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The Vault

A Selection of Chinese Mystery Pistols at RIA

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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 [...]

Collected Works of John Pedersen

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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, [...]

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 [...]

North Korean Type 70 Pistol at RIA

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The “Hermit Kingdom” of North Korea has a number of somewhat unusual military firearms that are not quite direct copies of anything else, but we very rarely get to see example of them up close. Well, here is an excellent exception: RIA is selling a North Korean Type 70 pistol at the upcoming Premiere auction. [...]

PzB-39 German Anti-Tank Rifle at RIA

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Most countries still had anti-tank rifles in their military inventory at the beginning of WWII – the Solothurn S18-100, the Lahti L39, the Boys AT Rifle, the PTRD and PTRS, and so on. For Germany, this role was fulfilled by the Panzerbüchse 39, a single-shot falling block rifle firing a high velocity 8mm AP cartridge. [...]

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 [...]

Merwin & Bray .42 Caliber Cupfire Revolver at RIA

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One of the many revolver systems designed to work around the Rollin White patent was the Pant’s Patent cupfire revolver, made by Merwin & Bray in several calibers (.28, .30, and .42). This particular example is a nice on in .42 (which is the diameter of the cartridge case; the projectile is actually .39 caliber). [...]

Mondragon 1894 Straight-Pull at RIA

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Most people who recognize the name Mondragon know it from Manuel Mondragon’s model 1908 semiauto rifle, the first such rifle to be adopted on a large scale by a military (the Mexican Army, in this case). Well, Mondragon was designing arms for many years before that particular rifle. For example, in 1894 he produced a [...]

7.65mm Radium Pistol at RIA

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The Radium was the predecessor to the much more well-known (and more successful) Ruby pistol made by Gabilonda y Urresti, which was sold to the French Army by the hundreds of thousands during World War One. The Radium was very unusual in its magazine design, which featured a spring loaded sliding grip panel instead of [...]

Duplex .22-06 M1 Garand at RIA

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During the 1950s, the US Army ran a series of programs trying to find a better solution for infantry rifles than firing single semiauto bullets. These projects (including SALVO, SALVO II, and SPIW) would include experiments with multiple barreled rifles, burst firing rifles, flechette firing weapons, and multiplex cartridges. That is, single cartridge cases with [...]