Category Archives: Pistols and Revolvers

The Best is the Enemy of the Good, and the Bren X

The Bren X or Bren 10 was a Jeff Cooper brainstorm at the peak of the old Colonel’s celebrity (and his powers). It was based on what Cooper considered the best designed and executed service pistol of the era, but updated for a new round he considered perfect (instead of the stock 9mm, which he disdained). The gun was made with care in a US factory, of the materials Cooper insisted on (Steel and Stainless Steel, none of those lightweight alloys).

It received fawning reviews in every corner of the gun press, except where the reviews crossed the line from “fawning” into “slobbering.” And commercially? It failed. Royally. Resoundingly. Resonatingly. It failed like the Edsel, New Coke, and John Carter. Actually, it failed worse than those: Ford, Coca-Cola, and Disney are still with us, but the Bren Ten killed Dornaus & Dixon, the company that cut the metal to make real Cooper’s conceptual design.

But unlike the Edsel, New Coke and John Carter, the Bren Ten didn’t suck. Now that it’s no longer the cutting-edgiest thing out there, but a period piece, here’s Larry A. Vickers giving the rundown on the gun’s development, versions, and strengths — and weaknesses.

And yeah, there are still Bren 10s around (or Bren Xs to spell it as D&D did) with no magazine! (Mec-Gar or a forerunner made the mags… but somebody botched the Italian export paperwork and for all we know they’re still in a bonded warehouse somewhere in Lombardy).

But the gun didn’t die because it was bad. If anything, too many sincere guys worked too hard to make it the Absolute Best at Everything that they forgot that logistics count even for the individual gun buyer. He has to find ammo, holsters, and yeah, spare magazines. Or his firearm is not a defensive tool but an awkward and oily paperweight.

A lot of things have changed since 1983. (For one thing, more effective defensive ammo has rendered the “puny” 9mm respectable again). As Larry points out, modern polymer, striker-fired guns have diminished the wonder of an SA/DA gun that can be carried cocked-and-locked (Condition One for you old Cooperites). We still like our CZ — the model for the Bren Ten — but we’re no longer riding the crest of the Cool Guy wave. (We’re old, and stout… hey… like Larry). It’s a fact that the hot gun of today becomes the museum piece of tomorrow and the forgotten weapon of the year after that.

But if you’re going to call yourself educated, you owe it to yourself to learn about all those has-been hot guns, as well as today’s hot numbers. Maybe the Bren Ten is only playing on the gun equivalent of oldies stations, but it still has a catchy hook.

Tam Goes in for Quick Kill… Involuntarily

So there she was at a shootin’ school, and her trusty M&P inspired, shall we say, “trust issues” by shucking off the upper half of the rear sight.

Hey, as we’ve demonstrated with our Quick Kill reporting, you don’ need no stankin’ sights at pistol ranges. Still, they’re kinda nice to have.

Basically, when the slide assembly reached the rear limit of its travel, the back half of the sight decided it wanted to keep going and it had enough inertia to do so. I don’t recollect it actually hitting me, but always wear eye pro, kids! .

via View From The Porch.

Thinking about the physics of it, a rear sight ejected from the rear of a firearm is unlikely to hit the eye. Because even as it moves eyeward at a speed equal to recoil speed minus the velocity lost shearing the molecular bonds inside the (probably metal injection molded or sintered) sight, it’s also seeking the center of the earth at 32 feet per second per second (unless you’re outside the USA, in which case it does it at 9.81m2.

So you’re more likely to take it on the chin, cheek, or shooting vest, than in the eye. That’s why actual eye loss from such catastrophic dumbassery as firing 7.62 Tokarev ammo in an old Broomhandle is quite rare. The broomhandle bolt breaks the dummy’s cheekbone or knocks out a few teeth, instead of sailing through the orbit and turning his not-too-splendid brain into mush.

And back in the days of Broomhandles, they had never heard of metal injection molding.

How to Make a Revolver Go kB!

There’s the old double-charge. Since this late, lamented Colt Anaconda is… er, was a .44 Mag (which is hard to double-charge without obviously spilling powder) a more likely explanation is an oversized load of something fast-burning.

