Category Archives: Foreign and Enemy Weapons

Thing from the Vault: Barnett Enfield (Real, or Darra Adam Khel?)

Some of you who have hung out with us have seen this long gun and its cousins, and heard the story of how it came to catch a C-17 ride home wearing a GI souvenir tag, and palletized in a purpose-built wood box with a number of its brethren. Exactly how and why your humble blogger became the FFL Type 02 (Pawnbroker) equivalent for a remote and allegedly Taliban-infested valley is a story to be told face to face, but suffice it now to say that such a thing happened, and a variety of antique oddities lounge about Hog Manor in consequence thereof.

afghan_enfield_01_-_16_overview

We are about the furthest thing you can imagine from expertise on British black powder guns, so our answer to the question in the title is more a matter of supposition and deduction than it is of confidence. But we believe the rifle to be a Pashtun copy, made at some unknown time by hand, probably by the gunsmiths of the Adam Khel tribe in their home city, Darra Adam Khel.

Some of the reasons are: the light-colored no-name wood of the stock; the uncertain-looking brass parts, which look more like they were cast by cottage industry than by a mid-19th Century industrial plant; the spiral seam in the barrel, where it was made by hand-forging a rectangular bar in spiral form around a mandrel; the flimsy sheet metal piece opposite the lock; the weird heads, threads and alignments of the screws.

afghan_enfield_01_-_22_spiral_seam_in_barrel

On the other hand, the engraving is clear and without misspellings. Since many Darra gunsmiths are illiterate in any language, you frequently see mirror-image letters and other wierdness in inscriptions. The lock date (1869) is much too late for a P53 Enfield, but it could be a P59, a similar musket made in smoothbore strictly for the use of native troops in British India. So it could be a P59 that has, over the last near sesquicentury, become the host to many repaired and replaced native parts.

afghan_enfield_01_-_19_lockplate_area

Click more to see some more of the uneven and sometimes crude construction, and many character-rich repairs, of this venerable firearm.

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A Place with Two Names

The small town of Weipert was, in the German tradition, built up in the center, enough to have an urban feeling even though the population peaked at barely 12,000 souls. When the sun shone on the mountain town, the cobblestones gleamed, because the people pursued cleanliness and order. You could sometimes see a shopkeeper scrubbing the sidewalk in front of his small shop, which was a sign that everything inside was as clean as it could get. These souls spoke the German language, worshipped in the German Catholic Church, and were in all the usual small-town occupations, plus one: gunmaking. Gunmaking began here because iron ore, wood for fires and water power were all handy, and even the city crest came to be surmounted by a smith, dual-wielding hammers:

Nr.33 Weipert Wappen

Several of the kingdom’s most talented gunsmiths made their home here, who were gunsmiths already at the time people started having family names. All the way to the turn of the 20th Century, son followed father into the trade. At the end of the 19th, the most successful of these family firms even banded together to form a joint-venture factory and compete for military orders from the faraway capital. This was like the Liège gunsmiths around that time, when they formed FN; the Weipert smiths weren’t that successful, as the nation assigned rifle production to a pair of massive state arsenals, but the arsenals outsourced some parts to the makers of Weipert.

The names of some of the smiths of Weipert are footnotes to gun history. Late in the 19th Century, it was a hotbed of repeater pistols, manually actuated, magazine fed forerunners of the coming wave of semiautomatic pistols. Gustav Bittner finally had this more-or-less sorted out with a delightfully steampunk firearm that also has a Winchester-meets-Obrez vibe.

Bittner Repeating Pistol, (7.7mm?) cased with tools, ammo and en-bloc clips, from Forgotten Weapons. We believe this pistol to be in the personal collection of Horst Held.

A beautifully case-hardeed Bittner Repeating Pistol, (7.7mm?) cased with tools, ammo and en-bloc clips, from Forgotten Weapons. This is SN 192, sold by Julia two years ago; we’ve seen numbers from single digits to high 300s.

Bittner was one of those names. So was his competitor (and partner in the joint venture), Gustav Fükert. (No giggling please, the name does not share the meaning of its English false cognate. It’s just a German name. Pronounce FOOK-ert with FOO like in “fool” and you’re artillery close).

gustavfukertadvertin1883

(The Fükert ad and a lot of information about the family and the firm can be found in this forum thread).

Before German orthography — spelling — was standardized, it was sometimes spelled Fückert. In fact, generations of Bittners and Fückerts made guns in Weipert, and kings and emperors collected their guns, like Fückert’s Kronen-Drilling (“Royal Three Barrel”). Fükert made some damned pretty guns. (There are some beautiful images in this thread — if you like such guns, keep scrolling and don’t neglect the following pages — but we couldn’t get them to save).

Weipert had its own proof house until 1918.

The German Hunting Gun Society notes that:

Although Weipert had fewer gunmakers than Suhl, Zella Mehlis, Ferlach or Liege, very fine hunting guns were made here. The first gunmakers guild was formed in 1734.

