Category Archives: Weapons Accessories

Clever, Minimalist Bipod

Now this is a clever thing, and a brilliant use of 3D Printing in combination with over-the-counter materials (in this case, carbon fiber tubes). Result: an ultralight carbon fiber and printed plastic bipod.

It’s from our dude, Guy in a Garage, and unlike some of his designs, you can build it yourself, or he’ll build one for you; you can email him at farrowtechnologies@gmail.com. The files are here:

https://www.sendspace.com/file/eepzs0

And come with these words of caution:

Be warned, this is a tricky print.

And the carbon tube is here, in 1-foot or 3-foot lengths (you’ll need carbide tooling and patience to cut it):

http://www.mcmaster.com/#5287t32/=148nduc

The ridiculously light weight (1.5 ounce) comes by sacrificing some of the adjustability of the common Harris bipod, requiring the legs to be individually removed from the bipod position and placed in the storage/traveling position, and using ultralight carbon fiber for the legs. By contrast this example of a Harris “ultra-light” bipod gives you much more flexibility in how to deploy it, and is more convenient to use, but adds 13 ounces to your firearm — 867% of the weight of the carbon-and-print rig.

The ultralight weight of this bipod allows it to be positioned much closer to the muzzle with much less effect on balance. Lots of Harrises are set fairly far back, just to keep the weapon closer its design balance point.

You know, a bayonet catch would make this a perfect thing. Otherwise, we’d fear the legs would, in time, wear away at the printed plastic of the adapter.

100% Inventory Underway

weaponsarmorym9m4m16racksgunrackgsansnweaponcabinetarmymilitarygunscabinetsThe other day, we came up short a gun for a photo shoot. Whaaa? Well, it’s past time to tidy up around here. (OTR dropped by recently, and threatened to report the Manor in general, and the office in particular, to one of those TV Hoarder shows). There’s a fine line between a collector and a hoarder, isn’t there? We’re determined to stay on the non-bat-guano-crazy side of the line and not be like the crazy cat ladies where they find mummified cat carcasses among the piles of old gun magazines and rusty toasters.

For all that we preach physical security, we’d gotten lax. The light in the main safe went out, and we didn’t fix it. (Failure one). We took guns out for photo ops and they sat around the office, library or even the kitchen for days before being returned. (Failure two). We used various non-standard bags and boxes to move guns around, and didn’t always remove the guns when they got more-or-less to destination (that’s failure three). We had more guns than practical safe storage for them (failure four) and occasionally hosted guest guns that were commingled with our own guns (failure five). We had guns that were not logged into our database (and we’re up to six, and counting).

Most of all, we were casual about putting down books or other stuff on top of guns. So we might well have a gun on a desk, then five books in three languages, then a bank statement that came in and a few press releases from manufacturers. And where was that gun again?

Now, as a private owner of firearms, you have relatively few legal regulations about how you store them, unless you live in some lawless hellhole like North Korea or Massachusetts. Manufacturers and FFLs have more regulations, and those regs can act as a guide to best practices for the private gun owner or other non-licensee who has more than one pistol and a pair of hunting guns. The ATF publishes guidance on inventory control and booking, and licensees that follow it have a lot fewer troubles with an Industry Operations Inspector’s visit that licensees that think they know it all. So the ATF way can guide you.

So can the way the military keeps track of guns. Unlike the Federal criminal investigative agencies that lose scores of guns every year, the services seldom lose a firearm outside of combat; and when they do, it’s usually not lost for very long. (Anyone remember the agency that lost an M4 and a couple of handguns — and never got the M4 back, or made a case against the thief or the criminals caught in possession? It wasn’t the military).

Here are some suggested Best Practices, and we’d welcome discussion in the comments, based mostly not on the right way or the wrong way, but the Army Way:

