Category Archives: Rifles and Carbines

Everything Comes Full Circle: Haenel StG is Back

“So what?” you say. “It’s another AR. Yawn.”

haenel_cr223_gross_04

Ah, but whose AR? It’s the CR 223, made by CG Haenel of Suhl, who once made the MKb42(h), which then became the MP43, MP44, and StG 44. The CR 223 is made for the European market, primarily for European governmental use; we’re not expecting to see them on these shores, but it’s always interesting to see a dormant trademark wake and shake itself back into relevance.

haenel_logo_alt_01

Old Haenel Logo (pre-1945)

C.G. Haenel, the traditional manufacturer from Suhl, is now offering its own version of a semi-automatic rifle in the popular AR 15 standard. The Haenel CR223 in the .223 Rem. calibre is an indirect gas-pressure loader that is fully compatible with the basics of this class. For Key Account Manager Björn Dräger, the development is a step towards new rifle classes – at the same time the company is building on from old expertise. C.G. Haenel in Suhl developed the world’s first type 44 assault rifle in the 1940’s – a rifle that not only created this rifle class but also had a decisive influence on all subsequent constructions of the same type.

Note that there’s a hint in there of more AR-like developments to come from this revived company in the ancient gunmaking center of Suhl.

The new logo is a modernization of the old.

The new logo is a modernization of the old.

If you blow up the rifle picture, and look through the slots in the forend, the gas piston system seems to be a cousin of the HK 416’s. According to Eric B at TFB, Haenel is a subcontractor to HK for some parts.

The lower receiver appears to be milled from billet and is different from that of a 416. The rifle is also available in Simunitions “blue gun” and inert “red gun” training modes, and again per TFB, has just been adopted by the Hamburg, Germany, police. (Indeed, it was that TFB article that got us looking at Haenel).

Haenel also makes a very interesting sniper rifle, the RS8 (7.62 NATO, .300 WM) and RS9 (.338LM). The RS9 was selected as the G29 mid-range sniper rifle for the Bundeswehr this year.

This is the Compact version of the RS8, although all the RS rifles have a clear family resemblance.

It has its own action using a bolt with two flights of three lugs each.

bolt-locking-end

That bolt deserves a fair amount of study. Look at the extractor, and also note the prominent gas-relief hole. The other end of the bolt shows an interesting low-profile safety and cocking (or is it loaded?) indicator:

safety-and-cocking-indicator

If you look at the bolt from an industrial point of view, there are components of it that are expensive to make, and other parts that are made inexpensively. As much thought seems to have gone into the manufacture as into the design.

There are many variations (including an integrally suppressed one rifled for subsonic .308!), but the company seems to pride itself on a complete systems approach, delivering to the using agency a complete package from fully-accessorized hardware, to maintenance, to training.

C.G. Haenel traces its roots to 1840, when it was founded by Carl Gottlieb Haenel, a member of the (then, Royal) Prussian Rifle Commission. It made arms and bicycles. (A less odd combination than you might think. Many other companies did this in the 19th and 20th Centuries, like FN in Belgium). Haenel’s own firm made the rifle approved by that commission, and later the Imperial German Reichsrevolver, and during the First World War, the Mauser 98a rifle.

After the war, with military weapons production verboten, new engineer Hugo Schmeisser led the introduction of pocket pistols of his own design.  Schmeisser came from a gun-making family; he had worked with his father Louis at Bergmann, where he became interested in automatic weapons, and his brother, also named Louis, became the sales executive of Haenel in the 1920s. Working intitially in secrecy, Hugo developed from the MP.18 the MP.28. Unable to produce machine pistols (submachine guns) for export under the terms of Versaillles, Haenel made a small quantity for the German Polizei (making the Hamburg cop sale some 80 years later particularly fitting) and arranged to have them mass-produced for the international market by Bayard of Belgium (which had long ties to Suhl).

The firm barely survived the Depression, but Hitler’s 1934 repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles lifted the crippling restrictions on both domestic military sales and arms exports. The military ordered vast quantities of weapons. (The common Haenel Waffenamt marking is fxo). Suhl was occupied by US forces in April 1945, and handed to the USSR in June. The Soviets removed the machinery, tools, and drawings from the plant as partial payment for the German destruction of much of European Russia.

