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Confederate Dance Revolver at James D Julia

The Confederate States of America didn’t have very much capacity for manufacturing small arms, and was happy to purchase guns from anyone who could make them. Among others who got into the gun-making business during the Civil War were the Dance brothers of Texas. They only managed to produce between 325 and 500 guns during the war, but they did have a formal contract from the CSA and their pistols are a bit more distinctive than most Confederate arms. This one stands out in particular with it’s silver star embellishment.

Type 89 Knee Mortar at James D Julia

The Type 89 grenade discharger, commonly known as the “knee mortar” was a Japanese light infantry weapon introduced in 1929 which blurs the lines between grenade launcher and mortar. Like a mortar, it fires propelled explosive bombs in a high-angle indirect fire role, but it has a rifled barrel and uses a range adjustment mechanism very different from most mortars.

The knee mortar proved to be a very capable and effective weapon in WWII against US forces. It was accurate, effective, and perhaps most importantly, light and very fast to put into action. The closest comparable US weapon was the 60mm light mortar, which had a more effective projectile but was significantly slower to use.

Of course, the “knee mortar” nickname was based on the theoretical belief that one was supposed to rest the curved baseplate of the weapon on a leg while firing, which would actually have resulted in a broken leg. The baseplate was curved to allow it to dig into soft soil and be used against objects like logs and roots.

Most Unusual Over/Under Shotgun I’ve Seen at James D Julia

Is that perhaps too ambitious of a title? I really don’t have much I can say about this one – beyond it being made in Paris by Lefaucheux, I don’t know anything about it’s history or development. I do know that I have never seen another shotgun with this type of action, though…

Shooting a Colt CMG-3 at James D Julia

In the mid/late 1960s, Colt was manufacturing AR-15 rifles and wanted to supply light machine guns to go with them – so they developed the CMG-2 (“Colt’s Machine Gun”). The CMG-2 competed against the Stoner 63 in trials for the Navy SEALs (among others), and narrowly lost out. It was a very well designed and thought-out weapon, but not *quite* as good as the Stoner.

A few years later in the early/mid 70s, Colt brought the design back in response to a request for a belt-fed 7.62mm machine gun for special operations units. Something with the firepower of the M60 was desired, but in a lighter package. Colt took their CMG-2, scaled it up to 7.62mm NATO caliber, and redesignated it the CMG-3. A total of 5 guns were made, and they went into military testing.

Unfortunately for Colt, the design wasn’t quite as simple to scale up as they had hoped. The CMG-3 was determined to have a service lifespan of about 35,000 rounds – a third of what was required. Around that point, the receivers would fracture at the front trunnion. By the time Colt had worked out a new design to strengthen the guns without adding too much weight, the contract opportunity had passed, and the improved version was never made.

Of the five guns originally made, I believe only two still exist. This one is serial number 1, and I was privileged to get permission of the consigner to test-fire it on camera. In my opinion, it is a fantastic gun. At only about 18 pounds it is remarkably light for a 7.62mm beltfed, and quite simple to shoot from the shoulder. As with the SMG-2, it’s internals are a parade of clever elements. Have a look:

Adler Pistol at James D Julia

The Adler is a unique little pocket pistol built in pre-WWI Germany.Not much is known about it, as only about a hundred were manufactured and they failed to be a commercial success. The design is a simple blowback one, using a proprietary 7.25mm cartridge. However, the disassembly method is pretty neat, and the pistol handles quite well. This particular example is the best condition one still known to exist.

WWI Trench Mauser at James D Julia

As World War One stagnated into trench warfare, snipers and machine guns quickly proliferated, and exposure above the parapet of one’s trench could be extremely hazardous. This leaves one with the question of, how to shoot back without risking a bullet?

One answer that was devised was to mount a rifle to a periscope. That way the rifle could be lifted up to get a clear shot at the enemy trenches while the shooter remained safely out of sight using mirrors to see his sights and a length of wire to pull his trigger. While all the major powers in the war developed devices like this, the one we are looking at today is German. It’s simple, but effective.

