Category Archives: Pistols and Revolvers

Auction Action

Tomorrow, the Rock Island Auctions regional auction is underway. We’ll be bidding on a few items. Some of the bids are for things we really want, and we bid appropriately. Others, we’d kind of like to have, and so we lowballed. Here’s one we’d like to win:

CZ 36 L

It’s a rare CZ 36, which was made from 1936 to 1945; it’s a compact, DA pistol in 6.35mm/.25 ACP, and that one’s in superb condition. It was replaced by the CZ 45, which is rare in the USA, but not worldwide — it was produced continuously from 1946 to 1970, when it was replaced by a new version, and in 1992, a newer version still; these latter-day versions have never been legally imported to the USA, under the “sporting test” that the Gun Control Act of 1968 borrowed from Nazi gun law.

A lot of the things are auctions for multi-gun lots where we only want one or two guns. If that’s the case, we’ll be selling the extras and thinning out the safe a little. We’re going to keep our own bid amounts secret for now, but here’s what we’re bidding on (we may mention a couple lots we considered bidding on but didn’t).

All the bids and some more photos in a table after the jump. (We may add more photos tomorrow).

Continue reading

Safety: This is Doing it Wrong

Victim James Baker

Victim James Baker

The first report was dry and brief, but was enough to let anyone know that something had come unglued seriously:

Officials say a man has been fatally shot in an apparent accident during a concealed carry class at a gun shop in Ohio.

The Clermont County sheriff says the unidentified man was shot in the neck around 1 p.m. Saturday and died at the scene. There were about 10 people in the concealed carry class when the shooting occurred at KayJay Gun Shop in Amelia, about 20 miles east of Cincinnati.

According to the gun shop’s website, the class taught basic pistol safety, gave attendees range time and reviewed Ohio’s gun laws.

via Man fatally shot in accident during class at Ohio gun shop.

The first story neither identified the victim, nor explained anything about how this happened. More detail was soon available on Fox 19:

The owner of a gun shop was accidentally shot and killed during a concealed carry class in Amelia, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office confirms.

Crews responded to the the Kay Jay Gun Shop on Lindale-Mt. Holly Rd. around 1 p.m. on Saturday for reports of a shooting.

Clermont County Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg said James E. Baker, 64, was shot in the neck after a class participant discharged a handgun while practicing weapon malfunction drills, striking Baker who was sitting in an adjacent room.

Investigators said efforts to resuscitate Baker were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Something went seriously wrong in that class.

If the Four Rules (or however many are in your version) had been followed assiduously, nobody gets shot. A firearm has zero tolerance for inattention to detail.

UPDATE 1

An updated story described neighbors’ and friends’ feelings of loss (warning, autoplay video with loud ad. The mute button is your friend):

Baker’s gun shop offers a long list of training courses to teach people to use guns like rifles and pistols the correct way.

Now, many in this tight-knit community say they are devastated knowing he won’t be here to do that anymore.

“He’s just a great guy, I mean, I can’t believe it happened, it’s hard to believe, just a really good guy,” Fritz said. “I’m going to miss him because he was a good neighbor.”

We also talked with a man who lives just a few houses down from where it happened.

He told us Baker gave him his very first job, calling him a great boss and friend.

Investigators aren’t saying what type of gun was used or if any charges will be filed.

Update 2

(Warning, autoplay video again). The Investigation continues, with more details trickling out.

In a media release, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office said, “Investigators discovered that a class participant discharged a handgun while practicing weapon malfunction drills, striking Baker who was sitting in an adjacent room. Efforts to resuscitate Baker were unsuccessful and Baker was pronounced at 3:12 p.m.”

Baker regularly conducted gun training sessions.

A friend and fellow Vietnam-era veteran took a session a couple years back and said Baker was careful and experienced.

“When I took the class, nobody had a loaded weapon,” said Dennis Cooper. “I mean, you could bring your own weapon, but it had to be cleared.”

A friend at a nearby gun shop didn’t want to be identified, but said Baker had close law enforcement connections and helped to build area SWAT units.

He seemed stunned at how this went down.

Immediately after it happened, a 911 caller told the dispatcher, “We were doing malfunction misfires and we have plastic bullets and we just, I just, we just double checked the bullets and there was a live round in one of the guns and it went through the wall and shot the owner in the neck.”

Those who knew Baker feel the loss deeply.

A father and his young son placed a potted flower at the property gate Monday.

We’re told Baker was a Marine sniper in Vietnam about 45 years ago and let police in the area use his target range to recertify as they must do each year.

We wonder why they were doing malfunction misfire drills during a basic CCW class.

10mm Fans Rejoice (Both of you!): The Delta Elite is Back

We missed the announcement at the NRA Annual Meeting that Colt was returning the 10mm Delta Elite to production, but Shawn from LooseRounds.com (who, unlike us, was at the meeting) didn’t. And a couple weekends ago, while we were deep in the trackless north woods hunting paper targets with an array of mostly obsolete Soviet firepower, Shawn was posting about his receipt of a sample DE and his first attempts at shooting it. BLUF: he likes it a lot.