Corporate history gets vague during the period of Soviet occupation, 1945-90, but what happened was that the Haenel trademarks were at one time in use by the West German Merkel firm, mostly on air guns, while the former Haenel plant became part of the “Ernst Thälmann” weapons factory complex, and in East Germany the Haenel trademark was used on some sporting arms, including different air guns.

In 2008, the Merkel group set up a new C.G. Haenel firm in Suhl, restoring its title, trademarks and lineage, and that’s the one producing these new firearms.

So, What Use is TrackingPoint?

Here’s the deal that’s currently on. Tuesday they let us know that they’re down to 50 of them left, so they might be gone by now.

And here’s what it can do. Duel 1: 350 Yards, Off Hand, on a windy Texas day. Bruce Piatt is a National Champion — dude can shoot. But he gets one miss and one on the edge. (He’s using decent combat gear, including what looks like an FN carbine, and a 4×32 ACOG). Taya Kyle was at the time a novice shooter. She puts two in center of mass, using the Precision Guided Weapon.

Here’s a capability that you just don’t have without the PGM. Duel 2: Blind Shots, 200 Yards. Being able to engage the target without exposing yourself to enemy observation and fire is a completely novel thing. Sure, we’ve seen Talibs shoot at our guys like this, but these “Blind Shots” are aimed shots.

Yes, this is a completely unfair test, because it asks Bruce Piatt to do the impossible. With the ShotGlass, for Taya Kyle it’s possible.

Several of you have asked, why not spend the money on training and improve your skills? Bruce did that. He’s world-class good. (Yeah, soldiers and Marines shoot at this distance, but we’re shooting larger targets, and from a prone or foxhole supported position.

Taya didn’t do that, and yet, by exploiting the technology, she outshot Bruce. That is not to say Bruce’s skill acquisition was wasted time! After all, he’s lethal without all the gear. And he’d just be even better (more accurate and faster) if he was using the technology.

What use is Tracking Point? When we first started writing about it, we reminded you all of something Ben Franklin said. During his residence in Paris, one morning he was on his way to see an ascent of the pioneering French aeronauts, the Montgolfier brothers. And an intelligent lady, bemused by the American’s enthusiasm for this novel applied science, asked the great man, “What use is it?”

“My dear lady,” the prescient Philadelphian replied, “what use is a newborn baby?”

A century from now, weapons that don’t range and track targets for you, whether you’re a soldier or a hunter, will be nostalgia items, like muzzleloaders today.

Update:

Here’s the Shooter’s Calculator, a way to work your dope (at least initially) if you’re still doing the math somewhere other than inside your Tracking Point Precision Guided Weapon. Sent in by a reader who prefers to remain anonymous.

Update II:

If the embeds do not work (at least one Eurostani reports they are blocked at his location) then these raw HTML links to Vimeo might work.

https://vimeo.com/193109385/

https://vimeo.com/193110497/193109385

https://vimeo.com/193394792/

If the raw links don’t work, we don’t know what to try next.

Deal Coming from TrackingPoint: 700-yard 5.56 AR

The TrackingPoint "Tag" button , here on one of their early bolt guns, locks the gun on target.

The TrackingPoint “Tag” button , here on one of their early bolt guns from three years ago, locks the gun on target.

If you’re already following the company by email (or perhaps other social media?) you are eligible for this. If not, maybe you can get to their site and get registered. (Tell ’em Hognose sent you). Here’s what Tracking Point founder and CEO John McHale sent us last week (emphases ours):

One year ago, TrackingPoint held the American Sniper Shootout pitting Taya Kyle against NRA World Shooting Champion Bruce Piatt. The shootout marked the re-launch of our business and I am pleased to report that thanks to you, TrackingPoint is resurgent and strong. On Monday, in celebration of this success and in celebration of the one year anniversary of the American Shootout, TrackingPoint is offering only to our current followers an Anniversary Edition M700 Sniper Kit. The M700 is a custom TrackingPoint gun built specifically for Taya to use during the American Sniper Shootout. The M700 is a unique semi-automatic 5.56 that has extended range out to 700 yards. 

