Q&A 40: Ian Sabotages the Elbonian Army and Throws Shade on the Taurus Judge

Time for another month Q&A! Thanks as always to the awesome folks on Patreon who make Forgotten Weapons possible – our questions come from their submissions each month. This time we have:

00:35 – Why are reliable magazines so hard?
05:07 – Why didn’t Finland buy surplus American Mosin Nagant rifles?
09:15 – Where does the Hollywood ricochet sound come from?
10:17 – Why was sporterizing popular and why isn’t it anymore?
12:59 – What has been my most difficult gun to get working?
15:16 – What advantages do rifle grenades have over under barrel grenade launchers?
17:21 – Thoughts on electronic trigger mechanisms
20:48 – Opinion on the 10mm Auto cartridge
22:39 – Parts kit builds I have done
25:21 – What if Britain adopted a rimless .303 round
27:16 – Why do some handguns have magazines that are 80% compatible?
28:57 – Biggest infantry rifle cartridge ever issued?
31:36 – Military use of obscure cartridges like 5.7×28 and 4.6×30
34:21 – Mechanically unusual vs historical provenance
35:48 – Gun books in non-English languages
38:34 – Have I consulted for media work?
39:39 – Opinion on Islay Scotch
41:18 – Why did the MIL Thunder 5 fail but the Taurus Judge thrive?
44:34 – Is it worth buying a MAS-35 pistol now?
45:42 – How will the pandemic impact gun prices long term?
48:59 – What guns get faked?
53:02 – Is the Meunier A6 better than the RSC-1917?
54:23 – What are the worst guns for a new country in 1945?


  1. Some things I’ll try to discuss…

    1. The claimed advantage of a rifle-grenade over the under-barrel grenade launcher is that you can launch the explosives without having to add lots of extra weight to the rifle or without having one squad-mate carry a dedicated grenade launcher. In essence, the proponents wanted logistical simplicity. This usually doesn’t end well, especially as rifle-grenades require blank cartridges or “wasted” bullets. Furthermore, a guy preparing to launch a grenade cannot do the process quickly with a self-loading rifle.

    2. Electronic triggers make very little sense for conventional firearms. All it would take to render the thing useless would be a dunk in a mud puddle. However, electronic triggers make sense for vehicle-mounted guns where mechanical linkages would be impractical.

    3. What guns get faked? Practically every recognizable gun gets faked in one manner or another.

    • There are bullet trap RGs, in fact France and Israel use just such versions.
      Even with blank round it is very powerful addition to the infantry section.

    • Not to forget, under-barrel 40mm launcher is also special additional armament item and fairly expensive, compared to simple g. launching screwed on attachment.

  2. We’ll have to agree to disagree on the Taurus Judge. I find it works great for removing rattle snakes and copperheads. I use mine in a drop leg holster whenever I clear weeds. That gun has removed snakes from from the chicken house where a 22 long rifle would pass thru the wall.

  3. Electronic guns reminds me of my Walther FP which apart from running out of battery half way through a match also stopped working as the solenoid return spring broke. I asked for a replacement and they sent me 2 more in a plain envelope. Ever seen a Flat Pack spring?
    Fakes – Win 97 trench guns – Thousands of them. In general if it commands a higher price, and is Win/Colt someone will fake it.

    • So much for 21st Century triggers. As for fake trench guns, it’s likely someone chopping down a standard Winchester 1897 (or a Chinese knock-off) and then forcing a heat-shield and bayonet lug on the thing after scrubbing the original markings (which, by the way, is TOTALLY ILLEGAL).

    • “(…)What if Britain adopted a rimless .303 round(…)”
      They seriously tinkered with that idea near end of Great War. It was called Cartridge S.A. ball .303 inch Rimless, although never formally adopted made in considerable quantity, see photos:
      Strictly speaking it was semi-rimmed. It did used Ball Mark VII, has overall length not exceeding that of standard 303 British cartridge, but case capacity was greater.
      as side note: municion is active again, so you can see dimensions here:

      • There was also the 0.303in Magnum introduced by Jeffreys in 1919 for long-range match shooting. It was fundamentally identical to the 0.303in Rimless.