Overconfidence + Handloads + Revolver =

colt-anaconda

The Anaconda is a rare piece, rare enough that it isn’t even mentioned in R.L. Wilson’s doorstop, The Book of Colt Firearms (2008), but it was introduced in 1990 as the first large-frame Colt DA since the discontinuation of the New Service to enable war production in World War II, and discontinued in 1999 as a result of weak sales. Leftover parts were assembled into more Anacondas by the Colt custom shop. It has a reputation as an extremely strong .44 Magnum gun (especially the Kodiak model, which dispenses with cylinder flutes).

Another Way to Blow Up a Revolver

Then, there’s a short-cut to blowing up a black powder revolver: load it with smokeless powder. Imagine a load that that beefy Anaconda could have survived, transported back in time to a Civil War .44. It isn’t going to work, is it? It would be like coupling a modern 5-liter Mustang V8 to the planetary transmission of a Model T — for one bright shining moment, you’d be your state’s largest distributor of transmission parts. That’s what one European shooter did by loading smokeless powder in his revolver.

This video, from the outstanding Hungarian-based YouTube channel capandball.eu, shows the before-and-after of a Remington 1858 replica.

It could have been much worse: only one chamber of this revolver-turned-grenade was loaded. One thing to note is how much thinner the chambers of a cap and ball Army .44 are, than of the modern Colt seen shredded above.

It is not an exaggeration to say that whatever sprite of caution kept the shooter from loading all cylinders quite directly saved his life.

It’s interesting to see the failure modes in these guns. If you look at them carefully, you can see that while the metal near the point of detonation shatters, other metal then peels, bends or flexes, ultimately failing in tension as it is stretched in directions its designers never envisioned.

Steel, the principal material from which we built guns, seems indestructibly solid, but when forces exceed its plastic strength it will deform, and when forces exceed its ultimate strength it will fail. Q.E.D.

How Many SIG Pistols are in This Picture?

Care to guess?

p320-kit-2

The answer is one. What you’re looking at is the first two-size, two-caliber conversion kit we’ve seen for the SIG P320 striker-fired pistol. (The earlier P250 is a similar modular concept, but in a traditional SIG hammer-fired model). This kind of package has been announced by SIG, but this is the first one we’ve noticed for sale. The giveaway in the picture is the absence of a trigger in the black pistol.

That’s because the actual serial-numbered receiver, and therefore the firearm is the fire-control module. Interchangeable backstrap not enough for you? How about a whole interchangeable pistol?

p320-kit-3

In this particular case, the black pistol is a full size 9mm pistol and the .357 SIG is a compact. Numerous other combinations are possible with additional parts.

One benefit of this combination is that it makes it possible and practical to practice with relatively inexpensive 9mm ammunition, saving the expensive .357 warshots for limited confidence/function shooting and daily carry while maintaining a single array of muscle memory on grip, sight picture and trigger pull.

At $800 the set, it saves you some money over a pair of SIGs or even a pair of lower-priced Glocks, if you or our agency want the .357 SIG round as a carry round.

Personally, we’re content with the venerable 9 x 19, but enjoy the creativity and the technology of the thing. This would likely be a very hot seller, if SIG can overcome their reputational struggles with quality control.

3D-Printed 9MM Semiauto (video rich); 3D Guns Update

As we have expected to happen for some time, and as the initial Cody Wilson “Liberator” first demonstrated, 3D-printed firearms made of common addititive-manufacturing plastics like ABS or PLA inevitably had to diverge from common steel firearms practice to take advantage of those plastics’ strength — and overcome their weaknesses.

That means that, while early prints were nothing but, for example, a plastic version of an AR lower dimensionally identical to its aluminum forbear, but destined for a short life (especially in PLA), more and more designs are innovating in different directions.

This series of videos shows the Shuty, a 9mm pistol based on kitbashing the designs of British homemade gun pioneer P.A. Luty and the AR-15 together. It uses several metal parts, including the barrel (which comes from a Glock 17), the fire-control group (AR), and the bolt (home-made). On the other hand, the magazine, upper and lower receivers, and bolt carrier, are all printed from a polymer generally thought unsuitable for firearms parts. Turns out, you can design around materials deficiencies (as the Japanese did when they used chrome bores for strength, to offset the suboptimal alloys they had for rifle barrels, decades before other nations adopted them for durability, and when their aeronautical engineers designed assemblies built-up of  7075-equivalent alloy sheet where every other skyfaring nation would use a 7075 forging).

