Category Archives: Foreign and Enemy Weapons

A New Pistol Caliber Carbine?

Have a look at this teaser picture, from Grand Power in Slovakia. It’ll embiggen a wee bit, but not much, if you click on it. We found it on their website at GrandPower.eu.

Grand Power Stribor

In the foreground, four of Grand Power’s ingenious patented roller-locked pistols. Background… well, here are all the facts that we know GP has said about it on its website:

  1. It is called the “Stribog,” a very cool name (He was the pagan Old Slavic god of the wind and sky).
  2. It is coming in August (presumably, for EU customers). Remember, it takes GP about a year to work their way through both Slovak and United States red tape with any new product.

We’ve learned that a full-auto version has been manufactured.

Stribog Typu U

However, the S9 semi-auto 9mm variant of the Stribog is trickling out to Slovak domestic reviewers, if not to the market just yet. This Slovak-language video reveals some more details, some by giving the firearm itself the beady eyeball, and some by applying an understanding of Czech to the Slovak speaker. Mostly, the gun just sits there and you can look at it.

There’s some firing of an automatic version at the end, Significant facts here are the use of standard AR trigger internals; the weapon is as modular as possible. Also, there is expected to be availability of an adapter to use AR stocks instead of Grand Power’s own folding stock, reversibility of those controls not ambidextrous, and use of GP proprietary magazine or, with an adapter that slips into the magwell, Uzi mags.

…and it turns out there’s more on the Slovak-language version of the Grand Power page, including some specs:

Caliber: 9mm Luger
Method of Operation: Semi-Automatic
Overall Length: 484.5 mm folded (19″)/ 747 mm extended (29.4″)
Height without Magazine: 200 mm (7.87″)
Overall Width: 46.5/57 mm (1.83″ stock extended/2.24 ” folded)
Barrel Length: 254 mm (10″)
Weight w/o Magzine: 2800 g (6.16 lb).
Standard Magazine Capacity: 10/20/32

(Written Slovak is a lot easier for a Czech speaker than the spoken language).

What we find curious about Grand Power is that, as a domestic producer that makes high-quality firearms, they haven’t been tagged by the Slovak Army for them. The SK military uses Czech pistols, for instance.

What GI Joe Knew about Landser Fritz’s Small Arms

Here’s a once-classified (if mildly so) World War II training film that teaches American GIs how to recognize, operate, field-strip and reassemble four basic German infantry weapons: the Kar.98k rifle, the MP.40 submachine gun, and the MG-34 and -42 general purpose machine guns.

If you ever wondered how the three different feed arrangements for the MG-34 worked, or what that big washer on a Kar.98 stock was for, this movie has your answer. If you knew all that, enjoy learning what was thought to be important, sensitive information to pass to American GIs.

There are a few errors in the film. They even correct one with a title card: no, don’t disassemble the MP.40 (or anything else!) with the magazine in place. Another is referring to the MP.40 as the Schmeisser, which came about, as we understand it, because some early MP.38 magazines noted that the dual-column, single-feed magazine was made according to a Schmeisser patent. 

If you ever caught yourself wondering why everybody used to call an MP.38 or .40 a “Schmeisser,” showing this video to 12 million or so GIs may have been a factor.

The classification with which this video is marked, “Restricted,” is long defunct. (In some postwar documents, it is labeled “Restricted — Security Information.”) It is not to be confused with the sensitive “Restricted Data” marking used for nuclear weapons information, much of what is still not classified, and is marked “Formerly Restricted Data.” RD/FRD was not an Army/Navy or DOD clearance, but an Atomic Energy Agency, later Department of Energy, clearance.

Regular Army/Navy “Restricted,” on the other hand, was a notch below the first true stage of classification, “Confidential.” It was often used on things like this that discussed enemy and/or threat weapons, tactics, or operational art.

A civilian might suspect that classifying such things is a classically military example of blockheadedness, but the reason for the secrecy is not because some cretin in the Pentagon thinks it would be dangerous to show the  Germans how to field-strip their own machine guns, but because we’d rather not have had the Germans knowing what we know about their guns.

And this video, in Wehrmacht hands, would have told them something about our understanding of their weapons policy. By this point, the Wehrmacht had been combat testing the intermediate-round assault rifle for months if not a year, and this film makes no mention of the Mkb.42 (H) and )(W) or the MP.43. Our best guess is that the Germans were testing these new weapons primarily on the Eastern Front, not in the Western Desert or Italy where they were engaging American or British forces. But in the end that is only speculation.