He later would tell us, in an email conversation, that he was planning to buy the test gun from Colt. He really liked it. (This is one of his pictures of the test gun).

Colt Delta Elite Shawns

The new version Shawn tested is like some of the more upscale, customized models of the Delta Elite during its first rodeo, 30 years ago.

For young guys like Shawn, the origins of the Delta Elite and it’s smoking-hot round may be lost in time. In the early 1980s, the 10mm Auto (10 x 25 mm) load was proposed by Jeff Cooper as resolving the weaknesses of the .45 ACP (especially its relatively high trajectory caused by its low velocity). The original 10mm was made from .30 Remington rifle cases, cut to 20mm long and expanded in dies to have almost zero taper.  The round was not new with Cooper, actually, having history as the .40 G&A and .40 PGW, recounted here on The Gun Zone.

10_mm_AutoThe round has remarkable ballistics, even for today, let alone for 1980. They approached that of another wonderful also-ran in the market, Smith & Wesson’s .41 Magnum. The .41 Mag had the lasting problem of being the middle child in a muddled market, but it still managed to build a cult of enthisiasts (thanks in part to the beautiful revolvers Smith chambered in .41), and the same would be true for the 10mm, even as law enforcement turned to the .40 and then back to the 9mm in subsequent decades.

Catalog 1984 01The first gun chambered for the 10mm was the Cooper project, the Bren X aka Bren Ten of Dornaus & Dixon of California. Cooper announced the project in February 1981, in Combat Handguns magazine; Dornaus and Dixon had been working on it since the 70s, and brought Cooper in for his experience — and credibility. The project limped to a close after shipping perhaps 1,500 guns, of which hundreds towards the end shipped without magazines. Seldom has a product launched with a more thunderous bang, or failed with a more miserable whimper. At Peak Bren X in 1984, the company catalog showed no fewer than six models (Standard, Pocket, Military & Police, Special Forces, Dual Master Presentation, Jeff Cooper Initial Issue Commemorative).

It’s generally a bad idea to launch a whole bunch of models of a new product especially if you’re already struggling with production.

 

Despite the failure of the Bren Ten, serious shooters and hunters still wanted pistols chambered for Col. Cooper’s wonder round, and he didn’t stop promoting it, even though there was an interregnum with no claimant to the 10mm crown on the market. The first 10mm handgun to ship to all its customers with magazines was probably the Colt Delta Elite.

The Delta Elite went through numerous variants and versions during its original nine-year production life, from numbered Gold Cups to blued versions to the most common (which is not saying much) stainless version. In 2009 the resumption of production was announced, but we’re not sure how many shipped due to Colt’s then-perilous financial situation; guns are flowing to the market now.

The FBI, seeking to address firepower problems that were only one of several causes of the 1986 Miami shootout debacle, adopted the 10mm circa 1990, but eschewed the 1911 platform in favor of a Smith & Wesson auto. (They also adopted the H&K MP5 in that caliber. Some other Federal agencies also bought 10mm MP5s, but it’s doubtful H&K ever recovered their investment on that project). The FBI wound up having real problems. The 10mm had been selected by a cadre of dedicated shooters who had no trouble mastering the round, but the average street agent who was not a firearms buff found it unpleasant and difficult to shoot. The bureau ultimately had their rounds downloaded, which led S&W to work with Olin (Winchester ammo) to develop a shorter version of the FBI round which became the .40 S&W. Its big advantage was that it could fit in a pistol with a 9mm grip frame, unlike the longer 10mm. With all Law Enforcement interested in this new round, Glock actually beat the cartridge’s inventors into the market with a Glock .40, the Model 22.

Meanwhile, the 10mm, like the revolver equivalent the .41 Magnum, turned into a niche gun.

In 1987, just one model, #O2010, was in the Colt catalog, a blued gun.

Colt Delta Elite 1987 catalog

By 1990, the line had expanded.

Colt Delta Elite 1990 catalog

This 1990 catalog is also for sale on GunBroker.

Returning old guns to production is something Colt is getting very good at. We wonder what could possibly be next? But we do know that Shawn, who has a well-deserved both ways Mutual Admiration Society going with the venerable Hartford gunmaker, will almost certainly be the one to break the story.

Update

This post has been corrected. The Glock in .40 S&W is the Glock 22, not the Glock 20 as we originally wrote, mistakenly. We regret the error.

The story of the Glock in 10mm is told, somewhat journalistically, in Paul M. Barrett’s book on Glock. (Buy it used. Barrett is hostile to gun owners; don’t enrich him like we did).

Update II

The correction has been corrected with links provided. We officially give up on keeping Glocks straight for the rest of the day. Who’s got the beer? (Actually, time to go repair a lawn mower. Joy).

