Category Archives: Weapons Accessories

Why Count Rounds?

The Army's experimenting with automated round-counting systems.

The Army’s experimenting with automated round-counting systems in the interests of better maintenance.

Well, back in SOT, the chief pistol instructor, the late Paul Poole, used to tell us “Never dry fire in a firefight!” In those days, CT work (only the British called it CQB then) was done with pistols, although we were experimenting with both the newfangled H&K MP5 and Colt’s oldfangled XM177s, a few of which were around but very beaten-up; Colt had a new version with a 14.5″ barrel that they said solved all the 177′s problems, except for the big fireball and ear-shredding report. 

We’d have gone to Hell to bring back the three heads of Cerberus for Poole, a Son Tay raider and Bob Howard’s recon-running-teammate, but it wasn’t just for his history: the guy was a dead shot, making steel E silhouettes ring with a .45 at 100 yards, and entertaining as hell, with a foghorn laugh: “Bwah-hah-hah! Never dry fire in a firefight!” when one of us was caught with his figurative pants down and his literal 1911A1 slide locked back. And his instruction was pure common sense and experience, and we all got better — a lot better — under his tutelage. 

Even if he did assess our personal pistol skills and make a little presentation in front of the guys: an M79. “Hognose, you need an area fire weapon. Bwah-hah-hah!” Ouch.

Later we found out that it was simply that somebody had to be the team grenadiers, and two of us were pulled for the honor. Poole just couldn’t resist making fun of us. (On the plus side, you get creepily good on a 79 with a couple 72-round crates a day to burn. Even if it does chew up the web of your hand).

But we did start counting rounds, at least, per mag. With the 1911, of course, it was easy. It would go bang exactly 7 times from start, and if you forgot in the stress of action how many bangs you had left, you dropped the old mag in your leg pocket (if you had time) and started counting from 7 again. What we didn’t do, though, is count rounds total. Only the snipers did that, and that was because their M14-based M21 sniper systems were a bit of a hothouse flower, sacrificing some of the M14′s robust Garand-based strength for excellent accuracy.

The snipers! Those guys were firing over our heads and next to us as we went in on training targets… one we recall with clarity was a set of wooden stairs with a door at the top and windows to its sides. In the door were two concrete cinderblocks and in each window was another. The snipers had to (and did) pop the blocks in the door as we assaulters charged up the stairs, popping the blocks in the windows with our .45s. The life of the M21 barrels was not long (the snipers did not clean them vigorously, to prevent muzzle wear; the M14 design doesn’t allow cleaning from the breach).

None of the 1911A1s had been built, as far as we knew, after 1945, and God alone knew how many rounds they’d seen. The 1911 would keep firing until a Magnafluxing at one of the periodic rebuilds showed cracks, usually in the slide. The round counts on the 1960s-vintage M16s and XM177E2s were also a mystery. Or even the newer CAR-15 carbines or MP5s… they got shot a lot.

But the idea the snipers had, to count the rounds so you knew when the rifle was about ready to go back to depot, was a good one. They actually logged them in a book (and this continued when the more-accurate and -durable M24 replaced the somewhat improvised M21 with its Leatherwood Automatic Ranging Telescope). The trouble is, of course, that logging rounds is a great deal of work. But if the whole Army could do it, we’d get a lot more information about how long small arms and their components are good for, and we could begin to schedule inspections and overhauls more intelligently. Too many inspections waste money, and some percentage of overhauls go and rebuild guns that don’t need it, while some other percentage of guns that need overhaul, based on their condition, don’t get picked up. (Army ordnance experts think that both of these numbers, the false positives and the false negatives, are about 40%)

For over 10 years the US Department of Defense’s Joint Services Small Arms Program and its constituent service ordnance departments have been trying, with limited success, to develop an automatic round counter for combat firearms. SOF elements have moved ahead of the JSSAP on this, thanks less to general SOF awesomeness, and more to SOF budgets, and they’re futzing around with fielding round counters now.

While the civilian market has round counters, they remain fiddly and unreliable, and many of them are focused on counting down the rounds in your magazine. The military frets less about that, and more about the problem of wear and tear on high cycle small arms. What they’re looking for is something that will give them a shortcut to understanding the condition of a firearm. They see this working in the way that an odometer lets you judge the point a car is at, in its factory-to-scrapyard lifecycle.

There are several ways that systems subject to wear and tear can be singled out for overhaul or rebuild:

  1. They can be selected due to calendar years of age since production or last overhaul. This is what historically has been done with most Army small arms.
  2. They can be selected “on condition.” This means that they are subject to frequent inspections, and weapons that failing inspection criterion or criteria are selected for overhaul. This is the other mechanism that sends Army small arms to the depot for rebuild.
  3. Or, lastly, they can be selected based on usage metrics. This is not done currently, because apart from sniper weapons, and for that matter, sniper weapons used by SOF mostly, few weapons have their usage recorded accurately and reliably.

