Category Archives: Foreign and Enemy Weapons

The tale of the Fyodorov Avtomat of 1916

Alexander Vershinin has a breezy article on the 1916 Avtomat of Vladimir Grigoryevich Fyodorov, a gun generally recognized to be the first exemplar of a class that would be known as “assault rifles.” They are generally defined as being:

Fyodorov "Avtomat," 1916.

Fyodorov “Avtomat,” 1916.

  1. Shoulder-fired weapons;
  2. Firing from a detachable box magazine of 20 or more rounds;
  3. Capable of selective fire; and,
  4. Using an “intermediate” cartridge (more powerful and longer-ranging than a pistol’s, less powerful than a late 19th/early 20th-Century infantry rifle’s).
  5. And usually of an “intermediate” size between submachine guns and infantry rifles: about 30-40″ long  or roughly 1m, with a barrel of 14-20″ or 35-50 cm.

The classic Assault Rifles (MP/StG 44, AK, AR-15) all meet this standard, and the Fyodorov is close. Its cartridge, the 6.5mm Japanese cartridge, was less powerful than Russia’s standard 7.62 x 54mm rifle round, but really was a full-sized infantry cartridge.

Vershinin writes:

If the Soviet-era legend is to be believed, it was Tsar Nikolai II who hobbled Russian production of the automatic rifle from the outset.
“We don’t have enough ammunition,” he supposedly told the designer as he presented blueprints for the new weapon. But this story is far from the reality – the automatic or assault rifle was in fact developed in Russia almost entirely by lone gun enthusiasts before the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The subtext to what Vershinin is saying is that, as every Russian and student of things Russian knows that Soviet-era sources are often loaded with myth and morality stories. They’re full of mighty workers and peasants (think Stakhanov), tragic and doomed heroes (a Russian specialty, think Pavlik Morozov), and bumbling functionaries of the ancien régime, like the Tsar in the above story. It seems improbable that Nicholas would inject himself into Army ordnance decisions, but maybe he did. You didn’t need to have a Tsar to have your Army reject some progressive idea, though. The records of other countries, which had neither absolute monarchs nor revolutionaries determined to remake man himself, are full of questionable ordnance decisions, often made by some brigadier or colonel in the armaments end of the professional army.


This handsome, well-mustachioed gent is Vladimir Grigoryevich Fyodorov at his military academy graduation. He’d go on to design the Avtomat, lead an arsenal for the Soviet Union (later called the Degtyaryev Plant), and write a book on weapons design & history.

The vanguard in this field was Vladimir Grigoryevich Fyodorov, who wrote his name into the annals of gunmaking as the designer of the world’s first assault rifle.
The idea of arming infantry with rapid-fire automatic weapons was born in the upheaval of the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese war. Light machine guns had begun to appear on the frontlines and quickly demonstrated their effectiveness. If it were possible to equip each man with such a weapon, his value as a fighting unit would be multiplied manifold.

Now here Vershinin seems to be on to something. The Russo-Japanese War was a little-studied (in the West, anyway) bloodbath that saw the debut of the murderous weapons (breechloading artillery with recoil systems, machine guns, barbed-wire entanglements) that would make all three fronts of World War I into a Brueghelian nightmare.

via Fyodorov’s feat: The story of the world’s first assault rifle | Russia Beyond The Headlines.

The Avtomat was ahead of its time, but the Imperial Russian Army seemed to recognize that and equipped some units with the new weapon. It passed out of general use, but turned up in small numbers during the Russo-Finnish winter war of 1940:

Russians with Fyodorov Automat

Vershinin frames the design history — it was originally designed as a long rifle for Fyodorov’s own 6.5 mm cartridge, and only later cut down to carbine size and adapted to use stocks of captured Japanese ammo — and notes that historians today can only speculate as to why the gun went out of service. People at the time probably knew, but the Russian Empire was facing defeat, collapse, a tragic and bloody Civil War, and a destruction of archives and loss of talent to exile on a scale seldom seen. Vershinin, a historian himself, lists some of the possibilities. Perhaps some day, some archivist will find the answer, written in Fyodorov’s own hand.

The Czech “DUO” & Z Pistol, 1938-Present

Do you think little European 6.35 mm (.25 ACP) pocket pistols are boring? Hold on while we take you on a tour through the politics of 20th Century Mitteleuropa, with our host being this unassuming .25.


Czech Duo, stripped and in fairly rough shape.

Same gun, reverse. Proofed in 1941.

Same gun, reverse. Proofed in 1941.

The Duo was designed by a man with a name that resonates in Czech history – František Dušek. That is not because the 20th Century firearms entrepreneur is famous in the Czechlands, but because he shares a name with one of  the great composers of the race, the underrated Baroque-period master František Xaver Dušek, who lived in the 18th Century. Both men often see their names Germanized to Franz (Xavier) Dusek or Duschek. The Czech pronunciation is DOO-shek.

Dušek’s business started as a small gunsmith’s shop and grew into a factory in Opočno, in northeastern Bohemia near the Moravian border.

Most every place in the Czechlands has a name in Czech and a name in German, that usually differ mostly in spelling and in pronunciation details. The more notable cities have an English name, or the German name tends to be used in English. For example, Prague is the English name for the city the Czechs (and the Slovaks, during the federal period) call Praha, and the Germans and Austrians call Prag. Opočno (pronounced OH-poach-no) is one of three small towns with the name in the Czech Republic today, and comes across into German as Opotschno. (Most common English usage is the Czech name without the háček or diacritical mark over the “c,” thus, “Opocno.”)

This Duo shows the quality of finish of these firearms. It's a wartime gun, produced and proofed in 1944.

This Duo shows the quality of finish of these firearms. It’s a wartime gun, produced and proofed in 1944.

František Dušek was born in 1876 and apprenticed as a gunsmith with a firm named Hojny. Berger also says he traveled “abroad,” which suggests Germany, for manufacturing and design experience (his Czech home being at the time part of the Habsburg Empire). Long before World War I he had hung out his own shingle in Opočno.