The society identifies the following as Weipert or nearby smiths:

Bartl, Josef
Bittner, Gustav
Bittner, Joseph
Diemelt, Anton
Fükert, Gustav
Fükert, Johann
Gahlert, Alfred
Gahlert, Vincent
Hoffman, Josef Jr.
Morgenstern, Wenzel & Son
Ritter, Josef
Schmidl, Norbert
Schmidl, Eduard
Thiele, Rudolf
Thiele, Xaver

Of these firms, only Morgenstern is known to have survived the war and produced sporting arms into the late 1940s, before his assets were nationalized into the Lověna Prague firm circa 1948. Because Weipert, you see, isn’t Weipert any more. It was always known by two names, the other being the Czech name, Vejprty. And thereby hangs a tale.

Weipert/Vejprty is right on the border of Germany and Bohemia — once a kingdom of its own, usually a vassal of or subordinate to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now the westernmost province of the Czech Republic. In the age of empires, no one really expected national borders to align with ethnic groups’ distributions, but by the 19th Century, the forces of nationalism threatened the Austro-Hungarian Empire (arguably the most successful multinational, multicultural state in history, certainly in European history). Of course, it was nationalism within the Empire that struck the match that lit the fuze of the Great War — which ended the Empire.

After the War, in which the Bittner/Fückert/etc factory produced parts for Steyr, Weipert was a part of the new state of Czechoslovakia. Its people were among many, many Germans in the new state, and by the 1930s, with the German population convinced they were suffering more than Czechs and Slovaks from the consequences of the Depression, the Germans turned to nationalism — German nationalism.

In the parliamentary system in interwar Czechoslovakia, there were numerous parties, including German parties that mirrored the political landscape in Germany — socialist parties, conservative parties. In the 1930s, the Sudeten German Party (SDP) rose as an analogue of the Nazi party in Germany, and became the most popular party among the German population of Czechoslovakia. The ethnic Germans welcomed the bloodless seizure of the Sudetenland and then the remainder of Czechoslovakia by Germany in 1938, and under the Nazi Reichsprotektorat they prospered.

By late 1944 the shoe was on the other foot, and the Deutsche Wehrmacht was retreating. Many ethnic Germans followed the Army back to Germany. Those that remained found that the new Czechoslovakia was done with having a German minority, and remaining Germans were expelled in a case of tit-for-tat ethnic cleansing.

Weipert was, for all intents and purposes, no longer in existence by that name. It is now known only by its Czech name, Vejprty, and the Czechs that made up approximately 6% of the prewar population are now functionally 100% of the population. Perhaps the cultural dislocation was inevitable, after the disloyalty of the German citizens; but one of the losses is the gunmaking culture of Weipert, which was completely erased. The factory stands in ruins.

Nr.34WeipertFabrik

And to the best of our knowledge, there is no gunsmith, nor even a gun shop, there today. As a Czech might say, To je škoda — that’s a pity.

CZ Scorpion Evo S3 Carbines Ship

The pistols came through first, long enough ago that some people have them SBR’d already, but the promised 16″ non-NFA carbine is arriving in shops in two models, one a conventional carbine and one a mock-MP5SD competitor with a fake silencer. Both versions have been posted to Reddit (conventional carbine / fake-can carbine) and IMGUR (same / same) already . (the “SD” a month ago).

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 05The owner of the conventional carbine wrote:

I had almost forgotten that I ordered it a couple months back. I’m still waiting on my urban grey P-09 as it’s back ordered, but this should keep me entertained. I haven’t seen one posted on here, so I hope you all enjoy the unboxing photos.

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 01

This is CZ’s new Scorpion Evo 3 S1 carbine. I got the model that has a muzzle brake, which may or may not come off when my Optimus gets out of ATF jail. The pleasant surprise I got when I opened the box was finding 2 magazines inside. I assumed it only came with one. It shipped with 20 round magazines, which was the highest capacity I saw available with the rifle. I also ordered several 30 round magazines for maximum PewPew.

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 04

Can’t wait to get this to the range and do a range report. Any questions just fire away!

The owner of the “SD” version posted a capsule review — 200 rounds’ worth —  of his $991 purchase, which we’ll excerpt:

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 07

Balance and Feel:
Decent, it’s not heavy at around 6lbs. It doesn’t really even feel like 6lbs. I thought that faux suppressor up front would add weight and make it front heavy, it doesn’t seem to.
The new handguard feels [bleep]ing guuuuureat. Love it. great change. The safety still eats dicks, and eats in to your trigger finger. The pistol grip is ok. I’ll probably replace it at some point.
The stock is wonderful. Simple, easy, feels great. Can’t compliment it enough. If you have a Scorpion pistol and haven’t SBR’d it to get this stock holy [bleep] are you missing out.
The folding mechanism is ok. It doesn’t really stick, but eh.
Trigger:
Same as the pistol I believe. No change, not awful, not great. Kind of battle-rifley.
Recoil:
What recoil? It’s 9mm to begin with and it’s 6lbs of 9mm. This is fun as hell and makes follow up shots a joke. I’m honestly not sure how much the faux suppressor is doing, if it’s compensating at all or what.

