Category Archives: Machine Guns

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

Val Browning with a BAR "Somewhere in France."

Val Browning with a BAR “Somewhere in France.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Origins of the BAR, Part II: WWI Manufacturing

Where we left you yesterday, Colt had delivered to the Government the gages, tools and drawings for BAR (and M1917 machine gun) production. We’ll continue with Chinn’s story:

During July and August 1917, more than 2 months after our entry into the war, a survey was made of facilities and plants thought capable of turning out the water-cooled version in quantity.

Several different plants began M1917 production. Then it was the BAR’s turn.

The production of the B.A.R. followed a similar pattern. Browning carried on most of his early development on the machine rifle at the Colt’s Patent FireArmsCo. Later, Winchester gave valuable assistance in connection with the preparation and correction of the drawings, adding many refinements to the gun. Winchester was the first to start manufacture on this model. Since the work did not begin until February 1918, it was so rushed that the component part of the first 1,800 to be put out were found to be not strictly interchangeable. Production had to be temporarily halted until the required manufacturing procedures were altered to bring the weapon up to specifications. At the end of the war the Winchester Co. was producing 1300 B.A.R.’s a day. A total of 63,000 items were canceled at the time of the Armistice.

Chinn just leaves this hanging here, and doesn’t answer the obvious question: how many BARs did Winchester produce prior to the end-of-war contract cancellation? For that we have to go to a Winchester source. R.L. Wilson’s Winchester: An American Legend, which is at once a beautiful coffee-table book and a fact-packed Winchester source, says “about 47,000” in its brief paragraph on BAR manufacture (p. 171), which is worth reproducing in full:

In September, 1917, Winchester was instructed to commence tooling up for the manufacture of the Browning automatic rifle (BAR). Edwin Pugsley, then manufacturing engineer, went to the Colt factory see the only existing model. Since the BAR was needed at Colt’s during the work week, it was borrowed for a weekend, and in that time drawings were made and the project begun. By the end of December the first Winchester BAR at been completed. Production was well along by March, and by Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, Winchester had made approximately 47,000. Winchester also had begun construction of the Browning .50-caliber machine gun and had a working model completed within about two months. That gun, however, never entered into production, because of the end of hostilities.

Winchester found wartime contracting not to be the lucrative profit center it was imagined to be: the company took in vast amounts of money from Britain (for whom it made the P14 Enfield), Russia (Mosin-Nagant M1891) and US (1917 Enfield, BAR) but it sank it all into plant expansion to fulfill the contracts, and was fortunate to escape bankruptcy. It did, however, end up with greatly expanded facilities and an immeasurable increase in manufacturing know-how. Back to Chinn (p. 180-181):

The Marlin-Rockwell Corp. intended originally to use the Hopkins and Allen Co. plant for the construction of this weapon, but found that a contract for making rifles for the Belgian Government fully occupied its facilities. The corporation then acquired the Mayo Radiator Co.’s factory for use in its contract to produce the B.A.R. The first run from this source was made on 11 June 1918, and by 11 November 1918 the company was turning out 200 automatic rifles a day. The postwar cancellation was 93,000 weapons.

If Marlin’s contract was, like Winchester’s, 100,000 rifles, then Marlin turned out 7,000 BARs before the cancellation telegram arrived. (As we’ll see, this assumption is far from certain).

The Colt Co., because of the heavy demands of previous orders, produced only 9,000 B.A.R.’s. The combined daily production by all companies was 706 and a total of approximately 52,000 rifles was delivered by all sources.

Here’s where the lack of a BAR-specific book on our shelves shows. Obviously Winchester’s 47,000, Marlin’s 7,000 and Colt’s 9,000 doesn’t add up to 52,000 (more like 63,000), plus we’re doubtful that the production actually came down to round numbers like this. Somebody smarter than us has already done this research and resolved, or at least explained, these discrepancies. (Both Chinn and Wilson are well-regarded for accuracy, for what it’s worth).

