the middle of February we’ve been receiving more parts from our new supplier than our previous two were able to provide in months. The GG shop is full of workers and we’ve finalized all of our assembly and testing processes.

20150306 205419

I can only thank you for your patience as we are toyed with by those who have the power to delay us. Everyone here laughs at the pained lengths to which our enemies go to frustrate us. We are so eager to show what we have made for you.

My next email is a shipping update.

The production pictures were, to us, the most interesting part. We’re really excited about trying this thing out (and also, about trying to program it to do new stuff. We just spend a lot of time making a dishwasher repair part out of sheet metal — that kind of thing is fun but the repetitive part of it was not).

We strongly suspect that Defense Distributed’s shippers are being hassled by The Man, and we strongly suspect that it is happening because, as with the M855 imbroglio (the ban’s prospects still not over, quoth the ATF, just delayed), the forces of the bansters vastly overestimate the popularity of their means and their ends. (Yet, deep down, they must know their ideas are unpopular, because they go to great extremes to conceal them and mislead the public about their ideas and objectives. For example, the college campus carry bills now under consideration in Florida have produced a Bloomberg opposition ad that misrepresents the bills as allowing grade school students to carry!)

A Blast from the Past — Literally

FOOM!There is been few blasts like the one that blew up USS Maine in Havana harbor, on 15 February 1898, the forward magazine of the ship blew up at 9:40 PM. A crew of 355 was nearly annihilated; there were only 16 uninjured survivors, and 75 or 80 wounded ones. Because the mishap happened at night, and officers’ country was in the aft end of the ship, the officers survived at a higher rate.

1024px-Telegram_from_James_A._Forsythe_to_Secretary_of_the_Navy_-_NARA_-_300264The captain of Maine, Charles Sigsbee, sent an urgent cry for help via Capt. James Forsythe, commanding officer of the Key West naval station.

The investigation that ensued ruled that the ship was subject to an attack by a naval mine. It was only the first of many investigations, and there remains to this day no conclusion, although the balance of expert opinion seems to suggest a mishap aboard ship is more likely than Spanish hostile action. The destruction of Maine became a casus belli in the hysteria-induced Spanish-American War of 1898. Indeed, it was probably the most influential cause, or pretext, for the US to have initiated that war.

The Maine was an odd ship, but she was created in the 1880s and 1890s at an odd time in naval affairs. “Armored Cruisers” seemed to be what Navies needed, ships that could combine sail and steam — she was initially designed with three masts — and that would attack headlong. Accordingly, Maine had a ram built into her bow, and her two gun barbettes (mounted in left-front and right-rear sponsons) were arranged so that she could deliver her full “broadside” — four 10-inch guns — only straight ahead or straight behind.

Maine also had advanced armor for her day — Harvey Steel, an early form of face-hardened armor. But it took so long for America to build, launch and commission this pre-Dreadnought battleship (ships characterized by guns in sponsons and coal-fired steam piston engines) that she was, although nearly new at her sinking, soon to be obsoleted by that British revolution in naval arms.

Our interest, of course, is easily led from the 10″ main battery on down through the 1.5″ anti-torpedo-boat armaments to, inevitably, the personal weapons.

Julia Maine Recovered Lee Navy

Like every Naval vessel, Maine had some small arms lockers, and in February, 1898, they held the unusual M1895 Winchester-Lee 6mm (.236 Navy) rifle. The rifles, at least some of them, were salvaged and were sold by Francis Bannerman of Bannerman’s Island fame. Ian at Forgotten Weapons has an excellent video showcasing one of these rare rifles, now featured in a Julia auction. James Julia expects a five figure knock-down on this. Julia explains his documentation of provenance:

Also accompanied by a copy of pages 34 and 35 of a reprint of The Bannerman Catalog of July 1907. Page 35 lists the serial numbers of 54 6mm Lee Straight Pull Rifles salvaged from the USS Maine, including this exact rifle.

Julia Maine recovered Navy

It also lists the SNs of six 45 cal Springfield rifles recovered at the same time. These rifles were sold to Bannermens [sic] through the Navy Yard at New York in Jan. 1900. These 54 Lee rifles and 6 Springfield rifles are the only officially documented small arms recovered from the USS Maine although there have been one or two others that have surfaced in the last few years that were undoubtedly authentic. Regardless there are probably no more than about 60 or so of these relics in existence.

