Monday, December 15, 2014

Major Glenn Miller

70 years ago today the world lost major Glenn miller over the English Channel. Miller created some of the best music in the world. He is still missed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

P14 Enfield Rifle vs. M1917 Enfield Rifle

P14 Enfield Rifle

One of the important decisions of the American involvement in the First World War was how to alleviate the rifle shortage for the Army and Marines. The Marines, a smaller and agile organization, was equipped with Model 1903 Springfield Rifles. However, production of Model 1903 Springfield rifle could equip the rapidly expanding Army. Several stopgap measures were used; undelivered American made Mosin Nagant 1891 rifles ordered by the now defunct Russian Tsar’s government were used as training rifles. Pressed into emergency service were older U.S. Krag rifles and carbines from the Spanish America War era and even some 1873 “Trapdoor” Springfields from the Indian for training or industrial plant security. 
US Model 1903 Springfield Rifle

None of these solutions would equip a large American Army for combat in France.  As a solution, it was decided to use the Pattern 1914 (P14) Enfield rifle in US service. The P14 was designed in the wake of the Boer War and was based on German deigned Mauser rifle principles. The P14 was a development of an earlier rifle originally designed for a high performance .276 cartridge and christened the P13 in 1913. The Mauser rifles used by the Boers outclassed the British lee Enfield rifles in the Boer War. The outbreak of the war in 1914 caused cancellation of this program. The British, desperate for rifles in 1915 and 1916 contracted with three American companies, Winchester, Remington, and Eddystone Remington, to produce the P14 rifle in the standard .303 British service cartridge. By early 1917 production of the M1917  reached  1.2 million P14 rifles. Surprisingly, during this period, British rifle production of the Lee Enfield met the voracious demand for rifles on all fronts. Additionally, the excellent performance of the Lee Enfield SMLE in the trenches made the introduction of the P14 unnecessary.  Thus, the P-14 saw only limited use and was placed in war reserve at the end of the war.
SMLE, M1903, and M1917 rifles on the firing line.

The factories, tooling, and workforce were in place for mass production of the P14. However, American military and political leaders wanted no part of the British .303 cartridge. The .303 was perceived as inferior to the U.S. 30-06. No one wanted the confusion and supply problems generated in having two different service rifle cartridges. The decision was made to redesign the P14 to accommodate the 30-06 and the rifle was designated the U.S. Model 1917. This rifle is often  referred to as the American Enfield or 1917 Enfield. It is incorrect to refer to the rifle as a P17. The United States never used “pattern” or “P” as a designation for military arms.  

Model 1917 rifles started reaching U.S. soldiers in late 1917. After some initial problems with parts interchangeability, all three companies produced rifles at an incredible rate; in all 2.4 million Model 1917 rifles were produced by 1919.   Some estimate 75% of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) were equipped with this rifle in France. Had the war continued into 1919 or 1920, production of Model 1917 rifles would meet demand. 

But, if the military establishment had decided to use the P14, and not modify it for the 30-06, would it have really been a problem? The answer is no. The United States was already producing and selling large amounts of 303 British ammunition  to the United Kingdom.  The famous ocean liner RMS Lusatania  carried several tons of 303 rifle cartridges when sunk in 1915.  The capacity existed to produce the cartridge for the U.S. Military.

The problem of using two different service rifle rounds for U.S. troops in World War I  existed. Doughboys used the dismal French 8x50 Lebel ammunition in the even more disappointing Chauchat light machinegun and in the Hotchkiss model 1914 medium machinegun.  Also, although supplied by the French Army, African –American Soldiers of the 92nd and 93rd divisions were stuck with French weapons  and other equipment including the cumbersome and awkward Lebel and Berthier rifles.  Other American troops used British SMLE rifles during training which occurred in France before deployment to the trenches.  

The P14 is a very accurate and adequately powerful rifle. It could have served the AEF well.  The rifle is quite comfortable to fire and has less recoil with the 303 cartridge than the Model 1917 in 30-06. The  immediate adoption of the P-14 would prevent  rifle shortage experienced by the U.S. Army early in the war (1917 for the U.S).  

The P-14 and M1917 rifles are superior for combat use than both the SMLE and the 1903 Springfield.   The P-14/M1917 sights surpass any other rifles used in World War I. Metal ears protect the thick front sight and provide the soldier a very good sight picture. The close proximity of the rear sight aperture  to the soldier’s eye improves the sight picture and increases the sight radius.  The five groove barrel of the P-14/M1917 also demonstrates excellent accuracy. Some M1917 rifles were refurbished with two groove barrels in World War II, in fairness, these replacement barrels are accurate also. If the rifle has a weakness it is the lack of a windage adjustable rear sight. The front sight is adjustable with a tool.  If the opportunity presents itself, fire the rifles of World War I and make up your own mind.        

