Category Archives: The Past is Another Country

A Little More Owen Info

Here’s a 1942 British Pathé Newsreel clip on the Owen Machine Carbine in testing:

And if you need more information, a thorough Owen source document was distributed to libraries (we think, in Australia) but the post of its contents at Machine Gun Boards stands as an excellent bibliography and list of what we suppose ought to be called Owenalia.

http://www.machinegunboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=12765

Roland might have been a warrior from the land of the midnight sun who carried a Thompson into musical memory, but the Owen gave its name to one of the most interesting fictional characters of the new century. For that alone, we’s love the beast, but it has a lot of other qualities that inspire affection, too.

An Interesting Colorization, with Exotic Firearms!

Here’s a colorized picture of Polish Resistance fighters, in this case, fighting against the Nazi occupation. (Some survivors would fight on against the Soviet occupation for years, but the Soviets, willing to be crueler than the Nazis, defeated them in the end).

polish resisters marina amaralThe troops wear the white over red armband of the Armija Krajowa, Home Army, which under the Geneva Convention marks them as lawful combatants (not that their enemies cared). The man at left carries a Polish Radom VIS vz. 35 pistol, a 9mm that has some Browning DNA and some unique features of its own. The Germans kept it in production (and simplified it) during the war, and like the Czech CZ  27 police pistol, the bulk of production during the pistol’s entire history was Nazi production.

The man at center has a resistance-made submachine gun, the Błyskawica.

We’ve mentioned that SMG in passing before but we’re not sure we’ve gone into depth on it. Ian has, or rather published an article by Leszek Ehrenfeicht, who has. Essentially, Błyskawica was a simple, open-bolt SMG designed by novice gun designers, but trained engineers, Wacław Zawrotny (VAHT-swahv Za-VROT-nee) and Seweryn Wielanier(SEV-er-een Vee-LAN-ee-air). As Leszek recounts, it borrowed features from both Sten (whose barrels and magazines it shared) and MP40 (which inspired the dual action springs and the groove-relieved bolt, as well as the folding stock, although all of those were much simplified in the Polish firearm).

You can quibble with some of Ms Amaral’s color decisions, especially in the men’s camo jackets, but you have to be pleased at the job she has done overall.

Better yet, have a look at how she did it. Here’s a video of Brazilian artist Marina Amaral colorizing it! (Hat tip, the Daily Mail).

If you ever wondered whether all SF weapons men have a sort of mind-meld, as we were preparing this post, Our Traveling Reporter (who has sent in several great things we haven’t had time to post) sent us another link to the same picture.

Here’s what he sent us:

Warsaw insurgents Henryk Ożarek “Henio” (left) holding a Vis wz.35 Pistolet and Tadeusz Przybyszewski “Roma” (right) firing a Błyskawica submachine gun, from “Anna” Company of the “Gustav” Battalion fighting on Kredytowej-Królewska Street. 3 October 1944. The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 — a heroic and tragic 63-day struggle to liberate Warsaw from Nazi/German occupation. Undertaken by the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK), the Polish resistance movement, at the time Allied troops were breaking through the Normandy defences and the Red Army was standing at the line of the Vistula River. Warsaw could have been one of the first European capitals liberated; however, various military and political miscalculations, as well as global politics — played among Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) — turned the dice against it. (www.warsawuprising.com)

According to a Polish-language website about the Uprising, both of the pictured resisters survived the war as captives of the Nazis, beneficiaries of Bór-Komarowski’s negotiated deal (and of the Wehrmacht honoring the deal). “Henio” was a junior lieutenant who survived captivity in Oflag XIB’s “Zweilager” (satellite camp) at Bergen-Belsen [recorded here as a Stalag] to pass on in Warsaw in 1991, and the SMG-firing “Roma,” an enlisted man whom the database records as using the noms de guerre “Topór” and “Przemyski,” survived captivity in Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf and would pass away in Łódź in 1979.  (Oflags were prison camps for officer Prisoners of War, and Stalags were for other-ranks POWs).

