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The Vault

Vintage Saturday: Mujahideen

Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan during the 1980s

I think the Enfield:AK ratio has reversed by now.

Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Mostly armed with SMLEs, but I see at least one No4 Enfield in there as well (and the AKM, of course – which appears to have a 40-round mag). Interesting assortment of bandoliers, too.

Photo source: New York Times

Tactical and Technical Trends #50: September 1944

Today I have another issue of Tactical and Technical Trends – this time #50, from September 1944.

Tactical and Technical Trends #50 - September 1944

Tactical and Technical Trends #50 – September 1944

As usual, most of the material herein will be of interest to folks who like to study WWII, but only a little bit pertains to small arms. Specifically, a brief blurb on new German ammunition – subsonic 8×57 and 9×19, and accurized 8×57 for snipers. As a neat bonus, this issue includes the German phonetic radio alphabet – the equivalent to our Able, Baker, Charlie, etc. Siegfried-Paula-Anton-Schule!

 

Slow Motion: M1 Garand

The M1 Garand needs no introduction, does it? Here is is at 2000 frames per second:

 

7.62 mm PSG LANO Sniper Rifle

Today’s post is more modern than most of what we usually cover, but it is about a rifle for which very little information is available. It is a Swedish report translated by Arne Bergkvist – thanks again, Arne! Any mistakes in editing are mine – Ian.

This study is a work of FÖRSVARETS MATERIALVERK, Vapenbyrån, Finkalibersektionen Engineer Per Arvidsson
Lano rifle is the subject. Other rifles in the test will be tested on another occasion.

Swedish Lano sniper rifle

Swedish Lano sniper rifle

Background

Until 1989 the standard Swedish service rifle was the 7.62 mm AK 4 (H&K G3). Each platoon (40 soldiers) was equipped with one Hensoldt 4 power rifle scope. The AK 4 and the 4x scope functioned well together. The problem was that the scope mount was not sufficiently rigid, so the point of impact was different from time to time. The mount was also too high for the cheek and difficult to shoot with. To be able to solve a two man patrol task (sniper and observer) on distance combat range, longer than 300 meters, we urgently needed special selected personal with qualified education, and more advanced material than the AK 4.

In 1983, Sweden began testing sniper rifles from several European rifle makers. Most of them were accurate and shot acceptably tight groups, but were not rigid, unreliable, and were heavy, expensive and hard to shoot with. To be frank: they were not made for “one shot – one kill.” Both semi autos and bolt action rifles were tested. The semi automatic rifles were good shooters, but the function was bad and the weight was too much. The most popular rifle was the Austrian Steyr SSG 69, and 39 of these rifles were purchased for testing.

The study lead us to the required specifications:

  • “One shot one hit”

Standing man target 800 meter (875 yd)
1/3 man target 600 meter (656 yd)
Head-size target 400 meter (438 yd)

  • Maximum weight of rifle 6 kilo (13.2 lb)
  • Rifle scope, with 10x magnification, non-adjustable power and simple cross adjustments.
  • Scope mount must be 100% rigid
  • Detachable magazine

Field Testing

The rifles were tested in troop, technical, tactical and organizational situations. Rifle factories that were interested in participating and developing the future sniper rifle were:

  • FFV (Carl Gustaf 90/CG 2000)
  • Lano (Lano S)
  • Lakelander (m/375)
  • Mauser (m/86 SR)
  • Steyr (SSG Sweden)
  • Accuracy International (PM)
  • Parker Hale (m/85)

The suppliers had the opportunity to choose the rifle scope they wanted, within the demanded brands (Swarovski, Leupold, Tasco, Schmidt & Bender and Hensoldt) and specifications for 10 power non adjustable scopes. The test ground was Swedish Army Infantry camp (I 4) in Linköping and Infantry camp ( I 21) in Sollefteå, from September 1986 to May 1987.

All members in the test group had the opportunity to be a part of the testing, in both normal and extreme winter conditions. They would use and shoot with competitors rifle and discuss experiences with officers and snipers. The results from this testing were much appreciated by the involved participants. Even personnel from USMC “Scout Sniper Instruction School” participated  during March 1987 and gave valuable feedback.

