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.     

Friday, February 14, 2014

General Stonewall Jackson’s Namesake World War II Vehicle.

The M36 “Jackson” gun carriage was named for one of America’s greatest Generals. Just as Stonewall Jackson outmaneuvered and punished the Union Army during the war of secession, the M36 did the same thing to the German tank corps in World War II.
A beautifully restored M36 Jackson
The M36 Jackson with its high speed and 90 mm main gun, was the only vehicle which could knock out German tanks like the Tiger and Panther.  The Jackson covered the backside if the inferior Sherman tank.  Had the Jackson not been present in in the European theater of operations, the Sherman tanks would have been slaughtered in tragic numbers.    
M36 Jackson in Europe in WWII

Cold Weather Testing with the G-3

The Semi Automatic G3 Rifle
The only way to make absolutely sure a weapon, optics, ammunition , lubrication combination actually works in artic cold weather is to actually test in those conditions.  The recent artic temperature and storm wave provided a unique opportunity to test equipment in some worse case scenario weather.  its good news that Mobile 1 synthetic grease and oil worked well as a lubricant in these conditions.  So far not a single malfunction in any of the weapons tested.  Mobil 1 products are great reasonable cost lubricants for all types of weapons. I find it superior to regular gun oil or CLP.
 A G3 cold warrior on the range

The G3 lived up to its legendary reputation as a cold warrior.  With wind chills below zero, the g3 was easy to use with gloves and absolutely reliable. This included firing the cheapest  steel cased 7.62x51 ammo which I could find. In forty rounds fired, all hit a 200 meter gong. This gong is roughly a man chest sized target and represents a center mass zone on a human. In this sort of weather and assuming an adversary would use reasonably effective camouflage, 200 meters represents a realistic combat range. Detecting camouflaged targets at 200 meters with the naked eye is a challenge and requires practice.
The gongs are barely visible at 200 meters

Of course, one of the things being tested is the shooter. How does personal gear such as jackets, boots, gloves, and caps work? personal camouflage is also an area of consideration. its reassuring to know these things work under these conditions, at least on the range.   
The G3 with a Spanish CETME magazine 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Hammer of Thor, Home Defense Handguns.

A collection of powerful revolvers, past and present.  
Home defense handguns are a neglected subject. Many people use their concealed carry weapon (CCW) handguns, either alone or in conjunction with more powerful arms.  In most cases, the requirements for a strictly home defense and CCW hand guns are different.
 The N frame S&W revolvers have been "taking care of business" for over 100 years.

While both should be requisitely powerful, the CCW is often a compromise between power, size, and capacity. CCW guns may be micro size and have short barrels which degrade the ballistic effectiveness of the round fired.  The homeowner does not have to compromise. Weapons deployed in one’s home need not be concealed on the person or discreet.  In home defense, the shotgun is a very popular weapon. Many home defense experts recommend the shotgun as the primary weapon.  The reason is its unmatched close range power. The problem is most home owners/protectors don’t have a multiple shotguns staged around the house. The handgun may be the only weapon immediately available.
 A powerful single action, such as this 38-40 Ruger, is a reasonable choice for home defense. 

In close range confrontations in the home, it’s rare to fire more than one or two shots. The reality of multiple attacker home invasions is rare and remote, however it can occur. Even in this extreme case, powerful weapons are preferable. The ability to stop an attacker with fewer shots is an advantage.  
 Several old and new large powerful revolvers.  

What kind of handguns re of the most use for inside the home? My answer is powerful full size pistols. While the .45 Auto, 10 mm, and 9mm are good, I prefer powerful revolvers. By powerful I mean less than standard 44 Magnum. My favorites are the 45 Colt, 45 Auto Rim, 44 Special, 44-40, 38-40, and 357 Magnum.  The home owner/protector should follow the basic rule of thumb for defensive handguns, use the largest caliber you can effectively shoot. If that is 38 special or 9mm, so be it.  However, many people can effectively use the larger revolver cartridges. 

The 44 Special S&W 624 is a durable and reliable combat classic.
These large cartridges have effectively stopped attackers since the days of the old west or Prohibition.   Advances in premium defense ammunition, especially hollow points, enhance the capabilities of these tried and true cartridges even more. The powerful revolver is the hammer of Thor, which can protect the home and the lives in it.      
 The 44 Magnum represents the upper limit of defensive cartridges. The home owner/protector is better served by slightly less powerful big bore cartridges.  Of course 44 Magnum revolvers can use high performance 44 Special cartridges.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Quiet Walther PP

The magnificent Walther Polizei Pistole (PP)
The Walther Polizei Pistole (PP) first appeared in 1929.  It was decades ahead of its time.  The Walther PP introduced the first practical double action-single action trigger system.  The Walther trigger system became a world standard for over eight decades and continues to this day.   The PP is one of the most influential pistols of all time.  It’s the direct ancestor of the compact Walther PPK, and as such was widely copied in Europe after the Second World War.
Post war PP (top) and post war PPK