CZ Skorp Evo Carbine 08

His only complaint was that the stock mags are 20-rounders, and one has to pay extra for 30-round magazines.

Yes, the Czech Pistols book does mention the Scorpion and Bren pistols! And it explains why CZ chose to lead the market with pistols before carbines or factory NFA SBRs.

You Don’t CZ This Every Day

Here’s a CZ you don’t, er, CZ every day.

cz-75_cutawayThese cutaways are sometimes available from the importer. This one is from the collection of Vincent Pestilli Sr., whose agency, Pestilli and Associates, manages sales representatives for numerous European and US manufacturers (although not, to the best of our knowledge, CZ; we think Vin just took a shine to this and added it to his armory). He’s a former SF soldier and we connected with him through the SF Association. He has helped the Association get a deal on specially engraved Windham Weaponry rifles at a very attractive price and several of the guys that picked them are are very pleased with their quality, but that’s another story.

Cutaway firearms are traditionally used to teach users or armorers how the firearm works; they’ve also been used as salesmen’s samples, so that the wholesaler or manufacturer’s representative can educate retail salesmen about the product. The US has traditionally used hugely oversize cutaway models so that a whole auditorium of incipient privates can learn at once (no doubt computer-graphic representations will replace these, if they haven’t already).

Chuck at GunLab also has one (dude’s got one of everything!) and he has some pictures of it on his site.

Cutaways of earlier Czechoslovak pistols used by the military occasionally turn up. They often have military acceptance marks and a marking indicating that they are Cvičny or Učebny, (“Exercise” or “Training”, sometimes just the “U” or “C”), but like this pistol, they lack proof marks and a proof date. Where that is usually found on a CZ, in the oval machined flat behind the ejection port, this one is blank.

Everything functions on it, except, of course, that it would be an extremely bad idea to try to fire a round in it. Despite that, ATF considers  this a normal Title I firearm and it would be transferred as any other conventional firearm.

It’s probably illegal in Massachusetts, Cuba, North Korea and California, too.

100 Years Ago Today: The Battle of Jutland

Going into World War II, there were two major surface ship actions of the Dreadnought era that everybody knew: Tsushima Strait, the battle that woke the world up to the Empire of Japan as a nascent power in 1905, and the battle of Jutland, the one great battleship fight of the First World War. It was a tough, inconclusive battle fought in uncooperative weather between two mighty fleets and their screening forces, which in 1916 (especially in foul weather) meant destroyers and other small surface reconnaissance vessels.

The battle, named for the Danish peninsula off which it reached its climax, was inconclusive; both sides lost ships and thousands of men, but it can be called a British strategic victory, as the Kaiser’s fleet never sortied in such strength ever again.

Jutland has been beautifully reconstructed as an informative animation, produced, directed and narrated by Nick Jellicoe, grandson of the British admiral, Lord Jellicoe.

This is one that is worth watching in full screen. Also, if you go to the Vimeo website, Nick has been engaging people in the comments there. No doubt he will be running flat out right now, as this is the actual anniversary and he’s a big wheel in the Centenary; but his devotion to telling  the story of his grandfather, and his officers and men, as well as their German opponents, is appreciated by all of us.

Things that we found most fascinating include the consequences of imperfect information and restricted information flow; the technical aspects of 1916 naval gunnery, including the German night-fighting technology (the main battle was fought by daylight, in the afternoon, but the night tech is interesting); and Nick’s well-developed argument that being thwarted here led to the German decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare, a decision that would ultimately sink the German Empire by drawing the US out of its cherished neutrality. (While President Wilson was strong for joining Britain and France, it wasn’t a popular position until after the Lusitania sinking).

Hat tip, the Old Salt Blog, which also has a report by Rick Spilman on the restoration of the only ship from Jutland which still survives, the cruiser HMS Caroline.

What Did a Luger Cost? (Updated)

This Commercial Mauser Luger was made very close to these cost figures -- in 1939. From the Sturgess collection, now for sale by Jackson Armory.

This Commercial Mauser Luger was made very close to these cost figures — in 1939. From the Sturgess collection, now for sale by Jackson Armory. ($3,450!)

Well, that depends. There’s a lot of different ways to look at this question. But what we’re going to do, is look at what it cost to manufacture a Luger. As it happens, the great book Mauser Pistolen has a table of Luger production costs in 19401. From there we can calculate would it cost in 1940 dollars, and from there it’s possible to make an estimate of its production cost in 2016, in today’s dollars. Let’s start by transcribing the original document, from the collection of Mauser Pistolen co-author Jon Speed. We’ll apply our MBA-fu and a little search online to translate the quaint old German accounting terms.

