Category Archives: Rifles and Carbines

Here is the grandpappy of your M240

Larry Vickers runs through the history of the Browning Automatic Rifle. Three minutes.

In our time in the Army, we were brought up by Vietnam era or earlier vets who swore by this thing. Because they still existed in strategic caches and other storage, they were still part of the SF weapons man’s qualification until the end of the strategic cache program in the 1990s.

As Vickers relates, the BAR underwent no major changes throughout its official wife, which lasted from 1918 to 1958. The bipod and carrying handle were added, and an option for semi automatic fire was deleted, because at the slow rate of fire, it was easy to fire single shots by trigger manipulation. Those changes were complete by the mid-1920s, and the BAR was the base of fire of the infantry squad throughout World War II and the Korean War.

Even after the nominal replacement of the BAR by the M60 GPMG, National Guard, ARVN (both until circa 1970), and other foreign armies continued to use the ancient weapon. The Army’s replacement for the BAR in the squad automatic rifle role was for many years simply a standard infantry rifle, M14 or M16, fired in the automatic mode. This was unsatisfactory, especially to old-timers who remembered the BAR, and went to the development of the SAW. The Marines have since reverted to a rifle as the squad automatic weapon, the M27 IAR.

BAR men swore by their weapons, and SLA Marshall, whose research was very influential despite the later discovery that much of it was faked, did make the claim that fire in an infantry squad usually began at the BAR gunner and spread from him to the other squad members.

The BAR was the first US weapon to be frequently shipped with a plastic stock, beginning in 1944. The plastic BAR stock is designed to be the same weight as the original stock of black walnut, but is significantly stronger. (Plastics and composites would not be exploited for weight reduction until the later M14 rifle program).

The BAR was not without its limitations. While it was very reliable, it was complicated. We SF students had 78 parts to account for, disassembling the BAR against a time standard — something that was possible, but challenging. It was also very heavy for an infantry automatic weapon.

The BAR  managed to live on, in a way. While BARs were built, in peacetime, by Colt in the USA, the same design was made for the European market by Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre in Herstal, Belgium. Many BAR aficionados consider the FN Model D, which was available in several calibers and had a pistol grip, to be the ultimate BAR.

Its reliable mechanism was inverted by FN designers (M. Saive and M. Vervier) and used as the basis for the belt fed MAG general-purpose machine gun. That of course has replaced the dreadful M 60 in United States service, and been subject to many other developments since then.

Hat tip: Bob Owens at BearingArms.com.

 

Canned Garands

These guns demonstrate storage proven for 12 years without corrosion or mildew in an airtight, dry can.

These M1s were stored in 1947, shielded against corrosion or mildew in an airtight, dry can. When some of the guns were examined a dozen years later, they were good as new. Click to embiggen.

Garand collectors have long known about these, as stored and recorded by Springfield Armory, but as far as we know, nobody’s found one yet. In 1959, Armory officials told the local newspaper that a few cans recently arrived (of which, more later) were the last survivors of the cans the Armory filled in 1947 and 1948 — apart from a few in the collection of the Armory’s museum.

Right after World War II, the Armed Forces went from something like 12 million men, mostly armed with M1 Garands, to a tiny fraction of the size. Logistical problem: trainloads of surplus Garands.

For the first time in a long time, Springfield produced no service rifles in the years immediately after World War II. (Production would resume in a few years, when Korea kicked off). But even when issuing those wartime M1s out as needed, the United States Army had too many rifles to handle. (This problem was just about universal after the war: the victorious nations demobilized most of their forces, and the vanquished no longer had any armies to arm).

Some M1s and other GI weapons went to friendly foreign nations, especially formerly occupied nations rebuilding defense forces from zero. And some small arms came in from the field too beat up to save (they were parted out, or set aside to be parted out). But some new guns and some repaired and inspected guns were not going anywhere. The supply exceeded the demand, and the problem became, how to store them?

It didn’t seem prudent to just throw them away or scrap them. After all, the M1 was a front-line combat rifle, still technologically ahead of most of the world. And they could be nice trinkets in international diplomacy. But a rifle left alone tends to rust. So the Armory developed a method of preservation that would thrill the heart of any survivalist: they sealed racks of rifles into special-purpose steel drums. Developing the methods, equipment and materials took almost two years, and then the excess guns were canned in 1947 and 1948. No one seems to know how many were so treated.

A process for packaging small arms for long periods of indoor storage, known as ‘canning,’ was developed at Springfield Armory to preserve new or reconditioned small-arms weapons.
Weapons preserved in this manner will be serviceable, free of rust and fungi and ready for immediate use for an estimated period of fifty years.

A can of similarly-treated .45s. Image snarfed off the net -- doesn't embiggen much.

A can of similarly-treated .45s. Image snarfed off the net — doesn’t embiggen much.

Rifles, pistols, carbines, sub-machine guns and machine guns have been secured within hermetically sealed metal containers in which the atmosphere is controlled. In so far as possible the weapons are secured in such a manner as to produce a uniformly balanced pack.

The atmosphere in each container is maintained at a low relative humidity to prevent rusting and growth of fungi and is in equilibrium with the wood components. To control this atmosphere, several pounds of moisture-absorbing material are placed in each container,hen seam welded and embossed with a varying number of rolling hoops depending on the length.

The pressed steel covers have a one inch flange and an embossed centering ring which serves to hold the gun rack on the axis of the container. One cover is pressed into the shell and then rotary seam welded and tested for leaks by internal air pressure of ten rounds per square inch. A rectangular identification plate is seam welded to the opposite cover. The plate contains information as to stock number, contents, modification work order, volume, weight, serial number of the container and the date packed.

Seamless aluminum tubes of one-eight inch wall thickness are used for individual packing of Caliber .50 Aircraft Basic and Heavy Barrel Flexible machine guns. Aluminum covers with one inch flange are pressed from sheet alloy. One cover is assembled with a rear bracket support. This support is a spot-welded assembly, channel shaped to secure the rear end of the weapon. A cup is used to protect the muzzle of the gun. The gun is also supported forward of the receiver with a formed disc.

Rifles, carbines and sub-machine guns are assembled to a gun rack. The rack is made up of a center post, (standard steel pipe) with spacing units welded in place to locate the weapons. Formed discs or end plates with muzzle and butt-plate indents are welded on each end of the center post to prevent endwise movement of the guns. The formed edge of the end plate fits over the centering ring which is embossed in the cover. Padding material is placed between the weapons and rack to cushion shock and to prevent marring of weapons.