How many guns came by their pitting this honestly? No doubt someone will take great pride in adding this piece of history to his collection.

Bubba Got a Boring Bar

bubbas boring bar AR

This is weight savings the hard way, considering that most of what’s cut away is 7075 or 6061 aluminum. You just can’t save that much weight that way.

CubanFALThere are FALs kicking around Latin America and Africa with a big borehole like that in the magazine well — that’s because they were supplied clandestinely by Cuba, and los Pollos Cubanos used the boring bar (or maybe a fly cutter, we defer to the machinists in the audience) to remove the Batistiano Cuban crest in hopes of concealing the guns’ origin. (Lotsa luck. Western intel agencies had the manifests of the deliveries, by serial number).

We found the Swiss-Cheese-AR image here, linked from here, hat tip Nathan S at TFB.

Aero Precision has gotten into the game with some gimmicky skeletonized lowers. This is not a production item, but was an experiment:

Aero Precision SkeletorThat’s also thanks to TFB. Structurally, it might hold up or it might not (really, most of the material in the sides of the lower is there to provide dust seal, and, to a limited extent, a shear web, so there’s no reason skeletonizing shouldn’t work, structurally). But the total weight savings is nominal: 0.169 lb or about 2.7 ounces. (About 0.08 Kg for those of you who roll that way). They could probably have saved almost as much by milling off the A2 reinforcements to the pivot pin lugs and buffer tower areas.

That gives you an idea of what Bubba’s Boring Bar Blaster actually saved: less than 2.7 oz, to be sure. That’s winning the game the hard way.

Aero Precision is not alone. Daytona Defense & Tactical sells a skeletonized “Reaper” lower for $85 bare and $90 anodized black. It looks like they took many of the same cuts Aero Precision did (we’re not going to guess who was first).

Daytona Defense Reaper

So what’s the game? As you might guess from all the discussion of weight, The Lightest AR Going. There’s a Tumblr where a guy aimed for 60 ounces (he overshot but not by much), and there are several other competitors around. So a new guy’s aiming below 60 ounces. Of course, his definition of a “fully-functional AR” may not gibe with yours — one of the first parts he sacrificed was the bolt catch, shortly followed by the magazine catch (he’s making a fixed-mag 10-round firearm). And we’ve got our doubts about the long-term viability of his aluminum bolt carrier (yes, really). But even he has said, he’s not drilling the thing full of holes.

It might be that X Products got the whole Gun of Skeletor thing started by, after a skeletonized drum magazine caught the public’s eye at SHOT, making a run of the things. (Not a short run, either. For 2015 they made 1200 Skeletonized mags for SR-25 pattern .308s, and sold ‘em out). The silhouette of the skeletonized AR-15 drum has been used as a sort of trademark by the company ever since.

Hey, you want a light AR? Going to shoot it with irons? Get an old Colt SP1carbine. Yes, it will have some compromises: iron sights only, of the less precise (and slightly harder to adjust) A1 flavor. No rails or freefloated goodies. But it’s only 6 pounds and change. If you want to get to 4 pounds and below, you can only do it by accepting unpleasant recoil, shorter life, and compromised performance.

If that’s a good deal to you, or if you just want to experiment, have at it.


Can a Gun be $6,000 and a Good Buy?

In our opinion, this one is. We’re not looking for a precision rifle that can say hello at 1,000+ meters — for one thing, there’s no place to shoot it to its potential in our corner of a state of smallholdings — but if you live in, say, Texas, Utah, or in the gun’s current home, Colorado, there’s a hell of a long-range rifle for sale at a reputable gun shop in Erie (North of Denver, East of Boulder, off I-25). Can you recognize a face from this close-up?

Accuracy International Action

A bolt face, that is? OK, you’ll certainly recognize this caliber marking:

Accuracy International barrel mark

The gun is a several-years-old, but apparently gently used and well kept, Accuracy International rifle. AI makes renowned, and ungodly expensive, sniper rifles in the UK and has a branch in the USA that makes them for the Western Hemisphere market.

Accuracy International full length

While it’s on GunBroker, which usually says “auction” to us, the minimum bid equals the buy-it-now. (If you have to ask, you may not be in this market).

The AI has mandatory modern precision rifle features, like a detachable magazine and Picatinny rail…

Accuracy International Action view

… and “preferred” features like a fully adjustable, folding stock. (Excuse us, “chassis”. What’s the difference between a stock and a chassis? About $2,000! Thanks, we’ll be in the blog all week).

