North Korea was one of several recipients of Soviet military technological aid during the Cold War, being provided the design package and manufacturing assistance for both the SKS and AK-47 rifles. The AK was adopted by North Korea in 1958, in the Type 3 milled-receiver style. This was just shortly before the Soviet Union would introduce its stamped-receiver AKM, having spent nearly 10 years developing and perfecting the sheet metal fabrication expertise required (the original stamped-receiver AK-47 was a failure in mass production).
North Korea only produced something on the order of 50,000 Type 58 AKs – a substantial number of guns, although quite small in comparison to most other AK variants produced worldwide. They have found their way into numerous conflicts worldwide, but very few are registered and transferrable in the US, making this one quite the rare example.
The M1C was an M1 Garand with a telescopic sight, using a mounting system developed by the Griffin & Howe company of New York. It utilized a rail pinned and screwed to the left side of the receiver, coupled with a quick-release scope on top. The rails had to be installed prior to heat treating the receivers, which had the unfortunately consequence of preventing rifles form being chosen for sniper conversion based on their mechanical accuracy. Instead, accuracy would be tested only after rifles were complete, leading to a 60% rejection rate.
The scope was offset to the left of the receiver so as not to interfere with the Garand’s clip loading, and issued with a leather cheek pad to give the shooter’s cheek weld a matching offset to the left. The scope used with the M1C was the M73B1, later replaced with the M81 and M82 scopes – all military versions of the 2.5x Lyman Alaskan hunting scope (which was a very good piece of equipment despite its low magnification)
The M1C was adopted in 1944, but production and quality control delays would prevent it from seeing any action in WWII. It was in use during the Korean War, however, before being replaced by the M1D.
The German Sturmgewehr and the Soviet Kalashnikov are widely and rightly considered the two most influential and iconic of the modern military rifles. While the German rifle certainly influenced the Soviet design, the two were designed with different intentions and goals. The Sturmgewehr was an attempt to blend the roles of rifle and light machine gun, while the Kalashnikov was intended to bland the roles of rifle and submachine gun – and yet they both reached largely the same practical reality.
The primary sniper rifle used by the United States in World War II was the M1903A4 Springfield, a version of the exisiting 1903A3 with the iron sights removed and replaced with a Weaver 330C scope (adopted by the military as the M73B1). This was a low-power optic, but was centrally mounted on the rifle to avoid and of the windage issues caused by prismatic scopes.
The 1903A4 Springfield was the US’ first truly mass-produced sniper rifle, with more than 28,000 being manufactured during just two years of the war (1943-44). The rifle was taken out of production when the M1C sniper adaptation of the Garand was formally adopted, although production of the M1C would be delayed until the end of the war. The 1903A4 would remain in service after WWII, with later scopes being approved as replacements for the M73B1 (in this video, we will take a look at one equipped with an M84, the optic adopted for the later M1D).
The US Marine Corps, of course, had to be a bit different, and adopted their own sniper rifle variant in 1941, a 1903A1 fitted with an 8 power Unertl scope. These scopes were a tradeoff, being significantly more fragile than the M73B1, but also being much better for long range precision shooting. The USMC, taking much pride in their culture of marksmanship, was happy to make that trade, and the rifles served well throughout the war.
Patented in 1876 in both the US and UK as well as Germany, the Frankenau purse gun was a very small 5-shot, 5mm pinfire revolver hidden inside what appeared to be a normal small coin purse. One side of the purse would even open, with several accordion pockets, allowing to to be used for its nominal purpose. The other side contained the revolver, with a hinged plate covering the muzzle and a trigger which would fold up into the body of the case when not in use. Few were sold and most saw a lot of use, making them pretty unusual to find today.
The United States had two primary types of sniper rifles during World War One, although both were based on the M1903 Springfield rifle.
The most common optic used was the Warner & Swasey “Telescopic Musket Sight”, a rather clumsy prismatic optic mounted on the left side of the rifle, on a detachable rail. The model 1908 W&S offered 6 power magnification, which was reduced to 5.2x in the 1913 model in an effort to increase field of view. These optics were also used on the M1909 Benet-Mercie light machine gun.
The second type is the Winchester A5 scope, an excellent commercial scope available at the time. Although usually associated with the US Marine Corps, several hundred of these were also issued by the Army. The A5 was a much more tradition type of optic, mounted centrally above the bore and preferred by competitive marksmen.
The third rifle we are looking at in this video is a very interesting example of a competitive rifle from the pre-WWI period. It is a 1903 Springfield fitted with a commercial A5 scope and Mann bases. This is the sort of rifle that would have been used by the career military shooters for competition, and would likely have accompanied many such men overseas in the American Expeditionary Force. Woe to the German who found himself in the sights of such a man with a rifle like this!
