Machine Guns of WWI: SADJ Commemorates the 100th Anniversary of World War I

ABOVE: Germans with Maxim MG08. Judging from their cloth-covered spiked helmets, this apparently posed photo was taken early in the war when quantities of their…

Honoring Herbie Woodend, Ten Years Later

A large group of friends and family gathered today at the front of the old MOD Pattern Room at Enfield Lock, England, for the dedication of a plaque honoring the life and contributions of Herbert J. “Bertie” Woodend, the former Curator of the famous MOD Pattern Room in England. This is one of the largest collections of military small arms in the world, and starting in 1966 “Herbie” was the driving force at Enfield Lock and later in the 1980s-90s at Royal Ordnance in Nottingham, until the Pattern Room was moved over to the Royal Armouries in Leeds in 2002. The collection is now the core of the National Firearms Centre at the Royal Armouries.

ROMARM Small Arms Factories

During its history, Romania was occupied by Turks, Austrians, Greeks and Russians. The principality of Moldavia and Walachia were acquired in 1861. Romania was an ally of Russia during its war against Turkey in 1877 and became independent one year later. Allied with Greece and Serbia, Romania fought against Bulgaria in 1913. In 1916, it entered in the Great World War beside the Allies. Between the two world wars, Romania was member of several alliances with other Balkan or Central European countries. The king renounced the throne in 1940, after a coup d’état organised by officers favourable to the Axis. So Romania, allied with Germany, entered the war against the Soviet Union in 1941. In 1944, the situation reversed after an insurrection managed by the communists.

K12 South Korean Light Machine Gun

From 1990 to very recently, the ROK (Republic of Korea; or South Korea) army had a tendency to reduce the presence of 7.62mm NATO light or medium machine guns. From the 1970s to 1990, the South Korea military used M60 GPMGs as their ‘almost universal’ machine gun; first supplied from the U.S. as military support when the ROK military dispatched a considerable number of troops to Vietnam and then manufactured under license by Daewoo Precision Industry, Co. (today’s S&T Motive). It was used everywhere machine guns were used: infantry, vehicle mounted, helicopter mounted, etc. Since the ROK military was heavily influenced under U.S. doctrine, it was quite natural and that influence led to the development of the K3 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon), since the U.S. Army used the M249 SAW from the 1980s. The K3 is the ‘Koreanized’ version of the famous Minimi, and the role of K3 in ROK Army/Marine Corps was initially quite similar to that of the M249 in U.S. military.

Glock Generations: Detail and Feature Evolution

According to company literature, the first Glock pistols imported into the U.S. came in January of 1986. These guns had serial numbers beginning with a two letter alpha prefix of “AF” followed by a three digit number. This means for every two letter combination, there were up to 1,000 pistols produced with numbers from 000 to 999. As of this writing, current new production Glock….

Weapons Lab: Small Arms Development at USALWL

After the end of the Second World War, the United States military, the Army especially, saw its mission as one of countering potential Soviet aggression. If this were to come, the most likely battlefield would be in Northern Europe. With the Soviet Union’s acquisition of nuclear weapons the two world powers settled into the Cold War. Though a major land war between the two in Europe would have been catastrophic, other fronts presented more potential. By supporting insurgencies around the world the Soviet Union….

German Submachine Gun EMP44

Much has already been written about German military weapons. But still today some real treasures are left to be discovered. Some of them are re-discovered – like the Erma EMP44 of the Erfurter Maschinenfabrik (in short “Erma”)….

Indigenous Machine Guns of China: Part Two – Heavy Machine Guns

Up until the 1960s all machine guns manufactured in China were of foreign design. The first heavy machine gun to be produced in China was the 12.7mm Type 54, a straight-up copy of the Soviet DShKM 1938/46, made on Soviet machinery, using Soviet documentation and assistance. This weapon fired the 12.7x108mm round of Soviet origin, which was roughly similar in performance to the American .50 BMG round….

Emerson Electric’s Tactical Armament Turret Line for Aircraft

The Emerson Electric Company was founded in 1890 in St. Louis, Missouri as the Emerson Electric Manufacturing Company. The company initially produced electric motors and then went on to produce entire electricity powered machines like fans, sewing machines, and power tools. By the time the Second World War broke out, Emerson turned its already half century of experience with electric power….

