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When the Army Resisted the M16A2, Part 1-3

Today  is our traditional day of re posting some of the best articles of our friend Kevin O’Brien  better know as Hognose by his many admirers and readers of his website Kevin left us too early  in spring of 2017 and we repost his work here to honor him and preserve his work.


By Kevin O’Brien

The M16A2 was adopted by the Marines in 1983, and then by the Army three years later, but all of its development was done, largely on a shoestring, by the Marines.

For example, the finger bump on the A2 pistol grip? The very first prototype was built up by a Marine officer on an A1 grip, using plastic wood or body filler! Most of the modifications to the A2 were aimed at:

  1. Increased practical accuracy;
  2. Increased effective range;
  3. Increased durability; and,
  4. NATO compliance (adopting a NATO round equivalent to the FN SS109 round).

In a brief overview of the service life of the M16 series for American Rifleman in June, 2012, Martin K.A. Morgan encapsulated this history well:

In November 1983, the U.S. Marine Corps adopted a product-improved version of the M16A1 chambered for the 5.56×45 mm NATO round. The new rifle was called the M16A2 and it differed significantly from its predecessor: improved rear sights, a brass deflector, a heavier barrel and 1:7-inch rifling were among the changes. The M16A2 also replaced the M16A1’s “AUTO” selector setting with a “BURST” setting delivering three rounds with every trigger pull. The Army followed the Marine Corps’ adoption of the improved rifle in March 1986 when it ordered 100,176 M16A2 rifles from Colt. In September 1988, the U.S. government placed an initial order for 266,961 M16A2s with Fabrique Nationale’s North American subsidiary, FN Mfg., Inc. of Columbia, S.C. Late the following year, when 57,000 U.S. military personnel conducted the Operation Just Cause invasion of Panama, the M16A2 was used in combat for the first time.

For practical accuracy, the A2 had new sights, with a square front post; for range, a new round with a heavier bullet, and new rifling to match; and for durability, new stocks and handguards and significant metal reinforcement in the lower receiver’s weak areas, the pivot pin bosses and buffer tower.

The rifle was not without controversy in the Army. Indeed, contractors for the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences examined the rifle and concluded that, as their paper’s abstract notes:

[U]se of the M16A2 rifle by the Army would be extremely problematic, a-fact due, in part, to the vast differences between the marksmanship training philosophies of the Army and the Marine Corps.

(The paper is here:

The Army had been researching improvements to the M16A1 for years, but hadn’t actually implemented any. In the foreword to the Army Research Institute paper, the word “problematic” crops up again and one gets the sense that the problem was this solution was Not Invented Here, and moreover, not developed the way the Army wanted to develop one.

Referring to earlier research, they wrote:

A detailed evaluation of M16Al performance was conducted to determine adequacy, peculiarities, etc. The findings clearly indicated that the M16Al was an adequate combat rifle; however, many shortcomings were identified that should be addressed in a new rifle or any rifle Product Improvement Program (PIP).

They considered that the improvements in the A2, listed below, were suitable only for the peculiar circumstances of Marine Corps service.

The Marine Corps test results stated the following advantages for the PIP [Product Improvement Program -Ed.] rifle:

  • Ease of training (handling and ease of sight movement).
  • Improved safety (no hazard when adjusting elevation on the rear sight even with loaded weapon).
  • Increased effectiveness at long ranges (more hits, better accuracy, and greater penetration).
  • Improved handling characteristics and durability in hand-to-hand close combat.
  • Reduced barrel jump and muzzle climb during automatic and rapid fire.
  • Increased contrast and less glare with square front sight post.
  • Stronger, more durable and improved grasping characteristics of front handguard.
  • Stronger barrel with quicker twist to take advantage of increased effectiveness provided by new ammunition.
  • Improved sighting characteristics providing quick target acquisition for moving targets and better detection of targets in low level light conditions at close ranges, and more accurate long range fire by use of two modified rear sight apertures.
  • Increased ammunition conservation and more effective use of ammunition with burst control device.
  • Conformity to human factors standards by lengthening stock (alleviating bruised eyebrows, noses, and lips).
  • Stronger, more durable stock.
  • Stronger, more durable buttcap which also reduces slipping on the shoulder during firing.
  • More controllable and comfortable pistol grip contoured to the shape of the hand.
  • Improved brass deflector which protects left handed shooters from hot ejected brass casings.
  • Can use NATO type improved ammunition (XM855) which provides improved performance and penetration at long ranges.

The Army evaluators were impressed by that list of solutions, but thought they all traced back to four specific USMC objectives or requirements:

The above list of advantages is very impressive. It appears that the rifle meets the primary requirements stated by the Marines:

  • A sight adjustable to 800 meters.
  • A bullet with better accuracy at 800 meters and the capability to penetrate all known helmets and body armor at ranges of 800 meters.
  • A rifle with more durable plastic parts and barrel which will take a beating during bayonet training and extended field exercises.
  • The replacement of the full automatic capability with a burst mode which fires a maximum of three rounds with each pull of the trigger.

…but they thought that the requirements were too Marine-centric.

The list, however, represents the objective and subjective evaluation of Marine Corps personnel who are emphasizing the most positive aspects of rifle characteristics as they pertain to envisioned Marine Corps requirements.

This is the first of a three part series. In the second part, tomorrow on, the Army contractors damn the A2 with faint praise and list a litany of A1 shortcomings that they believed that the A2 did not resolve. In the third part, the modifications that they suggested in lieu of or in addition to the A2 mods are enumerated.

As it was, the contracting officer’s representative approved the paper in February, 1986. In March, and probably before any of the responsible officers read the paper, the Army went ahead and adopted the M16A2, just the way the Marines had shaken it out.

That makes this paper a time capsule.

When the Army Resisted the M16A2, Part 2 of 3

The M16A2 was adopted by the Marines in 1983, and then by the Army in 1986. Shortly before its adoption, an Army contract analyzed the M16A2 — and found it all wrong for  the Army. The report is here:

This is the second of a three part series. In the first part, yesterday on, the Army contractors noted the specific solutions implemented on the A2 and the problems the Marines solved thereby, but complained that the problems and solutions were too USMC-specific. In this part, we’ll discuss just what they thought was wrong about the Marines’ product. In the third part, which we’ll post tomorrow, we’ll list the modifications that they suggested in lieu of or in addition to the A2 mods.

M16A1 (top) and M16A2.

As we recounted in yesterday’s post, the Army let a contract to analyze the Marines’ product-improved M16A1, originally called the M16 PIP (Product Improvement Program but in November 1983, type-classified as the M16A2. Did the A2 meet the Army’s needs for an improved rifle? The contractors recounted 17 improvements in the A2 versus the A1, and traced those improvements back to four or five fundamental goals of the Marine program: more range, accuracy and penetration at that range, more durability, and a burst-fire capability in place of the full-auto setting.

The Army contractors recognized what the USMC had done — and damned it with faint praise.

The M16A2 rifle was developed and tested by the U.S. Marine Corps. The purpose of this present analysis was to evaluate M16A2 rifle features as they relate to U.S. Army training and combat requirements. It was found that the M16A2 did not correct major shortcomings in the MI6Al and that many M16A2 features would be very problematic for the Army. Accordingly, this report provides several suggested rifle modifications which would improve training and combat performance.

The A1 shortcomings that the paper’s authors thought went unameliorated, or were worsened, by the A2 included:

  1. 25 Meter Setting: The M16A2 does not have a sight setting for firing at 25 meters, where zeroing and most practice firing occurs.
  2. Battlesight Zero: The M16A2 does not have a setting for battlesight zero, i.e., 250 meters.
  3. Aperture Size: The M16A2 probably does not have an aperture suitable for the battlesight, e.g., the single aperture used for most marksmanship training, the record fire course, the primary aperture for combat, etc. The 5mm aperture used for 0-200 meters is probably too large and the 1-3/4mm aperture used for 300-800 meters is probably too small.
  4. Sighting System: The M16A2 sighting system is too complex, i.e., elevation is changed three different ways, leaving too much room for soldier error.
  5. Sight Movement: Sight movements on the M16A2 result in changing bullet strike by different amounts; .5, 1, 1.4, and 3 minutes of angle (MOA)*. The sights intended for zeroing, .5 and 1.4 MOA, are not compatible with old Army zero targets or the new targets being fielded.
  6. Zero Recording: The M16A2 does not have a sighting system which allows for easy recording of rifle zero. Also, the zero cannot be confirmed by visual inspection.
  7. Returning to Zero: The M16A2 does not have a reliable procedure for setting an individual’s zero after changing sights for any reason, e.g., using MILES or .22 rimfire adaptors.
  8. Night Sight: The M16A2 does not have a low light level or night sight.
  9. Protective Mask Firing: The M16A2 has not been designed to aid firing while wearing a protective mask.
  10. Range Estimation: The M16A2 sight has not been designed to aid in the estimation of range

Let’s consider those, briefly. Note that every single one of those objections relates to the sights. There are no complaints about the other Marine improvements (not even the hated burst switch). Most of the sight squawks were because the sight was different from the sights of the A1, which were pretty much as Stoner, Sullivan et. al. designed them circa 1959 (the earlier AR-10 sights are different, but the later AR-15 prototypes and their descendants all used something extremely close to the M16 and M16A1 sights. (The USAF/USN M16 and the Army/Marine M16A1 differed only in the absence and presence respectively of a forward assist). Even the protective mask issue is basically a sighting problem — with the then current US M17 gas mask, the rifle had to be held canted to use carrying-handle based rear sights.

Complaints 1-5 relate only to the M16A2 sights, but 6-10 are just as applicable to the then-issued Army M16A1.

Even at the time, it was clear that optical sights were better than irons — scopes for distance and red dots for close-in work. Army special operators had already tested — on the flat range, in the tire house, and on the two-way range — such early red-dots and both-eyes-open sights such as the Single Point and the Armson Occluded Eye Gunsight (OEG). In the early 21st Century, universal optics would end the long run of the M16A2, and sweep away all these problems the 1986 Army contractors worried about. But there was no way to predict that in 1986, not with any certainty.

And that’s Part 2 of our story. Tomorrow, we’ll cover the modifications to the M16 that the authors recommended in place of the A2

When The Army Resisted the M16A2, Part 3 of 3

The previous two stories set the stage, for a look at a report drafted for the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences the Army was still pursuing the “best” (an upgraded M16 meeting all Army objectives) instead of the “good” (the M16A2, which was developed and revised to meet Marine objectives). Of course, we all know the spoiler aleady: the Army accepted the Marine M16A2 as is, leaving the report as an orphaned artifact. The report is here:

Colt factory shot of the M16A2. The A2 was developed by the USMC, but was manufactured by Colt and FNMI.

