Category Archives: Pistols and Revolvers

What Are the Most Cloned Firearms?

The champion clone host of all time has to be the AK

The champion clone host of all time has to be the AK

What firearms have been the most cloned, in numbers and in diversity of nations and styles, in all history?

The AK. The M1911. The AR series?

What about the good old M1898 Mauser, daddy of Springfields and Arisakas alike?

Here’s one that probably deserves a place on the list, even if it can’t compete with the wide dispersion of the above-named category-creating firearms: the CZ-75. (Shown: CZ-75B Retro).

New CZ 75 B Retro 3

In the course of some book research we ran across this laundry list of licensed and unlicensed copies of the Koucky brothers’ design on Wikipedia (yeah, we know):

The clones, copies and variants by other manufacturers include:

Chile FAMAE FN-750
China Norinco NZ-75
Czech Republic CZ-Strakonice CZ-TT
Italy Renato Gamba G90
Italy Tanfoglio TZ-75, T-90 and T-95
Israel IMI Jericho 941 and Magnum Research Baby Eagle
Israel BUL Cherokee
North Korea Baek Du San “백두산권총”
Philippines Armscor MAP1 and MAPP1
Sudan Military Industry Corporation Marra and Lado
Switzerland Sphinx Systems Sphinx 2000, Sphinx 3000 and Sphinx SDP
Switzerland ITM AT-84 AT-88
Turkey Sarsılmaz Kılınç 2000 & Armalite AR-24
Turkey Tristar C-100 & Canik 55 Piranha
United Kingdom JSL (Hereford) Ltd Spitfire (No longer in business since 1996)
United States Dornaus & Dixon Bren Ten
United States EAA Witness Elite Gold
United States Springfield P9
United States Vltor Bren Ten

Some of these are rare, some are common (Springfield P9, EAA, IMI Jericho), and some are vaporware (Vltor Bren Ten). One shipped mostly without magazines, can you guess which?

And in addition to all the clones, the Wikipedia article lists 35 variants produced by the original manufacturer, Česká Zbrojovka, Uherský Brod. CZ has produced well over a million of these pistols. To put that in perspective, FN has produced a similar number of Browning High-Powers over a 40-years-longer period; but Colt and other US contractors produced some 2.7 million M1911 series pistols, mostly in two wartime rushes from 1917-19 and 1940-45.

We bet you didn’t know the sturdy CZ was that popular worldwide.

3D Printed Pepperbox Update: Going Big

From prolific 3D Printable pistol designer, James R. Patrick, comes word he’s working on something new … a scaled-up version of his Washbear pepperbox for the .38 Special cartridge.

Greywolf looks a lot like Washbear....

Greywolf looks a lot like Washbear….

Following the success of the Washbear 2.0 prototype, I decided it was time to scale up. Here’s my next design, the PM638 Greywolf:

The Greywolf is a 6-shot pepperbox revolver chambered in .38 Special. It’s striker-fired and double-action-only. All of the parts are printed in ABS or Nylon except for the firing pin, which is a roofing nail, elastic bands to act as springs, and the legally required amount of detectable metal. There will also be a version of the cylinder that accepts steel chamber inserts to increase longevity. It’s essentially the Washbear’s big brother.

This is the main difference.

This is the main difference. Greywolf’s round (.38 Spl., most definitely not +P) on the right, Washbear’s .22 LR on the left.

via JamesRPatrick.

Patrick explains some of the differences; the Greywolf isn’t just scaled up, it’s also improved internally.

The trigger directly rotates the cylinder, while retracting a striker that is released when the cylinder is aligned and the operator continues trigger pressure.

The trigger directly rotates the cylinder, while retracting a striker that is released when the cylinder is aligned and the operator continues trigger pressure.

Greywolf 02

The nylon cylinder contains six rifled and chambered bores. The cylinder is considered consumable and the expected max lifespan is a few hundred rounds.

The system is designed to be fail safe:

At the end of life, the cylinder is expected to fail between layers at the front edge of the fired casing. If it behaves anything like the Washbear, then gas will vent harmlessly from the crack and the cylinder will bind. The vented gas is expected to be no greater than the gas that escapes between the cylinder and barrel of a traditional revolver.

While the .38 Special has a lower chamber pressure than the .22LR, it does produce a greater recoil. To compensate for this, I modified the front of the grip so it mates more securely with the frame. I replaced the main fillets with chamfers, which are easier to print. I also increased the space available for the trigger band so that a heavier elastic band can be used. More importantly, I redesigned the striker assembly:

Like the Washbear, the Greywolf features an integrated drop safety. When the trigger is in the forward resting position, the cylinder is rotated such that no cartridge is in line with the firing pin.

Only if the trigger is to the rear — i.e., pulled — can the firing pin contact the primer. That’s an intelligent approach, but you wonder if it’s safe enough, given the flexibility of most printed plastics. This is definitely something you should only build in ABS or preferably nylon; it doesn’t seem likely it would be safe in PLA.

