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RIA: Thompson Model 1923 Autorifle

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One of the very early entrants into the United States Ordnance Department’s semiauto rifle trials was the Auto-Ordnance Company, makers of the Thompson submachine gun. For the rifle trials, they designed a .30-06 rifle using the same Blish-locking principle as had been applied to the SMG. Since the Blish principle doesn’t actually work, this […]

RIA: CZ Model S Prototype (1929)

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This CZ Model S rifle is one of many prototypes made between the world wars in Czechoslovakia in an effort to develop a military semiautomatic rifle. Similar efforts were underway in most other countries at the same time (basically every place that had a mature arms industry), and a huge variety of ideas were […]

RIA: Reifgraber .38 S&W Automatic

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Designed by Austrian immigrant Joseph Joachim Reifgraber, this is a prototype gas-assisted short recoil pistol in a .38 rimmed revolver cartridge. While this version did not see any serial production, the Union Firearms Company of Toledo (Ohio) did market a slightly smaller model in .32 S&W (and .32 ACP). The gas-assist, as described in […]

RIA: 15mm Belgian Pinfire Revolving Rifle

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The pinfire system was a popular type of early self-contained metallic cartridge in Europe, but didn’t find much use in the United States. Pinfire revolvers were made in a variety of calibers from 5mm up to 15mm, and a much smaller number of revolving rifles and carbines were also made. This particular revolving rifle […]

RIA: Spreewerke VG-2

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Five different companies in Germany produced designs for the last-ditch Volkssturm bolt action rifles, and they were designated VG-1 through VG-5. The VG-2 was developed by the Spreewerke company, and differed from the others in its use of a sheet metal stamped receiver (and consequently a pretty distinctive look).

In total, somewhere between 16 […]

RIA: Brun Latrige Model 1900

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Patented in 1896, this is one of several models of unique pocket pistols designed by Paul Brun-Latrige. He was a manager of the Manufrance company located in St. Etienne France, a large mail-order catalog company that produced a wide variety of products. Early versions of this pistol used a ring trigger mechanism and a […]

RIA: Walther P38 Development

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The Walther P38 was adopted by Germany in 1938 as a replacement for the P08 Luger – not really because the Luger was a bad pistol, but because it was an expensive pistol. Walther began development of its replacement in 1932 with two different development tracks – one was a scaled-up Model PP blowback […]

RIA: Whitmore 4-Barrel Swivel-Breech Rifle

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One of the options for having multiple shots available in the age of the muzzleloading rifle was the swivel-breech rifle. Such a rifle would have typically two barrels and one lock – one the first barrel was fired, the whole barrel assembly could be rotated 180 degrees to bring the other barrel into alignment […]

RIA: Japanese 8mm Hamada Pistol

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Just as production of the .32ACP Type Hamada pistols was reaching full scale, Bunji Hamada was asked to redesign his pistol to use the standard 8mm Nambu cartridge. This he did, and after several changes required by the Army (which appear to have had more to do with giving the Army some claim to […]

RIA: Japanese 7.65mm Hamada Pistol

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The Hamada was one of very few Japanese military weapons made by a private commercial firm. Designed and introduced in 1940, the basic Type Hamada pistol was a blowback .32ACP handgun similar in style to the Browning model 1910. About 5000 of them were manufactured during WWII, although most of these were sent to […]