This is as good a place as any to digress about adjustable stocks. Why are the stocks of military sniper rifles adjustable? Because a stock that fits the shooter, as Purdey and Holland & Holland (among others) knew well over a century ago, produces more hits on game (two- or four-legged, the principle is the same). But the bespoke-gunsmith approach to stocks is not practical to an army, where you must quickly outfit snipers, and where you must replace the snipers more frequently, on average, than the rifles. Being a subset of infantry, it’s to a degree a young man’s game; and unlike the snipers, the rifles don’t move on to leadership and training roles, but stay operational for years, even decades.

Plus, the military is wonderful (/sarc) at reorganizing working units, so even in peacetime a guy often leaves his dialed-in rifle behind and arrives at Unit B where they hand him a rifle dialed in by someone else. (Or his own unit has to send him to Sexual Harassment Interpersonal Training or some inane NCO school for a month, and he comes back to find Old Betsy has deployed with a new guy “you get Rack Number 36,” whatever that is).

So the ability to raise, and extend, and maybe even cant that stock a little bit is a wonderful feature to have, in any organization with a rifle may be used by more than one person.

The folding stock comes in handy any time you have to get in and out of a vehicle, whether it’s a Toyota pick up truck, an SDV or an MH-47. (Or the crappy Malibu you drive because you spent all your money on guns).

Accuracy International Folding stock

But the real strength of the weapon is not its features, but its precision and quality. AI is not unique or all alone in that; there’s an awful lot of come competition at the high-end of the precision rifle market. But this is truly a Rolls-Royce, for someone seeking the Roller of this market segment. (Actually, now that Rollers have VW motors, and Hot Wheels made-in-Taiwan styling, what’s the Roller of that market segment?)

Accuracy International full length right

As the heading of this blog post states, the quality (and snob appeal) of an AI rifle don’t come cheap. For this one, rhe price is a bracing $6,000, a substantial discount from the cost of a new one, for a gun that has a century of shooting ahead of it. Of course, that’s only half way to a working rifle; you’re looking at thousands more for a suitable glass and mounts. (the Mile High Gun Shop can help you out there, too; he’s the US distributor of excellent but crazy-expensive Swiss Spuhr mounts, and is well-acquainted with high end scopes).

At that price, flying into DIA and renting a car to inspect the rifle seems sensible, even though, as we mentioned, the dealer has a fine reputation in the precision shooting community.

Yes, it’s overkill for elk hunting, which you can do perfectly well with a Remington in .270. And the average shooter, which includes us, would probably be better served by a $1,000 gun and $5,000 in ammo and range time. But ads like this make our acquisitive little black heart skip a beat.


Instant South American Revolution Kit

One gun jeep — looks dead butch, but needs work. (Starting/charging system has proven resistant to troubleshooting). Ian at Forgotten Weapons has reached that stage that all vintage-vehicle LTRs reach; he is so eager to be divorced from this 1946 CJ-2A Jeep (basically, a wartime Jeep with bigger headlights for the civilian market) that he’s throwing in the semi-auto 1919A4 and mount. Beats the hell out of the toaster oven they might throw in at the local Buy Here Pay Here.

Ians Gun Jeep

Where’s Dietrich and his half-tracks? Lemme at ‘em!

I love old guns, but it turns out I only like the *idea* of old vehicles – not so much the actual working on them. It’s time for the Jeep to go, and free up some space in the garage for a project I will enjoy more. And what the heck, I’ll include the Browning 1919 semiauto with it.

The Jeep was basically rebuilt from the ground up, and while it isn’t a looker, it is top-notch underneath where things count.

The engine is a fully rebuilt (professionally) Studebaker Champion flat 6-cylinder, 170 cubic inches. It gives about 50% more horsepower and torque than the stock Jeep engines did, and it bolts right up to the stock transmission. That’s enough extra power that the thing can basically drive up trees, but not so much that it requires making the rest of the drivetrain beefier.

The transmission and transfer case are are the stock type (3-speed stick shift, with a 2-lever transfer case), and were both professionally rebuilt as well. The axles and diffs were in good shape, and have the original 5.38:1 gear ratio.

