Category Archives: Pistols and Revolvers

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…


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!


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!


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). 


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.


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


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


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…


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.


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.


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:


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.


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


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


  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, 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.


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.


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:

Williamson, Samuel H. Choosing the Best Indicator to Measure Relative Worth. Measuring Worth, n.d.. Retrieved from:

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!



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


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.

Let’s Make CZs!

Thanks to for putting this CZ plant video on YouTube. The guy leading the tour sometimes comes up short an English word, but he gets across what they’re doing.

CZ’s guns begin as parts, and the parts begin as wax patterns cast in a metal (looks aluminum) mold. Many identical patterns — the number depends on the size of the part — are attached to an armature, which is then coated with a sand/plaster material, which then is let to dry, has its wax melted out,and then the cavity where the wax was is filled with molten steel.

The same way a jeweler casts earrings or charms — just larger and higher temperatures.

Some other great stuff in the video, includimg a glimpse of the metrology lab.


It was late, late, late when we drafted this and so there are a couple more points we should have made.

One of the silly debates that gun guys get into is “cast vs. forged”? While ceteris paribus a forging is a stronger part than a casting, in the real world ceteris isn’t paribus, and a gun doesn’t need to be stronger than every other gun in the world, like one of Colin Chapman’s cars it just needs to be strong enough. For a gun, that’s obviously more durable than a Chapman racer (if it didn’t just-barely-not-break by the finish line, he would grumble that he overbuilt it). Intelligent engineering doesn’t select materials based solely on what material has the best properties, it also takes into account the purpose of the part.

CZ is far from the only company using castings this heavily. Ruger not only makes most of its own receivers from castings, but has spun its casting shop off as a subsidiary that takes on work for other firms, including gun industry competitors as well as automotive and aerospace firms. In fact, it 3D prints some of its wax patterns (it may just be testing the technology as it has only bought a couple of industrial wax printers; that would certainly speed prototyping).

Investment casting can produce near net-shape parts at a much lower cost than machining. You can even use it to produce a machining blank for a part that gives you less machine time, tool wear, and scrap than starting from a rectangular billet. The same pattern can sometimes be used for steel and aluminum parts (you have to take account for the shrinkage of cast metal parts, depending on the alloy <1% to about 3%).

It’s an interesting combination, in the CZ version, of automation and of hand work. Note that two very critical jobs (building the armatures of part patterns, and pouring the steel) are done entirely by hand. also has a related page with some explanatory language. Some of it appears to be quoting CZ press releases about the guns, not the manufacturing process, but there is this:

The excellence of Ceská zbrojovka’s products have created an image of high quality over the span of its existence both on the domestic and world markets; for this reason, the company considers its responsibility to be to ensure that the parameters of its products will be the best possible at all times.

The company’s technical development and production of military weapons, pistols, rifles, rimfire rifles, shotguns, and air guns constantly create a wide assortment of products Ceská zbrojovka invests considerable financial assets into the purchase of state – of – the art technology each year, especially in the fields of computer numerically controlled machining centers and computing techniques so as to improve their arms’ qualities and properties.

Thanks to the CAD designing of products, the company can quickly respond to the demands of the market with the development of new products with perfect qualities. For this reason comes to the market with new products every year.

We’d be astonished if they were not 3D prototyping their new products, and that explains how they can come up with such rapid model changes and some short-run versions and variants for different world markets.

It strikes us that investment casting could also be used to produce a near net shape injection mold for the polymer parts. Mold production is the tough nut to crack, in technical and financial terms, to get to the place where you can get the rates of returns manufacturers get on poly-framed pistols. A slightly undersized cast mold, with CNC touch-up, could be a real money and time saver for an injection-molding shop, and it could make previously uneconomic short-run injection molding a real possibility.

Auction Action: Bicentennial Colt Revolvers at Amoskeag

We’ve often featured lots from some of our favorite auctioneers, like James Julia in Maine and Rock Island Auctions in Illinois. It’s time to put the relatively local Amoskeag Auctions of our own New Hampshire into the rotation. And what better launch than this set of three commemorative Colt revolvers, issued during the Bicentennial Year of 1976. It’s Item 95 in the upcoming firearms auction, Amoskeag’s Nº 110, taking place at 0900 on 4 June 2016.

Amoskeag Bicentennial Colts lot 95

If you’re too young to remember, we who were there can tell you: America went Bicentennial Bonkers. Everything had a Bicentennial Limited Edition, from crappy Chryslers (all cars were crappy in 1976, unless you lived in Europe, and Chrysler and American Motors were competing for the bottom of the market) to chopsticks and placemats in Chinese restaurants. By the time the hangover for the Bicentennial Binge came due, around the swearing-in of Jimmy Carter in January of 77, we all had Bicentennial Burnout.