The evaluation of the test rifle produced three winners: Accuracy International, Lano and Mauser. Price requests and delivery procedure and time schedule from the factories were requested, and showed that Accuracy International and Lano were the best choices. The testing also showed that only Hensoldt and Schmidt & Bender scopes were able to stand the testing. The other rifle scopes did not withstand the severe weather conditions and were rejected. Accuracy International and Lano together with Hensoldt and Schmidt & Bender scopes were ordered for the final trials in 1988/89. The material was to be modified at a number of places, to make all attendants happy.

Final Testing

To this “grand finale,” the following companies were invited:
Rifles: Accuracy International, Lano
Rifle scopes: Hensoldt, Schmidt & Bender
Bipod: Parker Hale
Silencer: Vaime
Ammunition: Norma, Lapua, Sako

Silencers had been tested by the Swedish government since 1983. The reduction of the firing sound will make it harder to find the sniper after “one shoot-one hit.” In addition, silencers reduce recoil and muzzle flash. The Vaime silencer was tested earlier by the army and especially the model that mounts far back on the barrel is interesting because it keeps the total length down, and also reduce the noise well. Accuracy is not affected by the silencer as long at the bullet not touching the inside of the tube. A small change in point of impact can be seen, but is easy to adjust on the rifle scope.

Conclusion

The rifle factories still in the test were very enthusiastic on the task, and spent time perfecting their entries, after finding things that could be improved. There was a positive feeling from both the rifle factories and the troops involved, and a positive exchange of information took place. The project started in 1985 with the initial specifications and ran for four years. The chosen rifles were purchased in 1990, with Lano being the winner.

The idea behind the Lano invention is that “If the bolt always is in the same position at absolute center of the chamber, steering the cartridge, when fire the rifle, it will be best for the accuracy!”

Technical Specs

Origin: Sweden
System: Lano bolt-action repeating mechanism
Caliber: 7.62×51 mm NATO
Magazine capacity: 10 rounds, detachable
Overall length: 1150 mm (45.25 in)
Barrel length: 660 mm (26 in)
Barrel twist: 1 revolution in 12” (1 rev. in 305 mm)
Weight: 6 kg (13.2 lb) with magazine and scope
Stock: Fiberglass, with adjustable length and cheekpiece
Bipod: Detachable (Parker Hale m/85 type)
Optic: Schmidt & Bender 10x42mm mildot type tritium scope with adjustable center bore
Weight of scope: 580g (20.4 oz)
Accuracy: 5 shots within 20 mm /100 meter (0.8″ @ 109 yd)

Another Great Video Channel – CapAndBall.eu

One area I have very little coverage of here on Forgotten Weapons is that of black powder muzzleloading firearms. I would like to get more into these at some point, but right now I am more interested in smokeless cartridge guns. Well, if you would like to see more on the older guns, I would definitely recommend a YouTube channel that a friend recently pointed me to: CapAndBall.eu. The channel, and its associated web site, are run by a Hungarian gentleman named Balázs Németh, who operates a gun and reloading shop in Budapest (it’s important for us Americans to realize that while we have some of the best gun laws in the world, that doesn’t mean there are no shooters anywhere else).

What I really enjoy about Balázs’ videos is that he discusses all aspects of the gun he is looking at – historical, mechanical, and practical. A great example is this video on the Savage Navy revolver:

Did you know that there is a toggle link hiding inside the action of that design? I didn’t. Another interesting one that just published last week was this comparison of an original Colt 1851 Navy with a Uberti reproduction of the same design:

The biggest surprise in there for me was the fact that Colt revolvers originally used gain-twist (aka progressive twist) rifling. I had no idea. Want one more example? How about a Whitworth rifle?

If you have any interest in black powder shooting and technology, this is definitely a channel to watch. Native English speakers may find Balázs’ accent a bit distracting at first, but he is by no means difficult to understand. As an aside, he does have a standalone web site (capandball.eu, which redirects to kapszli.hu), but it does not appear to have been updated for about a year, and has some technical issues, at least when I try to use it. But that also does not detract from the quality of the information in the videos.

