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

The Vault

Slocum Rimfire Revolver at RIA

The Slocum revolver, designed by Frank Slocum and manufactured by the Brooklyn Arms Company, was one of the more successful workarounds for Rollin White’s patent on the bored-through cylinder. The most significant advantage of Slocum’s design was its use of standard .32 rimfire cartridges, unlike most other workarounds which used proprietary ammunition. Slocum did this by using a very clever chamber sleeve idea, in which the chambers are actually separate removable pieces that fit in the cylinder.


Hungarian WWII Rifles at RIA (35M, 43M, G98/40)

After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Hungarian army was armed primarily with Steyr M95 straight-pull rifles and carbines, chambered in the 8x56mm rimmed cartridge. In 1935 they adopted a new Mannlicher turnbolt rifle, the 35M, which used the same 8x56R ammunition and en bloc clips. The rifle was modified in 1940 for production to German specifications as the Gewehr 98/40 (including conversion to 8×57 rimless ammunition and a stripper-clip-fed box magazine). The resulting rifle was good enough that it was adopted by Hungary as well in 1943 as the 43M.

Model 1883 Reichsrevolvers at RIA

It did not take long for some of the handling problems of the model 1879 Reichsrevolver to become apparent, and the result was a redesign to the model of 1883. These new guns retained the exact same lockwork was the 1879 pattern, but with a shorter barrel and redesigned frame and grip. The 1883 model revolver would serve as the German Empire’s standard sidearm until the adoption of the P08 Luger, and was used by officers and enlisted men alike – although officers would often buy nicer models on the commercial market, such as the double action example in this video. The two examples in this video are half of a lot containing no less than four model 1883 Reichsrevolvers over at Rock Island.

Model 1879 Reichsrevolver at RIA

We are used to German small arms being highly efficient and modern for their times, but the Reichsrevolver is an exception to that trend. The first centerfire adopted by the newly formed German empire, the model 1879 Reichsrevolver had traits we would typically associate with Russian arms rather than German. It was simple (too simple in some ways) and very durable, at the expense of not being very conducive to fast or efficient shooting (note the size comparison to the Walker Colt in the video still below). The Germans realized some of its problems, and in its initial form it only remained a standard front-line weapon until 1883. The lot at RIA actually includes both this pistol and a second model 1879.

Standard Arms Model M at RIA

At the turn of the 20th Century, prior to World War I, there were actually three semiauto sporting rifles on the market in the US. The two commonly known ones are the Winchester Model 5/7/10 and the Remington Model 8 – much less recognized is the Standard Arms Model G. It was a rifle that could be used in either semiauto or pump action mode, and it was also sold in a pump-only variant as the Model M. While this variant sidestepped the most significant parts breakage issues that plagued the Model G, it was a poor competitor to the Remington Model 14 pump action rifle and failed to sell well enough to save Standard Arms from a quick bankruptcy.

Spanish Anarchist Pistols: the RE and Ascaso at RIA

When the Spanish Civil War erupted, the Nationalist/Fascist forces quickly captured all the major arms production factories in the country. This left the Republican forces dependent on arms importation and the creation of new factories. The two major efforts to make weapons in Republican-controlled areas resulted in the Ascaso (named after an Anarchist martyr) and RE, both copies of the Astra 400. Both of these pistols are in the same lot at RIA, which would make for a great start to a Spanish Civil War collection…

4-Shot Bär Pistol at RIA

The Bär pistol was designed as a compact gentleman’s defensive arm with a number of interesting features. These include twin barrels and a “cylinder” or chamber block, which held 4 cartridges in a single column, thus giving the pistol a smooth-sided shape easy to conceal while also giving it double the capacity of a typical double-barreled derringer. Some were made in a proprietary 7mm cartridge, but this one (like most of them) is chambered for the .25ACP (aka 6.35mm Browning).

WWI German Trench Armor at RIA

During WWI, the German army issued about a half million sets of trench armor, often called grabenpanzer or sappenpanzer. Despite common belief, this armor was not intended for trench raiding – in fact, German orders regarding it specifically prohibited this use because of the amount of mobility lost when wearing it. Instead, the armor was for sentries and machine gunners. These were soldiers who tended to be stationary and easily targeted, and the armor was intended to help protect them.

American testing after the war suggested that it could stop a rifle bullet at 400-500 yards. That would not be very useful in a trench raiding scenario, but for someone like an MG08 gunner under enemy machine gun fire from a distance, that could be enough protection to stop otherwise fatal hits.

This set at Rock Island includes a set of the torso armor, plus a Stahlhelm, reproduction liner, and armored browplate as well.

Since filming this video, I have talked to International Military Antiques and gotten a reproduction set of the armor from them, which I plan to do ballistic testing on next week. Should be interesting to try it out firsthand!

M1 Enforcer Carbine Pistols at RIA

There are rarely any truly original ideas in the gun world, and today’s “pistol” ARs and AKs are not among them. Back in the 60s and 70s, companies were marketing the “Enforcer” M1, a pistol version of the WWII M1 Carbine. Rock Island has two in their upcoming auction, one made of military surplus parts by Iver Johnson and one made of new-production commercial parts by Universal.

Colt 1855 10-Gauge Revolving Shotgun at RIA

In 1855, Colt introduced a new revolver unlike the others in their lineup – it was a side-hammer design with the cylinder stops built into the axis pin instead of the cylinder. They then proceeded to scale the design up into revolving rifles and shoguns in several calibers. The revolving shotgun model was the least-produced, with only about 1300 made between 1860 and 1863. This example is in 10 gauge, and has five chambers in the cylinder.