Berger describes the growth of his firm warmly:

Old Dusek brochures gave a founding date of 1905, which is probably the year he left his apprenticeship to start on his own.

Dusek worked hard and long, as only the owner can do. He put back all profits into the business, expanding at every opportunity. Dusek was anti-military during World War I refused to make weapons or components for the Austro-Hungarian government. At that time Czechoslovakia had not yet become a country.

After World War I, Czechoslovakia became an independent country, and by the mid 1920s Dusek’s products including rifles, shotguns, air rifles and gunsmithing supplies. Do sick struggled for independence by making everything possible at his factory, not depending on outside sources. In 1925, the workforce was 36 production workers and six administrative workers.1

Along with Dušek’s own work, he did an excellent business remarketing pocket pistols from Spain. These were marked with a variety of names including Ydeal, and were sold in the Czechoslovak Republic and throughout Eastern and Central Europe. The Spanish supply dried up in the 1930s, and so Dušek designed his own pistol and began producing it. In the interim, he acquired some pistols from the Mars concern and changed the markings to call them DUOs, his own trademark — the name standing for DUšek, Opočno. Duo-marked Mars pistols are rare and are different in some design features from factory Duos. (The Mars itself is descended from the PZK and the Slavia, and features a loaded chamber indicator that the Duo does not).

Number 120305 was produced in 1945, not long before the factory was overrun.

Number 120305 was produced in 1945, not long before the factory was overrun.

This is an interesting pistol because of its place and time, not really because of its design. If you look at it, you see an ordinary European .25 pocket pistol of the sort produced in great numbers and great variety between the Alpha of John Browning and FN popularizing the small auto pistol in 1900 or so, and the Omega of postwar Europe shambling down the path of gun prohibition after World War II. Indeed, it looks like a close copy of the Browning-designed FN Model 1906 pocket pistol.

The Duo is not a true copy. The parts don’t interchange. But designer and factory owner František Dušek was inspired by the Browning-designed FN 1906 .25 in his design of the DUO. This design may have been inspired indirectly by the Browning, through the Mars/Slavia or through the Spanish eyeball copies of the Browning that Dušek imported before the Spanish Civil War cut off his supply. So you could say, in a way, that the Duo was “born in the Spanish Civil War,” but that locution might have offended old Dušek. A pacifist, he not only refused to make arms for the Austro-Hungarian Royal and Imperial Army in World War I, and likewise refused to collaborate with the Nazis when they occupied Czechoslovakia. The pistol remained in production; the Nazis simply ousted Dušek and effectively nationalized his plant.

During the Duo’s long life it has been produced in seven different countries2 — several of them without the factory moving an inch — with at least ten different marking variations. The Czech-made Duos we have seen, several dozen (wish we’d been recording serials then!) are invariably of high quality; even when the quality deteriorated during the later years of the Nazi occupation they were better guns than the Spanish ones Dušek has been selling.

The guns were a success for Dušek. They shipped from Opočno throughout Europe and the world. By 1938, his factory was the largest private gun manufacturing plant in the entire Czechoslovak Republic, as the other big names (ZB, CZ-UB) were national arsenals. But the CSR itself was on borrowed time. Throughout 1938, Nazi aggression and international spinelessness led to the dismantling of the Czechoslovak Republic piecemeal. First, they lost the border area, what the German speakers called the Sudetenland in the Munich Agreement. Then, a few months later, the Third Reich occupied the rest of Bohemia and Moravia, and placed Slovakia under the control of quislings.

In the gun factories, only the rollmarks changed (and, perhaps, some of the customers). Many Czech guns were already being marked in German for export, so it was no big deal. The pistols continued to be proofed and proofmarked to Czech standard.

The German occupation Duos were made in several marking variations, including specialty versions for specific German retailers. (This last was a continuation of prewar practice). Other makers would make their own mark on the slide, frame or trigger guard.

This is a 1942 Duo from Nolle's collection.

This is a 1942 Duo from Nolle’s collection.

There were several common holsters used with these pistols, similar to the hardshell and softshell types known by P.38 and Luger collectors. The gun tended to be used by senior and rear-echelon military and police officers, both in the Czech military and the Wehrmacht, more as a symbol of command than as any kind of a defensive pistol. As armaments go, a .25 is the original “better than nothing” firearm, with less energy than a .22 LR round, and until long after the war, only roundnose lead and roundnose FMJ were the only loads available. What they lack in firepower, though, they make up for in simplicity and reliability.

CZ Duo with Hardshell

After the war, Dušek resumed production in Opočno, and postwar guns returned fully to prewar quality. He would be ousted a second time when the Communists took over Czechoslovakia and nationalized and rationalized the gun industry. All handgun manufacture was to be centralized, and after a short further run, the tooling at Opočno was packed up.

That wasn’t the end of the Duo, though… it stayed in production, with, normal business for the Duo, new rollmarks. The factory was now a Národní Podník, “national enterprise.” Soon all handgun  production shifted to the Uhersky Brod factory, and the gun was now a “Z” with the old Zbrojovka Brno trademark, the letter Z in a circle that is, on close examination, a rifled barrel, taking the place of DUO on the grips.


This is a "Z" pistol made in the CZ-UB plant in 1949.

This is a “Z” pistol made in the CZ-UB plant in 1949.

Most of the Duos and Zs that were imported into the United States came in as wartime bringbacks (wartime and prewar Duos) or were imported during a brief period when Czechoslovak firearms were imported (1948-52 or so). Post-1968, they are not importable because of the Sporting Test the United States adopted from a 1938 Nazi gun law, with further restrictions by the American admirer of Nazi policing who wrote the bill, Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut.

Despite the many marking variations of the Duo, which might also be called a Z, Singer, JAGA, or Ideal, or bear the marks of a German sporting-goods store, the only substantial change before 1970 was brief availability of a longer barrel in 1938-39 or so. This longer (190mm) barrel changed the class of licensure of the firearm in the Czechoslovak Republic, and became moot when German laws supplanted Czechoslovak after the Munich Accord. (These long-barreled Duos are extremely rare in the USA; Berger describes them, but we’ve never seen one, and we suspect he never had, either; he’s working of a catalog description). Even the transfer of manufacture and trademark from Opočno as a Duo to Uhersky Brod as a “Z”, did not materially change the pistols.

