Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Man behind James Bond’s Guns

Boothroyd and Fleming.

Mr Geoffrey Boothroyd. A well read Scotsman, and connoisseur of fine firearms. It was Boothroyd that wrote to Ian Fleming and suggested Bond’s gun should be changed. In Flemings books, Bond uses a Beretta 418 .25 ACP and a variety of revolvers, none of which would fit the James Bond film image of today. Boothroyd suggested something more modern with ammunition that available world-wide. The two finalists were the famous Walther PPK and the excellent Sauer Model 38H. Fleming himself confessed that he did not know a lot about guns and he was grateful for Boothroyds’ help.

Ian Fleming with a Colt Offical Police or Colt Commando Revolver

In a stroke of luck, the PPK was chosen. The Sauer Model 38H had been out of production since 1945 and was ostensibly “Nazi” gun. The choice was a marketing bonanza for Walther. As 007 sported the PPK in Dr. No, and Goldfinger , Walther’s sales of the PPK skyrocketed. Everyone could afford a PPK, unlike the Aston Martin DB 5 or Dom PĂ©rignon Champagne.
Boothroyd was also a prolific author of firearms related books in the U.K. , but movie fans and Bond enthusiasts are grateful for his timely advice to the father of the modern spy novel.
For a short video circa 1964 featuring Geoffrey Boothroyd use this link:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Headspace Gages

If you have older rifles, especially military rifles, a set of headspace gages are needed to help ensure safe firing. Even older military cartridges link 7mm Mauser, 30-40 Krag, and 7.62x54R generate lots of pressure. Headspace is important in all these cartridge and rifle combinations. An accurate way to measure headspace is with a good quality gage.

Some excellent headspace gages are made by Okie Headspace Gages. As their name implies, the company is located in northern Oklahoma. They manufacture GO, NO-GO, and FIELD gages. The FIELD gages are used in older military rifles that may have generous chambers. They have excellent instruction on their website and it’s very easy to order what you need online. Visit them at

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holidays Are Here!! Part I

I’ll make several wish lists this year! Here’s the first!
I wish that there were more shooting competitions centered on fun and history. Zoot Shooters are a step in the right direction, I’d like to see theme shooting for Victorian era rifles and pistols, World War II era weapons, Cold War era weapons, and Great War era weapons. The emphasis is on fun and not competition. Costume is optional. Original and modern reproduction weapons allowed. These would not be a place for gimmicks, gamesmanship, or tactikoolers. It would be celebrations of old style guns, history, oddball cartridges, camaraderie, and a place for young family members to experience shooting.

I really wish an idea like this could take off, some of the large ranges/clubs could sponsor a themed shoot once a month. Cowboy action clubs would be a natural place to do some of this type of shooting. Just think of the thousands of older military rifles and pistols that activities like this would give a purpose to.
History enjoyment, fun, and guns just go together. I’d like to see more of it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Buy an M-57 Now!!

The Yugoslavian M-57 featured in a previous post is one of the best buys on the market today. With a price of about $200, the M-57 represents a great value for the money. A tin of surplus ammunition can be purchased for about $125. While this pistol is not state of the art, its wise to purchase one for future needs.

A case of 7.62x25mm Tokarev Ammunition

Tough serviceable firearms will be worth their weight in gold in the potential difficult times ahead of us. Get one now while the pistol and ammunition are inexpensive!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Yugoslavian M-57

One of the more interesting places in Europe was the former Yugoslavia. A communist led multi ethnic state, Yugoslavia was neutral in the Cold War. It has no real allies and many ethnic tensions. Yugoslavia sensibly armed itself with a mix of Western and Communist Bloc weapons. Yugoslavia manufactured many of its own small arms. One of the best weapons was the Yugoslavian M-57 Pistol. The pistol is an outstanding example adopting and slightly modifying a proven design for domestic uses. The M-57 is a refinement of the Soviet T-33 Tokarev design.