We, for one, Welcome Our New Polymer Overlords

Let’s have another one from Guy in a Garage. In this case, he’s test-firing a James R Patrick Songbird .22.

You see some of the limitations of the 3D printed plastic firearm here.

But you also see some potential.

Barrels were never going to be the best test case for fused filament fabrication type 3D printing, for the same reason that even commercial manufacturers deeply committed to polymer firearms parts have never produced polymer barrels.

Polymer receivers go back almost 60 years to the Remington Nylon 66 (1959) and its derivatives, which had unitary receivers and stocks of DuPont Nylon 6/6, a polyamide that was then one of the toughest injection-moldable plastics available. Polymer handguns go back nearly almost 40 years — to 1979-82 and the development and launch of the Glock 17. Millions and millions of polymer frames have been made, but zero commercial polymer barrels.

There have been experimental barrels that were made of wound fiberglass, or fiberglass around a metallic rifled liner, such as the ones that Armalite of Hollywood, California experimented with for shotguns and some early AR-10 prototypes.

AR-10 barrel blowout Image 12590-SA Springfield

These early experiments left some of the Springfield greybeards wondering if Armalite was sourcing parts from Acme…

Springfield-AR-10-blowup-close-up

177913-1…and having them installed by graduates of the Wile E. Coyote School of Gunsmithing.

Modern composite technology such as carbon fiber filament and tow, and filament winding machinery, has finally brought the technology into line with Armalite’s vision. Carbon fiber (lined, of course) barrels have also been adapted to modern rimfire arms as well.

What does this mean for the future of polymers? Well, it’s a fact that after all these years, good old Nylon 6/6 is still a competitive material for high impact uses. What has happened in the injection molding industry over that span of time is increasing use of inserts and overmolding to make molded parts out of multiple materials.

This is almost certainly the wave of the future — or one wave of the future — in 3D printed firearms parts. Many printers now have the capability to print in multiple materials or to pause for the insertion of an insert (such as a threaded socket for a screw; you’ve probably seen molded plastic parts with inserts like these).

We can still expect 3D printing to be used for convenience, short runs & micromanufacturing, customization and personalization, prototyping, making jigs and fixtures, and making molds and patterns for traditional manufacturing processes.

But if you really want to, you can make a gun out of it.

You Don’t CZ This Every Day

Here’s a CZ you don’t, er, CZ every day.

cz-75_cutawayThese cutaways are sometimes available from the importer. This one is from the collection of Vincent Pestilli Sr., whose agency, Pestilli and Associates, manages sales representatives for numerous European and US manufacturers (although not, to the best of our knowledge, CZ; we think Vin just took a shine to this and added it to his armory). He’s a former SF soldier and we connected with him through the SF Association. He has helped the Association get a deal on specially engraved Windham Weaponry rifles at a very attractive price and several of the guys that picked them are are very pleased with their quality, but that’s another story.

Cutaway firearms are traditionally used to teach users or armorers how the firearm works; they’ve also been used as salesmen’s samples, so that the wholesaler or manufacturer’s representative can educate retail salesmen about the product. The US has traditionally used hugely oversize cutaway models so that a whole auditorium of incipient privates can learn at once (no doubt computer-graphic representations will replace these, if they haven’t already).

Chuck at GunLab also has one (dude’s got one of everything!) and he has some pictures of it on his site.

Cutaways of earlier Czechoslovak pistols used by the military occasionally turn up. They often have military acceptance marks and a marking indicating that they are Cvičny or Učebny, (“Exercise” or “Training”, sometimes just the “U” or “C”), but like this pistol, they lack proof marks and a proof date. Where that is usually found on a CZ, in the oval machined flat behind the ejection port, this one is blank.

Everything functions on it, except, of course, that it would be an extremely bad idea to try to fire a round in it. Despite that, ATF considers  this a normal Title I firearm and it would be transferred as any other conventional firearm.

It’s probably illegal in Massachusetts, Cuba, North Korea and California, too.

Winchester Revolvers

Big-Book-Western-Oct-1949-600x802Ever read a Western like this? And want to throw it?

Bart swung out the cylinder of his six-gun.

“Six-gun,” he laughed to himself. “More like ‘Four-gun,'” because that was all that was left in his Winchester: four .44-40 rounds. He’d been shooting, and reloading, and shooting, and his belt loops were empty. Four lousy rounds; that was it. It was just enough, if he made no mistakes, to get him out of this jam.

He did not have time to miss his fine Colt rifle, back in the scabbard where he’d hitched Thunder at the other end of town. He had to settle it with the Hardy brothers’ gang for once and for all, and it was just him and his Winchester ’77 and the few rounds he had in it.

“Bob Hardy! Frank Hardy! Tommy Swift! This is your last chance. Come out and you live to see the judge in Dodge City.”