This is the third of a three part series. In the first part, Thursday on, the Army contractors noted the specific solutions implemented on the A2 and the problems the Marines solved thereby, but complained that the problems and solutions were too USMC-specific. In the second part, posted yesterday, we discussed just what they thought was wrong about the Marines’ product. In this, third, part, we’ll list the modifications that they suggested in lieu of or in addition to the A2 mods.

Most of the Army’s problems with the A2 related to the burst mechanism, and the sights, especially the complicated rear sight. (This is actually an A3/A4 or M4: note the knobs, left, for removing the carrying handle. The A2 handle was forged as part of the upper receiver.


We should note that the Marines’ tests, as reported in this document (p,7), demonstrated significantly lower reliability, and increased fouling in the A2 compared to its older brother. These tests are suspect because the early lot of XM855 used was considered bad ammo, but the M16A1 did outperform the A2.

Thirty Ml6A1 rifles firing 26,010 rounds of M193

Failures to fire – none
Failures to feed – 3 (Not locking magazine in place)

Thirty M16A2 rifles firing 26,010 rounds of XM855

Failures to fire – 52 (27 – bad ammunition) (25 – mechnanical [sic] malfunctions)
Failures to feed – 3 (Improperly loaded magazines)

Those failures to fire that were not attributed to bad ammo were thought to be caused by the A2 trigger system’s Achilles’s heel, the burst trigger mechanism. The A2 performed even worse in a cold weather test, but again, it was with the questionable ammunition, and many of the failures to fire were also laid at the feet of the burst mechanism.

The report has an interesting discussion of the burst mechanism and its rationale in Marine, but not Army, small arms doctrine:

The M16A2 has less combat capability due to the elimination of full automatic fire. Full automatic fire enhances the ability of Army units to clear and defend buildings, to conduct final assaults on enemy positions, to defend against an enemy final assault, to conduct an ambush, to react to an enemy ambush, to engage an enemy helicopter or fast moving vehicle, etc.

While the Marines claim greater accuracy and conservation of ammunition for the 3-round burst control, no data were generated during the test to support these contentions and no supportative [sic] data are known to exist.

Also, it should be noted that room-to-room fighting was conducted with blanks, no close-in firing was conducted, no firing with short time limits was conducted, no firing at aircraft was conducted, etc. In other words, for all of the automatic/burst firing conducted during the test, a semi-automatic mode of fire would have probably resulted in a greater number of target hits.

Finally, to be given very serious consideration, is the fact that the burst control requires nine (9) new parts in the lower receiver, evidently contributing to the large number of weapon malfunctions during testing of the M16A2.

They also took issue with the heavy barrel (“heavy in the wrong place”), the twist rate (preferred 1:9), stock length increased when even the A1 stock was too long for small soldiers, and the fast twist’s incompatibility with the .22 subcaliber system.

The article includes an extensive comparison of the pros and cons of Marine KD vs. Army Trainfire marksmanship modalities. These training differences result from the different combat envelopes for the rifleman: the Marines need to engage with rifles in the 300-to-800 meter space, because they don’t have the supporting arms that the Army can count on, at least, not in the same quantity. A unit that must fight with just its organic weapons needs to get the very most out of these weapons. The Army of 1986 did not consider a 500 or 600 meter target a primary rifle target, but a crew-served-weapons target.

In the end, the recommendations the contractors made were mostly about the sights. They put their recommendations in a table with the M16A1 and M16A2 stats. Since the latter are probably familiar to most readers, we omit them now to save time, and just show the contract recommendations.

Item Recommended
Front sight (day) Fixed blade, 0.090″
Front sight (night) Luminous dot on each sightguard
Rear Sight (day) single 2mm peep. A single elevation knob marked for 200, 250, 390, 25, 400, 500, 15, 600, 700, and 800 meters. Windage knob at rear. Each click equal to 1 MOA
Rear Sight (night) Two luminous dots on upper portion of receiver (or a single flip- up luminous dot located forward of the carrying handle) are aligned with front dots for shooting at night
Zero Recording Yes
Zero Inspection Yes
25m setting (day and night sights) Yes
Mechanical Zero Yes
250-m battlesight Yes
Firing mode Semi and Auto
Barrel 20″. Slightly heavier than A1 at receiver and mid-barrel. 1:9″ twist
Handguard Same as M16A2 except held in place with a securely fastened ring nut to provide rigidity.
Buttstock Same material as M16A2. Same length as M16A1. Option for adjustable length.

There are several interesting observations to make here. First, the contractors recommended that the Army make changes that would decrease the mechanical accuracy of the proposed M16Ax relative to the Marines’ A2. Specifically, these changes included the wider fixed front sight blade, the 1-MOA adjustments on the rear sight (A2 offers ½-MOA), and arguably the simplification of the rear sight. The trade-off was simplicity and ease of training, instead of superior bullseye performance.

Second, some of the proposals would definitely improve the utility of the firearm, including restoring the short stock, or replacing it with an adjustable one; increasing the barrel diameter towards the chamber rather than the muzzle, thus improving sustained fire accuracy and reliability; reverting to automatic fire from the burst mechanism (which also has side benefits, in improving the trigger’s feel and consistency). The night-sight proposal was truly ingenious.

Third, in some of these road-not-taken proposals, the Army was reverting to the original AR-10 design and rejecting changes that were largely imposed on the AR design by the Army in the previous decade. These include the rigid fastening of the handguard, and the fixed front sight blade.

Finally, these proposals were almost the last gasp of the iron-sighted military rifle. As this  document passed from the contracting officer to file cabinets across the service, without action, special operators were already wringing out scopes and single-point sights, and a few visionaries were already arguing that the day of the iron sight had run its three centuries, and was now at an end. A new generation of optical technology was eliminating the two objections that had kept optics off the rifles of most soldiers: less durability than irons, and slower target acquisition. Many men’s efforts went into winning over the Voices of Experience who still said “no” to anything with a lens, thanks to memories of Uncle Joe’s elk lost because his scope fogged up, or the VC that got away because somebody attached an unauthorized 4×32 Colt scope to the carrying handle of his M16.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

K.K.V. Casey

“There are about three men in the country who could equal Casey and it is doubtful if any of them could beat him.” “This statement was high praise indeed, but particularly so when it was issued from the typewriters  of the well credentialed but normally critical  rifleman/writer E.C. Crossman in 1908. The man Crossman referred to was the well known Captain K.K.V. Casey, the most outstanding military marksman of the Krag era.”

It was custom a hundred years ago to identify one’s self  in print with only one’s initials. In K.K.V.’s case, the tradition spared him a mouthful or a dose of writer’s cramp .   Before his career was over over, every rifleman enthusiast on the planet would know who K.K.V. Casey was.

Casey center looking to the right


Almost nothing is known of the man’s early years and Kellog Casey doesn’t make tracks on the paper trial until the end of the Nineteenth Century.  Events in Cuba in 1898 had a profound influence on the young Casey’s life.  “In a fit of patriotism, we mst suppose, twenty year old Kellogg enlisted in the 71st Regiment of the New York National Guard on May2, 1898, either days after war was declared on the heathen Spaniards.”   He was assigned to  B Company.  Later that month, Private Casey facing a two year enlistment , left for Florida  to prepare  for his departure for Cuba. The 71st participated in the entire Santiago campaign, and drew Mauser fire on a number of occasions.  Elements of the 71st battled  their way to the top of San Juan Hill.

It was in Cuba where Kellogg Casey fell in love with the Krag and rifle shooting. Once he was back home the love only deepened and began shooting the Krag rifle in the National Guard competitions. “Lance Corporal Casey was  a natural born rifleman, and he made a name for himself at regimental and regional contests.Casey became unusually proficient at long distance shooting Thousand yard marksmanship was his specialty and he picked up the nickname “Long Range Casey.”

In 1901, K.K.V. Casey began winning important matches and attracted an attention at a national level. In 1902, he traveled to Sa Girt, New Jersey and returned with the Wimbledon Cup Prize. The first of thee.   That summer, he tried out for the U.S. Palma, and easily made the cut. On September 13,1902, Casey and the rest of the American team made the trip to the Rockcliffe Range near Ottawa, Canada for a try at the Palma.

“A fluky 25mph wind at the 900 yard stage bewildered the Americans, including Casey, but had lesser effect on the Englishmen. The British team won the match by a measly 12 points, but Casey and the rest of the Americans made a good showing”

In 1903 Casey received his commission and he shot the 1903 Palma contest as a lieutenant with the 71st.  “The 1903 field at Bisley. England was comprised of the finest rifleman from seven nations. Lieutenant Casey contributed significantly to the American victory that year, and picked up valuable coaching experience in the process.”

All through the century’s first decade, Casey was recognized as the nation’s best long range rifleman.  He won every significant long distance match there was. In 1903, he took first place in the National Individual Military Championships, and won the Spencer the following year. In 1905, he won both the Thurston and Hayes Matches. About  1905. Casey went to work for DuPOnt in Washington, DC, Casey was given a position in the firm’s smokeless powder division and eventually  was put in charge  of smokeless  powder production. At the same time he transferred to the Delaware Guard. There he was assigned to the 1st Delaware Infantry.

“Casey became authoritative enough on the subject of smokeless powder that he was invited to submit powder related articles to the period’s sporting magazines. One such, written with unusual eloquence and clarity, was published in Rod and Gun in Canada  in 1915. While with DuPont, Casey co authored a book on the construction of rifle ranges, which was distributed by the powder maker in 1909. He also put together a 45 page booklet on smokeless powder for sporting application, and was often called upon to deliver lectures on behalf of the company.”

Casey’s contributions to the improvement  of the match ammunition are not well known. He was one of the first to call for the abandonment of the cupro-nickel bullet jacket with its troubles, and for the wide adoption of gilding metal jacket.  At Dupont he helped the staff techs in the development of progressive burning smokeless powder. He also pointed out the merits of the boat-tailed bullets for match shooting and was instrumental in converting shooters from the conventional flat based bullet to the more streamlined projectile.  Some development work in this field was also attributed to Casey.

Casey was one of the few vocal proponents of reloading( hand loading) during his era.  Unlike most of his peers Casey handloaded  most of his own match ammo. It was said the he won his reputation with his handloaded ammunition, a marketing point which DuPont was quick to advertise.  One source insists that Casey loaded his own to avoid favoring any one cartridge maker as he was an employee of a powder company.