This was Colt’s top commemorative offering that year. Now, commemoratives, often mass-produced faux collectibles, seem to struggle in the market, but we suspect that these revolvers will sell for higher than Amoskeag’s high estimate of $5,500. The revolvers are three iconic Colts, the then-modern Python in .357 Mag, the century-earlier Single Action Army in, naturally .45 Long Colt, and the .44 blackpowder Third Model Dragoon. These guns are beautifully and tastefully finished (not the case with most Bicentennial chachkas).

The Python alone is a hell for rare variant with an unfluted cylinder engraved with the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty. The SAA has a case-hardened receiver and an ufluted cylinder, engraved with the US flag of 1776 and that of 1976. The Dragoon has the famous old indian-and-Texas-Rangers battle scene on it. Each gun’s left grip is inlaid with the Great Seal of the United States.

A School System Full of Weapons

(Not this school system's pile. This is a file pile).

(Not this school system’s pile. This is a file pile).

“A School System Full of Weapons”? Actually, that describes what we had growing up, where one of the teachers might bring in his Springfield and some old gear to illustrate something about the First World War, or a couple of us might have squirrel guns in our cars for after school. All the guys carried a pocket knife and a lighter.

Today, they’d probably throw us so far back in the school brig that we’d have to be fed by Wrist Rocket. And actually fire the teachers (but keep the pervy ones, because Vibrant Diversity® FTW). Then, they didn’t have a school brig. See what Progress® gets ya?

So that leaves us a little unsure how to react to this tale in the Daily Mail. It’s hard to get inside the minds of the uncredited reporter there; we suppose it’s a steady job, but he wants to be a paperback writer. Anyway, we’re not sure whether the best angle on this is:

  1. the sheer gun-fearing wussiedom of the schools;
  2. the degree to which Britons are aghast that Yanks have eeeeewwww guns. (We can assure our UK readers that they are not slimy, merely smooth and cool to the touch);
  3. the fact that all this keys off a notoriously mobbed-up union, the Teamsters, getting twaumatized by weapons in the schools (we’ll believe the Teamsters have turned over a new leaf when they give up the mortal remains of purged capo Jimmy Hoffa);
  4. the fact that the famously-violent union supposedly twaumatized by all these guns supported Andrew Cuomo and his SSAFE Act, which was supposed to usher in the era of the New Soviet Man or something;
  5. The laziness of reporters, which we bring full circle by writing a report based entirely on a Daily Mail report which is based entirely on a New York Post report which is based entirely on sniveling provided by the union goon. At least we’re self-aware; not sure if the paperback writers in Fleet Street are, also. If so, Troll Level: Journeyman at least.

Anyway, here’s the Mail, with some interspersed snark:

Terrifying haul of 2,000 revolvers, handguns, meat cleavers and daggers confiscated from children as young as 11 in NY schools in just 10 months… and the NYPD are trying to keep the problem a secret.

Um, revolvers are handguns. Would you write “Horses, animals, vegetables and minerals…”? Well, you actually mightn’t, but they very well might. It is the Daily Mail, after all.

1,751 guns, knives and other weapons were confiscated from children in the city’s schools between July 1, 2015, and May 8 of this year.

Didn’t he just say 2,000? He did (look in the previous quote). Don’t know how to break it to the Math Is Hard Barbie reporter here, but 1751 ≠ 2000.

That is a rise of more than quarter from the same time last year

Forgive us if we find your estimate a bit dubious, without the underlying number. But it might be right, as the Ferguson Effect has many major-metro cops “going fetal,” to borrow Rahm Emanuel’s evocative condemnation of his own PD; a lot of places have crime up a quarter, and it’s a toss-up whether Rahm or De Blasio despises his cops more.

Shocking figures were released as school safety agents were thanked

Greg Floyd, the Teamsters local leader. Note union/Cuomo campaign signs.

Greg Floyd, the Teamsters local leader quoted in the article. Note union/Cuomo campaign signs.

The passive voice here hides the fact that the “school safety agent” is a neither-fish-nor-fowl level of city employee who isn’t a teacher, isn’t a cop, but is very well paid for a guy or gal whose occupational requirement is ability to fog  mirror. (Like TSA, but the upper crust thereof).

Revolvers, 9mm handguns, meat cleavers and daggers.

These are just some of the weapons schoolchildren are bringing into classrooms in New York City on a daily basis.

Boys and girls, some as young as 11, have taken them out to use during fights while others have used them to target other youngsters.

According to the New York Post, the dangerous items have been confiscated by faculty at schools, some of which don’t have metal detectors.

OK, now they’re admitting that the whole thing is really the Post’s report. Halfway down the page. (Not that the Post, either, is likely to employ someone who can identify a gun three times out of five at five paces).