Frank Hardy shouted back something unprintable. Bob laughed that annoying high laugh of his. “Come and make us, law man. If you can.” The robbers all laughed.

Bob Hardy was known to carry this exact Winchester pistol, and he probably wasn’t out of bullets.

Bart gritted his teeth. The revolver clicked in his hand. He was going in.

No, there wasn’t ever a Winchester revolver, at least not that hit the market. But there was a Winchester revolver that was developed and almost hit the market. It was strangled in its crib, but it had several advanced features for its day, and was designed by a designer of some note. If Winchester had not cut a deal with Colt not to encroach on each other’s markets — a deal that was legal under 19th Century law, but that anti-trust laws of the early 20th would ban — the “Winchester revolver” might not be a valid reason to throw the above Western across the room. (The rest of the writing, perhaps).

Winchester Wetmore-Wood Revolver. Borchardt involvement possible but unknown.

Winchester Wetmore-Wood Prototype Revolver. Swing-out cylinder, single-action, .44-40. Borchardt involvement possible but unknown. Now at the Cody Museum.

At least four prototypes revolvers were built at Winchester by itinerant designers Hugo Borchardt in 1876-77. Borchardt is probably best known for his pioneering auto pistol and for working with Sharps to improve that company’s rifles.

Here are some more Winchester Prototypes:

Display from the Cody Museum

Display from the Cody Museum

This pistol was sold by Rock Island, with Winchester documentation, in 2013. You might say it was for the advanced collector,

This pistol was sold by Rock Island, with Winchester documentation, in 2013. You might say it was for the advanced collector,

Left side of the same gun

Left side of the same gun

Period picture of SA variant, source: the same Rock Island auction.

Period picture of SA variant, source: the same Rock Island auction.

The Winchester prototypes include such advanced features as the swing-out cylinder mentioned above, and double action. John Walter shows four of these revolvers in his book Luger (pp. 40-41) as examples of Borchardt’s work; the Cody Museum calls the one illustrated here, one of the ones in Walter’s book, a “Wetmore-Wood” revolver, according to a brief piece in Outdoor Life. The same author Ashley Hlebinsky, writing in Guns of the Old West, notes that Winchester built some pocket revolvers under contract (and got stuck trying to sell them when the buyer stiffed them), and has more details on Winchester’s halting and incomplete revolver development.

Anybody know what book this page is from? Found online in a Cowboy Action forum.

Anybody know what book this page is from? Found online in a Cowboy Action forum. The same two revolvers are shown in Walter’s Lugers as Borchardt work.

Dime-Western-Magazine-February-1943-600x817The Colt-Winchester negotiations that Hlebinsky seems to think apocryphal are described in more detail in some Colt sources.

For most people, Winchester revolvers are an interesting sidelight in firearms development, one that tied up a lot of talent for a few years in a dead end (or maybe, to use the Western term, a dry gulch). Unless you have the money to outbid the museums and well-heeled Winchester collectors when these things come up as once-in-a-lifetime auctions, then, the only place you’re going to find a Winchester revolver is in a badly written Western?

As to what happened to Bart? You know how this story ends, you’ve seen it before: he put down Frank Hardy and Tommy Swift like the mad dogs they were, then faced Frank Hardy, out of ammunition. Frank Hardy dropped his Winchester, to finally settle it man-to-man. At the end of the ten-minute fistfight, Frank was hogtied on the back of his own horse, and Bart was ready to lead him to Dodge City and another date with a rope — after, of course Bart got his kiss from Betty Sue, who decided Bart wasn’t a loser after all, and would probably do OK raising Frank’s kids.

Roll credits.

Polymer 80 Spectre: The Unboxening

polymer80_labelHark! What light foot betreads the doorstep?Forsooth, it is the letter carrier. And what bringeth she, apart from the usual boxes and envelopes of gun books?

‘Tis a box that is not of gun books.

 

It cometh from brave, brave Sir Bryan, Customer Service Knight of the castle of Polymer80 in the far realm of Carson City, Nevada, named after the famous night show host Johnny Carson City. Let us breach the seal upon this box, and behold what wonders dwelleth therein.

And what, perchance is in the box? More boxes!

polymer80_box_end

With wisdom inscribed upon them, each and every one. Ah, a sage knight indeed is Sir Bryan, and all the Kingdom, that is so wise in the ways of science.

The box is mark-èd with dark and forboding signs. She’s a witch!

polymer80_box

And what do we do with witches? Let us avaunt and begone, and exit character, stage left.

The underside of the box, of which we’ll spare you a photo, notes that it’s an “80% Multi-Caliber Glock-Compatible Pistol Frame and Jig Kit”. And it lists the configurations, which basically are a nine-cell matrix of Glock configs: service length, “tactical,” and Long lenghts, which in 9mm would be a G17, G34, or G17L in the mothership’s model numbers. (You can also, with appropriate slides and barrels, build the three versions in .357 SIG or .40 S&W). They also proudly emblazon the American flag and “Designed and Manufactured in the USA.”