The ancillary equipment was all replaced or rebuilt – water pump, carburetor, radiator, radiator shroud, all the wiring, alternator, starter, and fan. It has 11″ drum brakes all around (in place of the stock 9″ ones), and a dual master brake cylinder. It also has an electric fuel pump. In addition to the stock 10-gallon gas tank, I replaced the passenger side toolbox with a second 10-gallon tank, and there is a switching valve on the dashboard so you can choose which tank to use at any given time.

The suspension was also replaced, with a set of Rancho 1″ life springs and new shocks. It has standard 16″ rims with some really cool looking narrow tires. The roll bar has the socket for the gun, and also has a gas can mount on either side, allowing you to carry a can of water and a can of gas.

via Want to buy a Jeep with a Browning 1919 on it? « Forgotten Weapons.

Don’t suppose he’d take a 1996 Impala SS in partial trade?

The counterweight to all that good stuff and sensible improvements is the dodgy electrical system. (Well, you could just paint it green, put a star on the hood, hang a Left Hand Drive placard on it and tell people it’s a British Jeep — no one would expect the electricals to work). $9,500, pick up in Tucson.

For more details (including the ones on the 1919, which is something that goes for $2k or so on its own) and to see two of Ian’s videos, one on the installation of the 1919 on the roll bar, and the other a Rat Patrol parody, or maybe tribute, go to Ze Link. But for Ian, ze voor in ze dezzert is over.

And hell, there are countries in South America that you could overthrow and govern better than the caudillo doing it now.

Wait, did we say South America?

Ghost Gunner Shipments Blocked, by…. ?

We haven’t heard directly from GG or Defense Distributed or Cody Wilson, but he’s tweeting up a storm on the subject. (Not having heard is irritating, when he’s sitting on four figures of our money. But we’ve received only one of the updates supposedly sent to all hands since purchasing a GG).


Both FedEx and UPS have refused to ship the Ghost Gunner, and there is no convenient common carrier option apart from that shipping duopoly.

The funny thing is this: despite its name and its firearms application, the Ghost Gunner is really a general-purpose, open-source, CNC machine tool. We want it as much to see what ecosystem of fixtures and part files emerges, and to apply to airplane building, as we do as a way to do custom lowers (for which there are already other machines are on hand.

According to the shippers, any machine that might be used by a private party to ship guns is contraband, the law be damned. (It’s suggestive that both carriers reached this unique interpretation at the same moment in time). Does this mean that Sherline, Taig and Miniature Machine Shop will not be able to ship their goods in interstate commerce? (We probably shouldn’t give the Feds, whose threats are no doubt at the bottom of this debacle, any ideas).

Apparently, one part of  the “a pen and a phone” system of government that has replaced the obsolete Constitution in latter days is the ability to declare contraband not just things that some politicians don’t like, but machines that can make the things. 

the lives of othersOne is reminded of the old Communist system, which not only had a media monopoly and pervasive state surveillance, but went so far as the licensing and registration of deadly assault information technology, which in those days meant typewriters and mimeograph machines. Russian dissidents circulated manuscripts copied, sometimes one-at-a-time in the fashion of medieval monks defending knowledge from a new Dark ages, in a cultural phenomenon called samizdat – a term with the denotation of “self publishing” but a connotation of underground, forbidden, risky activity.

FedEx is particularly two-faced in this, as they offer NRA discounts, which is why Cody initially used them. But statements from FedEx spokesman Scott Fiedler to Wired and other online outlets make it clear that the company is fully on-board with the administration here. UPS spox Dan McMackin has confirmed that his firm, too, is firmly in the antigun camp and is pleased to collaborate in Administration anti-gun initiatives.

Wired Magazine’s Andy Greenberg goes all out to give the carriers the benefit of the doubt, but reaches (with the help of anti-gun UCLA professor Adam Winkler, who’s studied and written about gun control in America) an interesting conclusion (and one that Cody Wilson would recognize as suitably bleak for would-be regulators):

FedEx seems to be joining the same club of companies trying to avoid any part in digital DIY gunsmithing. But as more tools like 3-D printers and CNC mills find their way into Americans’ homes, they may have to face the reality that those devices can also create deadly weapons, says UCLA’s Winkler. “It’s going to be very hard to get people to stop using these same devices to make firearms,” he says. “To a certain extent, FedEx will have to get used to shipping gun-making machines.”

There is good news for buyers in this, perhaps: by refusing to deliver the product, FedEx and UPS are in effect insuring you against the project’s failure to deliver. If you never get the product you have paid for, you can add the carriers as defendants to your suit, and recover from their (and their reinsurers’) deep pockets. They want to take a partisan, political position? Let them pay for it.