Pistols are packed in trays which are pressed from low carbon steel and shaped to fit the silhouette of two pistols with extra magazines. In assembly the pistols with magazines are placed in position on one tray. Another inverted tray is placed on top to form a single unit.

Matching ears and slots on each tray allow them to be locked together. Ten units, or twenty pistols with extra magazines, are stacked in each container.

Weapons are cleaned prior to canning by immersion in a tank of selected volatile solvent which removes acid forming greases and other foreign compositions that might produce corrosion. They are then immersed in a tank of Soft Film Rust Preventive AXS-1759, Grade #2j.

This compound has moisture displacing properties and a minimum tendency to become gummy or varnish over a long period of time.

After evaporation of volatiles from this compound, the film resulting is about .0005 inch thick. This allows unpacking and firing the gun without cleaning, thus avoiding the difficult removal of heavy compounds from weapons as preserved in the past.

Following this coating of preservative, the weapons are assembled to the gun rack along with accessories, which consist of magazines, slings, oilers for rifles, spade gips and charging handles for machine guns. These are secured in specially designed holders. Slings and bags of desiccant such as Silica Gel, are tucked in between the weapons and center post of the rack.

Cotton webbing pads and half-inch box-strapping bands are placed around the weapons assembled to the gun racks, drawn up tightly and secured with strapping seals.

The assembled packs are put into the containers, properly centered and the top cover with name plate assembly pressedThe hermetically sealed containers are tested by immersion in clean water heater to 180 degrees F. The internal air pressure rises to about three pounds per square inch in two minutes. All surfaces and seams are carefully examined while the container is under water. Defects are repaired by oxy-acetylene welding and the container retested.

Accepted steel containers are prepared for painting by vapor degreasing, bodnerizing and drying. The containers are spray painted with two coats of olive drab enamel (U.S. Army Specification 3-181, Type V). Each coat is baked for five minutes by infra-red lamps, allowing ten minutes between coats for cooling. This cooling period prevents the internal temperature from exceeding 200 degrees F, above which a breakdown of phosphate coatings and the preservative compound may occur. During an overrun of fifteen minutes on the paint line conveyor after the final coat, the paint air dries to ‘Full Hardness.’ Painting of the aluminum containers is omitted as the material was selected for its non-corrosive properties. Instructions for opening are stenciled on each shell.

A specially designed portable ‘can opener’ was developed to facilitate opening the containers of various models and weighs about thirty pounds. This tool may be considered a giant version of the ordinary kitchen utensil. It can be used as a single unit or it may be used in conjunction with a platform base for opening on a production basis.

The portable opener consists of a gear reduction unit that operates two serrated drive rolls which are designed to provide the force necessary to cause a set of cutting discs to cut through the shell thickness of the containers. The two cutting discs are located on a pivoted arm. A vise clamp arrangement allows the discs to be set to the desired depth of cut. In operation, the serrated drive wheels are placed on the inside of the container flange and the pivoted arm is tightened, with the cutting discs located below the seam weld on the flange.

The opener may be operated manually with a hand crank, or if electrical power is available, it can be driven with a one-half inch portable drill.

When used in conjunction with the platform base, the portable unit is inverted and properly located in the base. The platform base is equipped with a one-third horsepower motor. The power is transmitted by means of a worm gear arrangement to the portable unit’s drive stud. Containers are placed upright on this composite unit and opened in the same maner as described with the portable unit.

Containers were subjected to various rough handling conditions in laboratory tests prior to acceptance. These tests included four-foot falls with the containers landing at various angles along with vibration tests to simulate most phases of transportation handling. Containers were then tested for hermetic seal and opened for examination and contents. Results indicated that although the containers were badly dented, they retained their hermetic seal and the weapons were not damaged in any way.

An additional test was conducted to simulate air transportation of containers. In this test the loaded containers withstood fifteen pounds per square inch of internal air pressure without any indication of distortion or leakage.

The canning method of packaging weapons for long periods of storage has proved to be superior, in certain respects, to previous methods used, in that (1) reduces breakages due to handling, (2)

Alas, whatever (2) was is not reported at the museum site, but we suspect it had to do with corrosion and/or mildew resistance.

Gun can kit… just add a welder.

Gun can kit… just add a welder.

For those of you thinking about caching weapons, note the extreme effort this took. Two years of development by professional engineers to work out the system. Then, each can had to be subjected to some tough tests, including immersion in water and heating to 180ºF. (Read the excerpt carefully to see which tests were done simply to validate this means of storage, and which were done to every can to ensure it was sealed).

Don’t forget, these packages were not meant to survive immersion in the sea, burial in the earth, or even outdoor storage: they were meant to be kept indoors in warehouses. Our experience with cache recovery indicates that entropy is always doing its best to have its way with your cached weapons and equipment. As the extremes to which Springfield Armory went to safely store weapons demonstrate, if you want to protect your stuff from the ravages of time, life, and oxidation, you need to get pretty extreme.

This can is cutaway for museum display.

This can is cutaway for museum display.

So why haven’t these Garand Cans turned up? Our best guess is that they took the can opener to them during the Korean War, especially when US and ROK forces lost tens of thousands of rifles in the defeats of the early war years. (And yes, along with the special cans, there was indeed a special can opener). Indeed, in 1959 when a few “cans” of M1s came back to the Armory from a depot in Schenectady for conversion to National Match rifles, the newspaper reported: 

M-1 Garand rifles made at the Springfield Armory and ‘canned’ in special hermetically-sealed cannisters were returned from the Schenectady, (N.Y.) depot for conversion to National Match weapons.

The rifles, removed from their sealed chambers, were found to be in perfect working order.

The ‘canning’ of weapons at the Armory, following World War II was a major gunplant project. Methods of packaging and preserving small arms weapons for a long period of storage posed quite a problem when hundreds of thousands of M-1 rifles were returned to depots for field servicing.

Solution of the problem was assigned to the Armory in July 145. Final design and development of an acceptable storage container was accomplished in 1946 and 1947 by the Armory’s research and development division.

The process eventually developed at the local Army Ordnance installation assured serviceable weapons free of rust and fungi, ready for immediate use upon removal from the storage containers.

Production of these containers was completed by June 1948. Besides the M-1 rifle, the carbine, Browning automatic rifle, M-3 machine gun and caliber .45 pistol were also canned for storage.

The specially developed cans shipped back to the Armory are believed to be about the last in existence. However, several of these special containers with weapons sealed in have been on display at the Benton Small Arms Museum at the gunplant for the past several years.