The Armalite AR-10: From The Beginning

The AR-15/M16/M4 series rifle is undoubtedly the most popular rifle in the United State for all military, law enforcement and commercial markets. It is the most versatile platform of a rifle on the face of the planet. Another rifle has crept up into that popularity; one that was on the scrap heap of the U.S. Army for nearly 40 years. That would be the one that started it all, the AR-10. “Tomorrow’s Rifle Today” in the late 1950s has turned out to be today’s rifle today. The rifle that Ordnance Corp….

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Brazil’s Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais

As Latin America’s largest country and with a population of 200 million souls, Brazil faces massive defense problems. Although it does not have to cope with any imminent threat from overseas or any of the ten bordering nations, properly watching and defending 8.5 million square kilometers of land territory and an unbroken coastline of just about 7,500 kilometers long (corresponding to 3.5 million square kilometers of territorial waters) requires substantial effort from the three independent military services, the Exército Brasileiro (Army)….

The Vallerand Magazine Identification Guide

Alphonse William Vallerand was an American veteran of the Korean War, and a quiet giant in the Class III collector community. He mentored many of us about military weapons. You can read about him in his interview at www.smallarmsoftheworld.com. Bill was one of the founders of Small Arms Review magazine and one of his passions was the study of magazines, belts, links, and other feeding devices. He began studying them in the 1950s and started developing identification systems with Dan Shea in the 1980s. During the 1990s….

The Original Scorpion/Stinger Pen Gun

The speed at which the United States geared up for World War II in the days after Pearl Harbor must be the paramount industrial wonder of the 20th century. Peacetime manufacturing and occupations quickly became part of the war effort with an agility that seems impossible today. Many manufacturers with no experience in small arms were tasked with converting all or part of their operations over to produce them. Singer Manufacturing, Rock-Ola, and several divisions of General Motors are among these well-known to have made the hasty transition….

The Soviet PPSH 41

In 1939, just a month after the joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland in September, the Soviet Red Army invaded Finland. The primary reason used for the 30 November 1939 attack was to reclaim territory lost during the Russian Civil War of 1917. Soviet leaders wanted to extend their borders primarily as a buffer zone to protect the city of Leningrad from a foreign invasion….

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SOST: A Way Forward in Contemporary Understanding of the 1899 Hague Declaration on Expanding Bullets

In 2006, the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Special Operations & Technology (SOST) office tasked the Crane Division, Surface Warfare Center, to develop a general combat ball round that would exhibit enhanced internal and external ballistics, and improved consistency in its terminal ballistics. It required a capability to defeat intermediate barriers such as auto glass and doors when fired in a carbine-length weapon system. The ammunition would have to maintain full compatibility with all existing weapon platforms….

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Sturmgewehr: Hitler’s Only True Wunderwaffe

Many years before WWII started, small arms designers of the world noted that in the real world the power of the rifle round was seldom used to the full extent. The late 19th Century saw the extraordinary surge in rifle shooting distance capability. The introduction of smokeless cartridges with small caliber jacketed bullets extended the individual effective range of fire far beyond the limitations of the open sights. At 2,000 yards, where these bullets were still lethal, a man-sized target would hide completely behind even the thinnest….

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Machine Gun Memorabilia – Volume 5, Number 2

LEFT: Japanese interwar or early World War II machine gunner commemorative discharge sake pourer featuring the Army star, Japanese battle flag and a Type 11…

The Way of the Gun

In his 1922 book, Story of the North West Frontier Province, author JM Ewart writes: “That gap in the low hills (south of Peshawar city) marks the Kohat Pass, which really has a better claim to being a historic highway of invasion than the Khyber itself. By it, across a neck of Afridi country, runs the Frontier Road to Kohat and Bannu, to Dera Ismail Khan and Razmak. The villages of the pass are famed for a strange industry — the manufacture entirely by hand of rifles and ammunitions, especially rifles, to the eye so like the products of European arsenals…

MP38(L): The German Experimental Light-Weight Machine Gun

At the beginning of 1938, the Erfurter Maschinenfabrik (ERMA) received an official order for the development a new submachine gun from the Heereswaffenamt (office for army weapons). Already a few months later, at the beginning of June 1938, ERMA presented the Maschinenpistole MP38. This achievement is impressive; however the time interval seems to be much too short for developing such a new weapon. This fact must arouse suspicions that a (nearly) ready draft must have slumbered in the drawers of ERMA….

