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The Vault

Spanish Miquelet Flintlock at RIA

The miquelet lock is generally considered the first true, mature flintlock action in the progression of firearms technology. It combined the pan cover and frizzen (the plate against which the flint strikes) into a single multi-purpose part. This particular pistol is a good example of the characteristics of a miquelet, despite its rather rough condition.

Spencer Rifle Conversion at RIA

The Spencer repeating rifle was a major leap forward in infantry firepower, and more than one hundred thousand of them were purchased by the US military during the Civil War. The Spencer offered a 7-round magazine of rimfire .56 caliber cartridges in an era when the single-shot muzzleloading rifle was still predominant. This particular Spencer is a long rifle which was one of roughly 1100 rebuilt from damaged carbines in 1871 at Springfield Arsenal.

Iraqi Tariq Pistol at RIA

The official issue sidearm for the Iraqi Army (and many of its police agencies) is the Tariq, a domestically-manufactured copy of the Beretta M1951 pistol. The Beretta is a pretty decent pistol, mechanically fine and comfortable to shoot but hampered by an awkwardly-placed magazine release and safety. Copies of it were used by several middle-eastern nations, including Egypt (the Helwan) and Iraq. The Iraqi-made guns are of an impressively low quality, as you’ll see in the video, and apparently an option of last resort for Iraqis able to carry handguns. The same Iraqi factory makes a copy of the Beretta model 70 also called the Tariq (named after a general from the 8th century), but that gun and this one share only the name (and probably manufacturing quality standards).

Tariq pistols have never been commercially imported into the US, and all the ones here (there aren’t very many) were brought back by veterans of the various US military missions in Iraq. The paperwork required to legally bring one back has varied in level of difficulty, and is sometimes outright impossible, and a significant fraction of them were brought back without following those formal procedures (aka, illegally). Still, a neat addition to a collection of enemy sidearms from US military history.

S&W 320 Revolving Rifle at RIA

The Model 320 Revolving Rifle was one of Smith & Wesson’s least successful commercial products, and as a result has become one of the most collectible of their guns – less that a thousand were ever made. The problem with the guns was the same problem that has plagued virtually all other revolving rifles: the cylinder gap sprays the shooter’s forearms with hot gas and lead particles if they use the fore-end to support the gun. The S&W 320 was no exception. It was built on the action of the vastly more popular No. 3 revolver, and made with 16-, 18-, and 20-inch barrels (this particular one is the 20-inch type) with a detachable shoulder stock.

Chicago Palm Protector Pistols at RIA

“The Protector” was a very discreet palm pistol developed in the late 1800s by a French inventor, produced in bulk by the Ames Sword Company, and sold by the Chicago Firearms Company. They are mechanically double-action turret revolvers with a unique grip design meant to be to be fired by squeezing. The first few were made in France by the original inventor, and later licensed to an Irish-American who sold them through first the Minneapolis Firearms Company and later the Chicago Firearms Company. Most are in an extra-short .32 caliber rimfire cartridge, but a few were also made in both .41 and .22 calibers. Today I’m taking a look at examples of all three types at Rock Island:

You can see the Rock Island catalog pages here, if you’re interested in bidding on one or all of them:

French made (Systeme Turbiaux)

Minneapolis model

Chicago model

Lancaster Howdah Pistols at RIA

Charles Lancaster was a master London gunsmith who made 2-barrel and 4-barrel pistols in a variety of British revolver cartridges (commonly known as Howdah pistols). Many of his pistols was purchased privately by British military officers, explorers, and big-game hunters to use as backup weapons throughout the Empire. These three examples are chambered for the .380, .476, and .577 centerfire cartridges, and are all excellent examples of Lancaster’s work and the quality of Victorian-era British craftsmanship:

Vintage Saturday: Crew-Served

German WWI Landwehr unit posing with an MG08

Once the photo session is over, someone’s going to have to go find a booster for the gun (photo from Drake Goodman – click to enlarge)

German WWI Landwehr unit posing with an MG08.

Online-Only Auction at RIA

It is worth pointing out the RIA has added a third type of auction in the last year or so; online-only. The idea is to have a lower-overhead way to sell some of the things that don’t really fit into the Premier and Regional auctions. The next one is coming up next Saturday (the 15th), and I had the chance to root through the items going into it when I was visiting Rock Island recently. There are always a few interesting pieces nestled here and there in the catalog, and it’s worth taking a look though (well, I think so). I have a couple lots I’m going to be bidding on myself, which I won’t be publicizing (wink)…and some other neat stuff like this double-scale BAR training cutaway. Because a real BAR isn’t big enough already!

Colt Offensive Pistol at RIA

I had the opportunity to visit Rock Island Auction again to check out the guns they have up for sale in their December 2014 Premier Auction, and put together a big batch of videos, which will be publishing daily between now and the auction itself (which is the weekend of December 5th, 6th, and 7th). I hope you enjoy the opportunity to see some of these very rare firearms – and if any of them really click with you, you can join in the bidding and take them home yourself!

We’ll kick things off with this is a factory prototype of the Colt’s entry into the Offensive Handgun Weapon System as requested by US SOCOM in the early 1990s. It featured a rotating barrel locking system, double action trigger system (with manual safety and decocker), and single stack 10-round magazine. Only about 30 were ever made, as military testing resulted in the H&K USP being chosen for further refinement instead of the Colt design.

Modern Rifleman Radio…and a Plush Throw Pillow

copy-modernrifleman-logo-horizontalI was invited to be a guest on an episode of the Modern Rifleman Radio podcast, which just published today. It was a lot of fun, and the discussion ranged all over, from current Army rifle training to the genesis of the “modern” rifle to how the M1A and MAS 49/56 performed in mud and sand testing to the latest news on InRange TV – and a lot more. Check it out!

On a separate note, I would like to say that I’m really not usually the sort to buy trinkety sort of stuff – but I couldn’t help myself yesterday. I saw a mention of this:

spamcanpillowand just had to order one. It’s a plush throw pillow copy of a Soviet spam can of 7.62x54R ammo…definitely the most amusing milsurp-related doodad I’ve seen in a long time, and a sure way to put a smile on my face every time I see it. :) If you’re as easily amused by the idea as I am, you can order one yourself through Amazon.