“Pom-Pom” was the name given to the 37mm Maxim gun by the Boers of South Africa, based on the gun’s sound. It was a Maxim machine gun scaled up to the quite impressive 37mm caliber, intended primarily for naval use defending large vessels against small torpedo boats. This particular example is serial number 2024, made in 1889 and then sold three times before being ultimately purchased by the United States Coast Guard and installed on the USS Manning (along with a second gun, number 2026). The Manning was promptly put into military service by the Navy and steamed down to Cuba, where it participated in the first bombardment of Cuba during the Spanish-American War.
These 37mm guns could fire a wide variety of projectiles, including solid rounds which could pierce an inch (25mm) of iron armor at 100 yards and hollow rounds filled with black powder and fused to explode on impact. During World War One, they would be pushed into anti-aircraft service, with the explosive rounds being extremely effective on early aircraft (when you could get a hit, anyway).
The Lahti L39 was the Finnish answer to the need for an anti-tank rifle, developed just before the Winter War. The rifle was created by noted Finnish designed Aimo Lahti, who had pressed for it to use a 13.2mm cartridge. However, arguments for using a 20x138B cartridge won out, based on hopes to use that cartridge in both antitank and antiaircraft roles, as well as testing that showed the 20mm projectile to have greater terminal effect.
The L39 was not available for use in the Winter War (having been adopted barely 2 months before the Russian attack), but was used extensively in the Continuation War. While improved tank armor quickly became thick enough to protect against the round, it was used for a variety of anti material roles, attacking machine gun positions, bunkers, light vehicles, and more. In 1944, an anti-aircraft version was also produced, firing in full auto and using 15-round magazines.
Today, ammunition is available from a few companies, typically using lathe-turned new cases and surplus 20mm Vulcan projectiles.
I also have an old interview video talking with Dolf Goldsmith about the few crimes actually committed with what would become regulated as Destructive Devices:
I have a couple things up for sale, if anyone is interested. Prices include shipping; only for sale in the US (and only where legal in the US). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want any of them! Payment by USPS money order. I will add cash to any of these in trade for a French RSC-1917 semi auto rifle, if you happen to have one!
1. French Gras M14 Conversion, in 8mm Lebel. This is a Model 1874 Gras rifle that went through the 1880 updates and then was rebarreled to 8mm Lebel in 1914. These conversions were made to allow new Lebel rifles to go to the front lines, while guards and other rear line troops could be armed with the older single shot rifles, while still using the standard ammunition. This rifle also has a black enamel finish and an “N” converted chamber, indicating that it was still in military inventory in the 1930s. It appears to have been brought back from WWII by a US vet, as it has a “duffel cut” receiver (the cut is nicely hidden under the rear barrel band). Bolt and stock serial numbers match, but the barrel number does not. Bore is dark, but with strong rifling. Original holy water plug is intact in the stock, although the stock cartouche is too worn to be legible. A really cool example of WWI production desperation in the French military. Can chamber and fire Prvi Partisan 8mm Lebel, although one should exercise care, as this is still an old black powder receiver and single locking lug bolt.
You can see this exact gun in this video – I have since bought one that is not duffel cut, and this one is now an extra that I don’t need. Antique; no FFL required. $750.
2. Hotchkiss Universal parts kit. This is the really cool French transformers carbine (see my video here). I had been collecting parts to build one, and then found a complete gun for sale, so I bought it. Now I have an extra parts kit that I don’t need. It includes everything except the recoil spring, which you should be able to adapt from another tube gun SMG like a Sten. It does have the small parts that are often missing – the rear sight and bolt handle. The magazine well is the style with a flat spring instead of a lever. The bore is very good, although the nose piece is frozen to the barrel – a bit of penetrating oil should free it up. The firing pin is intact, and the firing mechanism works. The buttplate is a bit bent. Includes one slightly rusty magazine, as long as it’s legal where you have me mail it.
These guns were originally selective fire, but from a closed bolt. This makes semiauto conversion far simpler than most SMGs, because there is no need to drill out fixed firing pins or add hammers or strikers. In fact, there are really easy guns to build for anyone with some experience in this field. I will include a set of detailed photos of my complete commercially-sold semiauto one, showing what changes were made for the conversion. $1600. Sold, pending funds.
3. Yugoslav M92 “Krink” AK parts kit. This is from a rifle built in 2003, and then demilled – it’s not a virgin kit. This means that things like the gas port, extractor relief, and various barrel pin holes – and most significantly, the headspacing – have already been cut. Most M92 kits were unassembled, which added a lot more work to a build. This kit is all matching and complete, including even an M92-specific rivet set. All it needs is a receiver and a tax stamp. Okay, and a magazine. Chambered for 7.62×39, uses standard mags. It’s in excellent shape, and will make someone a beautiful and very handy little carbine. $1200.
Leonardo Antaris has written massive and excellent volumes on two of the major companies in the Spanish firearms industry, Star and Astra. Both of these companies made a wide range of military and commercial handguns, and Antaris’ book cover everything. They include historical context for the guns, details on many competitors to Star and Astra products, detailed production records, and excellent explanations of the differences between variants.
The books are not cheap, but are absolutely worth the price for anyone interested in Spanish handguns. Once they sell out (and only a few hundred of each were printed), they will be gone forever – so get your copies now.