Each of these approaches has problems. Calendar year replacement means that most parts you are replacing will probably still have many years of service in them. Likewise, many of the problems that degrade small arms accuracy and reliability can’t adequately be documented in an armorer’s condition inspection. Finally, usage metrics also are imperfect: evidence teaches us that not only the amount but also the intensity of use has an effect on weapons wear.

Why Counting Rounds Works for Weapon Maintenance

Let’s consider some real-world examples. The things that kill Stoner system rifles are barrel wear (which degrades first accuracy, then reliability) and metal fatigue in the locking mechanism, especially in the bolt (which is primarily a reliability threat.

The two real problem areas in rifle barrel wear are throat erosion and gas port erosion, both of which degrade accuracy and reliability. But the means the Army currently uses to detect throat erosion, the same taper gauge used to detect muzzle erosion, doesn’t work reliably at the back end of the barrel. It misses a high percentage of badly eroded chambers (well, actually, throats), “false negatives,” while identifying a rather high percentage of “false positive” chambers, that are still perfectly accurate. And outside of the depot, where the port can be examined with a borescope, there’s no way to judge gas port erosion at all.


Note that two of the seven lugs had failed. After the first one lets go, the overloaded remainder fail in rapid succession.

Note that two of the seven lugs have failed. After the first one lets go, the overloaded remainder fail in rapid succession, unless the broken lugs jam the rifle..

Fatigue undermines the bolt all over, but the bolts fail in two areas: the locking lugs, and at the hole for the pivot pin. Both are places where the metal is limited but stresses concentrate.

A locking lug failure (like the single-locking-lug failure common on the Beretta) may not immediately fail the weapon. That depends on where the broken chunks of lug go; but most places they might go will interfere with something. Moreover, as each lug fails, the remaining ones bear more burden, and they usually fail in an accelerating sequence as the burden of seven lugs is borne by six, five, four… the gun generally jams before you get to zero.

The next most common place for bolt failure is at the thinnest section of the bolt, where it’s drilled through to accept the pivot pin. Any asymmetry in forces here, which may result from even microscopic as symmetry of the park part, causes the forces to load up on one side or the other, and over a great deal of time, or if there’s a presence of a Nick or any other stress riser, crack begins to propagate on one side or the other. Even before the first side is completely cracked through, it’s weakened ability to bear loads increases stress on the other side, Waiting to a matching crack over there. The bolt can crack through on one side or on both, and is cracked through on one side, will quickly crack through on the other. A redesign of this area to reduce the diameter of the pivot pin, leaving more cross-sectional material in the bolt, or adding rollers to reduce friction, might increase durability here. It’s hard to judge whether it’s actually necessary, because bolt failures are relatively uncommon, and redesigning the pivot pin mechanism may introduce new failure modes.

Usually a crack at this point occurs on one side first, and can be spotted with the naked eye.

Usually a crack at this point occurs on one side first, and can be spotted with the naked eye before it propagates across the entire bolt.

The bolt seems to fail, whichever failure mode gets them, before the lugs in the barrel extension let go. Obviously bolt failures are catastrophic failures that take the weapon out of service either instantly or very rapidly (within a few more rounds); there is no fail-safe bolt failure mode. Bolt failures always occur during firing, never during non-firing weapons-handling, and therefore they have a potential to happen during combat, which is by definition a Bad Thing.

The current maintenance schedule sends small arms to the depot for analysis in large batches, commits weapons to overhaul that have years of useful life, or, even worse, sends them after they display failure in the field. Everyone knows that you have to turn in the rifles with the broken bolts illustrated here. What we don’t know is: can you catch the problem before it is catastrophic, or even visible, with round-counting?

So this is the why of round-counting (there are a few other wear modes, like to the gascheck rings, but this is the meat of it). First, we can use round-counters to identify specific weapons that have had higher usage than their rackmates, and that we would expect, ceteris paribus, to be be more needful of maintenance. Once we have an automated round-counting system in place, we can correlate round-counts with wear and failures systematically, and the data-collection potential gets interesting. A first-generation round counter is itself certainly useful, but still a rough device. All rounds are not equal, and that leaves us growth potential for improved future versions. We know from decades of experience, for example, that automatic fire wears guns of all kinds more severely than the same number of rounds fired semiautomatically, and that heavy, sustained automatic fire is very deleterious to accuracy. You may recall this post from last year wherein we noted that WWII armorers observed that .50 ANM2 aerial machine guns that had been fired in long bursts lost their accuracy even though the barrels gaged normally in all dimensions. An M4A1 is not a .50 but there may be analogies in the physics and metallurgy at work in each.

Round counters give us data points we didn’t have before, in other words.