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vintage Military Rifles

1903 Springfield

After participating in a manually operated military rifle match to recognize the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, I have new respect for the designers, soldiers, and craftsmen who created and used these magnificent arms in battle.

It’s amazing to witness the fine shooting performances turned in by rifle which are nearly 100 years old. The quality of materials and high standard of manufacture is evident in how well these rifles shoot today. Granted, in their service configuration with battle sights, none of these rifles will strike fear into the hearts of any Camp Perry. But, they are still accurate and effective nearly 100 years later. Many of the rifles used were not pristine collector grade examples either. Many had seen untold years of service before being sold off surplus. 
Mosin Nagant 1891

Over the years many of the rifles had parts switched or replaced and most languished in the hands of colonial and reserve troops for decades or were roughly handles by raw recruits during initial military training. Yet these survivors soldier on in the hands of rifle enthusiasts as the symbols of the conflicts they were used in.  
1873 "Trapdoor" Springfield

Mausers, Enfields, Springfields, and Mosin Nagants among many others were the tools which shaped the 20th century. These rifles have endured, and in a few cases still see use in isolated and forgotten corners of the globe. Every once in a while, the rifles are seen in fleeting glimpses on cable news shows.

Compared to today’s modern military assault rifles, the bolt action rifles of the early 20th century seem to be quaint antiques. In reality, they still deliver power accuracy and reliability unmatched even in today’s weapons.           

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kahr Arms Auto Ordnance M1911A1

The Best 1911A1 Currently Available.
The Kahr Arms Auto Ordnance M1911A1 is the most authentic GI M1911A1 currently made today.
The Kahr Arms M1911A1 (top) compares favorably to a WWII vintage Remington Rand m1911A1.
Brownell's Ophoxo Blue fixed the shinny barrel hood and give the pistol a more GI appearance.
In the quest for a currently made USGI style 1911A1 for recreational shooting, I’ve discovered the Kahr Arms Auto Ordnance 1911A1. This gun is destined for general recreational shooting and some period specific events like 1930s Action shooting (Zoot Shooting). I had several criterion which this pistol has to meet. Here is a list of features I wanted:

·         Parkerized Finish

·         Lanyard loop

·         Checkered wide spur hammer

·         A1 sights

·         Standard ejection port.

·         1911A1 frame contours

·         GI style grips

Getting all of these features on the same gun proved impossible for all manufacturers accept Auto Ordnance. The Kahr Arms M1911A1 PKZ embodies all these features which pleases me greatly. From a few feet it easily passes for a vintage M1911A1. 

There are a few minor differences:

·         Series 80 style safety

·         Model 1911A1 is stamped on the slide and not on the frame

·         The barrel hood is polished and not blue.

·         Mid length trigger

I believe none of these are a matter of any concern. The Series 80 safety is internal to the gun and only visible on disassembly. The 1911A1 U.S. Army stamping on the slide is relatively small and does not detract from the appearance of the gun. Brownells’ Oxopho Blue remedies the shiny barrel hood, giving it a very authentic looking blue color. The mid length trigger is easily replaceable, but I find it comfortable.

The old pre-1999 Auto Ordnance/Thompson pistols were cast (both slides and frames) in Spain and assembled with spotty quality control in West Hurley, MA.

The new Kahr Arms Auto Ordnance is an entirely new product, competitively priced, and  made if the USA.   Some of the early Kahr guns had a thick frame in the grip area which I found rather unsightly. This problem was address a couple of years ago and the frame contours compare very favorably to vintage M1911A1 pistols.  The feed ramp is also nicely polished and feed jacket and lead bullets well.  The M1911A1 is a very credible defence pistol. This pistol is an excellent value and is every bit as good as it's Worls War II ancestors.


Monday, August 4, 2014

A Company of Note

In a project unrelated to this blog, I had the great fortune to meet and speak with members of the Hodgdon family. They own and operate the Hodgdon Powder Company which produces and sell many of the iconic brands of powder used by hand loaders for decades. The Company’s founder, Mr. Bruce E. Hodgdon, started his business after World War II by selling government surplus powder as a part time family oriented business.  The company has grown into a premier producer of smokeless and black powder providing a wide variety of product to hand loaders.  This company exudes excellence at every level. This includes products and customer service. They are very worthy of our patronage.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Army Camouflage

The UCP is a poor choice for most environments
The Army has dumped the horrible and useless Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP). I was issued this uniform in Iraq.  I can tell you it was, and is worthless.

