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The Vault

Want to buy a Jeep with a Browning 1919 on it?

I have a 1946 CJ-2A Jeep with a semiauto Browning 1919A4 mounted on the rollbar, and it’s for sale. Continue reading to see all the details…

Continue reading Want to buy a Jeep with a Browning 1919 on it?

Walther MP-PP Prototype at James D Julia

During the late 1920s, it looked like the German Army was going to replace the P08 Luger with a less expensive sidearm, and several major German companies developed prototype guns to meet this anticipated need. The replacement ended up being postponed for nearly a decade (the P38 would be the eventual result), and this led to most of the prototype ideas being dropped. The Walther company had designed a scaled-up version of its very popular PP, which was to be called the MP. Only a small number were made – Fritz Walther himself carried one in 9x19mm, and this example was made in 9x23mm Steyr in hopes of attracting interest from the Chilean military. It is a simple blowback action, quite literally an enlarged PP. In my opinion, it feels fantastic in the hand – it is curious to consider what it would have felt like to shoot.


Two Prototype Webley Automatic Pistols at James D Julia

So, I may have gone a bit overboard and filmed more video at this upcoming Julia auction than I actually had time to publish before the auction takes place (but there were so many amazing guns there!). One way I am going to cheat my way out of the dilemma is to post two videos today. They are both on fantastically rare Webley & Scott automatic pistols, so I figure they will go together pretty well.

First up, a Model 1904. This was basically the first working automatic pistol made by Webley (there was a 1903 toolroom experiment, but it didn’t really work). Like all the Webley automatic that would follow, it was designed by William Whiting. The 1904 was the company’s first effort at making a semiautomatic sidearm for the British military, so it was chambered for the .455 cartridge (a special rimless version made by Kynoch, after early experiments using the .455 rimmed revolver ammunition caused lots of problems stacking in magazines). It is a rather huge handgun, and uses a short recoil mechanism with two separate locking blocks. This particular one is s/n 23 – very few were made before it was rejected in military trials and Webley redirected its efforts toward smaller commercial pistols. I don’t know if I will ever have another chance to handle one of these, so I tried to make the most of the opportunity:


Webley came back to the military-style pistol a few years later, and the Model 1910 was a bit more successful – nearly a thousand of these were made. By the 1910 version Whiting had refined the locking mechanism to the angled lugs on the barrel that would remain in use through the Royal Navy contact in 1912/1913. This particular one, though, is a prototype with a number of unique features – most notably the lack of a grip safety.


Thuer Conversion Colt 1849 at James D Julia

As the self-contained metallic cartridge because popular, a niche industry developed in converting percussion revolvers to use the new cartridges. One of the first of these conversions was designed by F. Alexander Thuer and marketed by the Colt company itself. Thuer’s conversion was put into production while the Rollin White patent was still in force, and so it was prevented from using a bored-through cylinder. The get around this, Thuer developed his own proprietary centerfire cartridge with no rim and a very slight taper. These cartridges were loaded from the front of the cylinder and press-fit into place. While this made the conversion legal to sell commercially, it had a number of problems (in addition the use of proprietary ammunition) which led to it quickly losing favor as soon as White’s patent expired. This particular Thuer conversion is on an 1849 Colt Pocket revolver:

Winchester 94 with Maxim Silencer at James D Julia

The Winchester Model 94 is one of the most iconic American sporting rifles ever made, and this particular one is chambered in the equally iconic .30-30 cartridge. It is a takedown version, made in 1907, and most interestingly of all, it comes with a legal and registered original Maxim Silencer. The Silencer is something that is difficult to find today not because they didn’t make and sell a large number of them, but because very few were ever registered (the registration tax was $200, and the silencers themselves cost between $2.50 and $7.00). That makes most of them contraband today, with no legal avenue to register them now.