On the M-57, the grip was lengthened and a very nice frame mounted thumb safety was added. Both of these changes make the pistol more comfortable and safer to use than the Soviet T-33. The excellent reliability of the T-33 design is not compromised by these changes. The M-57 has served Yugoslavia, and after the 1992 dissolution, the former Yugoslav republics well. Rugged as a Gorki truck, accurate and reliable the M-57 was the best Tokarev type pistol ever made.

Its only weakness is the rather strange 7.62x25 cartridge. Basically this is a hot loaded 7.63 Mauser pistol cartridge (do not fire this ammo in Mauser C-96 pistols). This cartridge has been obsolete since World War II. In a modern context its major problem is over penetration. There are some new technology rounds available that may mitigate this problem.
I first saw them in Bosnia; it was the weapon the local police and militia carried. I didn’t get a good look at most of them as the Bosnian Serbs wisely kept them holstered in our presence.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Old Timer Pstol's Revenge

I recently had an opportunity to shoot an unusual gun that is a real favorite of mine. It’s the Swedish service pistol, the Husquvarna M-40 often mistakenly called the Lahti M-40. It’s a very unusual design that’ sometimes mistaken for the Luger. It was designed by Amino Lahti for Finland and was adopted in 1935. The Swedes adopted the pistol in 1940 and manufactured it themselves. The M-40 was designed to operate in very cold weather and is a very robust design. It’s all steel construction and fixed barrel give the pistol mild recoil and fine accuracy.

The M-40 and it's target.

I was firing an excellent example at an indoor range the M-40s large sights proved a very positive asset in the murky lighting of the range. The target in the photo was at a distance of 15 yards and offhand. The revenge part is how thoroughly and convincingly this pistol out shot several other 9mms at the range that day. One Glockster told me “My pistol holds twice as many rounds as yours”. After seeing his poor target, all I could say was “Looks like you need ‘em.”

The Pistol, target, spare mags, holster, cleaning rod.

A Swedish M-40 costs about twice as much as a modern polymer 9mm pistol. Based on performance, that’s about right.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Movie for the Holidays

One of my favorite holiday traditions is watching the great movie “Zulu” starring Stanley Baker and Michael Cain. For me, the movie also stars the Webley Mk VI revolver and the 577-450 Martini Henry rifle. The movie has some historical and other flaws, but, it’s great entertainment. There are a few Long Lees in the rifle line and of course the Mk Vi was not introduced until 1915! Almost 40 years after the battle of Rourke’s Drift. The movie is a great tribute to the honor and courage of Victorian soldiers. It would never be made in the politically correct world today.

Sir Stanley Baker as Lt John Chard

Friday, November 4, 2011

Browning Baby 25 ACP.

The Browning Baby was designed by DieudonnĂ© Saive, the man who refined John Browning’s Browning Highpower, and designed the FN FAL rifle. It’s tiny, very easy to conceal, and it’s the vest pocket pistol that all other are judged by. Its wartime users included the French Resistance, and James Bond author Ian Fleming. It was rumored to be included in U.S. Air Force survival kits in the 1960s. The Baby is chambered in 25 ACP, a round detested by serious hand gunners, but successfully used in vest pocket pistols for just over 100 years. There are many stories of the 25 ACP failures to stop assailants, but it can and has killed foes. The 25 ACP is more powerful and reliable that 22 Long rifle is similar sized platforms. Guns this small are usually back up or last ditch weapons, designed for deep concealment.

The Baby pictured here, belonged to my mother. In fact she used it to apprehend a burglar who broke into our home when I was a child. In that case just the presence of the .25 ACP Baby Browning was enough.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mauser Model C96

It’s an odd looking pistol, but I love it. The Mauser C96, the famous “Broom handle”, was on the world stage from 1896 to 1945. Winston Churchill had one and used it in the Battle of Omdurman and in the Boer War. Lawrence of Arabia carried one in the desert. It went through a few design variations, the largest being a detachable magazine in the 1930s. The Mauser C96 was even the basis for Han Solo’s blaster in the movie Star Wars.

They’re still around today in shootable condition. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to shoot one sometime. You won’t forget it.