About a year ago, I wrote a post about some Browning 1919 feeding devices that were patented but never went into production. Well, reader Alex found photos of one of them in the Springfield Armory archives. Thanks, Alex!
It’s a belt box designed to be clipped onto the top cover of a slightly modified Browning 1919 to provide a compact and un-cluttered ammunition feed. The photos are dated February 15th, 1927 – and it was tested with the intention of using on aircraft guns.
I initially called this a saddle magazine, but it appears to actually be a belt box (like the MG42 50-round assault drum). It serves simply to hold the belted ammo in place and feed it smoothly to the gun, where a true saddle magazine (like the German double drum for the MG15 and MG34) includes a complete feed mechanism and is loaded with loose cartridges.
Note that the patent for this was applied for in January of 1926, but not granted until April 1931 – 4 years after these photos were taken. You can find the patent in full here:
US Patent 1,800,595 (J. M. Browning, “Magazine Feed Mechanism for Machine Guns”, April 14, 1931)
This belt box was tested on a Browning T2 machine gun – an experimental variant of the M1919 which also included provisions for being able to feed from either the right or left – a feature much desired for aircraft use (and a feature not necessarily important if belt boxes like this one were used). The Springfield Arsenal Museum also has three photos of the T2 used with the experimental box – two with it in place and one without:
I’ve been doing some reading a researching on the Spanish Civil War in preparation for an upcoming month that will be dedicated to that conflict and the arms involved in it (which include virtually everything in military use in the first half of the 20th century). One particularly interesting item just arrived last night:
“Cataluna War Industries”
It’s the magazine for an Astra 400 copy made by the Anarchists during the war – the pistol itself will be arriving shortly. Ascaso was a noted Anarchist hero (or terrorist, depending on who you ask) who died early in the war, and a factory in Tarrasa decided to name their pistol production after him. We will get more into who he was and take a look at one of the pistols later, but in the time being there is a very interesting documentary sympathetic to the Anarchist movement available on YouTube. It was filmed at least a couple decades ago, and is largely composed of interviews with folks who participated in the war (it is in Spanish, with English subtitles). I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in seeing that side of the conflict:
Today we have the second of a three-part guest series by Seth Cane on the Galil rifle. Today he looks at the Galil AR…
by Seth Cane
The Galil AR was the standard-infantry model of the Galil produced by IMI. The AR was, in a nutshell, a down-sized ARM model. Early production took the wood handguard assembly (and later plastic) and Gas Block from the SAR while retaining the barrel, Gas Piston and Cylinder from the ARM. As with the other three, there was no bayonet-provision and was offered in both 5.56NATO and 7.62NATO, with the former being more popular.
The AR remains as being the less-recognizable of the three base-models. The reasoning for this is that the AR, while having all the necessary functions of a basic infantry-rifle, didn’t have the flexibility of the ARM nor the compact size of the SAR to make it attractive. That, and it was never adopted by the IDF in significant quantity.
Mexican Navy during parade with Galil AR rifles
However, the AR did not become a failure in the least. One major-order in the beginning was by Guatemala; the regime at the time cooperated well with the Israeli government and brokered armament purchases from IMI. All three Galil models were reportedly shipped, but the majority were modified Galil AR rifles, dubbed the KEL. The KEL was restricted to Semi-Auto only, with the exception of those for use by special-forces. For reasons not yet clear, the Guatemalan government chose to locally-produced the handguards for the rifles using (presumably) slave-labor. During the Guatemalan civil war, the KEL saw widespread usage both by the government and rebel forces.
Guatemalan KEL rifle (Galil AR copy)
Farther south, the AR made its biggest-splash in the harsh climates of Colombia. INDUMIL, the state-run arms manufacturer of Colombia, licensed IMI to produce the AR locally in its own configuration for the Colombian military. Early models used a new gas block with integrated bayonet mount amongst other small changes. Later on, the gas block would be changed to ARM variation with integrated bipod mount.
Galil AR receiver markings
One final place the AR found success was with the American civilian market, albeit in semi-auto form. Before the import-ban of 1989, the AR was the most popular of the models offered for civilian sales. The demand for the AR over the ARM was so great, that the initial importer Magnum Research began converting ARM models over to AR configuration through the use of conversion-kits.
While not being the most well-known, the Galil AR has proven to be a practical and rugged design both to soldiers and sportsmen throughout the world.