Berger published photographs of Dušek’s home and the somewhat run-down original plant in Opočno, long since converted to other uses, taken in 1981.3

In 1970, the Z was redesigned to slightly modernize its shape and it was renamed Pistole Vz 70, not to be confused with the CZ Pistole VZ 70, a .32 caliber police pistol.

For all versions, disassembly for field-stripping is identical to the common M1906/1908 Browning/Colt hammerless .25.

Duos and Zs are well-made, usually well-finished guns (if not to FN standards; toolmarks are not completely polished off the frame sides, for instance). Even the occupation guns are usually safe to fire, although an example with shortened firing pin that will not engage a primer has been observed, perhaps evidence of wartime sabotage by a Czech or foreign forced laborer. The firing pin is somewhat vulnerable to failure and, unlike most center-fire guns, this pistol should not be dry-fired. (Nor should the unrelated Little Tom and CZ 36/45/92 pocket pistols).


  1. Berger, p. 77.
  2. The countries were: the Czechoslovak Republic (1918-38); the rump Czecho-Slovak 2nd Republic (minus the Sudetenland, Carpathian Ruthenia, and parts of Silesia and Slovakia), 1938-39; the Reichsprotektorat Böhmen u. Mähren, 1939-45; the 3rd Czechoslovak Republic (1945-48); the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1948-90); the 4th Czechoslovak Republic (1990-93) and the post-Velvet-Divorce Czech Republic (1993-).
  3. Berger, p. 82.


Multiple typographic errors, one historical error in footnote 2, and a missing sentence have been corrected. See the comments for details.


Berger, R.J. Know Your Czechoslovakian Pistols. Chino Valley, AZ: Blacksmith Corporation, 1989.

Buffaloe, Ed. “Two Czech 6.35mm Pistols”., n.d. Retrieved from:

”Kirby the OG.” OG’s Curio and Relic Page: Czechoslovakian Firearms. Formerly at: now defunct. Retrieved from:

“Nolle”. Nolle’s Guns: Czech Pistols. Retrieved from: (Flemish language).

What Good is One Pistol Against Terrorists?

We often hear questions like these: “What could one man do against an organized small arms attack like the ones in Paris or Bombay? What good is a pistol against an assailant armed with the superior firepower of a modern rifle?”

These are reasonable questions, and are often put reasonably. (Others use similar questions, with a different tone, to sneer at armed self-defense as ineffective).

To which we say: yes, one armed person can stop an organized small arms attack — given a little luck. Most active shooter incidents end, in fact, when an armed person or person confronts the shooter(s), either shooting him or inducing suicide. That person is often, but not always, a cop.

Teacher Syed Husein went toe-to-toe with terrorists -- and died. But he saved lives.

Teacher Syed Husein went toe-to-toe with terrorists — and died. But he saved lives.

And even if they kill you, your last great act of defiance can give others the chance to escape and live. Think about that as you meet the late chemistry instructor Syed Hamid Husain, of Bacha Khan University in a suburb of Peshawar.

A chemistry lecturer known as ‘The Protector’ died saving his students by firing back at Taliban militants during a deadly attack on their university that left 30 dead and dozens injured today.

Gunmen stormed the Bacha Khan University in Pakistan in an assault that echoed a horrifying Taliban massacre on a nearby army-run school and previous attacks against girls’ education….

As militants stalked the campus, executing targets one by one, assistant chemistry professor Syed Hamid Husain, 32, ordered his pupils to stay inside as he confronted the attackers.

The father-of-two opened fire, giving them time to flee before he was cut down by gunfire as male and female students ran for their lives.

via Taliban gunmen storm Pakistan’s Bacha Khan University and open fire on students | Daily Mail Online.

Would you sell your life as hard as Husain did? In his last act of nobility, he allowed many to escape certain death, at the cost of his own life.

He seems to have been a fun-loving guy, who enjoyed joking around with his students.

Mohammad Shazeb, a 24-year-old computer science student, said Husain was fond of gardening and used to joke with the students that they should learn gardening for when they are unemployed.

‘He had a 9mm pistol and used to tell us stories about his hunting trips,’ Shazeb said.

Husain also never missed a game of cricket with the students, he said, adding: ‘When someone would go to bowl to him, he would joke: ‘Remember kiddo, I have a pistol”.

Husain certainly knew that the odds were against him when he and his 9mm took on an entire team with many weapons. But he moved to the sound of the gunfire, taking that risk, buying priceless time for his defenseless students.

He died… but they lived.

By the heathen gods that made ye, ye’re a better man than I am, Syed Husain.

So, there’s a little reality check on  self defense by handgun against multiple long-gun-equipped assailants. You’re going to have a bad day… but the lives you save could be your own loved ones.

When you think about whether pistol-armed self-defense can work against a terrorist attack, remember that the alternative isn’t some imaginary perfectly-effective weapon. The alternative is no self-defense at all — sheep to the slaughter.

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.

Hadji Needs Weapons Men, Too

Here's Hadji the Weaponsman. What's he going to do with that thing?

Here’s Hadji the Weaponsman. What’s he going to do with that thing?

You can’t have a war without weapons men. You just can’t! Without weapons men, a tidy, sophisticated war regresses to an atavistic brawl, perhaps, if one is lucky, with sticks and stones. If one is not lucky, it’s a bareknuckles, eye-gouging, trachea-crushing affair. It simply isn’t civilized.

ISIL isn’t civilized, either; indeed, they make Homo neandertalensis look like freakin’ Liberace. But even they have found that their neolithic ambitions are unattainable without weapons men. So they, who normally fear education like a vampire fears the Cross, have established a school.

Hmmm. This missile does not seem to have been maintained IAW the service manual.

Hmmm. This missile does not seem to have been maintained IAW the service manual.

