Category Archives: Foreign and Enemy Weapons

One of these Guns is Not Like the Others

Sing along with us, kids:

One of these guns is not like the others;
One of these guns just doesn’t belong.
Can you guess which gun is not like the others,
Before I finish my song?

(Puzzled international readers, that’s from a long-running and hell-for-saccharine TV kids’ “educational” show which everybody’s mother made him watch at least a few times). Now that we’ve had our sing-along, here’s the photo. Which one doesn’t belong?

ghanahomemadeguns

The photo ran a couple months ago in the always entertaining Impro Guns website, with this heading:

Locally produced firearms seized in Ghana

And all of the pistol-things on the table are, indeed, the sort of thing you’d expect from Ghanaian village blacksmiths — except the Luger P.08 that’s the second one back on the right.

Wonder what its story is? Unfortunately, some Ghanaian copper has probably already either thrown it into a smelter, or sold it back onto the black market.

The constant panoply of odd creations that turn up on Impro Guns illustrate many things, but one of the major ones is, “What a simple machine a gun is to build,” and another, “How universal the desire for firearms is,” Most of these improvised guns are made where strict gun control reigns, or tries to. A great many of them are made by criminals and terrorists. Others, however, seem to be the product of hobbyists, and still others, made by or for people who simply feel a need for self-defense, a need that is never met perfectly by The State.

Indeed, in most strict gun control jurisdictions, the state makes nearly no effort to step in and defend its disarmed populace. Look at LA or Chicago, with hundreds and thousands of murders respectively, most of which go unsolved even though none of them seem to be committed by criminal masterminds. So at some point, the peaceable and formerly law-abiding person breaks out and builds himself, or has built for himself, a tool of self defense.

The criminal element, meanwhile, skips simple defensive handguns and long guns, and goes right to making suppressed automatic weapons, as the police in Australia have discovered. The Australian gun ban (semi-autos and pump and lever shotguns) has not seriously inconvenienced the criminal element, which is well armed with auto weapons on the conceptual level of the Sten or Mac-10. Criminals used to avoid these weapons because of the disparity in consequences for getting caught with one, vis-a-vis a revolver. Now, a criminal is as well hung for a sheep as a lamb, and goes direct to St. Valentine’s Massacre capability.

The only consequences you can always count on are unintended consequences.

Note: we’re still running late here, over 12 hours behind schedule, for which we beg your forbearance. Your Humble Blogger has been a bit under the weather, and dealing with it by drinking plenty of fluids, skipping PT (unfortunately) and spending plenty of time snoring in the recliner with Small Dog Mk II. These are wondrous and joyful activities indeed, but they don’t get the blog written on schedule. Bear with us — Ed.

Meet Erika

Erika’s a mere slip of a girl, skinny as a rail…

erika-04

Even from behind, she’s a skinny one. Baby don’t got back, as some singer never sang.

erika-05

She’s also got an odd profile, hasn’t she?

erika-02

She fires the inconsequential 4.25 mm Liliput cartridge, a fraction the size of the 6.35 (.25 ACP) you see above it.

erika-09

And yes, the magazine is in front of the grip, for reasons known but to the designer. Of course, that makes it difficult to change magazines while holding the firearm, but then, when have you ever seen any interwar pocket pistol with a spare magazine?

erika-08

The 4.25 has a muzzle energy of 17 foot-pounds — more than a sneeze, and less than a CB cap.  While the frame is unique in its form, the slide is a little reminiscent of the 1900 Browning, with the barrel below the recoil spring, but the slide is only the rear part (like a Woodsman or Hi Standard target pistol’s), because Browning’s slide patent was still in force.

erika-07

Erika was an interwar Austrian pocket pistol that was as a small as a .25, but with less than half the power: astounding no one, she was a commercial failure, making these oddball pistols rare today. This one showed up at Gun Broker at an initial bid asked of $1,800, which produced from us a snort slightly more powerful than the 4.25 Lilliput round.

Rare Austrian Erika pistol in 4.25mm. Gun is missing safety lever, otherwise in excellent condition. Original bluing about 95+%. Very hard gun to found especially in high condition.

As mentioned, this example is not perfect, missing the safety which would have ridden below the slide on the left half of the pistol:

erika-01

About a year ago, Ian had a video on one of these pistols that was, then, up for auction at Rock Island. It’s typically a very informative video, with lots of details on the ingenious and tiny mechanism inside. Highly recommended! And there are some interesting images and some roughly robo-translated text at a Russian website.

An Interesting P.38 — and What’s Different About Collectors?

This interesting Walther P.38 up for auction is interesting both due to the quality of the listing — there are over 100 pictures with it (also available here, which may require you to accept a certificate mismatch) — and the degree to which small details drive the collector market (or try to). This particular pistol presents as an ordinary, Walther-made, 1943-production P.38.

p38-ac-43

What makes it unique, and a bestower of bragging rights on the owner, is that it is the highest known pistol of Walther’s 1943 production. In that year the pistols were marked, “ac 43” and serial number, and Walther serial numbers were one to four digits and a letter suffix (all running in numeric and alphabetic succession, with Teutonic precision). Previous reference sources have documented ac 43 “Third Variation” production from serial numbers 218m to 7932n. This pistol is 9248n, and records suggest it was made in December, 1943, after which month Walther transitioned to marking pistols ac 44.

p38-9248n-ac-43

It may have been the last one made that year; it’s definitely the last one to turn up so far. 

p38-9248n-ac-43-front

It’s a nice condition, all matching example, but the buy-it-now is set at $1,700, which suggests that the reserve (unmet at press time) is also high.

p38-9248n-ac-43-right

(For the record, “First Variation ac43” production ran from ac 43 1 to ac 43 8xxxg from Jan 43-Jun 43, and “Second Variation ac 43” from approximately ac 43 9000g and ends in the -l or -m range, made from June to October. Third variation was produced from about Oct 43 to Dec 43. If you were fuzzy on the three variations of 1943 Walther-built P.38s, you’re not alone, but as in all things Nazi, they’ve been exhaustively researched. The auction says this of the differences:

The Second Variation differs from the First Variation by the following: 1) the lightening hole in the frame, located in the front of the partition between the take down lever well and trigger well, was omitted; 2) elimination of the narrow secondary extractor spring plunger relief slow on the slide; 3) the left side of the slide’s cavity now included the extractor spring relief cut, which became standard on all subsequent models; and 4) increasing the thickness of the area between the trigger axel hole and the trigger guard to eliminate a weak spot in the frame.

