Category Archives: Rifles and Carbines

Bleg: World War II Suppressors

Business end of typical Maxim silencer.

Business end of typical Maxim silencer.

We’re working on a technical post on the suppressors of World War II. We know of the following:

Germany: Pistole 27(t) late war suppressor, MP 40 suppressor (limited production) K.98k suppressor (ditto).

Great Britain: Welrod, High Standard .22, Luger, Maxim suppressors (SOE was disappointed), Mk IIS Sten. De Lisle carbine.

United States: M1911A1 .45, integral M3/M3A1 SMG, Colt .380, High-standard .22 (entirely different from the British development).

OSS_M3A1_grease_silenced

USSR: none (this does not seem right, given the Soviets’ extensive use of “diversionary” and special operations elements, and their broad conception of intelligence and reconnaissance operations).

Italy: none

Japan: none

Minor powers: none

Help a brother out here. What else is unknown out there? I expect the bulk of the article is going to be on the P.27(t), which is known from several surviving samples, and the British stuff, which is very well documented.

Sniping and Satisficing

Russians are smart, good shooters, and brilliant engineers. They could have built an M-24 equivalent. Instead, in the early 1960s, they built the SVD. What were they thinking?

Russians are smart, good shooters, and brilliant engineers. They could have built an M-24 equivalent. Instead, in the early 1960s, they built the SVD. What were they thinking?

We had an epiphany while at a foreign weapons course, zeroing in on a target with a Romanian FPK with a badly maladjusted scope. Fortunately, the instructor was an ace spotter, so he was able to talk us on to heart shots by using Kentucky windage — aiming, in fact, at the silhouette’s hand in his pocket to pop him just (our) right (his left) of the sternum.

It wasn’t the optimum way to fire the gun, but it worked. It was satisficing, not optimizing.

A McMillan .338 LM with a Nightforce or Schmit & Bender scope might well be an optimum sniper weapon, but the organizations that spring for weapons like that are few and small. A small, poor country like Communist Romania could put an FPK in every  or every other rifle squad. The USSR did something similar with the similar-looking (but better designed and made) SVD (Dragunov Sniper Rifle, in its Russian acronym). What were they thinking?

These weapons would not impress M24-equipped SOF snipers, or M40-wielding Marine Scout Snipers. But they were adequate for their task. They gave every rifle unit a few precision riflemen that could engage point targets out beyond the effective range of assault rifles. They got all the other benefits of snipers, too: ISR through direct observation being, perhaps, the most important.

The Soviet and Warsaw Pact (now Russian and CIS) program was a success even though it was not up to SF or Marine standards. But, thing is, it didn’t have to be. For the Russian architects of Soviet sniping doctrine, which drove the development of the SVD rifle, “good enough” was, well, good enough. They chose to satisfice, not optimize, a decision that met all their needs while working within their constraints.

Satisficing is often a more satisfying process than optimizing. If something is optimized for particular requirements, it may be less adaptable than something that was just good enough. And it’s entirely at the mercy of the wisdom and foresight of the guys who write those requirements. (Six years after adoption, for instance, even Army Ordnance figured out that the nifty-neat magazine disconnector that let you use a Krag like a Trapdoor really wasn’t enough of a killer feature to pick it over the Mauser, after all).

The US has many riches in Small Arms Development, but consistency is not one of them. Consider two development programs that brought contracts to H&K over the years: the Offensive Pistol and the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System. Both of these contracts were successful, in that the US military procured (or in the case of the CSASS, is procuring) at least some of the systems. But both might have gone better, had a satisficing approach been taken instead of a maximizing one.

The Offensive Pistol was a special operations project mostly driven by a SEAL wish-list. It produced a pistol that checked every box, but that was nearly as bulky and heavy (with its suppressor) as a carbine. Despite the weight, though, the Mk 23 pistol was handicapped by being a pistol that fired a pistol cartridge. That meant it could never be a sole weapon, the guy using the Mk 23 (presumably in clearing a linear or confined target) needed to have a carbine too.