“In 1907, Casey again qualified for the US Palma team, and shot his Krag at the long range matches at Rockcliffe on September7th. The Americans established a new record score for the match. Shooting a possible at 800 yards, Captain Casey once again pulled his weight. “Casey was an Olympian, a member of the rifle team representing the US at  1908 London Games. By 1908 the competition Krag was a thing of the past. The new Springfield was the service rifle required by the Olympic rules. Prior to the games, Captain Casey worked with Springfield Arsenal personnel to select star gauged barrels and assemble the finest rifles possible. He attended the team tryouts held at Camp Perry in June of that years and made the cut for the American squad. The rifle match segment of the games was held at the Bisley Range  in July, 1908. Colonel J. Milner, a formidable adversary and member of the original British Palma Team took home the gold medal in the 1.000 yard Individual Competition with a 98×100, fired under nasty wind conditions. Had Casey not shot a 2 early in his string, it would have been a closer match. Captain Casey finished with a 93 for a second place and the Silver Medal. Casey shot a straight military Springfield in an event open to match rifles, which did not fo unnoticed by an army of awed spectators and reporters. Millner used a Mannlicher rifle fitted with a .303 British service barrel and a Blood telescope sight. In addition to Casey’s silver each  member of the US six man team picked up the gold medal for beating the rest of the world in the International Rifle Team Match. This was a 90 shot contest which was shot at ranges varying from 200-1,000 yards.”

In 1908, the War Department needed an evaluation from a practical  rifleman’s standpoint, of the Warner and Swasey telescopic musket sight which was under consideration for adoption. Of all the service men in all branches of the US Armed forces, Captain Casey was selected  to do the test firing at the D.C National Guard Range. ” Casey lay  prone, tightened his sling, and pointed pointed the muzzle of and ordinary  issue Springfield equipped with the sight at the “C” target  1,760 yards away. He first shot, a richochet three, was followed by a close four. Shot three called for the white disc. Despite a 20 mph wind from five o clock, K.K.V. Casey proceeded to hammer the next seventeen shots into the bullseye. Captain Casey’s shots were the talk of the military rifle shooting crowd for a long time thereafter ”

Casey pictured in 1908 bottom center.

“1908 was a good year for the peerless long distance rifleman. Captain Casey  put his name on the Wimbledon cup for an unprecedented third time and won the coveted Leech Cup”.

“From 1901-1913 K.K.V. Casey dominated long range marksmanship competitions at every possible level. At the 26th Interstate Trournament of the New York and New Jersey State Associations in September. 1919, first Sea Girt gathering since 1915, competitors of the Krag days assembled between relays to exhchange “I remember whens” of the glory days of theSea Girt shooting fame.  K.K.V, now reduced to old timer status joined them.”

In 1920 Casey selected Springfield rifles for the Olympic team and three years later he acted as team captain for the American Palma team. During the 1920s he was fixture at Camp Perry and Sea Girt, representing the interests of DuPont. He served as the executive Officer of the Sea Girt Matches throughout the 1920s. During this time, he was also very active in the affairs of the NRA.  After 32 years Casey was with DuPont and ultimately worked his way up to Director of Sales while he lived in Fairville, PA with his wife Claudia.

In 1938 Casey developed an infection in his toe from a hangnail. Gangrene set in and amputating the entire right leg didn’t help. He died on October 18, 1938 at age 61 years.  One of the finest long range rifleman this country ever produced, a man once called “The best shot to ever face a target”.

Precision Shooting

Arms and the Man 1908

The Springfield 1903 Rifles  Lt. Col. William S Brophy



The Colt 7.62X39 Carbine ( R6830)

In 1993 Col introduced a new caliber into its AR15 line up.  The gun was marketed  as a hunters carbine chambered in 7.62×39  a round more or less identical to the .30-30 WCF.

The R6830 was a 16 inch barreled carbine . The barrel is not really what we think of as “lightweight ” these days and is closer to what many would call heavy. Probably good because the x39 round  has noticeable recoil compared to the 556. The barrel does not have a chromed ore on these.   The upper  is  a A2 fixed carry handle type.

The sights are the same as the A2 except the lack the markings found on 556mm guns since they would obviously not match.

The gun was made during that weird period before the 94 AWB and after the important ban.  This was a time when a lot of pressure was put on Colt by the feds and  gun rights were being pushed back.   The result is this model has the sear block  and no bayonet lug. But it does have a flash hider.  The hider is the A1 style and  not the A2 style with the closed bottom.

The bolt and barrel are really the only major changes.  The carrier is the same  as a standard AR15 and most other parts save the barrel etc.


The front sight base is standard with all the usual markings for its era .  The only difference is of course the milled off bayonet lug. This was done in a wasted effort to get the antigun kooks to back off. Since  a bayonet can not work on a 16 inch barrel carbine with a carbine length gas system,  the lug is pointless anyway except for making leftists twist their panties.  The front sight is the A2 post.

The Carbine also came with the A2 buttstock and pistol grip.  The solid stock was a good choice I believe as it helps with the recoil and comfort for a gun meant to be sold as a hunting rifle.   A 762×39  carbine AR15 with the collapsible stock  is not comfortable for  the casual user.  The hand guards are the  slimmer CAR15 type.

You will see some people online talk about how the 762×39 ARs don’t work reliably.  Seems when I read this  or see some one in a video talking about it, they are holding some frankenparts gun built up by bubba.    The colt carbine  has been nothing but reliable when using the factory mags or the one Cproducts 30 round mag I tried.

The mags  that came with the gun are nothing more than  30 round mags with a blocker in it that limits it to 5 rounds  and a floorplate marking it as  a 7.62×39 magazine.  You can see the installed block in the picture below.  In a pinch you can load about 5 or 6 rounds of x39 into any AR15 magazine and it will work.  Though more will cause problems due to the geometry of the commie case and the magazines not playing well together.

So how does it shoot? It shoots pretty good.   It  is an AR15 after all  just one in a round not exactly known for being  a match winner.  But that can be over come some what with careful ammo selection or hand loading.


Groups were shot from bags using iron sights only.  I did not have a carrying handle mount available to me for mounting a optic for precision shooting so I was limited by my own eye sight,  iron sights and distance.   Real accuracy with most 7.62×39 loads becomes  iffy pat about 200 yards anyway and I feel it  was reasonable to not shoot beyond that anyways.    Handloads, factory loads and import wolf was  used above for testing.   This hsould give a good indication of what the gun can do and what the ammo can do  depending on quality and care put into it.

I did shoot at the steel gong below  at 300 yards using the iron sights and  wolf ammo.   All shots stayed on the steel plate.   Very acceptable combat accuracy.


These  7.62×39 carbines are sweet little guns.   Again, I think it was a little ahead of its time.   Back then  no one wanted an AR15 in  x39.   Especially for hunting. Most everyone was still stuck on the stupid idea that you have to use something at least .30-06 class to kill a 90 pound deer.   Not that we don’t still see that today.     Add to that 556 ammo was dirt cheap back then  and AKs could be had. so why buy what would be considered like a premium  gun just to shoot commie crap?

Now, this model isn’t the only one Colt offered.    There was a 20 inch( R6851) barreled rifle with A4  “flat top “upper.  There  was also a  flat top upper carbine ( R6850) which was sold as a complete  gun or sold as the upper only as a “conversion kit”  The conversion kit uppers are the  ones you may have seen with  “Colt 7.62×39  roll marked on the left side of the receiver.   The two conversion kit  uppers came with  a rifle scope and mount.


If you  want  one  of the Colt 7.62×39 carbines and can’t find the conversion kit upper models and you plan on using it, I would not hesitate to  just buy a Colt A4 upper receiver  from Brownells and put the barrel  on it.     Yes it will ruin any collector value  but If you want it bad enough..    One of the flat top models with an ACOG would be one heck of a short range hunting carbine for  any game you wanted to hunt and would make a nice choice for defensive use if you are one of the unwashed who still thinks the 5.56mm won’t kill a man.    Recently  some  Colt 6940 uppers chambered in 7.62×39 have turned up for sell online.  That would really be the ultimate  AR upper in x39 as far as I am concerned. As you likely know I am 100 percent sold on the Colt monolithic upper guns.  The free floated barrel  with the  6940 barrel nut would bring out all the accuracy that could be milked, I would love to see  what one would do with good ammo.

Toggle-Locked Orphan: the Benelli B76

Since the passing of Hognose we have been sharing some of his best work  here at least weekly.  Since I have to spend most of the weekends  taking pictures and shooting all the guns I review  or research on the other articles I usually don’t out anything up Saturdays and Sundays.  With those two days of no new articles I have decided to make the weekend the slot for our tribute to Kevin and his work.


Toggle-Locked Orphan: the Benelli B76

by Kevin O’Brien

If you have a well-rounded firearms education, the name Benelli needs no introduction. Now part of the Beretta family, the marque has been known for its semi-auto shotguns since its founding in 1967. But Benelli made an attempt, in the 70s and 80s, to make a NATO service pistol. It’s interesting for its unusual toggle-lock mechanism (one we missed when we covered toggle-locking), its fine Italian styling, and its relative rarity: internet forum participants, at least, think only about 10,000 were made. (We do some analysis on this claim below, and posit a lower number).

benelli b76 pistol

There were other Italian semi-autos at about the same time, like the Bernardelli P-018, competing in part for European police contracts, as many Continental police departments replaced 7.65mm service pistols during the 1970s and 80s rise of European communist terrorist groups like the Red Brigades and Baader-Meinhof Gang. But the Benelli was a unique blend of design and functionality. Arriving too late into a market saturated with double-stack double-action pistols, it might have been a killer competitor for the P1/P.38 or the Beretta M1951 twenty years earlier, but by the end of the eighties, the market was heavily oriented towards double-stack, double-action, and often, ambidextrous-control service pistols. Even European police services who had thought 8 rounds of 9mm a real fistful of firepower had moved on — and so did Benelli, retreating to a concentration on its market-leading shotguns.

Mechanics of the B76

The toggle-lock is not truly a lock in the sense of a Maxim or Luger lock, but more of a hesitation lock or delayed blowback. Other weapons have used a lever in delayed blowback, like the Kiraly submachine guns and the French FAMAS Clarión, but the Benelli one is unique. It’s described in US patent No. 3,893,369. The toggle lock or lever is #5 in the illustration below, from the patent.

US3893369-1Benelli B76

Benelli often cited the fixed barrel of its design as a contributor to superior accuracy in comparison to the generic Browning-type action.

Aesthetics & Ergonomics

The styling of the B76 is a little like its Italian contemporary, the Lamborghini Countach: angular, striking, and polarizing. You love it or hate it, or like Catullus, both at once: Idi et amo. It came in a colorful printed box, resembling consumer products of the era…

BenelliB77Pistol in box

…or in a more traditional wooden case.


The somewhat blocky slide needs to be protected by a holster with a full nose cap, if you intend to carry the B76. It’s a large pistol and it would be prone to print if you did, much like any other service pistol like the M9, the Glock 17, or various SIGs. Where the pistol comes into its own is when you handle and shoot it. The safety falls right to hand, like that of a 1911, although as a DA/SA gun it’s perfectly safe to carry hammer down on a loaded chamber. The grip angle is much like the P.08 Luger, making for a very natural pistol pointing experience. The pistol’s steel construction and roughly 1kg (2.2 lb) weight makes it comfortable and controllable to shoot. The heavily-contoured grip on the target models makes it even more so.