The Walther PP is usually mentioned as background context to the wildly popular and successful PPK.  The PP is mentioned in passing, but never as a ground breaking pistol.  The PP is not given much acclaim for its outstanding accuracy, durability, and reliability. The Walther PP was manufactured in large numbers concurrently with the PPK, and was employed as a rather small size service pistol by the German Army and Police. The Walther PP was available in the same calibers as the PPK, mostly in 7.65 (32 ACP) and smaller numbers in 9mm Kurtz (380 ACP) and in 22 long rifle. The 22 long rifle was strictly a civilian market offering.  Interesting, it was widely used for personal protection by German civilians who lived and worked in occupied territory during World War II.
A wartime manufacture PP .22 (top) and a postwar 7.65 PP used by the German Police.
The Walther PP soldiered through World War II and provided excellent service.  The PP’s performance and reliability was never compromised, even in the roughly finished late war examples.  After the war the PP and PPK were copied in East Germany and Turkey. Other pistols, such as the Soviet Makarov and several Hungarian hand guns, and the Czech CZ 50/70 series guns were clearly influenced by the PP and PPK.  The PP came to the rescue of American shooters when the idiotic Gun Control Act of 1968 outlawed the importation of the West German made PPK.  The PP frame and the PPK slide were mated to create the legally importable Walther PPK/S (S for “States” model).  The French company of Manurhin, manufactured a licensed version of the Walther PP and PPK.
Bond (Sean Connery) with a PP instead of a PPK in Dr. No

The PP was the stand in for the PPK in the Bond movie, “Dr. No”.  I don’t think anyone really knows why the PP was so heavily used “Dr. No”, my guess would be the sleek appearance and slightly larger size of the pistol.  There may have been a fear the PPK would look too much like a small toy. 
CIA Agent Felix Leitner (Jack Lord) and 007 James Bond (Sean Connery) both equipped with Walther PP pistols in lieu of the PPK.

 By the early 1970s the threat of terrorism (Munich Olympics and the Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang) caused the German police to shift to heavier weapons. The light caliber small capacity Walther PP was replaced by 9mm Parabellum weapons. The PPK was still popular as a concealment pistol for police and of course among the legion of James Bond fans. 
Larger more powerful pistols such as the P.38/P.1 (top) gradually replaced the PP in police service.

Even today, the excellent accuracy of the PP surpasses many modern duty firearms. The durability, reliability, sleek appearance, and history give the Walther PP a small but devoted following among collectors. The Walther PP is an unsung hero which provided exemplary service in peace and war.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sauer 38H, Almost Bond

Sauer 38H with holster
The Sauer 38H was one of the best small pistol of World War II. It had the unique de-cocking lever which has not been used on any pistol since. It is one of the most enjoyable 7.65 (32 ACP) pistols for shooting. Like the legendary Walther PP and PPK, the 38H is outstandingly accurate, reliable, and robust. It was rumored to be a favorite of German paratroops in WW II. The German Army and police used the pistol extensively and there were no complaints.  
Beretta 1934 sometimes used in early Bond movies and misidentified as a 25 ACP Caliber.
Ian Fleming, an excellent and imaginative writer but no gun expert, created the super-agent 007 James Bond. Bond was armed with an early 25 ACP Beretta. Geoffrey Boothroyd, a Scottish firearms expert, wrote Fleming on this matter. Boothroyd suggested a colt snub-nosed revolver and a proper holster.  Fleming insisted on Bond carrying a semi-automatic pistol. The two men came up with two handguns which were sufficiently advanced and rakish enough for Bond. The Sauer 38H and the postwar Walther PPK were the finalists.  The Walther won on several points, more stylish looks. It was a German but not exclusively NAZI pistol.    It was considered state of the art and was still in production. The 38H was produced only during the NAZI years and went out of production in 1945.

Sauer 38H (top) and a prewar Walther PPK, the PPK is more compact and sleek.
The Walther PPK was chosen and Boothroyd was rewarded by Fleming naming the original “Q” Major Boothroyd.  Fleming also titled Geoffrey Boothroyd as the official armorer to James Bond.  Of course Walther a skyrocketing demand for the PPK due to the Bond movies. A phenomenon not seen until “Dirty Harry” popularized the S&W Model 29 44 Magnum revolver.
Prewar Walther PPK(top) and the eventual Bond gun, the postwar PPK.
A few side notes, the Beretta 25 ACP is seen in the early movies as a Beretta 1934, as similar but larger design.  The 38H would have a great Bond gun, but its past clearly mitigated against it. The Bond legacy has induced Walther to produce an alloy slide and frame Walther PPK/S in 22 Long Rifle. I hope this new gun lives up to the legend.     

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Happy Birthday General Stuart!

James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart, maybe the greatest American cavalryman.
General Jeb Stuart, CSA
General Stuart was the namesake for the very successful M3 & M5 series of light tanks used in World War II.
M5 Stuart Tank

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Colt 38 Super Superiority

The Colt 38 Super is a great pistol. its both hard hitting and smooth shooting. The 38 Super is more difficult to hand load than the venerable 45 ACP. Extra care must be taken in three areas.
Colt 38 Super with a BAR-STO Barrel and match trigger 

First make sure the loads are powerful enough to cycle the action, but not so powerful as to blow out the case head.  Most pistol have barrels which do not support the case head. Some "race guns" meant for competition were custom fitted by gunsmiths with barrels which fully support the camber and can with stand +P+ loads.

Second make sure the bullet neck tension is sufficient so the bullet does not set back in the loading process, i.e. moving from the magazine to the chamber. This can also cause the case head to blow out due to excessive pressure.
Same pistol with the slid locked to the rear.

Third, make sure the overall length of the loads is correct for the 38 Super. rounds which are too short may jam.  Rounds to long won't fit into magazines, or cycle. Consult a good hand loading manual for the cartridge overall length.

Have fun, the 38 super is a great round and the Colt is a great gun.