The movie itself is a fact, a primary source for all of you, from World War II. Source here if you’d like to download an MP4 copy or grab embed code for your own blog.

The Problem of Busting Bombers

This B-17 made it home to England with pilot Allen Lewis still aboard. He had his crew bail out.. they all made it back to friendly lines.

This B-17G made it home to England with pilot Allyn Lewis still aboard. He had his crew bail out.. they all made it back to friendly lines. Source.

In World War II, the Giulio Douhet-inspired saying, “The bomber will always get through,” was on every set of lips in the command structure of the British and American bomber elements. What they didn’t say out loud was, “If you start off with enough bombers to saturate the defenses, and steel yourself to some staggering losses.”

Quite a few B-17s lost their noses (usually to flak, sometimes to fighters or bombs from another bomber overhead) and kept flying.

Quite a few B-17s lost their noses (usually to flak, sometimes to fighters or bombs from another bomber overhead) and kept flying.

RAF Bomber Command and the 8th Air Force did indeed take some staggering losses. The 8th had it relatively easy compared to their British cousins — and there were more killed in the 8th than in the whole United States Marine Corps in World War II. Yeah, all those bloodbaths on all those islands? The 8th got creamed worse than that. But just about always, they got through, and bombed, if not the intended target, something belonging to Jerry.

But losing the tail meant losing control. The crew had seconds only to abandon ship. None of the ten men on this B-17 did.

But losing the tail meant losing control. The crew had seconds only to abandon ship. None of the ten men on this B-17 were able to, and they joined the 8ths long honor roll.

The Germans threw everything they had at the bomber offensive, although it took them a while to get serious about it. By “everything” we mean:

  • single-engine and heavily-armed twin-engine day and night fighters, armed with a range of guns, cannons and rockets;
  • the most saturated gun air defenses the world has ever seen, with guns from light machine cannon of 20mm up to big bruisers of 105 and 128 mm (or as the German nomenclature ran, 10,5 and 12,8 cm), fighters and guns alike; all controlled by,
  • a radar and radio control network of a sophistication unequaled until the development of NORAD and SAGE in the 1950s; and finally,
  • jet and rocket planes, and developmental air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, too late to do the Germans any good but in plenty of time to give Russian and American aeronautical engineers (and even British aeronautical engineers, which were still a world-class thing in 1945) lots of good ideas for the next arms race.

For an 8,8 cm or 10,5 cm Flakanone, or a battery, battalion or great veritable screaming forest of the guns, destroying the plane was relatively assured — hitting it, that was the hard part. The fighter drivers had the opposite problem — they could hit Lancasters, B-24s or B-17s, but more often than not they’d blow all their ammo into (or at least in the direction of) their targets, and watch the stately bombers fly on to rain death and destruction on German industries and cities. A plane couldn’t carry a bomber-busting 88, or even a 75 (they tried, with a recoilless 75. It was more trouble than it was worth). So they decided to try to teach the fighter pilot to kill, not just hit, the enemy.

"If a Fortress begins to suffer, don't yet dream of victory palms. Keep shooting! Many have come to regret celebrating too soon."

“If a Fortress begins to suffer, don’t yet dream of victory palms. Keep shooting! Many have come to regret celebrating too soon.”

horrido_schiessfibelThe mechanism for this instruction: a mock-grade-school primer, like the ones we’ve already seen for German tanks. Horrido, the Fighter’s Shooting Primer, had a cover graced with a cartoon of a smiling German FW-190 jock zeroing in on a doomed Russian in a Lavochkin. The cartoonist signed “Trautloft,” which makes us wonder if it was Luftwaffe ace Johannes Trautloft. (The internal illustrations and cartoons were done by Berlin commercial artist Thomas Abeking, a second-generation first-call illustrator for German industry at the time). The Fibel, published 23 June 1944 as Dienstvorschrift (Luft) 5001, was a tactical guide, complete with a warning: “Do Not Bring on Combat Flights!” lest the tactics, techniques and procedures inside be captured by the enemy.

Sight picture drill, using a woman.. "get closer"... then in the last image, she's homely: "Break away!" Lower, a B17. Using the wingspan to estimate distance..600m "closer in!".. 300m "open fire, still closer in"... 150m "keep shooting!"

Sight picture drill, using a woman.. “get closer”… then in the last image, she’s homely: “Break away!”
Lower, a B17. Using the wingspan to estimate distance..600m “closer in!”.. 300m “open fire, still closer in”… 150m “keep shooting!”

