Q&A 42: Books, Machine Guns, Cannons, and Forgotten Weapons by Mail

Q&A time again! This time we have:

00:17 – Favorite military uniform or camo pattern
01:12 – Stockpile of odd ammo?
02:15 – Bolts closing automatically when a new magazine is inserted
04:18 – Filming in French museum and arsenal collections
06:08 – Gas operated revolvers
06:55 – Videos about 1st generation infrared optics
08:08 – How is the FR-F1 treating me? What are its import marks like? Have I seen “15 Minutes of War”?
12:36 – Have rifle improvements made the OICW concept viable today?
14:30 – Book on Ethiopian guns?
15:38 – What country has stayed ahead of the small arms design curve?
16:44 – Three guns I’d like to film that have no surviving examples
17:55 – Should the French Army have adopted the FAMAS G2?
20:12 – Shotguns as a military weapon?
22:22 – Beginner cannons
25:18 – What has been the historical accuracy standard for military rifles?
26:27 – Publicity for Forgotten Weapons or Headstamp outside the gun community?
27:26 – What gun’s popularity stumps me?
29:52 – What do militaries so with surplus and obsolete arms?
31:37 – Gotten hair stuck in a gun?
32:03 – Russian silenced handguns
32:55 – Video about books/library?
34:30 – Did I buy the Lewis at Morphys?
36:40 – Breda Modelo 30 vs Chauchat Mle 1915
37:45 – Forgotten Weapons by mail
39:37 – What makes a good pistol for competition?


  1. Joseph Nickl designed pistols form Mauser 1914 to 1932, Cz24 to 27 and inspired models, HSc to HK4 are all mechanical devices enabling slide closure when a loaded or empty magazine inserted…

    This should not be confused with some models with somewhat loosy slide stops permitting slide going forward Just because of their masses being beaten through sudden impacts through inertia, like slamming the magazine inside…

    • Lavrenti Beria’s top NKVD executioner, Maj. Gen. Vasily Mikhailovitch Blokhin primarily used a 6.35-mm/ .25 acp Walther Model 2–with additional loaded pistols in a brief case–to carry out executions. Less recoil, particularly during a ten hour shift, and quieter in the confined spaces where the person was executed.

  2. this comment is a question. Mr Ian, why is it that in the last 30 years, Germanic countries have dominated? (HK, Glock, Sig Sauer, CZ) is it that America has been focused much more on digital technology? (apple, microsoft)

    • Mostly, it’s that the Central European countries were faced with a potential seller’s market for small arms. The buyers being Second and Third World armies who needed replacements for pretty much everything as their World War Two surplus and then Warsaw Pact-supplied small arms “aged out”.

      The end of the WP came just as the WW2 generation weapons reached their disposal date (due to metal fatigue and lack of ammunition resupply).

      The WP weapon supply dried up because quite simply the former members now wanted to be paid, instead of giving everything away in the name of World Socialist Brotherhood.

      The United States was not really a factor, because at the same time, there was a new Presidential administration which did not like guns, period. So it discouraged surplus imports, new-manufacture exports, and the resupply of its own military.

      The only other major potential competitors were Japan (which did not export military arms as per their post-WW2 constitution), South Korea (which had its own problems with North Korea), Taiwan (similar problems with Red China), and Red China itself (which was going from “pure” Communist to Mussolini-style syndicalist socialist, i.e. mainly in it for what they could grab, meaning “profit motive”).

      So wherever they looked, the potential customers knew that they’d end up paying.

      The Central European countries knew they couldn’t compete in computer hardware or software. They’d ignored the potential market for both from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, and the Big Three (Japan, South Korea, and the United States) had too much of a head start. Rather the way all three have dominated the world market for automobiles since the 1960s.

      In commercial and military aircraft, there was a slim potential. Which turned out to be largely missed by Panavia (not everybody needed the Tornado), and generally well-exploited by Airbus (as long as they could keep blaming every-tenth-flight crashes on the aircrews of their highly-automated airliners, that generally refuse to relinquish control to the pilots).

      That left small arms as a potential export market. Seeing what amounted to a seller’s market, with only one potential major competitor (Beijing), the European arms makers (who weren’t going to stay afloat supplying the minimal post-“peace dividend” perceived requirements of their own countries’ armies) jumped in with both feet.

      Their own governments might not see a need for large amounts of new small arms, but in South America, Africa, the Mideast, and the Far East there were, and are, always governments who have people they want to kill. Either in neighboring countries or their own.

      And they have money. Especially those who have oil.




  3. 12 gauge shotguns once classified as second effective firearm after the water cooled machinegun… Especially for trench combats their effectivity are obvious. Magazine fed pump action shotguns were popular for this jobs until US Ordnance changed action type from pump to gas operated auto loading and said the reason was the short stroking of pump action causing faiure to feed as giving effective chance for opponent fire…

    • During World War Two, in U.S. service the M1 Carbine, SMGs, the .45 M1911 automatic, and various 12-gauge repeating shotguns all served fundamentally the same purpose; short range defense for troops other than those armed with the M1 Garand rifle. The modern term is Personal Defense Weapon (PDW), which accurately describes the function.