There are more details on the Greywolf design on Patrick’s website. To the best of our knowledge, this design, several months old, has not been built yet, and so the files are not yet available. At the same link, you can find the files for the previously released .22 Washbear pepperbox and the single-shot .22 Songbird.

In other James R. Patrick design news, we’ve seen the first third-party (i.e., not made in direct cooperation with the designer) print of the original Washbear. And here it is:

Thrid party Washbear

The builder says (in this Reddit post; his user name is Nailcannon, and these are his pictures of his new, untested firearm):

Patrick is the guy who made the design. I did not design this. It’s called the PM522 Washbear. It’s a 6 shot .22 revolver. The cylinder is printed in nylon(Taulman alloy 910). The rest of the gun is made of ABS plastic. Being made of plastic it’s stiff as hell. It has like a 15 pound trigger pull and a ~1.5 inch reset. I haven’t fired this one specifically but here’s a video of one being fired. It cost about $34 in materials. I’ll be here to answer any more questions you may have.

There are two cylinder designs for the Washbear, this all-nylon 6-shooter, and an 8-shot cylinder with

To reload the cylinder, you pull the cylinder pin and remove the cylinder (this revolver is not a threat to your Smith & Wesson for practicality). If the cases (or loaded cartridges) don’t drop out, you can knock them out by using the cylinder pin as a clearing rod. This is the Washbear with the cylinder removed:

Thrd party Washbear disassembled

And this is the firearm more stripped-down (although not completely detail-stripped), which lets you compare this design to the Greywolf. They’ve very similar (and, they’re very similar to Nerf guns, a resemblance that has been noted frequently).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Not Your Grandfather’s Luftwaffe Pistol

Anything Third Reich has a collector following. An old teammate used to joke that there was probably some guy writing a book, Left-Handed Wingnuts of the Third Reich, to fill the gap left by the magisterial nine-volume Aeronautical and Industrial Fasteners of German Industry 1933-45. We were never quite sure that was a joke, after some encounters with reenactors and collectors that took things too seriously (there was a guy in our unit with an authentic Afrika Korps Kubelwagen, and he used to dress to match. ISTR he worked in the 3 shop (operations), which is probably the right place for a guy who spends his spare time channeling Rommel. He was a good guy, he just liked Nazi stuff.

Takes all kinds to make a world, right?

walther PP left

Anyway, this popularity of all things Deutsche Wehrmacht has led to a welter of reproductions, tributes, and outright fakes. This engraved, blued Walther PP with gold inlay (and some gold-plated small parts) and mother-of-pearl grips is not in original condition, so it’s one of the above. How can we tell which? The difference, as we see it, is this:

  1. A reproduction is a modern made copy of some historical thing. It is not represented by manufacturers or ethical resellers as original. It can usually be distinguished by examination, from industrial processes alone — 21st Century manufacturing is not like 20th — if not by any other means. Most of the various M1 Carbines being produced now are reproductions.
  2. A tribute is something that is made to have the Gestalt of the original but is not made exactly like it. Parts may not interchange, at least not fully. It is not represented by the manufacturer or by resellers as original. An example of a tribute is SMG Guns’ excellent FG42. It’s an FG42 but differs in some important ways — its receiver is machined from billet, it uses ZB26 mags, it is available in the more common (today) 7.62mm caliber. You could even argue that it is a reproduction, as nothing has changed except what must change. A clearer case of tribute is the new StG44 coming from Hill & Mac Gunworks.
  3. A fake is pretty straightforward — it is something new or something newly modified, misrepresented as something old, or as something old other than what it really is (and invariably, rarer and more valuable) . These are common in many fields of collecting, but for some reason, especially in the arms and equipment of discredited and lost causes, like the Confederacy and the Third Reich.

This engraved pistol features a Luftwaffe eagle, but one engraved decades after the Luftwaffe had gone to the museums, smelters, and for many of the aircrew, graveyards — if they were lucky enough to find a grave. We’re not sure Hermann Göring would have approved the somewhat wobbly swastika.

Luftwaffe eagle with a slightly crooked version of the crooked cross.

Luftwaffe eagle with a slightly crooked version of the crooked cross.

This pistol is not being represented as an original.

Walther PP 7.65mm. Eagle over N proof. Engraved by J. Flannery Engraving with gold inlay and gold plated parts. The pistol is niter blued along with two mags. With pearl grips. A beautiful addition to any collection

via Walther PP 7.65mm : Semi Auto Pistols at GunBroker.com.

If you needed any proof that this is not an original Luftwaffe pistol, the clues are many.

walther PP slide rollmark

Walther slides pre-VE-Day were marked with its original factory site, Zella-Mehlis in Thuringia (which, as we’ve discussed before, is near Suhl). This postwar PP which was certainly made in France at Manurhin was marked with the new corporate HQ location: Ulm/Do. (for “Ulm an Donau, Ulm on the Danube).