Written in a familiar tone with lots of cartoons, the principal parts of the book were a general discussion of air combat ballistics and marksmanship; a specific overview of the fire control systems and switchology of the two most numerous day fighters, the Me109G-6 and the Fw190A-6; and hortatory, motivational content.

Instead of a lot of instruction in air combat maneuvering, this is all about how to get hits, and enough hits to justify risking your neck approaching a formation of day bombers. The biggest “secret,” something every fighter ace had stressed since Boelcke’s Dicta of 1916: get close, don’t miss.

Closer in is 9 times more effective. "At this distance, don't shoot! Save ammo, it's very expensive." "And it's also embarrasing when one gets there" (200m) "and would really like to, but can't any more." The pilot's looking at an empty round-counter at right.

Closer in is 9 times more effective. “At this distance, don’t shoot! Save ammo, it’s very expensive.” “And it’s also embarrasing when one gets there” (200m) “and would really like to, but can’t any more.” The pilot’s looking at an empty round-counter at right.

The problem with any manual, even one as informal as this, is that tactics constantly evolve in an environment of enemy contact. This had happened with fighter tactics with, for example, the frontal attack, not discussed in the booklet, proving devastating against the F-model and earlier B-17s, which could only bring two to three guns to bear forward. The advent of the G-model with its remote-controlled chin turret , and the B-24J equipped with a full, manned gun turret in the nose, raised the risk of the frontal attack. German fighters quickly adapted to the new risk profile, changing to a preferential use of multidirectional attacks.

Note also that the mini-manual is aimed only at the individual junior pilot. There is absolutely nothing here about organizing or leading fighter combat, or operational unit tactics, something to which squadron leaders and higher officers gave much thought and discussion. It’s beyond the scope of this small attempt to increase the efficiency of the air defense of the Reich.

"What good is all the bullet spraying, if they're only hitting the general area?"

“What good is all the bullet spraying, if they’re only hitting the general area?”

As the Schießfibel was not published into a vacuum, but into a constantly changing tactical and operational environment, the historian’s question, borrowed from Mark Rylance’s character Rudolf Abel in Bridge of Spies, “Did it help?” can’t be quantified, or even, really, answered. So we have to answer the question of its effectiveness with an unsatisfying, inconclusive shrug. We don’t know if it did any good. We know it didn’t win the war for Nazi Germany, but by the Summer of 1944 nothing would have done Nazi Germany any good, with the possible exception of overthrowing Hitler.

Here’s a .pdf version of the Fibel for your enjoyment. We are hosting it here to spare them the bandwidth, but we found it on this Czech war-history site.

Horrido Jagers Schiessfibel.pdf

 

“One Last Word!” — For German Fighter Pilots, 1944

In 1944, the Germans published a breezy, cartoon-filled booklet for fighter pilots flying against hard-to-kill four-engined bombers in defense of the Reich, attempting to get the word out to that most un-bookish type. Even the title was calculated to appeal to the devil-may-care fighter jock: “Horrido! Jaegers Schießfibel” used the Luftwaffe victory exclamation, “Horrido!” (adopted from German’s remarkable 5,000-word “hunter’s language”; supposedly a prayer to the apocryphal St. Horridus, patron of hunters, and therefore the fighter arm), and presented itself as a “Fighter pilot’s” (which in German is the same word as “Hunter’s”) “primer.”

horrido_schiessfibel

It began, and ended, on a marksmanship theme, and with a card-players’s analogy:

Hits are Trumps!

… And closed with “One Last Word!” — like an Apple keynote address, in the Steve Jobs era. (Not suggesting Jobs was a Nazi fighter pilot; just that showmanship and the arts of persuasion are eternal). Our translation of that last word, from page 34 of Horrido, is:

When you, with your combat ready machine roar through the sky, you are the lord of over 1200 hp and over the destructive effect of 60 to 80 shots per second. What sole combatant in the world has ever had at his disposal such concentrated combat power?

–None! Be proud of that!

But the Homeland has expended many thousands of hours of work, and exhausting overtime hours, in order to put such an outstanding weapon in your hands. She trusts you to employ it courageously and effectively!

Your machine has only a few seconds to be effective in aerial combat. In these seconds you have to get everything – everything, without exception – out of it. If you don’t fire accurately then, all the labor, effort and sweat of the homeland is in vain — and the enemy triumphs.

For that reason, recognize the errors you make, and drill them out by diligent practice. Hits are Trumps!

That was followed by this cartoon on p. 35, the last printed page in the document.

horrido_exit_cartoon

Translation:

No one else feels like the hunter does;
Battle and victory so concentrated;
That makes us happy, proud, and glad;
Hunting, to… Horrido!

