Sunday, October 15, 2017

World War 2, Italy’s “Last Ditch” TZ-45 submachine gun.

All the TZ 45's were issued to Repubblica Sociale Italiana units fighting against Italian partisan forces during the civil war in Northern Italy (1944–45). The gun was emerged from WW2 with a poor reputation for reliability, style of the manufacture and poor finish, it was not liked. Manufacturing rights for the gun were later sold to the Burmese army where it was manufactured as the BA-52 and colloquially known as the "Ne Win STEN". The Burmese copies were roughly manufactured and unreliable, but they remained in service into the mid-1980s with their infantry and even into the early 1990s with support troops.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Whitney-Howard "Thunderbolt" Rifle

At the end of the Civil War, Whitney Arms Company was searching for a rimfire cartridge rifle design that would be adaptable to both the civilian and military market. Whitney became interested the Howard “Thunderbolt”, an underlever rifle protected by US patents belonging to Charles and Sebre Howard of Elyria, Ohio. An agreement between the two parties was reached whereas the Howards would retain the patent and receive royalties .

The Howard design had a tubular receiver which was virtually an extension of the barrel.

Swinging the lever forward opens the breech by drawing back the breech block/plug allowing the cartridge to be inserted from the bottom. The reciprocating breech block was locked by a toggle system, an internal striker being cocked automatically as the bolt ran back. The standard cartridge used was an extra long (1 1/2" in. case) 44 calibre rim fire, known as the 44 Howard Extra Long.

The Thunderbolt was an unsuccessful entrant not only in the US Army breechloading rifle trials of 1865 but also in those convened by the Adjutant General of the State of New York in April 1867. Neither board liked the absence of an external hammer.

The civilian market didn’t fare well either. All together, there appear to be less than 1,700 Thunderbolts manufactured from 1866 to 1870.

The sporting rifle was chambered in virtually any rimfire cartridge from .44 Short to .44 Extra Long. A 54-bore shotgun version was also made in small numbers. A few of these Thunderbolts rifles found their way west in the late 1860s, but were never popular.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The rare M-1894 Steyr/Mannlicher pistol of the "blow forward" design.

These early Mannlicher pistols were designed by Ferdinand Von Mannlicher and were produced by the Austrian Steyr factory. Mannlicher was an exceptional early engineer and designer who teamed with the Steyr factory to produce all of his rifle and pistols from the late 1890's through post WWII.

The pistol uses a special rimmed cartridge in 6.5 mm caliber. The design represented an entirely new utilization of mechanical principles in an automatic action called "blow-forward action". In the standard type of automatic action for low-powered cartridges, the recoil (or blow-back) is utilized to drive back a movable breech face or block, but Mannlicher utilized the principle of a rigid standing breech with the barrel blowing forward to extract, eject, and prepare for reloading.

A special barrel housing which carries the front sight, covers the entire length of the barrel (6.49 in/165 mm) when the arm is closed. A heavy recoil spring is mounted concentrically around the barrel within this housing and is compressed between a shoulder at the forward end of the casing and a shoulder at the rear of the barrel.

It is also a "double action" mechanism with a rebounding hammer, a cartridge can be in the chamber with the hammer down, you just pull the trigger as in the double action mode, just like many pistols today. Very unique for "1894".

Another interesting feature is that the pistol looks like it should have a standard removable pistol clip, however it actually has a permanently installed internal magazine that loaded from the top of the action via a stripper clip, when the barrel is forward.

To load this weapon the hammer is cocked. As the hammer rotates on its axis pin, it acts upon the trigger, and the sear snaps into the cocking notch, holding the hammer. The hammer axis pin also supports the center arm of the barrel holding lever, which arm emerges and is raised high enough by its spring to press into a slot under the barrel. The rising thumbpiece on top of the barrel over the breech is then pushed forward. The barrel moves forward until its muzzle emerges from the barrel housing, compressing the recoil spring. The barrel holding lever is snapped into the locking notch in the underside of the barrel, thereby holding it in forward position for charging.

The stripper clip (capacity five rounds) is inserted in the clip guide of the receiver and the cartridges are pressed into the magazine. The cartridges are stripped off the clip and pressed into the magazine-well in the body of the pistol, compressing the spiral magazine-spring. A lip at the top prevents the cartridges from emerging.

The preferred direction for holding this pistol requires that the index finger be positioned around the frame above the trigger guard, with the middle finger through the trigger guard and pressed against the trigger.

M1894 page 188.jpg

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

One of the “Holy Grail” Colts, the Texas Pattern No. 5, circa 1839-1840.

This standard model No. 5 revolver has the distinctive 8 7/8-inch, .36 caliber octagon barrel, square-back five-shot cylinder, large frame and flared grip. As you will note, this early production revolver is not fitted with a loading lever and lacks the capping cut-out in the recoil shield found on later production guns. The No. 5 revolver is said to be the most popular Colt Paterson revolver. The No. 5 revolvers were the only Paterson model purchased by the Ordnance Department. The Ordnance Department purchased 150 No. 5 revolvers in 1840 for issue to the U.S. Navy.

The Republic of Texas purchased 180 No. 5 revolvers with some of them being issued to the Texas Rangers commanded by Jack Hays, these would have seen service in the Rangers encounters with the Comanche Indians. (recently sold at auction for 80Gs plus)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A very ornate, back action Pennsylvania style percussion rifle of the 1830s-1840 era.

The right barrel flat is stamped "W. PANNEPACKER" at the muzzle, the only markings on the barrel. The location of the marking suggests a Pannepacker made barrel on a rifle built by another maker.

It varies significantly with identified Pannepacker rifles; however, it matches attributes of rifles by Joseph Douglass Sr. of Huntingdon Country in Western Pennsylvania. You can see a nearly identical patch box on the Douglass rifle in figure 122 in "Kentucky Rifle Patchboxes: All New Volume 2" by Chandler and Whisker. The same eagle inlay on the forend has also been seen on other Douglass rifles. 

William Pannepacker Sr. and Jr. (1785-1872 and 1818-1878) operated their family's mill in Mohnton, Berks County, Pennsylvania, along Wyomissing Creek. William Sr. is known to have produced complete rifles and barrels in 1808 to 1858 while the son is believed to have only produced barrels. Advertisements for their "superior barrels" were run by a merchant in Pittsburgh in 1838, and their barrels were no doubt sold to builders in multiple locales. The rifle features a "WILKES" marked lock. Note the full length engraved comb plate.
(recently sold at auction for $7,475)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Standsch├╝tze Hellriegel 1915 light machine gun. Little is known about the weapon, which doesn't appear to have progressed from the prototype stage.

This was an Austro-Hungarian water-cooled light machine gun produced during World War I in very limited prototype numbers.

The light machine gun could be fed from standard box magazines, or from a large drum magazine which was not actually connected to the weapon and instead fed the cartridges through a flexible chute. The unusual appearance of this drum magazine has led many people to assume it is belt fed, however this is not the case with the rounds being unconnected from one another and are propelled along the drum and feed chute by a spring.

Note the drums in the backpack on the soldier at the left.

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.


Have an interest in firearms & firearms development the 18th century? Click HERE to visit my blog on the subject.

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.

Have an interest in firearms & firearms development the 18th century? Click HERE to visit my blog on the subject.

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.

Have an interest in firearms & firearms development the 18th century? Click HERE to visit my blog on the subject.

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