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The Vault

The SVD with a Red Dot Optic (2-Gun Match)

This isn’t exactly a “forgotten” weapon, but it is a very cool one, and one we have been unable to pry out of Karl’s hands. In the recent May 2-Gun Action Challenge Match, Karl opted to shoot his NDM-86 (a .308 Dragunov) with a zero-magnification red dot optic.

The notion is that men issued SVD rifles were fully integrated into squads, and would have been expected to participate in non-sniper type activities, including close combat actions. In that situation, the shooter would remove the PSO optic and stow it in his web gear, and use the rifle with iron sights. We have good close-combat optics today that didn’t exist in the 60s, and so today’s SVD shooter can opt to swap between a magnified and a non-magnified optic for this sort of mission change. The question is, how well would an SVD actually work in a close-quarters type of situation?

Vintage Saturday: Roller Skates

British Army patrol in Northern Ireland, circa 1971

British Army patrol in Northern Ireland, circa 1971

Scotti Model X Internals

I recently acquired a Scotti Model X rifle, so now we can have a set of internal photos of one (shooting and evaluation will be coming). This was one of the semiauto rifles trialed by the Italian military in the early 1930s. It’s an open-bolt, semiauto-only design, feeding 6.5 Carcano ammunition from standard Carcano clips.

Reffye Mitrailleuse (Video)

The mitrailleuse was one of the early types of mechanical machine gun, along with the Gatling, Gardner, Nordenfelt, and others. “Mitrailleuse” is actually a general name for a volley gun – one with many barrels in a cluster, which are fired sequentially. The two most common types were the Montigny (a Belgian design fired by a lever) and the Reffye (a French design fired by crank).

The Reffye was a top-secret weapon used by the French in the Franco-Prussian War, which was expected to be a huge game-changer. However, there was little experience worldwide in how best to use a weapon like this, and the French commanders chose to use them like artillery, firing at long range where they were inaccurate and underpowered. In this role, they were utterly outclassed by the Prussian Krupp artillery, leading to a general European disdain for the effectiveness of machine guns that would last until the First World War.

This Reffye is a reproduction, here shown firing blanks. The footage comes to us courtesy of Julien Lucot, a writer for the French arms magazine Cibles. Thanks, Julien!

There is also a fellow on YouTube who has posted an excellent video showing how the Reffye functions, using a computer generated 3D model:

Two More Nazi Belt Buckle Pistols

Every since the first time I was able to get my hands on an alleged Nazi belt buckle pistol, I have had a hankering to collect photos of as many of them as I can, and start a catalog of the different examples. The vast majority are undoubtedly post-war fakes (I have a background post discussing how I came to this conclusion), and I am curious what information might come to light if one is able to see a large sampling of them side by side. It is possible there are some real ones out there (I have yet to see photos of the ones actually described in the ATF’s Curio & Relic list, for instance), but if I were a betting man I would wager they are fake to the very last one.

Anyway, since my last post on this subject I have come across two more examples; numbered 4 and 10. So, for anyone else who is interested, here are detailed high-resolution photos of both:

Number 4 (.22LR, 4 barrels)

Number 10 (9x19mm, one barrel)

Experimental Fiat-Revelli Magazine

Apologies; we have a pretty brief post today. I’ve been moving into a new house and things got a bit hectic. At any rate, I did happen to notice this photo from Max Popenker of an experimental magazine for the Fiat-Revelli M1914/35 machine gun:

Fiat-Revelli magazine

It’s like an amalgam of machine gun magazine and slide projector carousel

It would appear to be an attempt to increase the potential of the gun for sustained fire, by dramatically increasing the magazine capacity and also using a heavy fluted barrel instead of the standard (and rather light) 1914/35 barrel. This carousel type magazine would probably hold something like 200 rounds – each column in it is a stack of five, and I can count almost 20 columns on this visible side. Now, the standard Fiat magazine box inserts on one side, cycles through, and is removed from the opposite side. That’s not possible with a continuous circular mag like this, and I suspect the gun was altered to allow the magazine to be loaded from the bottom. My guess is that the little tab at the front of the underside of the receiver is a release catch to allow the mag to be removed.

On a second note, thanks very much to all the folks who shared information on WWI German trench armor in the comments to Saturday’s post! I’m much obliged, and that information will be a great help in determining what exactly to do with the reproduction armor that is on its way here.

Vintage Saturday: Trench Armor

German dugout w grabenpanzer armor

This dugout has a particularly high mustache and bayonet density (photo from Drake Goodman)

Interestingly, one of the German troops in the front row is wearing grabenpanzer steel armor. This was reportedly used primarily for machine gun crews and sharpshooters – soldiers whose jobs were particularly heavy on staying in one place and being the target of lots of fire.

Incidentally, does anyone have a good knowledge of the metallurgy of this armor? I am getting a reproduction set from IMA to do ballistic testing on, and I would like get some idea for how close it is to the originals in functional terms. Any documented information on composition, hardness, etc would be much appreciated!

A Brief Tour of the Rock Island Auction Company

I have been spending this past week at the Rock Island Auction Company, making a series of videos on guns that will be in their upcoming regional auction (they will start running on the site here at the beginning of June). I posted a few photos on Facebook, and had someone request a video. Well…why not? So I put together a brief tour of the place. This coming auction will have about 6,500 guns for sale, and that makes for some pretty impressive racks of guns to browse through looking for good video subjects. :)

For the record, the “regional” auctions at RIA differ from the “premiere” auctions in a couple significant ways. The premiere auctions have the nicer and more valuable guns, almost always sold as individual pieces. The regional auctions have the less valuable guns, which are mostly batched together into multi-gun lots. The idea is that the company wants to keep the dollar value of each lot higher (usually $1000+) to make for an efficient business, and doing that with things like reasonably common surplus military arms requires putting them into groups.

Rock Island Auction Company

Slow Motion: Mauser 1914 Pocket Pistol

Mauser’s classic early pocket pistol began as the model 1910, in .25 ACP caliber (6.35mm). It was then re-engineered for the larger .32 ACP (7.65mm) cartridge in 1914, and a final set of modifications too place in 1934. It is a simple blowback mechanism, with disassembly rather different from most other blowback pocket pistols.

History of the Designated Marksman’s Rifle (Video)

Today Karl and I are looking at the history and evolution of the DMR concept. This is the idea of a squad force-multiplier in the form of a rifle with greater precision capability than the standard infantry weapon, but without sacrificing the speed and firepower of that standard weapon. If is differentiated from the modern sniper rifle concept in that the designated marksman stays deployed with an infantry squad, and can be called on to participate in fast-moving, dynamic maneuvers with them. So let’s take a look at some of the major stepping stones in DMR development…