The Warsaw Uprising saw considerable casualties — on both sides:

Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass executions. Jews being harboured by Poles were exposed by German house-to-house clearances and mass evictions of entire neighbourhoods. German casualties totalled over 8,000 soldiers killed and missing, and 9,000 wounded. During the urban combat approximately 25% of Warsaw’s buildings were destroyed. Following the surrender of Polish forces, German troops systematically levelled another 35% of the city block by block. Together with earlier damage suffered in the 1939 invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the course of the events in the Eastern Front forced the Germans to abandon the city. (History of the Second World War, B. H. Liddell Hart)

The USAAF, RAF, RSAF and Free Polish Air Force flew several supply missions to the resisters, but the Soviets, who were hoping their former allies, the Nazis, would rid them of these uppity Poles, would not allow allied aircraft to recover in Soviet-held territory.

Amateur turned Pro: The Amazing Owen Machine Carbine

One of the most remarkable weapons of World War II (and the two or three decades beyond) was the 9mm Owen Machine Carbine, an Australian weapon that bridged the gap between cottage industry and professional production rather neatly. Designed by an amateur, it remains to this day the first and most successful Australian-designed weapon to be standard in the Australian Forces. (The follow-on F1 was a modified British Patchett/Stirling, with the magazine placed as per Owen). It was also the only weapon to come from the factory in bands of green and yellow paint.

Owen SMG

The colorized picture below from New Britain shows two Owens in their native habitat: the artist who did the colorization missed the guns’ camouflage coats! The gun is simple, reliable, and almost ideal for jungle warfare: the lack of long-range targets eliminates the cartridge’s weakness at range, and the vertically-arrayed magazine, that you think would snag on everything, is actually much more easily maneuvered than a bottom-side magazine, let alone the left-side mag of the Sten or Lanchester.

wwii colourised owens

Owens were used as late as the Vietnam War, in which the Aussies were one of only two US allies that took combat missions (the other being South Korea).

“Machine Carbine” was the British term of art for any shoulder-fired, pistol-caliber weapon, what the Yanks called a “Submachine Gun.” (Many European languages use the equivalent of “machine pistol” and “machine rifle” for pistol- and rifle-caliber automatic weapons). But the Sten and Lanchester were both known by the then-standard term,”Machine Carbine.”

The designer of the Owen was one Evelyn Owen. In his early 20s, he designed an experimental .22LR submachine gun — and then put it away, and essentially forgot about it. It was a neighbor, Vincent Wardell, who was a manager for Lysaght Newcastle Works in Port Kembla, Australia who first figured out that Owen’s prewar .22 design had some potential for a military submachine gun.

owen-precursors

Owen Precursors, Prototypes and Trials Guns 1939-41. Australian War Museum, via Forgotten Weapons.

The story of the prototype evolution of the Owen is weird, wonderful, and well told already by Ian at Forgotten Weapons, but ultimately Wardell, his brother, Owen, and some other Lysaght workers overcame obstacles from the Army (they wanted prototypes in .32 ACP, .38/200 (.38 S&W), and .45 ACP as well as 9mm) and developed a simple and highly reliable submachine gun. In fact, it was more reliable than the weapon the British urged their Australian cousins to make, the Sten.

The secret to this reliability isn’t just simplicity — a Sten is just about as simple as an Owen is, really. But the vertical arrangement of the magazine provided two great benefits: the magazine didn’t have to fight gravity, and, with the ejection port on the bottom, gravity tended to clear the chamber area out of any malejected casing or debris. You would think that the bottom-facing ejection port would be inimical to reliability, but if it had any tendency to collect jungle goop, such a tendency was offset by the breech area’s self-cleaning nature.

The magazines were made of heavier-gauge steel than Sten or MP40 magazines, in part because the ejector is simply a raised part of the rear of the magazine. But this also helps reliability.  There were two distinct Marks (Mark I and Mark I*) and many small running changes during the gun’s production run of about 45,000.

By 1942, Australia was still waiting for a Sten data package, but the Owen was crushing the Sten in trials. About this time, someone decided that each one would be painted in a disruptive green and yellow camouflage, and the first gun off the line was squirreled away for the Australian War Memorial:

owen job one

Yes, that’s the paint job they came with. On the ones that didn’t go direct to a cushy museum, the paint gets scarred and scraped very easily (as you can see starting to show in places, even on this museum queen). Note that the grips are a hard, Bakelite-like plastic, and are not painted; the buttstock is made of wood, and it is painted.

