Colonel William S. Brophy & Sniping In The Korean War

As the Korea war rages in 1952 and A captain in IX Corps Ordnance and veteran of infantry combat during WW2  in the Pacific , William S. Brophy  recognized a total lack of US Army sniping equipment and marksmanship compared to its current and future needs.  In an effort to reverse some of this and educated units in the field he visited several units to discus with and educate the on sniping equipment and tactics.

At this time the Army had  the scoped m1 rifle as their standard sniping rifle.   This system limited the sniper to a range not much greater than 600 yards.     To demonstrate what a skilled marksman with proper equipment could do and to hopefully get the Army to pay serious attention, Captain Brophy  bought at his own cost a Winchester Model 70  “Bull gun” in ,30-06  and Unertl 10X target optic. The Winchester rifle listed as the “bull gun” was a target gun with heavy target stock and 28 inch heavy barrel.

Brophy  using his rifle and skill developed during a career in competitive shooting was able to register several Chinese communist kills.  The reaction to his ability was quick and people began to take note.   However it was still the usual position of the Army that the weapon was not durable enough for combat use.  Brophy and  the selected men who used the rifle to demonstrate  what it could do and endure did finally get the Army to seriously consider the Model 70 as a sniping arm.

Ultimately it was decided that it was not desirable to inject a special rifle into the supply system with a requirement for match ammo for it.    Oddly enough over the coming years in Vietnam match ammo which was earlier labeled too hard to supply to troops in the field was readily available to snipers so much so that not one ever said that concern for having enough match ammo never crossed their minds.

The Model 70 was not the only effort then Captain Brophy put forth to improve US Army sniper ability.  While out sniping with the Model 70, targets appeared beyond the range of even the match .30cal sniper rifle .    To remedy this Brophy had the barrel of a Browning .50cal aircraft model machine gun mounted to a Soviet PTRD 14.5mm antitank rifle.   A butt pad and bipod were also added as well as a 20x Unertl optic.

With this set up, Brophy and his team was able to make several Communists into good communists.  Hits with the 50 were recorded at ranges from 1,000 yards to 2,000.

This rifle went on to inspire several other of its types with different  barrel and scope combinations.   This attempt at a longer range sniping arm no doubt was one of the predecessors to today’s Barrett M82.  Below Brophy demonstrates one of the 50 cal rifles in Korea to higher officers.

The concept of the 50 caliber sniping rifle was further developed by the AMTU and Col. F.B Conway.  Later attempts used optics such as the ART scope system and even a Boys Antitank rifle.

And of course one of the more more famous early 50 cal sniping systems.

In these early attempts , accuracy of the ammo was the main problem holding back  the weapons.  Standard service ammo was  the only thing available for use  at the time.

Colonel Brophy passed away in 1991 and left behind an amazing record of accomplishment as a shooter, an  Army officer who served in WW2, Korea and Vietnam and writer of many definitive books on US small arms.

A BOY AND HIS RIFLE II

After college I worked for a man who really became a mentor to me when it came to precision shooting, I had been shooting for all of my life  of course, but he was the person who is responsible for most of my knowledge of precision hand loading for extreme accuracy, Bench-rest shooting, proper cleaning methods for match barrels,  a taste for vintage target /varmint rifles and optics and most of my knowledge about firearms history from  the early 1900s up until about  1990.  He had been a national bench rest shooter,  he tested prototype rifles from Ruger, was one of the testers of the rim fire ammo used by the US Olympic teams in the 70s and earl 80s and even had a few wild cats rounds to his name among  many other things.

Above is my mentor and friend shooting a heavy varmint Model 70 Winchester in .243WCF using a 12x Unertl sometimes in the  mid 80s.

I got to hear a lot of stories from his past over those years and one of my favorites is this story from his boyhood.

He grew up and lived all of his life , not including a few years in the Army with 18 months of that in Vietnam, in a small town in WV named Stollings, which is just a couple of miles from Logan, WV.  From his office window I could see the famous Blair mountain.  If you don’t know, Blair mountain is the site of the Battle of Blair Mountain.    If you don’t know about that, here is  some text about it I ganked from  Wikipedia.    My friend was also paid by the state to help identify fired cases and gun parts found on the mountain while searching it for historic items some years ago.