Table 1: P.08 with Haenel Magazine — Full Cost Accounting

Item Item (English) Cost, 1940 RM
Werkstoff Material 1.82
2 Haenel – Mag. 2 Haenel Magazines 5.32
Summe SubTotal 7.14
Fertigungslohn Direct Labor 10.21
Werkstoffgemeinkosten @6.8% Material Overhead @6.8% 0.49
Betriebsgemeinkosten @182.7% Factory (Business) Overhead @182.7% 18.65
SubTotal SubTotal 36.49
Kostenabweichung @7.6% Cost Variance @7.6% 0.78
Summe SubTotal 37.27
Zuschlag für Ausschuss @2.2% Surcharge for Spoilage (waste/scrap) @2.2% 0.82
Herstellkosten Manufacturing Costs 38.09
Verwaltungs- u. Vertriebsgemeinkosten @3.8% Administration & Sales Costs @3.8% 1.45
Umsatzsteueuer aus RM47.10 beziehungsweise RM 47.50 @2.0% Sales tax on basis of RM 47.10 or 47.50 @2.0% 0.94
Selbstkosten per Stück Our costs per unit 40.48
Private sale cost 47.50

OK, now  convert to period dollars. UCSB Historian Harold Marcuse has posted a useful table of exchange rates here. (He also, to digress for a moment, spent a portion of last year embroiled (with some allies, like Prof. Atina Grossman of Cooper Union) in a battle of wits with the relatively unarmed Erich Lichtblau of the New York Times over fabrications and exaggerations in Lichtblau’s America-bashing “history” of the postwar area as published in a book and the Times — something that will not surprise anyone who’s read Lichtblau in any form). So what did it cost Mauser to make a Luger in 1940, converted to 1940 dollars? Marcuse’s set of tables includes two tables that cover 1940, but they agree: RM2.5 = US $1 for that year. So let’s add a  column, and see what that adds up to.

Table 2: Full Cost Accounting, RM and $US, 1940.

Item Item (English) Cost, 1940 RM Cost, 1940, USD
Werkstoff Material 1.82 0.73
2 Haenel – Mag. 2 Haenel Magazines 5.32 2.13
Summe SubTotal 7.14 2.86
Fertigungslohn Direct Labor 10.21 4.08
Werkstoffgemeinkosten @6.8% Material Overhead @6.8% 0.49 0.2
Betriebsgemeinkosten @182.7% Factory (Business) Overhead @182.7% 18.65 7.46
Summe SubTotal 36.49 14.6
Kostenabweichung @7.6% Cost Variance @7.6% 0.78 0.31
Summe SubTotal 37.27 14.91
Zuschlag für Ausschuss @2.2% Surcharge for Spoilage (waste/scrap) @2.2% 0.82 0.33
Herstellkosten Manufacturing Costs 38.09 15.24
Verwaltungs- u. Vertriebsgemeinkosten @3.8% Administration & Sales Costs @3.8% 1.45 0.58
Umsatzsteueuer aus RM47.10 beziehungsweise RM 47.50 @2.0% Sales tax on basis of RM 47.10 or 47.50 @2.0% 0.94 0.38
Selbstkosten per Stück Our costs per unit 40.48 16.19
Private sale cost 47.50 19.00

While what Mauser got from the HeeresWaffenAmt (Army Ordnance Office) for each Luger is not immediately apparent (it’s probably somewhere else in that excellent book), we know what they charged a German military or police officer seeking to privately purchase a Luger: RM 47.50 (that’s in another of Speed’s period documents on that same page). In American, $19.

These costs were reduced about one Reichsmark per unit from the previous year, but Mauser’s costs in 1936-37 were lower and highly variable over time, suggesting that the ~5% difference might just be normal variance over time. It’s surprising that you don’t see cost reductions considering that Mauser produced the Luger for about ten years, beginning in the early ’30s when they took over production from then-corporate sibling DWM in Berlin (drawings, parts, and one engineer, August Weiss, were sent to Oberndorf). Other evidence in the book suggests that Mauser had quite modern management for its day.

Well, there’s the outrageously-expensive Luger for you — compare that to the US cost for the 1911A1, about $14-15 in 1940. Adds up if you’re making hundreds of thousands of them (Mauser and DWM together produced about 2 million Lugers, according to Weiss).

Another image of that same Luger at Jackson Armory.

Another image of that same Luger at Jackson County Armory.

There are several different ways to calculate what a 1940 dollar is worth today (which was news to us, MBA and history degree and all). Marcuse also recommends the site measuringworth.com, which has this interesting discussion of which value comparison indicator is “right”. (The answer, it turns out, is “it depends.” Isn’t it always?)

