Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

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?

Japanese Pedersen Rifle at RIA

After he failed to win US military adoption of his toggle-locked rifle design, John Pedersen went looking for other countries that might be interested in the gun. One of these was Japan, which experimented with toggle-locked Pedersen rifles and carbines for several years in the early/mid 1930s. This particular one is serial number 8, and has a scope mounting rail attached to it. It functions like a normal Pedersen rifle, but has a rotary magazine instead of the en bloc clip used in the US trial and British-produced rifles.

Very Early Mars Pistol #4 at RIA

Until the midle of the 20th century, the most powerful automatic pistol made was Sir Hugh Gabbett-Fairfax’s Mars pistol. With the .45 caliber version approaching the energy of a .45 Winchester Magnum, it was quite the accomplishment for a gun designed initially in 1898! Well, RIA has a very early example of the Mars – serial number 4 – coming up for sale. This gun (chambered for the .360 Mars cartridge) has a number of features that differ from the more “typical” Mars pistols (all 80 or so that were ultimately made). These include a very long barrel, a tangent-style rear sight, and a 3-lug bolt instead of the standard 4-lug type. A very cool pistol to have a look at!

ZH-29 Semiauto Rifle at RIA

The ZH-29 was the brainchild of noted Czech arms designer Emmanuel Holek in the late 1920s. It was one of the earliest practical and reliable semiauto rifles available, although Holek and the Brno factory were unable to secure any large orders for it (the three known orders total about 500 rifles, for China, Lithuania, and Ethiopia). Several other countries tested the rifle (including the United States), but none adopted it. The ZH29 was a long-stroke gas piston operated rifle with a tilting bolt which actually pivoted sideways into the left side of the receiver to lock. This design choice led to some unusual geometry to the gun, as the barrel is mounted at an angle to the receiver, so as to be perpendicular to the breech face when the bolt is in its locked position. Manufacturing quality was excellent on these rifles, and they all display a very pretty plum patina today. This particular example has no magazine with it, but my understanding is that ZB26 LMG magazines are a perfect fit.

Burgess Folding Shotgun at RIA

Andrew Burgess was an extremely prolific gun designer who gets very little recognition today. One of has particularly interesting weapons was a pump-action, folding shotgun. Because Spencer already had a patent on the use of the forearm as the pump, Burgess designed his gun to use a sliding sleeve on the wrist of the stock as the pump handle. The guns were well made, and the company Burgess set up to manufacture them was bought out and shut down by Winchester to reduce competition with their 1893/1897 pump action shotgun. As a result not many were made, and very very few of the folding models. This one is in fantastic shape, and also comes with an excellent leather belt holster made for carrying it folded.

Japanese Inagaki and Sugiura Pistols at RIA

The most common Japanese pistols used during World War II were the Type 14 and Type 94 Nambu designs, by a huge margin. However, there were a number of other handguns used in small numbers, and today we’re looking at two of those. The first is the Sugiura, essentially a copy of the Colt 1903 made under Japanese supervision in China. Some 6000 or so of these were made, including production which continued for a time after the end of Japanese occupation. The second is the Inagaki, which was a domestic Japanese design not copied from anything else. About 500 of these were made in .32 ACP before production stopped to convert the design to 8mm Nambu. The 8mm Inagaki pistols were not successful and never went into serial production, though. The first 500 made were used by the Imperial Japanese Navy and as pilots’ sidearms, where compactness was more important than terminal ballistics.

Schouboe .32ACP Pistol at RIA

Before he adapted it to .45 caliber for US Army pistol trials, Jens Schouboe was building his pistol design in .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning). It was a blowback action, hammer fired, and very quick and easy to field strip. The gun was reliable and well made, but just didn’t catch on in the market, and not many were made. This particular one has a rather interesting feature of a second magazine latch location to act as a disconnect, firing single shots with the magazine held in reserve.

Allen & Wheelock Lipfire Navy Revolver at RIA

Not all companies responded in the same way to the development of cartridge revolvers and the Rollin White patent. Allen & Wheelock, for example, decided to simply ignore the patent and make revolvers for their proprietary lipfire cartridges (fairly similar to rimfire) while relying on their lawyers to delay the anticipated patent infringement suit for as long as possible. Ultimately it took 4 years for Rollin White and S&W to gain a legal injunction against them, and when that did happen they were ready and converted their production to percussion revolvers of the same basic type. This particular piece is a .36 caliber (“Navy”) version for the lipfire round, which have been since converted to use either lipfire or more common rimfire ammunition.

A Selection of Chinese Mystery Pistols at RIA

During the 1920s and 1930s, a combination of civil wars and international arms embargoes led to a lot of domestic firearms production in China. The size and quality of manufacturing facilities varied widely – everything from massive factories established with European technical assistance to one-man shops only a step or two above being blacksmiths. The weapons produced varied in quality to match. Among other weapons made during this period were handguns mechanically based on several European designs (the Browning 1900, Mauser C96, and Mauser 1910/14, primarily). These handguns show a huge variety of aesthetic designs, gibberish markings, and fake proof marks. They are virtually all single action, simple blowback designs, chambered for .32ACP or 7.63 Mauser. This auction at RIA includes a whole bunch of these pistols, so I picked out a handful of good examples to show some of the elements often seem among them.

You can see the RIA catalog pages for the guns in this video here:

Smaller frame with round butt
Square butt, short barrel, lightening cuts in slide
The one with the “bayonet lug”
The one that locks open on an empty mag
Square butt with ivory-colored grips
Huge & narrow 1900 copy with really long grip
Nicely made Browning 1900 copy

Collected Works of John Pedersen

John Pedersen was one of the more prolific and successful gun designers in American history, having even been described by John Moses Browning as “the greatest gun designer in the world”. And yet, many people only know about Pedersen from his unsuccessful toggle-locked rifle or his WWI Pedersen Device that never saw action. In truth, Pedersen’s work included a number of very successful sporting rifles and shotguns that many shooters would still recognize today. While looking through the guns at Rock Island on my most recent trip there, I realized that they had examples of virtually every one of Pedersen’s guns – so I figured I should do an overview of the man’s work:

The guns in this video that are coming up for sale at RIA at the end of this month are:

Pedersen Device
Model 10 shotgun
Model 14 1/2 carbine
Remington 51 pistol in .32ACP
Vickers-Pedersen rifle
Pedersen GY rifle

Prototype Optic on an M1 at RIA

In the years after WWII, several countries experimented with general-use optical sights on service rifles. The Germans had pioneered the concept with the ZF-41 long eye relief optic during the war (and the ZF-4, to some extent), and the British actually adopted the EM-2 with a permanently-mounted 1x optical sight in 1951 (only to un-adopt it almost immediately in favor of the FAL). The US also tinkered with the idea, as demonstrated by this 1x optical sight on an M1 rifle for sale at Rock Island. I was unable to find any reference information on this type of sight, but it does seem to fit the period. Perhaps one of our readers will recognize it?