For More Information:

Ostensible Cody Wilson letter (he did not send this to us, and we are fully-paid purchasers). If this is authentic, it looks like what began as a dispute over rates escalated into an outright ban on shipping, based on what FedEx was told by persons unknown but presumably aligned with the Administration:

That email was posted by Ars Technica writer Cyrus Farivar; Farivar’s article follows:

GunsAmerica story:

Wired story:

Reason Magazine’s Hit & Run Blog:

Numerous other sites have secondary stories derived from the above (like us, now), including TTAG and Infowars.

Since the initial statements of anti-gun and anti-manufacturing policy, both FedEx and UPS have clammed up.

Transferable History

We’ve featured an MP.18-II before, which is a later iteration of this exact same gun, with a magazine well reconfigured for straight magazines. (It led in turn to the MP.28, the Lanchester, and the Sten, by fairly direct process of derivation). But this gun, the MP.18-I, is the granddaddy of them all, and it could be yours.

MP.18-I 03It is certainly the first widely produced submachine gun, defined as a shoulder-fired infantry weapon firing a pistol cartridge with an automatic or select-fire mechanism. A blowback mechanism, it showed the way for many designs that would follow through three generations of submachine guns, until the rise of compact versions of intermediate-cartridge assault weapons would replace most of them.

Some would say it has a face only a mother could love:

MP.18-I 28


And it’s just as awkward looking from behind. MP.18-I 24

The drum magazine is so odd looking because it was already in production for the Lange P.08, the “Artillery” Luger. Rather than try to design a thirtyish-round magazine, the engineers at Theodor Bergmann in the weapons-manufacturing center Suhl, Germany, did what many later gun designers would do and borrowed a proven one.

MP.18-I Snail Drum 03


The gadget with the lever is the magazine loader, a must-have for these unique mags. Note the sleeve that fits on them for SMG use.

MP.18-I 06

Like all first-generation submachine guns the MP.18-I is made using the rifle processes of the early 20th Century. It is primarily made of steel parts machined from billet or forgings, richly blued; and the stock is solid walnut. If four years of relentless naval blockade had damaged the German Empire’s war production capabilities, this gun doesn’t show it.

The auction has a very reasonable opening bid, for what it is, but there is also a reserve. No, we don’t know what the reserve is.

As the catchy song goes, what does the ad say?

This is a really nice example of the early 9 mm German submachine gun used in WWI. MP18-1 was the first true Submachine Gun. This is not all matching, but is an excellent example with an excellent bore.

These are very rare and hard to find because most MP18’s were modified to accept the straight magazine instead of the drum magazine.

There was a show on the tube, the one with that perv guy, where they bubba’d up a later MP. 18-II to resemble this, so you might want to ensure that this is not the Bubba gun version.

It has a 1920 stamp on the receiver so it was used by the Weimar Police.

This comes with 2 drums with adapters and 1 drum loading tool. These drums are the same drums used with the Artillery Luger. This is C&R fully transferable and is currently on a form 3.

via German WWI MP18,I with 2 Drums & Loader : Machine Guns at

If you’re familiar with later German SMGs, the bolt and striker of the MP.18 look pretty familiar:

MP.18-I 25

The simplicity of this firearm was so elegantly perfect for its purpose that it spawned hundreds of work-alikes, few of which improved on its basic function (after replacing the overly complex magazine).

This may look like a lot of pictures, but there are way more at the auction link — something like 30 of them all told. You know you want to click over there anyway.

Sure, it’s more than our pickup cost, new, and it’s almost 100 years old. But on the other hand, our pickup will be worth approximately $0 in ten years, and an original MP.18-I is unlikely to lose much value. (If you buy it into a business you can even try depreciating it and see if the tax guys let you).

In case two drums aren’t enough for you, the same seller has a third, too. Without loader, but with dust cover. They’re all First Model snail drums. Annoy a totalitarian, buy a 32-round magazine.

third drum

One nice thing about this seller’s auctions is that they run for a good, long time. The MP.18 has eight days to go. (Serious bidders may not show up until close to the end. Don’t read too much into lack of bids on an auction when it still has weeks to run).

Another nice thing about these auctions? They give all of us the chance to see many rare collector pieces. We can’t own them all, but we can get eyes on them when they change hands. How cool is that?