Here is Derwood’s working Shuty, redesigned from the original, as of 1 May 15:

He says:

After several failed attempts with the Shuty, I decided to beef it up to handle the stress. The combination plastic/steel bolt works very good. After several test fires, the frame and lower is holding up well and no damage has occurred.

The plastic parts were all printed on the SeeMeCNC Orion printer, an entry-level machine, in PLA (polylactic acid), the entry-level printing material that is biodegradable and derived from renewable resources. The bolt assembly looks complex, but:

Its just three steel dowels stacked and welded together parallel with each other. the bottom smaller dowel is drilled for the firing pin. the center dowel is a spacer. the top dowel is the buffer.

Fosscad (an informal, leaderless, cellular homemade-3D-gun resistance) picked up the video and Fosscad user ma deuce posted it on 22 May 15. (Link only because it’s basically the same video, why embed it?)

Here’s Derwood’s next video, 20 May 15, showing a longer test fire. What appears to be a jam at the end isn’t, actually; what it is, is the bolt gnawing on the magazine spring because this work in progress doesn’t have a magazine follower yet — just a spring pushing the cartridges up! Oy.

Well, if you’re going to crib something, cribbing Glock’s feed ramp by using their barrel is a short cut to a working firearm. Glock reliability is not accidental, it’s a product of careful design and iterative improvement.

So that brings us to 27 May 15. It’s fully working, with firing and a mag change, two eight-round mags complete:

Derwood says it’s still evolving, and not finished yet; when he thinks it’s “finished,” he’ll release the .stl files. Until then, he tinkers on at a high rate of speed.

As a practical 9mm pistol the Shuty has its limitations. It gives you all the firepower of a Kel-Tec belly gun in a platform the size of what it is, a mongrel of AR-15 and MAC M10 ancestry. It has no sights, no stocks, and is only slightly more concealable than a basketball. Made of PLA, the stuff used in the dishes microwave dinners come in, it’s destined for a short life, by gun standards (we’ve got guns one and two centuries old here). So, as a practical pistol? A turkey. But as a proof of concept, it is enough to get would-be totalitarians “all wee-wee’d up” (in the locution of one such).

Ah, but bolts? Barrels? Too early to write about, but people are working those issues.

Some Other 3D Developments

Of course, the Shuty is far from the only 3DP pistol in development. Here one is with the Imura revolver (left) and the Songbird pistol (center):

Imura Songbird Shuty Redesign

Joel Leathers of Texas even posted the .stl files for the Glock 17 on Thingiverse. (That link 404s; the files were deleted, due to MakerBot’s political anti-gun position, but there is a story on PrintedFirearm.com. At least they didn’t unperson Joel on Thingiverse. Yet).

Glock-3_preview_featured

Of course, a printed Glock part will not be usable in a firearm as is. But we can see practical uses for the files. (How about a printed, brightly colored, safety barrel for use in mechanical training? Pennyslvania State Police?)

How has this technology progressed so fast? Some of these guys print a lot. This printer has racked up nearly two months of run time, and used over six miles of filament!

Some of these guys print a lot

This is a 10-22 with receiver and trigger housing printed. We’ve discussed this project before. (Indeed, that story from last month has a photo in it which is a crop of the one below).

10-22 with major parts printed

We’ve shown the receivers before, but here are some printed trigger housings.

10-22 trigger housing printed

AR receivers continue to be developed. This heavily-reinforced AR-10 lower design, the Nephilim (an obscure Biblical reference to a purported race of human/angel crossbred giants) by Warfairy, shows lots of reinforcement and improvement to make a plastic receiver stand in for a 7075 aluminum alloy forging.

AR10 Nephilim by Warfairy

Here at Hog Manor, we’re still on the waitlist for our printer. And we won’t be printing guns with it, but other stuff for our DOD clients.

If You Build It, Nanny Wants to Ban It

Banning this sort of thing is very tempting to anti-gun lawmakers, political appointees, and those executives in the ATF who see the agency’s mission as “to destoy gun ownership.” Indeed, some of the European nations with fewer checks and balances hindering their legislative range of motion have already banned this kind of experimentation.