        Either one could have been an economical upgrade of any 0.303in chambered weapon by a simple rechambering. It would have allowed the British forces to fight World War Two with a cartridge much better adapted to automatic weapons, especially belt-fed ones, as well as being considerably more powerful than the 0.303in rimmed round, on a par with the U.S. .30-06 and the German 7.9 x 57.



    • Eh, 7.7×58 Arisaka isn’t really the same as a rimless .303, although the performance is pretty similar. But yes, you would have one less supply problem. Thinking of bagging deer?

  4. Electronically primed ammo has another issue – it’s set off by electronics (not that there are any of those around in 2020)! Ships store electronically primed ammunition in RF-shielding metal cans and load them into RF-shielding magazines; during the transport / loading process most transmitters are shut off to avoid kabooms.

    Questionable but illustrative anecdote: Years ago, the inventor of an anti-materiel rifle chambered for an aircraft-cannon cartridge supposedly caught some stray RF and blew up a gas station while stopping on the way home from a firing demonstration!

  5. May I suggest equipping Independent Elbonia Air Force fighter squadrons with a mixture of Czech-built, Avia S-99 and S-199s bu8lt from war-surplsu stocks of Messerschmitt 109s powered by the inferior Junkers Jumo 211F?
    OTL, The fledgling Israeli Air Force bought a batch, but lost them to landing accidents faster than Arab aces could shoot them down.
    After the IEAF has crashed their last SS-99, re-equip them with more Czech-assembled piles of spare parts, but make the second batch from war-surplus Me-262 jets which were maintenance nightmares and obsolete by 1946.
    Arm them all with big, heavy, Mk 108, 30 mm cannons with a slow rate of fire (650 rpm) and slow muzzle velocity (850 fps).

    • As far as an infantry rifle goes, even worse would be one SF writer John Birmingham came up with in his Axis of Time novels;


      The time-lost American task force, in completely revamping the Allied forces to win World War Two ASAP, introduce the B-52 a decade early (quite feasible if you have the blueprints, which they did), as well as nuclear weapons (a matter of telling the Manhattan Project “No, you do it like this”, which would be difficult for most people but for Naval personnel with nuclear engineering training or even doctoral degrees would be more like the first day of Nuke School).

      But in infantry weapons…they replace the M1 Garand with the AK…in .30-06. And yes, it’s selective-fire. No, it’s not noticeably heavier. Nor does it have a noticeably longer or heavier barrel.

      I;’m guessing that down in Australia, Mr. Birmingham never had a chance to fire a Romanian FPK in 7.9 x 57. If he had, I’m sure a longer barrel and the removal of the rock n’roll switch would have been the absolute first things done to his “AK-42” in .30-06.



  6. I have a Governor. It is my nighttime home defense weapon of choice. I load it with Federal 000 Buck (4 x .33″ pellets) set to exit first for the center mass shot, followed by a SIG .45 Long 230gr hollow point for a between the eyes head shot. In case a reload is required I have a full moon clip of SIG .45ACP with the same 230gr projectile. Velocities and accuracy are just fine, and is my alternative inside my house to the preferred full-sized shotgun. Better quality and capacity than the Taurus and uses the moon clips from the factory. Take Ian’s advice and try one if you know someone that has one. I would not recommend carrying it for EDC with shot shells.

  7. 1) My uncle bought an M1917 from the CMP after World War Twice and sportsterized it, I have never forgiven him. He did give me its bayonet. Many years later, I was inspecting the HHC arms room while another officer was on leave and found our battalion’s stash of Trench Guns and the bayonets – M1917’s!
    2. Rifle grenades may have a greater target effect, but they have to hit the darn target for that to mke a difference! I’ll take the barrel fired type. BTW, the US fields a 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose round which if good against light AFV’s, bunkers,etc https://bulletpicker.com/cartridge_-40mm-hedp_-m430_-m4.html and file:///C:/Users/Owner/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/IE/1OXTPY10/M430A1HedpHv.pdf
    . From what I have seen online from people who have served as technical advisors, they hire you so they can claim they have such an advisor then ignore you. Remember the story comes before realism.