The meaning of Horrido! in this case, Victory or a Trophy.

 

 

Mr Bond, Kindly Drop the Vz.58 at Enfield…

OK, maybe they didn’t get it from Bond, even if the Czech Vz. 58P and Vz. 58V  (which we believe stand for Pechotni [Infantry] and Vysadkovy [Paratroop] fixed- and folding-stock versions) did show up in a lot of Bond movies (Roger Moore slides down a banister blasting away with one in Octopussy).

Octopussy_(090)_Vz._58 But somehow British Intelligence got hold of a couple of Vz.58s and delivered them unto the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock by mid-1966. The Small Arms Branch Testing Section received, first, a folding-stock rifle (they didn’t know its proper nomenclature) and began to prepare a report for it; for reasons they don’t share with us, it “was withdrawn and replaced with one with a fixed butt, before the Weapon Description Form had been completed…” but they continued and produced a descriptive report about the weapon by January of 1967.

Small Arms Trial Report Vz 58 RSAF Enfield Lock 1966Our best guess is that the Vzs were loaners from some third-world country that maintained good relations with the Czech export agency, and with Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But there could be some tale of derring-do to be declassified in 2066 or so.

It is almost as big a mystery, where the report went after that, although bureaucratic headers indicate that it was initiated by the Principal Inspector of Small Arms on behalf of the Director General of Artillery.

In those days, before Xerox was ubiquitous, an original was typed and a very few copies were made using mimeographs of a carbon copy of the original, and photographic prints of the photos. It was an expensive way to put a document together and naturally limited its distribution (the document was not ever classified). Per copy, Xerox was cheaper even in 1966, but RSAF Enfield probably didn’t have the capital budget (much less the foreign currency) for one, even in those days of 95% marginal taxation.

How it got in our hands is a little less mysterious: thinking we were buying a fairly rare period Xerox or offset-printed document, we bought it off eBay. To our surprise, we received this absolutely remarkable original, hand-prepared vintage document in the mail.

Unfortunately, our letter carrier rolled the stiff cardboard document into a tight tube to deliver it to Hog Manor, which did it little good. The lignin in the cheap government paper has turned the pages yellow, and somewhere over the decades the pages might have gotten wet, as they have a wavy appearance. The scanner software strives mightily to correct for that.

Vz 58 photographed from overhead

We debated what we would do with this, and ultimately decided that the very best thing to do, while we’re waiting to finish Volume I of Czech and Czechoslovak Firearms so we can start Volume II where this fits, is to share it with you. We will do a proper scan later, but an initial, nondestructive (and non-optimized) scan and OCR, accomplished with our Fujitsu SV600, is attached: RSAF SATB Small Arms Trial Report Vz58 1966.pdf

The report was, as we’ve already said, a descriptive analysis of the rifle and its associated equipment, like bayonet, cleaning equipment, and magazine.

VZ 58 left side with magazine detached

This is a crude, preliminary scan, and will have considerable distortion, as you can see in the attached images. The OCR is likely to be dodgy as well. Later, we will carefully remove the brass staples and rescan under a nonreflective glass platen, and make a new version, but for now, here’s a document we bet you haven’t seen before.

Why Your Professor Doesn’t Let You Cite Wikipedia, and Other Misfacts

What was the first Double-Action/Single-Action self-loading pistol? We think we know the answer, but let’s check with Wikipedia. In the article on “Trigger (firearms)” they tell us several times what it is:

This is an original WWII-era PPK. Note the short grip frame and the fragile wraparound grip.

This is an original WWII-era PPK. Note the short grip frame, safety with 90º of rotation, and the fragile wraparound grip. The circular marking above the magazine release (all PPKs were made with the Browning-style release used on all but the earliest PPs) is the logo of RZM, the Reichszeugsmeisterei — literally “Imperial Thing Master” but really the Nazi Party’s quartermaster store. (It later was part of the now defunct McGraw Kaserne in Munich). 

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Walther introduced the first “double-action” semi-automatics, the PPK and P.38 models, which featured a revolver-style “double-action” trigger, which allowed the weapon to be carried with a round chambered and the hammer lowered.

Umm… conventional wisdom is that it was the PP, in 1929 (although as we’ll see, the conventional wisdom is almost as wrong as Wikipedia on this).

Very Early Walther PP. This one has a heel magazine release like its forerunner, the internal-hammer SA-only Model 8. (It's for sale in Pennsylvania).