  • Have an inventory. This seems trivial, but a shocking number of people do not. Our local police chief estimated that in only one in ten residential burglaries that had firearms taken, could the owner produce a list of the firearms by serial number for NCIC entry. This not only prevents the owner from recovering his firearm, but also prevents police from prosecuting criminals who receive the stolen firearms. Very often a stolen firearm is sold on the streets, but they may also be pawned, and ethical pawnbrokers welcome stolen firearms alerts from the cops.
  • Make the inventory easy to use. The more arcane and complicated it is, the more likely it will get neglected and not be 100% complete when you need to broach the subject with the police or insurers. Simplicity is your friend: Manufacturer, importer, model, year, caliber, serial number, other significant markings and a photo are optimal, but make/model, caliber, serial will do in a pinch. (The Army uses NSN, SN, and a couple-word description, plus the line number of the item on the unit’s Modified Table of Organization & Equipment [MTOE] or Table of Distribution and Allowances [TDA]; that’s all that’s in the inventory dump).
  • Have enough storage. This is commonly violated by citizen gun-owners because it’s more fun to buy guns than buy safes. What do you do with overflow? A Job Box bolted to a basement floor or wall and secured with good padlocks is a $300 solution, until you can get that $1000 safe.
  • Tag in, tag out. If the gun is out, hang a tag in its place indicating who has it or where it is (the Army does this with a Weapons Card. There are many versions: here’s one as a .pdf that you can print, four to a page, duplex. In Army use they’re generally laminated).
  • Limit “Withdrawals” The kind of limitations include requiring a need to remove, removing a limited number at a time per user, and a limited duration.
  • Keep Storage Locked. Check it daily, a great time is when you walk your perimeter to ensure doors and windows are closed and locked before bed.
  • Store Magazines and Ammo separately, but also locked. See the Job Box mentioned above.
  • Maintain climate control. In our normally damp, cool basement, we do this with a room dehumidifier that keeps the basement ≤45% humidity, and a rechargable dehumidifier insider each safe. Belt and suspenders humidity management.
  • Conduct frequent inspections. The reason for doing this should be self-evident: it’s to ensure that all your other control measures are working effectively. Here you’re looking for condition, primarily (rust is the secondary enemy of firearms, after national socialists) and

Looking at this list of best practices, it’s clear where we came up short. In the end, the missing vz. 24 that we wanted to A-B compare to a vz. 22 turned up — the dealer that sold it to us shipped it in a Smith & Wesson revolver box, and the whole box was still out of the safe. That was a bad turn of affairs, because it was not only out of our control, but also in an packaging irresistible to burglars.

When Your Friends Call You a Bond Villain…

…You might as well get the props you need to play the part.

spectre-luger

Here’s the story behind these striking grips:

My roommates have joked for a while that with my choices in guns, cars (German), decor (maps, minimalism), and high tech gadgetry, I clearly aspire to be a Bond Villain.

To further that image, they bought me these grips for my birthday. Hand made in Turkey, they were a couple months delayed due to the geopolitical unrest… But man, was the wait worth it!

The logo is Stirling silver sheet that’s been inlet into the wood, then hammered to shape and glued in place, it’s flush with the surrounding wood.

[M]y roommate is the one who did all the ordering and correspondence, but he got them from http://www.handmadegrips.com/.

From what he said, they were super professional, and really good at communicating through the whole process (even when a coup was going on).

We never had roommates like that… they bought stuff for their own jeezly Lugers.

And here’s the tale behind the Luger:

This was shot before the grips were fully fitted, so they are just lying on it. I thought going a bit artsy to cover up the gaps would be alright, but I guess there’s no pleasing you [censored]s, lol.

The other side is the same pattern. Sadly, this is not a great example of a Luger, it’s got plenty of spots where there was surface rust, and was re-blued cheaply, so there are discoloration spots on the muzzle.

Good news is, because it’s not a museum piece, I have no qualms about taking it to the range and shooting it all the time!

I actually happened across it in my local gun shop. There was a Webley .455 in really good shape that I’d been debating for a while, and I’d finally decided to go for it, went to the bank to grab cash for it, came back, and the Luger was there, right next to the webley, for $645. There was about 3 seconds of thought that went into that purchase!

Both from this thread in Reddit’s /r/guns. (Well, the picture is from Reddituploads, but it’s linked at the Reddit comment thread).

Ow! Defoor Disses the ACOG

Defoor borrowed this elderly ACOG from the element he was training.

Defoor borrowed this elderly ACOG from the element he was training.

When the Elcan Spectre DR came online to replace the ACOG TA01NSN, we loved it — for about 30 minutes. It was a beautiful piece of glass (at its staggering price, it should be) and the dual magnification — a flip of a lever migrates you from 1 to 4x and zero holds like a rock — was that rare thing, a marketing feature that action guys could actually use. It was bulkier than the ACOG, but had less stuff to snag on your stuff. But lots of us fell out of love with it nearly as fast. Its weak spot was that, while it was stronger than the typical sporting scope, it was no match for the ACOG’s anvil-like qualities. (Over time, of course, operators could break the early ACOGs too). Trijicon is really good about standing behind these old scopes and will go through one and update the tritium, for example, for a reasonable charge ($150 last we checked).

But that was then, and this is now. And here comes Kyle Defoor to put down our favorite (if elderly) combat optic. He writes:

Getting some time on the ACOG this week. Some dudes still use it/are issued it as their primary. My department is to show them how to use whatever they got as good as they can.