CMP has never seen guns in these cans, and the supposition in the collector community is that no more exist, unless M1s were shipped overseas in these cans and never unpacked at their destinations, which seems unlikely. About 300,000 M1s and unknown quantities of other firearms were canned in this manner. There are internet legends and rumors of canisters being holed and thrown in the sea, but that seems improbable as the canisters were always a Zone of the Interior (what we’d now call CONUS) depot project. The cans might have to be holed to sink given the volume of air trapped inside with the 170 lbs of guns and can, so that detail is plausible anyway.

If anyone does find one, it will be clearly labeled:

BOO1-004196/RIFLE, U.S., CAL..30 M1/W/SLING/COND. CODE NO. 23/M.W.O. THRU W2/DRY AIR – NO PRESSURE/7.5 CU. FT. 170 LBS/CONTAINER NO. SA 013xxxx/ORD. DEPT. U.S. ARMY/month-year (i.e. “3/47″/

Happy hunting.

The AK came to America in decades past

AKs you could buy between circa 1970 and 1983: Valmet M62S, Steyr/Maadi ARM, Clayco AKS.

AKs you could buy between circa 1970 and 1983: Valmet M62S, Steyr/Maadi ARM, Clayco AKS. All stock except the Clayco has had a Chinese AK-47 grip added. Click to embiggen.

There was a time when you could not go down to your local gun store and buy an AK. In the USA, laws constricting the availability of foreign weapons and automatic weapons were on the rise during the period when AKs transitioned from weapons in first line use in major armies to weapons widely available on the world market.

And the market for military-styled modern weapons was unproven. In the early 1970s, you could buy exactly one civilian equivalent of a current service weapon in the USA: the Colt AR-15 Sporter aka SP1. It sold, but slowly. Many gun shops had no idea who’d want one, except maybe a Vietnam vet who’d liked his M16A1. The phenomenon was familiar from WWII guys who wanted an M1 rifle or M1 carbine. But most gun shops were focused on selling guns to hunters and target shooters, and revolvers, mostly, for self-defense.

An earlier (1963) attempt to sell FALs in the US had flickered out, leaving NOS guns on the shelf for years and triggering a messy set of ATF rulings.

Other service rifles came and went in semiauto mode. The CETME. The HK41 was likewise a market disaster — there’s no way the German company recovered the cost of the semi-auto engineering of their G3 rifle, which had to be redesigned several times as the ATF Firearms Technology Branch did what it did — depending on your point of view, either “defended the United States from an onslaught of foreign machine guns,” or “messed with a bunch of German engineers’ heads for no good reason”. (To that we’ll say, anyone worried about the plague of G3s in criminal hands has never fired a G3A3 on full auto. It probably needs a wholesaler’s FFL because the thing is a distributor of bullets of regional scope). The Germans persisted at that time, and in the mid 1970s, the latest edition of the HK41 was renamed HK91; total HK41 production was very low (hundreds for the US, probably). But even the HK91 sold only to a small subset of the shooters and collectors who want them now. One reason that they are so expensive is that total HK91 imports preban were probably under 50,000 rifles.

heartbreak ridge AK47 2By the early 1980s, the demand curve for what we now call Modern Sporting Rifles (and we certainly didn’t, then) was starting to rise, and one thing people wanted was, as Clint Eastwood’s character Gunny Highway so eloquently put it, “the AK-47, the preferred weapon of our enemy.”  After all, “It makes a distinct sound when fired at you.” And by the time that movie was made, a trickle of AKs were coming into the country.

There were a handful only of transferable AKs in the country, many if not most of them 1968 amnesty registrations. A semi AK seemed like a good idea, although many of the entrepreneurs that brought in those proto-MSRs lost their shirts at the time. It must be small comfort to them that those guns are now hotly-pursued collector rarities!

The first AK in the US was the Valmet M62S, followed by the same company’s M76S and -FS  and M78. These were followed by the Egyptian Maadi imported by Steyr as the Steyr ARM, and several early Chinese imports. Further importation of these weapons was banned by an executive order by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 and the ban was extended to US manufacture in 1994 (for ten years; the law sunset in 2004, but local versions are still on the books in several anti-gun states).

Valmet

Bayonets L-R: Valmet (Fiskars); Maadi (very crude), Clayco, PLO-marked Tula AKM recovered in Lebanon, 1982.

Bayonets L-R: Valmet (Fiskars); Maadi (very crude), Clayco, PLO-marked Tula AKM recovered in Lebanon, 1982.

The Valmet was the Finnish AK, and is radically different from any other AK — anyone who has shot it will be tempted to say, superior to any other AK. The M62S was a semi version of the Finnish Army’s rifle, and it has a number of adaptations that make it superior for cold-weather use, and superior in general. It is a tighter gun in its critical mating parts although clearances remained loose in parts that do not affect accuracy. The sights include a tritium night sight and are differently arranged than on the AK, providing a somewhat longer sighting radius. The foresight is on the gas block, not on the barrel; and the rear sight is on the receiver cover. (Yes, having the rear sight on a removable part is not optimum; the cover is reinforced to make that rear sight stable). But the rear sight is (when not in low-light mode) a small peep sight, which brings an ability to aim in accordance with the superior construction of the Valmet AK. Anyone who has owned a variety of AKs finds the accuracy of a Valmet, with decent ammunition, startling. The furniture is unique, plastic to prevent freezing fuzed to sheet-metal structure. The Valmet bayonet shows its descent from a Finnish filleting knife, and attaches to a wicked-looking and effective flash hider. The flash hider has a groove in it which lets  you put a rubber band or a piece of 550 cord at the muzzle to prevent foliage from snagging the flash hider prongs.

The earliest M62S guns had a machined-steel receiver, lightened in the nose by having a lot of non-useful steel cut off. A stamped receiver was phased in over the M71 and M76 guns, both of which were available in 7.62 x 39 and 5.56 in several trim versions, including fixed and folding stocks. The M78 was an RPK variant, available also in 7.62 NATO.

Valmet’s AK played a major role on the world stage circa 1970-71, when Israel received technical data from Valmet Oy, and later, gun parts including receivers-in-the-white, which allowed the production of the Valmet-based 5.56mm Galil ARM assault rifle to begin. Later, Israel in turn would assist South Africa with the Galil-based R4.