Mk 23. This one from Cranston Gun and Coin in Rhode Island.

Mk 23. This one from Cranston Gun and Coin in Rhode Island. Without something for scale, the size of it isn’t obvious…

Here we see how the Mk 23 dwarfs even the pretty big .45 ACP USP Tactical (from this thread on HKPro).

Here we see how the Mk 23 dwarfs even the pretty big .45 ACP USP Tactical (from this thread on HKPro).

The Mk 23s are out there, but I’ve never heard of anybody using them for anything but playing on the range, or stylin’ and profilin’. It was optimized for its set of specifications, but nobody ever said, “Wait a minute, we say we want it to do X and handle Y, but did we ever do X and Y with a pistol before? Why not?”

In the case of the CSASS, the Army (in particular) had another firearm that was developed from a telephone-book-sized stack of requirements and specifications, the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System. The M110 SASS had the same thyroid problem as the Mk 23: it was unweildy for the ways the soldiers wanted to use it.

The M110 SASS came with lots of cool gear, but few of the end users were well trained on the system.

The M110 SASS came with lots of cool gear, but few of the end users were well trained on the system. And it was too long and unwieldy, hence, the compact semi-auto sniper system competition started to find a less unwieldy

The maker of the original M110, Knight’s Armament Corp., offered to modify the existing M110s to meet the new spec for short money but the Army wasn’t having any of that. They wanted all new guns, and hang the expense.

The CSASS, a cousin of the German G 28 (HK calls this variant the G28E), is basically a piston .308 AR, but it’s optimized for the new specification.

das-hk-g28e-im-cal-7-62mmx51What happens when the users of that rifle make contact with the enemy and suggest some changes? Or, somewhat more cynically, what happens when some new action officer replaces the old and brings a new set of prejudices to bear on the problem? Will the CSASS have as short a run as the M110 did? And be replaced, as it was, by what’s essentially the same gun?

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Partisan Rifles

partisanriflesThis is a site that deserves a lengthy write-up, but for now we’ll just hit the high points. We do promise you that, if you are interested in obscure European 20th-Century history, or in Mittel- and Eastern European firearms, spending time at Partisan Rifles will reward you handsomely.

The author of the site, who goes by the nickname — we are not making this up! — “Hairy Greek,”  expresses clearly what his site is all about:

This site is dedicated to rifles from the Balkans region – the former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia), Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, and also Italy, Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Turkey – especially those rifles with soldier graffiti on them.  I cover anything I can get my hands on, which is mainly WWI to WWII, though there are many examples from the earlier Balkan Wars, and recent Croatian and Bosnian Wars.  While not technically in the Balkans, I have found some fascinating rifles from the Spanish Civil War, and will include those also.

Balkans-region rifles from the 1800’s and earlier have shown me that decorating rifles was a common practice, possibly stemming from Turkish or Middle Eastern decorations.  This tradition has been carried on well into the 1990’s.  A number of the region’s rifles bear initials, names, cities, dates, kill counts, and political symbols on them.  Most of these markings were made by non-government irregular forces, or militia members.  These markings create a historical journey by showing who used the rifle, where and when.  For example, the above rifle was most likely captured from the Italians by Tito Partisans in WWII.

Every old firearm has a story to tell, and on some of these the story is carved right into the wood of the stock. Fascinating site.

PS — he’s got some really flashy Montenegrin Gassers, a revolver we discussed recently.

Carry Handle My Wayward Son

There’s been a rash of “carry handle” posting on Reddit’s /r/guns subreddit lately. Apparently some people think carry handles on firearms, which Stoner et. al. thought absolutely brilliant in 1955 or so, are old-fashioned enough to be quaint, or entertaining.

Some of the posts are clearly childish humor, but we guess someone had to compare our AR iron sight history with our CZ history. (Imgur source). (Reddit source).

carry handle cz

OK, this guy is coming in broken and stupid. On the other hand, that, and snarking at the bot, got the poster banned by one of r/guns’s mods, who are known to have itchy trigger fingers.