(When we figure out where we stowed it, we’ll link the 2006 SOFIC presentation from which the images and many of the facts have been drawn).

What’s Safe Pressure in a Given Cartridge and Weapon?

Screenshot 2014-04-13 23.25.51We’re lifting this from Dan Cotterman’s Handloading column in the September/October, 1983, edition of American Handgunner magazine.

Dan, wherever he is, may well forgive us, because he in turn lifted the idea from Vern Speer (of Speer reloading fame), as he freely admits:

The late Vern Speer years ago worked out an uncomplicated and quite practical method for determining relative chamber pressures. Observing, and rightly so, that different guns produce pressures in differing amplitudes, and that test data from serious laboratories using pressure guns were often less than consistent, Spear said he’d discovered a more reliable process.

Acknowledging the fact that the cartridge case is the weakest link in the chain of components, he wrote:

“If the pressures at which these cartridge cases are fired do not exceed the elastic limit of the unsupported rim of the cartridge case, then we consider that the pressures are entirely usable, regardless of what they might be.

“We fire increased loads, increasing the charge by about a grain at a time, and check the rim diameter of the cartridge case with sensitive measuring instruments, both before and after firing. If any measurable increase in diameter of the rim of the case is noted, we consider that pressure is excessive, reduce the charge about 6 percent and list it as a maximum load in our loading table:”

Speer went on to acknowledge the value of looking for other signs of excess pressure (such as difficult extraction and flattened or cratered primers), in addition to measuring rim diameter. Note also that he cited “any measurable increase” as sufficient cause for reducing a load.

The foregoing may exist as a viable means of determining relative chamber pressures, especially for the home loader who does his work physically and financially removed from costly laboratory equipment.

That’s a sensible, simple, and practical means of setting maximum pressure when you’re developing loads. It might be a better method for using with pistols than with rifles; rifle bolts tend to provide much better case-head support than the usual pistol’s chamber does, and that case-head support might mask signs of increased pressure, especially the very subtle “any measurable increase” that Speer was looking for.

We also thought that the way Speer worded his comments suggests that he found this method not only, “safe enough to use,” but also superior to the supposed gold standard of firing in a pressure rifle. Of course, it’s not going to work with large caliber Glocks: even factory loads can bulge the cases in those!

The whole magazine, of course, is interesting, as it’s a time capsule from an era 30 years ago. In those days, American Handgunner was a bastion of revolver holdouts and 1911 fiends (in those days, we were all 1911 fiends), and covered the then-hot sport of metallic silhouette shooting.

The advertisements are our favorite part of any old magazine. In this one, they include revolver holsters and 1/3 moon clips, things that are much less popular today that they were then; aftermarket products like the Metaloy hard chrome refinish, which is still available but seems to have lost market and mind share; and products we don’t even remember knowing about at the time, like the .41 Avenger conversion kit for the 1911 from SSK Industries in Ohio. The 41 Avenger was a little bit before it’s time: the big idea was to combine the flat trajectory of the 9mm with 30% more energy. The idea’s time did come in the form of the 10 mm and the .40, but nobody remembers the .41 Avenger now. Well, we don’t. YMMV.

ATF Says Nyet to SIG MP-X-Carbine, SIG Sees ‘Em in Court

SIG MPX-CThe Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has ruled that the muzzle brake for the SIG-Sauer MP-X Carbine model is “intended only for use” as a silencer. (We covered the introduction of the MP-X in January, 2013). The timeline of the whole SIG-ATF interaction also serves as an illustration for the glacial pace at which the payroll patriots of ATF do, or don’t do, just about anything:

  1. 4 Apr 2013: MPX-C submitted by SIG to ATF’s FIrearms Technology Branch (FTB)for evaluation.
  2. 26 Aug 2013: (note, 153 days later — ATF speed) FTB rules that the muzzle brake is a silencer. It is, says FTB, a “monolithic baffle stack. Welding it to a barrel does not change its characteristics or function.”
  3. 6 Sep 2013: (10 days later — private sector speed) SIG responds to ATF with the results of tests that show that the device does reduce recoil and muzzle rise, but that instead of silencing a weapon, the gadget the bozos at FTB think is a silencer actually increases the sound level of the rifle’s report. SIG also shows other examples of similar devices that have not been classified by the arbitrary FTB examiners as silencers — just SIGs. SIG’s letter includes comprehensive documentation.
  4. 21 Feb 2014: (141 days later — ATF speed) The FTB responds, ignoring but not disputing SIG’s evidence, and reasserting that the part looks like it might go in a silencer to FTB’s GED-level experts, therefore, it is a silencer. Amazingly, to the FTB, the fact that it does not silence, suppress, muffle, or reduce sound is irrelevant. So it’s a non-silencing silencer, and SIG can lump it.
  5. 7 Apr 2014: (47 days later — getting lawyers involved slows even the private sector down) SIG files suit in the US District Court of New Hampshire.