“The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest labor uprising in United States history and one of the largest, best-organized, and most well-armed uprisings since the American Civil War.[3] For five days from late August to early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, called the Logan Defenders,[4] who were backed by coal mine operators during the miners’ attempt to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired[5] and the United States Army intervened by presidential order”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Blair_Mountain

As a side note. Blair mountain is now history itself.  The mountain is gone since it has  been stripped mined.  Like most things in Southern WV, Logan WV in particular ,  if the local politicians  can get a kick back from it, then history be dakjed

It was a rough area in those days and was through his childhood and honestly it still is.   I live and have lived in KY my entire life, but o very close to the border of WV.  The Matewan massacre , which you may have heard about or seen the movie, happened only about 20 minutes drive from me, and the entire area was the stomping grounds of the Hatfield and McCoy feud.

I said all that so you can see how  wild the area was for some one born in  1948 and had to grow up there.   Many places in the outskirts of the town he grew up in was full of less than honest businesses.  One of those places of less than high moral standards  helped him earn money for ammo.

In Stollings at the time he was about 10 years old there was a building that was like a small hotel.  Two or three stories and multiple rooms.  The entire building was more or less a brothel.  One part was used  as a small bar.       The  occupants of the building would set any garbage out back  before some one would come collect it for disposal and this of course drew in rats from all over.    It didn’t take long for a population of rats to grow out of control.

My friend some how worked out a deal with the owner of the brothel for his services.   So, every summer day my friend would walk down to the area and wade across the little creek and  set  up on the opposite bank.  He would lay there with his Winchester model 1904 and shoot rats all day.     At the end of the day he would cross back across the creek and collect up all the dead rats. The owner would give him 25 cents for every 2 rats he killed.    He would use that money to buy  his 22 ammo and soda and snacks all summer long.

As you can imagine, he had a lot of fun with that rifle and made a lot of good memories with it.    I asked about it after hearing this story and sad to say, he told me about it’s fate.  When he went off to Vietnam,  his younger brother got it some how.  His idiot brother decided he wanted to mount a scope to it and in typical Hilljack fashion,found some kind of mount meant for side mounting to a receiver. His solution was to take nails and nail the side mount to the stock on the left side of the gun below the action.   This did exactly what you would expect it would do and split the wood and ruined the gun.   Having ruined it, the brother just tossed it into the garbage.

I have  have been on the lookout for the same model on an off over the years since he told me this story.  If I ever find one in good shape at a reasonable price I intend to buy it for him.

OPTIC OF THE WEEK WEAVER K4-F

The Weaver K4  is an optic that has been around a long time.   Today we  will take a look at the K4 F, a vintage Weaver that  was made back in the day when a rifle scope with a power much more than 4x or 6x was considered too much for anything other than match use.

The Weaver K4 was  a top end optic of its day and it is easy to see why.  It has a one piece  1 inch tube.  The  fixed power makes for simple construction with only a ring for adjusting parallax.

Later Weavers  were made with the “micro-track”  adjustment. These required the use of a coin or screw driver to adjust the optic for zeroing.   The K4 F used turrets that are finger adjustable.  The clicks are defined and audible.  Like most optics  the adjustments are in 1/4inch increments.

The cross hairs on the weaver K4-F are the fine straight cross hairs.  Hunters later developed a taste and preference the duplex cross hairs and later weavers come with the duplex.  I like the fine cross hairs myself,  but it is not the best for hunting in woods or around dawn or dusk.   The glass on this example is still clear and clean.   Of course it is not as as clear and bright as modern optics but for its age it is still outstanding.  My Dad bought another K4 in the late 70s and used it all the way up until the early 2000s.  It still sees  use on rimfire hunting rifles.

You can find the old weavers  online if you have a vintage rifle  that you want an optic for it from the same period of time  but also want one you can actually use and trust in the field, the vintage weaver is an excellent choice .

Lebman’s “BabyMachinegun” Full Auto M1911s

Is there anything the Colt Model M1911 can’t do?  I certainly don’t think so.  I’m not the only one either.  Long before the idea of the PDW ( personal defense weapon) existed for military and VIP protection, there were some men who felt that a full auto M1911 would be just the ticket.   Sad to say those men happened to be murderous bank robbers Dillinger and Lester Gillis.