Evelyn Owen did not have the long career of his submachine gun. Sources seem unanimous that, mustered out of Australian service at war’s end, he drank himself to death in 1949. The Owen would soon after that be called on to address human-wave attacks in Korea, where it acquitted itself well.

A uniquely Australian firearm, and a rare example of an amateur-designed weapon that outperformed its professionally-designed peers.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Royston Colour

We often lose the feeling of immediacy when looking at old photographs. Their black-and-white silver-based film somehow leaches not only the color out of the picture, but also the life. True, if you’re a historian you thrill to a good picture of a key individual, unit, piece of equipment or (especially) moment, and a lot of those old pictures were taken with very high quality cameras onto large glass or film negatives. But how sad it is they are not in color!

Enter Royston Colour (facebook link). This guy, presumably the eponymous Royston (Leonard), colorizes period photos and brings them to life, and his principal interest seems to be military history (although he’ll certainly do a period picture for the sheer art of it).

Here’s an example of one of those perfectly composes Speed Graphic images from the US national archives…

royston - korean war jets before

…and here’s what Royston has done with it. His OD Green is a little too green, but other than that, his color makes the image of a Korean frontline airfield come to life. Moreover, on his page, he recounts the fate of each of the F-86 Sabres in the foreground (archival information about US aircraft abounds).

royston - korean war jets

Marines or soldiers on Guam, one of the last battles of the Pacific War, pass two knocked-out Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go tanks.

Japanese t-95 ha-go tanks guam 44 royston

We know this picture came from Stalingrad. We even know this tough-looking German’s name (Hauptmann Friedrich Konrad Winkler), his provenance (a prewar volunteer, he was commissioned from the ranks, not unusual in the Wehrmacht) and fate (he was taken alive by the Soviets in February 1943, but like most who fell captive in the East, died in captivity). The Germans treated Russian prisoners, but not Americans or Englishmen, just as badly as the Russians treated theirs; war in the East was war beyond civilized norms. It might as well have been no quarter asked or given; both sides’ soldiers feared captivity more than death.

royston stalingrad

He’s using a Russian PPSh submachine gun (the Germans used them in 7.62mm and converted to 9mm) and his helmet cover is Red Army camouflage material. The picture was taken during the defense of the Barrikady factory complex in the north of Stalingrad, presumably by a German field camera unit; they and their pictures must have been captured by the Soviets.

Royston has quite a few Stalingrad pictures, and they’re reminiscent in the bleakness of their terrain and what they hint about the horror of the fight there, to his many pictures of World War I.

Finally, he also dabbles in restoration. Can this image, double-exposed and with a broken glass plate, be restored?

Royston Ruined

Here’s how Royston did:

Royston Restored

That was a couple of weeks’ work. Still, somebody needs to hire this guy — the Imperial War Museum, perhaps. Meanwhile we can all enjoy his work at the site.

Air War in the East, 1941-45

Here is a remarkably clear and objective Russian overview of the air war from the German surprise attack, which all but annihilated the Red air forces, destroying nearly 90% of combat aircraft in the first thirty days, through the bleak days when an Il-2 Sturmovik pilot might go into combat with zero Il-2 hours, and only 15-20 hours overall,  to the days before the fall of Berlin, when the shoe was on the other foot. At that time, many of the smooth German aces of 1941 were dead or disabled, and it was Hitlerjugend boys who were stuffed into Focke-Wulf 190 fighter-bombers with almost no training, and sent forth to meet hardened and ruthless Soviet aces.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXZoCkN7Sr0

The video is from a Russian series on the history of what Russians will always call the Great Patriotic War. It uses limited historical footage plus reenactments and digital simulations to teach the historical and tactical lessons of the war.

Unlike Soviet-era Russian history, the heroes here are the combat airmen, not Stalin and his ministers; and Soviet screwups as well as superiorities are noted.