North Korean Small Arms

Recently there has been an upswing in interest regarding the weapons of North Korea.  This is due not only to the current saber rattling in the region and the changing of the leadership, but to how difficult it is to obtain accurate information as well as the disinformation campaigns that have been successfully waged by the North Korean propaganda bureaus.  Heebum Hong and Dan Shea have studied the small arms of North Korea for decades….

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The Lewis Gun

Col. Lewis was a United States Military Academy (West Point) graduate (1884) and spent twenty-five years in the United States Army assigned primarily to Coastal Artillery units. He was a keen inventor and received a number of patents for artillery rangefinders and other artillery related equipment. He also studied in Europe for several years learning about the armament industry. It was while in Europe that he discovered that America was at least ten years behind in artillery and small arms manufacturing – particularly machine guns….

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Mexican Drug War Fighters

One day in November 2010, the battle to get Antonio Ezekiel Cárdenas Guillén, one of the most feared and wanted drug lords in Mexico, had lasted eight-hours.  The Scorpions – the capo’s own army – presented a stiff resistance to hundreds of soldiers and federal policemen while a 660-strong Marine battalion fought its way to his whereabouts in Matamoros.  This is a small city in Tamaulipas, just across the border from Texas.  The government forces…

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USMC Precision Weapons Section

There’s nothing else like it in any of the other branches of America’s Armed Forces.  Its uniquely lethal products, the work of a small and tightly-knit group, must function flawlessly and consistently 24/7 for the Corps’ Scout Snipers and other hard-chargers in some of the world’s most harsh terrain and weather.  Other weapons and custom loaded ammunition created there must also consistently deliver pinpoint accuracy for world class shooters of the USMC’s Competition In Arms Rifle and Pistol Teams….

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M27, Part Two: From BAR to IAR – How the Marines Finally Got Their Infantry Automatic Rifle

Friends and foes of the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the U.S. Marine Corps’ infantry fire teams have been engaged in often fierce verbal firefights dating back years before this innovative light machine gun entered Leatherneck service; soon after the Army adopted FN’s MINIMI in 1984. While the reasons for this are many and varied, astute observers often cite two main points of contention: Advocates of belt fed weapons like the M249 admire their relative portability and high volume of fire…

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A Brief History of Russian Heavy Machine Guns

This story begins in 1925.  That year the Red Army requested the development of a large caliber machine gun with the intention of using it as an anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapon.  Initial research suggested a caliber of 12.7mm (0.5 inch, or “five lines” in contemporary Russian measuring system, where “one line” was equivalent of 1/10 of an inch), with the earliest work being based on the British .50 Vickers cartridge.  However, it was soon discovered that the British round was not effective enough, so an indigenous round…

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Swedish Medium Machine Guns: Kulspruta M/36 LV DBL

Sweden was not shy in their attempt to modernize their army at the turn of the twentieth century by equipping it with modern machine guns. The m/95 Maxim, the m/99 Nordenfeldt (Konstruction Bergman-Nordenfeldt) and m/00 Hotchkiss all found a home at one time or another in the Swedish army from 1895 to 1914. From 1914 the m/14 Schwarzlose was adopted and widely used. The first 511 Schwarzlose machine guns were imported from Austria but in 1917 Sweden began making them at the Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori (GF) in Eskilstuna….

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Dushka: The Soviet Fifty Caliber

The world’s first real heavy machine gun appeared during World War I, although big-bore machine guns were by no means a novel feature by then – it was rather that the machine gun has retraced its own first uneasy steps. The first ever machine guns, multi-barrel hand-cranked contraptions, were all of at least .45-inch caliber, as high as .58 – because those were the standard infantry rifle calibers of the era. The first automatic machine gun designed by Maxim in 1882, was also chambered in .450. It was only in the 1890s that the first….