The Third Variation ac43 P.38 differs from the Second Variation in several key respects. First, the previously used stacked code was eliminated and, in its place, the new line code was first introduced. This resulted in a new slide marking configuration: P.38 on the far left on the slide center line, the serial number, which is now just above the center line and beginning at the point of the slide parallel with the breech face, followed by the company code “ac 43.” The second principal difference is that, beginning with the Third Variation, the barrel was now left with the milling marks on the outer surface. Prior to this, the barrel had been polished smooth prior to bluing. This change was undoubtedly implemented to speed production.

With what we know of industrial production, this certainly sounds like collectors are sperging out and trying to bundle normal running production changes, something that happens on every production line for everything, into sets that they call “Variations,” a distinction that would have been quite meaningless to any of the production planners in Wehrmacht ordnance offices or in Walther’s production-engineering spaces.

All these serial number calculations assume, of course, that Walther retired the ac 43 stamp with a ceremony on 31 Dec 43 and opened the new year stamping guns ac 44 — firearms factories don’t often work with such military precision, but maybe all these Germans did. In the real world, stampings and serial numbers often get out of sequence and overlap.

This all matching gun has been bid up only to a low price for an all matching generic P.38, with a few hours to go in the auction (we think it’s very likely to be relisted). But that’s the sort of thing that collectors dig deep into, and one reason many people with quite a few guns don’t think of themselves as capital-C Collectors.

One last note — the collection of well-lit and well-shot pictures is a good look at the internal workings of this very interesting, world’s first DA/SA service pistol, if you’re not already familiar with its many innovations (for its era).

Update

With three hours remaining in the auction, the bid is now $855, and the reserve price remains unmet. The $855 strikes us a low to average price for a superior condition P.38 like this (collectors also prize condition), but we are not experts in the Nazi pistol market. The question is, does the rare nature of this very-late-1943 gun justify its price?  After all, it might be the last known ’43 Walther gun forever, or just until some higher number n-suffix ac 43 firearm turns up. It’s a very nice high-condition wartime P.38, though, and clearly one that hasn’t been buried in a bunker in Belarus for the last seventy years.

We’d Have Called it the Drone Dropper… or Drone-B-Gon

This anti-drone device is going viral. They’ve clickbaited it well by calling it the Skynet anti-drone rifle, and it can directionally jam the GPS signals a drone needs to navigate, and the wireless video downlink.

skynet-anti-drone-rifle-3The two white and black “barrels” are directional antennae in two separate GHz ranges. The backpack is the necessary power source. Anyone who’s got Electronic Warfare experience will tell you jamming is a power-intensive activity.

skynet-anti-drone-rifle-1If you look at all the pictures available on the company’s website, and watch the video (below), the whole thing appears to be built on a (partial? modified?) AR-15 receiver, with a standard M4 receiver extension and stock. A bit overkill for just something to hang an arduino, a transmitter, and some highly directional (< 10º) antennae on, but it kind of makes sense to give people a familiar interface, and the AR-15 is the point and click interface for the 21st Century.

Along with this video, there’s a new one showing a live test. They claim a “suppression ratio” (difference between the range from the Skynet operator to the drone and the drone controller to the drone) of 8:1, which means (thinking of power squares here) that this jammer has vastly more power than the controller.

The two signal rangess it can jam are 1.450 GHz – 1.650 GHz and 2.380 GHz – 2.483 GHz, but it can only jam one at a time. Available hacks for, for example, the DJI Phantom drone (the one in the video) can take the drone control out of the target range, and could practically be developed for the video range.

There are a few other problems with it, to wit:

  1. As a jammer, it is almost certainly illegal to use in the USA. The Federal Communications Commission takes a dim view of jamming, and has considerable technical and legal resources it deploys to punish violators.
  2. It’s only effective against some common commercial drones and is unlikely to have any impact on a more sophisticated government or military system, which is likely to use robust, high-availability communications, and have backup onboard navigation (usually inertial) that’s immune to jamming or meaconing.
  3. It requires clear line-of-sight to the drone, ergo, it’s only useful as a point-defense weapon.
  4. It requires a human operator and visibility of the target. (How would it work in the dark, against a drone deploying LLLTV? We suppose there’s a Picatinny rail upon which you can mount an image intensifier or thermal sight).
  5. It has the scent of early prototype all over it, and is a long way from a commercial product or (alternatively) a flexible R&D platform. But even experimenting with this thing brings you back around into the sights of the FCC.

Finally, this is, we think, the firm’s first video, from May.

All in all, it smells to us like a gimmick. And within the range of this thing, there are other ways to take out a drone (one lady pestered by paparazzi drones seeking spy shots of a celebrity neighbor demonstrated her wingshooting skills and blew the drone to Kingdom Come. The paparazzi boarded their Range Rover — apparently invading privacy pays well — and were last seen heading back for Gawker HQ or whatever glutinous sump whence they emerged).

This is not the only anti-drone product out there. As well as other jammers, there are counter-drone drones that ram them or drop nets or cables onto their rotors. All of them are similarly immature at present, and no one knows if they represent a real market segment or just hobbyists tinkering.

When Your Friends Call You a Bond Villain…

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

spectre-luger

Here’s the story behind these striking grips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s the tale behind the Luger:

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

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

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

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

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

Bohemian Mysteries

In the course of reviewing reference works for the upcoming Firearms of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic 1918-2018. Volume I: Handguns, we came across The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Handguns by Alexander B. Zhuk, a work that was published in 1983 (revised 1990) in Russian as Pistolet i Revolver, and published in English in 1995, as translated by Nikolai N. Bobrov. The English edition was edited by the well-known British firearms historian John Walter.

Zhuk, drawing on reference collections in the former Soviet Union, makes a game attempt at an encyclopedic (i.e., complete) description of all the cartridge handguns of the world, with an emphasis on centerfire and service pistols from 1870 to the date of publication (the English edition says, “to 1995.”) As a result he describes pistols in this volume that are not listed in other books. Our particular study interest at this time is Czech and Czechoslovak pistols, and Zhuk documents several of these Bohemian mysteries that go unreported even in the Czech-language sources. Each of the Zhuk entries has a number and

Unfortunately, Zhuk did not illustrate his book with photographs, but with sketches. Our guess is that this was a consequence of its 1980s genesis, and the historical fact that the Soviet printing industry of 1983 was not up to the US, UK, German, etc. standard of 1883. (Nowadays Russian printers can produce beautiful books, and Russians can get books printed well in China also. But 1983 was a long time ago). The good news is that the sketches do reproduce clearly and are simple to scan. So we will show Zhuk’s sketches with each of these rare firearms. (If you see a photograph in this blog post, it is only for comparison to the sketched firearm).