Not a school of the readin’, writin’, ‘rithmetic, variety. A school for maintaining and extending the life of the sophisticated weapons that they captured from the bugout brigades of the Iraqi Army.

New images of what is being called a “jihadi technical college” in the ISIS terror group’s de facto capital shows that the group is capable of producing key components for advanced weaponry, including surface-to-air missiles.

Ah, the ACME Hadji battery pack.

Ah, the ACME Hadji battery pack. Yeah, you try this out and see how it works.

Footage of the weapons lab in Raqqa, Syria was obtained by Sky News and shows that ISIS scientists have managed to produce a homemade thermal battery for use in surface-to-air missile systems. That had previously been thought impossible for terror groups without any military infrastructure to accomplish.

Some reporter appears to have borked the difference between “scientist” and “technician.” Two different words, with different denotations and everything, Sunshine.

ISIL "scientist" at work. He has "refurbished" this delrin gear (look at it closely).

ISIL “scientist” at work. He has “refurbished” this delrin gear (look at it closely). Just the guy you want tuning up your guidance systems. No wonder they can’t kill anything but captives.

Here's another bit of blinding Hadji ingenuity from the video: a remote control car. Well, car bomb...

Here’s another bit of blinding Hadji ingenuity from the video: a remote control car. Well, car bomb…

This actually seems to be an attempt at a propaganda score, rather than an attempt at something practical for ISILs army of pederasts and caprinophiles to employ.

Given the intellect level their splodydopes and car-bomb operators have shown to date, Duct Tape Mohammed is an intellectual step up. (Decoy for radio-control car bomb).

Given the intellect level their splodydopes and car-bomb operators have shown to date, Duct Tape Mohammed is an intellectual step up. (Decoy for radio-control car bomb).

Perhaps this is an impressive level of STEM achievement for some innumerate reporters, but really, the video looks pathetic to anyone in the productive world.

The footage shows that ISIS can recommission thousands of missiles prevously thought unusable and target passenger and military aircraft.

It does, eh? Or is it propaganda. Here’s a thought: if they can do this thing, why haven’t they? So far, every shootdown we’re aware of (except for the Su-24 that took a fatal shortcut across a bit of Turkish airspace, which was nailed by a Turkish airplane) has been by good old fashioned AAA driven by the good old fashioned Mark I eyeball — except for a few that might have been a “golden BB” from small arms. ]

Sky News reports that terror groups had previously been able to build the weapons, but storing them and maintaining the thermal battery was difficult to do.

We keep hearing that this or that terrorist group has been targeting airliners, especially with missiles supposedly abandoned by the US, but in practice every terrorist who’s taken a shot at an airliner has used a Soviet-era Russian missile, or its Chinese copy.

“What this video shows is that ISIS are leagues ahead of their terrorist predecessors,” Chris Hunter, a former bomb technician with the United Kingdom Special Forces, told Sky News. “Their advanced knowledge of weapons engineering, coupled with their seemingly limitless ability to reverse engineer and recondition weapons (which until now intelligence agencies had considered obsolete and beyond repair) kept me awake all night.”

via Footage of ISIS weapons lab shows construction of heat-seeking missiles, car bombs | Fox News.

We think that this is just a bit over the top. Of course these guys are trying to make these weapons work, and imagining great terrorist acts with them. They are professional terrorists, after all. And they do have access to a lot of the Sunni talent of the former Iraqi Army, thanks to a number of stupid decisions, including Bremer’s to disband the Army and send everyone home; the State and Defense Departments’ to put a thumb on Iraqi electoral scales fir benefit of Maliki; and Maliki’s decision to make himself the Slobodan Milosevič of Iraq by making his government’s theme the settling of all Shi’a scores with Sunnis, all the way back to the slaughter of Imam Ali.

But they’re not scientists, and they’re not engineers. Today, 6 plus billion people will arise in the morning and go about their day, a day that is everywhere eased and enriched by the discoveries  of scientists as made concrete by engineers. And while a considerable minority of those worthy scientists and engineers profess islam as a faith, every one whose work makes life better for the human race is working outside of the Islamic world. Not one of the labor-saving, wealth-creating, suffering-destroying, and life-enriching technologies you will use today, whoever you are, was conceived and brought to market in that part of the world under any of the flags of mohammedanism.

It’s not so much that they’re opposed to modern civilization; increasingly, they’re irrelevant to it. Like a bad-seed child, they have no positive accomplishments and no attainments to point to; they are reduced to vandalism and crime to seek attention.

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

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.

A Rare Gun Turns Up in a Terrorist Attack

It's hard to identify in screenshots, but if you watch the whole video at the DailyNews link, you can make out the silhouette of the Spectre M4 -- or, possibly a converted Spectre HC.

It’s hard to identify in screenshots, but if you watch the whole video at the NY Post link, you can make out the silhouette of the Spectre M4 — or, possibly a converted Spectre HC.

The latest in a series of palestinian terror tantrums that had already killed 20 Israelis and 2 foreigners (one American and on Eritrean) claimed two more Israelis killed and about eight wounded in a submachine gun attack in Jerusalem.

A stateless Arab has been identified as the attacker. His motivation? The usual terrorist manifesto, the Koran he left behind in the bag he’d used to conceal his weapon. But, rather than use a common and garden AK, he slew his Jews with an exotic and rare weapon, and that’s where we come in.

The New York Post says:

There were conflicting reports about the weapon used — with some witnesses describing it as an AK-47, others an Uzi submachine gun and at least one an M-16 assault rife.

Images aired by Israeli media also show a discarded ammo magazine that appeared to be from a Spectre M4 machine gun– a weapon rarely seen in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Reuters reported.

Recovered 30-round Spectre mag. This magazine fits no other weapon known to us.

Recovered 30-round Spectre mag. This magazine fits no other weapon known to us.

Simta co-owner Dudi Malka described the gunman as a “fairly short, light-skinned man holding an M-16 gun,” Haaretz daily reported.

