Category Archives: Rifles and Carbines

Thing from the Vault: Barnett Enfield (Real, or Darra Adam Khel?)

Some of you who have hung out with us have seen this long gun and its cousins, and heard the story of how it came to catch a C-17 ride home wearing a GI souvenir tag, and palletized in a purpose-built wood box with a number of its brethren. Exactly how and why your humble blogger became the FFL Type 02 (Pawnbroker) equivalent for a remote and allegedly Taliban-infested valley is a story to be told face to face, but suffice it now to say that such a thing happened, and a variety of antique oddities lounge about Hog Manor in consequence thereof.

afghan_enfield_01_-_16_overview

We are about the furthest thing you can imagine from expertise on British black powder guns, so our answer to the question in the title is more a matter of supposition and deduction than it is of confidence. But we believe the rifle to be a Pashtun copy, made at some unknown time by hand, probably by the gunsmiths of the Adam Khel tribe in their home city, Darra Adam Khel.

Some of the reasons are: the light-colored no-name wood of the stock; the uncertain-looking brass parts, which look more like they were cast by cottage industry than by a mid-19th Century industrial plant; the spiral seam in the barrel, where it was made by hand-forging a rectangular bar in spiral form around a mandrel; the flimsy sheet metal piece opposite the lock; the weird heads, threads and alignments of the screws.

afghan_enfield_01_-_22_spiral_seam_in_barrel

On the other hand, the engraving is clear and without misspellings. Since many Darra gunsmiths are illiterate in any language, you frequently see mirror-image letters and other wierdness in inscriptions. The lock date (1869) is much too late for a P53 Enfield, but it could be a P59, a similar musket made in smoothbore strictly for the use of native troops in British India. So it could be a P59 that has, over the last near sesquicentury, become the host to many repaired and replaced native parts.

afghan_enfield_01_-_19_lockplate_area

Click more to see some more of the uneven and sometimes crude construction, and many character-rich repairs, of this venerable firearm.

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CZ Scorpion Evo S3 Carbines Ship

The pistols came through first, long enough ago that some people have them SBR’d already, but the promised 16″ non-NFA carbine is arriving in shops in two models, one a conventional carbine and one a mock-MP5SD competitor with a fake silencer. Both versions have been posted to Reddit (conventional carbine / fake-can carbine) and IMGUR (same / same) already . (the “SD” a month ago).

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 05The owner of the conventional carbine wrote:

I had almost forgotten that I ordered it a couple months back. I’m still waiting on my urban grey P-09 as it’s back ordered, but this should keep me entertained. I haven’t seen one posted on here, so I hope you all enjoy the unboxing photos.

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 01

This is CZ’s new Scorpion Evo 3 S1 carbine. I got the model that has a muzzle brake, which may or may not come off when my Optimus gets out of ATF jail. The pleasant surprise I got when I opened the box was finding 2 magazines inside. I assumed it only came with one. It shipped with 20 round magazines, which was the highest capacity I saw available with the rifle. I also ordered several 30 round magazines for maximum PewPew.

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 04

Can’t wait to get this to the range and do a range report. Any questions just fire away!

The owner of the “SD” version posted a capsule review — 200 rounds’ worth —  of his $991 purchase, which we’ll excerpt:

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 07

Balance and Feel:
Decent, it’s not heavy at around 6lbs. It doesn’t really even feel like 6lbs. I thought that faux suppressor up front would add weight and make it front heavy, it doesn’t seem to.
The new handguard feels [bleep]ing guuuuureat. Love it. great change. The safety still eats dicks, and eats in to your trigger finger. The pistol grip is ok. I’ll probably replace it at some point.
The stock is wonderful. Simple, easy, feels great. Can’t compliment it enough. If you have a Scorpion pistol and haven’t SBR’d it to get this stock holy [bleep] are you missing out.
The folding mechanism is ok. It doesn’t really stick, but eh.
Trigger:
Same as the pistol I believe. No change, not awful, not great. Kind of battle-rifley.
Recoil:
What recoil? It’s 9mm to begin with and it’s 6lbs of 9mm. This is fun as hell and makes follow up shots a joke. I’m honestly not sure how much the faux suppressor is doing, if it’s compensating at all or what.