Next week our newsletter will include the seven minute American Sniper Shootout Documentary and each day we will send you a unique out-take of specific shots taken during the competition. You will see extraordinarily challenging shots made under battle stress conditions including moving targets, off-hand shots, blind shots, and more.

If you guys would like, and we can pull it off technically, we’ll post these clips here. We’ll also notify you with all information about the M700 Sniper Kit that McHale lets us release. We have been strong supporters of TrackingPoint from the very beginning, through its near-death brush with bankruptcy organization, and we’re starting to see the emergence of some of the incredible capabilities that we always saw lurking in the future development of Tracking Point’s Precision Guided Munition technology.

We hope you enjoy the American Sniper Shootout videos and keep your eye-out for the Anniversary Edition M700 Sniper Kit. Once again thank you for your business and incredible support in bringing tremendous success to TrackingPoint.

If 700 yards won’t do it for you, or you’re a fan of the NATO cartridge, Tracking Point still has a few of the incredible M900 Limited Edition Kits available — $14k if you don’t add the Torrid thermal option. The kit includes the rifle, integrated scope, and has a 900-yard lock range and 20-mph target track velocity.

tracking-point-m900-limited-ed

One downside to the TrackingPoint systems is that they are tuned to their proprietary ammo, and the ammo is very expensive — the 7.62 lists at nearly $3.50 a shot, in case (200-round) volume.

The Amazing Persistence of Bolt Action

This winter, hunters across the northern United States are seeking their game, and a great percentage of them are carrying a rifle action that was first designed in the mid-19th Century, and more or less perfected before 1900.

This beautiful prewar Mauser-Werke single-shot .22 is a sporter on a target action.

This beautiful prewar Mauser-Werke single-shot .22 is a sporter on a target action.

It’s not just Elmer Fudd and his happy band of nimrods that cling to the bolt. Most target shooters, from rimfire competitors to 1000-yard benchrest precision paladins, fire their record groups from a bolt action. (Biathletes are a rare exception). Even the world’s militaries, most of them, find a use for bolt-action rifles, mostly as sniper systems.

The most brilliant engineers and designers the world can produce have repeatedly slain the ancient Mauser turnbolt, and laid its ghost: straight-pulls from Austria and Canada and Switzerland came and went, all the great powers tried (and most failed, except the USA and USSR) to introduce semi-auto rifles between 1918 and 1945. It was only the semiautomatic and select-fire flowering of the late 20th Century that did the action in, as a regular military arm. And yet, it keeps coming back as a sporting rifle and as a special-purpose military arm. That didn’t happen to the rolling block, the falling-block, or the lever.

Technology marches steadily on, yet the bolt action hangs in there, and even attempts to improve it are often shrugged off. If you reanimated zombie Paul Mauser and gave him a half hour to browse the rifle racks at Kittery Trading Post, he’d be screaming for the reanimation of his patent lawyers, too.

 

Mauser K98k from world-guns-ru

When Paul finalized the Gewehr 1898, the world was a different place: transport was by steam along rails, by the newfangled electric streetcars, and a few hobbyists like Benz and Ford and the Duryea brothers were tinkering with a sort of self-propelled buckboard thing. Most people were born, lived, and died on farms. Two mechanically inclined high school graduates in Dayton, Ohio, were corresponding with Octave Chanute and Samuel P. Langley, who in turn encouraged the young men; but all of them knew well enough to be circumspect about whom they told their ideas for flying machines. Oil from the ground was still replacing whale oil in lamps, and electricity was available in a few cities. The only way to change continents was by ship — steam, or sail; and the preferred way to cross continents was by the high technology of the day, steam-powered train. The other high tech, the telephone, was increasingly available, but you might have to share your line with the people in your street. For business communications, wired cable did the job, if you needed more immediacy than a letter by mail. A long laundry list of infections were still a death sentence, and a significant percentage of women still died in childbirth.

