Thursday, September 21, 2017

The US Model 1918 Chauchat

US M1918 Chauchat 

The French Model 1915 Chauchat machine rifle was one of the first light, automatic rifle-caliber weapons designed to be carried and fired by a single operator and an assistant, without a heavy tripod or a team of gunners. They were  issued to the American AEF during WWI. 

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French Model 1915 Chauchat

The muddy trenches of northern France exposed a number of weaknesses in the Chauchat's design. Construction had been simplified to facilitate mass production, resulting in low quality of many metal parts. The magazines in particular were the cause of about 75% of the stoppages or cessations of fire; they were made of thin metal and open on one side, allowing for the entry of mud and dust.

In hopes to correct the problems the US M1918 Chauchat was redesigned to use a box magazine and chambered in 30-06. Development and production were rushed, and a large number of guns went out the door with incorrectly sized chambers. They were cut slightly too short, which meant that the neck of the cartridge case was jammed too tightly into the end of the chamber. Upon firing, the case would stick in the chamber and its rim ripped off by the extractor. The barrels also did not have extractor cuts in the barrel face, which didn’t help anything. They functioned so poorly that few, if any, made it into combat.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Probably the least known of the early automatic pistol designs is the Mannlicher Model 1896/03, manufactured by Steyr.

The pistol is called the Model 1896/03 due to the fact that it was originally developed in 1896 (at the same time the 1896 Mauser pistol was) however it was not commercially introduced on to the market until approximately 1903.

The design went through several stages, starting with the short-lived M-1894 blow-forward action model, followed by a fixed barrel and finally a delayed blowback in several variations. This process continued until around 1904 or 1905.
These later Mannlicher pistols have several other unique features such as a barrel that screwed into an upper receiver, vs the one-piece design of the 1896 Mauser, it has an internal hammer with a small short external cocking indicator on the rear of the pistol. The front sight and front sight base are actually a complete separate unit that is secured to the barrel via a key on top of the barrel.

The following pistol is fairly unique in that it has a 6 inch long barrel with an adjustable rear sight graduated from 50-200 meters that is base actually machined directly into the top rear section of the upper receiver. Most of these models have a simple notch.

It is fitted with the desirable detachable magazine box which allows the pistol to be loaded with strippers just like the rest of the Mannlicher rifle and pistol designs, as well as just removing the detachable magazine.

It also has a slotted back strap, obviously intended to be developed as a substitute for a short rifle, like the Mauser and Luger pistol carbines.


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Sunday, September 10, 2017

This is an extremely rare pistol that was produced in very limited numbers and commonly referred to as the Schwarzlose "toggle-top" pistol by collectors.

The Schwarzlose M-1900 was never put this pistol into production and it is estimated that only a very few prototype pistols were actually manufactured, so that the company had a working design to use for filing the patent. This design was patented under British Patent 6056/1900. It is assumed that this pistol was manufactured only to protect the action design.

This pivot pin/toggle joint design was later used in the Schwarzlose machine gun which was a standard issue firearm in the Austro-Hungarian Army throughout World War I.

The design uses a delayed-blowback type mechanism (where the breechblock is not locked) where the pivot pin/toggle joint is positioned above breechblock and frame. So when the pistol is fired, the complete toggle mechanism raises up to extract the spent cartridge and then closes, strips a round from the magazine and sits on top of the receiver.

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Maschinen Pistole Modell 1918, or M.P.18.I in short, was developed by German small arms designer Hugo Schmeisser while working at the factory of Theodor Bergmann.

The weapon was developed in 1917 on request from Imperial German Army, which required a compact, yet highly effective weapon for short-range fighting in trenches of World War One.
Schmeisser’s design was a simple and effective blowback operated, full automatic only weapon that fired from open bolt which fired the standard Luger pistol cartridge. The tubular receiver was attached to the front of the wooden stock, and could be pivoted barrel down for maintenance and disassembly.