The problem with that, is that it is but a short step from the Shuty to a select-fire submachine gun. If you drive this design activity entirely underground, the designers are as well hung for a sheep as a lamb, no?

The largely-libertarian tinkerers making these things are doing no harm to a society, and may do some good. They have no sympathy with criminals who would use this technology to harm or threaten people. But let that be the line the law draws in the sand: not the malum prohibitum “if you make this we will hammer you,” but the malum in se “if you do harm with this we will hammer you, and the maker community will help us find you.”

Glock Training Pistols

We’ve covered the SIRT training pistol before, but such a successful market was probably not going to be neglected by Glock forever. In fact, Glock has introduced several versions of training pistol, most of which are available only to LE/military customers, so far. They can all take rail-mounted accessories or aftermarket sights without trouble.

Cutaway Pistols

Cutaways are used for teaching how a firearm works and are useful for training both users and armorers. Sure, an experienced armorer has no problem visualizing what’s going on inside a simple machine like a Glock 17, but seeing it in front of his face brings him to that threshold of knowledge sooner.

glock_cutaway

Here’s what Glock says about these:

GLOCK cutaway models are produced for technical and firearms training. These models are always a main attraction at training classes, presentations, and tradeshows because they clearly illustrate the ingeniously simple internal mechanisms of the GLOCK pistol. They are sold exclusively to law enforcement agencies.
Cutaway pistols in are available in the following models:
Gen3 – G17, G19, G20, G21, G22, G23
Gen4 – G17

Glock T FX Training Pistol

This is a special pistol for use with nonlethal Simunitions® FX 9mm marking ammunition for training, including kinetic training and force-on-force. It is available to LE and military customers only. As the Sims come in essentially a single caliber, there is only one standard catalog Glock T FX, the Glock 17 T FX.

glock_17_t_fx

As is customary with Simunitions guns, the 17 T FX Training Pistol functions on direct blowback. The blue parts of the slide are polymer inserts to reduce the slide weight and permit the pistol to cycle with the low-powered, light-weight training rounds.

Here’s the Glock factory description:

Over the years, Police, Special Units, SWAT, and Military units around the world have proven that static shooting training, combined with simulated shooting training, produces the greatest benefits. The GLOCK Training Pistols were developed with the purpose of enabling reality-based tactical operations training using color marking or plastic projectile ammunition.

Simunitions, Inc., now a division of General Dynamics Canada, has also long furnished conversion kits and dedicated training weapons on Glock as well as other platforms.

Glock P Practice Pistol

The Practice Pistol, here a G22P, fires neither Simunitions nor live ammunition. It’s simply a trainer, designed to impart mechanical skills to those new to handling Glock pistols.  It can be loaded, unloaded, disassembled and assembled, holstered and dry-fired like a regular Glock, but it can’t chamber or fire live ammunition.

glock_22p

Here’s the Glock rundown:

Loading magazines, sight alignment, trigger squeeze, and disassembling are all part of a shooter’s training routine. The GLOCK Practice Pistol was developed to eliminate dangerous scenarios during training exercises. Identical to a GLOCK pistol in handling, weight, size, and balance, it puts the real thing in your hand, without any firing capability.

Glock R Reset Pistol

The Glock Reset Pistol is their answer to the Next Level Training SIRT trainer. It’s not as complete, requiring the trainer or organization to source a separate laser module, but it is from Glock, meaning organizations can (and do) bundle it into their pistol bid.

glock_reset_pistol

Glock says this about that:

The GLOCK Reset Pistols automatically reset the trigger without having to manually manipulate the slide. They enable safe, practical training when used with a shooting simulator. An aftermarket, laser impulse generator can be integrated in the barrel, and when pulling the trigger, the firing pin will activate and register a virtual hit on a simulator screen.

The “aftermarket lasers” they’re talking about are things like the Laserlyte cartridge laser.

Hat tip: a friend who sent us to the anti-gun gun magazine, Recoil, which had a story on the Glock trainers that got us interested in looking them up.

 

You Can’t Downsize a Downsizer

Of course, we’ve remarked before that for centuries a service main arm have all been clustered around a fairly consistent size and weight, even as utility, range, firepower have undergone revolution after revolution; likewise, practical pistols cluster around a fairly consistent size and weight. There’s no real reason that a Glock 17 would be close in dimensions to a S&W Model 10 .38  and in turn to a Colt Navy .36 cap-and-ball revolver, unless that was a pretty practical size.