Of all those things, the one that persists is the bolt action. The bolt remains much more popular than its contemporary the lever action, or it’s near-contemporary the slide action. How come?

trg-m10-bolt-action-sniper-rifle-rifle-scope-folding-rear-stock-desert-tan

The answer is simple: it’s that good. The bolt has a number of traits that make it likely to persist for another century, absent a revolution in ammunition of the scope of the cartridge revolution itself.

  • The bolt is simple. This simplicity works several ways: in manufacture, in maintenance, and in operation.
  • The bolt is intuitive. There are no affirmative action drills to memorize. You can teach anyone to work a bolt in under a quarter of a minute. (You will take longer to teach safety and sights, of course, but the basic mechanism is natural, and has no tricks of gotchas for the novice).
  • The bolt is direct. The shooter’s hand works directly on the locking mechanism of the firearm, and the locking mechanism — the bolt — works directly on the cartridge.
  • The bolt is strong. It can, in fact, be designed and built for arbitrarily large sizes of cartridge. The highest-pressure sporting cartridges for dangerous game are at home in a bolt action, as are rounds optimized for one-mile sniping. You could make a bolt-action 155mm howitzer, if you wanted to (but it would be terribly inefficient at that scale, compared to the simple actions that artillery pieces do use). You can even argue that some of the interrupted-screw artillery breeches are really bolt actions, sort of. (We don’t argue that. We think it’s a silly argument. But you could!)
  • The bolt is safe. Nothing is easier than clearing a bolt gun, and its safe condition is obvious to all with a sight line.
  • The bolt is accurate. The simplicity and directness of the bolt lends itself to being manufactured at arbitrarily high levels of precision. Yes, many single-shot actions can also be made to high levels of precision, but…
  • The bolt is versatile. Single shot or repeater, rimfire plinker or belted-magnum Cape Buffalo dropper, annual elk gun or sniper’s office, there’s a bolt for the job.

WWI enfield sniper

  • The bolt is consistent. Whether it’s the Anschutz target rifle we shot in school days, a $250 surplus Mosin that will be under some lucky kid’s Christmas tree, the Gew 98 in the corner of the office (or its younger cousin 03A3 resting in the safe), or a McMillan-stocked Nightforce-glassed Surgeon-action .338 LM widowmaker, it operates the same way.

Like the poor, the bolts are always with us. If anything were ever to replace them, it would have to have all these virtues, or a great majority of them.

And finally, the bolt does answer the call of tradition, which looms large in the legend of the people of the gun. Even that Surgeon .338 connects you to Pegahmagabow,  Hayha, Zaitsev, Hetzenauer, Hathcock and Kyle every time you cycle the bolt. They whisper to you in the snick of the metal: you just have to listen.

A past Remington sniper success: the SF-developed M24 system

A past Remington sniper success: the SF-developed M24 system

Pro Tips on Zeroing a Carbine

Here’s a video from Travis Haley (hat tip, Herschel Smith). In this video, Haley applies the basic steady hold factors (the Army teaches 8, which are a little different from Haley’s) and some excellent TTPs on holding the carbine and zeroing the firearm with both iron and optical sights. (Irons first).

Here’s the next chapter of his video, where he talks about longer range zeroes. The 25/250 meter battlesight zero is falling into eclipse among gunfighters, and 200 and even 300 m zeroes are becoming more common. Haley’s preference is (given his background, not surprising) a 36m battlesight zero confirmed at 300, as is preferred in the USMC. The 25/250 and 36/300 zeroes depend on the fact that the bullet at the shorter distance is passing through the line of sight, rising relative  to the LOS, and at the longer distance passing through the LOS, descending relative to it.

Here’s the Army issue “8 Steady Hold Factors” from the M16A1 era, circa 1970. Our comments in Italic type.