The guns are known for reliability and accuracy, and their small following is very enthusiastic, reminding us of the fans of the old Swiss SIG P210 pistol: the sort of machinery snobs whose garage is more accustomed to housing premium European nameplates than generic American or Japanese iron, and who not only buy premium instead of Lowe’s tools, but who can take you through their toolboxes explaining why the premium stuff is better.

Production and Variations

The Benelli company was relatively new when it designed the B76. The US Patent application for its locking mechanism dates to 1973, and the planned start of production was 1976 (that may have slipped).

There were several variants of the B76, most of them sold only in non-US markets. The B76 was the name ship of the class, if you will, but there were several variants. The B77 was a scaled-down model in .7.65 x 17SR (7.65 Browning/.32 ACP); it was a completely different gun. The B80 was a 7.65 x 22 (7.65 Parabellum/.30 Luger) variant, largely for the Italian market; only the barrel and magazine differed from the B76. The B82 was a variant in the short-lived European police caliber, 9 x 18 Ultra (sometimes reported, mistakenly, as 9×18 Makarov). In addition, there were several target pistol variants, including the B76 “Sport” with target sights, grip, longer barrel, and weights, and a similar target pistol in, of all things, .32 S&W Long called the MP3S. We’ve covered some of these exotic Benellis before, in the mistaken belief that we had brought this post live, which we hadn’t. (D’oh!)

The one modification that might have brought Benelli sales to police departments or military forces was never done, and that is to develop a double-stack magazine. A “mere” 8 rounds of 9mm was already insufficient in 1976, when many NATO armies already issued the 13-round Browning Hi-Power as their baseline auto pistol, and the novel Glock 17 coming on strong.

Benelli dropped the pistols from its catalog in 1990. The company still produces its signature shotguns and a line of high-end target pistols, and even some rifles based on the shotgun design, but its foray into the pistol market has left Benelli with bad memories, red ink and a few curiosities in the company museum. But the curious pistol buyer looking for a firearm with a difference will find here a remarkable and character-rich handgun. If you’re the sort of man who can rock an Armani suit or avoid looking ridiculous in a Countach, this might be a good companion piece.

We’ve mentioned the internet claims of production of 10,000. The highest serial number we found on the net (5462) was well below that, but we certainly don’t have a statistical grasp on production yet. With 7 known serial numbers we can make a rough calculation that there’s a 9 in 10 probability the total production is under 6400, and a 99% probability it’s under 8500. That’s assuming our rusty MBA-fu still retains its potency.


No B76s are on GunBroker at this writing, and only very few — single digit quantities — have moved since 2012. The guns offered were all in very good to new-in-box condition, and they cleared the market at prices from $585 to $650. One went unsold at $565 against a reserve of $600, hinting that, despite these guns’ character and quality, there’s just not much of a market for single-stack full-size DA/SA autopistols.

For More Information

We’re seeking a better copy, but for the moment, heres a .pdf of the manual. Unfortunately, it takes greater pains to describe the mundane DA/SA trigger system than the rare, patented breech lock!



As you may have noticed my love o vintage target/varmint weapons and optics have been on my brain recently.  Last night I got thinking about Unertl again after a friend asked me something about those old beauties and remembered some years ago there was a forum discussion some where or other about what happened. As usual with most gun forums, few of the poster new much about much and were posting all kinds of BS about Unertl and US Optics ( which did some shady stuff after Unertl went into limbo and got sued for their troubles irrespective of what you may hear otherwise) until most unexpectedly John R Unertl himself popped up to set the record straight.  I saved his comments as they were a peak into the history of a legendary firearms industry company.   I have long forgot where I got it from but a clever googler I’m sure could turn it up.  No need anyway.  I saved Unertl’s only post on the matter and the rest of the posts were nonesense. AS one forum “expert” even made the idiotic claim that the Unertls were made in a barn.. 


Gentlemen, Let me clear up some inaccurate or most likely a lot of bogus information out there regarding the Unertl Optical Company and make clear some facts about the rifle scopes themselves. I have the authority to discuss the intimate details of this since I AM the last John Unertl that worked at the company you are referring to.

My grandparents started the company, my parents worked at the company, I worked at the company. All of the personalities involved here were strong personalities in their own right. Each conmtrbuted to, and detracted from the business. I don’t plan on writing a book here so I will condense this discussion to it’s bare bones form. My grandmother being a company founder was quite reluctant to leave the company even though she was getting up in years.
This gradually built a resentment within my father and their relationship began to fall apart. My father John Unertl Jr., was a brilliant engineer, but frankly didn’t care much at all about ‘marketing’, relegating this to mostly bullshit.
He also had quite an abrasive side and could alienate people fairly easily. I was schooled as a mechanical engineer because that was what was expected. Going  into the late ’70’s several issues were at play. Family discord for one. Secondly I could see that my father was not doing the necessary training and improvement for future development and expansion. I elected to resign at that point and move on. I took a job with Leitz, a well known optical instrument company. We used Leitz autocollimators and related equipment in our optical testing. Ultimately I became a Division President for that organization.

When my father died, my mother (who did not have a clue about the technology here) asked if I was interested in coming back to run the company. When I went back, I saw the company in the shape I figured it would be in. Not much had changed. It would have needed a small fortune to bring it up to speed. I had neither the time, inclination, and didn’t want to make the financial
commitment. I already had another business. I must say it was a sad moment. My heart strings pulled, but the realities of the situation were compelling. I suggested to my mother to pursue other alternatives.

Enter Rocky Green. My understanding is that he had two different involvements in the company. One as a liason to an initial group of buyers. They couldn’t handle the project, so the second time around he was a principle. I met Rocky one time when he came to visit me with the 1911’s. At that point I knew they were not
going to make it building scopes. I fear that anybody who wasn’t involved directly with the company couldn’t know the painstaking manufacture and care that went into building them. They were assembled, taken down, re-assembled,, numerous times. Hand fit parts meticulously assembled by true artisans. I can only assume the guys that bought the company just figured to buy some drawings,
program a CNC machine, stamp it Unertl & watch the money roll in. Sorry, didn’t work that way. I’m not sure if any of you out there were aware we made very sophisticated optical/mechanical instrumentation, optics for military jet gunsights, fire control optics (military stuff, not firemen) and wind tunnel instrumentation. Unertl Optical was far from operating out of a barn. We made the money with the high end optics, not making scopes. The scopes were that
labor of love because that’s how the company started. The scopes had the benefit of this financing. I fear the other guys missed this key ingredient.
The Unertl employees were true atrisans that made these rifle scopes. I doubt you can find guys like this any more with this kind of skill and dedication. The marine corps sniper scope was the last offering that my father made for Rocky Green when he was still in the service. At that point our old guys started dying off, and with them closed a page in the anals of the shooting industry.

I still have the opportunity to get together with the few remaing
company people. They have all played an important part in my life and I hold  special reverence to each and every one of them. They are truly the last of abreed.

Enjoy those scopes, I would have no reservation saying they are STILL probably the best scopes out there.”

John Robert Unertl

There it is from the man himself.  I only wish he would have written a book or an article about the company in some form for posterity.

If you didn’t know, this Rocky Green fellow did market a few  M1911s made with the Unertl name on them  and they were a take on the  older USMC  used 1911s  before MARSOC. I never touched one but I did see a couple.   They were pretty meh if  you are a real 1911 guy. Around that time a few scopes trickled out.   Some years ago I got in touch with a fellow who did work at the original Unertl and had bought out the rest of the bases and accessories  that were on hand when the real Unertl closed its doors.   I regret that I have since forgot his name and lost his contact info.  I do agree with Mister Unertl.  They are pure art and they  are still some of the best optics ever made.   A man can only dream about what they would have made had the younger J. Unertl had taken over the company and expended it and moved into modern designs.   The original Unertl closed its doors in the mid 1980s.  You can see in the image below what a high grade riflescope with all the trimmings looked like.  Box included.

J. Unertl Sr.  immigrated to the US from Germany and  worked for J. W. Fecker. Fecker scopes was a company that built the highest of quality target scopes which started selling his optics in 1922.  How high quality? Well, in 1926 when a Winchester Model52 rifle cost $36 yankee greenbacks, a Fecker optic would cost from $30 to $50 yankee dollars.  You can do the math on what the equivalent to 30 dollars   in the mid 20s  would be to today.   Unertl worked there as one of Feckers most talented and skilled engineers  until leaving to start his own optics business in 1928. In the early days of the Unertl Optics Co.  J. Unertl even supplied his scopes with Fecker mounts ( or what you would think of as “rings”) until developing his own.    Below is a Fecker advertisement and you can see the resemblance.  Fecker as a rifle scope maker more or less ended July 1956 as it was bought out by some one who had no interest in shooting. The company was purchased for its advanced designs for missile tracking and guidance systems during the cold war.  As of 2002 it still exists as a division of Contraves Co.    But the story of Fecker scopes will have to wait for another day.

AS mister Unertl said above, the last Unertl to  be developed and sold  as a new design was the USMC  10X sniper scope. A very tough optic that was the first to use the Mil-dot crosshairs.  A model was also made for use on the M82, 50BMG sniper rifle.  The original was developed for use on the M40A1 sniper rile and was in use even through to the M40A3 and A5  models though it is now probably complete phased out.  The USMC sniper 10X was a fixed power scope but it had some pretty trick features, especially for its time.   I promise that there will be  a longer upcoming article about it. The 10x was much loved by  Carlos Hathcock himself as he was one of the original  testers of the optic for adoption  to be used on the M40A1.   He even told of using the scope to pound a tent stake into frozen ground one day and the scope  was unfazed. 

It is a little sad to me that today few younger shooters even know the name.  A few years ago I saw a post on TFB where one of their worthies ran into a guy who had a Unertl optic and he was shocked as he had never seen nor heard of one.  Though I would expect  that from TFB.    Unertl optics helped set many world records,m win matches and make history in wars.  All of the  who’s who, of the shooting world used Unertls and knew  John Sr. back in the day and John Sr. was very active in the shooting community. He tried to give shooters what they wanted and offered nearly anything the heart desired.  

John Unertl Sr. pictured below, top row second from left. If you know who the other famous shooters are witout me telling you I will be very impressed. You can see  how well they thought of Mr. Unertl’s  product. The picture was taken in 1948 in Johnstown, PA at an important event in precision shooting history.