UCP in Iraq, we still had woodland body armor, another poor choice for the desert
So after 9 years of insanity, the Army is adopting the Scorpion pattern, which is very similar to the Multicam used in Afghanistan.  Why not use Multicam pattern? Well its copyright belongs to a private company, which requires compensation. Rather than pay millions in royalties, the Army adopted the scorpion which it owns the copyright to.  
Superior Army Scorpion camouflage pattern
Some more good news, if you operate in a snow or urban environment, in which UCP excels, plenty of inexpensive surplus will hit the market soon.

 Contrast between the the UCP and Multicam in the field 

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Longest Day

We know what day it was. It had nothing to do with mother nature. it was the courage of men.  Here is a picture of my uncle who jumped into Normandy on D-Day, 70 years ago.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Another shot during filming

Sorry about the quality of the picture, here is the Enforcer filming for the TV documentary.  More to follow.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Enforcer on TV!!!!

Enforcer (right) during filming

Your humble blogger was contacted by Nutopia Productions for an interview on several firearms subjects. Colt revolvers used by the Frank and Jesse James during their partisan guerrilla days and early robberies. Another subject was the Thompson SMG. The best part of the day was firing weapons, from the 1847 Walker Colt to the Thompson model 1927A1. Stay tuned for further details!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

TM1 Thompson Carbine

One of the most enjoyable firearms are the Thompsons.  The TM1 is the semi automatic copy of the famed M1 Thompson of World War II. At this range session, a fellow shooter came up and stated “ I saw that gun in Saving Private Ryan!  The semi-automatic Thompson carbines are great nostalgia pieces and really fun to shoot. One point often missed, is the potential of the Thompson as a self-defense piece.  
TM1 with two 30 round magazines
The original fully automatic Thompsons were marketed to a variety of businesses and ranchers as defensive weapons. The semi auto versions can still do this task admirably.  A magazine of 20 or 30 rounds of 45 ACP is formidable close range firepower.
15 yard rapid fire group
The target pictured was engaged rapid fire at 15 yards. The shot group is quite small and speaks to the accuracy and controllability of the carbine.  
Optional extended cocking handle for the TM1

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tactical Long Range Shooting Kit.

Here is a quick range picture of my tactical long range shooting kit. By long range I really mean 500 meters.  That's about the limit of my equipment and my eyesight. The rifle is an Imbel FAL made in Brazil topped with an ELCAN Specter OS 3.4 (Canadian Army C-79) sight, and M249 style pistol grip, STG-58 stock furniture with a folding bipod and black m1907 sling.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dodge Nitro

One of the best SUVs ever made. The Nitro combines style with function. The V6 engine provides good performance and excellent power.  I like the Nitro’s styling, it looks like its owner may be carrying a gun. This is important as it may dissuade a potential “car jacker” .  The Nitro is a gun owners type of automobile. Sadly it was discontinued by Dodge in 2012.


Chrysler A57 Tank Engine.

An assembled A57 Multibank engine
In World War  II aircraft and tank engines were in short supply.  Manufacturers were hard pressed to keep up with the demand. For the early variants of the M4 Sherman tank, Chrysler developed a unique engine comprised of five 6 cylinder engines in a single assembly which created a powerful 30 cylinder tank engine called the A57 Multibank engine.  This Dodge 6 cylinder engine was used in the Dodge Windsor automobile before the war and was adapted for this purpose. Tooling already existed to produce the Windsor engine in large quantity.

5 Six Cylinder blocks ready for assembly

Tanks with these unusual engines were supplied to our Allies, most notably the British.  The engine produced 450 horse power and was very effective.  It was reportedly very smooth and reliable and could absorb a lot of punishment. Does it have anything to do with classic guns? No but its very cool.
Beautifully restored M4 Sherman with a Multibank engine.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


You can see some strange things in the details of some military monuments where weapons are concerned.  Sometimes sculptors don't get the details right. One example is the great French monument at West Point, the sword is straight and the scabbard is curved. Also the cannon balls are too large is diameter to fit the cannon.
French Monument at West Point
Another interesting ones if the beautiful and inspiring Confederate monument in Victoria, Texas. The Confederate Soldier has a "Trapdoor" Springfield breach loading rifle, a weapon not introduced until after the end of the War of Succession.
Confederate Soldier depicted with a post war Trapdoor rifle, not the breach of the rifle and the latch. 
One of my favorite monuments is the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial statue depicting the flag raising on Iwo Jima in World War II. The event was witnessed by my uncle, a naval officer on LST 121 at the time. Two of the M1 carbines exhibit post war modifications, the sliding adjustable sight and the barrel band with the bayonet lug. Although these modifications were approved during the war, non of them made it into combat on Iwo Jima.  
The two marines on the right have post war modifications to their M1carbines.
Even with these minor detail wrong, these are three of my favorite military monuments. They are beautiful and inspiring works of art which depict Americans at our best. 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