Prototypes were with double-row box magazines which held 20 rounds, but Army insisted on adoption of a 32-round snail-drum magazine (TM08), originally produced for the Luger P08 "Parabellum"pistol.

This awkward magazine was probably the main drawback of the weapon, as it was awkward to carry, load and manipulate, and quite unreliable in combat.

Nevertheless, weapon historians feel, that around 25-30,000 of M.P.18.I submachine guns were built before Armistice in 1918, and likely no more than 12,000 of those reached German troops at the fronts.

Soon after the end of WW1, Schmeisser converted his weapon back to more convenient and reliable box magazines and he added a manual safety, located on the left side of receiver, behind magazine housing. This weapon saw limited use by police of Weimar Republic.

It must be noted that M.P.18.I is considered as the world's first practical submachine gun, and it set the pattern for most weapons of its class.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Russian PPS-43 submachine gun.

These were a late WW2 war-expedient version of the more commonly seen Russian PPSH-41 SMG with a drum magazine. The PPS-43 used almost all stamped steel parts and assemblies with a steel machined bolt, barrel and trunnion block. They used a standard 30 round stick magazine rather than the PPSH-41 drum.

They were highly effective when used by the Russians in mass assaults against the Germans during Stalingrad as they had a high rate of fire (700 rpm).

Post WW2 saw them in most Soviet countries, China and North Korea. 

Korea 1952, GIs with captured PPS-43

Sunday, August 27, 2017

"Hyde-Bendix" General Motors Prototype Semi-Automatic Carbine

Following WW1 there was some controversy in the Ordnance Department regarding developing a suitable light rifle (carbine) for use by the infantry support personal. The issue was that the standard handgun (including the favorite M1911) was only designed for short range self-defense use and then only used effectively by highly skilled individuals.

In 1939/40 Congress funded the Ordnance Department to develop and issue a request for prototype testing of an M1 Carbine sample from industry. The basic requirement was that this new carbine had to have: 1) an effective range of 300 yards, 2) weight not to exceed 5 lbs, 3) have a sling for easy carrying and 4) it had to fire the new .30 M1 carbine round developed by the Winchester-Repeating Arms Company.

Several companies developed and submitted test samples, i.e. Winchester, Harrington & Richardson, Savage Arms Company, Springfield Armory, the Woodhull Company and the Bendix Aircraft Corp. Of those tested only the Winchester and Hyde-Bendix design, met the basic requirements and were determined to be the best designs that required minimal improvements to be suitable for further testing.

Consequently both companies were requested to redesign their initial submissions, eliminating the original noted shortcomings in their designs and resubmit new test samples.

The Hyde-Bendix original design was developed by George J. Hyde an engineer who worked at the Bendix Aircraft Corp. 

It was gas operated that had a gas block mounted on the underside of the forward section of the barrel which was connected to a side mounted operating slide. It had one-piece receiver, magazine well with a detachable trigger group. The outward configuration looked more like the Thompson SMG in that it had a separate and distinct pistol grip mounted to the rear underside of the trigger housing with a separate buttstock and forend.

The operation of this example was very similar to the aforementioned initial prototype, although it had an improved operating slide so that the bolt could be forced closed by hand in adverse conditions, a stronger recoil spring, and redesigned buttstock assembly with an improved one-piece (integral) pistol grip stock and separate forend. They also redesigned the internal components accordingly. It is estimated that approximately 5 of these were ever produced and submitted to the Ordnance Dept for further testing.

Although it was improved in accordance with the recommendation of the Ordnance Department, the second model proved to be less-reliable than the first model, and the trigger group was actually more difficult to disassemble. Consequently, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was awarded the new contract to develop the M1 Carbine.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Adirondack Arms Co. Model II Repeating Rifle

These rifles were designed and patented by Orvil M. Robinson of Upper Jay, New York. It is believed A.S. Babbitt of Plattsburgh, New York, manufactured the arms and the Adirondack Firearms Company of Plattsburgh, New York, was a financial entity only and was formed to market the rifles. Very little is known about the inventor or the manufacturer.