There are also some small errors in the descriptions and the keying. Whether these errors were made by Zhuk, by Bobrov in translation, or by Walter in the process of editing is unclear but they are small and easily corrected here. So with no further ado, here’s how Zhuk describes the Czechoslovak arms industry:

The first automatic pistols were made almost as soon as the country was created in the aftermath of the First World War. This was partly due to the efforts of Alois Tomiška and Josef Nickl, who had experienced success prior to 1918 with the Little Tom and Nickl-pistole respectively. Nickl, indeed, had worked for Waffenfabrik Mauser for some years. The first locked breech pistol adopted by the Czechoslovak army– The “Pistole N”– was a Nickl design. It was succeeded by a simplified version, known as vz. 24, whilst a blowback derivative (vz. 27) was adopted by the state police force. Large quantities of 6.35 mm pocket pistols we’re also made prior to the Second World War.

That’s generally accurate, although there’s a dozen quibbling points there for the expert. (The “Nickl-pistole” pre-WWI was arguably the Mauser 1910/14 and various Mauser experimentals, although other Mauser engineers like the Feederle brothers contributed — whether more or less than Nickl is lost, but the Mauser-werke design shop seems to have been focused on teamwork and collaboration, not individual credit. And to be truly pedantic, the Pistole N, which was closely based on wartime Mauser prototypes designed by Nickl, was actually the vz 22, and the “vz. 27” was never adopted by the ČS military and therefore the correct nomenclature is CZ 27).

We’re going to list the unique Zhuk-only pistols in order by Zhuk’s entry number (and match the correct image to the description). The order Zhuk used is not entirely clear to us, as it’s neither chronological, nor alphabetical, nor by caliber… so what’s left? Maybe examination of the Russian-language volume will help.

409: ZKR-590 or Grand; Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka, Brno.

 

zhuk_409_zkr_590_grandZhuk says:

ZKR-590 or Grand; Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka, Brno. .22 LR rimfire, •357 Magnum or .38 Special; 50mm, 100mm or 125mm barrels (.357 and •38), or 125mm and 150mm barrels (.22). A copy of the Colt swinging- cylinder system. The Mayor (or ‘Major’) is virtually identical with the long-barrelled .22 Grand but has adjustable target- pattern sights. Production apparently ceased in the 1970s.

We knew of this target revolver, as it’s mentioned proudly in all Czech sources (it was used by many national and world champions in Olympic and other bullseye target shooting events in the 1960s and 70s). But we didn’t know about the .22 version (note that his illustration represents a .38 Special example). In retrospect, an Olympic target revolver would be expected to have had a .22 version

1573. Automatická Pistole; Česka Zbrojovka, Prague. .22 Short rimfire.

Zhuk actually has no description of this pistol beyond the single title line, but looking at the picture (which is labeled 1574, but the slide markings can be seen to correspond to # 1573), this little-known pistol clearly is a derivative of the Z Pistol, the former Dušek Duo, the manufacture of which was transferred to ZB after Dušek’s plant in Opočno was nationalized and closed after World War II. Some Duos were then made and marked as the “ČZ Automat. Pistole” and then the “Z Automat. Pistole” marking was used with the ZB Z-in-a-rifled-bore trademark on the grips.

zhuk_1573_22_short_z

This pistol has the Z grips. The slide has two reliefs behind the breechface, presumably to lighten it for the limited recoil of the .22 short. Otherwise, it’s a ringer for any Z or Duo. The curiously extended truncated-conical muzzle makes us wonder if it is a blank-firing or starter pistol. We’re not aware of this oddball Duo variation in any Czech-language source, but we don’t have 100% of Czech sources.

1574, 1575. CSZ; Ceskoslovenske Statni Zbrojovka A.S., Brno (later Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka).

Zhuk has just the barest facts about this early firearm, one version of which has an illustration misnumbered 1573.

zhuk_1574_zb_25

CSZ; Ceskoslovenske Statni Zbrojovka A.S., Brno (later Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka). 6.35mm Auto; 113mm overall, 55mm barrel, 330gm. Six rounds. This small blowback was made in two differing patterns.

zhuk_1575_zb_25We believe that these pistols may have been mentioned (but not illustrated) by Jaromír Lugs (1950) but our copy of Lugs Vol. II is in the book scanner at the moment. (Things To Figure Out Before Publishing the Book Nº. 32767).

1604. Perla; Frantisek Dusek, Opocno.

 

Again, Zhuk’s entry about the previously-unknown (to us) Dušek pistol is the soul of brevity:

Perla; Frantisek Dusek, Opocno. 6.35mm Auto; 103mm overall, 50mm barrel, 277gm. Six rounds.

zhuk_1604_perlaWhereas the original Ydeal/JAGA/Singer/Duo/Z is a conceptual copy of a 1906 Browning (minus the grip safety), and possibly a direct copy of an unknown Spanish intercedent, the Perla shows a great deal of Walther Model 9 DNA in its makeup. It reflects the same interwar trend to smaller vest-pocket rather than pocket .25s, as seen in the Model 9, the Mauser WTP I and II, and the Baby Browning, and that suggests that it is at least as late a development. However, the safety appears to hinge too far back for it to be a direct copy. Zhuk’s example seems to have a three-digit serial number (312). Prototype or production?

Some overall observations

One thing Zhuk doesn’t mention, because it was such a weird one-time artifact of the interwar Czechoslovak gun laws, is that any of these little .25s may turn up with a weirdly extended barrel. That’s because a handgun license was a hassle to get, but you only needed it for a gun with a barrel < 180 mm. The manufacturers responded with “Buntline Special” .25s and .32s! So did firms that imported French, German and Spanish guns into the Czechoslovak Republic.

In addition to these complete oddballs, and all the common Czechoslovak pistols, Zhuk also illustrates some rare firearms that are often described, but seldom illustrated. These are, again, mostly pocket pistols of the interwar period, and include the following:

  • The Tomiška-designed folding-trigger Fox pistol of 1919;
  • The Mars pistols of Pošumavská Zbrojovka;
  • Rare Duo precursors JAGA, Singer and Ydeal
  • The PZK (same company as the Mars, different design);
  • The Slavia.

He also illustrates the post-1970 grips of the Z Pistol (née Duo) and CZ 70 (ex CZ 45). If there’s enough interest in these oddities and entities, we’ll do another post with the images. Otherwise we’ll just roll what we learn into the book.

The FN 49, the Rifle that Didn’t Change the World

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A couple of SAFNS enjoy retirement. (All images embiggen with a click).

