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Greener MkIII Police in a 2-Gun Shotgun Match (Video)

Every few years, there is a special 2-Gun match at my local club, using shotgun and pistol instead of rifle and pistol. The rules of this match are a bit different than most multigun competition that uses shotgun, in an attempt to make the competition more practical and realistic, and less of simple a speedloading contest. The stages are intended to be shot with buckshot and slugs (although birdshot is allowable on some stages), and the competitors must begin with their shotgun loaded to full capacity. Once the shotgun is run empty, the shooter has the option to either reload it or transition to handgun.

This is an attempt to reflect the practical reality that in a gunfight, one would not abandon a very effective weapon like a shotgun for a much less effective one like a handgun without good reason. In fact, there is no strict requirement to even use a handgun in this match – as you will see below, Karl shot the whole thing with just his shotgun, and I only used my pistol (an Inglis High Power) once.

Because it seemed like a fun and interesting thing to do, I opted to use a MkIII Greener Police Gun for this competition. This a single-shot weapon based on the Martini falling block action. It was introduced in 1921, well after the Martini-Henry rifles were obsolete, primarily for use by colonial police forces. It was a very robust and durable gun, equally useful as a hand-to-hand weapon as a firearm. The ammunition was designed to make the guns useless is taken from the police; a three-pringed firing pin require the cartridge case to have a recessed ring in the case head or else the center prong of the pin would be held up away form the shell’s primer. In addition, the case itself was a non-standard 14 1/2 ga size, too small to fit a 12ga shell. However, a revised and improved version (the Mark III) was introduced shortly afterwards chambered for either this specialty ammunition or for standard 12ga. The example I am using in the match is a standard 12ga.

For this match, we decided to film each of the four stages separately, so that we could take more time to discuss the intent of each stage design, and how they went for us. Let me know what you think of that format in the comments below!

Introduction and Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Stage 3:

Stage 4:

The StG-44 in Africa

A while back, a video made the rounds of a cache of StG-44 rifles being found in (allegedly) Syria – I commented on it here, in fact. It was pretty much without any context, though. Where did they come from? How did they get to Africa, considering that the German Afrika Corps was never equipped with StGs? Well, here’s an excellent post from the very cool blog WWII After WWII discussing the how and why of Sturmgewehrs in Africa:

StG-44 in Africa After WWII

To quote a small section:

Contrary to some more romanticized accounts, the Algerians did not discover long-lost caches from Rommel’s WWII Afrika Korps, as no StG-44 had ever served in any German unit in Africa during the war. Rather, these guns had arrived to Algeria via Czechoslovakia. When WWII ended in 1945, the Soviet army retained and stored every StG-44 it found. By best estimate, in 1948 there were about 102,000 StG-44s in Soviet custody. As the SKS and AK-47 were already entering Soviet use, the captured StG-44s were not issued to Soviet units but rather made available for transfer abroad, with Czechoslovakia being the first and main recipient, followed by East Germany. Hungary also received a small (about 4,000) batch, and Yugoslavia also received some prior to it’s split with the east bloc. These joined StG-44s captured by the Yugoslavs themselves. Finally the Soviets transferred a few to North Vietnam; these in turn were joined by more transferred from Czechoslovakia and East Germany (which themselves had come from the USSR) as those two countries phased the type out.

Good stuff! The whole blog is equally interesting – definitely something you should check out.

Vintage Saturday: Royal Finance Police


Four Italian WWI soldiers of the Regia Guardia di Finanza (Royal Finance Police)

These four Italian soldiers, all of them wearing the Model 1909 uniform, belong to the Regia Guardia di Finanza ( Royal Finance Police) and they have three different types of badges on their hats.

From left to right: The soldier without a hat is a sergeant holding a Beretta Model 1915 pistol chambered in 9mm Glisenti. He is resting his shooting arm on a folded coat with a lamb wool liner and the spike of an ice-ax is visible. He has a Carcano 91 TS across his back. The other three soldiers all hold the same type of rifle at the ready in a staged pose.