The opposite end of the box (from the one with the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution on it)  bears a hint of things to come: like Henry Ford’s Model T in 1908, you can get one of these frames right now in any color so long as it’s black. But the box has check-boxes for FDE, OD Green, Tactical Gray, and “Other,” as well. Polymer80 suggests that we may see colors in a few months, when pent-up demand for the black frames is exhausted and the guys at Polymer80, who have been working flat out to ship preorders intra alia, have recovered from the hangovers from the shipped-the-last-preorder party.

Fun fact: This is one of the first, if not the first, polymer frame blanks to be presented to Firearms Technology Branch for an opinion as a 3D-printed mockup.

Back into character.

Shall we open the box? Is this the long-sought Holy Grail, or just a beacon, which she suddenly remembered is grail-shaped? There is much peril here, but we open the lid.

SFX: creaking old door, or retired SF guy’s joints (same thing). 

polymer80_contents

Wizards of Carson City have marked strange figures upon the jig, in an attempt to ward off evil spirits, and idiots using the wrong tool.

polymer80_jig_labeling

The markings are in the archaic measurements of Kings Arthur, Alfred and Canute. Behold the power of sixteenths!

polymer80_jig_labeling_2

The frame is contained within the solid, square jig, like the prince who is to be guarded and not allowed to leave this room.

polymer80_frame_in_jig

Exit character, stage left, again —

Well, that’s interesting. Because of the angles you actually use when working with this jig, there’s no reason not to let the grip protrude from the jig. That is, however, a problem for our plans to work up a GhostGunner solution for this lower. Not an insurmountable one. It just changes the conceptual design of the 3D-printed hold-down jig. A jig that holds a jig — the two worries there are that this is getting kind of “meta,” and more concretely, that we’d be risking a tolerance stack-up.

Back to character…

polymer80_frame_detail

Alchemists must have made this material, which seems strong and, mostly, smooth, but seems to have a metallic powder embedded in it. There is but little molding flash.

polymer80_tools

The tools required are embedded in stones (or plastic containers) in the box, and Whoso Pulleth Out This Tool of this Stone, is Rightwise King Born of this project. There is no need to seek the Lady of the Lake (or MSC or Grainger) for them. The jig is sacrificial and meant for one-time use; the cutting tools might last longer, but it’s a moot point as you get a new set in every box.

polymer80_locking_block

The magical heart of the Glock system is the locking block. This is included with two screws to secure it in place.  (It is also held by the standard Glock locking block pin).

We’re not really thrilled about the screws, but that’s probably the best option the designers had. The locking block seems to be an investment casting or possibly metal injection molding (requires a more careful examination).

To complete the firearm, you need the instructions. The kit comes with a two-sided, business-card-sized info card that has support information on one side and a link to “milling instructions, lower part kit installation, and full rifle (?) assembly instructions”: www.polymer80com/info. At that site there’s rifle-lower information, but also:

PF940 V 1.0 80% PISTOL FRAME:

80% POLYMER PISTOL FRAME INSTRUCTIONS (PDF): CLICK HERE
9MM G17&22 PARTS DIAGRAM & VENDOR LIST:     CLICK HERE
PF940 MILLING INSTRUCTION VIDEO:                    CLICK HERE

Until it is built into a firearm, estimating its handling properties is probably foolish. Our impression was that it is somewhat bulkier, “blockier,” and more angular than a factory G17 G3. The plastic also feels a bit harder, We brought in our assistant Thing T. Thing for a second opinion.

polymer80_thing

His opinion: “Build this article!” (He’s sensitive about calling things, “things.” You understand).

UPDATE

Thanks. You know who. You know why. Owe ya one.

Notes

  1. That remindeth us, gotta replace that Small Dog. Snuck right up on us this time!

The DA/SA Pistol, Reconsidered

At LuckyGunner’s blog the LuckyGunner Lounge, Chris Baker has been running a series of really good articles on traditional DA/SA pistols and how he’s recently made the change to DA/SA after going striker fired for a while.

Chris Baker firing-beretta

While we call them “articles,” they’re really informational and instructional videos; but Chris and LuckyGunner present the full transcripts of the videos, which is a beautiful thing.  A video can show you, but if what you want is the words, you can read a lot faster than it takes to watch the vid. The way they set it up, you can pick your preferred learning method. ‘S’all good!

So far, Chris has presented three parts, which may be the whole thing for all we know; the first covers general double-action history.

The double action autos got to be pretty popular in the 20th century and various designs were used by Beretta, Smith and Wesson, Sig, CZ, and a lot of other gun companies.

And you probably know the rest of the story. In the 1980s, the American US military ditched the 1911 and adopted the double action Beretta M9. And then when police departments around the country started switching from revolver to semi-autos in the 80s and 90s, at least at first, most departments adopted double action semi-autos.

And then a few years later, Glock came along and shook things up.