According to the Daily Mail, the terrorist threw the weapon in a trash can as he fled; the Israeli authorities recovered it. His backpack was found to contain terrorist literature, to wit, the Koran.

The weapon was a SITES Spectre M4 submachine gun, a rare 9mm weapon made in Italy, and later, in Switzerland. It was designed by Roberto Teppa and Claudio Gritti and made from 1984-1997 in Turin by Societa Italiana TEchnologie Speciali, SITES. Some additional arms were made until 2001 by Greco Sport SA in Massagno, Ticino, Switzerland (an Italophone canton). Greco Sport went paws up and appears to have been liquidated on 20 June, 2006.

In addition to the submachine gun version that the maker tried to interest world armies in, a semi-automatic pistol version was briefly imported into the USA before the 1994 assault weapons ban slammed the door on imported large pistols.

It did not sell well, as it was priced higher than shoddy Tec-9s and similar horse pistols, and import (different attempts by FIE, Mitchell Arms, American Arms) ended in 1993, well before the AWB took effect. Numbers imported were probably under 2000. It has gotten a new lease on life after being featured in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops, but the orphaned firearm is no longer a practical weapon despite its interesting features. (Of course, that doesn’t affect its use by a homicidal jihadi who’s expecting to throw his worthless life away, anyway).

Here’s one for sale, NIB, on GunBroker.

Spectre HC semi pistol 2The seller says:

Italian SITES Spectre HC semi-auto pistol AKA SITES Spectre Falcon or M4 semi-auto still in box with 2 original SITES 30 rd “casket” magazines, SITES speed loader, and forward grip which is still in unopened plastic. The original buyer never fired it so is in like new condition except for the box/packaging has some normal wear so am classifying it as “New Old Stock”. This one is in 9mm and was imported by American Arms, Inc sometime before 1993 and have not been imported since. These are no longer in production and is a great find, especially in this condition. Don’t let this one pass you by!

This next picture shows it from nearly the angle that the first surveillance video shows the terrorist.

Spectre HC semi pistol

It’s a penny auction with an unknown reserve; no bidders yet.

Here’s another one, not quite as mint as the first…

Spectre HC semi pistol second example right…with a more laconic description:

-USED- Sites Spectre in 9mm. 6″ barrel. One 30rd magazine, ambi safety a decocker. Adjustable sight. imported from 1990-93. Clean pistol. There is some wear from the charging handle. Original box and mag loader. No owners manual.

Spectre HC semi pistol second example right

He’s asking $1,500 to start and has, not surprisingly, no bidders.

The SITES Spectre was designed originally as a compact, advanced 2nd-Generation submachine gun in 9mm, in hopes of getting some of the cop money that was flowing to Oberndorf. It had extremely practical, ergonomic controls and a grip that was clearly borrowed from H&K.

Spectre HC semi pistol second example close-up

The US semi version, seen here, fired from a closed bolt, but so did the submachine gun. The SMG, called the Spectre M4, can be distinguished by its folding stock, which lies along the top of the receiver when folded.

Spectre M4 SMG with 50-round magazine.

Spectre M4 SMG with 50-round magazine.

All magazines were of the “coffin” type, and are normally found in 30- and 50-round denominations. All magazines are rare, but the 50-round mags, which were not intended to be sold into the USA, are extremely rare. Magazines sell, on the rare occasions they appear, for hundreds of dollars.

The Spectre M4 also has a unique trigger system, as described at

The trigger group is more similar to handguns, then to SMG – it is double action without manual safety but with decocker. So, Spectre could be carried with loaded chamber and hammer down and then fired immediately simply by pressing the trigger.

On the semi-auto pistol version found in the USA, the Spectre HC, the forward lever is the safety, which falls right to thumb (in either hand), and the trigger is DA/SA. The aft lever is a safe decocker that works independently of the safety. Thus it’s a bit like a SIG 22x series handgun in its manual of arms, except for its polymer-covered operating handle forward rather than having a pistol slide.

Max also notes that the bolt was designed also to pump air through the ventilated foregrip, cooling the barrel. The gun was assembled with few “user-serviceable parts inside” and extensive use of e-clips.

It will be interesting to see if Israeli police can determine where this crumb got hold of a Spectre. It is possible that the manufacturers sold into the Arab world, or to Iran (most foreign weapons sold to Iranian “police” are passed on to terrorist groups), and it’s possible, though unlikely, that it was originally a US-market semi. Against that possibility, the surveillance video seems to show automatic fire, and converting a Spectre HC to reliable full-auto fire would not be a slam dunk.

Back From Bubba’s Brink on a Budget

Here is an AK as prepared by Bubba the Gunsmite. It has been given a good gun smiting, both in its tacticool appendages, and in its horkworthy finish. That paint job — is Bubba actually blind from a bad batch of white lightning?


It was posted to Arfcom by a guy wondering what it was, and whether he got a good deal swapping a police trade-in Glock worth maybe $350 for it (and a bunch of low-quality mags). The AK is a Bulgarian kit with its original barrel, built up on a high-quality Nodak Spud LLC receiver. (Yes, their AK stuff is just as outstanding as their AR stuff). Apart from the sprayed on crapkote finish, front rail with a questionable VFG, and love-it-or-hate-it Hogue grip, the 5.49mm rifle has a homemade bumpfire stock, on a cheap plastic (polyethylene?) “buffer” tube held on with (we are not making this up) a wood screw. The new owner wanted a “tactical” AK with rails and all, but didn’t want an eyesore. 

As bad as the gun looks in overview it’s worse close up:

Bubbas AK-74 action

You could call that the “Been there, done that, got tagged by a Bronx graffiti ‘artist'” look. But as bad as the outside of this Bubba job was, the inside was worse yet:

Bubbas AK-74 internals

The collective wisdom of the Arfcom thread was to strip and refinish it — or have a pro do it — and install Magpul Zhukov furniture in a Bulgarian-like plum finish. The Zhukov allows the use of a top rail only.

AK-47 (not 74, obviously) with Magpul Zhukov furniture in black. Magpul photo.