The soldier to the immediate right of the sergeant has the Badge Model 1892 embroidered in yellow rayon or wool, which was not officially allowed at the front. The soldier at the far right has the “alpino-hat” issued after 1910 and still in use. The soldier at top is wearing the correct subdued version of the Badge Model 1892 embroidered in black.

Photo and caption from GunBoards.com.

US Uniforms of WWI: Interesting Details

I had another post planned for today, but found this video pretty interesting. It’s a look at what the US troops were actually wearing in WWI – when they shipped over to Europe, in the actual combat period, and in the post-war occupation. Mike Burch (the guy presenting) has clearly spent a while researching this subject and does a good job of conveying information. I suppose it’s not surprising he should be this interested in it, given that he makes reproduction uniforms himself (when I ran a 2-Gun match with an M1917 rifle recently, it was in one of his uniforms).

Anyway, I learned a bunch here, including interesting details on trench knife usage, US use of handguns, and the general mishmash of stuff used by American troops. If you are interested in identifying things like rank, service time, and unit in period photos, there is a lot to be gleaned here as well.

Mauser “Schnellfeuer”, or Model 712 Machine Pistol

The Schnellfeuer, or Model 712, was Mauser’s answer to the Spanish production of selective fire C96 lookalikes. Just over 100,000 of these pistols were made by Mauser in the 1930s, mostly going to China (although some did see use in other countries, and also with the SS). They use 10- and 20-round detachable magazines, and are almost all chambered for the 7.63mm Mauser cartridge. Rate of fire is about 900-1000 rounds per minute.

One of the urban legends that has grown up around these guns is that Chinese soldiers would hold them sideways, and use the recoil to fire in a horizontal arc. This does work, but is a pretty crude way to use the gun. Without the attached shoulder stock, it is much better left on semiauto. With the stock, it makes a surprisingly effective and controllable submachine gun.

Thanks to TFBTV for the opportunity to shoot and film this very cool gun!

Book Review: M91/30 Rifles and M38/M44 Carbines in 1941-1945

M91/30 Rifles and M38/M44 Carbines in 1941-1945The full title is actually (deep breath) M91/30 Rifles and M38/M44 Carbines in 1941-1945: Accessories and Devices – History of Production, Development, and Maintenance, by Alexander Yuschenko and translated into English by Ryan Elliot. I saw this book mentioned a few weeks ago on a firearms discussion board, and figured I ought to get a copy, simply because there isn’t all that much English-language published information on the Mosin Nagant in any real depth. I didn’t really know what to expect, and what I got really blew me away.

Collecting Mosins in the US has long been rather like having a group of people exploring in the dark – where original production records on guns like the 1903 Springfield or M1 Garand are readily available to us, such data on the Mosin has been completely lacking thanks to minor political issues like the Cold War. We can only make inferences based on what we can see imported into this country, and those inferences are easily skewed by all sorts of factors. What Alexander Yuschenko has done is actually take original wartime archival documentation and distill it down into a compact and strikingly information-dense account of Mosin-Nagant development and production.

This is not just a series of tables, it is information put into context. For example, Yuschenko explains the process of Mosin production being replaced by semiauto rifle production (the AVS-36, SVT-38, and SVT-40), and then the about-face required when the SVT-40 failed to meet expectations. Not just that, but great juicy details on why the SVT-40 failed, and how troops felt about it and the Mosin comparatively. What were the causes behind inoperative rifles of both types? What were the costs of each to the Soviet government, compared to each other and the other weapons being produced? What was the distribution of the different weapons within typical Red Army units?

The main section book is organized chronologically, looking at events one year at a time. This really shows the reader how the Soviet Union’s situation changed over time, from its optimistic leap to self-loading rifles in 1940 to its desperate relocation of factory infrastructure in 1941 and 42 to its turn toward submachine guns in 1944 and 45. The development of the folding bayonet for the M44 carbine is discussed, including experimental models of M1945 Carbine. The short-lived use of socket blade bayonets is covered. Suppressors and rifle grenades launchers are covered. The entire second chapter is about accessories, like slings, ammunition pouches, and cleaning gear – this allows us to actually see such items in their full context instead of trying to guess at the provenance of random examples that happen to have been imported at one time or another.