Very Early Walther PP. This one has a heel magazine release like its forerunner, the internal-hammer SA-only Model 8. (It’s for sale in Pennsylvania). PP stood for Polizei Pistole, and the shortened (in both grip/mag and barrel) was the PP “Kriminal” or “Detective Police Pistol.” (Plainclothes detectives were and are called the Kriminalpolizei). 

The PPK didn’t come along until 1931, and design of the P.38 didn’t even get rolling until the mid-thirties. But they repeat this “fact” that isn’t a fact, in the same article:

There are thousands of examples of DA/SA semi-automatics, the Walther PPK being the first, followed up by the Walther P-38.

Again, the PPK wasn’t even the first Walther. Wikipedia has no PPK article, (the PPK links above go to the Walther PP article), but the PP article is a dog’s breakfast of random and contradictory claims. It does note that the PP began to be manufactured in 1929 but elsewhere (on the same page!) claims it wasn’t used as a German service pistol until 1935, was produced in France from 1945 to 1986, was produced in the USA from 1945 for Interarms (Interarms didn’t exist yet, and there was no need for a US-made PPK before the Gun Control Act of 1968), and a few paragraphs from the French production from 1945 claim, they date the onset of French (Manurhin) production to 1952, and that the PPK is much more popular than the PP. (Not if you count German police sales).

See, this is why your professor goes ape if you cite Wikipedia on a term paper. Because if you use it to look up something you already know about, you see how crummy it really is. There are literally dozens of mistakes on the two pages we cited and linked.

Starting with, “What was the first double-action semi-automatic pistol?”

However, Wikipedia is not alone in crediting it to Walther. Some other outfits that do include:

In 1929, the company revolutionized the world of semi-auto pistols with the introduction of the first double-action (DA) model, the Walther PP. This was followed in 1930 by the slightly more compact Walther PPK.

Why this little bit of Walther historical trivia?

Uh, cause it’s wrong? That’s probably not why he included it, eh. He probably didn’t know. Who else didn’t know?

The Walther PP, introduced in 1929, was the first commercially successful double action (DA) pistol.

Well, to his credit, he didn’t say PPK and he included “commercially successful.” But even given this weasel-wording, he’s wrong, as at least one DA/SA auto pistol was made in quantities of tens of thousands before the Walther PP saw the light of day.

Jeez. Did anyone get this right? At least, that the PP wasn’t the original DA/SA automatic?

Well, yeah. Garry James at the American Rifleman, come on down:

Introduced in 1929, Carl Walther’s PP (Polizei Pistole) was by no means the first double-action semi-automatic ever designed—several had appeared since 1905—but unlike most of the earlier attempts it worked, and worked well.

James is right. Who else? How about no less an authority than Edward C. Ezell?

Walther was not the first company to introduce a double-action, self-loading pistol, but they were the first to create a commercially attractive and economically practical double-action self-loader. ….

Although the PP can be viewed as a simple evolution of design– it has the same disassembly system as the Model 8 –it was really a revolutionary product at the time.NOTE

We do think even Ezell overstates the case for the uniqueness of the PP.

And next week (after we’ve sorted the gunsmith special on our bench) we hope to have some info on the real first mass-produced SA/DA autopistol:  the Little Tom of Alois Tomiška, which we mentioned last month in a post that featured images of two .32 ACP versions.

A .32 Little Tom produced by Wiener Waffenfabrik in Wien (Vienna), Austria in the 1920s.

A .32 Little Tom produced by Wiener Waffenfabrik in Wien (Vienna), Austria in the 1920s.

Oh, and the Little Tom? The most unique thing about it is not its DA/SA lockwork, because other designers went on to copy that.

PTR-44: A Footnote to the Sturmgewehr Saga

Here’s an interesting rifle that just changed hands on GunBroker for a slightly stiff sum of $4,525; enough to make reserve, but not near the Buy It Now of over $6,800.

PTR 44 02

It looks like an MP-44, but it isn’t; it’s a PTR-44, a German-American initiative that foundered on the Scylla of high prices and the Charybdis of low quality with under 200 guns imported, but plenty of recriminations to go around. (The German manufacturer, Sport-System Dittrich, went through the Euro equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and PTR went back to making decent HK clones after this unhappy experiment with importation).

This particular example was in near new, unfired condition; it’s likely that some of the tiny number in the USA are held by collectors in this condition, but many of them went to WWII reenactors and were subsequently hacked for blank adapters and beaten on.