Lesson? Don’t be like the Nazis and assume technical and tactical superiority is a static situation. Your enemy is an intelligent human being, and he will adapt as needed; the time may come where he hands you your head, or parks a number of Guards Tank Armies on your territory.

To avoid that outcome, or the equally bad outcome of a long stalemate, you must either knock him out with an initial death-blow (and that was the first objective of the Nazis, at which they failed), or be prepared to keep improvising and adapting yourself in a war that becomes a long slog. The Germans did not do that, and they suffered a crushing defeat, loss of territories that were ancestral German homelands, enormous loss of life, and decades of a crushing occupation and quisling government for a large portion of their population and territory.

As the Russians would quickly point out if we did not: the Germans asked for it when they invaded their then-ally in 1941. Or as they say in the South: don’t start none, won’t be none.

How Do You Get Around a Patented Design?

Over the years, this and that has been patented, in the world of guns. Given that patent law is the province of lawyers and therefore glacially slow and mired in massive transaction costs, patents don’t often benefit the poor throg filing the patent: by the time he has approval, his competitors have walked all over him and any advantage the patent might have conferred is long gone.

Original FN Browning 1900, right side, showing the ejection port. On this pistol, the barrel is below the recoil spring.

One illustration from US Patent 621747.

One illustration from US Patent 621747.

John Browning’s automatic pistol patents, for the pistol known as the FN Browning Model 1900, were filed in 1896 and 1897 (US Patents Nos.  and ) and secured, among other things, a solid patent on the idea of combining a breech bolt and other features into a “slide,” something lacking in other period auto-pistol designs (compare Borchardt, Mannlicher, Schwarzlose, and many others). The wording on these claims was a variant of this, the first specific claim of the 1896 patent:

In a firearm, the combination with a frame and a barrel carried by said frame, of a sliding breech-bolt and and a forward extension or arm attached to said breech-bolt, and extending forward alongside the frame and barrel, said extension or arm having a sleeve surrounding the barrel, whereby the movement of said extension and breech-bolt is guided by the barrel, and is limited rearwardly by contact of the rear end of said sleeve with the front of the frame.

The other illustration from 621747, showing the slide.

The other illustration from 621747, showing the slide.

Now, that claim alone might not have been a bulletproof securing of the monopoly on a pistol slide, but taken with the other Browning claims in these two patents, which were granted by 1899, meant that nobody was going to make a slide-bearing pistol without recognizing Browning’s patent, probably by giving Browning money. But his patents were part of why FN and Colt paid Browning for pistol designs, so would be copiers of the pistol were locked out until approximately 1913 — time that Browning did not spend idle.

And Browning’s Model 1900 was revolutionary, so revolutionary that “a Browning” became a European synonym for an automatic pistol.

So, if you were a would-be competitor, you could take a number of approaches, much as other pistol makers did to the similarly disruptive rise of Glock in the late 1970s and 1980s. You could, as a former Smith & Wesson CEO commanded, “just copy the mother[is only hald a word]!” which produced both the Sigma pistol line and, unsurprisingly, a lawsuit from Glock (which Glock essentially won, slaying the Sigma and sending Smith back to the drawing board). That’s the hazard of the “copy the mother!” approach, but you could use it if you were based somewhere beyond the reach of intellectual property law. In 2016 as well as a century ago, one of those lawless places is, and was, China. Not surprisingly, Chinese craftsmen didn’t feel constrained by patent law, and copied the living daylights out of the M1900. Some of them were quite close:

Browning 1900 Chinese Copy FW Browning 1900 Chinese Copy FW L

This one’s a little less close a copy:

Browning 1900 Chinese Copy

Some of the departures in the Chinese copy above include the palm-swell shape of the grip, the crudely hand-cut ejection port, the thyroid-case magazine catch, and the classically Chinese-copy sights, which often manage to have more parts than the original, but nothing that can actually be used to aim the firearm. The magazine also lacks the witness holes which were, by 1900, standard on auto-pistols worldwide.

But the slide does work like JMB’s, and if it was made before 1913 or so, it violates his patents. In China you could get away with that. In the Kingdom of Belgium, home of the factory making the authorized Browning 1900, and a nation that prides itself on rule of law, you couldn’t. So what’s a Belgian copycat to do?

