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Winchester M2 Rifle (Video)

In the previous video, we looked at the Winchester G30M rifle as it was submitted to Marine Corps trials in 1940. When the trial result came back with the G30M in last place, Winchester immediately assigned David Williams to work on adapting it to resolve the problems found in testing. What Williams did was to replace the tilting bolt with a virtual duplicate of the Garand’s two-lug rotating bolt. Williams also worked to reduce the weight of the gun, and was able to bring it down to a remarkable 7.5 pounds (3.4kg).

This prototype of the rifle (which Winchester optimistically designated the M2, implying that it would supercede the M1 Garand) was actually made largely from M1 Garand forgings, as Winchester was by this time build M1 rifles on contract. The receiver, bolt, and operating rod in this rifle was converted from Garand parts. Clearly it is not a finished product, and show many signs of being a shop prototype – but it was in this state when it was shown to ReneStudler of the Ordnance Department in early 1941. Studler was impressed by the design, but knew that it would not replace the M1 at that point. However, he urged Winchester to scale the gun down to the .30 Carbine cartridge (which Winchester had themselves developed) and submit it in the second round of the Light Rifle testing which was to happen soon.

Does a two-lug rotating bolt, short stroke gas tappet, and Garand-style operating rod sound like a familiar set of features? Well, there is good reason…

Winchester took Studler’s advice, and the scaled-down version was developed in just a few weeks and proved to be the best gun in the trials. It would be developed quickly into the M1 Carbine, and become the most-manufactured semiauto rifle of WWII. At that point Winchester would set aside the .30-06 side of this rifle design for a little while, as they had plenty of work now with M1 Garand and M1 Carbine production. But we will see the M2/G30M/G30 come back in new form in the next episode…

British Pistol Use During WWI

Here’s an interesting piece of research, done in 2010 by one David Thomas as part of a degree in British First World War Studies:

The Pistol in British Military Service During the Great War (pdf)

This is a well-footnoted 38 pages, covering the British procurement of handguns, the different types of handguns use, and the training methods used with them. To me, the most interesting part was those training methods – I had not realized British training was nearly as elaborate as it really was.

The influence of [Captain Charles] Tracy is as the bringer of pistol fighting technique. In 1915 he wrote a simple instructional handbook for more advanced training, drawing attention to his skills and knowledge. He advocated the use of instinctive shooting at close ranges and using the sights for longer distances. Tracy’s stated “War Shot” standard was the ability of a man to hit a 12” by 16” rectangle, with one pistol shot at ten yards, in one second. He is acknowledged as the writer of the 1916 Addendum to Musketry Regulations, which improved pistol training enormously.

…Issued with Army Orders as a separate 15 page close-typed document, it was intended to be enclosed with Musketry Regulations. It included a much more advanced and demanding set of practices and tests than before the war.

These cover grouping, rapid and snap shooting, at a variety of ranges, and engaging targets whilst advancing on foot. Shooting is to be conducted with both right and left hand, single and double action, to tight timings. One practice involves firing at targets whilst moving down a trench. There are mounted practices for those for whom they were appropriate.

The Boer War had involved relatively little use of handguns, and their training and procurement lapsed between the end of that conflict and the beginning of World War I. At that point, though, it seems that the British really put in serious work to improve handgun shooting skills with their troops. Handguns were used extensively by officers of course, but also by naval troops, aviators, tank crewmen, and machine gun crewmen. As the author says,

From a somewhat simple and unsuitable procedure at the start of the War, British pistol technique developed along parallel but complimentary official and private lines, to a sophisticated level. Safe use, allied to skilled tactical methods produced first class combat shots. Anyone passing out from a revolver instructional course in the latter half of the War would have been better trained with a pistol than all but special forces personnel in the modern army.

Definitely worth a read!

Winchester G30M (Video)

With the death of Jonathan “Ed” Browning in 1939, development of the Winchester G30 rifle was passed into the hands of a new employee at Winchester by the name of David Marshall Williams. Williams would become widely known as “Carbine” Williams in later years thanks to Jimmy Stewart and Hollywood, but we will be to that part of this story later.

What Williams did to the G30 was to replace Browning’s annular gas piston with his own short stroke tappet system (this being the first rifle to use that system of Williams’). This substantially improved the gun’s reliability, and Winchester was able to submit it to Marine Corps trials in 1940 alongside the Garand and Pedersen rifles under the designation G30M. The Marine Corps was legitimately interested in the G30M, as it was expected to be both faster and cheaper to manufacture than the Garand.

Ultimately the trials were won by the Garand, with the G30M placing third in total malfunctions and broken parts. This had involved 37 different tests and more than 12,000 rounds through each rifle. The Garand had 1,480 total malfunctions and 49 parts broken, replaced, or repaired. The Johnson had 1,547 and 72 respectively, and the G30M 2,864 and 97 (roughly double the number of problems as the Garand).