After posting the video on the Remington Model 8 last week, we received an email from reader Rod, whose grandfather was an auxiliary police officer and something of a gun nut. One of his rifles that Rod inherited was a Model 81 modified by Remington to use extended (15-round) detachable magazines. We have a few photos of it and the magazines here:
Not very any of these police model guns were made; they just didn’t sell well. The distinguishing features that identify this as a legit period conversion are the heavier-than-normal foreend, the sling swivels, and the lack of a bolt release catch. In fact, one of the folks from the Remington Society page on the Model 8/81 has put together a page and a YouTube video explaining these variants of the 8 and 81 in excellent detail:
The Smith & Wesson 1940 Light Rifle is one of the spectacular failures of arms design, on several levels. It was too expensive, too heavy, too fragile (ironically, given the weight), too difficult to manipulate, and just all-in-all bad. To put the bad-ness in perspective, the British cancelled their order of these guns and rejected those already delivered – right in the aftermath of Dunkirk, when they were in serious need of arms. To completely reject a gun that was being actively produced and delivered under those circumstances says a lot! I had the opportunity to take a closer look at a second model M1940 S&W Light Rifle at Rock Island Auctions, and took this video:
In the Vault page on the M1940 Light Rifle, you can find a longer description of the gun’s shortcomings, as well as a copy of the manual S&W wrote for it. In addition, I have a scan of a 1969 article on them from Gun Facts magazine, in which Jan Stevenson does an excellent job of explaining the weapon’s history and eccentricities.
Our friends at MG34.com (Allegheny Arsenal) have rebuilt their web site with a much nicer new layout, and are offering a month-long special to go along with it. You can get anything and everything they offer with free shipping by using the coupon code “ALLEGHENYFREESHIPPING” at checkout. Cool!
Allegheny has parts and accessories for a wide variety of machine guns, including a bunch of parts that would be excellent spares for owners of live full-auto or semiauto such guns – DPs, RPDs, Maxims, Vickers, Brens (including the Bulgarian ZB-39), and many others.
John and Judy Donnelly have published a pretty cool book for those of us who like to shoot oddball guns – The Handloader’s Manual of Cartridge Conversions. It is not a reloading manual in the typical sense, but rather a reference for using commercially available (or at least less uncommon) cartridge cases to create unavailable ones. How does one make ammunition for 9mm Japanese Revolver, or 7.65mm Roth-Sauer, or 8x50R Lebel? This is the book that will tell you, with more than 500 pages of data.
It does begin with about 70 pages of descriptive text discussing the fundamentals of cartridge case converting, and handloading in general – the tools and procedures that one will need to be familiar with to do this sort of work. But the meat of the book is in its data sections, which contain 2 cartridges per side of page. The data is spartan, but the important part is there: what case to start with, what steps are necessary to the conversion, and complete dimensions for the finished case. There may be a modicum of powder load data, but it will only be marginally useful. The history of the cartridge will be a single line at most. But that’s not the point of this book – the dimensional data and conversion processes are. You’ll still need to get reloading dies, figure out overall length, work up safe loads, and all the other steps that go into safe handloading. But this book will give you that critical first step: being able to make the brass.
I should also point out that it doesn’t address just obsolete military cartridges. In fact, the majority of the cartridges it covers are sporting rounds, from ones that are relatively simple ones like the 8mm-06 Springfield to some really obscure ones like the .33 Poacher’s Pet or the .293/230 Morris Long (and Short!). Basically, if it isn’t in this volume, you won’t find the data short of finding and asking the guy who invented the cartridge. Here’s an example page:
(click to enlarge to readable size)
The limitations of the book should be made pretty clear by looking at that page. Want to know about what guns use the 6.5mm Bergmann? What type of bullet(s) it originally used? Who made it? You’re out of luck. Same goes for the sporting cartridges. You are buying this book for the dimensional and case conversion data, nothing more. Understand that, and you’ll love the book. I believe there are a few scattered typos amongst the 2000+ cartridges, but nothing systematic or serious.
The best part is that the current edition paperback is downright cheap, at $22 on Amazon. If you have a reloading bench, this volume needs to be on its bookshelf!
Today’s article is a guest post by Seth Cane, on the development of the Galil ARM…
The Galil ARM
by Seth Cane
The Galil rifle began life in the late 1960′s. The Six Day War of 1967 made apparent the need for a more rugged, versatile and low-maintenance service rifle to the IDF after experiences with the locally-produced FN FAL proved less than satisfactory. A request was put out for a new service rifle that could survive the arid desert conditions of Israel.
The initial Galil design has been accredited over the years as being a direct-copy of the Finnish Valmet rifle series, but this is not quite accurate. The first Galil prototypes began as simple modifications of captured Soviet AK-47s by Yisrael Galili, which included a number of features later implemented into the final design. Dubbed the Balashnikov, these included a modified fire-selector for use with the shooter’s thumb or fingers while holding the grip; a bipod mounted directly on the gas block; a modified/enlarged handguard to accommodate sustained fire and the bipod when in the folded position, and a folding stock.
Note modified safety selector and FAL grip (click to enlarge)
The model pictured above is built on either a Type II or Type III AK-47. Uziel Gal (creator of the Uzi) designed his own prototype service-rifle replacements in 5.56 and 7.62 NATO (seen above the Balashnikov in the photo below).