  8. Another problem with .276 Enfield, per a certain British gentleman residing in Switzerland, was that it was too powerful for the metallurgy of the time — chamber throats eroded, barrels wore quickly, etc. It took better steel to handle similar pressures, and thus 7mm Remington Magnum was not viable until post WWII.

  9. Would the box solution for the Elbonian armament question simply be limiting acquisition to Japanese small arms surpluses? This would provide the illusion of good stewardship of the public purse in initial acquisition, yet could easily be tailored to an almost instant logistic unsustainability as far as ammunition and parts compatibility.

    • Arisakas are easy to rechamber. In fact there was a Chinese 7.62x39mm conversion for their “people militia” units.

    • I vote for a type 11 in 8×63. Also some tastefully engraved Nagant M1895’s as a mark of excellence for select officers.

    • Yugoslavian partisans after fall of Italy captured number of italian LMGs but converted them to 8mm mauser. After some trial and error of not working if you only rechamber it due to the depth, the procedure was to drill out the chamber, press in a steel insert and make a new chamber – by their accounts it functioned afterwards with no problem.

  10. Thank you, Ian, for that last question. It was a thoroughly enjoyable “what if”. While I think using 33\40 was going too far everything else strikes the balance between being useless and sounding sensible on the surface.

    Oh, and even if you issue Schnellfeuer with stocks it’s still much clumsier and heavier than any other pistol and much less powerful and accurate than any carbine or SMG.

  11. Re: Advantages of rifle grenades, go to Bloke on the Range. There is an excellent two part video on the Swiss STG-57 rifle grenades and the technology and doctrine they were built around.

    As Ian said, you can make it BIGGER. The Swiss AT grenade used the same warhead as their equivalent to the bazooka, and the AP grenade had approximately the same warhead as an 81mm mortar round

      • Hence the Swiss predilection for a 15-lb. behemoth, the Stg.57 7.5x55mm. Basically, just as the U.S. Ordnance wanted to replace the carbine, SMG, BAR, and do it all on left-over Garand production machinery if at all possible, therefore cooked up the M14… The Swiss basically wanted to eliminate legacy straight-pull rifles and 9mm SMGs, some Hispano-Suiza kpist31 copies, but others the bizarre and über-ultra-expensive (even by Swiss standards!) Furrer models, and get something like the Panzerfaust too… So the result was basically a BAR, albeit also a purpose-built grenade launcher… Every man an auto-rifleman!

        • And that’s a sort of ass-backward way of emphasizing the major advantage of the rifle grenade. Every infantry rifleman can use them. Instead of one guy in the section with the weapon that can take out a bunker or deadline a tank (Never mind killing it, blowing off a track immobilizes it), every soldier can hit a high-value “target of opportunity”, and killing one man does not remove the squad’s ability to deal with same.

          Having a couple of BT type grenades as part of each rifleman’s loadout just makes more sense than one man with an UBGL bolted to his rifle, when you look at it that way.



  12. Don’t see the appeal of the Judge but picked up a circuit judge which is the rifle version and have to say it is a lot of fun. To shoot. Cheap revolving rifle, I mostly shoot cheap handloads and it’s great for metal targets. Highly recommend it

    • The Circuit Judge may be fun, but it’s really no more effective or practical than the handgun version. However, it would be highly interesting in a dedicated rifle caliber, say .444 Marlin, .375 Winchester, or even the old but still potent .45-70 Government.

      Any one of the three would make it a pretty serious close-to-medium range (under 100 meters) “stopping” rifle for most North American game.



  13. Elbonian Army small arms of 1946

    Handgun = DAO version of the .38/200 caliber Enfield revolver, designated as the “9mm revolver”.

    SMG = 9mm Luger caliber Schnellfeuer 1932 Mauser

    Rifle = 9mm Largo caliber Spanish Destroyer Carbine

    LMG = 7.35mm caliber Italian Breda 30

    Anti-tank weapon = .55 caliber Boys AT rifle

    • An even worse LMG would be the Fiat-Revelli M1935 in 8 x 59. Firing the same cartridge as the later Breda M1937 HMG, which BTW shares honors with the Swedish 8 x 63 as the most overpowered “rifle-caliber” round of the era.