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Open Tip Match: When a “Hollow Point” is Not a Hollow Point

Early boxes of Open Tip Match were marked ‘NOT FOR COMBAT USE’ as noted in the original box (top row, both sides) and bottom left….

Rapid Fire Weapons Before Maxim & Browning

Machine guns today are generally defined as firearms that shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. This modern definition has come about due to the development of such a weapon as pioneered by Hiram Maxim and John Browning and is subsequently used for all weapons that employ this mechanical means in firearms today…

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The 3rd Generation: From the vz. 61 Skorpion Submachine Gun to the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1

The Czech arms industry made a great impact in 20th century weaponry history with a large range of remarkable products. Probably the most original of them all was a “special submachine gun” named the Skorpion, a successful effort for covering the gap between service pistols and traditional submachine guns chambered in pistol cartridges. The Skorpion, in its initial, less powerful caliber, i.e. 7.65mm Browning (.32 Auto), has not met modern security unit’s requirements for some years, much less that of the armed forces; nevertheless….

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MARSOC, Part 2: Training SOCOM’S Devil Dogs

The focus of our visit to MARSOC‘s Schoolhouse was Special Operations Training Branch, currently housed in an orderly formation of a dozen or so modular classrooms while construction is underway nearby on a more traditional campus. There, Lieutenant Colonel Clark Watson, SOTB’s Director, walked us through the high points of the Initial Training Course, a comprehensive SPECOPS basic training program that is the next step following Assessment and Selection for those seeking to become CSOs….

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The Origin of the Russian “Tractor-Cap” M1910 Maxim

Collectors and historians are familiar with the Russian “Tractor Cap” or “Snow Cap” Maxim machine gun. It was a modification of the PM1910 (Pulemyot Maxima na stanke Sokolova or “Maxim’s machine gun Model 1910 on Sokolov’s mount”) that did away with the small water filler hole in the water jacket and instead a much larger hole was cut into the top of the water jacket that allowed snow, ice or larger volumes of water to be introduced quickly into the water jacket. The hole was covered by a tractor radiator cap that was hinged on one side and secured by a clasp on the other side…

Old Name, New Gun: The CZ 805 Bren Modular Rifle

The end of the first decade of the new millennium saw Czechs and Slovaks as the Last of Mohicans in the Unified Europe: the only country with its own creative rifle possibility to use 7.62mm caliber for the main battle long arm.  The Sa-58 (Samopal vzor 58) rifle, the mainstay of the Czechoslovakian People’s Army (Ceskoslovenska lidova armada, the CSLA) has been in use since the early 1960s, when Czechoslovakia became the only Warsaw Pact country not to introduce a clone of Kalashnikov’s AK/AKM series….

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SADJ Identification Series: The RPG ID Guide

SADJ has brought a number of articles on the RPG-7 and its technology and history to our readers.  We’ve covered light armorer work, as well as operational idiosyncrasies, and we’ve dispelled myths perpetuated by a generation of writers and Internet gurus who insist on saying “RPG” means “Rocket Propelled Grenade” no matter how many times it’s explained that this is a recoilless launcher system…

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The Japanese Type 92 (M1932) 7.7mm Heavy Machine Gun (Kyuni Shiki Jukikanju)

The Japanese had a unique system of naming and numbering their weapons using two basic methods.  One method referred to the Type number, which represented the last two digits of the Japanese Jimmu Year.  For the Type 92 machine gun, this represented the year 2592 (or 1932 on the Gregorian calendar).  This is noted in three Japanese kanji characters arranged in a vertical column on top of the gun’s receiver…

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Colt Automatic Gun Model 1895/1914

Captain Herbert W. McBride of the 21st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, wrote in his excellent book A Rifleman Went to War the following concerning the use of the Colt Automatic Gun Model 1895. “We Canadians of the Second Division were originally equipped with Colt guns… I imagine I can hear some sniffles and horse-laughs. You think that the Colt is a poor weapon, eh? Well, just let me tell you something for your information and instruction… Never have I seen any machine gun….