Conversely, guns that are made to be the Guinness Book edge cases for large/small/heavy/light/cheap/expensive are usually sideshow freaks with little practical utility. For example, consider the ill-fated Downsizer WSP (publicity photo, larger than actual size):

Downsizer WSP

Yes, that is a one-shot .45 ACP Derringer. It was also made in other calibers (.357 was advertised and is occasionally encountered; the box suggests 380, 9mm, and .40 S&W were also available or at least planned). More than one caliber is a rather remarkable thing in a production run that was, depending on who is talking, either just over or just under 100 units (one that sold for $895 at GunAuction.com two years ago, the one shown here on red felt, was SN 146; the numbers of production pistols are thought to have begun at 100). Machined from billet stainless steel, the Downsizer had a single shot and what’s arguably the world’s worst trigger, one that makes the NYPD “shoot-the-bystanders” NY2 Glock trigger seem like a freshly tuned Olympic Free Pistol. It’s double-action-only, creepy, long, and so heavy a typical woman or child couldn’t fire it. A man can’t fire it accurately, but this is a gun made for contact range. Or, for the sheer novelty of it.

Downsizer3

On firing, the Downsizer WSP in .45 (apparently the most common variant, and the only one we’ve seen in the flesh) produces a traumatizing roar and a fireball roughly equivalent to a DShK’s, which is saying something (the Soviet 12.7 being the undisputed strongman of small arms fireball generation). Firing the Downsizer is something you do once, and are immediately glad it’s a single shot, and you don’t have to finish a magazine out of this brute). There’s no ejector, you just poke the casing out with anything handy that’s less than .45 caliber and longer than the 2.1 inch barrel.

Downsizer 1While the WSP stood for World’s Smallest Pistol, it wasn’t, really.  A number of tiny European novelty guns are smaller yet.  But it was probably the smallest made for a full-house centerfire cartridge. These specifications were on the now-defunct Downsizer home page in 2006; all that seemed to change over time on that page was the links to media reports, and the price, which crept up from $250 in 2000 to $399 to $459 to $499.

Specifications
Model WSP (World’s Smallest Pistol)
Calibers 45 ACP, 357 Magnum (Also fires 38 Special)
Capacity Single Shot
Trigger Double action only
Action Tip up barrel, push button release
Materials Stainless steel, CNC machined
Sights None, smooth snag free top
Safety Internal firing pin block
Overall Length 3.25″ (Smaller than a playing card)
Barrel Length 2.10″
Height 2.25″ (Smaller than a playing card)
Thickness 0.90″
Weight 11 oz.
Suggest Retail $499

At least one set is known with four interchangeable barrels; interchangeable barrels were never an advertised option and it may have been a prototype. It also has a 1xx serial number.

So, what killed it, apart from its impracticality? It was designed in California and manufactured in Santee, CA, briefly before a series of more restrictive gun laws banned the sales of guns whose makers did not submit them to the CA DOJ and pay a political bribe punitive licensing fee to put them on, and keep them on, the Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale. If the license expires, or the manufacturer goes out of business, merges or relocates, the certification is voided (as recently happened to all Para USA firearms with Para bought by Remington Outdoor). The pistols being sold in 2006 were still pre-2001 production grandfathered under SB15, so, while SB15 killed production of the gun.

There was absolutely no chance the novelty Downsizer would have passed the CA DOJ test, a modern equivalent of the old Jim Crow “literacy test.” (The one that involved asking people to read a newspaper headline, but giving the black people a newspaper in Chinese). One purpose of the test, after all, is to remove defensive handguns from the market in favor of “sporting” guns. And there are persistent rumors online that the ATF took Downsizer’s Dan Chapman down over something and had him continue to “operate” the company (or had agents operate it, impersonating him) for years. By 2006, messages to “Chapman” were going into a black hole. At least one buyer paid for a gun in 2000 and never received it, nor any refund.

It received listings and “reviews” in a variety of 2000-2001 gun publications, generally such positive reviews that they make one wonder if the reviewers actually fired the beast. Onetime WeaponsMan W4 ENDO had an overview of the gun, with a photo of the rare four-barrel set sitting on one of those articles.