Despite this failure, Winchester was encouraged to continue working on the rifle, if for no other reason than the possibility of foreign purchasers. Williams’ next step would be to replace the Browning tilting bolt with a Garand-type rotating bolt, which would result in a rifle Winchester would call the M2, or “the seven and a half pound rifle”. We will examine that rifle in the next video…

North China Type 30

When the Japanese invasion of China intensified in 1937, Imperial reliance on Chinese puppet troops for duties like garrisoning cities. Before long an estimated 500,000-900,000 such men were under the command of the Japanese, in both militia and regular army units. These men had to be armed, and Japanese domestic production of Type 38 (and later Type 99) rifles was all allocated to Japanese needs. Several solutions were found to the problem of arming the Chinese, including the extensive use of captured arms and also the organization of a domestic Chinese arms-making center in Tientsin.

From 1938 until 1943 (approximately; records are basically nonexistent) a conglomerate of at least five small factories in Tientsin produced about 38,500 North China Type 30 carbines. That name, by the way, is a US collector designation, as the official designation is not known. At any rate, the North China Type 30 was basically a Type 30 Arisaka chambered for the 8mm Mauser cartridge, as this was the ammunition most commonly available in China and the cartridge used by its national military before the Japanese invasion.

North China Type 30, left side

North China Type 30, left side

North China Type 30, right side

North China Type 30, right side

Only a small number of these rifles have been documented today, but we can make some inferences from them. For example, while fewer than 40,000 were made, they have serial numbers up to the 400,000 range. This is because each of the five arsenals or factories involved in the production was assigned a serial number block of a hundred thousand. The official Tientsin Arsenal made guns in the zero block (ie, starting at 0), with the other producers beginning at 100,000, 200,000, 300,000 and 400,000. If the leading digit is ignored, the highest recorded number is 16,503. This rifle, for example, is only the 3399th one produced in the 300,000 block (the names of these other factories are unknown).

Serial number and factory logo

Serial number and factory logo

These North China Type 30 rifles were made to a moderate level of quality, but to pre-war design standards. They use a flip-up ladder sight nearly identical to the Japanese Type 30, as well as steel buttplates, nicely finished sling swivels, etc. They do not have upper handguards, but that part was not included on the Japanese Type 30 either, as it was not deemed necessary.

North China Type 30 cherry blossom insignia

North China Type 30 cherry blossom insignia

In place of the Imperial chrysanthemum, these rifles are marked with the symbol of a 5-petal cherry blossom. The later Type 19 North China rifles are also marked with a series of kanji spalling out “North China Type 19” – the Type 30 examples do not have this writing, but the obvious similarity of the guns is what has led to that designation being applied to them as well by the US collecting community.


North China Type 30 "hook" safety

North China Type 30 “hook” safety

North China Type 30 bolt head

North China Type 30 bolt head

Thanks to reader and fellow collector Joe, we have a bunch of additional photos of this carbine to show:

In 1944, they would be replaced in production by the North China Type 19, in 6.5mm and using the Type 38 action instead of the Type 30. Those rifles show a significant degradation in standards over the course of production, similar to the devolution of the Type 99 in Japanese production. Both the Type 30 and Type 19 North China carbines are quite scarce today.



Ed Browning’s Winchester G30 Prototypes (Video)

After Jonathan Edward “Ed” Browning had his 1929 rifle dropped form US military testing, he took the design back to his shop in Utah and kept working on it. By 1938 he had made enough improvements that he was ready to present the gun to Winchester, hoping they would be interested in purchasing the design. Specifically, he redesigned the receiver to move much of the bolt travel into the wrist of the stock, shortening the action. He also replaced the short recoil action with an annular gas piston. He made two sample rifles, one in military configuration and one in sporting configuration.

Winchester was looking for a self-loading rifle to market at the time, because they could see that war in Europe appeared to be imminent. They had been caught without a military rifle of their own during World War One, and did not want to be in that situation again. They thought that Ed Browning’s design showed merit, so they agreed to purchase it, and brought Browning onboard to help continue development.

With Winchester’s resources, it was possible to make the guns more professionally. Winchester designated the rifle the G30, and we have one of the examples made by Winchester in the video as well.

The tilting bolt mechanism took inspiration from John Moses Browning’s 1911 pistol, and the trigger housing bears an interesting resemblance to that of the French Berthier rifles (which may or may not be coincidental). The rifles appear to have worked reasonably well, although the annular gas piston was a hindrance which Browning apparently was unwilling to abandon. With his death in 1939, the project moved on to a new phase with David Marshall Williams taking on the job of improving it.