AK-47 (not 74, obviously) with Magpul Zhukov furniture in black. Magpul photo.

But the guy was on a tight, tight budget. He couldn’t swing the Magpul stuff ($200 plus shipping)

Can you heal a sick AK in a tiny home workshop, on a rock-bottom budget?

Here’s what Adam decided to do:

  1. Strip the old finish;
  2. Refinish with a modern coating. He chose Norell’s MolyResin in semi-gloss black;
  3. Replace the Bubba-built bumpfire rig with a conventional stock, perhaps a Magpul CTR in due course;
  4. And do it all himself.

Skip ahead to Results

Here it is “afterward,” still well endowed with tactical gingerbread, but at least not so badly finished as to make Mikhail TImofeyovich weep:
De-bubbad AK74

Although, not exactly well finished either:

De-bubbad 74 2

But still, let’s compare that to the status quo ante: 

Bubbas AK-74 action 2

Not so bad in that light, eh? Really, this thing started out looking like all five of the Lee Sisters — Ug, Home, Ghast, Beast and Gnar. Indeed, the finish was so bad it made the underlying metalwork look bad (which it wasn’t): for example, the rear trunnion rivets look like they’ve got a “smiley” on them (a common result of using an undersized set tool) but it’s just an optical illusion produced by the paint and wear.

The bare metal pins were an oversight, but — that’s the way they are on a factory AK-74, either bare metal or blued.

The finish was done with Norell’s MolyResin ceramic-metallic coating, and the orange peel can caused by a variety of things, including too much paint to quickly, not preheating the work to 100ºF or so, and not properly preparing the work. For any spray-on coating, metal needs to be prepared a little differently than it is for a soak-in coating like Parkerizing. Norell highly recommends abrasive blasting. (Or, if you’re equipped to do it, you can simply parkerize the bare-metal firearm — but you need to remove the old finish first).

Here’s how Adam did it. The longest journey begins with a single step, disassembly. Fortunately, the gun-disassembly tricks and tips that were gunsmith secrets a generation ago, are now available to anyone with a computer. Of course, this has just made more work for gunsmiths as guys (sorry ladies, it’s always a guy) who can’t follow instructions or a video, take short cuts, break things, or can’t reassemble them continue to bring them in — in a basket, or a brown paper bag. If you see a guy in Market Basket tonight answer the checkout question with “paper,” he’s probably bringing us his Glock in the morning.

Bubbas AK-74 disassembly 2

Here he is using the Tipton Gun Vise in the one role for which it’s really suited, a photo stand.

When we see the tight spaces guys like Adam work in, we are more grateful for our second-class (at least) workshop, which we don’t have to share with a water heater. (Or an F150, or lawnmower, snowblower, washer and dryer, or any of those other things we see guys working around). Having lived in small apartments and government quarters we will say that when you have to work in a small space, it helps a lot to keep it picked up and organized — that makes it seem bigger even though it takes a lot of time to be constantly shuffling things in and out of “put away.” We believe that in the end, organization saves more time than it costs.

Here’s another view of the AK at about the same stage of dismantling.

Bubbas AK-74 disassembly

And here it is further along, after most of the weird paint job has been stripped. It clings grimly to the trigger guard and internal parts, but you can see the factory blued finish on the Bulgarian barrel and trunnions, and the Parkerizing on the Nodak receiver. It looks like it took a little scrubbing (note how shiny the rivet heads are).

Bubbas AK-74 semi stripped

At this point, if you want to strip the finish, you have no options but bead blasting and/or chemical warfare. Adam went all chemical. He made a solvent trough out of a section of steel gutter from the hardware store, two end caps, and epoxy to hold them in place (in fact, he used leftover Brownell’s glass bedding compound. It worked fine). He lay the AK barreled receiver, with the barrel plugged at both ends, in there, and added a gallon of acetone. Almost immediately an black chemical began to swirl away from the barrel, like an octopus squirting ink. As the acetone evaporated away, the remaining chemical turned purple with the “octopus ink” that’s the old bluing salts leaving the barrel.

If you look real closely, there's an AK in there.

If you look real closely, there’s an AK in there.

With the old finish off, he resprayed it with MolyResin black semigloss, and baked the finish on, with the results you’ve already seen. In a few days’ part-time work he’s removed an unwanted personalization from a Bubba’d gun and made one that is not only more to his own tastes, but also more readily sold to the next owner, and certainly worth more than the $350 value of the Glock plus the ~$150 value of the materials he bought for the project (some of which, like the stripping solvent trough, are reusable).

Some suggestions, if he ever does it again:

  1. Using a more reliable thermometer than the one built into any non-industrial oven. They’re built to a price, not to a quality level, and the difference between 300º and 325º F matters a lot more to a MolyResin job than it does to a pork roast.
  2. More cycles of stripping and baking the firearm. It’s amazing how much gunk hides in the little interstices of a
  3. Completely stripping the firearm, until there are no vestiges of earlier paints, bluing, or parkerizing.
  4. Thoroughly removing all the finish solvent. This usually suggests another round of baking.
  5. Metal-preparation in accordance with the intended finishing medium. For bluing, you want a high gloss. Norell’s makes very specific recommendations for media-blasting pre-MolyResin. Those are based on many years of experience — it’s a lot faster to learn from their experience than from your own.
  6. Pre-heating the gun before application of MolyResin. (This depends on the specific MR product and degree of gloss you’re shooting for).
  7. Using an airbrush instead of an HVLP sprayer (although Norell’s recommends either).
  8. Very thin coats, not trying to get the thing to finish color in one application.

Still and all, the post-refinish AK is considerably better than the original Bubbafied state. And one has the impression that the owner will not be content with this stage of affairs, but will further improve the firearm.

Don’t Forget Forgotten Weapons…

… although, it could be called “Remembered Weapons,” because Ian remembers all the stuff that everybody else has forgotten. True, we haven’t flagged you to his site in, what, two whole days? But when he’s posting stuff like this, you need to be over there, not here. We’ll still be here posting several times a day, but trust us, you want to see these two posts, and you want to point your RSS reader at FW so you never miss stuff like this.

