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Selling my Vickers HMG

Yes, it is a sad thing to do, but it must be done. I am selling my Vickers heavy machine gun. A few details…

Continue reading Selling my Vickers HMG

Armaguerra Model 1939 Semiauto Rifle (Video)

The Italian army actually adopted a semiautomatic rifle in 1939: this Armaguerra Model 1939. It was intended to supplant the M38 Carcano bolt actions, but ultimately never managed to get into mass production.

The rifle was adopted initially in the new 7.35mm cartridge, and then quickly cancelled, as the new cartridge was dropped for logistical and financial reasons. This was not an immediate problem for the company, as they did not have a rifle factory in operation anyway – they began building one in Cremona only after receiving an initial order for 10,000 of the rifles. In the wake of the caliber change, the Armaguerra rifle was quickly redesigned for the 6.5x52mm cartridge. Ultimately only about 100 were made, and the factory was retooled to produce Carcano bolt action rifles instead.

Mechanically, the Armaguerra 1939 is a short recoil action with a pivoting locking block similar in principle to the Walther P38 pistol. It is a sleek weapon, using the front sling swivel as charging handle and thus avoiding any protrusions out from the sides of the action. It feeds from standard Carcano 6-round en bloc clips.

Rod Bayonet M1903 Springfield (Video)

The US military adopted the Model 1903 Springfield rifle in 1903, replacing the short-lived Krag-Jorgenson rifle. However, the 1903 would undergo some pretty substantial changes in 1905 and 1906 before becoming the rifle we recognize today. The piece in todays video is an original Springfield produced in 1904, before any of these changes took place.

The most notable difference is the use of the rod bayonet. When the 1903 was in development, the Ordnance Department opined that the bayonet was largely obsolete, and that it was unnecessary to encumber soldiers with a long blade hanging from the belt. Instead, the new rifle would have a retractable spike bayonet that could double as cleaning rod and would be stored in the rifle stock, unobtrusive to the soldier. This ended in 1905 with a critical letter from Theodore Roosevelt (who was Secretary of War at the time). As the rod bayonet was replaced with a traditional blade bayonet, the cartridge would also be improved to a new style spitzer projectile at higher velocity, and the rifles’ stocks, hand guards, and sights redesigned.

In this video I also discuss two often misunderstood elements of the Springfield’s history: heat treating and patent royalties. Are low serial number 1903 Springfields safe to shoot, and why or why not? And did the US government actually pay royalties to Germany for copying Mauser elements in the 1903?

Mauser C77 Single-Shot Pistol (Video)

The Mauser brothers’ first attempt at a commercial or military handgun was this, the C77 (Construktion 1877) model of single shot pistol. Why a single-shot sidearm in 1877, well into the age of centerfire military revolvers? That is a good question. By the time the design was complete, the Mausers opted (prudently) to not bother submitting it to military trials, as it was clearly already obsolete. However, despite this fact, and a total production of barely a hundred guns, it did apparently develop a small niche reputation as a quite good target pistol.

The C77 is much more complex than a single shot handgun need be, but this complexity did bring some benefits. It was a falling block type of action. With the easy movement of the thumb from a firing grip, the breech could be dropped and an empty case ejected. When a new cartridge was inserted with the other hand, its rim would trip the ejector and automatically close the breech. A manual safety was located conveniently under the firing thumb as well, for those who wanted it. Chambered for the standard Imperial German 10.6mm revolver cartridge, the C77 also had pretty good sights. It’s one flaw as a target gun was a remarkably heavy DAO trigger, akin to the 1879 Reichsrevolver that would be adopted just a few years later.

Despite its less than elegant appearance, the C77 handles quite well, and I can understand it’s appear to a specific group of buyers.


French C6 Long-Recoil Prototype Semiauto Rifle (Video)

France began working on developing military self-loading rifles virtually as soon as the 1886 Lebel was adopted, and they would pursue a pretty elaborate series of trials right up to World War I. One series was developed by Etienne Meunier at the Artillery Technical Section using gas operated mechanisms, and designated the A series. The B series was the work of M. Rossignol at the Musketry School, using mostly direct gas impingement systems. The C series was designed by Louis Chauchat and M. Sutter at the Puteaux Arsenal, and these were long-recoil actions. Trials commenced in 1911 and 1912 on the latest rifles from each series, and ultimately none was judged really ready for military service – although the A6 Meunier would be produced in small numbers (about a thousand) and issued in 1916.