If the FN Model 1949, also called the SAFN (Semi-Automatic FN), had been, as intended, the FN 36, or at least the FN 38, it might have changed the world. But its development took longer than planned and was interrupted by war — its designer exiled, its plans hidden, and then, its manufacturer in ruins and needing to rebuild.

During his exile, Dieudonné Saive supervised the construction of over 50 prototypes of versions of the rifle that later would become the SAFN, for his British hosts at Enfield. Some of these prototypes still exist today, but the British Army was never serious about a semi-auto during the war; British soldiers and leaders were happy with the old reliable Enfield bolt action.

Saive returned to an FN whose only boast was that it was less destroyed that most other Continental gun factories, despite the consequences of Allied bombing and German looting. But even as clean-up and restoration continued, he worked to bring his long-delayed semi-auto rifle design to life.

One benefit of this long gestation was that the SAFN was rather thoroughly debugged when it shipped, and it suffered fewer of the teething problems that other rifles that had had a more direct path to production, like the Tokarev, the M1 Garand, or even the AK, did.

fn-49-01

But, it launched into a market saturated with high-quality arms that were surplus to the needs of downsizing military victors (and entirely-disarmed vanquished). An FN salesman could, were he worthy of the name at all, make a case that the SAFN was a better rifle than an M1, or the Mausers still used around the world at the time. But that case, assuming arguendo that it was strong when the cost of an M1 equaled the cost of an FN 49, was appreciably weaker and harder to make when the M1s were flowing at one-half, one-quarter, one-tenth of the cost of new production. Or free. The United States had literally millions of surplus M1s, and they rearmed many of the nations of Europe, giving guns in hopes of gaining influence — or as a reward for wartime alliances.

Some nations, like France, developed their own rifles in pursuit of national independence. “Thanks for your M1s, but we need a French rifle as soon as possible/” Indeed, in the fifteen years after World War II, many more nations than are in the business today developed their own firearms, even small nations like Indonesia, Egypt, and the Dominican Republic. It was a far cry from today’s consolidated market, where much of the world is content buying ARs and AKs from distant lands. (Indeed, the four former gun-making nations mentioned in this paragraph are using or going to imported ARs, AKs, or a combination thereof).

Venezuela was one of the nations that bought the SAFN. Notice the fine figure of the stock.

Venezuela was one of the nations that bought the SAFN. Notice the fine figure of the stock.

Other nations were on the outs with, or at least cautious about becoming dependent on, the US or USSR; between the World Wars they had bought from the neutrals, Belgium and Czechoslovakia, and with CS no longer neutral, the Belgians had a look in. And in this market context, FN designer Dieudonné Saive launched what may have been the finest World War II generation semi-auto rifle. Just in time for the world to have absorbed and fallen for the German intermediate cartridge assault rifle concept.

Technical Information

The SAFN is an old-school combat rifle, with wood (usually French Walnut, often highly figured) stocks, and the balance of the components being steel, often machined from forgings. It is heavy, compared to the modern standard, but it’s about equivalent to its contemporaries, the M1 Garand or the French MAS Mle. 1949 (the Tokarev SVT is noticeably lighter). The most common finish on original guns is paint over parkerizing, which makes for an ugly, chip-prone, but corrosion-resistant coating. These guns are all human retirement age (production was from 1949-1956), and barrel conditions of existing samples vary widely (they survived the heyday of corrosive ammunition, and the barrels were not chrome-lined).

The bolt and gas system of the SAFN strongly resembles that of its Soviet contemporaries, the Simonov and Tokarev semi-auto rifles; it is unlikely that copying was going on, rather than parallel, convergent evolution. A version of the tipping bolt had been used on several FN products, including the Browning Automatic Rifle. A solid benefit of the SAFN over its competitors was its toolless-adjustable gas system, which was not only good for adjusting to different lots, makers or types of ammunition, but enabled the rifle to fire rifle grenades (with special blanks). The rifle grenade launcher was a common SAFN accessory, as was a bayonet. (Bayonets are common, but many Mauser bayonets fit, too).

FN 49 muzzles. Top: the cutts-compensator like Flash Hider of the Venezuelan. Below: typical muzzle, in this case Egyptian.

FN 49 muzzles. Top: the cutts-compensator like Flash Hider of the Venezuelan. Below: typical muzzle, in this case Egyptian. Both show the adjustable gas port off well.

The biggest limitation the SAFN faced in the postwar environment was its prewar magazine concept. The magazine was not user-detachable, but was filled from above, using ordinary Mauser stripper clips, or a new FN-developed 10-round stripper. With this magazine, the provision of automatic fire capability on Belgian and some export SAFNs was truly puzzling: why? The rationale for this decision is lost in time, but it seems probable that the customers asked FN to do it.

fn-49-12

FN 49 (here Venezuelan, Ser. Nº. 4955), shows off its stripper clip guide and magazine follower. The bolt is held back by the magazine follower until rounds are loaded — or it can be held back with the bolt catch visible opposite the operating handle.

This view from the left shows the bolt hold-open catch on the side of the receiver.

This view from the left shows the bolt hold-open catch on the side of the receiver.

As a semiauto rifle, the SAFN was, in its day, a good equivalent of the M1. Some people recommend it as a practical rifle, but in 2016, that’s just silly. If you must have steel, walnut, and a fixed magazine, the M1 has plentiful spare parts and knowledgable gunsmiths and accuracy specialists. The SAFN belongs in the safes and gun-rooms of collectors, and can certainly go to the range as much as you like.

SN 1949 SAFN Production & Sales

SAFN 1949 Variants
Nation Caliber Distinguishing Marks Production Quantity Notes
Venezuela 7 x 57 mm Venezuelan Crest 8,003 First sale (4,000 in 1948) Unique compensator/flash suppressor
7.5 x 57 mm No sales known
Argentina (Navy) 7.65 x 57 mm “ARA” for Armada Republica Argentina, and Argentine Crest 5,541 Some sources say 5,537
Belgium 7.62 x 63 mm “ABL” for Armee Belgique 88,173 .30-06, convertible to select fire, not US importable
Belgian Congo 7.62 x 63 mm Crest w/lion 2,795 .30-06, all select fire, not US importable
Brazil (Navy) 7.62 x 63 mm Brazilian crest & Anchor 11,001 .30-06
Colombia 7.62 x 63 mm Colombian crest 1,000 .30-06
Indonesia 7.62 x 63 mm “ADRI” and Eagle 16,100
Luxemburg 7.62 x 63 mm “AL” for Armee Luxembourgois 6,003
Argentina (Navy) 7.62 x 51 mm NATO, detachable mag No new guns, converted from 7.65mm. Mag is NOT an FAL mag.
Egypt 7.92 x 57 mm Eagle or Crown, Arabic numbers 37,641 Some sources say 37,602. Century imports may have replaced stocks
total 176,257
Venezuelan crest on a 7mm FN M1949.