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 08

His only complaint was that the stock mags are 20-rounders, and one has to pay extra for 30-round magazines.

Yes, the Czech Pistols book does mention the Scorpion and Bren pistols! And it explains why CZ chose to lead the market with pistols before carbines or factory NFA SBRs.

Another Way to Use 3D Printing

Chuck of GunLab and his friend Orin have a dream: to wit, bringing a rare and “dead” single-shot design, the Remington Hepburn, back to life. To do this, Chuck got a scrapyard special Remington Hepburn and reverse-engineered the rusty, pitted action into SolidWorks. Then he passed the solid model to Orin, who tested it by 3D printing a model.

First print success!

Now, we’re not sure what plastic he used here. If he were to do it in PLA, he could have it lost-PLA cast. It would take a professional foundry to do it in steel or iron, but it might be strong enough (and very beautiful) if done in silicon bronze. (Of course, many modern foundries doing investment casting can now work direct from an STL file, printing in wax using a specialty printer).

They followed up with a Phase II: Orin designing a cutaway receiver and the various internal parts:

GunLab pre printed partsAnd then printed them:

GunLab Orin printed partsThis way he can check (and observe) the fit and the quality of his reverse engineering.

These are all good (and soon to be standard) uses of 3D printing technology as a resource extender, time saver, and general force multiplier for design, engineering and manufacturing.

Chuck, for one, is sold. He just took delivery of his first 3D printer… he got a great deal on a discontinued model… and has been machining the aluminum alloy parts it needs to replace its brittle, failing plastic ones.

Playing Toys with Guns

Yes, we’ll explain that weird title. Here’s a snip from an Officer Safety message going around:

image001

An AR pistol Cerakoted in Nerf livery. Oh, brother. Nuclear Dumb Idea in the Megaton Range? Let’s zoom in, at the cost of some grain:

nerf_ar_

They must have found this online somewhere… we checked in the usual domains of derp, like /r/guns and Arfcom GD, and struck out; we finally found it, actually, in this Picture of the Day post at The Firearm Blog. Which has a better picture, used as a promo by the outfit that Cerakoted it. It’s obviously the source of the Officer Safety images, so while the alert may have originated in Hangover, it doesn’t look like the gun did, taking “Midwest” Cerakote at their name’s word.

Midwest Cerakote Nerf AR

At TFB they take a cautious, not alarmist, view.

Before some of you have knee jerk reactions remember we do not know what the owner plans to use this for. I like to be optimistic that he will be a responsible firearm owner. From a custom paint job perspective I think Midwest Cerakote nailed the Nerf blaster look. The accent orange color looks well chosen. The magazine is the only issue I have. It should be orange. Most Nerf “clips” are orange. Hasbro calls then “clips” even though we all know better.

I know some of you will think the worst and that this is how someone gets shot. Well my response is simply that it is the responsibility of the person using the item. There is no problem painting a gun however you want it. As long as you use it responsibly. Same with realistic toy guns. Don’t point them at cops. Don’t use them in an area that could be seen and mistaken as a real gun. Or vice versa for toy painted guns. If people remember to not be morons, we would not have problems. Do what you want that makes you happy. Just do so safely and responsibly.

It’s an interesting and libertarian view. But you see, the problem isn’t this probable safe-queen AR that someone spent a lot of money on. The problem is that cops can’t un-see that, as the kids say. And now they know that what looks Nerf might not be Nerf. While the public concern might be that some cop is going to go fangs-out and blow Little Joey and his Nerf Blaster from here to Johannesburg, we don’t think that’s the real problem. Street cops, who have enough worries already, are now trying to sail the strait between the Scylla of toys that look like guns and the Charybdis of guns that look like toys. Most likely outcome? Cops are going to wait a bit and keep processing for a few more clock cycles until they’re sure, or at least more confident, about what it is that somebody’s holding.