Apart from the errors on the first 1,800 BARs made at Winchester, BAR production was relatively trouble-free; a more serious error in M1917 machine gun production required a doubler to be attached to the receiver, and this hand rework cost more than the actual production of the guns in the first place, a reminder of the risks inherent in modern mass production in wartime.

Tomorrow we’ll conclude this mini-series with Origins of the BAR, Part III: The BAR in WWI Combat, again quoting from Chinn.

(Note: we do have a picture for this article, but lacked time to prepare and insert it before press time. We will catch up and insert it later, if we can).

By Popular Demand: More BAR vs. BREN Video

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Machine Gun Drill Times — Warsaw Pact Czechoslovakia

How quickly can you get your MG into operation? These were the standards of the Czechoslovak People’s Army for bringing the Universal MG vz. 59 into operation, as published in the Handbook for NCOs in 1975 (p. 175).

ukl_vz._59L

This is in the LMG mode — prone, with gunner and AG, ready to fire from the march. Here’s what “assuming the prone position for firing the MG” looks like in a scan from the handbook:

assuming_the_prone

The Czechoslovaks clearly believed that having a year’s experience on the gun shaved a couple seconds, and that having use of an AG versus doing it yourself was worth four seconds.

Time Norms for Preparing the Universal Machine Gun vz. 59-L for firing (times in seconds)
Prone Firing Position 1st Year* 2nd year
Outstanding Good Satisfactory Outstanding Good Satisfactory
Collective effort of gunner and loader 10 12 14 8 10 12
Either gunner or loader solo 14 16 18 12 14 16
Taking cartridges or belts from a closed box 22 24 26 20 22 24
* (after completing initial period of training) Translation © WeaponsMan.com 2016

Why no “3rd year”? Like all Warsaw Pact (and most Continental European NATO) Armies in this period, it was a draft army. For an infantry gun bunny, there was no third year!

Having to crack the box was considered an eight-second penalty.

The manual also includes  table of times for breakdown and reassembly, and similar tables for the vz. 58 rifle. There’s considerable information on exterior ballistics, plunging fire, etc. The Czechoslovak People’s Army placed great store in mastering weapons. Firing was initially at bull’s-eye targets, but by the time the gunner or crew had been introduced to tactical employment of their weapons, silhouettes were used. These roughly resembled the US E-type “full” and F-type “head and shoulders” silhouettes, plus “group” targets comprising a pair of full-silhouettes, or a full-silhouette next to a head-and-shoulders job.

Because it’s an NCO’s handbook, there’s a little bit of information on how to conduct fire control of crews, elements, and squads, also.

WWII Base of Fire: BAR vs MG.34

Here’s Art Alphin, then at West Point, presenting a video for the cadets (and for all of us) comparing the weapon the US Army and Marine rifle squad used as a base of fire, the M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle, to its Wehrmacht counterpart, the MG34 general purpose machine gun.

The two weapons are technically different, of course, with the BAR more akin to the ZB 26 / ZB 30 LMGs that the German forces used as substitute standard. But they’re also tactically different, and Alphin covers that.

The MG34 barrel swap in the range-test in the video was triggered by the extractor ripping apart a casing. A failure like that in the BAR would down the gun until the residue of the case could be removed by other means. In the MG34, it simply means you have to do the barrel swap sooner (and your assistant gunner needs to get the ruptured case out before the other barrel gets too hot.

Which was better? As an infantry officer or NCO, it didn’t matter. Because your side only had one, and that was the one you had. And it was up to you to deploy it tactically in a way that best exploited its characteristics.

A great deal of discussion in the gun world is tribal/fanboy posturing, reminiscent of the hot-rodder t-shirts that were popular with grade school boys in the 1960s: “Chevies Eat Fords” or vice versa. An infantryman does not have the luxury of preference. He gets the bayonet handle the Republic/King/Commissar has provided for him, and he might as well like it because the decision is out of his hands just as much as the rifle is in them.