His basic reason for defecting from the striker-fired camp, he tells us in the second part, on why he switched, is safety:

if you mess up and get on the trigger too early — which happens a lot to people under stress — or if you think you need to shoot someone and then realize you don’t, the length of travel of the double action trigger gives you an extra split second to correct your course of action before you put a bullet somewhere it doesn’t belong.

Double action pistols are also safer when it comes to holstering the gun. This is probably the most dangerous thing we do with our handguns, and it’s when a lot of accidents happen. With a double action pistol, you can put your thumb on the hammer after you de-cock, and that way, it’s impossible for the gun to discharge if you accidentally leave your finger on the trigger or you get a strap or a piece of shirt caught in the trigger guard. And if you don’t remember to de-cock the gun or thumb the hammer, then you’re really just a pound or two of pressure away from where you’d be with a striker fired gun anyway.

One reason cop shops went in for DA/SA in a big way in the 1980s is that it let you have a gun ready to fire without any fiddling, but with a long enough first-shot trigger pull that only intentional shots would be fired. Cops being cops, some of them from time to time found a way to outflank the idiot-proofing, but they’d done that with DA revolvers, too, and a DA revolver is about as safe a gun as you’re going to get without molding it out of Play-Doh.

A second reason, one that mattered to the military but not to police who generally use new ammunition, was that a DA pistol gave you a second poke at a dud primer. You will see this often mentioned in early-1980s documents, especially ones written by people with military connections. That’s probably because at the time we were still firing 1944 and 1945 headstamped ammunition from WWII production! After the adoption of the M9, the Army quickly ran through its supply of ammo that had only been feeding SOF secondary demands (like MP5s and foreign weapons training).

In the third part, on learning to use the DA/SA trigger, Chris says:

It’s only been about six months since I started the transition from primarily using striker fired pistols to using double actions for all of my personal self-defense guns, so I am by no means an expert. But I feel like I’ve started to get the hang of it, and I’ve had some good teachers, so I’m going to share a few tips that have helped me out with shooting double actions over the last few months.

The first challenge is the double action trigger itself. In order to master this, you have to actually shoot the gun double action. Some people are so intimidated by the longer and heavier trigger pull that they never actually shoot the gun this way. It’s possible for you to go to the range and just rack in the first round and now your hammer is cocked, and you could fire the whole magazine single action and never actually have to fire double action.

But if you own a double action pistol for self-defense then you have to have the discipline to decock the pistol and shoot both triggers so you can learn to run the gun the way you would if you had to draw it and shoot to defend your life. I decock the pistol after every string of fire and every drill and I never thumb cock the hammer. Whenever the gun comes off target, I decock. This is a good habit to get into anyway just for the sake of safety, but it also forces you to have to shoot that double action trigger.

There are several different variants of decock and safety on DA pistols. The Beretta 92S/92F/92SF/M9, which has a safety loosely based on Walther practice, is a bit awkward, thumbwise, for one-handed decocking. (The 92G has a decocker, which is what Wilson Combat does on their custom Berettas, and it’s nice but still in that out-of-the-way place. There are also DAO-only Berettas 92D and 96D, and all Beretta lockwork from at least the FS on up is interchangeable). We dunno what the polymer Berettas that Chris seems to prefer work like; just never tried one. SIGs have a separate safety and decocking lever, which is very handy, you just have to practice enough to make decocking second nature. CZs have to be different, and have one of two safety arrangements: a non-decocking, 1911-style safety that requires a careful manual hammer drop on a live round to decock, or a very nice decocker in the safety position.

A CZ cocked and locked. This was also possible on the very first Beretta, M92. The M92S with slide-mounted decocking safety soon replaced it.

A compact CZ cocked and locked. This was also possible on the very first DA Beretta service pistol, the Model 92. The M92S with slide-mounted decocking safety soon replaced it.

What works with you depends on the size of your hand, and how diligently you want to train on a complex system. People who are casual about shooting and indifferent towards practice might be better off with a striker-fired gun on which the trigger weight and throw never change. But striker fired guns have their own issues.

Having grown up with both SA (1911, et al.) and DA/SA (P.38) autopistols around, and going through the “wondernine” 1911->DA/SA conversion when that was a thing, we didn’t consider that many young shooters didn’t have hands-on with this system, but Chris sure did, and that’s what makes his articles especially valuable to today’s shooters. Maybe they’ll think better of those of us who still shoot these coelacanths of the range.

What Did a Luger Cost? (Updated)

This Commercial Mauser Luger was made very close to these cost figures -- in 1939. From the Sturgess collection, now for sale by Jackson Armory.

This Commercial Mauser Luger was made very close to these cost figures — in 1939. From the Sturgess collection, now for sale by Jackson Armory. ($3,450!)