Historically, cop restraint has saved a lot of lives when people were doing something dumb that could have gotten them shot, but who didn’t actually need shooting. Almost every cop has a story of someone he could have shot but he’s glad he didn’t. And cop restraint has also landed a lot of officers an entry on the Officer Down Memorial Page. It’s a safe bet that nobody on that page really wanted to go there, that day.

Well, we can’t unring the bell, un-release the stuff from Pandora’s box, or un-you-know-what the cluster, so we’re going to have to live in a world without bright lines between the physical appearances of guns and toys from here on in.

So we might as well appreciate some of these artworks, then. TFB has some other examples, both of guns painted like toys and toys painted like guns, so you should Read The Whole Thing™ even if just for the pictures alone.

We remember an AR done in John Deere green and yellow and thought it was amusing (and we knew a guy who did that with his gyroplane: Deere’s lawyers sent him a nasty threat). And here’s a Cerakote job on an actual Nerf gun (different from the ones at the TFB link, this one’s from Tom’s Custom Coatings in Ohio).

nerfgun-004

Cerakoters are getting extremely creative. Here’s one we liked from the same dude that did the Nerf gun above. Meet the Star Wars themed Imperial Stormtrooper AR :

vader AR 1

Of course, most of these images embiggen for more detail. It purports to come from Vader Arms. We bet he got the contract after a galaxy-wide search.

vader AR 2

We’ve all probably been accused of playing with guns at some point. But it looks like some people really do it.

3D Printed MP5 Lower/Trigger Group Prototyping

We’ve shown you before some of the cool stuff Guy in a Garage gets up to and posts on his Yoot Oob channel. This time, the yoot’ is doing something very interesting — prototyping a lower for an MP5 that will take conventional AR parts.

Is that even possible? you may ask. Be answered:

It’s an early development mule, but it shows every sign of working. An MP5 that can take AR trigger components is potentially a very useful thing.

The 3D printed mule is expected to lead to a 3D printed prototype, which would then lead to a production part in metal. There are many ways to make that metal part — one could bend sheet metal and add small parts to make a weldment, machine the part from billet, or even 3D print it in ABS and then lost-ABS cast the part.

 

Rifles: 2nd Half of the 19th Century

We have commented before on how interesting it is that no firearms advance gives any nation a lasting advantage. This takes place both because everybody who is not experiencing success copies others’ successes with alacrity, and because technology tends to advance at about the same rate everywhere, as equally bright people work to develop new ideas on the shoulders of the same body of prior work.

Reasons notwithstanding, you can pick just about any period in history and watch the armies of the nations of the world advance together, as if they were in step. Let’s pick the second half of the 19th Century, which began with everyone more or less on the same sheet of music — call it Movement I, maestoso, with Minié or other displacing balls fired from muzzle-loading rifle-muskets — and at the end of a rapid flurry of advances was playing a livelier gavotte on repeating bolt-action rifles firing fixed centerfire ammunition.

Experimental 45-70 Springfield

In the middle of the 19th Century, the question was: how do we get from rifle-musket to breechloader? Conversions were the answer almost everywhere.

We’ve made rather a dog’s breakfast of too many metaphors there. We promise to stop; we’ll stick to declarative sentences, here on out.  In military service, service long-arms passed through four stages between 1850 and 1900, almost regardless of nation. Here’s a little graphic illustrating what we mean.

rifle_history_1850-1900Germany is an outlier here, in part because we selected Prussia as our representative German state (the German Empire wasn’t unified under the Prussian crown yet at the start of this period. Had we chosen Bavaria it might have looked more like the other nations).