Using Measuring Worth’s seven-index calculator, we get values for a 1940 dollar varying wildly from $13.40 (using the GDP deflator methodology) to $169 (using relative share of GDP).

one_1940_dollarAs it turns out, GDP deflator is a good measure of “how much it cost compared to the present cost of materials or labor”, but so are worker wages, which as you can see (for an unskilled worker) is double the CPI (reflecting a rising standard of living in the last 3/4 of a century); and relative share of GDP is a good measure of the national weight assigned to such a project.

The common Consumer Price Index which we’ve used for previous longitudinal price comparisons is close to the low end, at $16.90. A perfect methodology does not exist, but it might require us to use different metrics for different components of the Luger’s cost structure. Instead, we’ll just use the GDP Deflator and the Relative Share of GDP to get the min-max:

Table 3: Full Cost Accounting, RM and $US, 1940 and 2014

Item Item (English) Cost, 1940 RM Cost, 1940, USD Value, 2016 by GDP Deflator Value, 2016, Relative Share of GDP
Werkstoff Material 1.82 0.73 9.78 123.37
2 Haenel – Mag. 2 Haenel Magazines 5.32 2.13 28.54 359.97
Summe SubTotal 7.14 2.86 38.32 483.34
Fertigungslohn Direct Labor 10.21 4.08 54.67 689.52
Werkstoffgemeinkosten @6.8% Material Overhead @6.8% 0.49 0.2 2.68 33.80
Betriebsgemeinkosten @182.7% Factory (Business) Overhead @182.7% 18.65 7.46 99.96 1260.74
Summe SubTotal 36.49 14.6 195.64 2467.4
Kostenabweichung @7.6% Cost Variance @7.6% 0.78 0.31 4.15 52.39
Summe SubTotal 37.27 14.91 199.79 2519.79
Zuschlag für Ausschuss @2.2% Surcharge for Spoilage (waste/scrap) @2.2% 0.82 0.33 4.42 55.77
Herstellkosten Manufacturing Costs 38.09 15.24 204.22 2575.56
Verwaltungs- u. Vertriebsgemeinkosten @3.8% Administration & Sales Costs @3.8% 1.45 0.58 7.77 98.02
Umsatzsteueuer aus RM47.10 beziehungsweise RM 47.50 @2.0% Sales tax on basis of RM 47.10 or 47.50 @2.0% 0.94 0.38 5.09 64.22
Selbstkosten per Stück Our costs per unit 40.48 16.19 216.95 2736.11
Private sale cost 47.50 19.00 254.60 3211.00

We’d be very pleased to be pointed to any such cost accounting details from other nations/periods/firearms.

Updates

This post has been updated. Total Luger production has been added, and the paragraph noting that earlier costs were higher has also been inserted (Mauser Pistolen contains another, earlier cost breakdown table on p. 226 that shows these costs for the years 1936-38, with 1937 costs broken down by quarter. Plenty of data in that book for anyone interested in a deeper dive than this.

Sources

Weaver, W. Darrin, Speed, Jon, and Schmid, Walter. Mauser Pistolen. Cobourg, Ontario: Collector Grade, 2008.

Williamson, Samuel H.  Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present. Measuring Worth, n.d. Retrieved from: https://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/

Williamson, Samuel H. Choosing the Best Indicator to Measure Relative Worth. Measuring Worth, n.d.. Retrieved from: https://www.measuringworth.com/indicator.php

Rifles: 2nd Half of the 19th Century

We have commented before on how interesting it is that no firearms advance gives any nation a lasting advantage. This takes place both because everybody who is not experiencing success copies others’ successes with alacrity, and because technology tends to advance at about the same rate everywhere, as equally bright people work to develop new ideas on the shoulders of the same body of prior work.

Reasons notwithstanding, you can pick just about any period in history and watch the armies of the nations of the world advance together, as if they were in step. Let’s pick the second half of the 19th Century, which began with everyone more or less on the same sheet of music — call it Movement I, maestoso, with Minié or other displacing balls fired from muzzle-loading rifle-muskets — and at the end of a rapid flurry of advances was playing a livelier gavotte on repeating bolt-action rifles firing fixed centerfire ammunition.

Experimental 45-70 Springfield

In the middle of the 19th Century, the question was: how do we get from rifle-musket to breechloader? Conversions were the answer almost everywhere.

We’ve made rather a dog’s breakfast of too many metaphors there. We promise to stop; we’ll stick to declarative sentences, here on out.  In military service, service long-arms passed through four stages between 1850 and 1900, almost regardless of nation. Here’s a little graphic illustrating what we mean.

rifle_history_1850-1900Germany is an outlier here, in part because we selected Prussia as our representative German state (the German Empire wasn’t unified under the Prussian crown yet at the start of this period. Had we chosen Bavaria it might have looked more like the other nations).

At the end, we just didn’t have room for the definitive bolt-action repeater, the Mauser 98!