The man  who provided those “baby machine guns” the  gangster was a TX gun smith named Hyman Lebman.  Lebman was a talented gun smith and  tinkerer.   He modified multiple guns for the  criminals of the day supposedly not aware of their real occupation, thinking they were newly rich oilmen.    When the FBI  attempted to apprehend those killers, firefights erupted in to now nearly legendary  events.  The Lebman “baby machineguns” were used in most and resulted in the deaths of FBI agents.

 

“My father was Hyman S. Lebman (his name was not Harold, as quoted in the article), and I worked with him from the time I was 10 years old (1937) until he developed Alzheimers in 1976. He died in 1990. He told me many stories about the customers who he later found out were John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson. He thought they were charming, wealthy, oil men who were interested in guns, and even invited them to his house for his wife to make them dinner when I was about 3 or 4. Our shop had a firing range in the basement, and when he was experimenting with a Model 1911 on full automatic, the 3rd or 4th round went off directly over head, through the floor, and I was visiting above at the time. It scared him so much that he invented and installed a compensator on the muzzle to control the recoil. At one time much later, when I was visiting Washington, DC, I made an appointment with the FBI, and they were happy to bring out their collection of my dad’s guns for me to see”

 

Ahem..

Lebman developed  two models of his baby machine guns, one using the .45ACP firing government model and   one firing the Super. 38 round.

Lebman tweaked the internals  of God’s gun and made it into a full auto only machine pistol.   It didn’t take long to realize the gun firing on full auto wasn’t very useful as is so a compensator was adder  along with a fore grip. The fore grips usually being the front vertical  grip from a Thompson submachine  gun.     Some  examples used  buttstock and all guns used custom made by Lebman extended magazines.

The Super 38 was the most powerful round for semi autos in the USA at the time It was known to be able to defeat the body armor of the day and for a time before the .357magnum, was prized for its ability to penetrate  the auto bodies.   Having a compact full auto machine pistol that would  defeat body armor and the sheet metal used in the cars used by the robbers and held 22 rounds per magazine was  a huge advantage from some one constantly running from the law and ready to start a fire fight at a moments notice.  The two grips allowed tight control of the handgun, Much needed due to its high cyclic rate . Reportedly the guns will empty in a heart beat.

As I said above, the guns were part of major events in US law enforcement actions and shoot outs.   Gillis and Dillnger used the baby machine guns at the  Wisconsin shootout  during a raid on their hide  out lodge named Little Bohemia.

Lebman, even if he was nothing more than a honest man and gunsmith happy to sell his modified guns to any one with money as the law allowed,  owed his eventual downfall  to his own success and  the  1934 National Firearms Act.   Before the NFA,  it was not big deal for the unworthy peons to own , posses or make  fullauto weapons of all type.  After, well we all know the current state on that.    Because of the popularity of his guns with the top 10 on the FBI’s most wanted list and the ability of G-men to trace the serial numbers back to his shop. It didn’t take long for feds to do what the feds do best to the gun business and gun owners.    He was able to avoid spending a day  in prison after  several trials.  He went on to  continue his work as a gunsmith  while his machine guns went on to live with  the FBI.  Pictured below  is Lebman made  full auto M1911 owned and used by Dillinger . Now in the FBI vaults.

 

Interestingly at a later date, while the Army was thinking about replacing handguns  with a carbine. The M1 carbine was adopted for this role but for a time Colt submitted to the Army a  “Carbine ” M1911.     It certainly seems to have taken some inspiration from Lebman’s “baby machine gun.”

A lot more polished in design with some more care and refinement , the Colt carbine M1911  submitted to the army looks like  it was influenced by Lebman’s design.

 

 

 

 

The coolest AR rollmark.

Back in the day when we only had a handful of companies making AR15s, I remember seeing countless discussions on the gun forums over which company had the coolest rollmark.  For example some people loved the Stag logo, other people really hated it.  Some people even claimed to see the image of two touching penises in the Spikes Logo.  (I know a guy who sold all his Spikes Tactical rifles after I told him about that)

Well, I suppose this one is engraved and not a true roll mark but I think this is the coolest rollmark available on the market right now.  You can buy a buy a Colt Rifle that is marked “Property of the U.S. Govt M4A1 Carbine”