And then, there’s this A3, posted with the claim that carry-handle mounted iron sights handle mud better than optics.  (Imgur source). (Reddit source).

carry handle a2

He was trying to clone his service gun (USMC), but would do it differently now:

This is my carry handle, there are many like it but this one is mine. Unfortunately the rifle shoots like dog shit and the vertical stringing is legendary. Getting about 4″ groups with match 77gr and 69gr ammo. Wanted a semi-accurate service rifle clone for USMC nostalgia, went with PSA base tier. Was disappoint, gonna do it right next time and just pick up an RRA national match gun.

Some of them are highly personalized, like this custom-finished, wood-stocked A2.  (Imgur source). (Reddit source). On A1s and A2s, the carry handle is a forged part of the upper receiver.

carry handle A2-ish

The owner says:

Picked it up from my gunsmith buddy who had it laying around for a few years. LOVE this gun. No name upper, Anderson lower, Rock river barrel, internals/pieces, plus lots of stainless Ceracoat.

Just goes to show you can build a very attractive gun with popular-priced pieces. The only thing premium here is the walnut stock: find this set with the cheekpiece (and laminated options) at Brownells. (The Brownells product is made by Lucid, and on their own website they offer a greater variety of woods and figuring — also unfinished for custom fitting). A slightly more A1-ish and less custom set is here, and if you a real OG carry handle user, you’ll like the even more A1-friendly Ironwood Designs set.

Here’s a 9mm pistol with the Original Gangsta fixed carry handle. (Imgur source). (Reddit source).

carry handle 9mm

Poster describes it:

[M]y 9mm Colt-ish pistol (soon to be SBR I hope)…. built on a Black Creek Precision EF-9 lower, Colt upper, and RRA barrel.

And then there’s the guy who’s right in our wheelhouse with a retro collection.  (Imgur source). (Reddit source).

carry handle retro

He rather he’pfully defines them:

Thanks to the invention of the Carry handle i was able to bring all of these rifles outside for a pic in one trip.
From top to bottom: Colt 603 AKA M16a1
Colt 604
XM177e1
Colt 733
On the Side Colt 607, my XM177 is borrowing the 607’s lower until the XM177’s stamp is approved.

 

Asked for a parts breakdown on his XM177E1, the user, Admiral Ackbar, opbliged:

AdmiralAckbar86[S] 2 points 3 days ago
Upper: Nodak
Lower: Nodak
Barrel: Brownells 1:12 chopped to 10 inches by Retro Arm works
BCG: Colt
LPK: Colt
Pistol Grip, Handguards: Colt
Stock: Essential Arms
Buffer Tube: Nodak 2 Position
XM177 Moderator: Brick

Hey, whatever is fun for you. For most users a carry handle (and even iron sights) are a waste, all you need is a flat-top and a red dot for a defensive or plinking or training carbine. Of course, if you’re chasing meat, and that meat’s a Colorado elk, a red dot’s not going to do it for you (and neither is 5.56).

SVT-Inspired Italian Rifle: It’s Strange

Ian at Forgotten Weapons spent some time last month  touring sunny Italy, and turning up unusual weapons everywhere he went. This is one we found most interesting, and it resides in the Beretta collection:

Copy of Russian Semi Rifle 01

It looks like a Russian semi-auto rifle, but it doesn’t look exactly like any of them. The muzzle brake resembles that of a Simonov AVS, for example, while the metal forward handguard looks like it fell off a Tokarev SVT. The gun overall has a certain elegance to it. SVTs tend to be well-machined and -blued, but this Italian prototype puts them to shame.

From this angle it’s a near ringer for an SVT. One wonders if the chamber is fluted as the SVT’s is. (Tokarev found it necessary to assist extraction).

Copy of Russian Semi Rifle 02

Here’s what Ian says:

Through inspection, we know it is a mechanical copy of the Soviet SVT 38 or 40 – it shares the same exact bolt, locking system, and gas system. Even many aesthetic features like the metal front handguard, muzzle brake, and sights are remarkably similar to those of the SVT. The biggest difference is the magazine, which is a fixed design fed only be stripper clips. The rifle is chambered for the 8x59mm Breda cartridge, and magazine capacity is unknown – probably either 9 or 10 rounds.