      Ballistically and in terms of pressure, it was in the same class as the .300 Holland & Holland big-game round, which by 1939 had already proven it could take down all of the African Big Five without even breathing hard.

      The big, gas-operated Breda M37 handled this Magnum-powered round with aplomb, and in the Western Desert campaign the British were happy to use it and its ammunition whenever they could get hold of both, prizing the combination for its brute reliability, accuracy, long range and sheer killing power. Just the thing to bolt on top of an LRDG 20cwt Chevrolet truck for perforating Italian and German reconnaissance cars out to 1000 yards.

      The Fiat Revelli M35 in the same chambering was a gun even the Italian Army hated. It never worked right, and its delayed-blowback action tended to dismantle itself due to just not being tough enough to handle the powerful 8 x 59 round.

      This really shouldn’t have surprised anybody, since the Fiat Revelli ’35 was actually just a lightened and “stripped-down” version of the Revelli MMG action of 1914. And the 1914 gun had been designed around the 6.5 x 52 Mannlicher-Carcano cartridge, which was and is a lot less strenuous than even the 6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser, let alone an elephant-buster like the 8 x 59.

      The one mistake the Italian Army never made? They never chambered an infantry rifle for 8 x 59. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, no one ever chambered a rifle for that round, which probably explains why it’s pretty much forgotten today.



    • Yes, and its introduction nearly threw BATFET into violent hysterics. They saw it as a nearly-perfect assassination weapon. One reason it failed to catch on to any great extent was the Clinton administration order prohibiting it from being imported into the United States in 1994.

      On a similar note, my guess as to the results of the lockdown on the gun market is that if Biden wins the Presidential election and the Democrats take the Senate, expect Draconian anti-gun legislation out of your wildest nightmares. The reason being that the substantial number of “first time” gun buyers, notable in California and other “anti-2AM” states, has pretty much thrown them into a blind panic.

      And you know what lawyers, politicians, and “social activists” do when they panic.



        • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Taxation.
          It has the “distinction” of being the only United States Federal law-enforcement agency which is also a tax-collection agency. This was originally due to its status as the successor to the alcohol and tobacco tax department of the Treasury Department (called the Prohibition Bureau from 1920 to 1933 during the tenure of the Volstead Act).

          When it was moved from Treasury to Justice in 2003, it retained the taxation function, making it the only part of the Justice Department with that function.

          Incidentally, there is actually a Federal law (26 U.S. Code § 6103) prohibiting law enforcement agencies from also being tax-collection agencies. Not that this has ever bothered BATFET, for the simple reason that that particular provision of the 46-paragraph-long statute, which mainly concerns the confidentiality of Federal income tax returns, has never been enforced.



      • Here’s my two bits to those politicians: “You can have my gun when you pry it from my charred hands, for I will have set my own house on fire just to make sure you can’t use a Police Raid as an option to confiscate the gun.”

  14. I guess you’ve noticed, but Elbonian has been changed to Albanian, two different Countries! One was a cartoon creation with things going one that seemed impossible; the other was in the Dilbert comic strip created by Scott Adams. Did the Adams megalith object?

    • Albania is a real country in south-central Europe, but is often used mockingly, like in one comedy from the 90s where if I recall correctly, USA goes to war with it.

      Funny coincidence is that in the same period, there was a civil unrest in Albania where it almost ended up in civil war, but Uncle Sam intervention saved the day.
      This was extreme example how monetary pyramid scheme failure, which was cause, almost destroyed the state, as already poor people completely lost all their assets.

  15. There is, I think, a rather positive trend by manufacturers to not just use an 87% compatible magazine in a new gun, but to use a 100% compatible magazine – we’ve seen that in the Taurus G2C, the new Mossberg pistol, and in innumerable PCCs. I am delighted to be able to use high quality, highly available and inexpensive magazines in very inexpensive guns, such as 1911 magazines in the .45 ACP HiPoints.

    The Taurus Judge, etc, would seem to be supreme snake killers. Perhaps Gun Jesus & Gun Satan could conduct an evaluation of such on actual AZ snakes in the desert and report on effectiveness?

    Really enjoyed the Elbonian thought experiment.

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