Eagle-N nitro proof, and stag's horn proof with "75"

Eagle-N nitro proof on the frame, and stag’s horn proof with “75” on the barrel.

There’s also the proof marks, which are postwar Federal German, and the proof date, “75,” meaning 1975.

Clearer look at the barrel's stag's horn and "75".

Clearer look at the barrel’s stag’s horn and “75”.

We’re not great fans of this engraving job. Conversely, the metal prep and bluing is really, really nice. A niter blue like this is not especially durable. It’s a decorative finish for a decorative gun, although back in its heyday, 100 years ago, it was often used on springs and screws and other small parts of firearms. But it’s very easy on the eyes, which was undoubtedly Flannery’s intent in niter bluing it after the engraving was complete.

Mass Armory Theft Investigation Continues

A third suspect has been charged in he theft of 16 firearms, including six burst-capable M4 carbines, from a US Army Reserve Armory in Worcester, Massachusetts. According to the FBI, Tyrone James of Dorchester, MA (a Boston suburb/neighborhood) was involved in burglar James W. Morales’s attempts to sell off the weapons.

One of the stolen weapons, an M4 burst-capable carbine, that has been recovered.

One of the stolen weapons, an M4 burst-capable carbine, that has been recovered.

Former (and, surprisingly, honorably-discharged) reservist Morales and friend Ashley Bigsbee have already been charged in the case: Morales with the thefts, which were done by cutting into a vault whose alarm had been turned off, and Bigsbee with possession of stolen firearms and lying to Federal investigators.

Tyrone James, 28, Dorchester is facing charges of lying to federal investigators and being a felon in possession of a firearm in U.S. District Court. He is expected to appear in federal court in Worcester on Monday. [21 Dec 15 — Ed.]

Authorities investigating the theft of six M-4 rifles and 10 M-11 pistols from the Lincoln Stoddard U.S. Army Reserve Center last month searched an apartment in Dorchester as part of their investigation.

The man accused of stealing the weapons, former U.S. Army reservist James Walker Morales, allegedly went to the apartment the day after the robbery, according to authorities.

Morales allegedly met with Ashley Bigsbee and James at the apartment. Bigsbee is facing charges of unlawful possession of a stolen firearm and lying to federal investigators in connection to the weapons theft.

Morales told investigators Bigsbee introduced him to James, who arranged the sale of five of the stolen guns to some men, according to records on file in federal court. James was allegedly given one of the pistols and one of the rifles for helping, authorities said.

Ah yeah, that’s the limit of cooperation they’re getting:

“Who bought the guns you were selling?”

“We dunno, just Sumdood.”

Yeah, riiiiight.

James, who has armed robbery and assault convictions on his record, allegedly told FBI agents that he did not help Morales.

“Tyrone repeatedly denied assisting Morales or anyone else with selling guns,” FBI agents wrote in federal records. “Tyrone further claimed that he did not know why Morales would tell law enforcement that Tyrone facilitated the sale of guns for Morales.”

Investigators did not find any communications between James and Morales on James’ cellphone. He told authorities if there were any messages to Morales, it was because Bigsbee used his phone.

James allegedly had messages on his phone where he appears to ask people if they are looking to buy guns, records said.

“Bro hit me if u know anyone lookin for any blicks,” one message read. Another message read, “Bro hit me if u no anyone lookin for hammers.” Both messages are contained in a federal affidavit.

via Third person faces charges in connection to theft of weapons from U.S. Army Reserve armory | masslive.com

Blicks? Hammers? Who did this knucklehead think he was, Home Depot?

ashley_bigsbeeMeanwhile, because it is Massachusetts, Ashley Bigsbee, the women busted in the case, has been released with conditions including an ankle bracelet.

Those are the same conditions Morales was supposed to be under at the time of the burglary. He was out on parole or probation at that time.

Bigsbee (left) had photos of the stolen guns on her cell phone when arrested in November.

 

Striker-Fired Transition + Weak Training + Command Apathy = NDs

ND-shot-in-footA fellow can get hurt being irresponsible with a firearm. The LA Sheriff’s Department has been finding that out since making the change from the Beretta 92F to the Smith & Wesson M&P. CNN has the story, but the gormless reporter, Scott Glover, seems to think the guns are to blame. “Guns used by LA deputies put officers, public at risk!” Glover shrieks.

Er, no. Read the OIG report, and the problem is clearly identified: inadequate training. It’s true that there’s been a big uptick in NDs, and that LASD has (and always had) a high level of NDs (probably because of command toleration of firearms negligence). In 2012, one deputy managed to ND a 92F. In 2013, one did also… but sixteen more launched unintended rounds from an M&P, which the IG traced to three causes1 (see footnote for correction on ND numbers):

  1. “[L]ack of an external safety lever on the M&P coupled with inattention…”
  2. “[S]ome deputies are violating basic firearms safety rules by failing to …keep the index finger off the trigger….”
  3. “[W]eapon-light activation errors have led to a significant number of deputies [who] pulled the trigger of their weapon when they intended only to turn on the light.”