  1. LEFT ARM AND HAND: Rest rifle in “V” formed by thumb and fore- finger. Relax grip, left elbow directly under the rifle. Nowadays, we can shoot lefthanded, so today we talk about “weak” and “strong” hand, not left and right. Travis shows a more modern method of using the weak hand with the thumb over. Also, nowadays, your weak hand pulls the rifle back into the shoulder pocket to avoid putting wayward stresses on your trigger finger.
  2. BUTT OF STOCK IN POCKET OF SHOULDER: Place the butt of stock firmly into the pocket of the shoulder.
  3. GRIP OF THE RIGHT HAND:. Grip weapon firmly but not rigidly. Exert a firm rearward pressure to keep butt of stock in proper position. Clenching the strong hand hard is not necessary, because the weak hand now provides the rearward pressure.
  4. RIGHT ELBOW: The exact position of the right elbow varies from position to position. The right elbow is important to the maintenance of a good pocket for butt of stock.
  5. STOCK WELD: To obtain stock weld, lower head so that cheek contacts the same place on the stock each time you fire. If you have to “lower” your head to get a good cheek weld, your sight is mounted too low; the more common problem with AR platform rifles is that the sight is too high and it’s hard to get a consistent cheek weld. Hence all the aftermarket stocks and cheekpieces, etc. But the Steady Hold Factor’s point is solid: your connection of face to rifle stock needs to be solid, and most of all consistent: same cheek weld, exactly, every time.
  6. BREATHING: Take a normal breath, let part of it out, then hold remainder by locking throat. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HOLD BREATH FOR MORE THAN TEN SECONDS. It seems to help beginners to tell them, take a breath and let it half way out. 
  7. RELAXATION: Learn to relax as much as possible in any firing position. If a firer finds that he cannot relax, the whole position should be adjusted. “Relax” isn’t really the way we’d put it. You want to be loose and not tense, but not sloppy or slow. Too much tension does make your body (and rifle) shake. A sure sign of a novice is a tightly clenched jaw or grinding teeth!
  8. TRIGGER CONTROL: Press the trigger straight to the rear with a uniform motion so that the sights are not disarranged. The trigger finger should be placed on the trigger so that there is no contact between the finger and the side of the pistol grip. Smoothness on the trigger press is devoutly to be wished. Ideally, you want to tighten the trigger when the sights are on target, stop pressing and hold if they move, and tighten again. If the firing of the weapon surprises you, that’s okay, and a lot better than a jerked trigger.

Some points on zeroes:

  1. You absolutely must be able to fire the rifle consistently to zero it. Lots of trouble is caused by “social promotion” of guys that haven’t zeroed from the zero range to the rifle qualification range. Resist that promotion; master the tight group first, and the rest all falls into line.
  2. The Army love to have you take your previous zero off and start with a “mechanical zero.” This is stupid; don’t do it. Mechanical zero, which centers the sights, is like boresighting an optic; you use it when your old zero is lost or the specific serial number gun is new to you.
  3. If you confirm a zero, you’re done zeroing.
  4. The Army zeroes with a three round group. This is… you guessed it… stupid. Five rounds, please.
  5. Most Army units have “that guy” who can’t zero, or several of ’em, and often the problem is “those guys” who are coaching “that guy” can’t teach, can’t coach, and usually can’t shoot either.
  6. Shooting is not rocket surgery. Get good instruction and follow it and you will get better. Most people who suck at shooting assume they know it all. In the Army, it’s a truism that women learn to shoot better in basic than men do. Why? Our guess is that they don’t come all bound up with a male ego that already “knows it all” with respect to shooting.
  7. We have learned something from every instructor who’s ever taught us.

 

Marines Experiment with M27 IAR, Suppressor

The US Marine Corps has established one battalion (3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Mar Div) as an experimental, testbed unit, and that unit is looking at some possible new small arms approaches. The first of these is a more general issue of the M27, currently used as the Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) with one per Marine infantry fire team.

m27_hk_defense

The concept under test would replace all the M4s in the rifle squad with the M27, which is a version of the HK 416 with a couple of USMC-requested mods, like a bayonet lug. Military.com reports:

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the gunner, or infantry weapons officer, for 2nd Marine Division, told Military.com the M27 costs about $3,000 apiece, without the sight. Because the Marine Corps is still grappling with budget cutbacks, he said he was skeptical that the service could find enough in the budget to equip all battalions with the weapons. He said a smaller rollout might be more feasible.

