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The Vault

Canada’s WWII Self-Loading Rifle Experiments

(The material for this post came primarily from a post made by Roger V. Lucy at the MilArt blog, which also has information on a couple other WWII Canadian experimental projects)

When we see rifles, typically No4 Lee Enfield rifles, marked with the name “Long Branch“, we are actually seeing the production of Small Arms [...]

Mannlicher 1885 Semiauto Rifle

Mannlicher 1885 semiauto “Handmitrailleuse”

Ferdinand von Mannlicher’s Model 1885 self-loading rifle design as a failure, never seeing anything even resembling mass production. However, it was a failure which in many way set the stage for a huge number of the machine guns that would follow for the next several decades, including the famous Browning [...]

Schwarzlose 1898 Pistol (Video)

Schwarzlose 1898

The model 1898 Schwarzlose was a self loading pistol definitely ahead of its time. It was simple, powerful (for the period; it was chambered for 7.63mm Mauser), and remarkably ergonomic. It used a short recoil, rotating bolt mechanism to operate, and very cleverly had one single spring which did the duties of primary recoil spring, [...]

Gustloff Prototype Pistol at RIA

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Gustloff was a large industrial concern in Germany which made many different weapons for the military. In addition to these, its attempted to market a small-caliber pistol for police or SS use. This pistol used an alloy frame (with steel inserts for durability in crucial areas) and steel slide, with a simple blowback mechanism and [...]

Japanese Pedersen Rifle at RIA

jap ped thumb

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

optic m1 thumb

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 [...]