Here are just a couple facts that I had not known:

  • In 1941 alone, the Soviet Union lose a staggering 5.5 million rifles and carbines destroyed, captured and otherwise unusable. That is 59% of all they had in inventory as of June of 1941.
  • The standard PU scope mount can actually also be used to mount a PE/PEM optic.
  • A mine detector was developed and used which mounted to the muzzle of a 91/30 rifle, using it as the handle.
  • What all those many little arsenal refurbishment marks actually indicate!

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in WWII. Whether you are actual a Mosin collector yourself or just want to see a fuller picture of Soviet military history in the Great Patriotic War, Yuschenko’s work is a gold mine of information previously unknown in the English-speaking world.

Unfortunately, it appears that only one printing will be done, and at the time I am writing this the author’s web site indicates that the book is already 75% sold out. It is not available on Amazon, and must be ordered directly through the author’s website, Mosin.info. If you want a copy, I urge you to order one ASAP as I can guarantee they will not last much longer. The price is $30 plus $12 shipping for one copy of $19 shipping for two copies – and expect them to take 3 weeks or so to arrive, as they ship from Ukraine.

I hope that the author will run a second printing when this inevitably sells out, and that he will consider writing more on the subject of Soviet WWII armaments. I would love to see a similar work for any of the other weapons of the USSR!

Detailed Photos: Walther A115 No. 3

I did a video on this very interesting German prototype semiauto rifle a few weeks ago, and took one or two photographs at the same time. The genesis of the Gewehr 41 gas system is clearly visible, and it is also an interesting look at an early attempt at using primarily stamped components for a full-power rifle. Enjoy!


French M14 Conversion – the Gras in 8mm Lebel (Video)

The French adopted the Gras as their first mass-issued metallic cartridge rifle in 1874, replacing the needlefire 1866 Chassepot. Quite a lot of Gras rifles were manufactured, and they became a second-line rifle when the 1886 Lebel was introduced with brand-new smokeless powder and its smallbore 8mm projectile. When it became clear that the quick and decisive war against Germany was truly turning into the Great War, France began looking for ways to increase the number of modern Lebel rifles it could supply to the front.

One option that was used was to take Gras rifles from inventory and rebarrel them for the 8mm Lebel cartridge (which was based on the Gras casehead anyway). These could be issued to troops who didn’t really need a top-of-the-line rifle (like artillery crews, train and prison guards, etc). Then the Lebel rifles from those troops could be redirected to the front.

The rebarreling process was done by a number of contractors, using Lebel barrels already in mass production. The 11mm barrel from the Gras would be removed, and only the front 6 inches (150mm) or so kept. A Lebel barrel and rear sight would be mounted on the Gras receiver, and that front 6 inches of Gras barrel bored out to fit tightly over the muzzle of the new 8mm barrel. This allowed the original stock and nosecap to be used (the 8mm barrel being substantially smaller in diameter, and not fitting the stock and hardware by itself). It also allowed the original Gras bayonet to be fitted without modification, since the bayonet lug was also on that retained section of barrel. In addition, a short wooden handguard was fitted. This was designated the modification of 1914, and an “M14” was stamped on the receivers to note it.

These guns are of dubious safety to shoot, since the retain the single locking lug of the Gras, designed for only black powder pressures. However, this was deemed safe enough for the small amount of actual shooting they were expected to do.

Vintage Saturday: Liberators

An old  French couple, M. and Mme. Baloux of Brieulles-sur-Bar, France, under German occupation for four years, greeting soldiers of the 308th and 166th Infantries upon their arrival during the American advance.  November 6, 1918.

An old French couple, M. and Mme. Baloux of Brieulles-sur-Bar, France, under German occupation for four years, greeting soldiers of the 308th and 166th Infantries upon their arrival during the American advance. November 6, 1918. (click to enlarge)

This is a pretty widely-published photo, but it sure is a good one. It also shows very clearly the US’ horrible excuse for a backpack of the time. For the record, the soldier on the left has a Chauchat in 8mm Lebel (sans magazine) and the soldier on the right has an M1903 Springfield rifle.