Truman Head ( California Joe) 1st U.S. Sharsphooters



Perhaps the best known of the Berdan Sharpshooters besides Hiram Berdan himself was Truman Head, Better known as “California Joe”. I was reported erroneously , by newspapers  that Truman was born in Philadelphia in about the year 1820. He was actually born in Otsego, New York. Joe was a bachelor, although stated on reliable hearsay that while he was a young man, was once engaged, the girl of his choice belonging to one of the finest families of the county; but owing to the opposition of a strict parent-the father-he lost the girl, both being too loyal to disregard the parent’s wishes.  he became a wanderer, crossed the Plains, and settled in California. The course of true love remained, for Joe remained a bachelor and his lady a maid.  He later struck  out for the California gold fields at the time of the Gold Rush there in 1849. Apparently, he was quite lucky in California to make a few good claims. Later after his enlistment Joe executed a will bequeathing $50,000, should he be killed, to be used for the care of disabled Union soldiers at The Philadelphia Old Soldiers Home, as Philadelphia had been his early home.”

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Truman headed back east to join up under the command of Colonel Baker an old friend of his.  Fate had it that Baker was killed before he arrived . He was granted permission to Join Company C ( Michigan), 1st US  Sharpshooters.  He appeared on the Company Muster is roll as of August 26 1861 in Detroit as a private in Captain Duesler’s Company of the 1st US Sharpshooters.

further records for Truman stated his age as 42 years, height  as 5’7″ with a light complexion, blue eyes, brown hair  and a listed occupation as  hunter. Because of his background of grizzly bear hunting and his time spent in the gold rush in California he became known as California Joe or sometimes just “Old Californ’y.” Described as past 50 ( he was actually 52years old having lied about his age at his time of enlistment) he was said to look “a score of years younger” stood “straight as an arrow” with “and eye as keen as a hawk, nerve as steady as can be,and an endowment of hair and whiskers Reubens would have liked for a patriarchal portrait.”

To become on of the Sharpshooters, a man was required to fire a course using a rifle  that he brought to the competition. The course consisted of firing ten rounds at a target that measured ten inches in diameter at a distance of 200 yards. All ten rounds a had to hit the target and the average distance could be no more than five inches from the center of the target. This was measured by the use use of a 50 inch long string,  “The end of the string was placed on the center of the target and then run to the nearest bullet hole in the target. The point where the string intersected the bullet hole was then moved to the center and the distance to the next hole was measured, and so on until all ten shots were measured If the end of the string was reached before the last hole could be measured the volunteer was disqualified. thus the term “A string of shots” was born.”

Bout the time of September of 1862, Joe privately purchased a New Model  1859 Sharps rifle from a sales rep of the Sharps Rifle Company. It was fitted with a single trigger and had been fitted for the saber bayonet. This would be the only Sharps Rifle carried in the Sharpshooter regiment until early May of 1862. Shortly after following a  number of trials at the camp for  the Sharpshooters the New Model 1859 sharps military rifle that was fitted with double set triggers and saber bayonet was chosen as Berdan as the rifle for the Sharpshooters.  The Sharps rifle chosen to be used by the Sharpshooters was a 52 caliber, breech-loading rifle that used a one piece cartridge that consisted of a lead ball.  “the ball was either glued to a cylindrical cartridge of paper or linen which  contained the powder.The block at the breech of the firing chamber slid downward by the operation of the lever under the receiver and when closed would cut off the tail of the cartridge. exposing the powder charge. A primer mounted on top of the block when struck by the hammer would ignite a fulminated mercury charge, which in turn would ignite the cartridge. The Sharps rifle could be quickly loaded and could fire  between 6-8 rounds in a minute compared to the 2-3 rounds per minute with the muzzleloader. With a greater range and better accuracy the Sharpshooters were credited with kills at distances of up to 800 yards and shots of 400-500 yards were not uncommon. 

The Sharpshooters went on to become the deadliest marksmen in the War of Norther Aggression credited with more kills than any other unit in the war.  They also suffered the highest casualties from being deployed exclusively as light infantry.   They screened in front of the main body of the army and would seek to find and engage the area of rebel deployment.  After, they would report back what they found to commanders. Once relived from forward scouting duties,they would reinforce standard infantry units, often supporting flanks. They would also support weaker spots in the main line of battle.  If the main force had to retreat, the Sharpshooters would stay behind to cover the main force with harassing fire to slow down any force trying to over run the main body.

On a rainy night of September 29, during a confusing firefight Joe earned the respect of the company when he stopped a near fatal mistake.  An officer appeared  and ordered the mento prepare for a charge against some troops in a nearby wooded area that had begun firing towards the in the dark. Joe stepped from the ranks and got into a brief argument with the officer:” you damned fool, do you want to charge out own men?” shouted Joe. After a short heated exchange Joe disappeared into the woods and quickly returned  with a Union soldier in tow.  When asked how he knew the troops in the woods were Federals, Joe replied he could see the profile of their caps in the muzzle flashes when they fired.

“Joe’s rep only grew larger as the Peninsular Campaign intensified. As Northern newspapers  were quick to write of the long range feats of Joe and other of the Sharpshooters, their prowess was soon exaggerated. One wrote that Joe had, “shot a man out of a tree two miles off, just at daybreak, first  pop”. A confederate officer settled for a more modest estimate that the men under Berdan’s command “rarely missed a man at a mile.”  This in fact was about three times the distance of their effective range.

Despite the accounts of journalists only slightly more honest than journalists today, Joe’s combat marksmanship and exploits would earn him widespread fame,  ” The Regimental Historian Stevens wrote. “Joe was one of those splendid characters that made him a hero, in spite of himself. Entirely free from brag or bluster, Joe was an unassuming man, past middle age, short in stature, light in weight, and a true gentleman in every sense of the word. He was always a special favorite with the entire command”.   Stevens also mentioned that the only time he saw Joe angry was when the Sharpshooters feats were wildly exaggerated in the press.

During the July 1st, 1862 battle of Malvern Hill, Va  and action recorded by the regimental historian showed the accuracy of the Sharpshooter  unit.  ” Colonel Ripley who commanded the battalion of Sharpshooters, companies  D,E,Fand K, was ordered to retire his men and did so, to the rear of the 4th Michigan. Before doing this, they utterly repulsed and silenced the battery of Richmond Howitzers, their guns being abandoned in the open field without firing a shot. Horses and men tumbling over so fast that nothing could withstand our terrific fire. The battery was composed of some of the most ambitious, aspiring youths of the “first families of Virginia” whose efforts to distinguished themselves early came to grief, and were in vain, their howitzers rendered useless”.  A member of the battery described it to an officer of the sharpshooters after the war. “we went in a battery and came out a wreck”. We stayed ten minutes by the watch and came out with one gun, ten men and two horses, and without a shot fired.”

Joe left the field at Malvern Hill late on the night of July 2nd. He had been led  away  unable to see, caused by exposure, the smoke and dust. Many were afflicted on the campaign with their eyes from these combined causes. Some reports say  his loss in eye sight was from the constant  use of the telescopic sight attached to his rifle.  He was admitted to a hospital in D.C. He would briefly rejoin his regiment in early September 1862 during which time he posed for several photos with Colonel Berdan. Joe re-entered the hospital on September 12, 1862 with jaundice. Finding him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of “senility, and impaired vision”  he was released from duty on November 4th, 1862.

Joe went on to San Francisco where he became a customs inspector. He died November 24, 1875 and was buried in the Presidio in San Francisco.



Precision Shooting Magazine December 2004

The Last Post- William Bentz

Stevens, Capt. C. A. (1892). Berdan’s United States Sharpshooters in the Army of the Potomac. St. Paul, MN.

Out of Nowhere: A History of the Military Sniper (Pegler 2004)

Complete Book of US Sniping  ( Senich)

US Sharpshooters Berdan’s Civil War Elite ( Roy Marcot)

Springfield Rifles: What’s the Difference?

I will be killing to  stones with one bird today with this repost from   Today is a post Kevin wrote about sprinfield M1903s.  I decided to share this  today as the 03  has been an ongoing topic over the last month, I have no idea how we got stuck on it lately but we have.   

Today we have the weekly re-share of a post. We share these posts to honor our friend Kevin O’Brien who died early last year. Kevin was known as “Hognose” by his many friends and admirers and  post his work here in an effort to save his work and honor him in our own way.

Springfield Rifles: What’s the Difference?

The US model 1903 Springfield rifle was made in five major versions. New entrents to collecting American martial arms sometimes struggle to tell these very similar rifles apart, but actually it’s pretty easy. Here’s a Springfield cheat sheet to take with you to the fun show:

From Note that the stock on the A3 is more commonly like the one shown on the A1.

From Note that the stock on the A3 is more commonly like the one shown on the A1.


  • The US Rifle Model 1903 was originally made for the M1 Cal. .30-03 cartridge, and service rifles were rechambered to the improved .30-06. There were metallurgical problems with early serial number receivers and bolts, and firearms under number 800,000 from Springfield Armory and 286,596 from Rock Island Arsenal should not be fired, because those are the numbers beyond which improved heat treating methods are known to have resolved this problem. (The bolts aren’t numbered, but any bolt that has a handle “swept back” rather than bent at 90º to the bolt axis is good to go).
    This is the business end of an early (pre-1905) rod bayonet Springfield.

    This is the business end of an early (pre-1905) rod bayonet Springfield.

    A few very early models had rod bayonets, and these were mostly converted to Model 1905 16″ knife bayonets after 1905 (at the insistence, we’ve noted, of Theodore Roosevelt) so they’re extremely rare. The rear sight was a ladder sight that went through several iterations, mounted forward of the front receiver ring. It could be used as an open tangent sight or raised and elevated for volley fire to ranges of almost 3,000 yards. A variant of the 03 called the US Rifle M1903 Mark I was adapted for use with the Pedersen device. Most of these were made in 1918-1919 and they wound up issued as ordinary 1903s. They are not especially rare, but make good conversation pieces. Another rare variant (illustrated) used the Warner & Swasey telescope commonly fitted to the Benet-Mercié “automatic rifle” — it had a terrible time holding zero, but that’s what American snipers had Over There.

The rifle lasted decades more, but the sight didn't.

The rifle lasted decades more, but the sight didn’t.

  • US Rifle Model 1903A1 is identical to the 1903, except for the stock, which has a pistol grip.
  • US Rifle Model 1903A2 is another extreme rarity: a Springfield altered to be a subcaliber device for conducting direct-fire training on various artillery weapons on small arms ranges. The stock, handguards, sights were removed and the gun could be fitted into a 37 mm sleeve for use in a 37mm gun, or the 37mm adapter could in turn be fitted in a larger-caliber adapter for 75mm, 105mm or 8 inch (203mm) artillery. They were generally made from 1903s and will have the “A2″ notation hand stamped after the 1903 on the receiver ring. A brass bushing on the muzzle, just under an inch (0.994”) in diameter, adapted the bare barreled action to the adapter. A few have the A2 electro-penciled in place, it would take a Springfield expert to tell you if that’s authentic (the example Brophy shows is stamped). Most of the A2s were converted back into ordinary rifles, surplused, or scrapped at the end of the war as the Army had abandoned subcaliber artillery training.


