The German military used a lot of different small-caliber pistols during World War One, and the Jäger is one of the most interesting of them. Its unique design was the result of needing to build pistols for the war effort on machines and tooling that were not suited for pistol production. The answer? Replace the single milled frame with a combination of simpler parts that would be pinned and screwed together into a frame equivalent. Quite ingenious.
Now, I have don a previous video on the Jäger, and Othais & Mae at C&Rsenal recently published an outstanding video covering the pistol’s history. What neither of those videos covered, though, was the actual reassembly process. It’s tricky and frustrating, so I figured with a nice Jäger on hand I should document that process.
You can see my previous Jäger video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKkUUr4wSrM
You can see the C&Rsenal video on the Jäger here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kvt9eVQ7d4
The FR-8 is a Spanish rifle manufactured in the 1950s as part of Spain’s adoption of the CETME semiautomatic rifles. Spain was not only moving to their first semiauto rifle, but also changing from 8mm Mauser to the new 7.62mm NATO. It was not possible to immediately equip everybody with the new rifles, so a parallel program was instituted to modify the now-obsolescent bolt action rifle in inventory into a more useful configuration.
FR-8 was the designation for an M43 Mauser (of the model 98 pattern) rebuilt as a training and second-line rifle. The original barrel was replaced with a 7.62mm barrel , along with a front sight duplicating that of the CETME. Where the CETME had a charging handle tube above the barrel, the FR-8 had a similar hollow tube below the barrel, which was used for storing a cleaning kit. The rear sight was similarly modified to duplicate the CETME sight picture and range adjustments. A muzzle brake was fitted so that standard 22mm NATO grenades could be launched (a further benefit for training compatibility).
Contrary to popular misconception, the FR-8 was designed to be used with normal full-power 7.62 NATO ammunition, not a reduced-charge specialty round.
Alkartasuna SA was a company formed in 1914 by a handful of disgruntled Astra (well, Astra was still called Esperanza y Unceta at that time) employees. This was a difficult time for the Eibar gun industry – demand was low, their reputation for quality was not good (the lack of a central proof house didn’t help this), and many companies were shedding workers. Master gunsmiths could be found building roads instead of guns as the province started major civic works projects to counter the growing unemployment.
However, the Alkartasuna founders picked a fortuitous time to create their own company, as World War One was about to create an unimaginable demand for arms. By 1917, Alkartasuna was producing 25,000 pistols per year for Italian and French military contracts – pistols of the standard Ruby pattern. When this demand ended after the Armistice, the company looked for new products to maintain their sales. One suck project was the Alkar pistol, which was most likely subcontracted to another manufacturer to save on startup tooling costs.
The Alkar is a blowback action in .25ACP, but has a very unusual grip safety. It also has a series of viewing windows on the left grip panel, which worked in conjunction with a pointer attached to the magazine follower to indicate the number of cartridges remaining. The windows were marked numberically; 1, 2, 3, etc up to the full capacity of 7. The marking that grabbed my attention, however, was the clever “?” that was indicated when the magazine was empty. At that point, the gun may be empty or it may still have a single round in the chamber – you don’t know until you check it. That “?” is a clever acknowledgement of that status.
William Whiting was an engineer who spent his entire adult career with the Webley company, and was responsible for all of their in-house self-loading pistol designs. This work initially focused on a behemoth of a pistol, the Model 1904 intended for military contracts. The gun proved insufficiently attractive to the British military though, leaving Webley with a large R&D outlay with nothing to show for it. The solution was to scale the system way down and look to the civilian market with a pocket automatic in .32ACP.
The first version of this commercial pocket pistol was this model 1905 design. It proved to be a popular concept, and the gun was revised to address a few shortcomings and opportunities for simplification. In its final version, the Model 1908 would prove to be Webley’s best-selling automatic pistol, and it is still a relatively easy gun to find today. However, its 1905 predecessor is far scarcer, and it is interesting to examine the changes made between the two models.
The Gewehr 1898 was the product of a decade of bolt action repeating rifle improvements by the Mauser company, and would be the standard German infantry rifle through both World Wars. Today we are looking at a pre-WWI example (1905 production) that shows all the features of what a German soldier would have taken to war in 1914.
Do you have an RSC-1918 rifle you would consider selling? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Lucius Pond was one of 4 major manufacturers successfully sued by Rollin White on behalf of Smith & Wesson, for infringing on White’s patent (exclusively licensed to S&W) of the bored-through cylinder. Pond had designed a hinged-frame .32 caliber rimfire revolver with some good and bad qualities, and made in excess of 5,000 of them. More than 4,000 of that number had to be turned over to S&W at wholesale cost, however, when he lost the patent suit in 1862. Those guns (including this particular example) were marked “Manufactured for Smith & Wesson”, and resold for a nice markup by S&W.
Pond would go on to design a very jerry-rigged alternative design using removable chambers. This did avoid the Rollin White patent, but was quite awkward to use, and predictably failed to catch on commercially.
Smith & Wesson’s first venture into the autoloading pistol market was done under the leadership of Joe Wesson, Daniel Wesson’s son. He was quite the automatic pistol enthusiast, and made an agreement to license patents of Liege designer Charles Clement for adaptation into a pistol for the US market.
The resulting Model 1913 featured a hinged barrel assembly for easy cleaning and a very light bolt with a mainspring disconnector, so the bolt could be cycled without fighting the recoil spring. It also had both a manual safety and a grip safety. However, its most recognized feature was the use of a proprietary .35 S&W cartridge. Despite the name, this was basically a slightly underpowered .32 ACP with a “half-mantle” bullet – the nose was jackets to prevent deformation while the bearing surface was left unjacketed to reduce barrel wear. While this was potentially quite popular, S&W’s marketing failed to properly exploit it.
The .35 S&W version of the Model 1913 saw production of about 8350 pistols between 1913 and 1921. In 1924 the design was reintroduced in a simplified form. This new model was chambered for the standard .32ACP cartridge form the get-go, and it also abandoned the manual safety and the tip-up barrel system originally licensed from Clement. It failed to gain traction, with less than a thousand guns made, and the last of them not sold until 1937.
The Little Tom pistols designed by Alois Tomiška are notable for two particular features: their unusual reloading system and for being the first commercial DAO automatic pistols. Made in both .25ACP and .32 ACP in the 1920s (the .25 versions are much more common than the .32s), these beat out the Walther PP as the first double-action automatics. Unfortunately for Tomiška, they would not prove to be nearly as popular as the Walthers, and total production was about 35,000 guns. Alois Tomiška would go on to work for the CZ factory, where he would have a hand in development of the CZ22/24/27 pistols as well as other projects.
The Model 1920 was Star’s first locked-breech pistol, basically a combination of features from the Colt 1911 and their traditional Eiber blowback .32 pistols. It was tested by the Spanish Army in 1920, with inconclusive results. The Guardia Civil, however, found it to be suitable and adopted it after those tests. Only 3850 were made and delivered to the GC before a number of design changes were requested, resulting in the Model 1921 (aka the Model A). The Star legacy would last for many decades, with the 1920’s descendants being very popular and successful guns worldwide.