“To give everyone in a Marine rifle squad [the IAR], that might be worth it,” he said.

usmc_m27_iar

[Commander of 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Daniel] O’Donohue said feedback would be collected on an ongoing basis from the Marines in 3/5 as they continued workup exercises and deployed next year. Decisions on whether to field a new service weapon or reorganize the rifle squad would be made by the commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, when he felt he had collected enough information, ODonohue said.

If the Marine Corps can sort out the logistics of fielding, Wade said he would welcome the change.

“It is the best infantry rifle in the world, hands down,” Wade said of the IAR. “Better than anything Russia has, its better than anything we have, its better than anything China has. Its world-class.”

If there’s an obstacle, it’s cost-effectiveness. The best is the enemy of the good, and the M4 delivers a good 95% of what the M27 can offer. But the Marines seem certain that they can exploit the incremental improvement in accuracy that comes with the free-floated barrel and

There’s much more to it than that, so do Read The Whole Thing™.

Meanwhile, another test unit (B/1/2nd Marines) is going to go 100% suppressed, from carbines to heavy MGs, to see how that works. Also Military.com:

“What we’ve found so far is it revolutionizes the way we fight,” [commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, Maj. Gen. John] Love told Military.com. “It used to be a squad would be dispersed out over maybe 100 yards, so the squad leader couldn’t really communicate with the members at the far end because of all the noise of the weapons. Now they can actually just communicate, and be able to command and control and effectively direct those fires.”

A Marine from B/1/2 Marines fires an M4 with a Knight's Armament Company suppressor attached.

A Marine from B/1/2 Marines fires an M4 with a Knight’s Armament Company suppressor attached.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the division’s gunner, or infantry weapons officer, said the Lima companies in two other battalions — 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, and 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines — now had silencers, or suppressors, on all their rifles, including the M27 infantry automatic rifles. All units are set to deploy in coming months. The combat engineer platoons that are attached to these units and will deploy with them will also carry suppressed weapons, he said.

The Marines are discovering, as SOF (including Marine SOF) discovered some time ago, that the benefits from going quiet are not just the obvious ones.

“It increases their ability to command and control, to coordinate with each other,” Wade told Military.com. “They shoot better, because they can focus more, and they get more discipline with their fire.”

The noise of gunfire can create an artificial stimulus that gives the illusion of effectiveness, he said. When it’s taken away, he explained, Marines pay more attention to their shooting and its effect on target.

“They’ve got to get up and look, see what effect they’re having on the enemy because you can’t hear it,” he said.

He added that suppressors were already in common use by near-peer militaries, including those of Russia and China.

Wade said he is working on putting suppressors on the Marines’ M249 light machine gun and M240G medium machine gun, using equipment from Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. The third and final objective will be the suppression of the .50 caliber heavy machine gun, he said.

The Marines are showing, in this as in the IAR experiment, a real commitment to experiment-driven (and therefore, data-driven) procurement decisions, which is an interesting contrast to the other services’ way of doing things. Rather than hire a Federally Funded Research and Development Center like the Rand Corporation or Institute for Defense Analyses to write a jeezly white paper, they put the stuff in the hands of real mud Marines and see what use they make of it.

And then they write the report.

As the units conduct training and exercises with suppressors, 2nd Marine Division is collaborating with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab to collect and aggregate data. Weapons with suppressors require additional maintenance and cleaning to prevent fouling, and the cost, nearly $700,000 to outfit an infantry battalion, might give planners pause.

But Wade said he will continue to gather data for the next year-and-a-half, following the units as they deploy. And he expects the idea to have gained significant traction among Marine Corps leadership by then, he said.

“When I show how much overmatch we gain … it will have sold itself,” he said.

$700,000 sounds like a lot of money, until you put it on the scale against the cost of losing one lousy fight.

Surplus City “Holiday” Sale

Surplus City, in Feasterville Trevose, Pennsylvania, is the go-to dealer in the Keystone State for police turn-ins. Surplus City sends:

Holiday Sale starts tomorrow Tuesday Nov 15th at 11am. Some items are very limited so get in early and grab up these specials!