  • US Rifle Model 1903A3 is a wartime, cost-reduced version of the 1903A1. Remington had been tooling up to make the 1903, not for the US, but in .303 for the British. WIth American reentry into the war, Remington converted back to making a simplified 1903. The A3 reverts to the straight (no pistol grip) stock, uses a stamped trigger guard, and has a ramp-mounted peep sight like the one on the M1 Carbine. This sight is simpler than the Rube Goldberg arrangement on the 1903, and actually has greater accuracy potential thanks to around 7″ greater sight radius. It is the version most commonly found on the market, and was carried by soldiers in the first months of the Pacific War, and by Marines for longer. Until a working grenade launcher was developed for the M1 and issued in late 1943, an Army rifle squad armed with M1s still had one or two grenadiers armed with M1903A3s and grenade launchers. By D-Day, most combat units had the M1 launchers. Remington (and Smith-Corona) produced 1903A3s from 1941 to February, 1944.

M1903A3 sight

  • US Rifle Model 1903A4 is a 1903A3 fitted with a Weaver 330C or Lyman Alaskan 2 ½ Power optical sight. The Weaver sight is 11 inches long and adds a half-pound to the weight of the rifle, bringing it to a still very manageable 9.7 pounds. The Lyman is a tenth of an inch shorter and a 0.2 pounds heavier (the Lyman was very rare in service compared to the Weaver). Both have an eye relief of about 3 to 5 inches. Very late in the war, the M1C came into service, but the 1903A4 was the Army’s primary sniper rifle throughout the war. Note that several vendors have made replicas of the M1903A4, some of which (like Gibbs Rifle Company’s) are clearly marked. All 1903A4s were made by Remington.

There you have it — the main variants of the Springfield Rifle in a short and digestible format


About WeaponsMan

WeaponsMan is a blog about weapons. Primarily ground combat weapons, primarily small arms and man-portable crew-served weapons. The site owner is a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified.

Caching your Guns for a Civil War Parts I-IV

by  Kevin “Hognose” O’Brien

Our Friend Kevin passed away early 2017. Hognose, as he was known to his many admirers was the owner and writer of We repost his greatest hits here in an ongoing tribute and effort to save his work should the website go dark.

Caching your Guns for a Civil War, Parts I and II

Many people are talking about the possibility of a civil war. Some people are acting as if one is going to happen. The intersection between those sets is almost zero.

Part 1: Some obstacles to caching

Three can keep a secret, if two are dead. All the Haganah underground operatives kept the secret of this cache in Northern Israel. It was discovered by accident after they had all died.

Three can keep a secret, if two are dead. All the Haganah underground operatives who knew the secret of this cache in Northern Israel took it to their graves. It was discovered by accident in January, 2014, after they had all died. (Story at The Blaze with links to Israeli media, some in Hebrew).

First, if you live in a state with licensing and registration, you’re screwed. Even if they don’t have all your weapons in their files, they know you have weapons. They can come and shake down your home and curtilage at their leisure. Registration and Licensing doesn’t solve crimes, and it certainly doesn’t prevent them. It is one thing only: a cheat sheet for confiscation.  For that, it’s the cat’s pajamas.

We’ve heard a lot of bravado about boating accidents and long-ago sales to a tall short black guy with red hair and freckles. You can pull this off in one two-pronged case: no one else at all knows about your weapons and your plans, and you can resist intense interrogation. (Unless you have been trained in interrogation resistance in a resistance training lab, you probably can’t). This is completely without torture or threats to relatives, both of which will be available and in use in a civil war. Those two techniques can usually break even the trained resister.

Second, don’t rely on Oathkeepers bluster (another word beginning with “b” also fits). They mean what they say now, but things will be different then. Police will have no problem cracking down on you because (1) most cops will follow any plausibly legitimate authority; (2) human beings are born to rationalize; and (3) you’ll be demonized long before you’re raided. They won’t whack you, they’ll be whacking your indescribably monstrous straw man evil twin.

Every totalitarian state in history made liberal use of the ordinary cops for its political roundups, and no police element has ever mutinied or walked off the job when faced with that task. For example, the Gestapo and SS did not need to round up the Jews in occupied France: the ordinary French beat cops were glad to do it. None of them was ever punished; they transferred their loyalty seamlessly and unquestionably from the 3rd Republic to Vichy to the occupying power to the 4th Republic. Likewise, the Weimar cops became Nazi cops, who in turn became East or West German cops, and now unified Federal German cops. Hitler? Stalin? Who cares, we can retire at 45 with a good pension, and no one will miss a few Jews.

Third, don’t expect most people to back you. For every active resister, there are 20 dedicated, clandestine supporters. For every dedicated supporter there are 20 active and open collaborators. You active resisters will be outnumbered 400 to 1 by the Quislings. And even they will be a minority. Most people will hunker down and try not to be involved. The side that pressures them will get their loyalty and compliance — as long as it outpressures its opponents, and as long as the pressure is applied.

Still wondering why civil wars get ugly, fast?

Fourth, if you’re fantasizing about this civil war, stop now. We’ve seen civil wars, and we’ve seen how a place can go from civilized to Hobbsean state of nature in jig time. The American Revolution has been sanitized in our history but even it, the cleanest and most civil of civil wars, was unbearably nasty. The victors wrote the history; the losers, the Tories or Loyalists, took ship. Or died. After losing everything. A new Civil War might look more like the last one, with new Mosbys, Booths, and certainly new Andersonvilles. Or it might resemble the Spanish Civil War, or the French Revolution. When Americans unhappy with government think of the French Revolution, they think of their opponents in the tumbrils. Remember the fate of Robespierre and the Jacobins was no different from that of the Girondins or the Bourbons. Remember that practically none of the Old Bolsheviks died of natural causes.

But if, after all that, you still want to be prepared for survival or resistance, read on. The lessons learned you are about to receive here are distilled from thirty-plus years in the practice of insurgency, UW, FID, and COIN, and a very great deal of study. They also incorporate the lessons learned from a sensitive — once, highly classified — strategic cache program that was meant to arm clandestine stay-behind forces and the resistance armies they would raise.

Part II: The Enemies of Cached Weapons

The enemies of your cached weapons, dear insurgent, are many. They are rust, and its valkyries water and air; construction and development; discovery; documentation; human frailty; and obsolescence.

These weapons, buried during the League of Nations mandate and recovered only last year, were well preserved.

These weapons, buried during the League of Nations mandate and recovered only last year, were well preserved. Careful packaging and Israel’s arid climate protected them from Air, Water and therefore Rust.

Rust is a term for corrosion in ferrous metals. Essentially, iron plus air (especially damp, moist air) yields iron oxide, which is everything steel is not: weak, crumbly, almost worthless (well, you can make an incendiary mixture with it. But your guns are not the best feedstock for that; it’s not like rust is hard to come by).

You protect weapons from rust with permanent coatings like paint or parkerizing, temporary coatings like grease, vacuum-bagging them if you have the capability, and storing them in naturally or artificially dry places.

Even non-ferrous metals and supposedly “stainless” metals will corrode in the right conditions.

Water is principally a problem because of its propensity to accelerate rust. But it also has two other properties: it tends to wick into almost anywhere, and if it’s flowing, it can wear through anything. The Grand Canyon? That’s nothing but applied water and time.

Air is a problem because it contains all the ingredients for rust except the iron: water vapor and oxygen. It also can contain pollutants that accelerate corrosion.

Development is a threat to a surprising number of caches. Europeans periodically wake up to a news story of a cache of weapons or other stuff from the Cold War or World War II. The Nazis cached hundreds of tons of arms for a Werwolf resistance that fizzled out, partly because the Nazi state’s defeat made its ideology much less compelling, and partly because all four Allies had no compunction at all about shooting Werwolf suspects, even children. These unused caches get unearthed in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic by urban and rural development all the time. They’re usually old, forgotten, neglected caches in bad shape.

Apart from concealment, which was often good, the Werwolf caches were a pretty good example of how not to conduct a strategic cache program.

While some hazards are easy to defend against — you can “set ’em and forget ’em” — defense against development requires long-term curation. If a cache is implanted, someone must monitor it, and when development encroaches, move it. Therefore, the caches that are discovered are the ones that are haphazardly monitored or that were implanted by defunct organizations that never took up, or failed at, monitoring.

It is also helpful to emplace caches in locations that are away from either axes of likely future development, potential high value positions or targets in civil or general war (such as key terrain), or potential bivouac locations of hostile forces.

Discovery is the accidental location, exposure, or penetration of the cache, not as a result of counterguerrilla or counterespionage activity, nor as a result of development-related excavation. Your likely discoverers are hunters, hikers, and, especially, kids.

Guard against it by placing the cache on difficult terrain, and concealing the cache well.

There appears to have been no documentation of the Haganah cache. It was concealed well enough that the discovery came almost 70 years after the Haganah's clandestine war was won.

There appears to have been no Documentation of the Haganah cache. It was concealed well enough that its Discovery came almost 70 years after the Haganah’s clandestine war was won.

Documentation is a double-aged sword. It allows for the recovery or relocation of caches even if no responsible individual is available (a real risk in UW). It is useful in the demobilization phase after victory has been achieved; or in an underground or dormant phase after a major defeat. But it also allows hostile forces to find and recover caches, or even worse, surveil them and roll up networks.

To counter these risks, documentation should be kept to a minimum and safeguarded, possibly with such measures as clandestine writing and encryption. Cache reports should never be transmitted by or filed on computers or electronic devices. (Assume all computers are bugged).

Human Frailty (memory and weakness) is what happens to most caches — not to put too fine a point on it, somebody rats them out.

The way to combat this is to enact strict positive vetting, need-to-know, and compartmentalization. No one should even know that there are caches unless the person’s trustworthiness has been established beyond doubt. No one should know any more about caches than he or she needs to, and that information must be given to the smallest practical number of people. And finally, no one should know about caches not relevant to his cell, mission, or location.

Obsolescence is the final problem with caches. If, mirabile dictu, things are so well packed and preserved that they’re not at risk, the canny old wizard we call Time still has one ace up his sleeve: obsolescence. You don’t know where it’s coming from; small arms development proceeds by a pattern of punctuated equilibrium. You can’t tell when technology will overthrow your stored ordnance. Rebels who buried their guns in 1800, or in 1900, would still be armed like a national army forty years later, but if they buried their guns in 1840 or 1940, they would dig up a bunch of very outdated hardware in 1880 or 1980. (We were, in fact, digging up — for inspection — caches planted in the 1940s periodically through the 1980s). But small arms performance plateaued enough in the 20th Century that the guns are the least of your worries. A guerrilla band armed today with Garands and MP.40s would still have considerable lethality, but there’s no hope for the crystal and tube radios of the 1940s for practical field communications. Likewise, medical equipment stored even a decade ago has been replaced in the real world by improved devices and products of new research.