Solutions: move the weapon-light switch, and fix the training.

We’d add 4. Command emphasis on firearms safety lacking; no consequences for NDs. Take a year of seniority and a year of eligibility for overtime or promotion for a first ND, 5 years for a second. (Really, you should fire anyone who commits an ND. But we can’t expect big-city Civil Service police to meet a common-sense standard).

Another factor is that, long after the transition to semi-auto pistols, LASD continued to teach the old 1930s double-action revolver technique of “riding the trigger.” Only in 2002 did they start teaching new deputies to keep the booger hook off the bang switch until trigger time. Riding a DA revolver or M92 trigger will have one result, riding a modern Smith or Glock will have another.

“We conclude that the current training program is insufficient to overcome old habits learned on other handguns.”  Sounds reasonable to us, but Scott Glover (and his producer, because let’s face it, the producers write the stories, the news readers are selected for their hairdos alone) didn’t read that far into the report.

And, buried deep in the report, there is a mention of the training required to use a weapon light: watch a video on the LASD intranet.

Must be a hell of a video.

 

By the way, why is LASD replacing the Beretta after 20-plus years? Diversity. 

In 2009, outside consultants, the Landy Litigation Group, concluded that the size of the Beretta had a disproportionate impact on female recruits’ ability to successfully complete firearms training and recommended that the LASD move away from the Beretta. The consultants and a working group of Sheriff’s Department personnel evaluated the options and ultimately recommended the adoption of the Smith & Wesson M&P to significantly decrease the testing failure rate of female recruits.

Diversity is our Vibrancy! If you don’t count all the NDs, the Smith transition met its goal. First time failures on the firearms test dropped from 62% to under 20%. (Along with fewer women failing, fewer men did, too, and along with more first time passes, there were fewer second-time retest failures, which get a recruit sent home). Having cops shoot better is a great thing (NYPD ought to try it some time), so on that measure, the M&P is a solid win.

But the Department’s safety record, never good or world class, really tanked:

lasd_nds

Note that this chart includes not just pistols, but all firearms. Considering how little they use them, LASD’s ND rates with shotguns and carbines are really alarming.

But it’s hard enough just to measure NDs, because:

LASD policy did not require an IAB response or an administrative investigation when an unintended discharge did not strike a person.

Lord love a duck.

Notes

  1. Those numbers, which came from the CNN report, are all wrong, although the general trend they’re describing, of increasing NDs with the S&W, is true. Rather than rewrite, we posted the OIG charts, which are presumably correct, here:

Table 1: Weapons used in negligent discharges – 2012

Firearm type

Number of incidents

Beretta 92F pistol

3

Colt M4 rifle

1

Glock 27

1 (off-duty)

Remington shotgun

1

Ruger P-90 .45 cal. pistol

1 (off-duty)

Sig Sauer 9mm pistol

1

Sig Sauer .45 cal. pistol

2

Unknown make .22 cal. pistol

1 (off-duty)

Unknown make .45 cal. pistol

1 (off-duty)

Clearing suspect’s weapon

1

TOTAL INCIDENTS

13

Table 2: Weapons used in negligent discharges – 2013

Firearm type

Number of incidents

Beretta 92F pistol

4

Colt M4 rifle

1

Glock Model 7

1 (off-duty)

Remington shotgun

3

Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm

8

Smith & Wesson .38 cal. revolver

1 (off-duty)

Clearing suspect weapon

1

TOTAL INCIDENTS

19

Table 3: Weapons used in negligent discharges – 2014

Firearm type

Number of incidents

Beretta 92F pistol

1

Colt M4 rifle

1

Remington shotgun

1

Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm11

28 (2 off-duty)

TOTAL INCIDENTS

31

So far in 2015, there have been at least 21 NDs, 18 of them on duty, 15 with M&Ps. Three deputies shot themselves in the leg; one shot his partner with a ricochet to the chest. They haven’t shot a citizen. Yet.

 

Rock Island Auction Ho! Here are a few of our Favorite Lots

The RIA Premiere Auction kicks off soon, at 0900 Central Time today. RIA’s online auctions are where we occasionally find a good deal. The Premiere Auctions are where really awesome stuff shows up — stuff that, despite what seem to be reasonable auction estimates, we almost certainly can’t afford.

But we can dream, hey?

First up, two rare US martial target-shooting rifles: A Springfield ’03 National Match….

