Q&A 41: Rebuilding Elbonia, and Lots of British Rifles

0:00:27 – Followup: Restoring the Elbonian military
0:05:48 – How to learn about pricing of collectible firearms
0:09:57 – Why are German small arms so highly desired?
0:13:32 – Pick a gun in a new caliber
0:15:32 – Why not recoil spring above barrel for reduced recoil?
0:17:34 – Why aren’t guns better prepared for Army trials?
0:21:46 – Why isn’t gas-delayed blowback more common?
0:24:13 – Fluted barrels
0:27:09 – Advice for firearms writers
0:31:33 – StG44 vs Cold War rifles
0:33:51 – Updating versus replacing military small arms
0:37:02 – Breechloaders converted to use magazines
0:40:11 – Farquhar-Hill in WW1, would it have worked?
0:42:06 – Why is 7.62x54R still a thing?
0:45:45 – What military adoption boards actually got it right?
0:47:43 – Why is the Mauser DA90 made by FEG?
0:49:38 – Designs limits by contemporary metallurgy?
0:50:58 – Real-life inspiration for the Half-Life: Alyx pistol?
0:53:17 – What to collect if firearms are too expensive?
0:56:03 – What is the US adopted a Mauser 1892 instead of the Krag?
0:58:30 – M1 Carbine as a replacement for the Thompson SMG
1:01:42 – Why did Japan adopt a semi-rimmed cartridge?
1:03:58 – Should the UK have adopted the E.M.2 instead of SA80?
1:05:39 – Constant recoil pistols?

Thanks to all my wonderful Patrons for making Forgotten Weapons possible, and thanks to Andrews of Bothwell for my Secret Weapon!


  1. “(…)Breechloaders converted to use magazines(…)”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krag%E2%80%93J%C3%B8rgensen states that
    the capsule magazine. The principal feature of the capsule magazine was that instead of being a straight box protruding below the stock of the rifle, it wrapped around the bolt action. Early models contained ten rounds and were fitted to modified versions of the Jarmann—though they could be adapted to any bolt-action rifle.
    citing Hanevik, Karl Egil (1998). Norske Militærgeværer etter 1867
    Can anybody deny or confirm that information? Were other single-shot rifle actually reworked this way?

    “(…)Farquhar-Hill in WW1, would it have worked?(…)”
    It evolved into light machine gun, which was submitted to various potential users during inter-war period, but never found major buyer. It then itself evolved into bigger version firing 12,7×81 mm cartridge, which was advertised lightweight anti-tank machine gun but also proved unsuccessful
    see: https://modernfirearms.net/en/machineguns/great-britain-machineguns/beardmore-farquhar-eng/
    Smaller version was also used as aircraft machine gun, for arming Beardmore W.B.XXVI
    only single prototype was built

  2. “0:31:33 – StG44 vs Cold War rifles” I cannot comment on the 2-gun match aspects, although I’d suspect that the 7,9×33-mm kurzpatron would be, um, well, spendy!

    True story: The StG44 did see minor use in the Cold War–the East Germans used them when the NVA u. VoPo und so weiter were “stood up.” There are DDR manuals for the thing. Also, it was used by the Czechoslovaks before the communist putsch. The Yugoslavian JNA–or airforce?–paratroopers used the rifle. Relative handfuls were used by the Algerian FLN, although I suspect most of them were employed by those in Tunisia “waiting in the wings” rather than being hounded and pursued across Algeria proper… A relative handful turned up in all sorts of strange places… There is the picture of Somalis in the Ogaden War of 1978, for example, in which the Egyptian Hakim, U.S. M-14, Beretta M38 SMG, Carcano, StG44, etc. etc. are being brandished.

    The first photograph of an insurgent with a Kalashnikov was bowler-hatted young József Tibor Fejes in Budapest, Nov. 1956. The “combat debut.” Unfortunately for Fejes, the AVH secret police used the photo to track him down. The first Kalashnikov captured by a western military may have been the Indonesian special forces example taken by the Dutch in Irian Jaya/ Western Papua New Guinea in 1962. It was a Soviet-made example with the milled receiver. The Finns had apparently obtained some by way of Poland to engineer the RK62, although numbers of Soviet-made Kalashnikovs, the RK 54 and RK 54 TP were purchased for the FDF in the early 1960s. In 1962, when the “anti-fascist protection wall” went up in Berlin, DDR border guards were photographed with Kalashnikovs, and in particular, the case of the killing of Peter Fechter, who was shot in the hip with one attempting to escape East Berlin, fell just outside the wall, which was still in DDR territory, since that is how the mauer was constructed, and bled to death before his body was removed and carried back into the East.

    • There is an often seen and copy pasted photo of Yugoslavian JNA special brigade paratroopers with STGs tied to them in preparation or practice, but I wonder where they all ended up, as in 1990s war there was absolutely no instance or reference where any side would use or encounter it in the field, no photos, nothing (unlike Thompsons, Ppsh41 etc. which were part of arsenals)

      Only anecgdotal story I’ve read from one forumite was supposedly of an (now fairly old) ww2 combatante who in 1991. dug up his STG he buried in 1945; interesting detail being that it was covered in pig lard, as a crude makeshift cosmoline. But I do not know if the guy telling really witnessed it like he claims, or made it all up (but why would he invent this lard detail)

    • Western Germanic languages: Scots, English, Flemish/Dutch/Afrikaans, Platdeutsch, Hoch Deutsch, Swiss German, Alsatian, Yiddish, etc.