SIG’s is being represented by two excellent attorneys, NH’s Mark Rouvalis and Virginia-based national and international gun-law expert and legal author Stephen Halbrook.

SIG MPX-C-right

Although the technology exists to conduct clear and simple tests of suppressor noise reduction — one example protocol, developed by Dr Phil Dater, is used by the military — the ATF’s supposed experts at the Firearms Technology Branch don’t have this capability, and so they don’t evaluate items they think are suppressors or suppressor parts on it: instead, they eyeball the piece, based on their past training (which is in-house and shallow), and experience. They do not need to look at ATF precedents — FTB rulings are non-precedential, sometimes ephemeral, and each one is approached de novo. They are never retracted, unless they favor the applicant, and then they’re subject to a revocation process that’s as arbitrary and capricious as the original process was.

ATF may be relying on erroneous media reports, when the MPX was introduced, that the MPX-C muzzle brake was identical to the suppressor innards and “all you need to do is add a registered tube” to have the same suppressor.

But in a very similar case just last month, the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Innovator Enterprises “Stabilizer Brake” is not a suppressor, and that ATF’s method of guessing the effects of a device based on hunches and eyeballs is “arbitrary and capricious” and not a “reasonable construction” of the law. (Here’s the write-up of the case at and at; here’s Innovator’s complaint; here’s the Court Ruling – the last two courtesy J Frazer Law).  The judge’s opinion is definitely worth reading; it looks like the Department of Justice attorneys played fast and loose with the truth.


How to Buy a Silencer

This mock-1959 instructional film is entertaining, and does indeed walk you through the steps. There’s nothing much about suppressor technology here; it’s just a simple how-to.

Note that the advantages of using an NFA Trust, mentioned in the video, are in the process of being limited by ATF managers.

Canned Garands

These guns demonstrate storage proven for 12 years without corrosion or mildew in an airtight, dry can.

These M1s were stored in 1947, shielded against corrosion or mildew in an airtight, dry can. When some of the guns were examined a dozen years later, they were good as new. Click to embiggen.

Garand collectors have long known about these, as stored and recorded by Springfield Armory, but as far as we know, nobody’s found one yet. In 1959, Armory officials told the local newspaper that a few cans recently arrived (of which, more later) were the last survivors of the cans the Armory filled in 1947 and 1948 — apart from a few in the collection of the Armory’s museum.

Right after World War II, the Armed Forces went from something like 12 million men, mostly armed with M1 Garands, to a tiny fraction of the size. Logistical problem: trainloads of surplus Garands.

For the first time in a long time, Springfield produced no service rifles in the years immediately after World War II. (Production would resume in a few years, when Korea kicked off). But even when issuing those wartime M1s out as needed, the United States Army had too many rifles to handle. (This problem was just about universal after the war: the victorious nations demobilized most of their forces, and the vanquished no longer had any armies to arm).

Some M1s and other GI weapons went to friendly foreign nations, especially formerly occupied nations rebuilding defense forces from zero. And some small arms came in from the field too beat up to save (they were parted out, or set aside to be parted out). But some new guns and some repaired and inspected guns were not going anywhere. The supply exceeded the demand, and the problem became, how to store them?

It didn’t seem prudent to just throw them away or scrap them. After all, the M1 was a front-line combat rifle, still technologically ahead of most of the world. And they could be nice trinkets in international diplomacy. But a rifle left alone tends to rust. So the Armory developed a method of preservation that would thrill the heart of any survivalist: they sealed racks of rifles into special-purpose steel drums. Developing the methods, equipment and materials took almost two years, and then the excess guns were canned in 1947 and 1948. No one seems to know how many were so treated.

A process for packaging small arms for long periods of indoor storage, known as ‘canning,’ was developed at Springfield Armory to preserve new or reconditioned small-arms weapons.
Weapons preserved in this manner will be serviceable, free of rust and fungi and ready for immediate use for an estimated period of fifty years.

A can of similarly-treated .45s. Image snarfed off the net -- doesn't embiggen much.

A can of similarly-treated .45s. Image snarfed off the net — doesn’t embiggen much.

Rifles, pistols, carbines, sub-machine guns and machine guns have been secured within hermetically sealed metal containers in which the atmosphere is controlled. In so far as possible the weapons are secured in such a manner as to produce a uniformly balanced pack.

The atmosphere in each container is maintained at a low relative humidity to prevent rusting and growth of fungi and is in equilibrium with the wood components. To control this atmosphere, several pounds of moisture-absorbing material are placed in each container,hen seam welded and embossed with a varying number of rolling hoops depending on the length.

The pressed steel covers have a one inch flange and an embossed centering ring which serves to hold the gun rack on the axis of the container. One cover is pressed into the shell and then rotary seam welded and tested for leaks by internal air pressure of ten rounds per square inch. A rectangular identification plate is seam welded to the opposite cover. The plate contains information as to stock number, contents, modification work order, volume, weight, serial number of the container and the date packed.