Steyr/Maadi

Steyr took a chance on the AK in 1981 or 1982. It was advertised heavily in gun magazines and in then-popular adventure magazines like Soldier of Fortune and the now-defunct Eagle and Gung-Ho. Despite that, its sales were disastrous and it took Steyr years to sell off its inventory of Maadi ARMs, even though only 2,500 were reportedly imported. A number of them were converted pre-86 for movie use, and a number have been converted post-86 as “dealer samples” with the same intent; we believe Eastwood’s “preferred weapon of your enemy” to be a Maadi conversion.

The ARM is extremely close to an AKM of similar vintage, having been made on Russian tooling, on a line set up by experts from Izmash. That most ARMs work at all is proof positive of the design strength of the AK that allows it to be assembled by cretins, as fit and finish is beastly, even by AK standards. The accessories like the sling and bayonet were even more crudely made than the guns, and are seldom found with the guns today (instead superior Russian or East Bloc ones are usually substituted). The sling is a peculiar bright green color.

Clayco/Polytech/Keng/Norinco

Here are the AKs with bayonets fixed.

Here are the AKs with bayonets fixed. The Clayco has an unusual parkerized bolt and carrier (most Chinese AKs of this period had chromed bolt carriers. Each gun has a distinctive magazine, as well: the Valmet has a lanyard ring, and Chinese and European AKs have different rib configurations.

The early years of Chinese AK importation are a bit confusing, but importers include Clayco Sports of Clay Center, Kansas, and Keng’s Firearm Specialties, including others. All the guns appear to have been made at the same plant in China. They were well made and well finished; while the Maadi ARMs had crude plastic and a runny paint finish, the plastic pieces of early Chinese AKs were beautifully molded, if undersized for Americans; and the finish was a deep, rich blue that would not be out of place on a fine shotgun.

The initial guns had plastic parts of a bakelite type urea plastic. Later, wooden guns were imported and even a milled-receiver model non-M AK-47 style gun, the Norinco Legend, but all the early guns were on AKM style receivers. Common variations are wood-stocked, plastic-stocked (usually black or deep red plastic), underfolder and sidefolder guns. Rare variations include folding spike bayonet AKs and the milled receiver models. Most if not all Chinese AKs imported pre-1989 included a bayonet; uniquely among AKM bayonets, the Chinese models are not wirecutters.

A collector could have his hands full trying to collect all versions of the Chinese AK, but it’s not a task for a novice. Because all Chinese AKs predate the 1994 AWB and the state bans, these guns are “preban” treasures in certain states. (Some states forbid “importation” of pre-94 “assault weapons” from other states, some states do not).

Elmer Fudd does it again

Uh, What’s the EF for, Doc?

After the 1989 “no sporting guns” order of George E.F. Bush, the Chinese redesigned their AK to be more compliant with the “sporting” test, which Senator Thomas Dodd, in one of his last acts before being censured for bribe taking, copied from Nazi gun control law, and Bush applied to imported rifles by Executive Order.

The bowdlerized guns, called MAK-90s, had homely laminated thumbhole stocks and were shorn of such non-sporting features as flash hiders and bayonet lugs. But they were only imported for a short time before politics raised its ugly head — this time, though, it was Chinese politics. Democracy demonstrations in Tienanmen Square were put down brutally; in response, the US applied a number of sanctions to China, including banning importation of Chinese guns. That ban is still in effect today.

Right now, the MAK-90 is the least valuable Chinese AK and we suspect some are being converted to resemble earlier, more desirable (to collectors), and yet more common versions. It will be interesting to see if a collector’s market for 1989-2004 ban-era guns ever forms. If so, some of the frankenstein adaptations of those years may be worth more than new AKs someday.

The prices of Maadis and Norinco (etc.) guns have been kept depressed by the influx of AKs, and of AK parts, and now, the production of American parts to replace parts banned from importation by the ATF under the National-Socialist Gun Law of 1938. Thomas Dodd’s revision of a foreign law (guess which one) into the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Conclusions

Changing the Maadi AK to Russian bayonet and mag changes its character. The "movie stars" also had correct Russian slings, not this bright green Egyptian one.

Changing the Maadi AK to Russian bayonet and mag changes its character. The “movie stars” also had correct Russian slings, not this bright green Egyptian one.

These early imports are interesting, because of their historic significance and fidelity to the Russian AK model (Maadi ARM), their radical departures and superior quality (Valmet), or because politics has rendered them unobtainium (Chinese). Except for the Valmet, they’re not necessarily better than the generic AK you can get today; the Maadi, the worst of the early lot, is better than Century’s WASR, the worst of the recent lot, but not overwhelmingly so. (It is free of the Century bugbear, the canted front sight post; the Egyptians, after all, had jigs and fixtures).

We’ve owned, shot, and beaten on all the guns we describe here over the years, and still have representative samples.  If you’d like a more technical look at these, maybe including some range time, sing out in the comments.

FMI

Here’s a thread with a guy showing off his recently bought M62S.  Be careful about forum threads, though. There’s one on M4carbine.net that insists that Galil magazines are hazardous in Valmets. Galil 35 and 50 rounders fit and function fine; the top end appears dimensionally identical, and RSA R4 mags are identical but for markings to Galil mags. The rare Galil STANAG mag block needs a bit of filing to fit a Valmet M76, but we did it and it worked with GI 20 and 30-round mags. (That may have been a lapse into Bubbahood, given the rarity of that adapter).

There’s a lot of inaccuracy in this 2013 Guns and Ammo article on the Chinese AKs, but it’s a starting point.

And here’s an article on a Maadi that was used in the making of the 80s cult classic film Red Dawn. The prop guns were owned by Stembridge, whose inventory was bought circa 1998 by Long Mountain Outfitters, which provides a serial number list of Red Dawn guns. Dan Shea warns that a “Red Dawn” or Stembridge AK that is not on that list is likely a forgery!

Limited Production Noveske “Johnny” Rifle

Noveske Johnny RifleHere’s a short-barreled rifle that looks good, and stands out both as a premium AR and a limited production piece. There will be only 250 of these special “Johnny” rifles produced. They’re .300 Blackout guns with 10.5″ stainless barrels, and they’re unusually finished in Foliage Green — the stocks and grips molded, the receivers hard anodized.

The gun’s well-adapted to being suppressed, of course; it would also make a fantastic short-range hunting rifle. But we suspect most buyers will hang them up and admire them, which is a bit of a pity — this gun was clearly meant to be run hard, and what would Johnny have wanted, after all?

There’s no point in us reprising the specifics which are readily at hand on Noveske’s website. We’d just add that if you’re looking for a .300 BLK, here’s one that comes all sorted out, has a really nice set of quality parts, and has a solid name behind it. Not to mention, since we already have done, it looks sharp!