To be a professional in this biz you got to be able to show up and shoot whatever, whenever completely stock and sometimes use the gear of the customer if you don’t have what’s needed……and with that, thanks to the guys for loaning me one to rock while we trained together.

And he accompanied it with the usual entertaining array of hashtags:

#defoorproformanceshooting #acog #training #carbine #5days #runwhatyoubrung #makethebestofit

And therein lies a valid point. There’s always going to be something new and technically a bit better than last year’s (or in the case of  the TA01 ACOG, decade’s) model. Chasing an optimized “best” rig is not worth the trouble for most people. First, if you are a pro user some guy way up the chain from you is probably going to dictate what you use, or if you’re lucky, dictate what options you have to choose from.

This “dictation” isn’t too restrictive in some cases, like if you’re a SEAL, PJ, SF, etc. But in some other cases, like an Army support troop or Marine rifleman, you will be told what you will be carrying and will be ordered to like it. At that point, you can whine about it, sign up for selection (where, should you succeed, you will discover that you’re still working for The Man, just at a higher level), or take Kyle’s advice and run what you brung and make the best of it.

Fortunately, the baseline weapons and optics available to grunts today are quite good stuff. The fact that they don’t have this year’s shine on ’em, or weren’t on the cover of REAL OPERATORS BUY THIS magazine last month, doesn’t matter. Real operators can operate with sticks and stones, hell, with their bare knuckles; any step up from that is gravy. And you too can shoot better and more effectively with the weapons you have now, and money and time spent on ammo and training will almost always have a return on investment far beyond what you get from money and time spent picking out and acquiring new and better gear.

If you’re going to be using a carbine over a wide range of, well, ranges and lighting conditions, etc., the ACOG is still a good choice. If your most likely employment is close up, or even indoors, then a red dot is the way to go. And in both cases, training and practice can let you extend the use of either to ranges where the other selection would have been optimum.

Get Shorty

That’s what Kyle Defoor recommends, anyway:

Defoor BCM SBR

The version on Instagram labels the gear clockwise from the light: Streamlight LLC (light), Aimpoint USA (micro red-dot), Bobro Engineering (QD sight mount), Bravo Company USA (the gun, grip, rail, etc.), and Arisaka Defense (the light mount). Kyle adds:

Lo vis carbine classes makes everyone appreciate 20 rd mags, Aimpoint Micros and of course shorty barrels.

Rail system is KMR, barrel is an 11½” 1/7 barrel from BCM, running a Gemtech suppressor.

Here’s his trick for running several optics and several guns whilst holding zero.

aimpoint on bobro defoor

Explanation:

My RDS and LPV share the same rail slot on all my carbines and each optic is marked for what it’s zeroed to. This makes for ease of travel when doing multiple courses where customers use different optics and for quickly grabbing whichever I need at the time and knowing its solid. It’s also a great option for owning only one carbine and getting the most out of it.

If you’re not reading his Instagram feed, you should probably consider it.

SEALS & Silencers, in the Seventies

tridentWe’ve just heard the following story, and can’t vouch 100% for its truth, but it would explain something interesting: why, after using at least two suppressed weapons on a limited basis in Vietnam, and another thereafter, the SEAL teams did not pursue more general issue of suppressed weapons. (Two suppressed weapons they did use were the Mk 22 “Hush Puppy” variant of the Smith & Wesson M39, which added a threaded barrel, a suppressor, a raised sight axis (to clear the suppressor), and a slide lock; and a suppressed version of the S&W M76 submachine gun).

In the SEALS, there was a faction that was strong for suppressors as a force multiplier, and a faction that dismissed them as “spy [bleep]” and couldn’t see a practical use for them. So a test was arranged.

In the test, the SEALS, with the support of what was then the Naval Weapons Systems office at Crane, Indiana, tested a variety of US and foreign suppressed weapons in two like-real-life CQB environments: shipboard, on a ship destined for scrap, and ashore, in a Navy building that already was penciled in fora date with the wrecking ball.

Even with the quietest weapons, like the Hush Puppy with slide-lock engaged, there was no mistaking that a gunshot had been fired. The SEALS could hear the thud of rounds hitting walls, or the Spang! of them hitting ships’ decks or bulkheads. In addition, they could still hear  the report, however reduced it may have been.

The SEALS concluded that the state of technology did not support a more general issue of suppressors at the time, because anyone the SEALS engaged would still know he was being engaged (at least, until they killed him).