But even if he doesn’t like it, he has to use it. Sometimes his really will be better. Sometimes it won’t. And either way, it doesn’t matter. Good leadership with crap weapons beats good weapons with crap leadership.

Looking at the guns from a logistician’s point of view, the BAR wins. It burns less ammo, requires a smaller fire team, get by without belted ammunition. And, as complicated as it is (soldiers of a certain vintage, or who cycled through Light Weapons or 18B school,  will remember “cups and cones!”), it’s still much simpler to machine and assemble than the fiendishly complicated parts of the MG34.

That may explain why, despite the recognized high quality of the MG34, nobody really used it after 1945, and why the most successful post-war GPMG was based on its arch-rival, the BAR.

“Say Hello to My Little Friend!”

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

Jackson M16A1 01Flip side:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: SIG Wants You… to Buy an MPX

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

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

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

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

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

Update

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

 

Names for Malfunctions

“I’ve never had a malfunction on paper.”

George M. Chinn

On this page at the international website all4shooters, we noted the following paragraph from Andrea Giuntini:

American experts invented names and achronyms for all kind of gun-related malfunctions, yet there isn’t one that suits this. That was definitely not an FTF (“Failure to Feed”), as the round were fed and fired properly, nor an FTE (“Failure to Extract) since, as a matter of fact, the case was extracted and ejected; nor it is a stovepipe malfunction − if it was, the case would be stuck vertically in the ejection window.
May you, ALL4SHOOTERS.COM readers and followers, invent a name for this kind of malfunction? Tell us about it, and about any peculiar kind of malfunction you may have experienced in your everyday shooters’ lives!

The article actually looks into a screwy, one-off malf of a Glock 17, in which a fired casing got turned around backwards and jammed the slide from going into battery on the next round:

Glock-jamming

We couldn’t duplicate the jam with a G17 and dummy rounds in the office, but Andrea traced it to a piece of metal debris under the extractor (his Glock was brand new).

A gun is a machine, and a machine does the same thing every time, given the same input; therefore, a machine never fails for no reason, and the reason is always discoverable, given the right theory, concept, and inspectional technique. Basic troubleshooting, which worked for Andrea Giuntini and should make a good post here some day. But meanwhile, it got us thinking about what are the types of malfunctions?

Most of what an Internet search will find is the same stuff repeated endlessly, which probably comes, ultimately, from Cooper. We leave finding it in Cooper’s voluminous bibliography as an exercise for the reader; his Commentaries are online, for example.

Cooper, in turn, followed Chinn. But an even earlier taxonomy of malfunctions comes from then-Captain Julian Hatcher and his assistants, Lieutenants H.J. Malony and Glenn P. Wilhelm,  at the Machine Gun School of Instruction at Harlingen, Texas in March, 1917.

Jams, Malfunctions, Stoppages

Distinguish carefully between these terms, and use them correctly. Any accidental cessation of fire is a stoppage. It may be due to a misfire, or to the fact that the magazine has been emptied, etc. In this case it is not a malfunction.

A malfunction is an improper action of some part of the gun, resulting in a stoppage. For example, a failure to extract the empty cartridge case.

A jam is some malfunction which causes the mechanism to stick or bind so that it is difficult to move. Do not use the word “Jam” too much. Most troubles with the guns are merely temporary stoppages due to some malfunction, and real jams are comparatively rare.1

An alternative version comes from the Royal Armouries of England and Great Britain. In the 1960s, its standard report format (which we saw in the Vz 58 report) contained this boilerplate key2 to malfunctions:

ABBREVIATION STOPPAGE OR MALFUNCTION DESCRIPTION
1. b.f.c. Breech Block fails to close. The round has been fed into the chamber but breech block not fully home.
2. b. f. r. Breech Block fails to remain to the rear. When the trigger is released the breech block fails to engage on the sear.
3. d.t. Double Tap. When the mechanism of the weapon is set to single shot firing two rounds are fired with one pressure of the trigger.
4. f. e. Failure tc Eject. This occurs when the round is correctly fired and fired case is extracted from chamber but not thrown clear of the weapon.
5. f. e. c. Failure to Extract Fired Case. This occurs when the round is fired correctly but the fired case is left in the chamber when the breech block moves to the rear.
6. f. f. Failure to Feed A conplete failure of the breech block to contact the base of the round and remove it from belt or magazine i.e. breech block closes on empty chamber. Position of round in magazine or belt indicated where possible i.e. 19th
7. hf.      Hangfire This occurs when the time interval between the striking of the cap by the firing pin and the firing of the round is apparent to fixer. Definite time lag in milli seconds is however used by Ammunition personnel.
8. l. s. Light Strike This occurs when the cap of the round receives a slight indentation from the firing pin which is insufficient to ignite the cap composition.
9. p. f. f. Partial Failure to Feed or Malfeed. This is a partial failure in that the round has beer taken partially from the magazine or belt by breech block but has not chambered.

Position of round in magazine or belt indicated where possible, i.e. 19th round etc.

10. mf. Misfire. This occurs when the cap of the round has been correctlv struck but fails to ignite the charge and fire the round.
11.  r. g.  (3),(4),(5), etc. Runaway Gun. No. of rounds in brackets. When the mechanism of the weapon is set either at single shot or auto and continues firing after release of trigger,
12. s. c. Separated Case This occurs when a portion of the fired case is left in the chamber, the remainder being extracted normally. The succeeding round will fail fully to enter the chamber and breech block will fail to close.
13. s. n. r. Snubbed Nose Round. This occurs when the nose of the bullet does not enter the chamber correctly but on striking the barrel face is crushed by the foiward movement of breech block. This snubbing may take place at various points on the barrel face or lead in and where possible, is indicated as SN 3 o’clock SN 9 o’clock etc.
14. t. f. c. Trapped Fired Case. This occurs when the fired case is correctly extracted but on ejection the fired case rebounds into the mechanism and is trapped between some portion of the moving parts (usually the breech block) and the body of the weapon.
15 Failures through Breakages These will obviously cause stoppages and will be described in full.

The fact is, malfunctions are conceptualized differently by the engineer, by the armorer or gunsmith, and by the firearms operator. From the operator’s-eye view, you don’t need to get wrapped around the axle trying to name them al. What you really need to know is what sorts of malfunctions a particular weapon is prone to, and how to correct them. And there is no better way than experience to master the art of malfunction correction.

Notes

  1. Hatcher, et. al. p. 1.
  2. UK Ministry of Defence, Inspectorate of Armaments, Woolwich, Small Arms Branch Testing Section, RSAF Enfield Lock, Form 7248/1. Retrieved from: http://weaponsman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/RSAF-SATB-Small-Arms-Trial-Report-Vz58-1966.pdf

Sources

Hatcher, Julian S., Wilhelm, Glenn P. and Malony, Harry J. Menasha, WI: George Banta Publishing Co., 1917.

UK Ministry of Defence, Inspectorate of Armaments, Woolwich, Small Arms Branch Testing Section, RSAF Enfield Lock, Form 7248/1.

A New Pistol Caliber Carbine?

Have a look at this teaser picture, from Grand Power in Slovakia. It’ll embiggen a wee bit, but not much, if you click on it. We found it on their website at GrandPower.eu.

Grand Power Stribor

In the foreground, four of Grand Power’s ingenious patented roller-locked pistols. Background… well, here are all the facts that we know GP has said about it on its website:

  1. It is called the “Stribog,” a very cool name (He was the pagan Old Slavic god of the wind and sky).
  2. It is coming in August (presumably, for EU customers). Remember, it takes GP about a year to work their way through both Slovak and United States red tape with any new product.

We’ve learned that a full-auto version has been manufactured.

