Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Vault

Mauser 1912/14 Automatic Pistol (Video)

The Mauser 1912/14 automatic pistol was the final stage of a dead-end development track for a military sidearm in 9mm Parabellum made by Mauser. The program began as a plain blowback pistol in 1909, which did not work effectively, and was replaced by a series of different locked or semilocked systems culminating in this, the 1912/14. The same 1909 design was also the basis for a parallel development track that resulted in the smaller .25 and .32 caliber Mauser pocket pistols, which were quite successful. I had the opportunity to examine a 1912/14 model thanks to Rock Island Auctions (although I couldn’t shoot or disassemble it), and I made this video:


Vintage Saturday: Salvage

Finnish troops salvaging machine guns from a downed Russian Polikarpov R5 bomber shot down near Suistamo.

Plane’s broken, but the Maxim guns will still work! (photo from SA-Kuva)

Finnish troops salvaging Maxim guns from a downed Russian Polikarpov R5 bomber shot down near Suistamo, Finland.

Maxim Automatic Machine Gun

I don’t have my copy of The Devil’s Paintbrush handy and don’t recall the year of this early Maxim model, but I will update the post when I have a chance to check (I’m on the road right now) or when one of our knowledgeable commenters mentions it. What I do have, though, is a whole bunch of photos, courtesy of the UK MoD:


Slow Motion: Colt All American 2000

The All-American 2000 was Colt’s attempt to compete with Glock for the military and police service pistol market. It had a polymer frame (except a few early ones with aluminum frames), a double-action-only striker firing system, double-stack magazines, and used a rotating barrel to lock. The design was originally the brainchild of C. Reed Knight and Eugene Stoner, and the production rights were sold to Colt. The Stoner/Knight prototypes worked well, but Colt made some design changes and did a poor job adapting it to mass production. The result was a huge commercial flop, as the guns were beset by accuracy and reliability problems (despite a massive whitewashing by print gun magazines at the time).

I will have a full video on the All-American in a few weeks, but figured the rotating-barrel slow motion deserved its own post and video:

Quad MG81 Anti-Aircraft Mount

by Tom Laemlein

As World War II progressed, the Luftwaffe looked to increase firepower wherever possible, from deploying large-caliber air weapons or increasing the rate of fire with smaller, rifle-caliber weapons. Such is the case with the MG81, chambered in 7.92 x 57mm, belt-fed and firing at up to 1,600 rounds per minute. Mauser designed the MG81 during the late 1930s, and the Luftwaffe first deployed the weapon during 1940. In 1942 the MG81Z (“Zwilling” or twin) entered service. The MG81Z was used as close-range defensive armament for a number of Luftwaffe bombers, including the Do217, He111, He177, Ju88, Ju188 and the last variants of the Ju87 “Stuka”. The MG81Z was also mounted in under-wing canisters (three MG81Z in each canister) on Ju88 and Ju87 to provide maximum ground strafing capability.

MG81 zwilling by Mauser

MG81 zwilling by Mauser

MG81 zwilling x2 in field

Dual MG81Z anti-aircraft mount

Almost simultaneously with the original MG81’s introduction, the Luftwaffe began to move away from rifle-caliber weapons. The extreme rate of fire produced by the twin-barreled MG81Z kept in Luftwaffe service for the most part, but a few of the MG81Zs made it to Luftwaffe field divisions, where some were used in the rare quadruple MG81 (2xMG81Z) anti-aircraft mounts. However you do the math, that is a lot of firepower for use against enemy ground-attack aircraft.

Tom Laemlein runs Armor Plate Press, a military history publishing company that specializes in producing photo studies of 20th Century weapons systems.

Beardmore-Farquhar Photos

Courtesy of the UK Ministry of Defense, we have a bunch of photos of a 1920 model Beardmore-Farquhar light machine gun:


Type 11 Nambu LMG Disassembly (Video)

Thanks to the hospitality of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, we had a chance to examine and disassemble a Japanese Type 11 light machine gun. This is, of course, the very unusual hopper-fed design from Kijiro Nambu, which entered service in 1922. The action is largely derived from Hotchkiss guns, but the feed mechanism is unique to the Nambu.


For more information, see the larger Type 11 Nambu article in the Vault.

Vintage Saturday: Resupply

Mark (a dog ammunition carrier) delivers ammo to a Bren gun team, Eastern Command 20 August 1941

Pup with ammo, coming through! (photo courtesy IWM)

Mark (a dog ammunition carrier) delivers ammo to a Bren gun team, Eastern Command 20 August 1941.

C96 High-Speed Video and Smith-Condit article

Now that I have this high speed camera to use, I am going to be making high-speed video a regular weekly feature, at least until I run out of guns to film this way. Today’s is (by popular request) the Mauser C96 “Broomhandle”:

If I can get another chance to shoot a Schnellfeuer, you can bet that I’ll take the camera along for high speed footage of that variation!

In addition, I had a fellow point out an article I had missed on the Smith-Condit military rifle. It was originally published in the May 12, 1910 edition of Arms and the Man (the NRA’s magazine at the time), and reprinted in the 1911/1912 volume of the Journal of the US Cavalry Association. It is interesting for giving a positive opinion of gas-operated shoulder rifles, which were often disparaged at the time. It begins with some discussion of the new MExican rifle (the 1907 Mondragon), and then transitions to the Smith-Condit (made by Standard Arms). Also of note, it is clear through context that Standard Arms was already manufacturing their self-loading rifles for the civilian market when they got involved in the military trials program, as the author comments that readers familiar with the Standard Arms rifles will easily recognize the military model. You can download the article (5 pages) here:

A New Military Automatic Rifle (May 12, 1910 – English)

Thanks for pointing that out, Kit!

Takin’ the Day Off (Sort Of)

It’s my birthday today, and I am indulging with a day off. Which I will be spending by playing with a new No4 Enfield sniper and doing some video work for the upcoming Secret Project. So not really taking the day off, I suppose…but working on the site here and doing what I just find enjoyable have a very high level of correlation. :)

Real content to follow tomorrow!

Sergeant H.A. Marshall of The Calgary Highlanders cleans the telescopic sight of his No.4, MkI(T) rifle

Sergeant H.A. Marshall of The Calgary Highlanders cleans the telescopic sight of his No.4, MkI(T) rifle