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The Vault

Japanese Pedersen Rifle at RIA

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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 [...]

Very Early Mars Pistol #4 at RIA

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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 – [...]

Prototype Optic on an M1 at RIA

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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 [...]

Grant Hammond .32ACP Prototype at RIA

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Grant Hammond is best known (to the extent he is known at all) for a .45 caliber pistol submitted to US military trials in 1917 and 1918. This pistol is a proof of concept prototype embodying some of the concepts that would go into the later .45 caliber pistol, and also showing some concepts that [...]

Prototype Pieper .45ACP Pistol at James D Julia

Nicholas Pieper designed a blowback pocket pistol which was manufactured under license by Steyr in 1908. It was a reasonably successful pistol, and can be found today in .25ACP and .32ACP calibers. This particular one is an experimental version scaled up to .45ACP, with the intention of making military or commercial sales in the US. [...]

Walther Volkspistole at James D Julia

As the Second World War started to really take a toll on German industrial production, several companies started to work on alternatives to the P38 handgun in an effort to reduce production cost and time. This is one such example made by Walther, with a normal type of milled slide and an experimental frame made [...]

Nickl Prototype M1916/22 Pistol at James D Julia

Josef Nickl was one of the chief R&D designers at Mauser after the Federle brothers, and one of his pet projects was a rotating barrel military pistol developed from the Steyr-Hahn M1912 pistol. He built a number of prototypes of it while at Mauser, but the company never put it into production because of a [...]

Experimental “Joint Safety” C96 Mauser at James D Julia

This particular 1902-made example of the C96 Mauser incorporates several experimental features of the design that would never go into mass production. It was an effort to make a version of the C96 that would be more suitable for civilian carry – something a bit lighter and more compact than the military style. To this [...]

Mauser 1912/14 Experimental .45ACP Pistol at James D Julia

Before World War One, the Mauser company tried to make a follow-up automatic pistol to replace its famous C96 “Broomhandle” design with something more modern. The result was a very successful pocket pistol in .25ACP and .32ACP, and a series of unsuccessful blowback and delayed blowback service pistols in 9mm and .45ACP. This particular one [...]

BSA Prototype .45ACP Pistol at James D Julia

BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) was the largest private arms maker in the UK during World War One, and when the war ended it of course saw its huge military contracts evaporate. One of BSA’s efforts to develop new markets and product lines was to devise a series of self-loading pistols. These also involved the use [...]