 

2-Gun Action Challenge with a MAS 49/56

This month I chose to shoot the 2-Gun Action Challenge Match with a French MAS 49/56, in the original 7.5×54 caliber. I really like the handling of the rifle, and I was curious to see how the sights (rear aperture and a large front post) would work in a practical setting like this competition. As it turned out, I rather like the sights, Not great for target work, but they are pretty effective for making shots like this match is designed around. I do want to see if I can improve the trigger, though, and I may look into making myself a couple extended mags from 24/29 Chatellerault mags.

As usual, my pistol was a late 1940s Argentine Ballester-Molina in .45ACP (which served me well on stage 3, compared to the folks using 9mm). Overall, I placed 28th of 47 shooters.

 

 

Reptilicus: Danish MGs in Action

Want to see more Danish machine guns (mostly Madsen LMGs, but also a couple Madsen-Saetters) in one place than you’ve ever seen before? Well, try the 1961 Danish monster flick “Reptilicus”. It’ a pretty terrible piece of cinema, but hey, where else will you find video of that many Madsens?

Note the use of the bipod as a front grip...

Note the use of the bipod as a front grip…

Madsen-Saetter mounted on a Jeep

Madsen-Saetter mounted on a Jeep

Happily, someone on YouTube has posted a version edited down to just under ten minutes in length – still more than you really need to see, but lots of footage of the Danish Army on exercise as the monster rampages (well, something like that) through Copenhagen.

Thanks to Chris for the tip!

 

Vintage Saturday: Assorted Machine Guns

An assortment of machine guns from the Russian civil war.

Variety is the spice of life.

An assortment of machine guns from the Russian civil war. Pretty much one of everything in there – a Russian 1905 Maxim, German MG08, Austrian Schwarzlose 07/12, Colt 1895 “Potato Digger”, M1915 Chauchat, Madsen LMG, and a Lewis gun way in the back. Thanks to Paul Scarlata for sending the photo!

Tactical and Technical Trends #49: August 1944

A little while back, I got my hands on a number of copies of Tactical and Technical Trends booklets – this was a bulletin published by the US Military Intelligence Service during WWII to keep soldiers apprised of new developments in equipment and tactics among the different combatants. A quick Google search will reveal that these documents are not difficult to find in electronic form, but I am going to post them anyway. Why? First off, because I suspect a lot of people are not aware of them. More importantly, because I think it is worth looking at them one at a time to actually take a close look at the information they contain. Takes as a whole batch, one tends to just skim over and miss a lot. And lastly, because my color scans are much nicer looking than the other copies available. :)

The first one I have is #49, from August 1944 (they were initially published biweekly, and later went to monthly).

Tactical and Technical Trends #49 - August 1944

Tactical and Technical Trends #49 – August 1944

Much of the information in these booklets covers armored vehicle, artillery, mines, and other war material not typically in line with this site (although certainly of interest to many people who would read this site). When we look at small arms content in this edition, we find a couple interesting articles:

  • US Army testing on Japanese cartridges found on Bougainville with wooden bullets, and with normal projectiles loaded backwards into cartridges (the wooden bullets were found impractical for antipersonnel use, and concluded to be grenade launching rounds, while the backwards bullets were thought to be attempts to increase lethality).
  • US Army testing of the protection afforded by Japanese armored shields for machine gun and pillbox use (they are proof against M2 ball, but could be perforated by AP out to 200 yards).

 

Slow Motion: Fémáru 37M

The Frommer/Femaru 37M was the last in the line of handguns designed by Rudolf Frommer. The 37M was a single-action blowback pistol chambered for .380, although it was also purchased by Germany in .32 ACP caliber (and with the addition of a manual thumb safety). It was adopted by the Hungarian military in 1937, replacing the 29M – which was mechanically basically identical but more expensive to produce. The 29M, in turn, was basically a scaled-up Frommer Lilliput.