If This Gun Could Talk: Webley & Son W.G. Presentation Revolver

We apologize for posting this one a little late. We think you’ll see why.

This revolver, in the potent .455/.476 load, might not have had many tales to tell; it was a presentation revolver, property of a British Indian Army officer, and it probably lived its life in a succession of desk drawers, fired occasionally or not at all. J. B. Woon, who was a Major in the 40th Pathans at the time of presentation (sometime around 1903 when the unit first got that name, perhaps) and who is said to have advanced to the rank of Major or Lieutenant General. It’s a certainty that Woon had some tales to tell; one of those Eminent Victorians, he surfaces in a number of books we can find thanks to the magic of Google Book Search. Or does he?

webley-5964-right

(Yes, that picture embiggens with a click).

It is, it seems, hard to tell your Woons apart, as apparently there was more than one in British Indian Army service. There was also an Edward Woon, and there may have been more than one J.B. (The British Indian Army was a post-Rebellion service. Pre-1857, the Indian Army belonged to the British East India Company. After the Sepoy Rebellion, triggered in part by the issue of paper rifle-musket cartridges the native soldiers believed to be sealed with pork fat or beef tallow, making them anathema to Moslem and Hindu alike, the Indian Army was reorganized and nationalized).

webley-5964-owner-marking

For example, is this Major-General Woon, C.B., who inspected a Royal Army Medical Corps hospital in Multan in 1908, our guy, who had become an MG and a Commander of the Order of the Bath in a few short years? Or is it another Woon, whose initials were C.B.? We’d probably need to pore over multiple musty editions of the Army List to be sure.

Screenshot 2015-05-22 08.39.46

(Source; Journal of the Army Medical Corps, Volume 10, edited by William Heaton Horrocks).

Here’s a reference that shows that Major General J.B. Woon was, indeed, a Commander of the Order of the Bath. We’ll transcribe the text from the Google Books page, because it’s an interesting story. It’s from the History of the 5th Gurkha Rifles2:

The Battalion went through its first Kitchener test in 1906. Lord Kitchener, then Commander-in-Chief in India, aimed at increasing the efficiency of the army in India by introducing the element of competition into the annual inspection of battalions. Under the rules framed by him all battalions carried out the same series of exercises, marks were allotted on a common basis, and the winning unit held the Chief’s challenge cup for a year.

The exercises began with a fifteen-mile march under service conditions, followed immediately by an attack on a position, the defending enemy being represented by service targets, and ball ammunition being used as a test of shooting efficiency.

A capsule biography of Woon that breaks out his Christian names and his general officer service turns up, of all places, posted by users of the Axis History Forum.

General Sir John Blaxell Woon (1855 – 1938)
1905: Promoted to Brigadier-General
1905: Commander, 6th (Abbottabad) Infantry Brigade, India
?: Promoted to Major-General
1910 – ?: Commander, 5th (Mhow) Division, India
1911: Promoted to Lieutenant-General
? – 1914: Commander, 9th (Secunderabad) Division, India
?: Promoted to General
1919: Retired

A reply there fills in some of the gaps:

Gen Woon, John Blaxall, was born on Feb 24, 1856, not 1855. His date of death is Aug 29, 1938. He was promoted to MG in 1905, and to LTG in 1911. I have no dates for when he took over command of the 2 Indian divisions.

And another reply gets many of the remaining gaps:

General Sir John Blaxall Woon (Feb 24 1856 – Aug 29 1938)
1903: Promoted to Temporary Brigadier-General
1903: Colonel on Staff ?, India
1903: District Officer Commanding Bundelkhand District, India
1904 (or 1903): District Officer Commanding Kohat District, India
1904: Commander, Abbottabad Brigade, India
1904 (or 1905): Commander, Sirhind Brigade
1905: Promoted to Major-General
1910 – 1911: Commander, 5th (Mhow) Division, India
1911 – 1914: Commander, 9th (Secunderabad) Division, India
1911: Promoted to Lieutenant-General
1917: Promoted to General
1919: Retired

The information is based upon London Gazette, The Times, Who’s Who 1897-1996 and Whitaker’s peerage, baronetage, knightage, and companionage.

Btw. Brigadier-Generals were by nature Temporary.

These sources seem to disagree on whether he was John Blaxall or John Blaxell Woon.