The clue that this is a Pavesi rifle comes from the safety lever, which is identical to the safety lever on the Model 1942 Pavesi rifle. The only markings on this piece are two repetitions of the serial number (875), on the receiver and stock. This serial number suggests that a significant number of these rifles may have been made, although I have not seen any other examples, nor any recorded information on when or where they were made, tested, or fielded.

We do disagree with him about the muzzle brake; at least on our SVT-40, the thing on the end of the muzzle is more like a Cutts Compensator than this brake, which resembles the AVS-36 brake more.

It’s not that unusual that Western copies of early Russian semi-auto weapons would exist. One suspects that the early Simonov and Tokarev rifles were instrumental not only in the design of this rifle, but in Dieudonné Saive’s SAFN (Semi Automatic FN) rifle, which would become the SAFN 49 when development, interrupted by the German occupation of Belgium, was resumed after the war.

We don’t know all that much about Italian ordnance in World War II. Certainly Italian surplus was little respected here fifty and sixty years ago, but the idea that Italian ordnance officers weren’t capable of delivering quality weapons to their troops doesn’t really hold water. Ian is one of the few Anglophone researchers online who has delved into Italian MGs and it’s great to see him unearthing information about these unknown (to us) Italian semi-auto trials.

More information, a video, and many more photos, of this rare (unique?) probably-Pavesi at the link.

A Misleading-at-a-glance Krag

If you were to just see this Krag sporting rifle in a gun dealer’s rack, you might be forgiven for concluding it was one of the many Krag rifles sporterized in the 1940-75 or so heyday of the converted military bolt action.

Norsk Elgrifle 28414-01

You’d probably note it was well worn, as the stock marks show, but carefully cared for, and that the sporterization job had been done by someone other than Bubba — it was thoroughly professional. (look at the checkering on the stock, the rich dark blue, and the bright checkered bolt handle).

Norsk Elgrifle 28414-02It’s a craftsman’s piece:

Norsk Elgrifle 28414-05

If you looked at it closely, you’d note that it was a Norwegian  Krag, a Model 1912 originally produced at Kongsberg Arsenal in 1918. (We read the date in Joe’s photo as 1915, not 1918, but it’s a century old, near as dammit, either way).

Norsk Elgrifle 28414-10

Maybe you’d be bemused by its one-off rear sight, never seen on any other rifle to our knowledge. It looks strong and simple to use and manufacture, but as far as we know, it’s unique.

And you’d miss what it was. That’s where a knowledgable and connected dealer like Joe Salter comes in. Joe serves both the American and Canadian markets; while we found this rare Krag on his American website, he would know if (and how) it is available to Canuckistani collectors.

It is a Norsk Elgrifle, a Norwegian Moose Rifle, a Krag that was sporterized by the original factory 30 years after its original manufacture, one of a few hundred returned to the civilian market to support Norway’s robust hunting culture. After the success of this project Kongsberg simplified the rear sight and produced more rifles.

Here’s Salter’s description:

This 1918 dated rifle is one of only 500 of these sporting arms made at Kongsberg Arsenal by converting Model 1912 Krag carbines into “Elgrifle” (Moose Rifle) configuration just prior to 1950.

As you saw, this Krag is well used, and well cared for.

Norsk Elgrifle 28414-06 Norsk Elgrifle 28414-03

Serial #5743, 8 x 57mm “Moderat”, 23” barrel with a fine, bright bore that has traces of freckling within the grooves. The rifle 85-90% of the armory blue finish blending with a mellow plum-brown patina on the balance, and having fading and silvering at the muzzle and on the other high edges and projections. The bolt retains its correct armory bright finish with knurling on the flattened knob, and is nubered to the gun. The correct checkered pistol grip sporting length stock and handguard are in very good condition with some minor handling marks in the original armory oil finish and some mild flattening of the points. The rifle has its original front sight blade with white metal insert and the distinctive dial adjustable rear sight peculiar to these rifles (adjustable for 100 and 300 meters).t

Apart from one-off Kyhber workshop stuff, how many of us own a firearm that was made in only 500 copies, most of the survivors of which remain in their native land?