In addition to the trench periscope stock, this rifle has also been fitted with a couple other WWI modifications. It has clamp-on luminous sights to allow more accurate shooting at night, and also an extended 25-round fixed magazine to give the shooter much more ammo to fire before needing to reload. The rifle also comes with another neat accessory, which was not fitted for the video.

This particular trench stock is a factory-made item, but does not include a mechanism to cycle the bolt – a shooter would have to bring the rifle back down after each shot. Some more complex versions were made which included articulated levers for cycling the bolt from below. The range of trench stocks also goes the other direction, and includes plenty of examples that were handmade in the trenches by individual soldiers…where necessity was the mother of invention. However, trench stocks of any type are quite rare to find, and they made very clumsy souvenirs for troops coming home.

BSA’s Experimental .34 Caliber Pistols at James D Julia

During World War One, Birmingham Small Arms (aka BSA) grew into a massive arms manufacturing facility to supply the previously inconceivable military appetite for rifles. When the war ended, they were left with a bit of a dilemma. As a private entity, what were they to do with such a huge production capacity and no more government orders?

One part of their post-war plan was to create and market a new line of handguns and ammunition in conjunction with a conglomerate of ammunition manufacturers. The result was a line of new belted cartridges including a .34 caliber belted round roughly equivalent to the .32 ACP. To use this cartridge, BSA designed a pistol, which was mostly a copy of the FN 1910. The hope was that a good marketing campaign centered around the state-of-the-art new ammunition would make for a popular product and many sales.

Unfortunately for BSA, the plan was a flop. Belted ammunition was new and innovative, but thoroughly unnecessary for blowback handgun cartridges. The new guns never went past the prototype stage, and only three are known to exist. Two of those are coming up for sale at James D Julia in October 2015, one in the new .34 caliber cartridge and one rebuilt by the factory to use .32 ACP.

Confederate Revolvers at James D Julia: Leech, Rigdon & Ansley

There was not much industrial production the the Confederate States of America during the US Civil War, and Confederate-made revolvers have been very collectible for a very long time. Today we’re taking a look at three such revolvers made by a series of companies that evolved throughout the war. Specifically, a Leech & Rigdon, a CH Rigdon, and a Rigdon & Ansley.

All three are mechanically copies of the Colt 1851 Navy, as are most Confederate revolvers, but they have some distinctive features. In addition, by looking at all three together we can see some of the changes that took place as the war progressed.

Steyr VG5/VK98 at James D Julia


By the beginning of 1945, the Nazi government in Germany was looking to find cheaper ways to equip the Volksturm, and solicited bids and designs from several major arms manufacturers. The Steyr company created a crude but effective version of the Mauser 98 which was dubbed the VK-98 or VG-5. Mechanically it is identical to a K98k, but has much less attention paid to aesthetic finish and many simplified parts.

In total, 10,000 of these Steyr rifles were made. Despite commonly held notions of them having totally random parts, there are actually a relatively small number of discreet variations in the production sequence and the rifles have definitely class characteristics – which I will examine in the video.

Holek Automat at James D Julia

The Holek Automat was a semiautomatic sporting rifle designed by Emmanuel Holek. Emmanuel was also the designer of the ZH-29 rifle, and brother of Vaclav and Franticek Holek, who developed the ZB-26 and ZB-53 machine guns. Emmanuel left the Brno factory to run his own gun shop, where he offered (among other things) the Holek Automat.

Mostly in 8mm Mauser and 7mm Mauser, the Automat did not prove to be much of a commercial success, although this is certainly due in part to it being manufactured during WWII, when the market for expensive sporting rifles would have been understandably thin. However, the gun is very cleverly designed, and extremely simple to disassemble. This example is in 7x57mm, and in fantastic condition.