“Copy the mother!”, but, cosmetically only. Meet the Mélior, whose name means “better,” and which is a shameless knock-off of the 1900 — cleverly arranged so as not to bust Browning’s patents. At a glance, it looks like another copy.

melior_browning_1900_copy_-_4

melior_browning_1900_copy_-_3

In fact, the pistol, a pre-WWI Mélior (also seen as a “Jieffeco”) incorporates some ingenious ideas of its own, and it has its own patent (that’s a British patent number, even though it is a Belgian gun). It was designed about 1906=07 by one H. Rosier, of whom little else is known.

There are a few little “tells” that this is not a direct knock-off of the 1900, such as the shape of the bustle or tang above the backstrap. Some more of these tells include:

  1. Serrations machined in, not on a screwed-on part;melior_browning_1900_copy_-_6
  2. The mid-trigger screw that attaches the trigger bar (and, of course, the different monogram, JF&C for Janssen Fils et Compagnie; see here for some Mélior history);melior_browning_1900_copy_-_9
  3. Trigger bar travels in a large, unsightly cut in the right-side grip frame, that has to have a large gap because the bar’s travel is nonlinear (upper right corner of above picture);
  4. The rear sight, completely different from the 1900’s;
  5. The shape of the ejection port: rounded-rectangle front and rear (compare to the 1900, which has a rounded-rectangle corner after and a square one front);
  6. Magazine release (of which, more below); and,
  7. The pistol doesn’t have a slide!

And of course, there are different markings.

The word Mélior, by the way, implies “better” by sound (“meilleur”) and Latin etymology.

Look Ma, no slide!

Instead of a slide, the pistol has a moving breechblock. There is no moving part around the barrel. This is the biggest single difference between this design and its cosmetic cousin, the FN Browning 1900.

melior_browning_1900_copy_-_7

The pistol seemed to have worked well enough, but after the war, the Robar & Cie firm that controlled the Mélior name commissioned a new design, one that looked more like Browning’s own Model 1910.

Pray for Release

Well, you can if you expect God to take the empty magazine out of this pistol, but the rest of us will shift for ourselves and use a rare feature: a push-button, base-of-the-gip magazine release, a lot like some early models of the Beretta 92 had.

melior_browning_1900_copy_-_5

So there you have it. A gun whose design impetus was, essentially:

  1. Copy the FN Browning 1900 as closely as possible; but,
  2. Not so closely that we get sued for patent infringement.

There are no indicators that FN and Robar et cie. ever wound up in court, so apparently this approach worked!

1946: Destroying Leftover Nazi Bunkers

October 1946, an Allied engineer unit with a mix of British and US uniforms and equipment does its bit for peace, blowing up leftover Nazi bunkers along the Siegfried Line in France. Polish-language newsreel, possibly French or Polish engineers.

We couldn’t figure out ow to embed the video, so you’ll have to follow the link:

http://www.repozytorium.fn.org.pl/?q=pl/node/4894

Seriously, does language matter when you’re watching guys blow big stuff up?

Here’s the key points of the film, po-polski:

Opis sekwencji
00:00:01:00 Wielki betonowy bunkier.
00:00:03:00 Wnętrze, tunel.
00:00:04:18 Dynamit.
00:00:07:07 Przed wejściem do fortyfikacji kilku żołnierzy alianckich, niosą skrzynki z dynamitem.
00:00:09:21 Żołnierz podpala lont i ucieka.
00:00:14:06 Wybuch.
00:00:17:06 Zapalony lont.
00:00:19:04 Bunkry. Wybuchy.
00:00:23:21 Bunkier, widoczne zabudowania.
00:00:25:12 Żołnierze detonują wybuch.
00:00:29:16 Bunkier, miasteczko, kościół. Detonowanie wybuchu. Wybuch.
00:00:40:06 Napisy końcowe: “FILM POLSKI”.