There is no easy way to combat obsolescence. You have to be prepared to service the cache as we did during the cold war, a difficult and expensive undertaking fraught with risk to the servicer, the cache, and the security of the program.

To be continued in Part III: Types of Caches and IV: Cache Best Practices

We will learn that, as useful as it may be to consider the risks above, you’re going to find that if you want to use the cache or caches, you’re going to have to accept considerable risks beyond those. Indeed, the use of the cache is ever in tension with the security of same (a tradeoff with many, many parallels in the insurgent’s world).

And anything you can do can get you scarfed up. No pressure, though

Caching your Guns for a Civil War, Parts III and IV (long)

We apologize in advance for the length of this document. We didn’t have time to edit it down — Ed.

Part III: Types of Caches

Imagine a graph with two scales. Those scales are labeled Security (call that the X Axis) and Convenience (Y Axis; sometimes called Accessibility, but Convenience is rather more than that). A scatterplot of every cache you have made, will make, or might make would, we argue, describe a linear function: the more secure it is the more a pain in the neck it is to access.

A cache can be as simple as an old H&R Topper and a box of shotshells left in a disused outbuilding, or it can be a vacuum-sealed concrete sarcophagus at the bottom of a body of water, that requires a workboat with a crane, flotation devices, and a team of divers to recover.

Concealment Cache in the walls of a Welsh house, discovered almost 20 years later (after the original emplacer died) during routine home maintenance. Source.

Concealment Cache in the walls of a Welsh house, discovered almost 20 years later (after the original emplacer died) during routine home maintenance. Source.

Emplacement, removal, or maintenance of caches can all be summed up as servicing. Caches are most commonly exposed in-place by ordinary activities of normal people; when adverse parties compromise a cache, it’s usually during servicing activities.

Yet, a cache that has not been periodically serviced, at least inspected, is a cache that cannot be counted on.

A cache’s security is inversely proportional to the exponential number of people aware of it, just as its convenience is directly proportional to that number. Cache locations can be passed on by the emplacer(s) showing the new initate the location, or by the emplacers writing a cache report. Every clandestine organization we are aware of has required written reports; both the report and the show-me method of pass-on have different, non-zero risks. After all, “three can keep a secret — if two are dead.” Once the report is written, security of the report and its location becomes a concern. A filing cabinet full of cache reports, fallen into enemy hands, can leave entire insurgencies unarmed and most definitely afraid.

With these principles in mind, there are several types of caches. These include:

  1. Covert Concealment
  2. Clandestine Concealment
  3. Burial, and
  4. Submersion

Covert (usually Outdoor/Outbuilding) Concealment Caches

These are the easiest caches to find and recover, but they’re also not very secure against accidental discovery. These items are more truly hidden than cached. SF doctrine advises only to use such a cache when it is unusually secure, or is a cache of “ready items” that must be accessed in a hurry, like a small underground combat element’s non-concealable arms.  Best used for temporary purposes.

Clandestine Concealment Caches

gun_concealment_cabinets_ukThis subset of concealment caches is the equivalent of your typical spy cache: it is meant to survive careful searches and contain extremely incriminating materials. If you have seen the movie, The Lives of Others, the playwright conceals his unregistered typewriter in such a cache (which is exposed during a search because its location has been betrayed — an important lesson about cache security in general: it is only as good as your personnel security). Such a cache tends to be slow and difficult to access, and to contain relatively small quantities.

A crude clandestine concealment cache is frankly worse than just throwing the cache material in a drawer under the baby blankets. Things like the British faux-furniture gun cabinets shown above would likely give up their secrets in a two-bit burglary, let alone a professional search. The more readily (and thoroughly) integrated products from Tactical Walls might be a better choice, if you haven’t got the carpentry to build what’s in the Secret Hiding Places book in the References below.

Buried Caches

keep-calm-and-shovel-on-112This is the most common type of cache in the real world. Buried caches are quite secure while cached, but servicing such a cache is time-consuming, noisy, and risky. They’re also easily lost, as is illustrated by the scores of forgotten World War-era caches that European construction projects have dug up. Likewise, the American Venona code-breaking project was able to support the recovery of several 1930s-vintage caches emplaced by Soviet spies, that the spies that replaced them failed to recover (after the initial cohort was recalled to Moscow and shot); other caches went unrecovered by Soviet and American spies alike, and still presumably rest in parks and forests in the National Capital Area, or were buried under new construction.

Unless the cache report is extremely clear, a buried cache is quite difficult to locate, recognize, and recover. For example, Soviet-era cache reports for numerous sabotage caches emplaced in the West were recovered as part of the famous Mitrokhin Archive. But despite having manual copies of the original caches to work from, none of seven large caches identified in the USA could be recovered. This is a matter of some concern, as the caches are reported to be booy-trapped, and caches recovered from the same KGB sleeper/in-case-of-war sabotage program in other countries (such as Switzerland and Canada) have indeed been. Given what we’ve said about caches already, American counterspies worry about some kids coming across one of these caches and … FOOM. (One of the previous blown caches had 400 lb. of dynamite in it, and the dynamite was sweating. Not good).

We can’t fault the KGB (and GRU, which had a separate program) for preparing the caches. This was a responsible preparation for the eventuality that the cold war would go hot, and that’s what spy agencies do. And ours did likewise, but we did recover our caches when the Cold War ended.

Of course, it’s possible that the public story about the missing caches is just that, and they’re still in place — with eyes on them, against the day the KGB’s successors try to use them. Probably not, but hang around with CI guys for a while and you start thinking like this.

miss belvedere dashFinally, a buried cache is by definition underground: your stuff better be packed in an airtight, sealed, waterproof, bacteria-proof, grunge-proof container, or it’s going to wind up unusable. How unusable? Well, consider the famous Tulsa, Oklahoma 1957 time capsule Plymouth Belvedere: a zero-mileage car that emerged from its cache destroyed by rust and floodwaters (left).

Submersed Caches

This is the Meisterstück of cache emplacement and recovery. It is the hardest, riskiest, most challenging, and it needs the most preparation. It’s insanely secure, that’s its strong point. But what did we say about security? Right, it has an inverse relationship with accessibility, with convenience. It is such a difficult form of cache that most of the use cases we can come up with it are for small and temporary caches. The SF manual suggests it’s a practical way to deliver supplies over-the-beach to clandestinely-supported elements, and that has been done in Southeast Asia, in the Baltic States, and in Cuba over the years. This use of subsurface transfer caches puts most of the risk of exposure on the receiving rather than sending element. Once the caches are dropped off, the friendly frogmen or submarine will not be returning to the cache site — it might as well be radioactive, as far as they are concerned.

Soviet GRU frogmen used submersed caches in association with live training missions onto NATO territory in the 1980s. These were generally small, temporary, mission-support caches only, to the extent that we in the West understand them.

Part IV: Cache Best Practices

Let’s start with a story, before we go laying down rules. A story from Northern Ireland, via the US Armys Combined Arms Lessons Learned (CALL) Center:

During the early years of the Irish Republican Army’s (IRA’s) campaign in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, a Royal Engineer officer, Captain Winthrop, created a list of key analytical features to help find IRA weapons caches.10 It turned out that focusing on these features greatly increased the chances of finding caches. The list included the following:

● The IRA quartermaster (responsible for weapons supply) would build the weapons cache in a place that allowed friendly observation at all times. Early in the conflict, a quartermaster would often place the cache in line of sight of his own house.

You might be able to figure out why they outgrew that practice.

● The cache could be evacuated out of direct line of sight of a surveillance asset.

● The location was marked by some easily recognized feature (lone tree, specified telephone pole, derelict house) and then by some small local mark on that feature (a scratch on a tree or a stone). This micro-terrain enabled outsiders to collect the weapons by following instructions.

Key to all clandestine location-based activities, including caches, dead drops, and personal meets: recognizability, and some way to pass it on.

● The cache location had several routes of access.

And multiple paths of egress. Very important if you’re servicing your cache and PC Plod appears athwart the path you took in, calling on you to give up in the name of The Law.

● The cache itself was usually a metal milk can, sometimes buried under or inside a stone wall, where signs of disturbance could be easily disguised to avoid detection.

Using our framework, the reader can see that the first, second, and fifth items fall under the area of security: the IRA wanted to ensure that the site was watched at all times, but was in a location where it could be evacuated outside of anyone’s line of sight. The third item indicates that they used the micro-terrain to advantage for accessibility. Further, they used multiple ingress and egress routes for the cache, the fourth item to affect both accessibility and distribution.

Naturally, that whole document is worth the read, as there are many other case studies and some best practices in there.

Here is a rough, ready (and honestly, incomplete) list of caching best practices:

  1. Understand your user(s). A cache gets more complicated the more people (and the more diverse the people) that need to get at it. A cache only one person needs is the simplest.
  2. Understand your threat. For instance, if you were the Iraqi insurgents who hid their guns in mud walls, you probably had a serious case of Resting Bitch Face when the coalition started using metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar to find them — about a week later.
  3. Plan before you build.
  4. Don’t over-plan; execute the cache.
  5. Practice caches are a great way to polish your skills. So is putting multiple secret compartments in your house, even if you never use them.
  6. In-home caches have a key weakness: what if you can’t get to your home? (If you are suspected, it’s probably under surveillance. These days, by a small camera you can’t spot, not a goon in a trenchcoat out of cinema noir).
  7. Indeed, a cache site should not be in your, or an underground member’s, home. It should be in a neutral place (unless you can place it in such a way that its exposure compromises a collaborator) and it should not be in a place that the auxiliary or underground is using for any other purpose. The compromise of one use will expose the other!
  8. Always have cover for status (who you are) and cover for action (what you are doing) that adequately explains why you are going where the cache is, doing what you’re doing, and having whatever you have. If you’re in a churchyard at 0300 with a shovel, you’d better have a real good story. (If you’re standing open a grave full of rifle crates, it won’t matter how good your story is).
  9. Surveil the cache for 24 hours before attempting servicing. Have cover to the extent possible for this surveillance (surveillance is its own, extremely deep, topic).
  10. Homemade concealment caches (for example, your own variation on the dog food can as described in The Construction of Secret Hiding Places are 100% better than store-bought “hide-it” gimmicks. Everybody who’s ever going to search your stuff has seen all of those gadgets in training, seriously. If you bought it from Brookstone or SkyMall (before SkyMall went tango uniform), you might as well mail your cache report to Official Villain in care of Adverse Party Counterintelligence Agency. Remember to include enough postage!
  11. Things may stay in your cache longer than you think, like these 1950s Egyptian “Port Said” copies of the Swedish M45B submachine gun. port_said_smgs_from_cacheThe cache was carefully emplaced, probably during the 1956 Arab-Israeli war or subsequent Fedayeen actions, but never retrieved, until Israeli archaeologists stumbled into them.  The emplacer thought he took care by oiling the guns and ammo, and sealing them in a truck inner tube but… well, you can see (story here in Hebrew).
  12. If you have something serious to hide, provide a plausible distractor cache. The criminal example is having a cache for your murder weapon that’s behind the cache for your weed. Officer Friendly usually stops at the weed. Counterinsurgency troops probably won’t be nearly as alarmed to find, say, a cache of stolen antiquities than they would be to find the half-ton of Semtex you planted the antiquities to lead them away from.
  13. It’s preferable to prepare and package the cache contents off-site. This reduces time on the site and risk of exposure. However, it may make transport of the contents even more risky than it already is. (Again, Access wars with Security).