PTR 44 01

Seller said this:

From on-line forum discussion groups, it appears there are approximately 198 of these rifles in the U.S. This particular rifle has not been fired since departing the factory. Post-war “original” mp44 magazine included in the auction as the PRT magazines provided with the rifles appeared to have feeding issues. This rifle has not been modified or messed with in any way – – still as new.

The gun was a rapid sale on GunBroker, and we hope the new owner is pleased with it. If he intends to hang it up, he probably will be. If he intends to shoot it, maybe not.

The essential problem with the SSD guns was quality, which you can see in a couple of the pictures, like this one, where the handguard shows signs of hand fitting, but not of deburring:

PTR 44 03

That picture also shows how they used original Waffenamt markings (the marking at low left-of-center that is a stylized Nazi eagle with digits “37” showing) and manufacturer codes (the three-letter codes), along with a Sport-System Dittrich logo (lower right) to mark the gun as a reproduction.

Ian did a video a while back on these guns, taking one to the range.

There’s a huge pent-up demand for this kind of rifle.

More pictures of the auction gun, and commentary, after the jump.

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Want to Own an Antitank Rifle? Here’s a Boys!

Maybe you’re going to get a tax refund in the low five figures (if so, you need to adjust fire on your withholding or quarterlies, but roll with us here for the sake of entertainment, will you?) Let’s take a quick survey of the market for original anti-tank rifles, shall we? This will be Part 1 (because we got 1200+ words out, describing the rifle that was going to be half of the original post).

Boys .55 AT Rifle, British Design, Made in Canada 1943.

Skip Edgley in Maryland, whom we don’t know personally, but with whom we think we’d get along famously, is selling a Boys .55 Anti-Tank Rifle as made by the Canadian wartime gunmaker John Inglis & Company, marked “US Government Property” like a US Military firearm. It comes with three original mags (which come up for sale from time to time) and 200 rounds of original ammo (which is much less common).

Boys .55 left side

Yes, it’s a big beautiful doll of a weapon. Pretty much a lock that it will not fit in your existing safe. It’s a rare bolt-action, magazine-fed AT Rifle.

Boys .55 action right

The sights are offset left to clear that enormous magazine:

Boys .55 front sight

And a lot of attention was paid to recoil management:

Boys .55 rear of action

Here’s his description:

Up for bids is a British Boys Model RB MKI .55 caliber bolt-action Anti-Tank Rifle with bipod. Excellent condition, totally functional. All serial numbers match. Total of 200 original rounds, 40 sets of 5 rounds in stripper clips/bandoleers in two original wooden crates, one full and one partial. DO THE MATH! 1939 dated, original British made .55 caliber ammo is selling (WHEN YOU CAN FIND IT) for around $50.00/each. That’s $10K in just the ammo. That makes the gun cost $2K. This rifle is complete with the original front mounted bipod, three original magazines and the original muzzle break. The magazines are an original WWII British issue. Condition is excellent with 95% of the original wartime finish which has darkened from age, showing only minor edge and high spot wear overall. The bolt body retains its original factory bright finish and the various parts all show their original British proofmarks. The supple cheekpiece, front and rear pistol grips still show their original wartime finish. This is an excellent, all original example of a desirable WWII British/Canadian manufactured, U.S. Army issue Boys Anti-Tank rifle. Manufactured by Inglis of Canada.

These were bought by the United States, not for the US Army, but for Lend-Lease purposes, for Commonwealth forces and for China. As they were quickly obsoleted by improving Axis armor (and improving Allied infantry AT weapons)

This beautiful Anti Tank Rifle was designed and manufactured in Canada for the British and Commonwealth Armies. It is the most powerful rifle ever issued to any modern army. It was the infantry Anti Tank weapon of the British Forces in France and, at Dunkirk, helped to stave off the attack in the German Panzer forces, to permit the evacuation of the Allied forces. It was again prominent in holding intact the British defenses covering Egypt and the nerve center at Cairo”. The Boys Anti Tank Rifle weighs 33 lbs (including bipod) and is 63 inches long. Has three, five shot magazines in an original steel magazine box, muzzle brake, and a thick and soft recoil pad.

Gun is in MD on a Form 4. Curio and Relic. $12,000.00.

One of the reason we like Skip, even though we don’t know him, is his sense of humor (bold emphasis below is ours):

My hi-def close-up photos are part of my description. They are not taken from the Hubble or even a foot away. They might show imperfections that may or may not be apparent to the naked eye. They may also show reflections and some dust/lint that will not be included with your purchase. Please examine them closely. I attempt to list ALL imperfections in my description. Shipping includes insurance. AK & HI slightly higher. My email will not accept mail through the GB board. Please contact me directly at skip.edgley@royalelectricinc.com Plastic +3%. NO RESERVE! Thanks!

via Boys Antitank Rifle 55 Cal MKI DD WWII British : Destructive Devices at GunBroker.com.