This model was quickly superseded by the M.51 variant that used a simpler two leaf rear sight instead. These are exceedingly rare rifles and are seldom seen in the U.S., and this example rates fine-near excellent condition overall.

One caution comes with the gun, one which requires (these days) hand-loaded ammunition).

Please Note: Although these rifles are chambered for the 8 x 57mm cartridge, the Krag action is not strong enough to handle full power loads. Because of this, a special low power loading was developed specifically for these rifles: the 8mm “Moderat” round which developed about 10% less pressure than standard 8mm sporting rounds. Consequently, full power 8mm Mauser cartridges should NEVER be fired in this rifle.

via Rare Norwegian Krag M.48 Moose Rifle by Kongsberg.

Krags are a love-’em-or-hate-’em kind of firearm. Nobody’s “meh” about the Krag in its military guise, ether its American or Scandinavian versions: they either thrill to its steampunk character, or find its form-follows-function aesthetic of-putting; it’s more asymmetrical than, and devoid of the clean lines of, a Mauser of most of its derivatives. (But hey, the Pattern 14 Enfield and its US 1917 offspring aren’t up for beauty prizes, either).

This is a Krag for the advanced Krag collector or the lover of beautiful and rare firearms. It is priced accordingly: $2,200. With numerous Czech pistols to examine to finish the book, we won’t be buying this Krag, but perhaps one of you will find it a new home.

Or, perhaps, you’ll find one in a gunshop in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where a Norwegian immigrant traded his for a Winchester 70 in a factory-load caliber. Stranger things have happened!

Origins of the BAR, Part III: The BAR in WWI Combat

Val Browning with a BAR "Somewhere in France."

Val Browning with a BAR “Somewhere in France.”

The BAR was desperately sought by the AEF, and the officers of the Ordnance Corps recognized its brilliance immediately: while the equally brilliant M1917 water-cooled machine gun was subject to a degree of jiggery-pokery prior to adoption, the BAR was adopted, as is, at its very first demonstration.

But as we have seen, manufacturing took time to get started. There were drawings, and process sheets, and tools, and jigs and fixtures to prepare. John M. Browning typically worked in steel, and provided working prototypes: he never drew a set of production drawings in his life, and indeed, he is not noted for involving himself in questions of production, only of design. Therefore, the process of turning the BAR from his hand-tooled prototypes to a mass-producible arm for a citizen army took effort, which took time: about three months from contract kickoff with the outbreak of the war to first BARs with the AEF in France. Let’s go back to our expert, George Chinn:

In July 1918 the B.A.R’s arrived in France in the hands of the United States 79th Division, which was the first organization to be equipped with them and took them into action on 13 September 1918. The 80th Division was the first American Division already in France to be issued the weapons. It is an interesting fact that First Lt. Val Browning, son of the inventor, personally demonstrated the weapon against the enemy.

The B. A. R. was more enthusiastically received in Europe than the heavy water-cooled gun, and requests for purchase by all the Allied Governments were made immediately after it arrived overseas. The French Government alone asked for 15,000 to take the place of the inferior machine rifle, then being used by both French and American troops. The latter weapon was found so unreliable that many were actually thrown away by troops during action.

However, the War ended so soon after this that the bulk of the American forces were still equipped with machine guns supplied by the British and French.

While there exist some AARs praising the performance of the M1917, which went into combat about ten days later than the BAR, we’re not aware of primary source documents about the BAR’s performance. But while the contribution of a handful of BARs to the war effort might have been de minimis, the gun would embed itself in the American military postwar.