Springfield 1903 NM RIAOf which Rock Island says:

Springfield NM shipping documentAccording to the included pair of shipping tickets, this rifle was sold from the inventory of Springfield Armory in 1936 by the authority of the Department of Civilian Marksmanship. The rifle is noted by serial number, along with the description “U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30, 1903A1,/National Match, 1936, with Target/and Star Gauge Record Card” (NOTE: target and record card not included). Blade front and folding ladder rear sight with a star gauge stamp on the muzzle, protective hood on the front sight and “SA/(bomb)/3-36” on top of the barrel. The “F” and “NS” marked nickel steel bolt has been hand-numbered on top to match the receiver. Fitted with a smooth pistol grip stock, stamped “P” on the wrist and “S.A./S.P.G.” on the left side with a deeply checkered buttplate and a brown leather sling marked “H&P.1918/WEH”.
Condition: Excellent, with 90% plus of the correct mixed blue and parkerized finish showing some areas of brown patina and mild wear overall. The bolt body has been polished. Stock is also excellent with a few light dings and scratches. Mild scuffing and verdigris is present on the sling. Mechanically excellent.

… and an M1 National Match on, as usual, a Springfield receiver. Complete with provenance and documentation, this late NM (1963) may have been made even as the M14 project was winding down. It looks like it may have been a 1988 DCM sale, but we honestly just skimmed the two documents that are posted (partially redacted) on the Rock Island site.

M1 Springfield NM - RIA

 

 

 

Naturally the images embiggen with a click, and there are more images on the site.

Both guns are in startling condition for a guy with a safe full of rack grade rifles. The 1903 is particularly gorgeous — a collector would be hard pressed to upgrade this fine collector rifle.

As usual, the estimates ($2,500 – $3,750 for the ’03 and $2,250-3,500 for the M1) are on crack. The guns will sell higher, unless everybody has spent everything on ARs this week.

The US Martial Long Arms category includes only cartridge long arms but it has some real winners — a rod bayonet ’03, a remanufactured Infrared Sniperscope M1 Carbine, a Remington 720 that was bestowed as a Navy/Marine shooting trophy and comes with the presentation information, including the name of the Marine NCO who won it. There are sniper rifles (including a bogus one) and rare prototypes and trials rifles.

Maybe it’s not US cartridge military rifles you collect. Mausers? Winchesters? Colt pistols? Class III? Maybe Rock Island’s list of Categories can help you find something to spend the rent money on:

Search our catalog Now! Click here.
Or view our auction categories.  Simply click to view!

If there’s nothing there you want, check the URL you’re reading this at, and then take your pulse. You’re either in the wrong blog… or you’re dead.

UPDATE

OK, one more that’s right in the left and right limits of this blog: a Colt .32 Hammerless Pocket Automatic. One of 543 from a particular shipment in 1944. It’s not just a really nice condition, Colt, it’s also documented to that particular shipment…

OSS Colt

…to the property officer of the OSS in the Fowler Building, Rosslyn, Virginia. You know you want it.

SIG P320: The “Super SIG”?

Even as all the Feds are squirrelly about the prospect of adopting the SIG P320, something else is happening: people who try it seem to really like it. So far, we haven’t had a replay of the debacle that occurred with SIG’s modular hammer-fired gun, the P250, and the Federal Air Marshals Service (although FAMS is still feeling the opposite of enthusiasm for SIG these days). Tam put a couple of thousand rounds through one and at Michael Bane’s Downrange.TV blog, Ed Head reports on having one worked on by Bruce Gray of Grayguns. He calls the result the Super SIG. Why “Super?” Maybe this picture explains it:

SuperSIG4

Head is pretty happy with his modified modular striker-fired SIG. Here are his comments on the trigger:

What I got back was a pistol that looks completely stock except for the sights. But the trigger is now the best striker fired trigger I have experienced. The trigger wasn’t bad to begin with – it had a bit of take-up and broke at around 7 pounds. It was a good, usable trigger with a smooth face and no safety-thingy lever. Gray states he can get a 4-pound trigger on these pistols and that is exactly what he delivered.

Okay, full disclosure here; I find it difficult to measure striker fired pistol triggers with my Lyman electronic trigger gizmo. It’s, essentially, a strain gauge and will give different readings depending upon what portion of the trigger it contacts. For single action triggers like a 1911 it’s easy to get consistent readings by placing the arm of the gauge in the center of the trigger. I’ve found the best consistency with striker fired triggers occurs when I place it on the lower third of a trigger, and using that method I arrived at a 4 pound, and maybe an ounce or two, average trigger reading for the Super Sig.

We agree with Ed that the Lyman gauge is fiddly, and we can throw ours a lot farther than we trust it. We note that at major factories and custom shops including SIG’s own (and Smith’s), the gunsmiths use weight sets, like the weights used in technical inspection of NRA and international bullseye competitors’ guns. Right now, all we’ve got is the Lyman and we’re not loving it especially.

Grayguns call this level of trigger work Competition Action Cleanup Perfection, which is another way of saying they go through the entire action chassis of the pistol and cleanup, adjust and polish the parts. It’s way more than a “trigger job”.

 

SuperSIG3The other mods that Gray applies are less desirable, in our humble opinion. They include replacing the night sights with shooting-game daylight-only sights…

SuperSIG2

Factory sights on right. Better for defensive use; customized sights are daylight-only gamer sights. 