1st Sergeant William Wallace Burgess

1st SGT W.W. Burgess, Co K, 1st VA Cavalry, ANV
W.W. Burgess, a hero of the great Confederate States Army, is pictured with some interesting weapons. 1st is probably the largest D handle Bowie knife I've ever seen in a period photograph. Second is a Griswold & Gunnison revolver. Third, is an 1842 Mississippi rifle. These may have been photographer props but they are all excellent weapons for repelling a Yankee invasion. 

No Suprise: AK-74 in Crimea

Russian Troops using AK-74 rifles in Crimea
No real surprises, the Russian troops are using Soviet era AK-74s. In fact, the entire invasion seems to be a showcase of Cold War equipment. I fear the Crimea is forever lost to the Russian bear. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Read this interesting food blog!!!

Recipe Archeology is an outstanding blog which uncovers great recipes from the past as discovered in old recipe boxes.  The dishes made are nostalgic and very interesting.  They are a fine companion to your classic firearm. TRY SOME!!!!!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Pathetic Walther P-22.

Old model P-22 had the handsome features of the P-99
I have to admit being an ardent Walther fan. I’ve toured the Walther factory in Ulm, Germany, and I’ve treasured such pistols as the PP, PPK, and P.38. I’ve admired Walther Target pistols such as the Olympia and GSP. I still believe these are the best pistols of their type in the world.  I’ve owned two Walther P-22 pistols and here is my review.  

In 2003 I purchased a Walther P-22, a light handy polymer framed gun which caught my fancy.  I expected it would perform similarly to my Walther PP .22LR which was made in 1943. In short, the gun did not live up to those expectations. First, the P-22 makes extensive use of polymer, plastic, and zinc. This keeps the pistol light weight and inexpensive.

 The gun I purchased in 2003 had several problems, its accuracy was indifferent, during the first range session the safety fell off and was lost. It was never reliable in spite of buying several additional Walther magazines.  In 2012 the gun would not function at all.  I returned it to Smith & Wesson, Walther’s  American partner at the time, for repair.  I was informed the frame was cracked and the pistol would be replaced.
New Q series P-22 is much less attractive than the old model.

I felt this was excellent customer service. About 6 weeks later my replacement pistol arrived at my FFL.   I was immediately disappointed by the new Q series styling, I found the “stealth fighter: styling on the P-99 and the scaled down P-22, very attractive and modern.  The Q series guns look like a failed modern art project. However, the worth of a gun is how it functions.  I found the Q series P-22 to be a failure. 

Here is a list of the things that are wrong with the Walther P-22.  

·        The pistol is inaccurate. It performance at 25 yards is abysmal. Usually .22 caliber pistols are usually very accurate, the P-22 is a sad exception. It will not build confidence in new shooters.

·        The pistol is unreliable, there is always a failure to fire, failure to feed, failure to eject in almost every magazine. Unlike a steel gun, it cannot break in since polymer, zinc, and plastic can’t rub off edges like two steel surfaces can. The shooter is constantly clearing jams or chambering rounds to get the pistol to shoot.  The P-22 is useless as a training weapon for novice shooters, who have no confidence in a continually malfunctioning weapon.    

·        The quality of manufacture is poor, it looks and feels cheap and chintzy. Zinc alloy is really unsuitable for firearms, especially Walther. The plastic pieces such as the sights and safety are flimsy and will not stand up to daily use. This pistol feels like an airsoft gun rigged to fire .22LR. It was apparently never built to last or preform, so unlike previous Walther pistols.    

·        The P-22 is the most ammo sensitive design ever made, my two pistols would not shoot standard velocity, and many high velocity brands of ammunition. Given the difficultly in obtaining .22 ammunition, this is a serious problem. The P-22 is simply not worth wasting expensive ammunition on.

·        The earlier P-22 looked like the P-99, which was used in several James Bond movies. Although the newer Q series gun has a stronger slide, it does not have the “Bond 007 “ allure for younger shooters.