By 2016 standards, this error forty-whatever years ago is clearly based on a false concept of what a suppressor does for you in combat. In fact, the gadget’s benefits are great even when they fall far short of the Hollywood effect of making the entire report of the shot disappear. Suppressors reduce noise and light signature, preserve operator hearing, help identify friend from foe, and mask the source and direction of friendly fires. Those reasons certainly justify using such tools.

But it took a while for the operators to learn that. Today, a lot more SOF (US and global) are running with suppressors, even though there’s still no way to keep the enemy from knowing that you’re shooting at him. At least, until you kill him.

Correction

This post originally named the Hush Puppy as the Mk 23. Daniel Watters points out in the comments (correctly) that the proper nomenclature is Mk 22 Mod 0. The error has been corrected. -Ed.

When 30 Rounds Will Almost Do It

There are times when you just feel unarmed with only 30 rounds in your magazine. Perhaps you feel diffident about stuffing some big monster like a 60-round Surefire or a Beta C-Mag in your magwell, because you only need a couple more rounds.

Sure, you could fall back on an MP-40 or STEN and have a handy 32 rounds but, well, you have all the ergonomics of the state of the art eighty years ago, and all the range and firepower of a pistol caliber round. There have been 40-round AR mags around for 40 years or so — Stirling used to make them for the AR-180 and AR-15 both — but nobody makes a 32 round AR magazine.

Correction, nobody made a 32-round AR mag. Behold, the Daniel Defense magazine:

daniel_defense_magazine

These were announced a SHOT Show or two ago, but they’re showing up in stores now, and available online from Daniel Defense or from resellers like Midway and Brownells (Brownells also has 10-packs for a $1/mag savings. Midway might match that offer if you ask them).

In a local store, this is what the package looks like:

daniel_defense_magazine_packaging

Now, we haven’t tried this magazine yet. We’re recommending it only on the strength of Daniel Defense’s rifles, rails and other products, which have been uniformly superior in our experience.

Of course, Daniel is quick to warn you that if you live in Libya, North Korea, New York or Massachusetts (Heil Healey!) you can’t have one.

Absent, of course, regime change.

Daniel Defense lists them as working with 5.56, .223, and .300 BLK in DD rifles and standard AR-15s; perhaps based on the problems Magpul has had, they make no claims of STANAG compatibility. (The thickening at the point below where the mag exits the AR magwell may be a problem with some other designs and even the 416). The only way to be sure is to test the mags, if you have a non-AR rifle or an AR with an unusual magwell design. Likewise, we can’t think of any reason it would not work with the .204 Ruger, for example, but DD makes no claim it does.

There are lots of magazine types and designs available now, and almost all of them work better than the early GI 30-rounders. (In our experience, the GI 20-rounders were better made and more reliable than the early off-brand 30s). There’s a lot of fad and fashion in magazine preferences — some of us are old enough to remember the Last Big Thing before MagPul, which was the black stainless HK “maritime” magazine. That was a fad — they’re pretty good magazines, but so are GI mags now, which a few years ago were redesigned again for the M4-cut feed ramps in the current barrel extension.

The ultimate proof of a mag is in test firing in the specific weapon in which it will be used. Do not waste time trying to repair a magazine that is prone to failure. Either destroy it, or label it clearly so that it only used in training (where occasional malfunctions build character … and skills). Don’t fall into the Army trap of treasuring the sunk cost of a failed magazine so much that you risk your life and your mission on it.

Silenced Enfield Obrez…? Uh, no.

Hey, what’s this? We found it on a Russian forum, and it almost looks like a suppressed version of one of those cut-down Mosin “Obrez” sawn-offs used by various  Russian mischief makers. But that can’t be what it really is. Where would Russians get a Lee Enfield (well, apart from any left behind by the Allied intervention in Archangelsk 1918-19)?

Enfield GL

A pre-World War I vintage “Sht. L.E. III” which breaks out to “Short Lee Enfield Mk III,” it says here:

Enfield GL 3

It has a King’s Crown and the cartouche ER, of Edward VII, who was King and Emperor in the first decade of the 20th Century. (He was succeeded by George V, King during the First World War).

It even looks a little like a suppressor if you take it down:

Enfield GL 4

But we’ll let you in on a secret — the muzzle end is wide open, like the X Products “Can Cannon.” That’s a clue. Know what it is yet?