Review: Inland Reproduction M1 Carbine

A little while back I got my hands on a T&E sample of the new reproduction Inland M1 Carbine, and have spent some time with it. I addition to regular range plinking, I used it for a 2-Gun Action Challenge Match a couple months back (video: 2-Gun – Inland M1 Carbine). I also dragged my friend Karl Kasarda into the review, because he has experience with a bunch of other M1 Carbines, including two years shooting the M1 Carbine match at Camp Perry (gold in 2006; bronze in 2007). We put together a two part review video, which you can see here:

First off, I should clarify that this gun has no direct lineage to the Inland carbines made during WWII. That Inland was a subdivision of General Motors, and these current reproductions are being sold by MKS Supply, which is a firearms distributor with no connection to GM. The Inland firearms trademark appears to have been owned by Chiappa until be recently transferred to an individual. MKS doesn’t say who makes the guns, except to refer to the Inland Manufacturing trademark name.

We had a number of problems with the gun, none of which were particularly surprising – they are issues pretty common to the M1 Carbine. My biggest question was whether the manufacturer had been able to solve the ubiquitous reliability issues of the Carbine. Even good-condition original military examples always seem to have just a little bit of unreliability. Not enough to be considered junk, but enough to convince a decent number of combat vets to look for a better weapon. Unfortunately, the new Inland guns do not appear to have fixed this, at least based on our T&E sample. I got about one malfunction per 50-round box of ammo, using S&B, Tula, and Aguila. The malfunctions were all failures to feed, which could also be attributed to bad magazines – although I had issues with all 5 magazines I used, including the one supplied with the gun. For what it’s worth, that magazine from Inland was an obvious reproduction item, finished with a pretty icky glassy black paint. Why they couldn’t spring for a real USGI magazine to ship with each gun, I don’t know.

The next issue I had with the gun was with the rear sight. Inland has three models (1944, 1945, and M1A1 Paratrooper), which all use the late style of sight which is adjustable for both windage and elevation. It is a self-contained unit mounted into a dovetail on the receiver. On this T&E gun, that unit came loose, and would slide side to side about 1/8 inch (3mm) as I was shooting. In addition, the elevation slider would sometimes move while shooting. The moving elevation slider is a well documented problem with GI carbines as well, but the loose dovetail is a concern. This combination of sight problems cost me a stage at the 2-Gun match. Interestingly, the early production M1 Carbines used a far simpler two-position L-shaped aperture sight with no option for adjustment. The US marksmanship doctrine led to its replacement with a fully adjustable design, which in my opinion is counterproductive for a gun like the M1 Carbine. This is a carbine with a very limited effective range, and a fixed rear sight would not impose any substantial hindrance to shooting it, and would also prevent the problems that manifested on this Inland gun.

Lastly, the Inland is made with all cast parts. That is not automatically a problem – casting today is a totally effective manufacturing method and (especially on an M1 Carbine) is in no way inferior to forging or machining from billet. However, Inland left casting seams on lots of exposed areas and those are frankly a bit ugly. The front sight in particular has a casting seam running right down its front surface, and in the right light it really distracts from your sight picture. For a $1100 gun, I would really like to see that sort of thing given a proper smooth finish to match the originals (which were not cast).

I did not do any accuracy testing with the Inland carbine, because I really wasn’t concerned about accuracy. It shot well enough to get good plate hits at the 2-Gun match, and that’s all I would expect or desire from an M1 Carbine.

With all this in mind, the M1 Carbine is still a really fun recreational plinker. The reliability issues are of zero concern in that context; they just mean that every once in a while you have to rack the bolt handle to chamber a round. No big deal. I have no doubt that Inland would happily repair a rear sight that came loose like mine did. The M1 Carbine is a wonderfully light and handy rifle to carry or stash in a car – there is a reason lots of support troops adored them in WWII and Korea. If you want an M1 Carbine and don’t want to worry about 75 years of wear and tear, these are quite acceptable guns. They do cost more than originals, though…at least the originals I would consider buying. You can get a shooter-grade original M1 Carbine for $800-$900, while the new Inlands appear to be selling at MSRP, for about $1100. To me, that makes an easy decision; I would rather have an original.