      Northern Germanic languages: Old Norse, Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Faroese.

  3. I think the intention of the post was to compare STG with any other cold war rifle(s), without AK even in mind, so this answer ended misdirected.

  4. Regarding the question at 17:34 Why aren’t guns better prepared for Army trials. Ian’s answer was very good. To elaborate. Today, all of the services (with variations) use a three phase testing system. Manufacturer’s testing, Govt. Developmental Testing (DT) and Govt. Operational Testing (OT). All are, to varying degrees, interleaved. Each of these levels of test are essentially looking at different perspectives of the same system. Reader’s digest version, the manufacturer tests to the Govt. issued specification, the DT community tests to ensure that the spec was indeed met by the manufacturer, the OT community tests to ensure the weapon/system can be used in the field and meets the actual needs of the Fleet. OOPS, showing my prejudice. I mean, needs of the service. Also included in the OT test program are questions of the “Ilities”. Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, Transportability, Logistics Supportability, TRAINING!!!!!, etc. Any number of very advanced small arms “Systems” have come to grief in the OT phase of testing when they have run aground on the “Ilities.” Speaking in the voice of painful experience here, and taking nothing away from our troops in the field, but we (the US military services) have seen over and over again that advanced systems envisioned by teams with PHD’s in physics, and developed by teams with PHD’s in engineering, which show great promise when tested by teams headed Flag level Officers in the Pentagon, fail miserably when turned over to high school grads on the front line. I could go on, but that would require a beer in my hand, and the intro……So there I was.

      • They have tried. Still no matter how hard they try, no weapon has ever been made 100% Soldier/Sailor Proof. Every unit in every Army or every Navy has one Gomer Pyle.

  5. Kudos on recognizing that the vertical center of mass is more relevant to felt recoil than bore axis (although the latter can be useful for comparing similarly configured designs). Spring on top would actually make it worse.

    Another point on gas delay: if a gas system that OPENS a breech fails, you force it open afterward to clear the jam. If a gas system that holds the action CLOSED fails, that’s something else entirely!

    Confused, though: in the previous “Elbonia” episode, Ian made clear that he was approaching the question from the point of view of manufacturing and logistical complexity, as opposed to actual ineffectiveness. He and a guest reviewer are on video praising the Schnellfeuer’s controllability and accuracy (with the shoulder stock) in FA. Rather than neuter it, it would seem much more effective to add that Spanish rate reducer that actually substantially decreases the ROF, and add a dedicated ergonomic (folding or collapsing?) stock without the grossly excessive LOP. There’s also a great deal of room for simplification without substantially changing the principle of operation. All that would leave a PDW far more effective not only than any handgun, but also most SMGs of the era.

    • Adding rate reducer to a gun not designed initially for it (unlike Skorpion) sounds like a tremendous job, and if done poorly actually continues the sabotage of “elbonian” small arms (or that could be the intention, first propose acquiring full auto ONLY, then propose adding rate reducer that would not work, in effort of spending more funds and effort)

      Folding stock on broomhandle would look beyond weird.

      • The rate reducer was designed for a Broomhandle copy, and – unlike the Skorpion’s, whose many cutesy-clever parts achieve far less reduction than simple bolt mass addition on Max-11 MAC uppers – succeeded in reducing the ROF to as few as 250rpm (!).

    • One more little thing: on pistols with the barrel on top, you usually get an extra round of ammunition.

  6. Recoil spring above the barrel, hardly reduces the FELT recoil… The mass thereat is important and it does what expected. İf reduced. But it is useful for providing slimmer handguns.

    Gas delay mechanisms need precise machining and parts control… Though seeming simple, they do not bring manufacturing costs reducement.


  7. By the way, recoil spring above the barrel might be used to install a longer than usual spring to provide, so called, “constant recoil” effect. lMHO.

    • I appreciate any opportunity to incorporate constant-recoil, but I can’t picture how this idea would work. Conventional pistols aren’t constant-recoil because the front of the slide strikes the front of the frame (the part around the locking and trigger parts). How do you change that dynamic by moving the recoil spring?

      Curious, though: I’ve never fired a longslide Glock, etc., but – if a 3″ barrel provides an acceptable amount of recoil travel for 9mm and a 4.5″ is better – shouldn’t a 5.5-6″ barrel, with the right spring(s), provide enough travel without bottoming out?

      • Thanks for your interest. Simply, a lay out similar to Frommer turning bolt (not barrel) design might be though, with or without long recoil… Further construction needs further thinking of course resulting in a way of forwarding an intersting patent application perhaps…

  8. Masters of practical shooting know that tuning the spring causes different slide and recoil reactions, Brian Enos talks about it on the end of his old reloading video, so search for it and check it out if you wanna understand more.

    However calling this “constant recoil” is ignorant at best, as it is linked to automatic and open bolt operation, but apparently its became like a meme word in gun research and development culture.

  9. The Dutch Beaumont magazine conversion saga is really interesting. They knew they had to do something to stay in the fight but they took ages to decide and looked at loads of ideas – some of which are really cool such as the system designed by First Lieutenant A.W. Pitlo which was a complicated horseshoe shape magazine that wrapped around the receiver. Between 1879 and 1887 about twenty five different methods of conversion were trialled.
    The Vitali system was by far the best and appears to have been fairly cheap as well. Around 50,000 rifles were converted at a cost of 8.1 Guilders per rifle.

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