Venezuelan crest on a 7mm FN M1949.

Crown of King Farouk and crest of the Kingdom of Egypt (Kingdom 1922-1952, Farouk's sovereignty  1936-52)

Crown of King Farouk and crest of the Kingdom of Egypt (Kingdom 1922-1952, Farouk’s sovereignty 1936-52)

Why the Short Run?

FN produced Mauser rifles (for military purposes, anyway) for over 60 years; in fact, the company was founded to build Mausers for the Belgian Army, and for export. But the SAFN lasted just seven years in production (and after the Belgian & Egyptian contracts were filled, by 1952-3, production was desultory. As you can see in the table above, those two contracts were the bulk of the rifles produced: roughly 126,000 out of 176,000, leaving only 50,000 for all other variants).

What happened?

Our pair of FNs. Venezuelan Nº 4955, not import marked; and Egyptian Nº 11507 (mismatched, refinished, imported by Century Arms).

Our pair of FNs. Venezuelan Nº 4955, not import marked; and Egyptian Nº 11507 (mismatched, refinished, imported by Century Arms). Note that the Egyptian rifle bears its serial numbers in Western and Arabian numbers. The receiver cover of the Nº 11507 is from a different rifle, Nº 12979. (Possibly 13979, as the Arabian numeral is hard to read).

What happened is that technology moved on, and the SAFN was obsolete even as Belgian craftsmen inspected the rifles on the line. No one knew that more than M. Saive, who was already at work on the Next Big Thing — and it would really be that. The FN-FAL (Fusil Automatique Leger, Light Automatic Rifle) would build on the SAFN’s reliable bolt and gas system, and add the sought-after features of select-fire (fairly useless in a 7,62 x 51 light rifle) and a detachable 20-round magazine (no soldier ever said “no” to more ammo). The FAL’s success was much greater, both technically and commercially, vindicating Saive’s vision and arming scores of nations from the 1950s through the 1990s — including many former SAFN and FN Mauser customers.

More Pictures Coming Soon?

Our photo models today are a relatively common 8mm (7.92 x 57 mm) Egyptian rifle, as imported, modified and sold by Century Arms, and a relatively rare Venezuelan model. While Venezuelans are often found in excellent condition, making them prized by collectors, this one is an exception: it’s fairly beaten-up, and was clearly stored in a pile with many other FN-49s: it’s got dings in the annular shape of the end of an FN-49 operating handle (part of the bolt carrier) all over its stock!

Behold, some dings.

Behold, some dings.Note the telltale mark of another FN 49, just under the “D’Armes” in the rollmark. 

More photos may be added after the jump, time permitting (if there isn’t a more link below this, we haven’t added the images yet).

Sources

Cammack, Mark. FN 49 Rifle – A Brief Overview. AmmoLand, 13 Jan 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.ammoland.com/2016/01/fn-49-rifle-a-brief-overview/

Peterson, Phillip. Collectors Love The FN-49 Rifle. Gun Digest, 24 May 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.gundigest.com/gun-collecting-firearm-collecting/collectors-love-the-fn-49-rifle

Poyer, Joe. The SAFN-49 Battle Rifle (A Shooter’s and Collector’s Guide). Tustin, CA: North Cape, 1998. 

Stevens, R. Blake. The FN49 – the Rifle That Ran out of Time. Toronto: Collector Grade, 2011.

Stevens, R. Blake. The Metric FAL. Toronto: Collector Grade, 1989.

From Czechoslovakia with Double Action

(Note: we’re going live without some of the photos. We’ll be inserting the photos Real Soon Now™. Trust us! Pictures are now “live.” Thanks for your patience. -Ed.)

Hey, this is a Czech bag, and it has a lot of pockets. Wonder what's inside?

Hey, this is a Czech bag, and it has a lot of pockets. Wonder what’s inside?

The Czechlands were the birthplace of the double-action autopistol, and have arguably produced such pistols for longer than any other nation in the world.

Many of these were, prior to 1975, small pocket pistols, but the small pocket pistols were not only important for the companies that made them and the general export strength of interwar Czechoslovakia, but also to the modernization and mechanization of the Czech manufacturers, including not only the major arsenals but also such firms as the Poldi steelworks at Kladno, the Škoda foundries at Pilsen, and many smaller parts manufacturers.1

Yay! Pocket pistols. From top down: Little Tom 6.35; Little Tom 7.65; 1946 CZ 45; 1939 CZ 36; Intratec Protec-25 n Box.

Yay! Pocket pistols. From top down: Little Tom 6.35; Little Tom 7.65; 1946 CZ 45; 1939 CZ 36; Intratec Protec-25 n Box. Now, let’s dig into the details, a little bit.

The Little Tom — ca. 1908-1926

The first DA autopistol is illustrated by this 6.25 mm (.25 ACP) Alois Tomiška “Little Tom” pistol we’ve featured before. This was the first successful DA/SA pistol. Its original name in Czech was Tomašek, which is at once a play on the designer’s name, and also means “Little Tom.” Tomiška, who lived from 1867-1946, patented the Little Tom in 1909 (some sources say 1908) and produced a few in a Pilsen workshop before mass production began at the Wiener Waffenfabrik in Vienna (both Vienna and Pilsen were in the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to late 1918).2

This example was made in Vienna and proofed there in 1922. Note the safety (up is safe, down - here - is fire). No sights; brass mag loads through the top!

This example was made in Vienna and proofed there in 1922. Note the safety (up is safe, down – here – is fire). No sights; brass mag loads through the top! The faint MADE IN AUSTRIA supplemental rollmark suggests it was exported, but to where?

This example was made in Vienna and proofed there in 1922. Note the safety (up is safe, down - here - is fire). No sights; brass mag loads through the top!

According to the Vienna proof house records as reported by Mötz & Schuy, #26,854 may have been proofed on 22 Nov 1922. It was one of 8,426 6.35 mm Little Toms proofed that year (which also saw the first proof of 7.65 models). Vienna proofed over 26,000 6.35 mm Little Toms.

Some sources call it DAO, because, even though the slide leaves the hammer cocked, the trigger spring (which is also the recoil spring) returns the trigger all the way forward. The first pistol to have the DA/SA trigger of an autopistol behave like then-familiar DA/SA revolvers’ triggers was the Walther PP of 1929; by then, production of the Little Tom, which had taken place in Tomiška’s small shop in Pilsen but mostly at the Wiener Waffenfabrik in Vienna, was wound up.