There is an interesting sidebar to the story of the BAR in France, as Tom Laemlein wrote in American Rifleman in 2012:

American divisions deployed to France after July 1, 1918 (including the 6th, 7th, 8th, 29th, 36th and 79th) carried the BAR with them. Incredibly, upon their arrival in France, most of these divisions had their BARs replaced with .30-cal. M1918 Chauchats, by order of Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing. The first recorded use of the BAR was with the 79th Infantry Division, and that was not until Sept. 22, 1918, during the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Just three other divisions would carry the BAR before the end of World War I.

General Pershing determined the best course of action would be to wait until most of the U.S. divisions could be fully equipped with BARs (and with a ready supply of the rifles and spare parts available) to gain the full advantage of deploying the new rifle. General Pershing also feared that if the BAR were deployed too quickly that the Germans would inevitably capture one, and seeing its great capability would reverse-engineer the weapon and make it their own.

Records of the Automatic Arms Section of the AEF present the status of automatic rifles in France as of Sept. 8, 1918: “At the present time 18 U.S. divisions have been equipped with the Chauchat. No more divisions will receive this weapon in the future. At the present time there are nine U.S. divisions equipped with the caliber .30 Chauchat. However this gun has proved to be not at all satisfactory, the cartridges sticking in the chamber after the gun becomes slightly hot. For this reason the gun has been issued as an emergency weapon and will be withdrawn as soon as the Browning Automatic Rifles are available. At the present time 27 U.S. divisions have been equipped with the Chauchat Auto Rifle, and two divisions with the British are using the British .303 Lewis machine guns. All divisions over and above this number have been equipped with the Browning Automatic Rifle.”

There’s even another interesting sidebar in there, relative to the Lewis gun, the British counterpart of the BAR at this time (1918). Lewis was not a Briton; he was, in fact, an American ordnance officer whose gun, due to branch politics, was never considered seriously by the US Army.

Finally, another American Rifleman story reproduces the text of a 17 September 1918 report b the Automatic Arms section of the AEF’s Engineering Division about what the report calls the “Browning Machine Rifle” or BMR, a name which apparenly didn’t stick. While the rifle had been in combat by the time, that’s not reflected in the report. A couple of interesting points:

The similarity in appearance between a B.M.R. and our service rifle is so great that when the guns are in the field that they cannot be distinguished from each other at a distance greater than 50 yds.

And the tactical employment envisioned was not the “walking fire” about which so much has been written. Instead:

The gun will be used for the most part as a rapid firing single shot weapon. It can be fired from the shoulder, kneeling or prone, the greatest accuracy, of course, being obtained in the latter position with the front of the forearm resting on some rigid body. In cases of emergency where the ammunition can be supplied, and where a large volume of fire is necessary, this gun will be fired automatically. Five hundred rounds were fired in 3½ minutes under field conditions, but this figure is a maximum for fire volume. Under ordinary conditions 300 rounds should be placed as a limit for continuous automatic fire except in cases of emergency.

Do Read the Whole Thing™. Automatic fire was envisioned as something to be used “In cases of emergency where the ammunition can be supplied, and where a large volume of fire is necessary.” That just goes to show that doctrine was evolving dynamically in 1917-18, and that it would evolve further in later years. By World War II, not only was the M1918A2 version not used “as a rapid firing single shot, weapon,” it couldn’t be: it had no semi-auto setting, and offered a low cyclic rate option in its place.

In the end, it’s impossible to avoid the thought that the BAR did achieve one very important result in World War I: it showed what was possible in wartime production.

By Popular Demand: More BAR vs. BREN Video

R. Lee Ermey compares the BREN and the BAR in live fire, and comes to a surprising (to him) conclusion.

And here’s another BAR vs. BREN test — an accuracy competition, using vintage ammo, against B-27 silhouettes, at 100 yards.

That’s it for straight BAR-BREN comparisons. Now, there are some comparisons to other guns. First, the BAR vs. BREN vs. 1919. It’s a little slower that some of the other videos, but there’s more information in it, too.

Part II. He appears to be incorrect in attributing BREN design to simplifying the BAR, but some of his points about manipulation of the weapons are very good. One thing he is missing is that the BREN and the BAR were not deployed identically. (In fact, the BREN was employed, by doctrine, more like the Germans employed their MGs: don’t take our word for it, read our friends at Think Defence, who have dived into British wartime and prewar primary sources).