      Of the four types, the repeating shotgun had the most killing power (in terms of muzzle energy) but the shortest effective range. It required roughly as much training as the service rifle, mainly due to its recoil.

      The .45 pistol had more range than the shotgun but less muzzle energy. It was also the weapon requiring the most training for personnel to actually hit something with, more than even the service rifle.

      The SMGs firing pistol ammunition had still more range and energy than the pistol(same ammunition but higher muzzle velocity and thus ME due to longer barrels), but still less energy than the shotgun. Again, recoil was a factor in training, notably with the M3 and M3A1 .45 caliber weapons.

      The Carbine was the hands-down winner on all counts except muzzle energy, where it finished second to the shotgun. It was overall the most accurate, and had the least felt recoil, of any of the Personal Defense Weapons. Even on full auto in the M2 version, it was more controllable than any SMG.

      Where the Carbine won hands down was ease of use. It was about as difficult to operate and hit something with as a .22 rimfire rifle. That’s an important factor with troops who are not accustomed to using a full-powered rifle day in and day out.

      It was also lighter than any weapon but the .45 pistol. The shotgun and SMG were both heavier. A heavier weapon is likely to be left in the truck, or jeep, and thus not be in hand when needed.

      The question of which is faster, drawing a .45 pistol from a full-flap holster or unslinging a carbine, is best left to theorists. I’ve always believed that if you are in an IA situation, your weapon should already be in your hand(s). “Fast draws” are for Hollywood and gamesmen.

      Basically, the ideal PDW would be one with the best attributes of the M1 carbine and a shotgun.So far, that combination seems to have eluded the designers of PDWs.

      Note that had it not been so complex, heavy, and expensive, and afflicted with the typical ills of both caseless ammunition and Heckler and Koch’s obsession with overdesign, the G11 might have been the best PDW ever made;


      An M2 carbine-type weapon, firing a round like the .221 MMJ (itself suspiciously resembling the much later FN 5.7 x 28mm), with a three-round burst control and about a 50-round magazine, made of modern composite materials to reduce mass, might just be the answer to the PDW problem everybody has been groping for for the last century or so.



      • “…the G11 might have been the best PDW ever made…”(C)

        G11 and so, perhaps, the most advanced assault rifle.
        A rather controversial layout solution, obviously a crude design. This is all IMHO.
        But by all the basic criteria, this is by far ahead of everything that is being produced to this day.

  4. 1. “Lost” guns- I can’t believe you picked the stinger and not the Clair!

    2. Beginner cannon- Lyle lifesaving guns are cheap, plentiful, easily moved, easily operated, and very safe unless you go crazy and push them. Full elevation from level to straight up, so lots of experiment room. 1.5 to eight ounces of black powder and a projectile up to 19 pounds is plenty of power. And Red Bull cans full of concrete get huge range, and are so cheap and easy.

    Plus, it’s the only gun ever designed to save lives.

  5. Muzzle-loading black powder artillery is mighty fun too! A concrete filled can is what I’ve fired from a replica Civil War-era “mountain howitzer.” A swivel gun is not too hard to find, and somewhat more portable than a gun on a field carriage.

    32:03 silent cartridges:
    Supposedly one or another of the two-shot version of Soviet 7.62×41-mm “noiseless cartridge” derringer-type guns turned up in El Salvador during the 1988 FMLN offensive that forced a negotiated settlement. Not sure about the specifics, but presumably some of these might be at a Salvadoran museum or collection?

    The U.S. worked on silent shotgun cartridges. Silent cartridges versus suppressor-equipped firearms: The U.S. Navy and AAI ammunition during the Vietnam War developed a “silent shell” or “telecartridge” in which a cup of 1010 steel inserted into an all-metal cartridge/shell case with a plastic piston within. It fired a load of 12 No.4 buckshot (6-mm/0.24″) hardened pellets (20 grains each, 240 total) at just 450 feet per second (137-m/s). It was 2-1/2″ long un-fired, and with the expanded cup after firing, was about a third of an inch longer, or similar to a modern 2-3/4″ shell. It was found to be quieter than suppressing the muzzle, although of course it was only usable at very close ranges typical to clandestine roles. Also during the American War in Vietnam, so-called “tunnel rats” had to creep inside tunnel complexes in search of intelligence. Such soldiers carried a knife and flashlight, and many chose to carry .38 caliber revolvers. In such a specialized tactical niche, Smith & Wesson and the spooks and special warfare types, Army LWL and AAI made a specialized “tunnel weapon” out of the .44 magnum Model 29 revolver, using the captive-piston cartridge principle to turn it into a six-shot pepperbox .410 shotgun, firing silent shotshells with 15x 0.147″-7-1/2grain tungsten-alloy pellets (total 112.5 grains) at about 750fps. Mixed reviews.