And here’s our meatball translation:

Time and Sequence
00:00:01:00 Big concrete bunker.
00:00:03:00 Entrance tunnel.
00:00:04:18 Dynamite.
00:00:07:07 Several Allied soldiers place dynamite in the bunker.
00:00:09:21 Soldier lights the fuze and runs. (This must be staged, because the cameraman would have been running, too! -Ed).
00:00:14:06 Explosion.
00:00:17:06 Lit fuze.
00:00:19:04 Bunkers; explosions.
00:00:23:21 Bunker near other buildings.
00:00:25:12 Soldiers set off an explosion.
00:00:29:16 Bunker in a city with church. Explosion set off. Another explosion.
00:00:40:06 end titles: “Polish Film”.

There are quite a few other interesting films at that site, which is some kind of national film archive, but you need a little Polish to get around.

Shooting Austro-Hungarian Arms

Our research on Czechoslovak and Bohemian gun designs and designers has caused us to dive surprisingly deep into Austro-Hungarian arms. A lot of the key designers of Habsburg empire were either Czechs (ethnically) or were ethnic Germans resident in the majority-Czech Kingdom of Bohemia, one of many small historical kingdoms subsumed into vassalage to the Austrian and Hungarian dual crowns. We’re going to see some designs that the ethnic Czech Austro-Hungarian citizen Karel Krnka worked on.

Here’s Ian from Forgotten Weapons, boldly holstering a Roth-Steyr 1907 (primarily designed by Krnka, who presumably got paid, if not credited) for a three-gun match. “Boldly” because the gun is a little, uh, different, from what others are running. It has good sights — for 1907 — but a fixed ten-shot magazine reloaded by stripper clips.

Ian did alright, considering he was short about one stripper clip to really shoot the

Now, let’s get on with the 19th Century Werndl rifle. Designed by Josef Werndl and Karel Holub, it replaced the Wenzl rifle, which was a breech-loading conversion of the muzzle-loading Lorenz rifle-musket (which was widely used by both sides as a substitute weapon in the US Civil War. The M1867 Werndl rifle went into production in Werndl’s new factory, which would put the town of Steyr on the world map. These following videos from the Hungarian Cap and Ball.eu channel use the M1867/77 variant, chambered for a larger-capacity 11mm (.41) cartridge and still in second-line use during the First World War.

From the above video, the conceptual but not mechanical similarity to the US Allin conversion/trapdoor and the British Snider system is obvious.

Josef Werndl was a remarkable character. From the design of the rifle, he built a manufacturing empire, the Österreichische Waffen Gesellschaft at Steyr, which became the great Steyr works. When he passed away, the grateful citizens of Steyr ercted a massive bronze statue showing Werndl on top, holding a brace of these rifles, while below him four workers build the guns.

Josef Werndl Monument Steyr Werndldenkmal

Here’s a close up of old Joe:

1024px-Werndl-Denkmal_(Josef_Werndl)

Karel Krnka, the principal designer of Ian’s Roth-Steyr pistol, couldn’t break into the rifle cartel of Werndl’s OWG and Friedrich Mannlicher’s eponymous firm, so he decamped to Britain where he worked on repeater for a while, before returning to the Austrian Empire for the Roth-Steyr pistol job.

More Werndl shooting (and reloading):

Here they are making the steel ring at 100 meters with a pair of Werndls (one minute video):

And finally, here’s a look at the old girl’s terminal ballistics:

 

The 24-gram bullet retained 100% of its weight, mushroomed to twice its 10.9 mm (.41 caliber) diameter, and generally put a serious wound on the gelatin pack. The rifle was clearly a good equivalent of the other early single-shot, .40-50 caliber rifles of competing world powers at the time.

The Werndl rifle would be replaced in Austro-Hungarian service by the Mannlichers, which would be made in Werndl’s old plant in Steyr, and in a new one constructed in Budapest. But that’s another story!

What’s Up? Doc!

OK, we already showed you Doc’s first flight, cut short by an indicator light (better safe than sorry in a 70-year-old, fiendishly complex airplane). But this video by professional videographer Scott Slocum was shot from a chase plane (an RV-8? Not sure), and it is, in places, breathtaking.

You can click on the “vimeo” link in the lower right to go to the Aero Media Group’s website and see some more of Scott’s fine work. Along with some cool sailing stuff, there’s P-40 and B-17 video also.