Starting bid is $12k; because it’s > .50 caliber, this is a Form 1 Destructive Device and needs an ATF transfer. (If you’re diffident about owning an enormous AT rifle chambered for a bizarre caliber obsolete for 80 years, he’s also got a bargain-priced ($6500) Stemple Sten that will transfer on Form 1, Form 3 if you’re an appropriately-licensed SOT of course).

More pictures of the Boys Rifle are after the jump at the end of the market survey!

Coming soon (hopefully Monday!): More Vintage AT Rifles!

Bob Adams has resolved his long battle with the ATF (entirely in his favor, it seems; the ATF decided to make an example out of him for being an FFL dealing with non import marked pistols, which is perfectly legal, and, mirabile dictu, the courts followed the law). Why does this matter here? Because, along with his usual high-end collector pistols, he has a treasure trove of anti-tank rifles for sale, including some examples that even the advanced collector seldom sees. Look for them RSN (Real Soon Now®).

Click More for (duh) More!

Once again, the “excess” pictures are after the jump, for the lover of AT Rifle porn.

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Three Czech (Bohemian) Firearms of the 18th Century

Before there was a Czech Republic, before there was a Czechoslovakia, there were two largely Czech-speaking provinces in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bohemia and Moravia, remnants of the Kingdom of Bohemia that was conquered by Austria in 1620. Even then, there were a mix of Czech- and German-speaking people in those lands, commons and nobles alike. (The nobles and commercial guildsmen were more likely to be German-speakers). And even earlier than that these Czechs and Germans of Bohemia had mastered steelwork and the fine art of gunsmithing.

Every location has a pair of names (and sometimes a third, in English): Bohemia is Cechy in Czech and Böhmen in German, and Moravia is Morava and Mähren respectively. Likewise, every town has at least two names, a Czech one like Praha, Plzen, or Brno, and a German one, Prag, Pilsen, Brünn. The guns we’re about to look at were made in Karlovy Vary, in Czech, as the city is known today; but in the Habsburg days it was more commonly called Carlsbad, and then and now it was an industrial city.

Felix Roscher, one of the gunsmiths that thrived in Carlsbad in the last half of the 19th Century made this remarkable pair of flintlock blunderbuss pistols that are now offered at auction by James Julia.

Feliz roscher flint pistol pair

These pistols are remarkable for their condition and state of preservation, for their unusual blunderbuss configuration, and for their relatively high level of decoration. Here’s the other side:

Feliz roscher flint pistol pair left

The locks are classical flintlocks, as was common in the late 18th Century. One has a flint still in it…

Felix roscher flint pistol 01 lock …and one doesn’t. Handy way to tell the pair apart, perhaps. Felix roscher flint pistol 02 lock

They come with an apocryphal story, not what we’d really call a “provenance.” Here’s Julia’s whole description of the Roscher pistols:

FINE PAIR OF FELIX ROSCHER SIGNED BLUNDERBUSS FLINTLOCK PISTOLS ONCE IN THE COLLECTION OF RUDOLPH HESS.
SN NSN. This pair of pistols was bought with others offered in todays sale in 1945 from an American GI and have been retained in family til now. This pair measures 14″ overall with 8″ half oct to oval flared muzzles inset in silver on bbl flats “FELIX ROSCHER” and “IN CARLSBAAD”. Roscher is a noted Czech gunsmith working 1759-1790. PROVENANCE: Family History states these were taken from home of Rudolph Hess, brought to American in 1945. Estate Collection of Harold R. Beacham. CONDITION: Guns are very good to fine, appearing original and authentic and “as found”. Iron is overall gray with light staining. First gun of pair marked with maker retains about 80% original thinning plum finish. Brass trigger guards, lock escutcheons, butt caps and thumb plates have high relief cast details including mounted figures, retaining about 50% of their original gold plating. Stocks are sound, solid and well fit with hand worn patina, incised and relief carved at bbl tangs, lock plates, under trigger guards, and ramrod thimble plates. Regardless of provenance, this is a beautiful pair of fully functioning rare configuration flint pistols with smooth clean bores. 50164-2 JS (3,000-5,000) – Lot 1544

The final sentence is one we fully agree with: “Regardless of provenance, this is a beautiful pair of fully functioning rare configuration flint pistols with smooth clean bores.” The provenance is fishy to us; no GI war story ever involves an antique firearm turned in by the deputy dogcatcher of Düsseldorf, it always came from the digs of, if not direct from the hands of, Rudolf Hess or Hermann Göring (if not from Hitler himself). We have reached the pinnacle of cynicism where a story of being handed a firearm by some senior Nazi’s family or servants puts us in mind of an investment opportunity offered by the Nigerian Minister of Anything.