A few Little Toms were made in .32. This rough-condition example is innocent of most marks and was sold (by Rock Island Auctions) as a possible Pilsen example.

Pretty rough condition (note the pitting on the frame forward of the trigger guard. Probably why it was filed down). Serial Nº 30941 no longer bears its proofs, but is probably is one of only 1,686 7.65 mm Little Toms proofed in Vienna.

Pretty rough condition (note the pitting on the frame forward of the trigger guard. Probably why it was filed down). Serial Nº 30941 no longer bears its proofs, but is probably one of only 1,686 7.65 mm Little Toms made and proofed in Vienna.

After close examination, we believe it to be a Wiener Waffenfabrik example, and the relative lack of markings is a consequence of the slide and frame being filed or stoned because of rust and pitting. It retains collector value only because of the extreme rarity of Little Tom .32 pistols. Note the condition of the slide serrations, which suggests someone’s been sanding or draw-filing away at this firearm. We haven’t tried hard to bring the proof marks back up.

Unlike the 6.35 model, this 7.65 Little Tom's safety is labeled (down - here - is fire, and exposes an F for Feuer).

Unlike the 6.35 model, this 7.65 Little Tom’s safety is labeled (down – here – is fire, and exposes an F for Feuer).

The trigger mechanism on this Little Tom is not working properly — a common condition on these pioneering guns.

The CZ 36

The next Czechoslovak DA .25 was a true DAO pistol, the CZ 36. A contemporary of the simple single-action striker-fired Dušek “Duo” pistol (and its variants) made in Opočno, the CZ 36 was rather more advanced with double-action lockwork. It was designed by the prolific Czech engineer, František Myška, starting in 1934. Here it is compared to the Little Tom:

cz_pocket_pistols10

The CZ 36 was made with an external safety on the left side of the frame forward of the grip, marked with a Z. A safety is somewhat redundant on a DAO gun, but the whole idea was new. On the pistol’s right side, the round axis pin integral to the safety is visible.

cz_pocket_pistols16

cz_pocket_pistols28At some point in production, the safety was deleted. No one has explained why some pistols have the safety and some do not; earliest pistols all tend to have it, and with-safety is more common than without-safety on a CZ 36.

Production numbers are all over the place, with Berger guessing (and Buffaloe seconding him) at about 12,000. Most of these pistols were exported, but they were used by some police agencies (Czechoslovak and later, German), such as the Railway Police. This example, Nº 18615, was proofed with the Czech twin-tailed lion in 1939.

The European flap holster shown with our CZ 36 came with it, but without specific provenance as far as we know.

Most sources agree that the CZ 36 was discontinued after the German occupation, except for some assembly from pre-war parts, but the existence of small numbers of CZ 36 pistols with Nazi-era German proof marks and German wholesaler (Akah or Geco) markings challenges that conventional wisdom.

The CZ 45 and its Successors

After the war, Myška (according to some sources) and/or Jan Kratochvil (per Dolínek et al.) reworked the CZ 36 for manufacturing ease, producing the CZ 45.

cz_pocket_pistols17

The CZ 45. This is an early model, proofed in 1946, and it retains some CZ 36 features.

cz_pocket_pistols19

Flip side of the CZ 45, showing the absence of the safety pivot pin.

(In parallel to the CZ 36 and 45, the simple Duo — later the “Z” — continued to be manufactured; but prior to 1946 that is because it was made by a different firm. The firms were nationalized and merged postwar).

All CZ 45s that we have observed were made without the safety of the early CZ 36, but it is reported that some were made with it. Modifications include a different barrel lug arrangement, and a different trigger mechanism. The original CZ 36 mechanism bears some traces of the Tomiška design, and the trigger bar only rides along one side of the magazine; the CZ 45 uses a yoke à la John Browning’s 1911. (This particular CZ 45, made in 1946, retains the CZ 36 style barrel lug and trigger bar). In both pistols, a magazine safety, activated by that same trigger bar, is incorporated.

The pistol was made by Česká Zbrojovka at the original Strakonice pistol factory originally set up for the vz. 24 contract. Later, production shifted to Uhersky Brod. (The UB plant was originally established in 1936 because Czechoslovak strategists considered the Strakonice plant too close to the threat of Nazi Germany).

The CZ 36 and CZ 45 were imported to the USA in small (36) and medium (45) quantities prior to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which both required import marks and banned further importation of compact pistols.

Cosmetic and production redesigns since have been named CZ 70 and CZ 92 for their years of introduction (not all sources mention the CZ 70; to add to confusion, a later version of the Duo/Z was called vz. 70, and so was the common CZ police pistol in .32/7.65 mm). These later pistols have never been legal for commercial importation to the United States.

The ZVI Kevin

The Kevin was the only pistol ever produced by the Czech firm Zbrojovka Všetin Indet (mercifully, for English speakers, abbreviated to ZVI). ZVI was primarily a producer of large caliber ammunition, and arms such as machine guns, automatic cannon, and AT rocket launchers, and so forth. It is (in its most common iteration) a .25-sized DAO .380 with an internal hammer and (standard) six-round magazine.

kevin-704-right

We have no idea why it is named Kevin. In Germany, the name Kevin has a connotation of roughneck thuggery! But we do not believe that connotation extends to Czech.

The pistol was introduced at the European trade show IWA 2007, and came to be made in many models, distinguished by chambering, grips and finish options — they were all the same basic gun. The standard chambering was .380 ACP (9 mm Browning Short, 9 x 17), but it was also available in 9 mm Makarov (9 x 18), and was made for export (we believe, to CIS nations) in “9mm PA,” a cartridge that fired a non-lethal rubber projectile.

There is no external safety. It is not necessary, as the Kevin has a revolver-like long and heavy (~10 lbs. new, may lose a pound after hundreds of rounds) trigger pull. Takedown is like many early Browning pistols, and the Little Tom and CZ’s mentioned above: after ensuring the pistol is clear, align the slide appropriately (unlike the older pistols, the Kevin has helpful witness marks), rotate the barrel out of engagement with the frame, and slide the slide off.

Barrel turned for disassembly (here on the CZ 45, but all these pistols save the Little Toms work like this).

Barrel turned for disassembly (here on the CZ 45, but all these pistols save the Little Toms work like this).