The P-22 is really unfit to wear the Walther banner.  I would sell mine in a heartbeat but I’d hate to see another shooter get stuck.  It’s a poorly made toy which shoots live ammo, its not fit as a range gun or for any more serious purpose such as hunting or competition. Avoid this gun like the plague.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Another Hammer of Thor, a 45-70 Springfield Cadet Rifle

1884 Springfield Cadet Rifle with ammunition. 

The 45-70 Government is an outstanding cartridge. Introduced in 1873 as a U.S. military cartridge, its still popular in lever action and single shot rifles today. In the tradition black powder loading it launches a 405gr lead bullet at about 1200 feet per second.  The rifle pictured is a model 1884 Springfield Cadet Rifle. The cadet rifles were specially designed for and issued to military schools.  There are several differences between the regular Springfield trapdoor and the cadet rifle, however the maid difference is the cadet rifle is 4" shorter.  The reduced length made the cadet rifle easier to cadets.  As many military schools were essentially the same as today's high schools,  the shorter rifle was much easier to handle during drill and marksmanship by young teenagers.
      130 year old trapdoor cadet rifle at the range
The 45-70 rounds are loaded singly into the breach. the bore received a thin coat of bore butter to reduce fouling and leading. the off hand groups at 50 yard were excellent, once slight elevation corrections were made.
Target and group for the cadet rifle.
In the course of firing, two of the cases cracked, this was the third reload for this brass so I was surprised at the cracks. On the other hand it illustrated the danger of unseen case corrosion which can lead to brass failure.
 Two cracked cases!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Time for the Trainedband

This would be an awesome Trainedband
The Trainedband was the earliest colonial militia tactical unit. Their purpose was to protect the other colonists. Every man over a certain age was required to join and serve in some capacity. My ancestor, and early American colonist Daniel Burgess, was an armorer for his Trainedband. The term fell out of use in the 1700s.
Perhaps we need this today, our neighborhoods are not safe for children, our schools need additional security, many of our public places are hunting grounds for criminals. Trainedbands of law abiding citizens could assist police and be a valuable part of overall security.  They could provide the trained observers and become witnesses which helps solve crimes. Some selected members could provide an armed deterrent or armed response to crime. This would not be a great change to current public policy and law, it would be a modest expansion of concealed carry.  This expansion is necessary for the Trainedband to protect itself and victim or potential victims of crime and terrorism.   

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Interesting G3 Rifle Magazines.

5 round PSG sniper steel magazine (top) 20 round lightweight G3 aluminum magazine (left) 20 round CETME steel magazine (center) and early G3 20 round steel magazine. 

During the recent cold weather testing of the Heckler & Koch (HK) G3 rifle, I had the opportunity to examine a large number of G3 rifle magazines. The G3 rifle was used by many NATO countries, including West Germany, Norway, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey. Many other countries also purchased G3 rifles and it’s still used in remote parts of the world.
Close up of 5 round steel magazine.

The interesting magazines examined included some from Norway, Germany and Portugal, Unmarked magazines included unmarked Spanish CETME magazines, unmarked G3 steel magazines, and a 5 round magazine which must have been made for the PSG Sniper rifle or commercial HK 91 rifle. It appears purpose made and not simply a converted 20 round magazine. The only marking on the 5 round magazine is 7.62x51 IH.
Early steel magazine with a 12/60 date.

There are two types of magazines, the all steel 20 round magazine and the 20 round ribbed pattern aluminum magazine. The follower, spring, and base plate are identical in each type of magazine.

Portuguese G3 magazine with a 2/65 date.
These were the most interesting ones I saw in a group of about 40 magazines.  The oldest all steel magazine was marked G3 HK 12/60 produced by HK in December 1960. The earliest date on an aluminum magazine is   G3 HK 2/63 produced in February 1963.  There were also examples of Norwegian made magazines marked with a crown over a K, and Rheimetall made magazines marked with a circle diamond.
 7/64 dated Rheinmetall made magazine.
 The unmarked magazines could have come from Greece or Turkey.  I sure many other countries manufactured G3 magazines and many of these are not marked.   All the different magazines performed equally well during the cold weather testing. I do have a preference for the CETME magazine, its slight curve is appealing to the eye and complement the lines of the rifle.
HK manufactured aluminum magazine with a 2/63 date. The waffle patterned may have been influenced by earlier AR-10 and AR-15 magazines. 

These are interesting bits of firearms trivia.  I thought about the world of 1960, the earliest dated magazine.   The Cold War, Berlin Crisis, election of JFK, U2 downed over the Soviet Union, and Elvis discharged from the Army all happened in 1960.