Seamless aluminum tubes of one-eight inch wall thickness are used for individual packing of Caliber .50 Aircraft Basic and Heavy Barrel Flexible machine guns. Aluminum covers with one inch flange are pressed from sheet alloy. One cover is assembled with a rear bracket support. This support is a spot-welded assembly, channel shaped to secure the rear end of the weapon. A cup is used to protect the muzzle of the gun. The gun is also supported forward of the receiver with a formed disc.

Rifles, carbines and sub-machine guns are assembled to a gun rack. The rack is made up of a center post, (standard steel pipe) with spacing units welded in place to locate the weapons. Formed discs or end plates with muzzle and butt-plate indents are welded on each end of the center post to prevent endwise movement of the guns. The formed edge of the end plate fits over the centering ring which is embossed in the cover. Padding material is placed between the weapons and rack to cushion shock and to prevent marring of weapons.

Pistols are packed in trays which are pressed from low carbon steel and shaped to fit the silhouette of two pistols with extra magazines. In assembly the pistols with magazines are placed in position on one tray. Another inverted tray is placed on top to form a single unit.

Matching ears and slots on each tray allow them to be locked together. Ten units, or twenty pistols with extra magazines, are stacked in each container.

Weapons are cleaned prior to canning by immersion in a tank of selected volatile solvent which removes acid forming greases and other foreign compositions that might produce corrosion. They are then immersed in a tank of Soft Film Rust Preventive AXS-1759, Grade #2j.

This compound has moisture displacing properties and a minimum tendency to become gummy or varnish over a long period of time.

After evaporation of volatiles from this compound, the film resulting is about .0005 inch thick. This allows unpacking and firing the gun without cleaning, thus avoiding the difficult removal of heavy compounds from weapons as preserved in the past.

Following this coating of preservative, the weapons are assembled to the gun rack along with accessories, which consist of magazines, slings, oilers for rifles, spade gips and charging handles for machine guns. These are secured in specially designed holders. Slings and bags of desiccant such as Silica Gel, are tucked in between the weapons and center post of the rack.

Cotton webbing pads and half-inch box-strapping bands are placed around the weapons assembled to the gun racks, drawn up tightly and secured with strapping seals.

The assembled packs are put into the containers, properly centered and the top cover with name plate assembly pressedThe hermetically sealed containers are tested by immersion in clean water heater to 180 degrees F. The internal air pressure rises to about three pounds per square inch in two minutes. All surfaces and seams are carefully examined while the container is under water. Defects are repaired by oxy-acetylene welding and the container retested.

Accepted steel containers are prepared for painting by vapor degreasing, bodnerizing and drying. The containers are spray painted with two coats of olive drab enamel (U.S. Army Specification 3-181, Type V). Each coat is baked for five minutes by infra-red lamps, allowing ten minutes between coats for cooling. This cooling period prevents the internal temperature from exceeding 200 degrees F, above which a breakdown of phosphate coatings and the preservative compound may occur. During an overrun of fifteen minutes on the paint line conveyor after the final coat, the paint air dries to ‘Full Hardness.’ Painting of the aluminum containers is omitted as the material was selected for its non-corrosive properties. Instructions for opening are stenciled on each shell.

A specially designed portable ‘can opener’ was developed to facilitate opening the containers of various models and weighs about thirty pounds. This tool may be considered a giant version of the ordinary kitchen utensil. It can be used as a single unit or it may be used in conjunction with a platform base for opening on a production basis.

The portable opener consists of a gear reduction unit that operates two serrated drive rolls which are designed to provide the force necessary to cause a set of cutting discs to cut through the shell thickness of the containers. The two cutting discs are located on a pivoted arm. A vise clamp arrangement allows the discs to be set to the desired depth of cut. In operation, the serrated drive wheels are placed on the inside of the container flange and the pivoted arm is tightened, with the cutting discs located below the seam weld on the flange.

The opener may be operated manually with a hand crank, or if electrical power is available, it can be driven with a one-half inch portable drill.

When used in conjunction with the platform base, the portable unit is inverted and properly located in the base. The platform base is equipped with a one-third horsepower motor. The power is transmitted by means of a worm gear arrangement to the portable unit’s drive stud. Containers are placed upright on this composite unit and opened in the same maner as described with the portable unit.

Containers were subjected to various rough handling conditions in laboratory tests prior to acceptance. These tests included four-foot falls with the containers landing at various angles along with vibration tests to simulate most phases of transportation handling. Containers were then tested for hermetic seal and opened for examination and contents. Results indicated that although the containers were badly dented, they retained their hermetic seal and the weapons were not damaged in any way.