If Germany was a leader, looking at the dates, the United States was a bit of a laggard; the 1888 Springfield was fundamentally unimproved from the 1865 Allin conversion. Imperial Russia, often thought of as backward, doesn’t look nearly as bad. (Of course, adopting a rifle is one thing; producing enough of them to arm the Russian Army is a whole other challenge). It would be interesting to add other powers, such as Spain and Sweden, and perhaps some of the more advanced South American lands, to the chart.

Although we like our bright colors, the next step ought to be to make a proper Gantt chart of it, in which you’d see how much variation there was in years of adoption, visually.

By the way, the individual steps are not nearly as neat and clear as the graphic implies. This comprehensive and illustrated analysis of the Enfield P.53s progress to the Snider is representative. Like the Allin conversion in the USA, the Snider won out over many possible alternatives in testing. (And here’s a great page on the Martini-Henry, the Snider’s follow-on). For every repeater, breech-loader, and conversion that was adopted, there were many also-rans.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: All4Shooters.com

all4shooterscomWant to see how the other half lives? For Yanks (and Canucks), a visit to the pan-European website All4Shooters.com will let you know what an international community of shooters is doing. While the site was created by a German firearms-media firm, it’s becoming a trusted source for information about the European market and it’s probably the best place to see Eurozone firms promote their firearms and shooting-sports accessories to their home-continent customers.

You may learn more than you expected about upland hunting in Italy, collecting in Belgium, or products created for sports that are popular in Europe but not here.

In some ways, it reminds us of where the American gun culture was forty or fifty years ago. Looking through old gun magazines, one is struck by the much greater roles played by formal competition, and how some sports have died (quick-draw competitions) and others have been born (practical pistol and 2- and 3-gun). A gun magazine in 1966 was more likely to put a pheasant-hunting scene on the cover than a defense pistol, and was unlikely to have much to say about gun law or gun rights. Indeed, gun rights in 1966 didn’t include the right to carry one, in most States. America in 1966 was a lot like Europe in 2016 that way. What became a rights revolution in America started with the legislative overreach of Tom Dodd’s Nazi-derived Gun Control Act (which passed in 1968, after Dodd had been censured and left the Senate over unrelated corruption) and the botched ATF raid that killed Kenyon Ballew in 1970; these two overreaches triggered a grassroots backlash that has led to today’s very different gun culture: concealed carry is legal in most states, in nine of them with no permit at all; and guns of all kinds have never been more widely distributed to peaceable people, nor more used for lawful ends.

Europe today reminds us of America before that ball got rolling, and we see European guys and gals with levers all around their version of the ball. It rolls slowly at first, friends. But your efforts are worthwhile.

The site is decidedly apolitical, although it reports on gun laws in Europe and on gun rights organizations (which fight just as hard, against much more entrenched officialdom and with much less assistance from the dead hands of Constitution writers, than our champions here in the Western Hemisphere).

European gun, sport-shooting, and hunting culture is both like and unlike ours. They still have hunters, competitors, and collectors like we do, but their hunting is different. In Central Europe it’s very formalized, in part because of hunters’ tradition and in part because of population density. In England, it is the now nearly extinct recreation of a nearly extinct nobility and gentry.

Everywhere the laws are different, and different from those in the USA. But that is because the local culture and history is different. The biggest threat to the European sportsman is, these days, the rise of the European bureaucrat, where deracinated and rootless commissars in Brussels are closet Caesars, dreaming of completing the interrupted unification that eluded Napoleon and Hitler. (These are the cretins who are pushing to rename World War II — we are not making this up — the European Civil War — in effect, conceding Hitler’s point).

But while Europe may still be in the Dark Ages as far as the rights of man are concerned, it’s still a hotbed of firearms development and innovation, not to mention the cradle of a great deal of firearms history. This gets covered extensively at all4shooters.com, which is trying to be the portal for Euro gunnies. An example of new development is the Schmeisser SLP-9, which turns out to be a rebranding of a Montenegrin Glock-off called the TARA TM-9 at home; an example of history coverage is the fascinating story of the founder of the German Rottweil ammunition plant, Max von Duttenhofer. (Rottweil is most famous, of course, for its native dog; but it is also the future home of the world’s highest elevator-testing tower, and perhaps a pedestrian suspension bridge a half-mile long). (The ammo plant in Rottweil is now closed and repurposed for many, mostly cultural, purposes; and Rottweil ammuntion is made in Fürth in Franconia (a region in the state of Bavaria).

A good series of basic technical articles by Max Popenker (still an ongoing series) introduces operating systems: blowback, delayed blowback, and recoil are the ones produced to date (can “gas” be next? Probably). A4S collects all technical articles in a single category.

The English translations of other languages’ articles occasionally have one or two small things that let you know that they were not developed by a native speaker, but if you’re not looking for them, you may miss them. Sometimes All4Shooters has articles in some languages but not others, so if you’re multilingual don’t restrict yourself to the English (or your native language) articles.