Now we go a little further afield. Here’s Ian and Karl of Forgotten Weapons and Full30 running a match with FG42 and BAR.

And Here’s a lively British guy we haven’t encountered before comparing the  Bren to what he calls the “Spandau,” the MG42.

(At least American GIs were referring to the old MG08 and 08/15, which were still turning up in Europe in 1944-45, as the Spandau. Period documents call the MG34 and 42 … the MG34 and -42).

What he calls “German kit fanboys” really didn’t like that video, and he made a rebuttal of their various rebuttals (which he answered in the long description of the first video). There’s some good information in these videos but the guy’s style is not for everybody.

Personally, we think he needs to amp up the humor a little, as he’s already got a bit of a Monty Python vibe to his channel.

Our conclusion: every combatant in World War II provided his grunts with some kind of light, portable weapon (and this evolved as the war continued). The weapons designs show differences in national preferences and approaches, but are more alike than different in their performance and tactical value. And we’re never going to get tired of arguing about the pros and cons of each.

Have at it in the comments, but please check your guns at the door.

“Say Hello to My Little Friend!”

You too can greet people like Al Pacino, improbably cast as a youthful Marielito thug in Brian de Palma’s Scarface, did, if you drop a bit of coin on this. Actually, you can do it more quietly, because this M16A1/M203 is suppressed.“Tony Montana, political ref-oo-gee from Cuba” was many things, but quiet wasn’t one of ’em.

Jackson M16A1 01Flip side:

Jackson M16A1 02Just the thing, for when your betrayed Colombian partner wants to hold you to his interpretation of “free trade.” Along with the registered and transferable Colt M16A1 lower:

Jackson M16A1 05Which has a later Colt M4 upper on it (note the forged-in “C” below the rear sight and behind the forge’s keyhole trade mark):

Jackson M16A1 04…you also get a Colt M203, in what looks like the full-house 12″ barrel:

Jackson M16A1 06Jackson M16A1 03…but with the circa-1990s dual-purpose mount for A2 and M4. (If you buy this and just want the M16, drop us a line about the 203. Seriously). And yes, you can use the KAC SOPMOD I rail kit with this (not the bottom rail, obviously). We know ’cause that’s what we did.

But, now for the bad news. We might have been fibbing a mite about the “bit of coin” part. The stinging three $200 transfer taxes (which gives ATF three shots at delaying your transfer!) are pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things: thanks to anti-gun politicians William Hughes and Charles Rangel, who jammed through the Hughes Amendment on a bogus voice vote in the middle of the night, it’s got an asking price of forty freaking thousand dollars.

If we pay that for anything that does’t come with a deed, the lawyer and the court need to assure us that the paperwork is final and she really is out of our life for good, and has no further comebacks on us. In writing.

Jackson M16A1 07Still, it’s kind of a nice gun.

Troy XM177E2 Shipping…? Extensive UPDATE

Troy XM177 AR15 MagIt looks like the firearm we’ve mentioned before is shipping, at least to writers. Guns & Ammo’s “Book of the AR-15” magazine has it on the cover and has a review inside, beginning on Page 6, with an interesting combination of insightful points and egregious errors.

The magazine’s on newsstands now; we bought it at the Walmart in Big City.

We’ll try to elaborate on this post later today, but first shot suggests:

  1. Steve Troy has really put a lot of work into making an accurate repro of the classic MACV-SOG recon trooper’s personal weapon. In fact, there’s so much work this really has to be a limited production product.
  2. There are some hidden improvements that improve the function of the firearm compared to its historical prototype. For instance, it has 1:7 rifling and M4 feed ramps.

Let’s elaborate on both of those points first, then we’ll get to the “egregious errors”.