These rare rifles were manufactured from 1870 to 1874 and less than 600 repeating rifles manufactured by Adirondack Arms Company. Collectors have identified two different models. These examples are the Model II, or Model 1872.

The action is a toggle style design which has a round knob at the top center of the receiver that the operator uses to pull up and back to operate the bolt. Cartridges are loaded and fed much like a Winchester lever action. Chambered in 44 rimfire.

Winchester Repeating Arms Company later bought Robinsons’ patents.


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Sunday, August 20, 2017

"One-Of-A-Kind" --- the Walther 9mm Ultra pistol, developed on an experimental basis by Walther, for the Luftwaffe, in 1939/1940.

The intent of this design was to manufacture a pistol that retained the compact aspects of the PPK/PP design but employed a far more powerful cartridge than the 9mm Kurz round but less powerful than the standard 9mm Parabellum cartridge.

The design of this pistol was based somewhat on the proven Walther PPK/PP. However it employed some “all of its own” features only found on this pistol. Due to the higher velocity and pressure of the 9mm Ultra round, it required actual locking lugs on the sides of barrel. These locking lugs mated with a corresponding internal raceway/locking recesses inside the slide. 

These internal slide raceways necessitated a shortened slide, as shown, which also resulted in a different barrel configuration which resembles a P38 design.

Another unique feature is that there is a spring loaded, slide accelerator mounted on the left side of the frame under the grip panel. This was required since the slide was shortened, that reduced the mass of the slide which requires the accelerator to drive the slide forward, rotating the barrel into the forward position and locking it in place, very innovative for a late 1939/40 designed pistol.

The pistol still ejects to the right, however the takedown procedure is different than the PPK/PP as there is a cross-pin through the frame which holds the trigger guard in place. These mechanical features were revolutionary and set it apart from any previous Walther design even today. The pistol has no visible markings, including no serial number.

This is the only one known example of this unique and historically innovative Walther pistol.

Sources and references from; "Walther Volume III" by James L. Rankin, "The P.38 Pistol, Volume III" by Warren Buxton, "Walther The Deutsche Legend" by Manfred Kersten and others.


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

1864 Springfield "Side-Door"


This is one unique breech loading conversion of a 1864 U.S. Springfield rifle.
The origin is unknown, it has 1864 dates on the barrel and lock plate but no markings on the breechblock.

The rifle underwent a post-Civil War conversion to a .58 caliber rimfire via an unfamiliar mechanism that bears resemblances to the Needham conversion (side-mount configuration, unlocked breech secured by falling hammer).
Unfortunately it is another one of those firearms whose provenance has been lost in time.

Could this have been a Bridesburg Needham prototype?
1861 Bridesburg Needham.jpg
Bridesburg Needham Conversion


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Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Ehlers Paterson Revolvers

In 1842, Samuel Colt's Patent Arms Manufacturing Co. went into bankruptcy. Effects of the 1837 depression, lost faith among shareholders, an inter-company struggle between Colt and company treasurer John Ehlers were all factors that caused the company, Patent Arms Mfg. Co. to fail.
Ehlers, who was one of the earliest investors in Patent Arms, purchased the company and inventory at auction. 
Numbers vary but an estimated 536 incomplete Colt Paterson No. 1 and No. 2 revolvers were included. 

Ehlers completed an unknown number of Paterson No. 2 revolvers, which are sometimes referred to as "Fifth Model Ehlers"

Distinctive Ehler's features include a 1 1/16 inch long round back five-shot cylinder with hand-engaged ratcheted teeth at the back, a recoil shield capping cut-out on the right side of the frame, a hammer with knurled spur, and barrel markings that lack the "M'g Co" found on Colt manufactured Paterson revolvers.

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