An additional test was conducted to simulate air transportation of containers. In this test the loaded containers withstood fifteen pounds per square inch of internal air pressure without any indication of distortion or leakage.

The canning method of packaging weapons for long periods of storage has proved to be superior, in certain respects, to previous methods used, in that (1) reduces breakages due to handling, (2)

Alas, whatever (2) was is not reported at the museum site, but we suspect it had to do with corrosion and/or mildew resistance.

Gun can kit… just add a welder.

Gun can kit… just add a welder.

For those of you thinking about caching weapons, note the extreme effort this took. Two years of development by professional engineers to work out the system. Then, each can had to be subjected to some tough tests, including immersion in water and heating to 180ºF. (Read the excerpt carefully to see which tests were done simply to validate this means of storage, and which were done to every can to ensure it was sealed).

Don’t forget, these packages were not meant to survive immersion in the sea, burial in the earth, or even outdoor storage: they were meant to be kept indoors in warehouses. Our experience with cache recovery indicates that entropy is always doing its best to have its way with your cached weapons and equipment. As the extremes to which Springfield Armory went to safely store weapons demonstrate, if you want to protect your stuff from the ravages of time, life, and oxidation, you need to get pretty extreme.

This can is cutaway for museum display.

This can is cutaway for museum display.

So why haven’t these Garand Cans turned up? Our best guess is that they took the can opener to them during the Korean War, especially when US and ROK forces lost tens of thousands of rifles in the defeats of the early war years. (And yes, along with the special cans, there was indeed a special can opener). Indeed, in 1959 when a few “cans” of M1s came back to the Armory from a depot in Schenectady for conversion to National Match rifles, the newspaper reported: 

M-1 Garand rifles made at the Springfield Armory and ‘canned’ in special hermetically-sealed cannisters were returned from the Schenectady, (N.Y.) depot for conversion to National Match weapons.

The rifles, removed from their sealed chambers, were found to be in perfect working order.

The ‘canning’ of weapons at the Armory, following World War II was a major gunplant project. Methods of packaging and preserving small arms weapons for a long period of storage posed quite a problem when hundreds of thousands of M-1 rifles were returned to depots for field servicing.

Solution of the problem was assigned to the Armory in July 145. Final design and development of an acceptable storage container was accomplished in 1946 and 1947 by the Armory’s research and development division.

The process eventually developed at the local Army Ordnance installation assured serviceable weapons free of rust and fungi, ready for immediate use upon removal from the storage containers.

Production of these containers was completed by June 1948. Besides the M-1 rifle, the carbine, Browning automatic rifle, M-3 machine gun and caliber .45 pistol were also canned for storage.

The specially developed cans shipped back to the Armory are believed to be about the last in existence. However, several of these special containers with weapons sealed in have been on display at the Benton Small Arms Museum at the gunplant for the past several years.

CMP has never seen guns in these cans, and the supposition in the collector community is that no more exist, unless M1s were shipped overseas in these cans and never unpacked at their destinations, which seems unlikely. About 300,000 M1s and unknown quantities of other firearms were canned in this manner. There are internet legends and rumors of canisters being holed and thrown in the sea, but that seems improbable as the canisters were always a Zone of the Interior (what we’d now call CONUS) depot project. The cans might have to be holed to sink given the volume of air trapped inside with the 170 lbs of guns and can, so that detail is plausible anyway.

If anyone does find one, it will be clearly labeled:

BOO1-004196/RIFLE, U.S., CAL..30 M1/W/SLING/COND. CODE NO. 23/M.W.O. THRU W2/DRY AIR – NO PRESSURE/7.5 CU. FT. 170 LBS/CONTAINER NO. SA 013xxxx/ORD. DEPT. U.S. ARMY/month-year (i.e. “3/47″/

Happy hunting.

An intriguing scope mount

Seen on an original Artillerie Inrichtingen AR-10 in the Springfield Armory collection. It’s a bit of a challenge to scope these, and any retro-prototype AR-15, with the charging handle “trigger” inside the carrying handle; the thing tends to get caught up in the mount’s thumbscrew.

It looks like someone figured out how to do it before this gun wound up in Springfield’s collection.


This particular AR-10 has had the carrying handle sight guards milled down to provide a flat surface for a scope mount, with a very thin scope mount screw. With the mount, but no scope, in place, the iron sights are still usable. The Springfield Armory record for this exhibit suggests that it was made for a night scope:

Manufactured by Artillerie-Inrichtingen, Hembrug-Zaandam, Netherlands – Early production type gas-operated select-fire rifle manufactured under license in Holland. Select-fire. 4-groove rifling; right-hand twist. Muzzle velocity 2750 fps. Effective range of 600 yards, and maximum range of 3500 yards. Protected adjustable post front, peep, adjustable for elevation and windage rear sight. Effective rate of fire, semi-automatic, is 60 rounds per minute; full automatic, 120 rounds per minute; cyclic rate of fire is 700 rounds per minute. Weapon weighs approximately 7.5 lbs. This specimen is one of only three that were made for an infrared scope. Complete with 20-round detachable box magazine.