In 1905, he marched (on horse) in a massive parade at Rawalpindi as Commander of the 6th (Abbottabad, yes, that Abbottabad) Infantry Brigade. (How massive? The program of the parade claims 55,516 officers and men, 13,396 horses, 5,558 camels, (Trigger warning for Ken White): another ~9,000 mules and ponies, 146 artillery pieces, and 136 machine guns).3

As he did not retire until 1919, it’s clear that Maj. Gen. Woon did something in the Great War. The British Indian Army deployed forces to East Africa in 1914, forces that included most of Woon’s former commands, to fight the German mischief-maker von Lettow-Vorbeck. And it deployed other elements — very large elements, for it was a very large army by modern standards — to fight on the Western Front4. Where Woon went, or whether he stayed “home” to “hustle glum heroes up the line to death” is unclear.

So was Major Woon the same guy as Major General Woon? Father and Son? Uncle and Nephew? Cousins? And what happened, then, to the Major of the 40th Pathans?

And how did the Webley come to be nicely cased…

webley-5964-cased

… in a presentation case with an escutcheon bearing a different set of initials (implying a different officer) and a different regiment, the British Army’s 24th Regiment of Foot (the great Zulu fighters of Ishandlwana and Rorke’s Drift legend)?

webley-5964-escutcheon

We’re itching to fly to London and start researching in the IWM. The listing for the firearm suggests that this J.B. Woon served in the 40th Pathans and later became a lieutenant general. (For those without military experience, a Lt. Gen. is three stars, one more than a Maj. Gen. Yes, this is illogical. Military tradition: deal with it).

The 40th Pathans still exists today, or at least, a successor unit does, the 16th Battalion of the Punjab Regiment in the Pakistan Army. Perhaps the relevant archives are to be found in Islamabad.

But damnation, if only the revolver could speak!

The good news, if you’ve borne with us through all that, is that the pistol is for sale. There’s a listing and even more great photographs of this unique revolver. The bad news is that the seller, Hallowell & Co. of Montana (a real wishbook if you like classic double rifles and shotguns), knows it has something rare and has priced it accordingly: $8450.

Notes:

  1. Horrocks, William Heaton (ed.). Journal of the Army Medical Corps, Volume 10. p. 95. Retrieved from: https://books.google.com/books?id=K_k1AQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA95&lpg=RA1-PA95&dq=Major+General+Woon&source=bl&ots=uEVa1sKhBK&sig=iuXXG4Kjd3DEWEDnxrT2DMdlP3k&hl=en&sa=X&ei=oK5eVbreKvHbsATxxoHgDQ&ved=0CDcQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=Woon&f=false
  2. Weeks, Colonel H.E. History of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles: 1858 to 1928. pp, 167-168. Retrieved from: https://books.google.com/books?id=gha-BAAAQBAJ&pg=PA167&lpg=PA167&dq=Major+General+Woon&source=bl&ots=SvYS49vf3-&sig=WXS0SQ1f2KKDvbNnAmu3fAkMT3Y&hl=en&sa=X&ei=oK5eVbreKvHbsATxxoHgDQ&ved=0CC4Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=Major%20General%20Woon&f=false
  3. uncredited. Programme of the Review in Honour of Their Royal Highnesses the Prince & Princess of Wales. Held at Rawal Pindi on 8th December, 1905. Retrieved from: http://www.vsdh.org/feltham/cathy_day/rawal2.htm
  4. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Order of Battle of the British Expeditionary Force (October 1914) [summary version]. Retrieved from: http://www.cwgc.org/ypres/content.asp?id=33&menu=subsub

 

More on the Pennsylvania Registry-not-Registry

pennsylvania_state_reg_formIn comments to our last on the Pennsylvania State Police’s gun-registry-that-is-not-a-registry-because-it’s-so-fulla-holes, we were challenged by a Keystone State resident who doesn’t recall filling out the PSP form. Here’s what we’ve learned.

At one time, they just had the dealers send 4473 copies, but some time relatively recently (~10 years ago), their lawyers had them discontinue that, and generate their own form, PSP SP4-113 (+ variable numbers).