They’re taking orders now. The rifle goes for $2,420

Past Noveske coverage here includes a story on Johnny’s untimely death in a motor accident,  and a story on the company’s first tribute product, the “Johnny Mag” — proceeds from which went to Johnny Noveske’s kids.

An intriguing scope mount

Seen on an original Artillerie Inrichtingen AR-10 in the Springfield Armory collection. It’s a bit of a challenge to scope these, and any retro-prototype AR-15, with the charging handle “trigger” inside the carrying handle; the thing tends to get caught up in the mount’s thumbscrew.

It looks like someone figured out how to do it before this gun wound up in Springfield’s collection.

ar-10_scope_mount

This particular AR-10 has had the carrying handle sight guards milled down to provide a flat surface for a scope mount, with a very thin scope mount screw. With the mount, but no scope, in place, the iron sights are still usable. The Springfield Armory record for this exhibit suggests that it was made for a night scope:

NETHERLANDS RIFLE AR10 7.62MM SN# 003769
Manufactured by Artillerie-Inrichtingen, Hembrug-Zaandam, Netherlands – Early production type gas-operated select-fire rifle manufactured under license in Holland. Select-fire. 4-groove rifling; right-hand twist. Muzzle velocity 2750 fps. Effective range of 600 yards, and maximum range of 3500 yards. Protected adjustable post front, peep, adjustable for elevation and windage rear sight. Effective rate of fire, semi-automatic, is 60 rounds per minute; full automatic, 120 rounds per minute; cyclic rate of fire is 700 rounds per minute. Weapon weighs approximately 7.5 lbs. This specimen is one of only three that were made for an infrared scope. Complete with 20-round detachable box magazine.

Markings:
Receiver: PATENTS PENDING/ARMALITE/AR10/MFD BY AI (in triangle)-NEDERLAND/003769.
Select switch: SAFE/SEMI/AUTO.
Magazine: ARMALITE/PATENT PENDING.

Weapon donated to the Museum by International Armament Corporation on 3 January 1961.

Only about 5,500 AR-10s of all types seem to have been made. This one appears to have a replacement wooden handguard, and it has the trigger-shaped charging handle found on the early ARs and Sudanese contract guns. (The Portuguese guns had a different trigger-shaped charging handle). The cotton-reinforced resin pistol grip is deformed, possibly due to age.

The exhibit label is not entirely accurate. It says:

AR10 – Developed too late to compete with the T44 and T48, the AR10, designed by Eugene Stoner, suffered from insufficient testing before being submitted. Withdrawn from trials in 1956 after a barrel blew-up, it nevertheless, impressed Gen. William G. Wyman, commanding officer of the Continental Army Command. Wyman asked Stoner to develop a .22 caliber rifle to meet Army specifications resulting from the Salvo studies

The Army not only continued to test the AR-10 (thanks to a comment by “Yank,” one report of those tests is available here: 32603044-AR-10-MIL-TEST.pdf), but Springfield actually assisted Armalite with a design for a steel barrel that came out almost as light as the composite and stainless-liner arrangement that failed in 1956 testing, according to Roy E. Rayle in Random Shots: Episodes in the Life of a Weapons Designer.

The Springfield employee firing the AR-10 at the time was James Murphy. Murphy was not injured; the AR, Number 1002, had fired 5563 rounds successfully when #5564 blew out the left side of the barrel.

AR-10 barrel blowout Image 12590-SA Springfield

Note that this very, very early AR-10 had the gas tube running along the left side of the barrel, not over the top as in subsequent ARs. The fiberglass-reinforced resin materials of the handguard are also visible in this, ahem, exploded view.

Here’s a completely different way to scope the AR-10B, a short-lived retro-styled AR from the new Armalite. (Archived AR-15.com thread). It shows one approach to scoping a gun that has to keep the area under the carrying handle clear. We don’t know if this mount would work on the NoDak Spud (NDS) prototype-AR-15 parts, but it looks like it wouldn’t work on our original AR-10 due to the different shape of the carrying handle vis-a-vis the AR-10B’s M16A2 style. 

Early AR15 SP1s on Gunbroker

Someone’s been liquidating a collection of early Colt AR-15 Sporter SP1s for the last several months. The auctions are one-day auctions, so these particular numbers may have expired, but they’ll be relisted indefinitely if not sold. (If you’re more than a day or so behind, this link shows all that seller’s auctions, then “narrow your search” to AR or SP-1).

These guns differ in considerable detail from contemporary M16s, but they have their own collector following. They include:

  • Number 628:

AR-15 628 2

This is one of the earliest SP1s in circulation, and a rare one in this condition. It is a three-digit-serial number, after all, of a weapon that has been produced in the millions.

AR-15 628

The seller’s write-up is:

VERY, VERY, VERY EARLY 1964 production original, NEAR MINT AR-15 SP-1, in the original M-16(602) configuration. “Prancing Pony” Colt logo”, “Edgewater” two piece buffer, early plastic furniture, three prong flash hider, rubber butt pad, early saftey with hole, very early push pin w/ hole, non-chromed barrel w/1:12 twist, original solid split pin FP keeper, original bolt and carrier w/large head firing pin and the RARE original CHROME BOLT. EXCELLENT bore and chamber. VERY TIGHT fit. No magazine or box.

This is the most expensive of the early AR-15s he is offering, at a bracing $4,595 (buy-it-now). Despite that, it’s our opinion that this one is the one that offers the greatest potential for appreciation. This potential is limited, perhaps, by its already high price, but this is a rare high-condition survivor that is already fifty years old, and that has some rare features like early style “dimpled” pins. While retro builders strive to create guns like this (and they, too, will draw collector interest in the years to come), they’re not Colts and they’re not original time capsules like this.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=389354924

 

  • Number 3387:

AR-15 3387-2

Condition-wise, this early SP1 is a standout. It does have a little trace of wear hear and there — handling, not firing, wear, it looks like. You can see just a little mark on the side of the magazine well from the rectangular pad on the ejection port cover.