“Holiday” is one of those things that puts our teeth on edge, as our nation has a number of specific holidays that honor very specific people and things. But some businesses feel like they have to operate under the heavy weight of state atheism as established religion.

Here’s their newspaper ad. Note that they have the Ruger LCP-II for $269.95but the $210 price in their ad seems to be for leftover LCPs (which we guess are retroactively renamed LCP-I.

surplus-city-nov-15

If the Star and Beretta pistols are really Excellent and VG Condition respectively, they’re a good deal. (Note that they used the wrong picture for a Beretta 92S. The 92S has a push-button magazine release, but it’s at the bottom rear of the grip, not the back of the trigger-guard bow). If the SIGs are German, they’re a hell of a deal. But the Smith revolvers are probaly the best deal going, especially the Model 15s and 64s.

And is two hunge a great deal for a 12-gauge 870, or what? Even a beater ex-cop 870.

Along with the stuff in the ad, they also have some Bushmaster fixed-carrying-handle LE trade-ins (like a Colt 727), which are good guns if they pass inspection, and two specials that didn’t make it into the ad:

  1. Anderson AM-15 optic ready carbines. Brand new only $565; and,
  2. USED Taurus stainless .38 cal. Model 82 revolvers. Good condition only $175.

“Optic Ready” is a marketeer’s way to say. “iron sights not included.” But at that price, that’s okay, and most buyers will want a red dot or other optic anyway. The Tauruses… well, all we’ll say about them is this, that their products often are priced as if they were disposable. Make of that what you will.

Which Bond Villain’s M16A1 Is This?

We give you, an H&R M16A1.

gold_m16a1_03

This rifle was:

A. Property of Auric Goldfinger
B. Property of Francisco Scaramanga
C. Property of Uday and/or Qusay Hussein
D. Property of George Soros
E. Just some dude’s retro build, with a twist.
F. Shiny! (Gratuitous reference).

If you guessed any of those, you probably had a plausible reason, but the correct answer is E above. Here’s the Bond-Villain’s-Eye view:

gold_m16a1_04

We found this in the treasure trove that is the ARFCOM Retro Forum. The builder of this exotically-finished M16A1 clone, whose user name is “redbaby,” had this to say (lightly edited for spelling and punctuation):

I saw some historic retro that was actually gold plated so I decided to try this out. My favorite was the H and R so thats how I went. I really had fun building this one from an 80 percent receiver. It doesn’t hide well but it’s fun to have. 24 K gold plate. Hope you enjoy the photos.

gold_m16a1_01

 

I did the plate myself as its hard to get locals to do it because of the FFL issue. Nickel plate is needed, then gold. If you have a fine control power source its not super expensive to do. If you have to buy the rectifier it gets cost prohibitive. I learned a ton doing this. It puts a lot of smiles on faces when they hold it. It’s been worth it.

gold_m16a1_05

The only one I have seen is H and R . Was through a glass case at a gun show It was a transferable M16A1 and way out of my ability to own. Mine, alas, is mere semi auto, new manufacture look-alike. I plated all parts except the hammer and disconnector. Everything else is plated. I am thinking I will nickel plate another maybe a 1911. I had way too much fun to stop now.

gold_m16a1_02

He isn’t the only forum member to bling out an AR. Another, HKILLER, replied:

I like it. Im working on a GM CHROME one.

The thread is brief, but interesting. The Retro Forum is a great place for fans of early ARs to hang out. And it’s the global armory of international megalomaniacs of mystery.

Thing From the Vault: Spanish FR-8

Imagine you’re a military decision-maker in country with a mighty imperial past that has to arm and maintain a large conscript army and a dizzying array of paramilitary police, border guards, and other forces.

Now, imagine your generals have brought you a design for an indigenous rifle and better cartridge — thanks to some engineering talent from abroad that found a stay in your country a good alternative to life at home for a while. You know you’ve gotten the last mile out of the round you adopted over 60 years ago. But you also can’t arm 2 million cooks, clerks and bottle washers with the new rifles.