Select switch: SAFE/SEMI/AUTO.

Weapon donated to the Museum by International Armament Corporation on 3 January 1961.

Only about 5,500 AR-10s of all types seem to have been made. This one appears to have a replacement wooden handguard, and it has the trigger-shaped charging handle found on the early ARs and Sudanese contract guns. (The Portuguese guns had a different trigger-shaped charging handle). The cotton-reinforced resin pistol grip is deformed, possibly due to age.

The exhibit label is not entirely accurate. It says:

AR10 – Developed too late to compete with the T44 and T48, the AR10, designed by Eugene Stoner, suffered from insufficient testing before being submitted. Withdrawn from trials in 1956 after a barrel blew-up, it nevertheless, impressed Gen. William G. Wyman, commanding officer of the Continental Army Command. Wyman asked Stoner to develop a .22 caliber rifle to meet Army specifications resulting from the Salvo studies

The Army not only continued to test the AR-10 (thanks to a comment by “Yank,” one report of those tests is available here: 32603044-AR-10-MIL-TEST.pdf), but Springfield actually assisted Armalite with a design for a steel barrel that came out almost as light as the composite and stainless-liner arrangement that failed in 1956 testing, according to Roy E. Rayle in Random Shots: Episodes in the Life of a Weapons Designer.

The Springfield employee firing the AR-10 at the time was James Murphy. Murphy was not injured; the AR, Number 1002, had fired 5563 rounds successfully when #5564 blew out the left side of the barrel.

AR-10 barrel blowout Image 12590-SA Springfield

Note that this very, very early AR-10 had the gas tube running along the left side of the barrel, not over the top as in subsequent ARs. The fiberglass-reinforced resin materials of the handguard are also visible in this, ahem, exploded view.

Here’s a completely different way to scope the AR-10B, a short-lived retro-styled AR from the new Armalite. (Archived thread). It shows one approach to scoping a gun that has to keep the area under the carrying handle clear. We don’t know if this mount would work on the NoDak Spud (NDS) prototype-AR-15 parts, but it looks like it wouldn’t work on our original AR-10 due to the different shape of the carrying handle vis-a-vis the AR-10B’s M16A2 style. 

Hey, New York: Legal 50-round solution

Boy, it has to kind of stink to be Andrew Cuomo (D-Corleone) these days. First a Federal judge slam-dunks his signature (and bizarre) 7-round magazine limit, now somebody has made the scariest-looking magazine ever. Behold the Pentagon or PMC (Pentagon Magazine Coupler):

PMC Kit-2Yes, it looks like the offspring of a a forced liaison between a radial airplane engine and a PMag. What it is is

If you think it looks scary on its own, here it is on a carbine:

PMC Kit-5


Just show that to Mike Bloomberg, and he has to change his Depends.

This has been introduced at SHOT by the MAKO Group, which also imports and sells Israeli optics, like the Mepro reflex on that gun. It’s not the most practical thing we’ve ever seen, and it’s not on the Mako website. UPDATE: it is now! Link below.

On an ARFCOM thread, MAKO calls out anti-gun politicians Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. “In your state and in your face,” they promise the pols.

The key to the Pentagon is the 10-shot mag whose follower is designed to slot into the adapter. The adapter itself is a small and simple piece of sturdy polymer.



The set of five mags is available as a kit, and there’s also a two-mag kit. The adapters and the mags are also available separately.  Screenshot 2014-01-16 22.46.09


You can find all these products, and Mako’s other magazine-related accessories, at this link.

Of course, it’s a gimmick, for those in the free states; if we were feeling generous with connotations, we’d say a “novelty” instead.  But for those in the ban states it might have considerable legs, more than its actual practicality might suggest.

And, there’s the fact that it looks dead butch. We figure that the next few months will see it appearing on magazine covers, in rap videos, and as a prop in the hands of anti-gun politicians demanding that we do something and especially do it for the children. 

Hey, we teach children to shoot. So they’re not victims. We do it for the children. 


Wednesday Weapons Website Teaser…

Any of you former Army types will remember PM Magazine, which used a comic-book format (and until recent outbreaks of PC, attractive women) to preach the maintenance gospel to the actual operators and maintainers.

(We’re using “operator,” there, in the sense of someone who operates something, and not in its current, “overused like ‘tactical’ is these days” version).  Here’s a spread preaching the maintenance gospel of small arms magazines, circa 1963 or 64.

Screenshot 2014-01-06 23.29.38(It embiggens with a click, for all you Stevie Wonders out there).