Vintage Saturday: Sniper Troubles

British troops in Northern Ireland, 1971

British troops in Northern Ireland, 1971

Hard to use those face shields and still get a sight picture…

Colt Model 1929 Prototype .276 Rifle

On October 1, 1928, the US War Department published a request for semiautomatic rifle designs. The Colt company submitted this .276 caliber rifle to the ensuing trials in 1929. It was designed by Jonathan Edward “Ed” Browning (half brother of John Moses Browning) and was a recoil-operated, tilting bolt design weighing 9lb 9oz and using 108 parts. The tilting bolt system was derived from the 1911 pistol system as designed by John Moses Browning, and the operating system also used an accelerator reminiscent of JMB’s Model 1917 and 1919 machine guns.

After the trials, the Colt 1929 rifle was deemed unfit for further testing by the Ordnance Department because of poor feeding, poor cooling ability, an overly long receiver and short barrel, too many parts, and being too heavy overall. Ed Browning would take the design back to his workshop and continue working on it, eventually replacing the short recoil operating system with an annular gas piston, and bringing it to the Winchester company in the late 1930s.

Today, this rifle resides in the collection of the Cody Firearms Museum.

A Spencer Anecdote

In early 1864, Arizona pioneer and Colonel King S. Woolsey borrowed a Spencer repeating rifle from then-Territorial Governor John Goodwin for an expedition against a band of Apaches. On Aril 26, 1864, the Hartford Evening Press published this account from Woolsey:

We rested the next day to arrange details,, fit pack saddles, assort and equalize packs, etc. The note of preparation was heard everywhere, mules being shod, saddles and bridles repaired, balls cast and cartridges made. The citizens were trying their long rifles at a mark at about a hundred yards. It was a small board painted black, with a bit of white paper, about an inch square, in the center. All frontiersmen are curious about new weapons, and at the same time prejudiced against them. The fame of my seven-shooter, the Spencer, had got abroad, and they wanted to see it shoot.

I don’t much like to waste ammunition when no more can be got, and to tell the truth I had no great confidence in my marksmanship to do justice to the weapon. I had never fired a rifle in my life until I left the Missouri, and I never fired anything but the Spencer. This last gave me great advantage, for the weight in the Spencer is very different from any other, and usually annoys a stranger in firing it at first. I advanced into the ring, and at the first shot had the good luck to hit the paper in the center and split the board. I concluded it was best not to try again, and others fired off the other shots.

As a weapon for fighting Indians, the Spencer has no superior. Its seven shots can be loaded in less time than any other rifle can be loaded and capped, it can be fired more rapidly than a revolver, and reloaded in a tenth of the time it would take to reload a Colt, in fact in an Indian fight, in close quarters, I think a revolver was never reloaded. The fixed ammunition has immense advantages, as soon it can be easily obtained say at San Francisco even, for it never wastes, and cannot be injured by transportation.

So completely were the soldiers and civilians convinced of this that I could have sold a dozen on the spot with two or three hundred rounds of ammunition each, at very near a hundred dollars in gold apiece, if I had had them.

From Roy Marcot’s Spencer Repeating Firearms (Northwood Heritage Press, 1993).

Roth Steyr 1907 at a Run-n-Gun Steel Match (Video)

We have a monthly pistol competition here called Steelworkers – a bunch of stages of all steel targets. I finally accumulated enough stripper clips (3) for my 1907 Roth-Steyr to be able to compete, so I figured I should give it a run!

The 1907 was used by the Austro-Hungarian cavalry, and is in my opinion one of the best pistols of World War I. It is a solid and durable design firing a reasonably powerful cartridge (for the time, at least – 8mm Steyr is a 113gr projectile at about 1070fps) and with reasonable sights and good handling. It is mechanically innovative, with a firing mechanism functionally identical to today’s “safe-action” systems. The striker is halfway cocked by the action of the gun cycling, and the remaining half is done by the trigger press. The 1907 uses a proprietary stripper clip holding 10 rounds, with a movable follower built in. Pressing down on the clip’s follower puts an even pressure on the cartridges, helping to make it a very smooth design to use – I would rate it as equal or better than any other type of stripper clip I have used.

Overall I took 17th place of 21 shooters – although on stage #1 I am very pleased to have taken 10th! The strong hand and weak hand requirements there clearly helped me level the playing field. :)

Riot-Control Trigger Guards on Turkish G3 Rifles

An interesting detail from a couple photos of the recent disturbance in Turkey. Take a look at the trigger guards of the G3 rifles – they have been equipped with large protective shields. I have not seen this sort of thing before, but it appears to be a riot-control type of modification, either to prevent the trigger from being pulled when people are grappling over the gun, or to prevent nervous privates from firing unintentionally.

Thanks to Tim for the photos (click to enlarge)!

trigger guards 1

trigger guards 2