  6. While just a niche law-enforcement weapon, not a military arm, I recall seeing at the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco a self-loading 28-gauge “whipit” gun customized by one of the Rangers “back in the day.”

    No idea what a buck-shot charge from a 28-gauge would be like, but certainly the Ithaca Auto & Burglar double gun, while mostly a 20-gauge, could apparently be had in the smaller gauges too.

    Similarly, according to Thomas F. Swearengen, _The World’s Fighting Shotguns Vol. IV_ (TBN, 1978), 351:
    “About 1968, Winchester proposed a very unusual conceptual shotgn to the U.S. Army. It was a sequential-launch, flechette-firing submachine shotgun employing a zero-recoil concept. Very little is known about this gun. … Basically, the weapon was a 28 gauge (14-mm), selective-fire gun possessing a 12-inch (30.5-cm)-or-less barrel. The gun action was a combination cartridge setback type (sometimes referred to as hesitation lock) and a zero-recoil type (which winchester had already proven in a 9-mm submachine gun prototype). [p. 352] It was to employ a drum magazine containing from 15 to 25 rounds. Ammunition for the gun was to consist of … 10 special 7.1-grain high-lethality [sic] flechettes. Muzzle velocity of this ammunition was some 2,000 ft/sec (610 meters/sec.). The submachine shotgun was also to fire buckshot, slugs, and birdshot, but its primary load was to be flechettes.”

    Back to SPIW, eh?

  7. A fictional gas-operated revolver, manufacture ascribed to Argentina, appeared in the alternate-universe Nineteenth Century of the first steampunk novel, “The Difference Engine,” by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson. From the description it seemed workable, especially with modern smokeless powder — the gas piston passed through the cylinder pin, I think, and acted against the hammer. It was described as “very dangerous;” apparently there was no safety-catch available when it was cocked.

  8. Continuous rod warhead. But with NiTi in 20g say, with razor blades; projectile is fired stays in one piece “aerodynamic bullet shape” for a good way after it leaves the barrel “unlike say a sabot of shotgun pellets” said “bullet” travels towards target; heat activates Nitinol razors expand, either hit target in full (think apple core) or glance: take off, bits… Thus a hit was scored as oppose a miss.

    No? Variation of that: Niti controlled sabots for shot… Heat via friction or such causes Nitinol to expand closer to target thus opening said sabot and therefore peppering them with the usual shotgun pattern as per but at 200m.

    Meh, fiddle. I don’t know why anyone hasn’t thought to attach a full sword with its entire elaborate brass handguard to a rifle as a bayonet; it’s the 21st c can we have some progress. Jab, jab on guard! See, course it works.

    • Perfectly logical concept as per the Spiw; if you could get it to work, if you did… You’d have more chance of a “hit” as per said warhead; which came about as a consequence of folk trying to gain a hit via using more projectiles… Then someone knock up the CRW, Nitinol opens up on its own now need for a bomb.

      Might not work; might. Meh.

      • Might be a bit light… Sharp, and fast; but maybe lacks mass.

        The sabot thing might work, even with Spiw darts. Might.

        • Leaning more towards the sabots; as less “Captain Kirk” although I like, that. SPIW’s that only release the three darts at 500m when your target is 550m must increase hit probabilty.

          • Or such… More pro’s, con’s etc: As for ever. In regards “metal” soldiers… Have become more interested in light gas guns; but fired by… Explosive induced electronic kink fields.

            Kinda science fiction but existing tech’ish; which needs putting together, in a round. Squish the projectile out at a serious rate; and zap the robot. Anyway doubtless the robots are thinking the same thing. Sooo…

            Enviromentally friendly. No? Burp.

          • Nuclear squish, like… Must be more “squishy” than via powder. SQUISH!!! Kaboom.

            Virus’s eh, pity we can’t make a super duper big f’off future round to pop them; he he.

          • Probably be good for humanity really; a common enemy. As I doubt they’ll be intetested in understanding the human notion of being “woke”

  9. I have a wonderful Russian pistol PSS “Vul” model – this is a wonderful car donated by my friend from Russia.
    A bit of history about him:
    In the USSR, the creation of special-purpose weapons was carried out in complete secrecy. In practice, such a weapon was not urgently needed. Nevertheless, the work of designers A. Levchenko and Y. Krylov was highly appreciated. In 1983, a “special self-loading pistol”, also known as “Wool”, was adopted. If you’re looking for literature on the history of foreign firearms, read the full articles here. Many good works have been written about wool.
    And don’t forget that the PSS is between the 4.5mm air rifle and the clapping of your hands. Considering the weapon’s purpose – silent destruction of the enemy at short distances, the pistol was quite compact and easily fit in a coat pocket.
    But this wonderful mechanism is never unsuitable for competition.

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