Boy, the contents of your arms room was a pretty straightforward thing in 1964. Not like today where you might have to stock mags for Beretta, SIG, Glock, M4A1, SCAR Mk 17, M110, M82A1/107, and we’re probably leaving off a few things.

Interesting to see the M1A1 carbine was still on the list. Of these weapons, the M12 was the first replaced (by the M1200, although individual 12s weren’t replaced till they wore out); the M14 was relegated to limited standard next, then the 1911 in the 1980s… the M3A1 soldiered on into the 1990s as a tank crew dismount weapon.

In 1964, the USAR and National Guard still had M1 rifless (the Guard never got M14s until they picked them up as EBRs, except for SF which maintains nonstandard weapons), but they’re not mentioned here. Of course, there’s no box magazine for the Mannlicher-Pedersen en bloc feed used in the great Garand — that’s why.

For the man who has everything — to hide.

Q-line_BookcaseFirst, there were Q-ships. These came about in both world wars as German submariners preferred, at first, to surface, give merchant sailors time to abandon ship, and sink the ship with economical deck-gun fire rather than a costly torpedo. So the British, and later other nations, disguised vast arrays of quick-firing weaponry as deck cargo on impressed merchantmen, staffed them with sailors disguised by scroungy clothing, and went a-trolling for U-Boats. End result — some U-boats sunk, lots of merchant sailors drowned in subsequent torpedo attacks instead. Then, there was Q, who had normal looking machinery stuffed with all kinds of mischief. “Do bring it back in one piece, this time, would you, Bond?” Now, there’s Q-line Shelving, which doesn’t just hold your books and knickknacks, it also hides your arsenal. Somewhere, the actor who played Q, Desmond Llewlyn (who in real life, as a Welch Fusiliers subaltern, was one of the incorrigible escapers confined in Colditz!) is smiling.

The Q-Line SafeGuard Shelving System is an innovative method of storage hidden away in what appears to be an ordinary cabinet. Compartments are unlocked either by several secret methods, and can be secured with a key-lock as well.

What you choose to store in your Q-line Safeguard cabinet is up to you…only you will know the secret. Valuables will be hidden in plain sight. In the 18th century, high end furniture often contained secret compartments with the concept of: if they can’t find it, they can’t steal it. This modern shelving unit contains ample storage for documents, firearms, gems, metals and other valuables.

Because it is custom made, it is available in your choice of wood or custom colors. Dimensions can be altered to suit your needs. Shelving or compartments are customizable for your specific application.

via SafeGuard Shelving System — QLine Design.

The general idea is that hidden compartments are built into false sides, tops, bottoms, shelves and other unobtrusive parts of a bookshelf or other piece of furniture. It looks innocent, like this:

Q-line_Bookcase 2But if you know the case’s secret unlocking method, which can be, for example, a magnet (concealed in a book) bring brought into proximity with a hidden catch, then you can get it to give up all its secrets:

Q-line Bookcase open


The compartments do use some space, but otherwise they don’t interfere with the item’s utility; you still have plenty of room for books in the bookcase, or stuff in a nightstand drawer. But do the right “secret” opening and…


Our favorite is the trim little nightstand, with a secret:

Q-Line Nightguard Cherry web side 2


The problems, as we see it, are two: One, we have just too many guns to hide this way. Everyone should be so lucky, right? And Two, the furniture is expensive, as you might expect for highly customizable, built-to-order, special-purpose furniture. Ikea this is not.

A Nightguard end table like the one containing the .45 above, begins at $850 and goes up from there. The number and opening-method of secret compartments affects pricing, as does the wood and degree of customization. Full-size bookcases ring up in the middle four figures.

But if you have that one slightly paranoid retired or former intelligence officer on your Christmas list this year, you might want to give Q-Line Design a look.



Mags with a Message: Noveske Johnny Mag

This is a rifle that AR aficionados will recognize: it’s a Noveske. John Noveske built a company that builds some of the most out-of-the ordinary “ordinary ARs” that there are.


The Noveske ARs are evolutionary more than revolutionary, but they’re built to a very high quality standard. The company has kept to the standard after the untimely death of John Noveske in an auto accident this past winter. Which brings us to the rifle in the picture — or one part of it, anyway. If you look closely at that rifle, you’ll see a mark on the magazine. Noveske’s trademark.

johnnymag_1dThe Noveske iron cross is emblazoned on this magazine — a MagPul PMAG — for a reason (and the other side has the Noveske “flaming pig” trademark, for that same reason). These limited-edition $40 Noveske magazines, which they modestly call the “Johnny Mag” after their founder, don’t just perfectly accessorize your Noveske AR. You see, they also help to take care of John’s children. Of that $40, all goes into a trust for John’s kids.

Somehow, $40 doesn’t seem all that pricey for an AR mag, now, does it?

John Noveske, 1976-2013. Honor the legacy, support the posterity.