Details of the Troy XM177E2

Receiver: We assumed that Troy would be cutting some kind of deal with Nodak Spud for the company’s perfect A1-style receivers. It turns out that Troy is taking a modern M4 style lower and reprofiling it to A1 shape. This requires the later-production reinforcements to be removed, particularly from the pivot pin bosses and the buffer tower area. If you’re not going to run a bayonet assault course with this XM177E2, and we can guarantee you’re not, you’re unlikely to see failure there. (In many years of using A1s with this same lower, we never saw a failure of a receiver, except in a rifle that fell 800 feet (or maybe 1250, it might have been before we lowered static-line jump altitudes in the late eighties) and hit like 6.6 lbs of bricks. We did see a lot of A1 barrels bent.

The rifle naturally differs in marking detail from original XM177s, which were made by Colt. The trademarks and name and address are Troy’s, not Colt’s. Apart from that, though, they’re marked in as retro a style as one might ask, including US GOVERNMENT PROPERTY, SAFE / SEMI / AUTO markings and even a small “ring” that creates the illusion of an auto sear pin. To prevent owners from being jacked up by uninformed cops and agents, the shelf area is blocked, and a note that the rifle is REPLICA and SEMI-AUTO ONLY is placed on the receiver top, where it’s only visible when the takedown pin is punched out and the upper and lower receivers separated. That does mean that this firearm is an unsuitable host for a drop-in auto sear, but a DIAS is a rare thing these days.

Barrel: The barrel is claimed to be a perfect external match for the XM177E2 profile, except that it is ¾” longer, to allow a pinned and welded false moderator to make the barrel assembly legal Title 1 firearm length. The bayonet lug is ground off (as it was on original E2s). It’s impossible to tell from the available photos whether the profile just behind the moderator is correct (there should be a slight thickening here, as there is just behind the flash hider of an A1). The article says in different places that the front sight is an A1 and an A2 type. (The A1 is round in cross-section and tapered with five points of adjustment, the A2 is square-sectioned with four). The rear sight is an A1 type with A2 aperture.

Stocks: Here some of the most remarkable work was done: the six-hole early Colt handguard halves are reproduced, from the photos, accurately, and the plastic-covered aluminum alloy stock, long a sought-after part for retro-AR builders, has been duplicated. It’s unlikely that the plastic is the original vinyl acetate, and more likely it is a modern polymer (more easily handled, with fewer HAZMAT constraints), but the article only says “polymer.” The pistol grip is an original surplus M16A1 part (used).

Performance: In their testing, it was a 2½ inch gun over 5-shot groups at 100 yards. This far exceeds the military specification but it’s not great for a modern carbine. It’s adequate for most things you’d hunt with an AR, and perfectly fine for home defense, but most Troy XM177E2 buyers are buying for the nostalgia vibe more than as practical shooters. It’s not a dreadful choice as your only AR (especially if you’re buying in the context of a US martial rifle collection)

Disclaimer: Troy contributes $50 from each XM177E2 sale to the Special Forces Association and the Special Operations Association. Your humble blogger is a full life member of both organizations. Troy’s generosity to these groups has not influenced our opinion of its rifle — as we have yet to handle one, we’ll form that opinion when we do — but we are thankful for the company’s support of Special Operations veterans.

Tentative Conclusion: It’s an interesting rifle and we’re going to look for one to try out. We’re really interested in comparing it to the forthcoming Colt version. Competition should improve the breed!

Errors in the Article

We hate errors, but we make them as much as the next guy, so we understand how they get out there. Still, the sheer quantity of them in the Book of the AR-15 article was a disappointment. For example, it suggests that 55-grain bullets didn’t work well with 12-inch rifling; it’s actually the 63-grain M855, plus any heavier bullet like common 75 and 77 grain match ammo, that isn’t stabilized by 1-in-12 rifling. (The faster rifling in this rifle works well with all ammunition weights, so it’s something of a moot point).

For another example, it suggests the original XM177s did not have chrome-lined barrels (they did). It also elides the various dead-end forerunners of the XM177E2, including not only the first two 177 types, but also Colt’s Models 605, 607 and 608, all of which contributed to the definitive carbine design. The article is correct, however, to note that this original firearm was the forerunner of just about every short and adjustable AR derivative in military and civilian use today.