Let’s Make CZs!

Thanks to Army-Recognition.com for putting this CZ plant video on YouTube. The guy leading the tour sometimes comes up short an English word, but he gets across what they’re doing.

CZ’s guns begin as parts, and the parts begin as wax patterns cast in a metal (looks aluminum) mold. Many identical patterns — the number depends on the size of the part — are attached to an armature, which is then coated with a sand/plaster material, which then is let to dry, has its wax melted out,and then the cavity where the wax was is filled with molten steel.

The same way a jeweler casts earrings or charms — just larger and higher temperatures.

Some other great stuff in the video, includimg a glimpse of the metrology lab.

Update

It was late, late, late when we drafted this and so there are a couple more points we should have made.

One of the silly debates that gun guys get into is “cast vs. forged”? While ceteris paribus a forging is a stronger part than a casting, in the real world ceteris isn’t paribus, and a gun doesn’t need to be stronger than every other gun in the world, like one of Colin Chapman’s cars it just needs to be strong enough. For a gun, that’s obviously more durable than a Chapman racer (if it didn’t just-barely-not-break by the finish line, he would grumble that he overbuilt it). Intelligent engineering doesn’t select materials based solely on what material has the best properties, it also takes into account the purpose of the part.

CZ is far from the only company using castings this heavily. Ruger not only makes most of its own receivers from castings, but has spun its casting shop off as a subsidiary that takes on work for other firms, including gun industry competitors as well as automotive and aerospace firms. In fact, it 3D prints some of its wax patterns (it may just be testing the technology as it has only bought a couple of industrial wax printers; that would certainly speed prototyping).

Investment casting can produce near net-shape parts at a much lower cost than machining. You can even use it to produce a machining blank for a part that gives you less machine time, tool wear, and scrap than starting from a rectangular billet. The same pattern can sometimes be used for steel and aluminum parts (you have to take account for the shrinkage of cast metal parts, depending on the alloy <1% to about 3%).

It’s an interesting combination, in the CZ version, of automation and of hand work. Note that two very critical jobs (building the armatures of part patterns, and pouring the steel) are done entirely by hand.

ArmyRecognition.com also has a related page with some explanatory language. Some of it appears to be quoting CZ press releases about the guns, not the manufacturing process, but there is this:

The excellence of Ceská zbrojovka’s products have created an image of high quality over the span of its existence both on the domestic and world markets; for this reason, the company considers its responsibility to be to ensure that the parameters of its products will be the best possible at all times.

The company’s technical development and production of military weapons, pistols, rifles, rimfire rifles, shotguns, and air guns constantly create a wide assortment of products Ceská zbrojovka invests considerable financial assets into the purchase of state – of – the art technology each year, especially in the fields of computer numerically controlled machining centers and computing techniques so as to improve their arms’ qualities and properties.

Thanks to the CAD designing of products, the company can quickly respond to the demands of the market with the development of new products with perfect qualities. For this reason comes to the market with new products every year.

We’d be astonished if they were not 3D prototyping their new products, and that explains how they can come up with such rapid model changes and some short-run versions and variants for different world markets.

It strikes us that investment casting could also be used to produce a near net shape injection mold for the polymer parts. Mold production is the tough nut to crack, in technical and financial terms, to get to the place where you can get the rates of returns manufacturers get on poly-framed pistols. A slightly undersized cast mold, with CNC touch-up, could be a real money and time saver for an injection-molding shop, and it could make previously uneconomic short-run injection molding a real possibility.

Jeff Cooper on Small Caliber Guns

Jeff Cooper and 45Col. Jeff Cooper was known as someone who believed that there was no point in a handgun whose caliber did not begin with .4. (Had he lived to see it, he’d probably warm up to the .500 S&W). He was very influential in the late-century police adoption of 10mm and .40 caliber pistols, and had nothing good to say about smaller rounds.

Of course, Cooper is an interesting cat. He was an entertaining gunwriter, an excellent shot and competitor, and an instructor with a massive and sometimes slavish following. He insisted on the title Colonel, and made broad hints about being some kind of secret squirrel, but as far as we know he was a reserve ordnance officer without combat service, let alone command. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; somebody had better be running the depots and making sure the gunplumbers stay organized and get paid.