The receiver is aluminum alloy and the barrel and slide steel. In some ways, Alois Tomiška would recognize it as a descendant of his own Little Tom, but it has a modern push-button mag release behind the trigger guard, and much better sights — fixed, to be sure — than any of the other pocket pistols mentioned here. It has several interesting features.

Unlike most .380s, it is not a straight blowback pistol, but a gas-retarded blowback. A pair of ports in the barrel forward of the chamber — in other words, where the pressure is max — vent forward against the surface of the slide, and into a sort of temporary gas chamber forward of the ejection port. The force against the breech face moving the slide rearward must overome this gas pressure as well as the simple inertia of the slide. This does make for a messy gun, especially when firing a lot of ammunition. (Like any powerful pocket pistol, it tends to enforce limits to shooting sessions. It’s just not fun to open that second box of ammo).

To keep the gas chamber and recoil spring from interfering with one another, the Kevin dispenses with the usual around-the-barrel recoil spring and uses instead two small-diameter recoil springs and guide-rod assemblies set into grooves in the frame, inside the slide — an arrangement reminiscent of the dual springs in the Walther P.38 and its immediate derivatives like the P4 and P5. Plastic recoil buffers distribute the impact of the slide on the frame.

The basic finishes were shiny “plating” or black, both of which were high-tech nickel-teflon paint, with grips of plastic or walnut. Fancier versions included gold-finished barrel, trigger, extractor and gold-color fill in the rollmarks; there was also a version with etched decoration that imitated engraving.

Several magazine capacities have been available, including a 9-round mag with a large plastic grip extension, which not only added firepower but also addressed the gun’s biggest strength and weakness, it’s extremely compact size. The 9-round mag was introduced in June, 2012.

9rnd-for-kevin

Production of this pistol seemed to have ended with the 2013 bankruptcy of ZVI, which had nothing to do with the Kevin and everything to do with the Czech Republic rejecting the idea of renewing ammo contracts with ZVI, when it could get the rounds cheaper by importing them. However, there is some life on the Czech language side of the ZVI website this year, including an offering of a new magazine extension for the little Kevin, in February 2016. The pistol is small and smooth (there is no checkering or grooving on front or rear strap) and so anything that helps you hold it is welcome.

kevin_zasobnik_600

No ZVI Kevin has ever passed through normal ATF import channels as it cannot pass the Nazi-derived “sporting” test of  the Gun Control Act of 1968. A copy was available in the US (see below).

What’s Missing Here?

We’ve listed all Czechoslovak and Czech double-action pocket pistols known to us at present, and welcome any word of omissions. While some would call the Walther-PP sized CZ 50 / 70 in .32 and even the very large CZ 82/83 pistols “pocket pistols,” these were, in the Czechoslovak context, police pistols normally carried openly in flap holsters, and in shoulder holsters when carried undercover. There are quite a few small Czechoslovak single-action pocket pistols, most of them made between the wars. Indeed, the Russian writer A.B. Zhuk, chronicles some models that are missing from most Czech-language sources!4 But he mentions no other double-action pistols than we do.

The American Cousins

Two of these pistols have “American cousins” — US-made auto pistols that are clones, or at least close or modified copies of their Czech forebears. The CZ 45 was cloned, more or less, as the Intratec Protec-25 and the ZVI Kevin appeared in the US as the Magnum Research Micro Desert Eagle.

 

The Micro Desert Eagle was a US-produced clone of the ZVI Kevin, legally licensed by ZVI or by the designer. It is no longer cataloged by Magnum Research. It was available in nickel, blued, or two-tone (nickel frame, blue slide and barrel) versions. The nickel version is most common. As in the Czech original, this finish is actually a form of high-tech paint and is extremely durable.

This image of the Micro Desert Eagle and Baby Browning is from the blog Gun Tales.

This image of the Micro Desert Eagle and Baby Browning is from the blog Gun Tales, where the pistol is reviewed. As you can see, it really is a .25-sized .380! It is also really a ringer for the ZVI version — parts do interchange.

Like the Kevin, the MDE is made of investment castings. In our opinion, the finish on the Czech gun is superior, but the same process is supposed to be used.

Again, like the Kevin, the MDE has a reputation for reliability and near-indifference to ammunition, although there are some defensive rounds with which it does not work reliably, and the would-be carrier is well-advised to check out the rounds he plans to carry for social work well in advance. Like the Kevin, it gets very dirty if fired a lot, but thanks to that modern finish, cleans up very nicely.

 

The Intratec Protec-25, conversely, was inexpensively made with a die-cast receiver, steel slide, and painted exterior. Many users have reported reliability problems, which are rare in a simple .25; but a ready solution is at hand. The pistol will usually function reliably if you replace the Intratec magazine with an original CZ 36/45 mag or a Mec-Gar replacement. As our present example is is new, in box, we haven’t fired it. (They’re only new once).

cz_pocket_pistols26As you might have guessed, the “Protec” was both a play on the company name Intratec, and the word protection; it was intended to be part of a what they called the Pro “Tec” tor Series of small handguns, but the company didn’t survive to achieve those now-lost ambitions.

The Intratec had slightly different frame contours from the CZ 45. This modernized the styling, but may have been required by the manufacturing process. The similarities in the firearms are evident in this triple field-stripped view, but, the parts do not interchange.

cz_pocket_pistols23

Both the slide/receiver grooves and the barrel bed and lugs don’t mate properly. (In fact, the barrels do interchange between these CZs, but the slides don’t; each one is fitted to its own frame).

The original Intratec manual — if “manual” is the word for a single-sheet-of-paper fold out — suggests that the gun was available in three finishes, and also refers to a Protec-22 whose magazine held 10 .22 LR rounds. If such a variant was made, we’ve never seen one, but it was developed at least as far as parts numbers, SKUs, and manual entries. The gun — and the company that launched it — seems to have come and gone in the span of about three years. Today, it’s nothing but a sidebar to the Czech double-action pocket pistol story. We suppose someone could carry a Protec-25 or CZ-45 as a defensive gun, but why would you, when you can find a Desert Eagle or Kevin (depending on where you are in the world) for about the same money?

Notes

  1. Dolínek et al., p. 60.
  2. Dolínek et al., p. 32.
  3. Dolínek et al., pp. 102-103, 107.
  4. Zhuk, A.B. pp. 194-199.

Sources

Personal examination of examples of the named pistols.

“Angus”. Micro Desert Eagle .380acp. Gun Tales. Retrieved from: https://guntales.blogspot.com/2011/03/micro-desert-eagle-380acp.html (unfortunately this promising blog has not been updated in five years. Pity).

Berger, R.J.Know Your Czechoslovakian Pistols. Northridge, IL: Blacksmith Publications,1989.