AR-15 3387

Survival of these guns is fairly rare. For them to survive in near-mint condition, when many of their cohort were Bubba’d-up or parted out, is remarkable.  Remember, 1965 was almost fifty years ago, and for 20-30 of those years, these Colts were the only game in town for shooters, and shooters wanted to upgrade them. The seller knows this and has priced this example accordingly: Buy-it-now, $3,795. His description:

Collectors this is a 1965 production original MINT AR-15 SP-1 in the original M-16(602) configuration – “Prancing Pony” Colt logo”, “Edgewater” two piece buffer, early plastic furniture, three prong flash hider, rubber butt pad, early saftey with hole, non-chromed barrel w/1:12 twist, original solid split pin FP keeper, original bolt and carrier w/large head firing pin and the RARE original CHROME BOLT. EXCELLENT bore and chamber. VERY TIGHT fit.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=389354640

  • Number 4329:

AR-15 4329Excellent, in box, early production SP1. This one has a few dings, some wear on the flash hider and a little bit of mottling on the pistol grip and stock. Buy it now, $2895. Seller’s write-up:

Collectors this is a 1965 production original NEAR MINT AR-15 SP-1 in the original M-16 ( 602) configuration – “Prancing Pony” Colt logo”, “Edgewater” two piece buffer, Bakelite plastic furniture, three prong flash hider, rubber butt pad, non-chromed bore w/1:12 twist barrel.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=389390846

  • Number 7126:

AR-15 7126This gun’s a little later than the others. It’s in primo condition (view the pictures at the original auction) and is started at $2,550 with a Buy-it-now of $2,650. Seller’s description:

Collectors this is a 1966 production original NEAR MINT AR-15 SP-1 in the original M-16(602) configuration – “Prancing Pony” Colt logo”, “Edgewater” two piece buffer, early plastic furniture, three prong flash hider, rubber butt pad, non-chromed bore w/1:12 twist barrel.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=389349311

Now, technically, these early SP1s differ from military ARs in several ways. The most obvious is the pivot screw in place of the pivot pin, but other SP1 modifications (not found in all vintages of SP1) include unshrouded firing pins, and larger trigger and hammer pins. After parts changed in the running military production, leftover parts that were no longer usable for the military contract (examples include Edgewater buffers and three-prong flash hiders) continued to be used up on SP1s for years.

Each one is a time capsule into Colt production. Prediction, especially of values, is generally a mug’s game, but original guns from this period seem likely to appreciate.

Russian Anti-Terror Arms

Everybody knows about Russian arms: simple, straightforward, peasant-conscript brute-force stuff, just like the Red Army itself: the AK-47, the iron Hero of the Soviet Union, which did more to spread Marxism than the bookish, nerdy and introverted Marx ever imagined. Right?

Ah.. how ’bout wrong? Russia is today a great, continental power with a large fraction of smart people, a fraction of whom are brilliant engineers, and a faction of those engaged in making small arms for particular purposes. Like Western counterterrorist forces, Russian CT elements — who have plenty of terrorists to counter — use a mix of standard government-issue, and special purpose, arms. Consider what we can learn from a careful look at this picture:

VSK-94 in actionThis picture was purportedly taken on the streets of Makhachkala, the capital of the autonomous region of Dagestan in the Caucasus region of south Russia, as the Russian authorities found, and whacked, terrorist leader Eldar Magatov in Dagestan’s Babyurt region. They’re now seeking a woman, possible suicide bomber, in Sochi.

Who these guys are — beyond the caption’s “Russian counterterrorist forces” — is unknown to us. They’re not showing any “Police” markings. The guy on the left appears to be dressed in a Nomex equivalent (always a good choice for door kicking) and the guy on the right in, of all things, Crye multicam or a knock-off of same. The ribbons tied around their arms may be an IFF/recognition sign. Both have ballistic helmets and masks, presumably against ID more than the cold (hard to judge from a photo, but it looks like it’s near freezing one way or the other from the puddle behind them and what appears to be frost and possible snow behind that. Weird, as Makhachkala is on the Caspian coast and we thought it was subtropical).

Screenshot 2014-01-22 09.27.33

Screenshot 2014-01-22 09.27.52The weapons, though: we blew them up 5x on a retina display and then screencapped them. Left Guy has a bog-standard AKSU and a pistol, quite possibly a Glock, in the drop holster (Yes, we’re out on a limb ID’ing a pistol from an inch and a half of grip).  He has a spare mag, inverted, attached to the mag in his AKSU. You can’t tell how they’re attached or whether there’s a third in the back (probably not).

The other guy’s gun is the interesting one. It’s a VSK-94, and is aptly described on Max Popenker’s world.guns.ru website. It’s a scoped, back-up-sighted, 9x39mm suppressed selective fire carbine widely issued to law enforcement for just this sort of operation.

Screenshot 2014-01-22 09.28.47

(All these pictures should embiggen, by the way).

The VSK-94’s AK heritage by way of the AKSU should be fairly evident here. It has improved ergonomics, finally abandoning the AK platform’s Remington Model 8 derived safety/dust cover. The scope is 4x like the Dragunov’s but must have a different reticle; how it handles the three different 9×39 rounds would be interesting to see.  The stock is fixed and is of polymer material, as are the handguard and magazines. The 9×39 is a subsonic round derived from the 7.62mm M43 assault rifle round. It’s the tactical equivalent, then, of our .300 Whisper/.300 AAC Blackout. The relatively straight-sided round allows a straight box magazine, holding 20 rounds, giving the VSK a slightly old-fashioned look.

(We should probably separate the “Foreign and Enemy Weapons” catagory into two, or simply rename it “Foreign Weapons.” Countries like Russia are foreign, but they’re not our enemies; the terrorists these Russian soldiers, officers or police are fighting are enemies to both our nations, and to all civilized people everywhere: Hostis Humani Generis).

 

The hero, the drunk, the rifle, the museum

There are many like it:

R0117_MARI

But this one was his, and for years it was lost and forgotten, but one day it will be on display.

USMC Sgt Rafael PeraltaIt’s an ordinary Colt Model 945, M16A4 rifle, but this one belonged to a hero. Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta died clutching that rifle. From a Virginia newspaper:

Months after the first battle of Fallujah, U.S. troops and Iraqi forces descended on the city about 45 miles west of Baghdad to regain control, making door-to-door searches to clear the area of insurgents.

Peralta, a Mexican immigrant who enlisted the same day he received his Green Card in 2000, led a door-to-door search on Nov. 15, 2004, and came under fire upon entering the squad’s seventh house of the day.

Peralta, 25, was shot and fell to the ground. After an exchange of fire, insurgents fled the house, throwing a grenade behind them that landed near Peralta’s head.

“Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away,” his award citation reads.