Stribog Typu U

However, the S9 semi-auto 9mm variant of the Stribog is trickling out to Slovak domestic reviewers, if not to the market just yet. This Slovak-language video reveals some more details, some by giving the firearm itself the beady eyeball, and some by applying an understanding of Czech to the Slovak speaker. Mostly, the gun just sits there and you can look at it.

There’s some firing of an automatic version at the end, Significant facts here are the use of standard AR trigger internals; the weapon is as modular as possible. Also, there is expected to be availability of an adapter to use AR stocks instead of Grand Power’s own folding stock, reversibility of those controls not ambidextrous, and use of GP proprietary magazine or, with an adapter that slips into the magwell, Uzi mags.

…and it turns out there’s more on the Slovak-language version of the Grand Power page, including some specs:

Caliber: 9mm Luger
Method of Operation: Semi-Automatic
Overall Length: 484.5 mm folded (19″)/ 747 mm extended (29.4″)
Height without Magazine: 200 mm (7.87″)
Overall Width: 46.5/57 mm (1.83″ stock extended/2.24 ” folded)
Barrel Length: 254 mm (10″)
Weight w/o Magzine: 2800 g (6.16 lb).
Standard Magazine Capacity: 10/20/32

(Written Slovak is a lot easier for a Czech speaker than the spoken language).

What we find curious about Grand Power is that, as a domestic producer that makes high-quality firearms, they haven’t been tagged by the Slovak Army for them. The SK military uses Czech pistols, for instance.

What GI Joe Knew about Landser Fritz’s Small Arms

Here’s a once-classified (if mildly so) World War II training film that teaches American GIs how to recognize, operate, field-strip and reassemble four basic German infantry weapons: the Kar.98k rifle, the MP.40 submachine gun, and the MG-34 and -42 general purpose machine guns.

If you ever wondered how the three different feed arrangements for the MG-34 worked, or what that big washer on a Kar.98 stock was for, this movie has your answer. If you knew all that, enjoy learning what was thought to be important, sensitive information to pass to American GIs.

There are a few errors in the film. They even correct one with a title card: no, don’t disassemble the MP.40 (or anything else!) with the magazine in place. Another is referring to the MP.40 as the Schmeisser, which came about, as we understand it, because some early MP.38 magazines noted that the dual-column, single-feed magazine was made according to a Schmeisser patent. 

If you ever caught yourself wondering why everybody used to call an MP.38 or .40 a “Schmeisser,” showing this video to 12 million or so GIs may have been a factor.

The classification with which this video is marked, “Restricted,” is long defunct. (In some postwar documents, it is labeled “Restricted — Security Information.”) It is not to be confused with the sensitive “Restricted Data” marking used for nuclear weapons information, much of what is still not classified, and is marked “Formerly Restricted Data.” RD/FRD was not an Army/Navy or DOD clearance, but an Atomic Energy Agency, later Department of Energy, clearance.

Regular Army/Navy “Restricted,” on the other hand, was a notch below the first true stage of classification, “Confidential.” It was often used on things like this that discussed enemy and/or threat weapons, tactics, or operational art.

A civilian might suspect that classifying such things is a classically military example of blockheadedness, but the reason for the secrecy is not because some cretin in the Pentagon thinks it would be dangerous to show the  Germans how to field-strip their own machine guns, but because we’d rather not have had the Germans knowing what we know about their guns.

And this video, in Wehrmacht hands, would have told them something about our understanding of their weapons policy. By this point, the Wehrmacht had been combat testing the intermediate-round assault rifle for months if not a year, and this film makes no mention of the Mkb.42 (H) and )(W) or the MP.43. Our best guess is that the Germans were testing these new weapons primarily on the Eastern Front, not in the Western Desert or Italy where they were engaging American or British forces. But in the end that is only speculation.

The movie itself is a fact, a primary source for all of you, from World War II. Source here if you’d like to download an MP4 copy or grab embed code for your own blog.