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Semiauto RPD Light Machine Gun (Video)

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The RPD was the first belt-fed light machine gun (or squad automatic weapon) developed by the Soviet Union. It was designed in 1944 for the then-new M43 cartridge (7.62x39mm), although wartime exigencies followed by post-war rebuilding prevented it from being issued until the 1950s. It is a fairly light (16b) and quite compact weapon, firing […]

RIA – Spanish FR-8: the “Cetmeton”

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The FR-8 is a Spanish rifle manufactured in the 1950s as part of Spain’s adoption of the CETME semiautomatic rifles. Spain was not only moving to their first semiauto rifle, but also changing from 8mm Mauser to the new 7.62mm NATO. It was not possible to immediately equip everybody with the new rifles, so […]

RIA: Steyr-Hahn Pistol Variations

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The Steyr-Hahn is one of the less glamorized pistols used in WWI, despite being made in quite large numbers (250,000-313,000, depending on who you read). The gun is an interesting mix of features, including bits from the Roth-Steyr M1907 and the early Colt/Browning 1900/1902/1903 pistols. As the M1912, the gun was the standard pistol […]

French M14 Conversion – the Gras in 8mm Lebel (Video)

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The French adopted the Gras as their first mass-issued metallic cartridge rifle in 1874, replacing the needlefire 1866 Chassepot. Quite a lot of Gras rifles were manufactured, and they became a second-line rifle when the 1886 Lebel was introduced with brand-new smokeless powder and its smallbore 8mm projectile. When it became clear that the […]

RIA: Colt Richards Conversion 1860 Army

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Colt, like all the other manufacturers in the US, was prevented from making cartridge revolvers by the Rollin white patent, which finally expired in 1869. This left them limited to their percussion revolvers, the 1849, 1851, 1860, and 1862 models in particular. These were phenomenally popular guns, but quickly becoming obsolete in the face of […]

Smoothbore Spencer: Tracing a Mystery Gun

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Today’s firearm is not a normal gun; it is a conversion of a Spencer into a shotgun. My question is, what path did this weapon travel? What did it begin as, and how did it come to be in its current form?

Let’s see if we can puzzle this out looking at the evidence in […]

Video Q&A #3: What-Ifs and How-Comes

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I initially figured these Q&A video would be a fun little side note, and I have been a bit taken aback by how popular they became…and so they keep getting longer. This one clocks in at nearly 50 minutes, and I think I got some particularly good questions. Let me know what you think!

Would […]

First Pattern 1865 Allin Conversion – Trapdoor Springfield at RIA

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As the US Civil War drew to a close, it was quite apparent to everyone that muzzleloading rifles were obsolete, and any military force wishing to remain relevant would need to adopt cartridge-firing weapons. However, the Union arsenals had a million or more muzzleloading rifled muskets still on hand. How to modernize the weaponry without […]

Beretta M1918 SMG Photos

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The Beretta M1918 was one of two simultaneous efforts to turn the M1915 Villar-Perosa machine gun into a more practical weapon. The Officine Villar Perosa (who had manufactured the 1915 gun in the first place) did one version, and Beretta did the other. In fact, Beretta’s version was the work of none other than Tullio […]

RIA: Granatbuchse GrB-39 Antitank Rifle

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Like most countries, Germany had a standard-issue antitank rifle when World War II began – the Panzerbuchse 39. It fired an 8x94mm cartridge with a small very high velocity armor-piercing bullet. And like the other AT rifles from the 1930s, the PzB-39 became obsolete quickly as tank armor improved during the war. However, while most […]