After the battle, William Berry III, an armorer with Battalion Landing Team 1, 3rd Marines, got the unpleasant duty of cleaning Peralta’s rifle, thick with the dead man’s blood and penetrated with grenade shrapnel. There was a reason that then-Maj. A.J. Kostic, the battalion XO, wanted the rifle cleaned “very thoroughly”: Peralta had been nominated for the Medal of Honor. Berry remembered:

[Kostic] told me that this was in preparation for the M16A4 to be placed in the National Museum of the Marine Corps. My battalion had just finished a deployment with the 31st MEU, and had participated in the second Battle of Fallujah (Operation Phantom Fury).

I know now that Sgt. Peralta’s Medal of Honor investigation is now over and he did receive posthumously the Navy Cross, for falling on a grenade, saving Marines’ lives in Fallujah.

After cleaning the rifle (which still had blood dried blood on it), I tagged it with a yellow 1018 tag, and then placed it into a wall locker in the armory at Camp Hansen, Okinawa.

We soon returned to Hawaii and carried on with Marine life. The Lava Dogs of 1/3 lost 53 Marines in Iraq on that deployment and I believe the M-16 A4 was to memorialize both Sgt. Peralta, and 1st Battalion, for actions in Falluja.

I visited the museum on Memorial Day in 2008 and probably very much enjoyed the whole museum, I did not find the right one display that I spent so much time cleaning. Also there was not much to mention the Fallujah campaign.

The M16A4 is essentially the A2 with the rails and modularity of the M4.

The M16A4 is essentially the A2 with the rails and modularity of the M4. It’s primarily a USMC rifle.

Thing is: Berry, who’s had some problems with adjustment and alcohol, wrote that letter from a Virginia Beach jail in 2010, where he was locked up for DUI — only the latest in a long, sad string of them. His letter was CC’d to his Congressman and the Marines’ Public Affairs office in Washington. Who lit the fire under whom is not recorded, but soon wires were burning, with serious, senior Marines repeating Berry’s question, “Where is Peralta’s rifle?”

It turns out, it was still exactly where Berry had put it, right where Maj. Kostic had told him to put it, in a locker in the Camp Hanson armory. Within four months from Berry’s jailhouse letter, the rifle was on its way to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, which is undergoing a significant expansion, one that will add 80,000 square feet and room to display the latest Marine legends alongside the old. When Berry makes his Memorial Day visit in 2018, on his annual pilgrimage to the Museum and Arlington, he will see the rifle he cleaned so carefully. This is the very rifle that he, and Kostic, and who knows how many other Marines preserved as a mute witness to the valor and the last moments of that great American, Rafael Peralta (who was actually a Mexican with a green card, but he’s American by blood forever now).

A good Ranger Hooah for all the Marines whose efforts put that rifle in the hands of the Museum curators. (It is, by the way, one hell of a museum).

As we do like our primary sources around here, here is William Berry’s letter from jail — complete with his poem about Peralta’s Rifle: Berrys Letter about Peralta.pdf

For another tale of a Marine, a rifle, and that same 2004 fight in Fallujah, go to DOD Live. This one has a happier ending — the Marine survives his wounds and recovers the rifle that was shot out of his hands.

Seen at SHOT: HK MR556SD and MR762SD Suppressor

Foreground: HK MR w/FHMB. Background: with BPR in place.

Foreground: HK MR w/FHMB. Background: with BPR in place.

One of the great things about SF is the way you learn a lot of skills. For example, if you went to the old O&I school, you got an excellent and in-depth intensive course in taking first class documentary photographs. We regret that the old teammate who took these photos is not a graduate of that course. In fact, even though he’s now in the industry and was at SHOT, he was our team medic– and a very good one.

At the SHOT Show recently, HK’s new MR556-SD and MR762-SD, which exploit new suppressor technology from Utah-based OSS (Operators Suppressor Systems), caught his eye, and he snagged us a few cellphone shots.

OSS Mission Logo Black

Blurry close-up of the FHMB

Blurry close-up of the FHMB

 

We haven’t seen anybody else documenting the innards of this new development. So we’re going to do it — even though the photographs we have are less than fantastic. Discussing this new weapon with guys from the days of the old MP5SD, we thought that this might be a good replacement for that weapon, now that everyone uses carbines rather than submachineguns for CQB. The advantages of suppressors are pretty significant in combat.

We were less than shocked to discover the guys at OSS came out of SF and the Ranger Regiment, inter alia. 

Here’s a look down the throat of the thing, we believe this is towards the muzzle end:

image-4

We take this to be the breech end of a BPR backpressure regulator component.

Here’s another interior shot:

We think this is the inside of the BPR.

We think this is the inside of the BPR.

Here’s a blurry look at the outside:

This appears to be the outside of a BPR-2

This appears to be the outside of a BPR, perhaps from its length the BPR-2

The nomenclature of the components of this suppressor will be clear enough, below.

What you’re Seeing in the Photos

The OSS suppressor has several unique design features:

  • This is the BPR-1. The BPR-2 is similar but longer.

    This is the BPR-1. The BPR-2 is similar but longer.

    Its exterior is octagonal, not round. (HK installs a rail to match on the SD versions). The octagonal rail spreads the rising heat to reduce mirage effect.

  • It’s modular. (That’s the big buzzword of SHOT 14, isn’t it?). Part of this modularity is: it’s caliber convertible between 5.56 and 7.62 (or, presumably, other calibers). They also make a big-daddy that’s convertible from .300WM to .338LM.
  • It’s self-tightening (can’t shoot itself loose), but can be removed by hand.
  • The gas is turned back by a deflector, and then makes its way through the unit, gradually expanding, before being vented back towards the front of the suppressor and vented to the air.
  • This is the BPR-1. The BPR-2 is similar but longer.

    This is the BPR-1. The BPR-2 is similar but longer.

    The typical OSS suppressor has three components, the first is a Back Pressure Regulator which is available in two variations, BPR 1 actually fits back over the barrel and reverses gas flow (like a car muffler) and shortens length, and BPR2 mostly extends past the muzzle. The second is the Signature Reduction Module (SRM) which attaches to the nose of the BPR. The third component is the custom Flash Hider Muzzle Brake that is used to mount the BPR. The BPR can be run without the SRM — alone or with a standoff/flash hider device, but if one purchases the BPR and SRM at the same time, it’s a single serial number and single tax stamp.