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FIAT Revelli Modelo 1914

Right side view the Italian FIAT Revelli Model 1914 with top ejection port cover open. Italy was the first country in the world to officially…

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UKM-2000: The Polish Successor to the PKM

A machinegunner of the Polish 16th Air Assault Battalion preparing to open fire at the Wedrzyn Training Ground pop-up target range. Note the obvious outer…

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U.S. Colt Vickers Model of 1915

Right side of the U.S. Colt Vickers Model of 1915 on the Mark IV tripod shown with the condensing hose and tin lined water box…

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Guns of the Spetsnaz: Specially-Designed Silenced Long Guns

OMON (Russian Police Spetsnaz) operator with OTs-14 rifle in GL configuration. As discussed in previous articles on the subject, Soviet Army Spetsnaz troops and specialized…

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Glauberyt: The Last of the Polish Submachine Guns

Test model of the wz.1973 SMG – the Zielonka Glauberyt. In the early 1970s, most submachine guns still in use with the armies of the…

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Knight’s Armament M110: The New Breed of Sniper Rifle

Over the last 15 or so years, the sniper rifle in both concept and rifle has changed.  It was not until the Vietnam War where…

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Is it Time to Go Metric for Small Arms?

Harrington & Richardson produced inch-system FN FAL (T48). When I answered the phone, I could sense the frustration in his voice. The caller was a…

Interview with Buddy Howells (Grandson of Col. George M. Chinn)

George Kontis and Buddy Howells visit Cave House in 2010. (George Kontis) On April 11, 2010, I traveled to Harrodsburg, KY where I met with…

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U.S. Automatic Machine Rifle Model of 1909

The Automatic Machine Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1909 – also known as the “Benét-Mercié.” Weighing in at about 30 pounds it was considered a…

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The Swiss MG11 Maxim Machine Gun

Overall right-hand view of the MG11. Hiram Maxim was born in the United States in 1840.  His genius lay in his ability to grasp the…

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French St. Etienne Model 1907

Photo postcard showing the rare Puteaux M1905 machine gun. The caption reads “Mailly Camp – Infantry soldiers operating a machine gun in an open field”…

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Blyskawica: Poland’s First Successful SMG Design

The Blyskawica (‘Lightning’, pronounced bwiskavitsa, with ‘wi’ to be read like in ‘wisdom’) was designed and manufactured fully clandestine, for the Home Army (Armia Krajowa,…

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History of the Heckler & Koch 40mm Grenade Launcher

The HK M320 40mm grenade launcher. Until recently, the field of 40mm grenade launchers was almost exclusively dominated by the M203.  With the recent adoption…

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The Austrian Schwarzlose Model 07/12 Water-Cooled Machine Gun

Andreas Wilhelm Schwarzlose of Charlottenburg, Germany was a well known and respected inventor and arms designer working out of the gun making center of Suhl,…

High Standard Guns of WWII

Gus Swebilius at work. On April 19, 1879 Carl Gustave Swebilius was born in Vingaker, Sweden, one of five children of the town watch maker. …

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New .50 Cal Machine Guns, No Tanks

Four-gun turret undergoing testing. (Springfield Armory National Historical Site Archives) By the summer of 1918 he was nearing his 65th birthday and might have been…

The French Hotchkiss Model 1914 Heavy Machine Gun

Laurence Benét test fires the Hotchkiss Model 1897 mounted on a wheeled carriage. The Hotchkiss Model 1914 was the standard French Army heavy machine gun…

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Identifying & Collecting the 7.62×39 AK-47/AKM Magazine

Russian magazines (from left): Russian Slab-Side, Early Izhmash Spine Stamped, Ishmash Side-Stamped, Aluminum Waffle, Izhmash AG4. Identifying all magazines, for all AK variants, would be…

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Spirit of the Bayonet: Bayonet Charge in Basra

While the insignia of US Infantry is crossed rifles, its spirit is the spirit of the bayonet.  Every American infantryman, indeed every American soldier, learns…

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders: The Royal Regiment of Scotland