An investigation has revealed how a huge number of dangerous weapons are being taken into New York schools on a daily basis. This revolver was found on a student at M169 on the Upper East Side.

NY School Revolver

“An investigation has revealed.” Hell of a way to say, “Union representatives, who are looking for a lever in contract negotiations, handed us a prefab story…” The junk revolver appears to be a die-cast zinc el cheapo, and the Made in Italy origin statement was enough for us to track it down. It’s a close cousin of this cheap Italian .22 blank starter pistol, the Mondial Model 1060, if it isn’t exactly the same thing. The one at the link sold at auction … for a penny. If the Mondial name was ever applied to a real firearm, news of such has yet to arrive in Googlestan.

I bet they don’t submit these to trace, for fear they’d raise Time to Crime numbers and undermine the push for New Laws To Punish Those Who Didn’t Commit Any of These Crimes.

This .38 caliber pistol was found loaded with a single bullet at PS 40 high school in Queens. Safety officials say they are being threatened with punishment if they release information about weapons being taken from kids.

NY School Hi-Point

Ah, yes, the mighty Hi-Point. Not only that, it had… drumroll please… “a single bullet.” (The guy would mean cartridge, if he knew what that was. Or maybe he does and has too little faith in the Mail readership. Of course, it can’t be an edgy report without an edged weapon, too:

NY School Dagger

This dagger was confiscated at Newtown High School in Queens. It was one of 1,751 weapons seized from schoolchildren between July 1, 2015, and May 8 of this year.

Ah, yes. The Mall Ninja Store blue-light special, this. Actually the deadliest weapon of the three, but like the Hi-Point with “one bullet,” it’s probably only good for one shot. “Hey, let’s put some weakening holes in here!” — said no knifesmith, ever.

Hard to imagine the blood of Churchill and Nelson and Shackleton running cold over this pathetic display, but evidently it does. One hopes Alfred the Great is not looking down at the moment, or he might be moved to weep.

But we finally do get to some numbers:

Between July 1, 2015, and May 8 of this year, safety agents and cops recovered a total of 1,751 guns, knives and other weapons in schools.

That’s a rise in 26 percent from the same period last school year, when 1,394 weapons were confiscated, according to data provided to the Post by the NYPD

Gregory Floyd, president of the safety agents union in the city, Teamsters Local 237, told the newspaper the NYPD are cracking down on people who tell the public about the weapons seized from youngsters.

Those who leak information to the press have also been threatened with docked vacation days.

Floyd told the Post: ‘The purpose is to intimidate and to make an example of them so other safety agents will be afraid to report crime.’

He added: ‘If there’s no information to report, (Mayor) de Blasio can come out with his skewed numbers that crime is down and schools are safe, and parents don’t get a true picture of what’s going on.

Now this makes sense in a twisted sort of a way.

‘We shouldn’t be in the secrecy business. We should be in the business of making sure weapons brought to school doesn’t happen.’

Well, with that command of grammar, he’d better stick with his union gig. Of course, we can’t expect too much from the guy, he’s probably a graduate of these same pathetic schools.

Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union told the Post: ‘It’s a cover-up, while putting the lives of our children and school staffs at risk.’

Families for Excellent Schools, an organization who has sued the NYPD for failing to protect their children at schools, says the latest statistics proves more weapons are being taken into schools on a daily basis.

Um, the police have no duty to protect anyone in particular. Established law, we’re afraid. And notice the reporter’s lapse into NYC Public School graduate grammar: “statistics proves.” Subject verb agrees should, no?

The NYPD defending its response to the seizures in a statement and insisting information that is ‘disseminated’ must be approved.

Then, the article shoots itself in the foot by announcing the following are “examples of dangerous weapons taken into New York schools in the last two months”. If you read them, you can see they’re more like “examples of dangerous weapons taken into New York schools in the last two months,” but this reporter’s innumeracy apparently extends to the differences between the various single-digit whole integers.

On March 15 – An 11-year-old boy sneaked a .38-caliber handgun loaded with one bullet into PS 40 in Jamaica, Queens. He was seen waving the gun at another student he had a beef with.

That’s the Hi-Point illustrated above. Note: the punk in question was eleven. Given New York’s attitude to crime and criminals, and the expected pace of medical advances, he could still be crimin’ in the 22nd century.

On March 17 – A 15-year-old student stashed a .38-caliber handgun in his backpack and smuggled it into York Early College Academy, a middle school in Jamaica. He was spotted flashing the revolver during a dispute with students in a stairwell.

This kid was Old School, with some cheesy alloy (Zamak strikes again?) .38 Smith knockoff, complete with round-noses and a shades-of-Joe-Colombo electrical taped grip (per criminal legend, defeats fingerprints). The Mail didn’t have the picture but the NY Post did:


Seriously, that’s like a crime gun from 1966 that’s been in some kind of criminal time capsule for the last fifty years.