The PSP deliberately does not put this form on the intertubes. That is because their registration bureaucracy, the Firearms Records Unit, came up with a complex numbering system, where each form is uniquely numbered to the FFL that sold the gun (or handled the transfer, for a pistol between private parties). There is also a state ID number which is used not just to ID dealers but also for private transfers done by any county Sheriffs who offer this service. PSP explains:

FORMS SUPPLIED BY PA STATE POLICE – ONLY AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST:

Application/Record of Sale Form (SP4-113)

This form will be provided by the Pennsylvania State Police and all requests for this form must be submitted in writing. You can fax your requests to (717) 772-4249 or mail requests to Firearm Records Unit, Pennsylvania State Police, 1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110. Note the pre-printed numbers on this form are assigned to your dealership. Therefore, you can not loan copies to other dealers or duplicate this form. Please allow several weeks for the processing of your order. This form is not available online.

They do make a graphic instructional version available [.pdf], of which we’ve made an illustration here (it embiggens). You can see from this illustrative sample that the form was originally drafted to be used with short and long guns, but now it is required only for handguns.

While a single 4473 can cover multiple guns (our personal record is six), this state form must be done all over again for each gun in a multiple buy — even though they’re all on a single federal form. For each firearm sold or transferred, the dealer collects a $3 surcharge and a $2 Instant Check Fee, which are aggregated and remitted monthly to the State Police.

The copies our Fed friend found in a violent career criminal’s closet, in the boxes with the guns, were copies of this form — PSP SP4-113.

When the other copy gets to the Firearms Record Unit, it’s supposed to be entered in the database, but LEOs think it’s far from a certainty that this will happen, soon, or at all. That’s how you wind up with felons with over-the-counter guns in Pennsylvania —

Meanwhile, some jurisdictions are busting even licensed carriers if their guns don’t show up in this registry-that-isn’t. These cases may not stand up in court, but they’re a way to hassle gun owners — one of new Commissioner Marcus Brown’s major goals for the State Police.

Breaking: More Pistol Pain at the Pennsylvania State Police

Pennsylvania_State_PoliceWe’ve reported in the past at great length on what we’ve called the Pistol OCD of the Pennsylvania State Police (link is to a Google search of Weaponsman for PSP stories, not all of which are pistol-problem-related). They’ve been through more pistol models and calibers in fewer years than any group of two or three statewide agencies you care to name, but they’re reporting a new problem with their new Sig 227 pistols.

They have found that if they load the pistol per spec — 10+1 — they have jams, to be specific, stovepipes. They have directed the troopers to load the pistols 9+1, neither chambering a round to load a full mag, nor replacing a round and inserting a 10-round mag after chambering from the mag.

We haven’t heard of anybody else having this problem with the 227. The New Jersey State Police had such stovepipe problems with Smith & Wesson P99s that they returned to the HK P7M8 briefly before going to… drumroll please… SIGs (in 9mm, in their case).

As we mentioned, this is a new problem. The P227 already has had a troubled rollout at PSP. In an initial introductory class, an experienced firearms instructor had a negligent discharge that struck and killed one of his students, Trooper David Kedra. Later, the instructor, Corporal Richard Schroeter, would be charged with a much lighter charge than a non-trooper would face in such a killing, reckless endangerment. The Kedra family was not amused, but their concerns were blown off in a mealy-mouthed statement byDistrict Attorney Risa Ferman. (Ferman presented the case in such a way as to sway grand jurors to sympathy for Schroeter, so that Schroeter could face a mild misdemeanor, and keep his job). Some details on the grand jury testimony here.

The four other troopers who trained with Kedra on the day of the alleged shooting testified to the grand jury they did not see Schroeter make sure his weapon was not loaded, nor did he show the weapon to two other troopers to show it was unloaded. The presentment said firearms instructors in the Pennsylvania State Police typically show an unloaded weapon to at least two other troopers to verify it is unloaded.

Schroeter is such a class act that he’s refused to even apologize to Kedra’s family. He continues to insist that he checked the weapon and he was sure it was unloaded.

Systemic problems with firearms selection and training? Nah, that can’t be it.

Ironic that the P227 was selected in large part because of a rash of negligent discharges with Glocks soured PSP on the brand in general, and its pull-trigger-to-disassemble procedure in particular.

Previous WeaponsMan coverage of the PSP:

That may not be all of them, but it’s enough to give you a picture of this agency’s gun follies.