Here it is in place, wrapped up:

Enfield GL 5

…and unwrapped. Got it yet?Enfield GL 6

It’s a grenade launcher for the light Universal Carrier, aka Bren-Gun Carrier, a tiny armored vehicle much used by British and Commonwealth forces and descended from the flimsy Carden-Lloyd light tanks of the 1920s. The launchers were meant to be used with blanks only to fire (as far as we know, only smoke) grenades. Depending on the Mark of the Carrier and where it was built, this launcher might have been built on any available .303 action — Enfield, Ross, or even Martini. Here’s a Martini one in context:

Carrier 010

Yes, the Bren gunner or TC served this launcher from the left seat, whilst the driver jockeyed the vehicle from the right (even in the Canadian models, made in vast quantities by Ford of Canada and still occasionally turning up rusty in a Saskatchewan wheatfield). This sketch shows you where it all goes in the Mark II carrier (this one set up for a Boys 0.55″ Anti-Tank Rifle crew).

carrier mk 2

It was a tight fit for several men and all their kit in this tiny armored fighting vehicle, and it was at the mercy of nearly anything the Germans or Italians chose to fire at it. But you go to war with the Army you have.

Puts British and Commonwealth nerve in a bit of perspective, to think of calling this “armor.” It’s at the very bottom of the mechanized war food chain.

Here are a couple of pictures of restored carriers. The firearms and helmets should give you some idea of the scale of these toy poodles of the tank world:

Enfield GL 7 enfield GL 8

After the jump, two videos of running carriers: one enthusiastically driven (he actually drifts a curve), and the New Zealanders Motor Vehicles Collectors Club in 2015, breaking an Aussie record for most running carriers at a display!

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Bleg: World War II Suppressors

Business end of typical Maxim silencer.

Business end of typical Maxim silencer.

We’re working on a technical post on the suppressors of World War II. We know of the following:

Germany: Pistole 27(t) late war suppressor, MP 40 suppressor (limited production) K.98k suppressor (ditto).

Great Britain: Welrod, High Standard .22, Luger, Maxim suppressors (SOE was disappointed), Mk IIS Sten. De Lisle carbine.

United States: M1911A1 .45, integral M3/M3A1 SMG, Colt .380, High-standard .22 (entirely different from the British development).

OSS_M3A1_grease_silenced

USSR: none (this does not seem right, given the Soviets’ extensive use of “diversionary” and special operations elements, and their broad conception of intelligence and reconnaissance operations).

Italy: none

Japan: none

Minor powers: none

Help a brother out here. What else is unknown out there? I expect the bulk of the article is going to be on the P.27(t), which is known from several surviving samples, and the British stuff, which is very well documented.

Oddball Auction: The Iron Duck

In the M16A1-era Army, we often encountered a training aid like this, but we never encountered one just like this. The one that we encountered was the “rubber duck”: a dummy M16A1 or, later, M16A2 made by overmolding a solid rubber lower and stocks over a deadlined barrel or barreled upper. In this way, the Army recycled scrap M16 parts to make training aids for those evolutions in which a rifle was either certain to be messed up, or at high risk of damage or loss.

Iron Duck02

These training aids were made by a shop on the post that could turn out all kinds of interesting things, everything from a very convincing looking AT-3 Sagger missile pack to the not-quite-exact training aid one used to learn how to set timers on an atomic demolition munition. In our day, it was called TASC, the Training and Audiovisual Support Center, and it had all kinds of cool stuff you could sign out and play with, er, conduct “Army training, sir!” with. 

Iron Duck03

The auction was closing as we pulled it up, so the link won’t last (never mind, it’s been relisted). But it says this is no rubber duck, but an iron duck. If so, it’s the only one we’ve ever seen.

Cast Iron M16 dummy rifle. This is a cast iron training rifle made by TAD CS training Aids of Georgia. It is a very cool piece that must have been used at FT. Benning at some point though information on this particular item and the company that made it is scarce. Very cool and heavy piece of equipment.

via Cast Iron M16 dummy rifle : Other Collectibles at GunBroker.com.

The “company” is not a company, but obviously a newer name for TASC. TASC used to put its name (and sometimes its on-base phone number) on the rubber ducks this same way. TAD is the newer (1990s?) Army term for “Training Aids and Devices”.

Iron Duck03

As you can see, it appears to have a real (and no doubt u/s, if you could somehow detach it) barrel and front sight base.

Iron Duck07

On rubber ducks, you could actually fix a bayonet, although we’re not sure why you’d want to.

One difference from the rubber duck is that this is kind of crudely molded. With the rubber ducks, you can actually read the serial number of the M16A1 that was used for a pattern. On this one, not so much.

Iron Duck04

What an iron (or aluminum, maybe?) duck would be useful for is hard to say. Training people to surface dive and recover a rifle in the water, maybe?

All in all, a fun wall hanger for the Retro Black Rifle guy. Here we are still weeping over our auction success last week, so we’re reluctant to bid.