On March 22 – A 14-year-old boy at Dr. Gladstone H. Atwell Middle School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn took a 9mm pistol and two magazines of bullets in his backpack. When a dean questioned him about a prior fight with neighborhood kids, he admitted packing heat.

That’s this fine example of firearms technology, which appears to have been cared for appropriately:

NY School Jennings

It’s a “Jennings Nine,” made by the Southern California nest of junk-gun makers that anti-gunners have dubbed “the ring of fire.” Anybody who’s been a cop for a while has taken a Jennings or two into evidence, but the more common ones are the pocket pistols. Thing is, for all their use in crime, many tens of thousands of these kinds of cheap guns are used by people who can’t afford our tuned designer work of defensive art, but still have every right to defend themselves. Drive up the price of guns, and the only gainers are the criminals.

On March 29 – A 14-year-old student at Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports in Concourse Village in The Bronx pulled a steak knife on a 16-year-old boy.

We’ll go to the Post for this one:


We’re guessing that the “Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports in Concourse Village in The Bronx” sends more grads (and dropouts) to the NY DOC than to the NBA, NFL or MLB. And we wonder what sport in particular this young sport had in mind.

Now his mom’s one steak knife short. Think she’ll be mad when she finds out?

On April 4 – A 13-year-old boy reportedly threatened a female student with a .22-caliber revolver at M169 Robert F. Kennedy on the Upper East Side, then passed the gun to a friend.

That’s the cheesy zinc alloy revolver visible earlier in this report.

On April 8 – A 16-year-old boy was allegedly found with a medieval-style dagger at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, Queens. It was uncovered after a 17-year-old girl told authorities that he had put it to her neck.

That’s the mall-ninja toad stabber seen above.

And the soi-disant “students” have been expelled from school, charged, and convicted of SAFE Act violations, and sent to prison, right? Right? Anybody?

Don’t be silly. The law is meant to be used as a stick to beat gun-owners Upstate, not Downstate hood rat gangbangers in the school (and hood rat gangbanger wannabees, which is the feedstock of gangbanger production). It’s certainly not meant to be used on actual criminals. 

NY Post guns in schoolsClicking through to the Post’s story, which was the cover story (right), we see that Postie Susan Edelman, no more au courant on guns than her hoplophobic British opposite numbers, spins it differently:

These are the guns and knives Mayor de Blasio doesn’t want you to see.

A surging tide of weapons — including loaded revolvers, 9mm handguns, meat cleavers and daggers — has been confiscated this year from students in city schools, most of which do not have metal detectors.

But instead of praising unarmed school safety agents for grabbing the weapons, the NYPD is cracking down on them for alerting the press and public, according to Gregory Floyd, president of the agents union, Teamsters Local 237.

Ah, it’s all Bill De Blowfish’s fault. Have you ever noticed that for New Yorkers, especially New York media functionaries, the worst mayor in history is the one they have right now, compared to the one they had before him, who was second best — and the one they will support to replace this schmo, that next one is going to be the Best Mayor Evah.

Edelman is alarmed that only some schools have metal detectors, and that most of the weapons were seized in schools without. Amazingly, though, almost 700 weapons were seized in the schools with the detectors, making one wonder about those union dudes running. Here’s the number.

Of the weapons seized this academic year, 698 came from schools with metal detectors, the NYPD stats show. Students brought 1,053 weapons — 60 percent of the total — into schools unequipped with metal detectors.

The mayor is reporting crime in the schools is down, but it seems to be simply that juvenile criminals are not being charged.

Floyd also disputes the city Department of Education’s new discipline policy, which discourages student suspensions, and a pilot program to give “warning cards” to students for marijuana possession or “disorderly conduct” such as yelling, cursing, fighting and assaults. Some offenses previously might have warranted a criminal summons.

“In many cases, the children aren’t arrested, so the crime statistics are down, but it’s just not being reported,” Floyd said.

And we’ll close with a couple more of the little darlings’ playthings. The Post says of this catch:

On March 11, a safety agent at Fashion Industries HS in Chelsea found a 4-inch razor blade in a girl’s backpack. When she began to kick and scream, a report said, three agents restrained and handcuffed her before finding a 10½-inch meat cleaver in her bag.

NY School cleaver

That’s both of them in that grainy picture, the razor blade and the cleaver.  And then there’s this cleaver — it’s not the same cleaver, but its point of confiscation is unknown.


Now against that, before you send your kids to the New York City Public Schools, you need to weigh the fact that these Dewey Factories prepare their students (at least the ones that survive to graduation) perfectly well to compete for the unskilled factory jobs of the 1890s and beyond, like at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory; or to work as slackjawed government clerks.