Shooting Elmer Keith’s Carry Pistol at James D Julia

Elmer Keith should need no introduction here, as one of the fathers of the .44 Magnum, as well as the .357 Magnum and .41 Magnum. Well, his gun collection being sold at the James D. Julia auction house next month, and I had the opportunity to not just look at the guns but actually shoot his carry revolver (thanks to the generous permission of the Keith family). It’s a 4″ S&W pre-Model 29, and it’s a magnificent shooting iron…

Now, I saved the brass from this shooting, and I’m getting each piece laser-engraved with Keith’s signature. Want to have one of them? Reply here with the Julia lot number of one of Keith’s safari rifles (the catalog is here). I’ll pick 6 winners at random on the day of the auction (March 15th) to each get a piece of the brass for free.


Vintage Friday: Russians

Russian troops with SVT-40 rifles

The fixed bayonets are not a common sight… (photo from WarAlbum.ru)

Russian troops with SVT-40 rifles in a particularly photogenic framing. My book review planned for today isn’t quite done yet, so I’m changing up the schedule a bit.

A Rifle of Many Travels

I was visiting a friend recently (James, who runs Tombstone Territorial Firearms, which you should definitely visit if you are ever in Tombstone – it’s a remarkably well-stocked shop), and he had pulled out a particular beat-up old rifle that he though I would find interesting. I definitely did – and grabbed some photos to share it with you folks as well.

Mauser K98k with provenance to Germany, Russia, and Vietnam

Pretty beat-up old rifle, isn’t it?

At first glance, it is a K98k Mauser that has really seen better days – it’s pretty well beat up, and is missing some parts (like the rear barrel band and the front band retaining spring). And, it has a paper plaque affixed to the side of the stock…but we will get to that in a minute. First up, let’s check the receiver:


Made in 1944, by Waffen-Werke Brunn, aka Brno in Czechoslovakia. Late-war production, this almost certainly saw service in the Germany military during the last months of the war. It then went on a trip east:


See that “X” on the rear of the barrel, over the serial number (sorry for the fuzzy photo)? That signifies that the rifle was captured and eventually refurbished by the Russians, and spent who knows how long in storage awaiting World War III. Now, Russian-capture K98k Mausers are by no means uncommon – what makes this one stand out is where it went next.


The rifle found its way down to Vietnam, perhaps via China somehow, where it ended up being presented by a Vietnamese officer to an American Sergeant, who proceeded to bring it back home to the US. Quite the journey! Unfortunately, we don’t know the circumstances what led the Vietnamese to gift it to the American and while I can’t read the plaque, it doesn’t appear to include a description of an event.

Being able to see the history of a particular rifle like this is one of the most interesting aspects of gun collecting…

Sharps-Borchardt M1878 at RIA (Video)


The M1878 was the last new rifle produced by the Sharps company before it went out of business in 1881. It was the invention of none other than German gun designer Hugo Borchardt, better known for his C93 Borchardt automatic pistol (generally considered the first commercially successful automatic pistol). Borchardt was brought in as superintendent of the Sharps company in 1876, and his rifle was well ahead of its time. Its use of coil springs, a striker-fired mechanism, and sleek lines gave it an unusual appearance for its time, and hindered sales. It would not be until after the company has dissolved that the Schützen community would begin to truly appreciate the potential of the Sharps-Borchardt rifle.

The rifle in this video is a Military Pattern M1878 in .45/70 caliber, which is the most common type originally manufactured.

Vickers Semiauto Conversion at RIA (Video)


The Vickers machine gun was an evolution of the Maxim, the world’s first successful machine gun. The Vickers was adopted by the British armed forces shortly before World War I and remained in active service until 1968. It is renowned as one of the most durable and reliable machine guns ever made, with one gun recorded to have fired more than 120,000 rounds in a single 12-hours period in combat. This Vickers has been rebuilt as a semiauto-only gun, and is this not regulated by the NFA and can be sold like any typical rifle or pistol (no tax stamp needed).

For more on the Vickers, see my Paean to the Vickers Gun.