Buffaloe, Ed. Two Czech 6.35mm Pistols. The Unblinking Eye, n.d.. Retrieved from: http://unblinkingeye.com/Guns/2CZ25s/2cz25s.html

Brown, James D. Cold War Pistols of Czechoslovakia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2009.

Dolínek, Vladímir, Karlicky, Vladímir, and Vácha, Pavel. Czech Firearms and Ammunition: History & Present. Prague: Radix, spol. sro., 1995.

“Lloyd in Vegas.” Poster at Jan V. Still Luger Bulletin Board, 24 Nov 2007. Retrieved from: http://luger.gunboards.com/showthread.php?12714-CZ-36-E-N-Geco-Trademark

Uncredited. ZVI Kevin Catalog. Prague: ZVI, Inc., 6 Jun 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.zvi.cz/download/KEVIN.pdf

Uncredited. Micro Desert Eagle, Nickel. Magnum Research, Kahr Firearms Group. Retrieved from:  https://www.magnumresearch.com/Firearms/Magnum-Research-Micro-Desert-Eagle-Nickel.asp (The pistol is discontinued and this page is not discoverable through the website menus, but it comes up in a search as of press time).

Uncredited. Products – 9 mm pistol Kevin. Prague: ZVI, Inc., n.d. Retrieved from: http://www.zvi.cz/en/products/9-mm-pistol-kevin.html (The company is apparently defunct, but the website is undead at this writing).

Zhuk, A.B., Bobrov, N.N. (trans.), Walter, John (Ed.). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Handguns: Pistols and Revolvers of the World, 1870 to 1995. London: Greeenhill Books, 1995.

Bubba Improves a Nazi-Occupation CZ 27

This isn’t just any Nazi pistol. It’s an SS pistol! How can we tell? Because Bubba stamped SS right on it, to go with the story he made up. Now it’s for sale. (We’re not implying the seller is the Bubba who faked the gun. He, too, may well be a victim).

SS CZ 27 02

The pistol, apart from the SS stamp, is a garden variety CZ 27, a small police and general purpose pistol made in CZ’s Strakonice plant from 1927 to approximately 1949 (there may be one stamped 1950, but we haven’t seen it).

SS CZ 27 01

The vast majority of all Cz 27s were produced during the Occupation. The Germans called it the Pistole Modell 27 and used hundreds of thousands of them. They were stamped with Nazi Waffenamt military acceptance marks on the frame…

WAA 76 is a Nazi mark for Böhmische Waffenfabrik aka CZ.

WaA 76 is a standard Nazi mark for Böhmische Waffenfabrik aka CZ.

…as well as on the parts….

SS CZ 27 03

This not quite legible, and we’re no experts on Nazi markings. It lacks the plant ID code of a Waffenamt. It looks like a Wehrmacht eagle, and could simply be another fake stamp.

These stamps are available online, for the wannabe Nazi with the urge to redecorate his firearm.

fake waffenamts

Unlike pre- and postwar guns, most Ocupation CZ 27s don’t have ordinary Prague proofs, although early CZ 27s that were taken over by the Nazis might have both civil Prague proofs and even Czechoslovak police markings, and Nazi acceptance marks of some kind, and a few police pistols have the Prague lion and a 42 or 43 date.

Technically, when this gun was built, the factory wasn’t CZ any more, but “Böhmische Waffenfabrik AG in Prag” (a German translation of the old CZ name, which vz. 24 and CZ 27 pistols used as a slide-top marking), and in organizational terms part of the Hermann-Göring Werke that seems to have been a holding company for looted Eastern European businesses. Like their counterparts today, the movers and shakers of National Socialism did well.

One interesting variant of the CZ 27 that was made during the Occupation was equipped with a special barrel that was made for a suppressor. Many thousands of these were made towards the end of the war, although no one has truly documented why or for whom within the black chambers of the National Socialist state.

After the war, more CZ 27s were made, in response to an urgent need of the Czechoslovak police for serviceable firearms. Existing occupation firearms were also used, sometimes with the Nazi markings defaced or ground off. By 1950, a modern double-action 7.65 mm pistol was in production for the police and the SNB.

France Goes 416 — TFB

The Firearm Blog is reporting that French firearms media are reporting that the fat lady has sung for le Clarión, and the successor to the uniquely French bullpup is the rifle that personifies Germany’s payback for America’s theft of the Mauser action in 1903: the HK 416. So here, approximately third-hand, we tell you France has acquired German weapons.

The HK 416, like the SCAR, has seen combat with SF and other SOF. It's an OK but heavy piston AR.

The HK 416, like the SCAR, has seen combat with SF and other SOF. It’s an OK but heavy piston AR.

Historically, it was usually the other way around — in great piles, under broad tricolors missing the red and blue bits. But now France and Germany are united, more or less, under the European Union of Napoleon IV, alias Jean-Claude Juncker; and it makes sense for them to all use German, (via Lobachevskiy), arms. Indeed, one of the French requirements was that the new design be European, and the 416 is arguably more European than the million “refugees” from whom Germans are hiding their daughters, and the peculiar Frenchmen who make their beaten wives burka up, and who are prone to detonation in public places.

Of course, the Germans have yet to bite the Geschoß and declare for the 416, but everyone knows that’s how the long saga of the HK G36 ends. The only reason anyone’s watching that film any more is to see how the hero gets to the closing credits.

A previous downselect had narrowed a five-gun field to two, again according to TFB.

HK416 for France

It’s a measure of the market right now that four of the five contestants are excellent and combat-proven firearms. (The outlier is the VHS-2, which is fairly new).

The French COTS rifle purchase is an interesting comparison to the American way of doing things. It was announced in 2014, the downselect came in July, 2016, and the selection by September of 2016. Compare that to the US military’s thrashing and flailing on rifles, pistols, and even the XM25 Punisher grenade launcher, or, as the US Army’s love of jargon names it, Counter-Defilade Weapon. The US has probably spilled more dollars along the Via Dolorosa of its pistol-evaluation Calvary, without making a decision, than France will spend to buy about 100,000 416s — half carbine length, and half shorties.

The 416 and the SCAR were both known quantities in the Armée Française. Both weapons have been used successfully by special operations and rapid deployment forces for years.

It is possible that some of the 416 production (possibly, just assembly) will be done by an HK subsidiary in France, Europe’s open borders notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, it’s time to bid the homely Fusil FAMAS (and the French arsenals who made France’s infantry weapons for most of the last three centuries) adieu, and at least this time the German rifles glistening on parade on the Champs Elysées will be in French hands, so there is that.