This particular rifle is a C6, from Chauchat and Sutter. The C7 was in the formal testing, and this C6 is a very similar rifle. It uses a long recoil action, a unique locking system with two pivoting locking lugs somewhat similar to the Kjellman system, and a remarkably powerful 7mm rimless cartridge fed from 6-round Mannlicher type clips. It was deemed too complicated at trial, not surprisingly.

Colt Sidehammer “Root” Dragoon Prototype (Video)

During the development of the 1860 Army revolver, Colt did consider mechanical options other than simply scaling up the 1851 Navy pattern. One of these, as evidenced by this Colt prototype, was an enlarged version of the 1855 Pocket, aka Root, revolver. That 1855 design used a solid frame and had been the basis for Colt’s revolving rifles and shotguns, and so it would be natural to consider it for use in a .44-caliber Army revolver. How extensive the experimentation was is not known, and I believe this is the only known surviving prototype of a Dragoon-size 1855 pistol. It survives in excellent shape, and is a really neat glimpse at what might have been…

Nock 6-Barrel Flintlock (Video)

Henry Nock was a highly respected and very talented British gunsmith, who manufactured a wide variety of arms including military muskets for the British Army. He is probably best known on the internet for his 7-barreled volley gun (which fires all seven charges simultaneously), intended for naval ship boarding operations. This particular gun resembled that volley gun design, but is actually a self-priming flintlock pepperbox. Its cluster of 6 barrels is manually rotated, allowing the used to fire six separate shots before needing to reload. The priming mechanism and lock bear a remarkable similarity to the Collier repeating flintlocks, and it is suspected that this system was developed by Artemis Wheeler of the United States.

Japanese Grandpa Nambu with Stock (Video)

The 1902 “Grandpa” Nambu is one of the first wave of successful military automatic pistols, developed by Kijiro Nambu and his team over the course of 5 years, from 1897 to 1902. It was the first automatic pistol to be used by the Japanese military, although it was a private-purchase sidearm for officers and not formally purchased or issued by the military. It took several design cues from the C96 Mauser, in the form of a pivoting locking block and a bottlenecked cartridge.

The Grandpa was only made from 1902 until 1906, with less than 2400 examples produced in total – many of which were sold to Thailand. In 1906 a series of improvements were made to the gun, including increasing the size of the trigger and trigger guard, a swiveling lanyard ring, a slightly larger grip, new magazine, and deletion of the shoulder stock slot that had been standard on all previous Nambu pistols. The formal Japanese designation (Type A) did not change as a result, but in American collector parlance the new model became the “Papa” Nambu.

Frommer Prototype Semiauto Rifle (Video)

Rudolf Frommer was a self-taught engineer and firearms designer who worked his way up through the FEG concern in Budapest to eventually hold the position of CEO. During this time he developed a series of long-recoil, rotating-bolt pistols culminating in the Frommer Stop, which was adopted by the Austro-Hungarian military. At some point during this time he also produced this prototype rifle, which is similarly a long-recoil rotating bolt design. I have no information on its production or performance, but I will give you as much of a look into its operation as I can.

Bergmann Simplex Pocket Pistols (Video)

The Bergmann 1896 Number 2 pistol was a relatively successful compact pocket gun for its day, but quickly became obsolete as semiautomatic handguns developed and improved. Bergman and his chief engineer Schmeisser spent the late 1890s developing and improved version of the Bergmann automatics, pitting into two distinct lines of development. One was the Number 5 (1897) locked breech pistol for military service, which would evolve into the reasonable successful Model 1910. The other was the Number 6 (circa 1899) which would become the Simplex.

The Simplex was a compact simple blowback pistol firing a proprietary 8x18mm cartridge slightly less powerful than the .32 ACP. It used a detachable magazine of 5, 8, or 10 rounds and shared the basic aesthetic lines of the 1897 and 1903 Bergmann pistols, albeit smaller and cheaper. However, the Simplex was in direct competition with the FN/Browning 1900, which was a spectacularly successful and popular design. The Bergmann Simplex was unable to effectively, and only about 4000 were made in total before it was dropped form production.

There are two basic variations of the Simplex, and we have one of each in this video. The early guns have the magazine release located on the front of the magazine well, and the late pattern guns have a more modern style of magazine release button on the side of the frame above the trigger.