Well, that depends. There’s a lot of different ways to look at this question. But what we’re going to do, is look at what it cost to manufacture a Luger. As it happens, the great book Mauser Pistolen has a table of Luger production costs in 19401. From there we can calculate would it cost in 1940 dollars, and from there it’s possible to make an estimate of its production cost in 2016, in today’s dollars. Let’s start by transcribing the original document, from the collection of Mauser Pistolen co-author Jon Speed. We’ll apply our MBA-fu and a little search online to translate the quaint old German accounting terms.

Table 1: P.08 with Haenel Magazine — Full Cost Accounting

Item Item (English) Cost, 1940 RM
Werkstoff Material 1.82
2 Haenel – Mag. 2 Haenel Magazines 5.32
Summe SubTotal 7.14
Fertigungslohn Direct Labor 10.21
Werkstoffgemeinkosten @6.8% Material Overhead @6.8% 0.49
Betriebsgemeinkosten @182.7% Factory (Business) Overhead @182.7% 18.65
SubTotal SubTotal 36.49
Kostenabweichung @7.6% Cost Variance @7.6% 0.78
Summe SubTotal 37.27
Zuschlag für Ausschuss @2.2% Surcharge for Spoilage (waste/scrap) @2.2% 0.82
Herstellkosten Manufacturing Costs 38.09
Verwaltungs- u. Vertriebsgemeinkosten @3.8% Administration & Sales Costs @3.8% 1.45
Umsatzsteueuer aus RM47.10 beziehungsweise RM 47.50 @2.0% Sales tax on basis of RM 47.10 or 47.50 @2.0% 0.94
Selbstkosten per Stück Our costs per unit 40.48
Private sale cost 47.50

OK, now  convert to period dollars. UCSB Historian Harold Marcuse has posted a useful table of exchange rates here. (He also, to digress for a moment, spent a portion of last year embroiled (with some allies, like Prof. Atina Grossman of Cooper Union) in a battle of wits with the relatively unarmed Erich Lichtblau of the New York Times over fabrications and exaggerations in Lichtblau’s America-bashing “history” of the postwar area as published in a book and the Times — something that will not surprise anyone who’s read Lichtblau in any form). So what did it cost Mauser to make a Luger in 1940, converted to 1940 dollars? Marcuse’s set of tables includes two tables that cover 1940, but they agree: RM2.5 = US $1 for that year. So let’s add a  column, and see what that adds up to.

Table 2: Full Cost Accounting, RM and $US, 1940.

Item Item (English) Cost, 1940 RM Cost, 1940, USD
Werkstoff Material 1.82 0.73
2 Haenel – Mag. 2 Haenel Magazines 5.32 2.13
Summe SubTotal 7.14 2.86
Fertigungslohn Direct Labor 10.21 4.08
Werkstoffgemeinkosten @6.8% Material Overhead @6.8% 0.49 0.2
Betriebsgemeinkosten @182.7% Factory (Business) Overhead @182.7% 18.65 7.46
Summe SubTotal 36.49 14.6
Kostenabweichung @7.6% Cost Variance @7.6% 0.78 0.31
Summe SubTotal 37.27 14.91
Zuschlag für Ausschuss @2.2% Surcharge for Spoilage (waste/scrap) @2.2% 0.82 0.33
Herstellkosten Manufacturing Costs 38.09 15.24
Verwaltungs- u. Vertriebsgemeinkosten @3.8% Administration & Sales Costs @3.8% 1.45 0.58
Umsatzsteueuer aus RM47.10 beziehungsweise RM 47.50 @2.0% Sales tax on basis of RM 47.10 or 47.50 @2.0% 0.94 0.38
Selbstkosten per Stück Our costs per unit 40.48 16.19
Private sale cost 47.50 19.00

While what Mauser got from the HeeresWaffenAmt (Army Ordnance Office) for each Luger is not immediately apparent (it’s probably somewhere else in that excellent book), we know what they charged a German military or police officer seeking to privately purchase a Luger: RM 47.50 (that’s in another of Speed’s period documents on that same page). In American, $19.

These costs were reduced about one Reichsmark per unit from the previous year, but Mauser’s costs in 1936-37 were lower and highly variable over time, suggesting that the ~5% difference might just be normal variance over time. It’s surprising that you don’t see cost reductions considering that Mauser produced the Luger for about ten years, beginning in the early ’30s when they took over production from then-corporate sibling DWM in Berlin (drawings, parts, and one engineer, August Weiss, were sent to Oberndorf). Other evidence in the book suggests that Mauser had quite modern management for its day.

Well, there’s the outrageously-expensive Luger for you — compare that to the US cost for the 1911A1, about $14-15 in 1940. Adds up if you’re making hundreds of thousands of them (Mauser and DWM together produced about 2 million Lugers, according to Weiss).

Another image of that same Luger at Jackson Armory.

Another image of that same Luger at Jackson County Armory.