…and replacing the captive recoil spring with a 1911 style non-captive rod. Here are some of the rods, from the Gray website:

grayguns-sig-sauer-p320-guide-rods

According to Head, they don’t say why they replace the spring and guide; he speculates that it’s because lots of different weights of 1911 springs can be had, and perhaps to add a half-ounce of muzzle weight. In fact, they do say why on their website (perhaps they didn’t when Ed was writing his piece):

The stock P320 Fullsize 9mm pistols come with a highly durable flat-wound recoil spring and guide system that provides the excellent reliability you expect from a SIG Sauer. However, our shooters agree that it is over-sprung for serious competitive use, causing the muzzle to both flip and dip undesirably during sight return.

We designed a simple solution: a new FAT guide rod that accepts most standard 1911 recoil springs. This new FAT rod lets you tune your recoil spring to your load, grip style and desired sight return characteristics. We include a 1911 15 pound recoil spring, and the rod is guaranteed for life.

So that was their justification: reduce muzzle flip and dip. The Grayguns website does explain more of what they do to gun and shows examples of micropolished and teflon-bathed internal parts. And, of course, results:

grayguns-sig-sauer-p320-testing

Or this:

p320-action-competition-custom

Ed didn’t mention the cost of all this (maybe he was comped), but Grayguns’ price list says the Competition Action Package with the clean 4-pound break is $295 (reasonable, if you think you’re outshooting your gun, which you probably aren’t). The trigger’s a bit light for duty or carry use, so there’s also a Carry Action Package for $195 with a six pound break. The illustrated guns include the non-combat sights, the recoil spring and guide, and in some case, grip mods, all of which are, naturally, extra.

We haven’t actually tried one yet, but the idea of the P320 is growing on us.

Polymer 80% Glock Frames Available for Pre-Order

Well, it had to happen, and sooner rather than later. An ATF-approved Glock-off frame that a home hobbyist can complete himself, producing a legal “Ghost Glock.”

spectreprototype__2

Like any Glock frame, it’s adaptable to multiple uppers (and therefore calibers) that suit the same generation (it’s made for Glock G3 parts) and length (full length, a la G17) receiver. One frame supports two slides, three calibers, and nine Glock model-equivalents.

compatability_chart

The frame is not only incomplete, requiring several areas to be milled or drilled out, but also Glock spare and aftermarket parts just went up in price, and some enterprising fellow that can assemble complete kits is going to have a good business. (Polymer-80 promises them, too, in the unspecified future sometime after the January, 2016 predicted date for the lowers).

Here’s some of what they say about it on their intro page:

Let’s switch gears now and briefly talk about the pistol frame design and all of its features and benefits.

The high level overview is this frame is designed as an 80% frame, and includes all the necessary end mill bits and drill bits, along with the Jig to assist completing your pistol project accurately. Most people use a drill press with a cross vise to mill out the product, many folks have drill presses sitting in their garages, or can find someone who has one available to borrow. The frame accepts Glock17 9mm slides, as well as the Glock 40 caliber slide. The Smith and Wesson 40cal slide is also compatible with the Sig357 barrel configuration, which essentially gives you 3 different calibers to choose from.

Unlike the Glock, this frame includes a uniquely extended beaver-tail, and most notably a super tactical 1911 pistol grip rather than the standard glock styled pistol grip. Even better, this pistol grip includes a built in flared magwell for speed loading. This feature will surely be a favorite amongst competition shooters who require speed and accuracy.

We note that the original 3D printed (yes!) prototype they submitted to the ATF to approval had a more traditional Glock grip angle, as this ATF photo shows:

atf_comparison_of_spectre_first_prototype

“NFC” is a reference to the ATF’s reference collection of firearms. This image is not entirely square on, but you can see how the angle of the grip has been reduced:

spectreprototype__1

The front of the trigger guard appears now to be orthogonal to the barrel axis (that’s 90º for you CMF 55 ammunition handlers). The Picatinny rail and aggressively flared magwell of the prototype have been retained.

Finally, the areas that need to be milled out to complete this project include:

  • The barrel bridge
  • The top rails of the receiver
  • The slide guide rails

Once completed, you insert the custom locking block which comes with the kit, it provides additional metallic rails up front.

We assume (that dread word) that the locking block has weight enough to meet the so-called Undetectable Firearms Act metallic minimum.

They also have a Q&A here, promising “build, buy, shoot” kits later, and multiple colors.

The ATF letter for the Polymer-80 “Spectre” [.pdf] (formerly called the GC9) demonstrates that the part is approved by Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) as “not a receiver”  (the pistol reciever blank is discussed after the firm’s .308 “Warhogg” polymer receiver blank).