  • Pricing for the OSS suppressor on its own is quite reasonable. At the SHOT Show they were quoting ~$1500, but it’s not clear what HK will charge for the SD … yet. They do offer the OSS FHMB as standard on the new MR556 Competition Rifle at an MSRP of $2,947, so you’re looking at about $4,500 to have the equivalent of the SD. Will the factory SD command a premium, or sell for a discount?
  • Flash Hider/Muzzle Brake / QD attachment for the BPR

    Flash Hider/Muzzle Brake / QD attachment for the BPR

    They guarantee a 10,500 round life cycle for low rate fire if you follow their maintenance schedule. This is, to be blunt, unique in the industry. High rate fire? If you’re firing 3-5 round bursts at 850 rpm (typical for a piston AR like the HK416/MR556) you’ll see sound reduction degrade after 4,500 rounds. It’s user and armorer serviceable; the one wear part goes for $40, isn’t the NFA serialized part, and resets your wear to effective zero.

  • They do not increase back pressure in the system. Again, unheard of. How did they do this? Well, part of the secret sauce is that they didn’t go for sound reduction to the point of interfering with weapons function.  They went for -26dB (ear safe) rather than stretch for over 30 and run into reliability and maintainability issues.
Standoff Device and FH (optional)

Standoff Device and FH (optional)

So there is a tradeoff in going with the OSS suppressor. That tradeoff is biased towards benefits for the user that shoots a lot and cares more about tactical suppression than absolute stealth (OSS was founded by SF / SOF guys). After all, if you’re absolute-stealthin’ it, you’re probably not doing magdumps from an AR platform. If you’re mag-dumping with extant suppressors, including some quite decent ones like the issue KAC SOPMOD user or the AAC, you not only generate a lot of back pressure, you risk baffle strikes as the thing heats up. Those suppressors are built well enough to survive the baffle strikes, but what happens to accuracy is not good.

They explain the octagonal barrel quite logically:

The OSS Advantage is based on patented design technology that effectively manages heat & sound reduction while regulating back pressure on the weapon’s firing system. The octagonal external heat shield redirects the heat away from the top center-line of the barrel to a wider point, which moves the mirage from the center sight line of the optic. Every shooter appreciates a sight picture that is not blurry. 

This is typical of the way the system is thought out with the end-user in mind. If you’ve used a suppressor like the decent Knight’s Armament Company unit on SOPMOD 1 guns, you’ve found the muzzle-heaviness and increased length forward at least a mild irritation. The BPR1 in particular doesn’t mess with your balance as much as traditional muzzle-attached suppressors do (this is one reason not-everybody runs suppressed all the time). It’s about 6 inches behind the flash hider, and .6 inch in front. But even the BPR2 only adds another inch or so in front. The SRM adds another 4.2 inches in front of the muzzle. The components are light; the BPRs under a pound each. We’ll take five inches and a pound-and-a-half forward to maintain our hearing in and after a firefight.

The HK integral suppressor guns are now catalog items, although the H&K website isn’t there yet. Soldier Systems has scans of the one-pagers on each, which we reproduce below.
MR556A1-SD handoutMR762A1-SD-440x592

Update:

Here’s a shot of the cutaway which we snagged off of HKPro, where it seems to have been second hand. Original photographer please let us know so we can credit and link you.

OSS Suppressor Cutaway

For more information:

The OSS Website is great. They give up about as much information they can without the ITAR police landing on ‘em with both feet.  They’re also on Facebook for you damned kids.

This thread on HKPro gave me one image and a few facts about pricing of the OSS suppressor.

 

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Research Press (UK)

A Rigby long0-range Match muzzleloader in .45 caliber. It had this Vernier tang sight and a tangent/ladder sight, too.

Long-range heat, circa 1870: a Rigby long-range Match muzzleloader in .45 caliber. It had this Vernier tang sight and a tangent/ladder sight, too.

We tend to think of long-range shooting as a recent discovery, or if not that, at least, a post-WWII one. Todays Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week will disabuse us of that notion, for Research Press has gathered together, and continues to gather, a fascinating panoply of information about long range marksmanship and shooting technology from days gone by — days long gone by. Quite literally, days of our great- and great-great-grandfathers, in the 19th Century, when men shot at long ranges (500, 800, 1,000, even 1,200 yards) with both muzzle- and breech-loading firearms.

In the days when gunsmithing machinery was powered not by electricity but by steam boilers, waterwheels, or the sweat of the gunsmith’s own brow, a report to the head of the national rifle association reported that certain rounds were grouping in a 12″ circle at 1,000 yards. (This is an 1875 report found on the site). It’s typical of the sort of treasures to be found there. The site says:

Research Press was established in 1998 with a primary focus on publishing texts on firearms, long range target shooting and associated history.

These pages will provide news of web site updates, new publications, shooting news, events and general banter. Contibutions on related subjects are welcomed.

The site is associated with a Yahoo email group. The site’s wordpress blog does highlight new historical documents. The documents reveal much, not only about technical matters, but also about the now-moribund, but then lively, gun culture of Britain.

This gunsmith is the Fraser referred to here. Image: Research Press, from the 1882 PO directory for Edinburgh.

This gunsmith is the Fraser referred to in this story. Image: Research Press, from the 1882 PO directory for Edinburgh.

In 1881, breechloaders were a novelty in Scotland, and a contemporary news report hinted that cartridge reloading had a steep learning curve:

[A] member of the gallant band, intent upon having his cartridges properly filled and capped, borrowed the new Fraser refiller and cleared the room in order that he might not be distracted during the operation of recapping. His friends had not long gone when a report startled them, and rushing into the room they found their friend prostrate on the floor – the suddenness of the cap snapping having been sufficient to overthrow him and the machine together. It is needless to say that all had a hearty laugh at the little harmless misadventure, but the incident, humorous as it is, shows that our men require a little training in this department, for if there  is any slip here its effect must undoubtedly be felt at the target.

The most remarkable fact in this report may be that a regular newspaper, the Glasgow Herald, thought its readers wanted to know about the doings of the local target-shooting club.

Confederate Whitworth sniper rifle, C529.

Confederate Whitworth sniper rifle, C529. All Confederate rifles were Whitworth’s 2nd Quality! Few of them were bought and fewer still made it through the Union blockade.

There is an great deal of information on early precision rifles on this site. One excellent example is its coverage of the little-remembered but fascinating Whitworth rifles. Whitworths had a unique hexagonal-rifled bore that spun hexagonal-section bullets. Some Whitworths were used by the Confederate States Army; but Bill Curtis documents four fraudulent “Confederate” Whitworths. (And here is a genuine Confederate sniper Whitworth).

The site appears to be maintained by volunteers in a labor of love, rather than by professionals in a triumph of organization. And it has a feel of being British, rather than German: comfortable more than organized. So if you’re looking for something specific and don’t find it, you might just be looking in the wrong place or coming in the wrong way. (For example, the various Whitworth pages don’t link to one another).