But here’s one more B-29 video: Doc’s sister ship FIFI, the Commemorative Air Force’s bird, shot this year also, in amazing crepuscular light.

If we had a B-29, we’d want Scott and his camera in the chase plane. Wouldn’t you?

AR-10 Sniper Reweld — On GB and Sold in a Flash

Seeing that this had already come, and gone, on GunBroker, was a bit like being King Arthur and the boys and hearing that the French knight would not join our quest for the Holy Grail, ’cause “‘E’s already got one.”

original AR10 sniper 01

Some lucky knight has now got the Holy Grail of early AR collecting, albeit a rewelded semi-auto version; but it’s as near as an ordinary mortal will get to the original as long as the Hughes Amendment stands.

Well, here it is, deep from the recesses of my collection, the legend of legends……………….For sale one each original 1960 Portuguese AR-10 sniper rifle manufactured by “Artillerie Inrichtingen (AI) of Holland.

original AR10 sniper 03

No-this isn’t a pretend AR-10 such as the contemporary Armalite, DPMS, or any of the other .308 AR-15’s, THIS IS A REAL AR-10. Original AR-10’s in and of themselves are scarce; this is an EXTREMELY RARE sniper rifle.

He’s got a point there. The only other one of these we’ve seen was in a government museum.

original AR10 sniper 04

I’ve had it since 1995 (which is the last time I shot it) and it’s time to pass it on to somebody else. The rifle is complete and original. The lower receiver was expertly welded together from an original band saw cut and de-milled Portuguese AR-10 by Lloyd Hahn who received permission from the ATF before he did the work so it’s all done in compliance with the law (I don’t do “grey area’s).

original AR10 sniper 02

Unlike the various after-market AR-10 receivers such as Central Kentucky Arms, Specialty Arms, H&H, Telco, Sendra, etc. this actually looks like an original AR-10 lower (cuz’ it mostly is) receiver markings and all.

The aluminum H&H is pretty good, but it doesn’t duplicate the original markings, except for the serial number.

original AR10 sniper 12

SCOPE-original Delft, 3.6 X 25, excellent condition with clear optics

original AR10 sniper 19

*UPPER RECEIVER-a real sniper upper (in case somebody should ask, it would next to impossible to correctly machine the proper sniper scope cuts in an ordinary Portuguese upper) *You may notice a piece of tape behind the ejection port in the photos, no it ain’t holding the rifle together ;-)I put that on in 95’ to mitigate any brass “dings” on the upper receiver.

original AR10 sniper 14

 

BARREL-NO Shaw repro, it’s a very good condition Portuguese with a shiny bore (most Portuguese aren’t)

Again, the seller is on the level here. Our AR-10 barrel is “pretty good for a Porto” and the usual run of them is more in the “what were they doing with these things, growing potatoes?” condition.

original AR10 sniper 20

STOCK-Unlike most Portuguese stocks this one has an excellent rubber butt pad. There are however several very small cracks in the stock which have been expertly repaired.

The early fiberglass stocks were brittle and the resin degraded under ultraviolet light.

original AR10 sniper 10

HANDGUARDS-The fiberglass is in excellent condition with no cracks or scuffs, most Portuguese bipod handguards are a little “scruffy”, this is the best Portuguese bipod handguard I’ve ever held in my hands.

Haven’t seen one this good (including the one in the museum), ourselves.

Bipod-good-very good condition fully functional with no rust, mostly original finish. MAGAZINES-four come with the rifle.

Well, at least we’ve got more mags than that.

original AR10 sniper 17

Thanx for looking! PS-This is the same sniper rifle which was featured in the book, “The ArmaLite AR-10 Rifle”. Hit “Buy it now” and I’ll throw in the book with the sale,

via ORIGINAL ArmaLite AR-10 SNIPER Rifle (Portuguese) : Semi Auto Rifles at GunBroker.com.

The “Buy It Now” price was $12,000, and the running joke is that half of it was for the rare Maj. Sam Pikula book. (Which has fortunately been replaced, finally, by a better book after decades out of print).

Exit question: was the knight in question Reed Knight? He has most variants of AR-10 in his collection, but we don’t think he had the ultra-rare sniper.