While working up the book on Czech and Czechoslovak guns, it seemed like an amusing idea, given the European penchant for .25 (6.35 mm) or .32 (7.65 x 17SR) pistols as military and police sidearms, to contrast European, particularly Czechoslovakian, midcentury practice with Cooper’s preferences. We hit several varieties of pay dirt, in an excerpt below from an early draft of the book. And then, in this post, we move on to another famous fictional secret squirrel! But first, Cooper:

American pistolero and writer Jeff Cooper, Col., USMC (Ret.), once had occasion to meet Hans-Ulrich Rudel, a famous German Stuka pilot, best known for destroying over 500 Soviet tanks with a version of the  dive-bomber armed with two Rheinmettal-Borsig . Naturally, Cooper, a strong proponent of .45 and 10mm pistols, wanted to know what sort of pistol Rudel, a man facing a high risk of capture by what would certainly have been a furious enemy, carried on his combat flights. Cooper remembers:

I asked Rudel about this and he told me personally that he packed one of those miniature 25 caliber automatics on his antitank missions. When asked why, he replied, “Because I have never been a pessimist.”[1]

What Cooper said to Rudel on this occasion, he did not bother to record; but he’s on record at other times as referring to, the “25 ACP, which everyone knows is not sufficient to clear sinuses,”[2] and this aphorism in-the-round:

[C]arry a 25 if it makes you feel good, but do not ever load it. If you load it you may shoot it. If you shoot it you may hit somebody, and if you hit somebody – and he finds out about it – he may be very angry with you.[3]

Bear in mind that the “anemic” .38 special of Cooper’s day was once the “hot” round, replacing even lighter loads such as the .32 Colt and .32 S&W (interchangeable cartridges, the different names were marketing eyewash) and the .38 S&W, a round the Brits happily issued to soldiers as the .38/200 in World War II! He lived in a period of great firepower expansion, even before he gave it a push, but the old, small-caliber guns died hard, both in police agencies — NYPD stuck to the .38 special until they finally went to automatics, far behind other departments — and in the popular culture.

Ian Fleming wrote without irony, in Dr. No in 1956, and after consulting with a Scots expert in firearms, that the .32 ACP PPK with which Major Boothroyd — named after the expert — replaced James Bond’s preferred .25 Beretta, had “a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window.” Geoffrey Boothroyd had written to Ian Fleming:

I dislike a man who comes into contact with all sorts of formidable people using a .25 Beretta. This sort of gun is really a lady’s gun, and not a really nice lady at that.[4]

Boothroyd (as has been recorded elsewhere in these pages) suggested several upgrades for Bond, including a Smith & Wesson Chief’s Special, but the book, Dr. No, and the film, set him up with the .32 PPK instead. Boothroyd’s lines:

Walther PPK. 7.65mm, with a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window. Takes a Brausch silencer with very little reduction in muzzle velocity. The American CIA swears by them.[5]

Bond and BoothroydIn the movie, Dr. No, Hollywood quotes the scene verbatim, but the producers and property master/armorer botch it by using a .380 Beretta 1934 — a more powerful pistol than the .32 PPK — as a stand-in for the .25 Beretta of the novel.

In both versions of Dr. No, at the end of the discussion, Bond attempts to leave with both pistols. But as Jeff Cooper might have told him, .32 + .25 does not equal .45.

Notes

[1] Cooper, John Dean “Jeff”. Cooper’s Commentaries, Vol. 14, No. 5, June-September 2006. Retrieved from: http://www.molonlabe.net/Commentaries/jeff14_5.html

[2] Cooper, John Dean “Jeff”. Cooper’s Commentaries, Vol. 2, No. 2, 31 January 1994. Retrieved from: https://www.molonlabe.net/Commentaries/jeff2_2.html The whole comment is brief and is worth reproducing here:

We hear of an unfortunate woman who, during an nighttime asthma attack, confused the small handgun she kept under her pillow with an asthma inhaler and proceeded to relieve her symptoms. It was not a fatal mistake, partly because she used a 25 ACP, which everyone knows is not sufficient to clear sinuses.

[3] Cooper, John Dean “Jeff”. Cooper’s Commentaries, Vol. 4, No. 14, December 1996. Retrieved from: https://www.molonlabe.net/Commentaries/jeff4_14.html Again, the whole exchange is worth reproducing, although a bit longer than the last:

Our old buddy Gene Harshbarger from Guatemala reports a recent episode with the 25 ACP pistol cartridge. It seems that Gene’s cousin was set upon by a trio of car thieves who shot him once almost dead center with that dinky little pistol. The bullet entered at a very flat angle, however, proceeded laterally just inside the pectoral muscle, and exited after about 5 inches of traverse, continuing on into the target’s left arm.

The cousin hit the deck and started shooting back, whereupon the assailants split. When he stood up the bullet slid out of his left sleeve and bounced on the pavement. It penetrated the jacket, but not the skin of his left arm.

As we used to teach in the spook business, carry a 25 if it makes you feel good, but do not ever load it. If you load it you may shoot it. If you shoot it you may hit somebody, and if you hit somebody – and he finds out about it – he may be very angry with you.

[4] Packard, Scott. Inside Bond’s Weapon of Choice, the Walther PPK. Gear Patrol, 9 November 2012. Retrieved from: http://gearpatrol.com/2012/11/09/defense-journal-bonds-gun/

[5] ibid.