In case Polymer-80 is hit by a truck, here’s our OCR’d copy of the letter: ATF Determination Letter for Polymer 80 OCR.pdf

Lessons from the ATF Letter

There are three points we learned from the ATF letter that are extremely interesting to us, and probably each is worth a post on its own to explore in depth:

  1. The submission was not a final injection-molded partial receiver. (Polymer-80 is up front about the fact that they’re using customer deposits to have the complex multi-part mold made). Instead, Polymer-80’s attorney submitted the part in an additive-manufactured form that was dimensionally identical to the proposed injection-molded part, but possibly manufactured from different plastic. This was insightful on Polymer-80’s part opens up a lot of possibilities for both firearms and near-gun part designers to submit for ATF designation earlier in the design process. (An approval letter will help with fundraising).
  2. As is customary for FTB, The letter goes to great lengths to disclaim any applicability to any other case. It is the ATF’s position that these decisions are non-precedential, and can change any time with the whim of FTB, or more seriously, the real managers of ATF, the chief counsel’s office. This is their document, in the instant case, today; they do not wish to be held to it at any future date or in any future location.
  3. The FTB letter goes into depth about the part’s non-firearm status under the Gun Control Act, 18 USC § 921(a)(3)(B), but also fires a shot across Polymer-80’s bow, noting that they are also regulated by Washington’s latest anti-gun agency, the State Department:

Please be aware, while not classified as a “firearm”; the submitted items are each classified as a “defense article” as defined in 27 CFR § 447.11. The US Department of State (USPS) regulates all exports from, and particular imports into, the United States. Firearms, parts, and accessories for firearms are all grouped as “defense articles” by the USDS and overseen by there Directorate of Defense Trade Controls. Information regarding import/export of defense articles can be found on their website at www.pmddtc.state.gov.

This also comes, no doubt, from the extremely anti-gun Chief Counsel’s Office in conjunction with their fellow DC anti-gunners at State. It represents not only State’s grab for extra-legislative anti-gun regulatory powers, but an attempt at implementing the signed, but unsubmitted for ratification, UN Small Arms (gun ban) Treaty.

 

Hat tip, Mike at ENDO, one of our 2013 Wednesday Weapons Websites of the Week. Mike notes that it might be a bigger seller at a lower price. Our guess is that the firm must recoup its mold-making expenses. (Priced injection-molding molds lately? They’re a task for a very limited subset of machinists and machine shops, although for small parts and short runs you can improvise a mold with epoxy facings on an aluminum frame). In the long run, prices may come down, especially if there is market competition.

Hmm… who’s got a good 3D file of a G3 Glock lower?

Ultra Rarities: Dardick 1100 and 1500 Pistols

In the history of firearms, one of the obscure yesterday’s “weapons of tomorrow” whose morrow never dawned was the Dardick “tround” (triangular round) system. The idea was for the weapon to use special trounds, or tround adapters that took a round of conventional fixed ammunition — .38 Special, for the standard Dardick, although an attempt was made at a .50 Dardick gun for aircraft usage. There was also a triplex tround.

dardick_ammo_display_01

The ammunition’s unusual sectional shape made it easy, at least in theory, to design feeding mechanisms.

Dardick never successfully commercialized his product, instead surviving for some years on R&D money from the military.

A seller at GunBroker has not one, but two, of these for sale in a single auction: a Model 1500, the most common Dardick (although “common” in Dardick terms means there may have been three dozen made), and a rarer Model 1100.

dardick_1100_01

I don’t think it gets much more obscure than this! Up for auction are my two Dardick pistols and small collection of Trounds, pamphlets, etc. Both are original and complete.

The more scarce of these two is the Model 1100. It is said that only 40-50 firearms total were ever produced by the Dardick Corporation and only a small handful of those were the Model 1100, one of which was presented to JFK by David Dardick. This 1100 has not been test fired with live ammo but functions/cycles flawlessly in both double and single action.

dardick_1100_02

The Model 1500 is complete but will need some work to get it running smoothly. As it sits, the cylinder and other components rub on the frame and do not rotate/cycle without assistance.

dardick_1500_01

Both pistols have the complete adjustable sights and fully functional firing pin selector/adjustment features in-tact. These pistols have NOT been refinished and the factory etched/white information is clear and not painted over on the barrel and receiver of each.

Included in the collection are a selection of several live Trounds (one .38 HiVAP, Two Well Busters, a .50 caliber and a standard Tround with what appears to be a smaller projectile than the usual .38 projectile, possibly a .32?). Also included are an original box for the Model 1500 and several original/old stock pamphlets and booklets.

via Dardick 1100 and 1500 Pistols : Other Collectible Guns at GunBroker.com.

dardick_memorabiia_01

The initial bid requested on the auction is $5,000. There are two ways of looking at this. It’s a lot of money for a couple of guns you’ll likely never have ammo to fire, that’s one way. And then there’s the other way: two guns from a remarkable dead-end lineage of firearms history, guns which personify 1960s Space Age firearms design, for about the price of one relatively common WWII rarity like a Johnson or a modern replica like Ohio Arms Works BAR.

Only you know if it’s worth $5k to you. We regret we can’t buy every firearm we feature in these pages. (Hmmm… how long till we qualify for a reverse mortage, we could monetize the Manor….?)