Item: The Grandpappy of all MGs

Every gun begins with the prototype — no, wait… Every gun begins with an idea, but it has to pass through the stage of prototype if it’s ever going to be made concrete and marketed, adopted, and/or produced. And Forgotten Weapons is starting a new series on the Maxim, the grandpappy of all machine guns, with a great post on the prototype, which is, naturally, the granddaddy of all Maxims.


One of the best parts of that post is a video Ian scared up which shows the ur-Maxim’s inner cuckoo clock. It’s ingenious, but it’s fair to say that the highly developed Maxim of the First World War was vastly simplified and improved over this design.


That, of course, just makes the engineering dead ends of the prototype even more interesting. There’s a little bit of similarity to the much later aerial weapon, the Mauser revolver cannon, in that a rotary sprocket is used to lift the cartridges after they are withdrawn by an extractor from the ammunition belt.

Item: Small Arms Development, 1945-65: the Soviet View

Victory Day parade. Rather than rest on their laurels, the Soviets overhauled their weapons after World War II, and by 1965 they'd done it a second time.

Victory Day parade. Rather than rest on their laurels, the Soviets overhauled their weapons after World War II, sending these Mosins to the warehouse, and by 1965 they’d done it a second time.

Ian got hold of a fascinating primary source document: a CIA translation of a classified Soviet analysis of small arms development after World War II. Both the intent of Soviet development and the differences between Soviet and NATO small arms doctrine and development objectives are laid bare in this document (available at the link).

Our long-held thesis that Soviet developments were primarily focused on putting automatic fire in the hands of their riflemen, whereas Western forces primarily focused on aimed semi-auto fire, is borne out from the horse’s mouth, as it were. The authors of the piece, two senior Soviet officers, see, from their point of view, 1965 NATO as making a serious error in not giving their riflemen weapons that can be effective in automatic fire at close range. Of the US Army:

[E]xperience in the operation of the M14 rifle has shown that it has extremely unsatisfactory grouping capability during automatic firing, as a result of which it is assigned to US troops only in the semiautomatic variant.

…in recent years the American army has renovated nearly all of its small arms. However, it should be pointed out that with the NATO cartridge as a basis, the USA has failed to solve the problem of developing a mobile and effective automatic individual weapon that satisfies the requirements of modern combat. For this reason the Americans have taken measures to modernize the M14 rifle, to explore other rifle designs, to develop a new 5.6-mm cartridge with reduced power, and to develop a rifle that will use this cartridge.

Ivan also prized light weight in his weaponry.

With allowance made for [the Soviets not being sure what NATO armies carried as a basic load of ammunition -Ed.] the average weight load (weapon plus unit of fire of cartridges being carried) per man amounts to: in the Soviet Army — 7.2 kilograms, in the US Army — 9.3 kilograms, in the West German Army — 10.9 kilograms, and in the French Army — 8.5 kilograms,

(This is referring to the M14 version of the US Army, the one that faced Russian occupation armies in Eastern Europe directly at the time. Elsewhere in the report, they note the emergence of the M16 as something to be watched).

Judged on the basis of these data, the weaponry of the Soviet Army is the lightest. This has been achieved by the use in our army of the 7,62-mm Model 1943 cartridge and the development for it of an automatic rifle and a light machinegun, which have made it possible to substantially lighten the weight of both the individual weapon itself and also the unit of fire carried with it.

Interesting to us that no credit at all is given to the Germans for inventing the intermediate cartridge and assault rifle concept. While the CETME rifle is mentioned as the source of the German G-3, there’s no mention that the CETME itself is an adaptation of the StG.45. (That fact may have been unknown to the Russian authors).

The authors were extremely satisfied with the state of Soviet weapons, and considered their weapons superior both individually to their counterparts, and on a unit vs. unit basis.

Rare Simonov AVS-36 Sold for $5k — as Parts

We were watching this on GB, and the price just ran away from what we wanted to pay. But we wanted the gun, as longtime students of rare Soviet weapons. We’ve mentioned it before; in May, 2012, we noted that by coincidence the US and USSR both adopted semi-auto rifles in 1938, the M1 and the AVS-36. Although the AVS was not a semi-auto, but a selective-fire rifle. Built as lightly as possible, they were problematic in service, and soon supplanted by the Tokarev selective fire (AVT) and semi-auto (SVT) rifles of 1938 and 1940. The Tokarevs were practically kissing cousins of the Simonov, being the same caliber, same size in every dimension, using similar magazines and the same gas tappet system of operation with a tilting bolt locking system (a similar locking system to the BAR, SAFN-49, and FAL).

This is the kit as all laid out

This is the kit as all laid out

This particular kit is so rare — we cannot recall ever having seen another AVS for sale in the USA, period. Here’s what the seller says:

This auction is for a complete parts assembly for an extremely rare pre WWII-early WWII Soviet Russian Simonov AVS-36 rifle. This parts assembly is all complete including the torch cut receiver and original magazine. The assembly is all matching except for the magazine and the parts that are supposed to be serialized are all matching #Y4287. The parts including the stock and handguard remain in nice condition and have never been repaired or modified. Bore is fine and bright with strong rifling with a pin in the chamber area that can be removed. These rare rifles were only manufactured circa 1936-1938. The first saw actual combat use in the Battles of Khalkin Gol in 1939, also in the Finnish Winter War 1939-1940, and in limited numbers during the early days of WWII. These rifles for any reasons proved unsatisfactory in combat and were quickly superseded by the Model SVT 1938/1940 Tokarev rifles. The AVS-36 Simonov Rifles and any original parts are rarely found anywhere in the world and are extremely desirable in this country. This would be a very rare opportunity for a collector to reweld or have a dummy receiver made for a static display. If you are lucky enough to have a complete registered rifle you would have some great parts which you would never be able to find anywhere.

The Tokarev, too, would be abandoned to return to the 19th Century Mosin-Nagant, for reasons of reliability, training base, and especially, speed of manufacture, once the USSR found itself at war with a peer competitor, Nazi Germany.