You’d probably do what Spain did, because this is a situation that really occurred. You’d buy the new rifles (in this case, the CETME) in the quantity you could afford for now, and you’d convert your old rifles to use the accessories and some features of the new ones.

That produced the FR-7 and FR-8 rifles, updated carbines rebarreled in 7.62 CETME (=7.62 NATO) and modified to use CETME or CETME-like sights, flash suppressor/grenade launcher, and bayonet. Adapting the rifle to the CETME bayonet included adding a “gas tube” for the bayonet to attach to.

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The result was a short, handy, rugged and totally unique looking rifle.

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FR-7s were made from Spanish 7 mm M1916 (and presumably German-made Spanish M1893) “small ring” Mausers, and FR-8s were made from 7.92 mm M1943 “large ring” Mausers. The actions also have some other small differences — the later one has a third safety lug, and a gas deflector, features that Mauser developed between the 1896 and 1898 actions. But it’s pretty much a standard Mauser action. This one is an FR-8.

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In recent years, many imported FR-8s have been given the Scout Rifle treatment by many American owners. After all, La Coruña, the Spanish arsenal, took them half way! But these guns are actually an artifact of an interesting time and place in history; it will always be our preference to keep them more or less as issued.

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Still, they have a lot of features people like in a Mauser action for sporter conversion, like a machined lower end (trigger guard and mag base), and a nicely turned-down bolt.

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Most of them have seen extensive service in Spain’s Guardia Civil or other organizations, and so they’ve been carried hard and not shot a lot.

But let’s look at the unique FR-8 (or -7) features of this puppy, shall we? Here’s the muzzle device, one of the most characteristic features of the FR-8. As you can see, it’s a standard CETME part which looks to us at a glance to be identical with a G-3 or HK-91 part. (We don’t have a Hah und Kah to compare it to). You can also make out the bayonet lug. The Spanish bayonet is different from the German one, but allegedly they’re interchangeable. (We don’t have a bayonet for this rifle at the moment, but they’re widely available for little money).

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Let’s take a closer look at that vaguely M14-like nose section:fr8-03

This shows the faux “gas tube,” the Spanish CETME/FR sling, and the front sight and bayonet mount arrangement.

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The front sight base starts off as a CETME part, but in the select-fire or semi CETME (or G3), the barrel is in the lowest bout of the forging, the cocking-handle tube in the middle one, and the sight on top. That is why, if you see a CETME or G3 with bayonet fixed, the bayonet is above, not below, the barrel. (Some original AR-10s had the bayonet oriented this way, too). It doesn’t really make any significant difference to the employment of the bayonet whether it’s under or over the barrel; to be used as a bayonet per se and not as a knife, a bayonet need not be sharpened, even.

After the jump, the CETME-derived sights.

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Rifling Technology Videos

In keeping with our recent discussion of Rifling Methods, we thought we’d show you some variants of production rifling machines.

First, here’s how a modern small-to-medium sized-business does it — Krieger Barrels, which uses cut rifling, in a high tech way:

And now for old school, as in a century ago, cut rifling. Here’s a Pratt & Whitney sine bar hook-cutter cut rifling machine, restored. (Krieger, as you’ve just seen, also uses a similar P&W machie). This represents an example of World War I vintage technology, but can still produce accurate barrels. The single-point hook cutter was not replaced because the newer tech (in this case, mostly, broaching, a WWII vintage technology) could make barrels better. It could make barrels faster, an important benefit in wartime production.

The big oval structure above the bed of the machine is a marker of the Pratt and its foreign clones. The owner of this one comments:

This Sine bar hook cut rifling machine was originally owned by “old man Savage”. It then was bought from him by an Arizona gunsmith named Bill Sucalie. The diamond rifler, gundrill and gun barrel reamer was bought by Bill from Old man Savage all at the same time. Bob Blake my grandfather purchased Bill’s Gunsmith buisness in 1966 to where Bob and my father Dave Blake ran a Barrel Making shop for about 5 Years. We had kept the equipment all of these years and have remained gundrill speacialist ever since. We have now restored the rifling machine and here is the first barrel it has cut in over 40 years.