Perp Locked Up, Guns Remain At Large, in the Case of the Filched Firearms

500px-US-FBI-ShadedSeal.svgBecause the newspaper reporter missed it, we have to drag it out of her story for you. The Worcester, MA, Telegram: 

James Walter Morales of Cambridge was arrested without incident Wednesday night in New York by the FBI and the Nassau County Police Department, authorities said.
According to an affidavit filed in connection with the case, Mr. Morales was at the Army Reserve facility on North Lake Avenue on or about Nov. 12 to obtain copies of his discharge papers.

Want to bet it was bad, or borderline, paper?

A surveillance video from a nearby building depicts Mr. Morales spending about six hours, from 6:43 p.m. until shortly after midnight, going back and forth from his car to the armory with duffel bags. The FBI declined to comment when asked if the six M-4 rifles and 10 Sig Sauer M11 9 mm pistols that were stolen have been recovered. According to the affidavit, the M-4 rifles are capable of firing a single shot, or a three-round burst for each single pull of the trigger.

That’s the indicator that they haven’t recovered the firearms. If they had, they’d be crowing about it. Ever known the FBI to be reticent about a success? We neither. If the Bureau is being reticent, the success didn’t happen.

At the time of the theft, Mr. Morales was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet, according to the affidavit. Investigators said he cut off the device at 8:48 a.m. Monday.

We’re getting a vibe here that he’s not one of nature’s noblemen, and when the postman comes, he’s not bringing the monthly MENSA chapter newsletter.

Authorities said Mr. Morales got into the building by breaking a window of a kitchen located near the drill room. They were able to identify the suspect through a DNA analysis of blood the thief left after he used a power saw and pry tool to cut a hole into the roof to access the gun vault.

FYI, a “drill room” or “drill hall” is a large, gymnasium-like concrete-floor area in an Army Reserve or National Guard building. It normally has a big door so large trucks can be loaded inside, and its wide floor is used as a place to hold formations during monthly training “drills.” Off the drill hall, smaller rooms are used as offices, supply rooms, and armories. The Arms Room is usually accessed through the supply room’s outer door, and is strongly vaulted and equipped with a moderately sophisticated alarm system, which regulations require to be in use at all times.

This drill hall had a de facto waiver for the alarm system during ongoing construction, which someone must have told Morales was the case. Not real bright, that.

Morales was ID’d by DNA. For decades, the military has taken a DNA swab of all personnel. The claim was that it was for battlefield ID, but the real reason was to build the FBI’s DNA database. (The same mechanism used to build a national fingerprint file). As veterans commit fewer crimes than their non-vet cohort, this tool has been limited for crimefighting, but the FBI is also attracted to its potential for population control, as they keep getting greater and greater domestic warrantless surveillance powers.

In this case, though, the DNA swab they took from Morales paid off in a crime solution — or part of one. The guns are still out there.

Investigators were able to obtain Mr. Morales’ phone number from his Facebook page. They located a second phone number for him from the Probation Department at Middlesex Superior Court. Authorities executed a search warrant to track the phone to Mr. Morales, according to the affidavit.

Is that how they got the warrant, or simply the “parallel construction”? As always in cases with Federal agencies tapped into NSA’s universal domestic surveillance, you’ll never know — even if you’re Morales’s defense attorney. (Probably a Designated Diver from the Public Defender’s Office, anyway).

It’s not like Morales is a sterling character. He’s enough of a perv that even Massachusetts has laws against him, although note they kindly enabled this crime wave by dropping his bail:

Mr. Morales was indicted by a Middlesex grand jury on May 19, on charges of aggravated rape of a child, forcible rape of a child, and indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 (two counts). His bail was later reduced from $25,000 to $5,000. A condition of his release was that he wear an electronic monitoring device. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Nov. 16, after the Probation Department notified the Middlesex District Attorney’s office that he was not being monitored by GPS. Mr. Morales was scheduled to appear at a previously-scheduled pretrial hearing on Nov. 17.

Well, that was the day after he cut off his GPS anklet and burglarized the armory, so at least they caught the dead bracelet quickly.

Mr. Morales is expected to make an appearance Friday in U.S. District Court on Long Island and then to be taken to Worcester to face charges in U.S. District Court. He is charged with unlawful possession of a machine gun, unlawful possession of stolen firearms (two counts), and theft of government property.

via Arrest made in theft of weapons from Worcester armory – News – telegram.com – Worcester, MA.

Note that the criminal-friendly MA prosecutors are already dealing him some wild cards. He stole sixteen firearms, but they’re not piling on with 16 counts. He isn’t even in court yet, and he’s already had 13 felony charges go away.

keep-calm-and-carry-a-fbi-badgeAnd he has something the FBI really wants: knowledge of where the 16 missing Army guns went.

Update

We’ve seen the FBI’s warrant affidavit, and this story tracks it closely. We did note that the FBI agent, Colgan Norman, apparently can’t spell “hangar,”  and it made us wonder if he was one of these FBI agents (YouTube link).