At the end, we just didn’t have room for the definitive bolt-action repeater, the Mauser 98!

If Germany was a leader, looking at the dates, the United States was a bit of a laggard; the 1888 Springfield was fundamentally unimproved from the 1865 Allin conversion. Imperial Russia, often thought of as backward, doesn’t look nearly as bad. (Of course, adopting a rifle is one thing; producing enough of them to arm the Russian Army is a whole other challenge). It would be interesting to add other powers, such as Spain and Sweden, and perhaps some of the more advanced South American lands, to the chart.

Although we like our bright colors, the next step ought to be to make a proper Gantt chart of it, in which you’d see how much variation there was in years of adoption, visually.

By the way, the individual steps are not nearly as neat and clear as the graphic implies. This comprehensive and illustrated analysis of the Enfield P.53s progress to the Snider is representative. Like the Allin conversion in the USA, the Snider won out over many possible alternatives in testing. (And here’s a great page on the Martini-Henry, the Snider’s follow-on). For every repeater, breech-loader, and conversion that was adopted, there were many also-rans.

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.

Video: SIG Wants You… to Buy an MPX

We’re not sure how old this current MPX video is, but it’s not the one we’ve had before.

We’re starting to see factory SBRs show up but we’re too tied up in Czech stuff at the moment….

And is it just us, or are factory gun videos getting more and more hooah with every iteration?

We don’t have hands on one yet. but we like the idea of the MPX; it’s a good revision and upgrade of the MP5 concept. It makes the best use of advances in materials (modern plastics), ergonomics (M16-sized, for people with normal human thumbs, rather than HK sized, which are suited only for people in the six-sigma zone (99.9999) percentile of pollex protrusion).

Other postwar submachine guns like the Beretta M12S and the Walther MPL/MPK never caught on the way the MP5 did. And all pistol-caliber submachine guns are up against the problem that a rifle-caliber long gun is, for most purposes, more useful. But an MPX SBR seems like it would be a blast as a range toy. We’ll have to get hands on with one soon.

Update

Apologies to all for having an incomplete version of this post up for about four hours this morning. Your humble blog editor is now writing fifty times, “I will check the site first thing… I will check the site first thing…”

 

Student Filmmakers Mistaken for Active Shooters

Last week, a bunch of kids with airsoft toys that look very like real guns were making a student film at their school in Tustin, California. How much like real guns do they look? Real enough that the kids probably don’t even grasp just how close they came to being capped by cops. Behold:

Tustin Cops Fake Gun Photo

After everybody’s pulse rate got back down into the normal range, the cops had a talk with the would-be Tarantinos, so that this film didn’t end like one of Quentin’s bloodbaths, except with buckets of real blood.

By the way, in the image above, two of the guns are the kids’ airsofts. One is one of the cops’ patrol rifle that he responded with. (You can probably figure it out). The cops’ whole statement:

We are currently clearing a call of several subjects with rifles at one of our schools. Ultimately we determined the subjects were local high school students making a film and the rifles were only replicas. Neither the school or the city of Tustin had any knowledge of this incident until we received the radio call. This situation could have turned tragic. Parents, please use caution when allowing your children access to replica firearms. These situations have turned deadly across our nation. The photo shows two of the rifles we encountered on this call. The third rifle in the photo is one of our real rifles that we responded with. We included it to show you how realistic these weapons can appear, especially in darkness.

Really, a kid can get hurt playing with the wrong toys. But if you deny kids any engagement with real guns under adult guidance, they’re going to develop their own knowledge under peer guidance. That seems to be the antithesis of a good idea.

A hearty hooah to the Tustin cops for not shooting anybody. Can you imagine how they’d crucify the poor cop that nailed one of these kids? But look again at the guns — it would be hard to fault a cop for jumping to what turned out to be a wrong conclusion.

Sometimes the best thing is to sit weapons tight and develop the situation.

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.