Simonov’s team continued designing firearms on the same system. Scaled up, the AVS-36 action became the mighty 14.5 x 115 mm PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle. Scaled down, it became (using some of the innovations from the PTRS, like the fixed magazine), the SKS-45 carbine that is still carried with pride by Russian honor guards. CORRECTION: see UPDATE below.

The prewar Soviet semi-automatic and select-fire rifles were an attempt to increase the Soviet infantryman’s firepower based on the same intensive study of the stalemates of World War I that produced Soviet innovations in tank and airborne forces. (The Red Army was doing tank and airborne maneuvers all through the 1930s… the US Army didn’t create airborne units and tank units capable of operating independently until the 1940s, and Armor (tanks) was not a basic branch in the US Army until 1950!)

Two things strangled the Soviet rifle development. One was, as mentioned, the poor performance of the AVS in practice, especially considering its cost of manufacture (including opportunity costs). The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze; a prefect semi was better in theory than the old Mosin, but the AVS (and AVT/SVT) were demanding and troubled guns (as was the M1 on introduction), and say what you will of the 50-year-old (then) Mosin, it was thoroughly debugged. The other thing that slew semi-auto development in the late thirties was the Great Terror, during which Stalin purged all of the power centers of the Communist Party and the Soviet State, including the Red Army. The brilliant Marshal Tukhachevskiy was shot, as were most of the men he’d mentored. Essentially all of the marshals and higher generals, and most of the lower grades of general officer and colonels, were shot or stripped of rank and thrown in the Gulag, more or less contemporaneously with the short service life of the AVS-36. The men who took the reins — it was not unusual for a division or corps commander to be a lieutenant colonel — were shaken enough that they weren’t going to make waves. The M1891 was just fine for granddad’s regiment, they’d make it work in the 1940s. (And they did).

As a result, relatively few Tokarev and very few Simonov rifles were made in the first place, and the Simonovs were captured in great stands during fighting with the Japanese at Khalkin Gol on the Mongolian border, and in the Winter War with Finland (1939-40). This particular rifle is a Winter War capture. We’ve written before about Finnish captured AVS rifles (and again here); this one might even be in one of those pictures!

Due to the ATF’s interpretation of the Gun Control Act of 1968, even a rarity like this cannot be imported, under the borrowed-from-the-Nazis “sporting purpose” test. Because it has “no sporting purpose,” (and really, no interest except to a rarefied echelon of collectors) its receiver was torch cut. Fortunately, it was imported before the ATF changed their interpretation to require the destruction of barrels as well as receivers of “non-sporting” collector guns.

(Incidentally, there was a budget amendment liberating the importation of curio and relic firearms from the Nazi “sporting” test that passed the House by a wide bipartisan margin. Why didn’t it pass? Because like all the other pro-gun language in the House budget, it was stripped out by the inexplicably NRA A-rated Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Good thing you didn’t vote for a Democrat, eh, you might have gotten an anti-gun Speaker… oh, wait).

Looking at this parts kit, we can determine a few things. It is a Finnish capture. That can be determined because it has the Finnish Army property Mark, “SA,” applied to it in various places. The seller also gets the serial number wrong, because he doesn’t know the Russian Cyrillic alphabet.

Simonov AVS-36 bolt Ch Ts 287

The two Cyrillic letters in the serial number, here in the bolt carrier handle, are Ch and Ts. So the real number is Ch Ts 287.

Here’s a view of the bolt carrier and bolt. SKS owners will see things are fairly familiar.

Simonov AVS-36 bolt and carrier top

Here is the Finnish Army property mark, in this case, on the side of the magazine. AVS-36 magazines held 10 rounds of 7.62 x 57R mm ammunition.

Simonov AVS-36 SA capture mark

Here’s another view of the parts:

Simonov AVS-26 parts

And here they are, loosely assembled.


Simonov AVS-36 assembledThe kit does not seem to be complete. It is missing some internals, such as the hammer. One could probably adapt SKS parts, or use SKS parts as models to scale up, to make a safe, legal semi-automatic fire control group for a rebuilt rifle.

Having a receiver machined would cost in the four figures, is our best guess. And that’s after you’ve done the reverse-engineering and made the drawings. The parts of the cut receiver are some help, but they’re clearly distorted by the torch. You might be able to get a museum that has one to let you measure theirs, at least the gross external measurements. Despite the seller’s suggestion, I do not think this cut receiver is susceptible to being rewelded — better to start over from billet.

The torch cuts on the receiver parts are ugly, and look like they're through pin locations, locking areas, etc.

The torch cuts on the receiver parts are ugly, and look like they’re through pin locations, locking areas, etc.

The GB Auction page is going to stay live for a while. When it goes away, let us know, as we archived the page this time.


Max Popenker points out in the comments that our description of the locking system as analagous to the SKS and PTRS is not correct. Reexamination of available AVS photos shows he’s quite right, but what is the locking system of the early Simonov?

Forgotten Weapons had a February, 2014 post on the AVS, and identifies the locking method as a block that slides vertically up and down. FW linked to this forum thread at Guns.Ru that shows detail photography of a disassembled AVS, one that appears to have been deactivated in the British style, by torching the bolt head off at an angle. From this incomplete example, it looks to uslike the AVS bolt locked with two wedges emerging from the bolt, roughly similar to the locking flaps of a Degtyaryev machine gun. Is this a locking wedge? Or a safety device preventing out of battery firing?



Demilled AVS bolt, left side. Is that a locking wedge at center? Bolt carrier at top. Bolt carrier handle on opposite side, you can see its shadow; there’s another possible “locking wedge” on the other side below the handle. Bolt face, torched off at an angle, at 9 o’clock; firing pin at 3 o’clock. Firing pin retaining pin visible just to left of pin, it runs in the slot milled in the pin).  

The thread is also useful for images of the trigger mechanism (much of which is missing from the auction rifle) and for showing the safety, which is very similar to that of the SKS.