FROM LEFT: LEFT TWO: A regiment in their own right, the cap badge and shoulder patch of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as worn in…

The Museum of the Polish Army // Warsaw, Poland

Located in the heart of Warsaw, Poland, the Museum of the Polish Army holds some 300,000 historical treasures dating from 966 through World War II. …

The Browning Model 1917 Water-Cooled Machine Gun

On October 29, 1918, just two weeks until the end of the war, and just before the 80th Division was committed to combat, the men…

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The RPG-7 System Primer

The Soviet era design referred to generically now as the RPG-7 was the fruit of decades of design development in many countries: there were forces…

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Beyond Quiet: The Russian PSS Captive Piston Pistol

An armorer test fires the PSS silent pistol. (Photo by Dan Shea) Little is known in the Western world of the Soviet silent pistols utilizing…

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Beryl Tantalsson: The Saga of the Polish Kalashnikov Continues

The 5.56mm wz.96 Beryl assault rifle in its original form – still with shrink tubes on the stock tubes, standard bipod, old type muzzle device…

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U.S. Maxim Model 1904

Machine Gun Squad, Company B, Second U.S. Infantry. Note the rare leather strap hanging arrangement for the steam condensing hose. Photo circa 1917. History 2004…

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Mr. Metal Storm

Going Ballistic, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation television documentary from 2000, has a collection of fascinating interviews with O’Dwyer himself and key persons in his life and work. Through it we learn that the inventor admits to being “not a particularly good student” during his high school years in a small town in Queensland, Australia.  Interested primarily in the odd combination of physics at school and working on cars in his stepfather’s auto repair business, after graduation he chose to enter the workplace rather than continue on to college….

The White Eagle Military Museum // Skarżysko-Kamienna, Poland

Skarżysko-Kamienna is a relatively young city receiving its city charter in 1923, yet a settlement has existed in the Kamienna river valley since prehistoric times due to the ore-rich region in which it is located.  Steel mills prospered in the region and the State Ammunition Factory, as well as many other defense related industries after World War II, are located in the city.  It was here where Polish squads ordered by Józef Piłsudski fought during World War I….

Life and Times of the M60

Developed in the aftermath of WWII and fielded in 1957, the light and handy 7.62mm NATO caliber M60 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) has been alternately praised and cursed by GIs who have carried it combat from Vietnam to Iraq and beyond. Inspired by the WWII German MG42, the M60 was intentionally designed for mass production – cheap and fast on a stamped sheet metal receiver that houses a clever gas operated, carrier-cammed bolt mechanism first seen in the Lewis Gun of WWI….

The Chinese 7.62x39mm Type 68 Rifle

During the 1920s China was embroiled in a civil war between the Chinese Communists led by Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) who were led by Chiang Kai-shek. The fighting briefly subsided after 1937 with the Japanese invasion of China. During World War II, the United States became allied with the Chinese Nationalists and provided massive military and financial aid to help China fight the Japanese. The wartime plan of the U.S. was to assist China in becoming a strong ally and a stabilizing force in Asia after the war….

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Argentina’s Maxim Model 1895

Argentina was an early user of the Maxim and began by ordering 50 Maxims from the Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company Limited in England in 1895. These first 50 guns were given Argentine Army serial numbers 1-50 and chambered in the 7.65×53 Belgium Mauser caliber. In 1898, a second order of the Model 1895 was placed with Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM), a licensed Maxim manufacturer in Germany, for another 150 guns still chambered for the Belgium Mauser 7.65×53 caliber. These guns were serially numbered 51-200.

Right, Wrong, and What’s Still Broken: Life Goes On in the U.S. Firearms Industry

It’s been a wild ride being a part of the U.S. firearms industry over the last forty years. I have worked at more than a few firearms producers, from the largest to the smallest, and from the best to the worst. It has given me a special insight into the business. I’ve seen a lot of great designs evolve and I have been lucky enough to have not only met but spent quality time with all the greats: Chinn, Stoner, Uzi, Knight, Galili, Colby, Marquardt, Kalashnikov, Chiabrandy, Patenaude, Wetzel, Ruger, and Barrett.

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