Felix roscher flint pistol 02 marking

The barrel shapes are subtle and interesting. So is the crest or arms on the heel of the stock,

Felix roscher flint pistol 01 marking

Interesting that he would put the maker’s name (Felix Roscher) on one pistol, and the location (In Carlsbaad) on the other. Why “Carlsbaad” with two “a’s”? Most likely, orthography was not entirely fixed by then.

Regardless, as Mr Julia’s merry men say, of provenance, this is a remarkable and beautiful pair of pistols, and adequate to see honor satisfied, should the code duello ever come back into fashion.

But, we’re not going to stop with just one pair of Felix Roscher arms. Here’s another work by the Bohemian smith, a flintlock rifle that’s offered by the Czech dealer Antiqvity Praha s.r.o. This is a very interesting firearm. In some ways it resembles these other Roschers; in some ways it’s reminiscent of the rifles that Mitteleuropäisch emigré gunsmiths would make in the New World, a prototype of the Pennsylvania rifle.

f_roscher_rifle_r

Antiqvity Praha is very cautious in describing this Roscher rifle:

f_roscher_rifle_l

Octagonal, in the middle slightly constricted barrel with seven-groove rifled bore in 14 mm calibre. Over the breech engraved with “F. Roscher”. f_roscher_signature_Smooth, iron flintlocks (replaced?). Side plate engraved with G.W. Herst. Koleschowitz”. f_roscher_rifle_decorationSlightly carved walnut full stock with smooth brass furniture. Iron ramrod. Bohemia circa 1750, length 117 cms. Felix Roscher is known as gunsmith in Karlovy Vary 1759-1790, condition 2-

The location of the presumed owner, Herst, “Koleschowitz,”, is the German name for the town now known as Kolešovice in Bohemia. It’s west of Prague, and in the 18th Century was a very mixed community, There may be a date after the nameplate (1771?), but the picture is too low resolution to be sure.

The rifle is not as well decorated or in as remarkable condition as the blunderbuss pistols, but it is decorated:

f_roscher_rifle_detail

…and it is in quite good condition, as shown by the still-prominent rifling at the muzzle:

f_roscher_rifle_muzzle

We wonder what Felix Roscher would think, to know that we’re still appreciating his work, centuries in the future.

Making G3s in Oberndorf, circa 1970.

This 1970 Bundeswehr informational film shows the creation of G-3 rifles from raw steel to test fire and crating for delivery. It’s been making the rounds since the BW rereleased it last month, so you may have seen it at another site, but (to tell God’s own truth) our post for this morning wasn’t coming together well enough, so we substituted this.

It came with the following short blurb:

Das Gewehr G3 wurde in der Bundeswehr als Nachfolgemodell für das G1 ab 1959 eingeführt. Aus wie vielen Teilen das G3 besteht und wie es zusammengebaut wird, zeigt dieser Beitrag von 1970.

Our translation:

The G3 rifle was introduced in the Bundeswehr as a successor to the G1 beginning in 1959. This report from 1970 shows how many parts the G3 is made of and how it’s assembled.

Some high points of the video:

  • First two minutes: a rapid montage set to 1966 hip-cat music.
  • about 1:53: a still that shows the steps in forming the “abzugskasten,” or trigger group housing.
  • 1:57: the same for the magazine.
  • 2:02: the injection molding machine that produces the plastic parts: shoulder stock, hand grip, handguard.
  • 2:07: “This complicated machine forms the follower spring of the magazine.”
  • 2:20: “From such steel bars, rifle barrels is formed by four complicated processes.”
  • 3:00: inspecting barrels for straightness.
  • 3:08 and beyond: cold hammer forging
  • 3:30 inspections and QC of parts.
  • 4:00 these skilled lady workers do the assembly
  • 4:08: “There are 35 various parts in a completed shoulder stock assembly.”
  • 4:38 welding receiver components together.
  • 5:00 chemical finishing
  • 5:15 final assembly.

Enjoy. Any questions about any of the processes, we’ll try to answer.