Galil developmental varieties (click to enlarge)
The Balashnikov won out against the American M16 and Stoner, the Russian AK47, and the German HK33. Yisrael Galili’s Balashnikov would eventually be further altered into what became the Galil. The initial production version of the Galil had taken a number design features directly from the Finnish Valmet, most notable being the Gas Block and Rear-Sight assemblies with night-sight provisions. The Galil receiver was also directly copied off the Valmet; popular rumor has been that the first Galil rifles to leave the IMI factory used blank Valmet receivers before production was started in-house, though no evidence has yet come forth to confirm this.
Galil ARMs were first adopted by the IDF in 1972, though few were distributed by the breakout of the Yom-Kippur war of 1973. The Galil ARM (and all other variations) would see most use during the 1982 Lebanon Conflict where it served as the primary service-rifle alongside the Galil SAR. Although having fully-adopted the Galil series, the IDF would continue to issue M16 rifles in support roles due to it’s lighter weight. By the late 1990′s and early 2000′s, the Galil was largely replaced by American M16s and M4 Carbines, though the Galil SAR remains popular amongst armored vehicle crews because of it’s compact size.
Of the three variations initially produced, the ARM(Assault Rifle and Machine-Gun) is arguably the most well-known. The ARM was designed to fulfill all the basic needs IDF infantryman, being capable of sustained accurate fire while also being capable of functioning well in Close-quarters combat situations. Each ARM was equipped with an integrated folding bipod and wire cutter, a carry-handle assembly with integrated bottle-opener, and an enlarged handguard capable of storing the bipod when folded. The model adopted by the IDF used a Teak-wood handguard (versus Polymer/plastic which would presumably overheat and melt faster) with no provision for mounting bayonets. Soldiers issued the ARM would often remove the carry-handle to reduce the overall weight and noise, and also occasionally remove the bipod assembly when on patrols. Later models of the ARM removed the carry-handle entirely, and update the bipod for a quick-detach model for this purpose. While initially intended to use the 50-Round Steel magazines for suppressive fire-roles, the ARM most often used the standard 35-Round Steel magazines as it was never fully-employed as a light-machine gun in Israeli service.
Israeli soldier with Galil ARM
Although the ARM did not find widespread affection from the Israelis, it would become popular with countries like Guatemala and Colombia who purchased large numbers of them alongside AR and SAR models, and South Africa who would purchase and later produce a modified Galil ARM dubbed the R4. Usage of the ARM both as a light-machine gun (with 50-Round magazines) and as a DMR was more common overseas in Latin America and Africa. Estonia would also employ the ARM in various infantry roles alongside the AR and SAR, while Portugal would purchase a small-number of ARMs for usage with their paratroopers.
The Vahan is a rifle designed by Armenian inventor Vahan Minasyan. It uses a lever-delayed blowback mechanism similar to the San Cristobal or FAMAS, and is designed for the 5.45x39mm cartridge using standard AK74 magazines (although if you are an interested military or law enforcement organization, they will happily build you rifles in 5.56mm NATO if you prefer).
Vahan rifle variations
The rifle uses stamped upper and lower assemblies held together by a pin at the front and a button at the rear. Depressing the button allows the two main assemblies to separate so the bolt can be removed and the internal parts accessed. The safety is a lever located inside the trigger guard, which both blocks the firing mechanism and locks the bolt in the forward position when flipped down. The trigger mechanism is the type popular in some submachine guns, where a partial pull will fire single shots and a complete pull will fire full-auto.
Sights consist of a two-position rear aperture and front post, both with decent protective wings. There is also a Russian-style scope rail fixed to the left side of the receiver to allow mounting of an optical sight.
Vahan rifle bolt patent drawing (click to enlarge)
Thus far, apparently the rifle has failed to attract the interest of any major customers, and has not been put into production. I found it interested to listen to the marketing pitch presented in this YouTube video – the marketing hyperbole gets pretty deep. The spokesman (not sure what his affiliation with the inventor is) talks about it being much simpler than an AK because it doesn’t have a gas system, that is has an practical range of 1000m because of the optics, and that’s simply the best rifle ever designed.
Vahan rifle front end – the Phillips screw is probably for changing the barrel (click to enlarge)
Seems to me that it has some pros and some cons. The lever-delayed system is a good one, with the understanding that it tends to be pretty sensitive to the specific pressure curve of the ammo it’s designed for. Change the bullet weight or powder type, and it may not work so well anymore (see: FAMAS). The position of the scope looks terrible, and the underfolding stock is one of the least-comfortable designs of folding stock ever devised. I’m not sure what I think about the semi/full mechanism – it means one less control on the gun to deal with, but I wonder how susceptible it is to shooting unintentional bursts when under stress.
Vahan rifle front sight (click to enlarge)
Thanks to our friend Hrachya for assembling the information and photos of the gun! He also sent us the Armenian patent for the rifle, which describes the details of it’s lever-delaying mechanism. For those of us who don’t read Armenian, Hrachya also graciously provided an English translation of the text. Thanks Hrachya!