There are several different ways to calculate what a 1940 dollar is worth today (which was news to us, MBA and history degree and all). Marcuse also recommends the site measuringworth.com, which has this interesting discussion of which value comparison indicator is “right”. (The answer, it turns out, is “it depends.” Isn’t it always?)

Using Measuring Worth’s seven-index calculator, we get values for a 1940 dollar varying wildly from $13.40 (using the GDP deflator methodology) to $169 (using relative share of GDP).

one_1940_dollarAs it turns out, GDP deflator is a good measure of “how much it cost compared to the present cost of materials or labor”, but so are worker wages, which as you can see (for an unskilled worker) is double the CPI (reflecting a rising standard of living in the last 3/4 of a century); and relative share of GDP is a good measure of the national weight assigned to such a project.

The common Consumer Price Index which we’ve used for previous longitudinal price comparisons is close to the low end, at $16.90. A perfect methodology does not exist, but it might require us to use different metrics for different components of the Luger’s cost structure. Instead, we’ll just use the GDP Deflator and the Relative Share of GDP to get the min-max:

Table 3: Full Cost Accounting, RM and $US, 1940 and 2014

Item Item (English) Cost, 1940 RM Cost, 1940, USD Value, 2016 by GDP Deflator Value, 2016, Relative Share of GDP
Werkstoff Material 1.82 0.73 9.78 123.37
2 Haenel – Mag. 2 Haenel Magazines 5.32 2.13 28.54 359.97
Summe SubTotal 7.14 2.86 38.32 483.34
Fertigungslohn Direct Labor 10.21 4.08 54.67 689.52
Werkstoffgemeinkosten @6.8% Material Overhead @6.8% 0.49 0.2 2.68 33.80
Betriebsgemeinkosten @182.7% Factory (Business) Overhead @182.7% 18.65 7.46 99.96 1260.74
Summe SubTotal 36.49 14.6 195.64 2467.4
Kostenabweichung @7.6% Cost Variance @7.6% 0.78 0.31 4.15 52.39
Summe SubTotal 37.27 14.91 199.79 2519.79
Zuschlag für Ausschuss @2.2% Surcharge for Spoilage (waste/scrap) @2.2% 0.82 0.33 4.42 55.77
Herstellkosten Manufacturing Costs 38.09 15.24 204.22 2575.56
Verwaltungs- u. Vertriebsgemeinkosten @3.8% Administration & Sales Costs @3.8% 1.45 0.58 7.77 98.02
Umsatzsteueuer aus RM47.10 beziehungsweise RM 47.50 @2.0% Sales tax on basis of RM 47.10 or 47.50 @2.0% 0.94 0.38 5.09 64.22
Selbstkosten per Stück Our costs per unit 40.48 16.19 216.95 2736.11
Private sale cost 47.50 19.00 254.60 3211.00

We’d be very pleased to be pointed to any such cost accounting details from other nations/periods/firearms.

Updates

This post has been updated. Total Luger production has been added, and the paragraph noting that earlier costs were higher has also been inserted (Mauser Pistolen contains another, earlier cost breakdown table on p. 226 that shows these costs for the years 1936-38, with 1937 costs broken down by quarter. Plenty of data in that book for anyone interested in a deeper dive than this.

Sources

Weaver, W. Darrin, Speed, Jon, and Schmid, Walter. Mauser Pistolen. Cobourg, Ontario: Collector Grade, 2008.

Williamson, Samuel H.  Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present. Measuring Worth, n.d. Retrieved from: https://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/

Williamson, Samuel H. Choosing the Best Indicator to Measure Relative Worth. Measuring Worth, n.d.. Retrieved from: https://www.measuringworth.com/indicator.php

Surplus Pistol Deals at Bud’s Gun Shop

buds_cz_exampleBud’s Gun Shop is a high volume dealer that sells stuff retail for, in some cases, less than your local guy can get it for wholesale… so when you do buy from Bud’s, it’s good manners to tip your transfer dealer.

Right now they have quite a collection of surplus guns, including some rack grade CZ’s that they’re putting forward as Good condition (the Good units sell out quickly) and Fair condition, with the “condition” mostly referring to exterior finish. Most of these are pre-Bs (and so, they have the mag brake and may not work with current CZ mags without some modification). But the prices are pretty good, as this example shows.

Here’s the whole surplus list, including a lot of FNs and Clones (FeG, Mauser — which is an FeG, Kareen etc.) as well as the CZs (and some Jericho clones). These are apparently all surplus cop guns from somewhere, perhaps Israel. Sometimes they sell out, sometimes new stock comes in. Heads up!

buds_surplus_guns

 

Here are their clearance guns, which are a mix of desirable oddities and things that were born to die on a clearance list.

Update

Thanks to Dave in the comments. At least one buyer of a CZ-85 (now sold out) got a shock when he got it home and stripped the firearm:

Buds CZ slide failure

Man, that’s ugly. Reddit thread here, original image posted on imgur here. It will be interesting to see what action Bud’s takes.