References and Documents

McAfee, James. Best Practices in Counter Improvised Explosive Device Environments. 2010-03 Urgent Enemy Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (UETTP) (Fort Leavenworth, KS: CAC/CALL, March 2010)

Robinson, Charles (pseud). The Construction of Secret Hiding Places. El Dorado, AR: Delta Press, 1981. Available as a pdf scan from:

Shakarian, Paulo, and Otstott, Charles P.. What is Old is New: Countering IEDs by Disrupting the Weapons Supply. Military Review  July-August 201. Retrieved from:

Uncredited. Found: weapons cache hidden days after Dunblane massacre. The Telegraph. 13 March 2013. retrieved from:

Uncredited. ST 31-205, U.S. Army Special Forces Caching Techniques. Fort Bragg, NC: JFK Special Warfare Center.December, 1982

Uncredited. Special Forces Caching Techniques. (This is an edited and cut version of the above 12/82 ST, reprinted by Delta Press). Available as a pdf scan from:

Uncredited. TC 31-29/A US. Army Special Forces Caching Techniques. Fort Bragg, NC: JFK Special Warfare. This is a much bowdlerized version of the now-classified TC which was developed from 31-205. It has better illustrations than the 1982 version but is otherwise inferior. Text of the document (no illustrations) available here:—caching-techniques

George Farr And His Famous 70 At The 1921 National Matches



One of long range shooting’s greatest feats by a civilian shooter took place during the 1921 National Matches at Camp Perry. Ohio. Two men would ultimately be pitted against each other in a shoot-off during the 1000 yard Wimbledon Cup Match. The winner of the match oddly enough fell into virtual obscurity, The man who came in second would go on to be remembered  even to this day.  The trophy ended up being named after him and for his accomplishment that day.   Friday Septemeber9, 1921.   That man who came in  “first loser ” was of course Geroge R. Farr.


George came to the National Matches that year at the age of 62. He was a member of the Seattle Rifle and Revolver Club and the Washington Civilian Team.  He used a simple no frills kit. A sight micrometer and a old pair of binos he sawed in half to use as a spotting scope.   The winner of the match,  USMC Sgt. John Adkins, used a heavy barreled special rifle made at Springfield Armory for the USMC shooting team.  It was sighted with a Winchester telescopic sight and he fires Remington commercial ammunition.  This combination he had already used to win a  900 yard 1,000 yard match and was the odds on favorite to win the 1,000yard Wimbledon match.

The 1921 National Matches  had two other noteworthy events that year.  One was the appearance of” the Springfield Armory’s new model 1903 National Match rifle that could be purchased by civilian shooters.  There were brought about through the work of then major Julian Hatcher of the Army Ordnance Department and Soringfield Armory’s Al woodworth,  The Armory, at their urging, “decided to make a special effort to supply the American rifleman with a service rifle whose equal had never before came from a government manufactory..”

Another first was the use d “Tin can ammunition” produced by Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, PA.  Col. Townnsend Whelan developed this ammunition. “Based on information from a study done by French artilllerists, showed that by mixing tin with the powder charge , copper fouling by the cupro-nickel bullet jacket could be greatly reduced and much more easily cleaned from the bore.   A slightly different approach was used by Whelen as a solution to the metal fouling problem. Instead of incorporating the tin into the powder charge, the 170gr flat based bullet was coated with a .0003″ layer of tin,  This “tin can”  bullet, as it came to be known did eliminate the copper fouling and  also gave improved accuracy.”  The downside to this use of this tin was to “cold solder” a bullet into the case neck.   This welded the bullet into the case mouth so tightly that 300- 600 pounds or more was needed to pull the bullet and break this seal.    When shot in a clean dry chamber this normally not  much of an issue.  Shooters being shooters, some of them ignored warnings not to use grease on the bullets and ran pressures as high as 75,000 p.s.i. when the grease eventually got onto the case necks and kept them from expanding while fired.  Of course several accidents happened and the War Department canceled the use and production of the “tin can” ammo. The reason the shooters  would grease the bullets on their ammo at the time is a tale for another time.

Early in the shooting for the Wimbledon that afternoon were a list of 18 names of the shooters that had dropped only one point,a nd 29 who  had a score of 98 from 690 entries for the match. There were 2 possible scores of 100, one of which tiedthe previous years record and one that was 100 plus a 4 bull’seyes.  The previous year the match saw its first possible when 21 bull’s eyes won it,  In the event that a possible was made, the competitor would continue firing for record until he would finally miss a bullseye. At this point he would go out of the match. These so called “shoot offs” could go on for long periods of time”

John Adkins took his place on the line at about 2:30 that afternoon. With a wind blowing a 1 o’clock, it seemed as if Adkins would likely not make a  possible.  “After finally scoring his possible he settled down and began to put the 180 grain rounds down range and steadily began a string of bullseyes.  On Adkins 40th shot the gathered crowd though he was finished as the target remained down for longer than normal time. When it   reappeared the shot was scored just inside the bull by the slimmest margin.  AS his string of bullseyes grew, there was much speculation as to whether he could break his own record of 71 bullseyes set during the Remington Match that was held on the first day of competition. After 72 bulls eyes were scored it was wondered how long Adkin’s string would continue.   It wasn’t long before his scored his last when the 76th shot was out of the black.”

While Adkins was still in the middle of his string, the range officer called up an old fellow  whose teammate had nicknamed “Dad”.   AS opposed to Adkins, George used an “As issued” 1903 national match springfield rifle with service sights and the 1921 national match ammunition that was issued to him.  It was not a personal rifle used over years and known as well as he knew himself.   “George came to the firing line that afternoon with only an educated guess for his 1,000yard elevation.  He had shot last  as the 600 yard range and in fact used his 2 sighters that  were allowed in the Wimbledon Match to sight in his ’03 at the 1,000 yard range. His first sighter was fired at about 4:30  and he scoped that shot through  his sawed off half binoculars. ” He saw the first shot was a three,  He used his sight micrometer to adjust the slide on the 03 and fired his second sighter down range. This time the spotter showed a hit inside the black bullseye for a five.   His first record shot followed.

It was reported that George  appeared to have little concern as if he was shooting a string of rapid fire, and would load a clip of 5 rounds at a time instead of loading singly as was customary.

Nineteen shots found the black of the 36inch bull of the 1,000 yard “C” target when George appeared to become a bit nervous. He later explained that, “When that nineteenth shot scored a bullseye, I just happened to think that if my next shot got in I’d make a possible. I’d never made a possible at 1,000 yards not even a 10 shot one, and I just though I’d be mighty proud to make one at the National Matches. So I was a little  bit shaky, but I looked around and nobody seemed to be paying any attention to me, so I fired.”

The scorer called out “Mr. Farr’s twentieth shot for record a five” Then to the surprise of all. George proceeded to arise, gather his gear and strode from the firing line.

“Wait a minute; keep on firing ” said the range officer.

“What for?” Farr asked.

“Well you might win something” answered the range officer.

“All right; I reckon I can shoot some more, only I haven’t got any more cartridges”, replied George.

“Here are some”, the  range officer said, offering him two more clips.

“I reckon one of them will be enough,” George replied as he got back into position again.

“As the range officer was kept busy finding  a supply of more of the  “tin can” ammunition Farr had been using, George began to shoot as quickly as he was able as the light now was starting to lessen in the late afternoon sky. Reports sid that the frequency of his shots was remarkable, considering the range, but he did not get quick service in the pits. Had he received better pit service and the light had held out longer that afternoon could have spelled and entirely different outcome to the days events.”

By now  a small crowd had gathered behind him as George continued to put rounds down range and into the black of the bullseye. The group he produced grew from left to right across the target , and at times the shots would climb a bit but they remained in the black. .  “The light held failry good until George reached his 60th shot, then it rapidly began to fade. By the time his 65th shot had been fired, the light had gotten very bad.  Geroge began to hold down on the butts with his 66th shot, and with added elevation this only allowed him 4 more bullseyes. On his 71st shot, at 6:10PM, he scored a four and ended his string  of 70 consecutive bullseyes to give Adkins his closest call of the match.”

At the conclusion of the match the officials asked Farr if he would like to purchase  the rifle he used that day.    A price at that time through the DCM of about 41 dollars.   But George did not have the money.  His 70 bullseyes  that year at the National Matches had already started its journey into shooting history and impressed the competitors present that they took up a collection and purchased the rifle for him.

The following year the NRA donated and ornate silver trophy to commemorate Farr;s shooting feat, known as the Farr Trophy and it is awarded to the high scoring service rifle shooter int he Wimbledon Cup Match.

In 1922, the 1000 yard C target was changed with the addition of a tie breaking   20 inch diameter “V” ring to end the time consuming “shoot offs” when the 20 shot possible was reached. Due to this fact, it is George’s claim to fame that he still holds a virtually unbreakable record for the Service Rifle during the Wimbledon Match.”


Quotes and sources

Bill Bentz- The Last Post   Part 121 Final Resting Place of Famous Rifleman

Precision Shooting Magazine April 2006

American Rifleman

Pictures of Farr’s rifle  litter the web, I have no real idea who took them.  But will credit  photog  if he or she happens to show up  and let me know.


Remington  introduced the  Model 514 in April 1948 as  cheaper alternative to the Model 510  other 500 series rimfires and a competitor of the excellent Winchester Model 67.

“The model 514 is a worthy companion to the model 510, but being slightly shorter and lighter-it is especially suitable for the small boy who is just starting to shoot.”

The 514 is one of what seems like a million different models and makes of .22 rimfire rifles made from the dating back to the dinosaurs.   It is one of the 5xx series models of guns put out by Remington in days when boys could walk  out in the woods and shoot at anything much he felt like shooting at and no one thought much about it.  On the contrary, they may have asked him to come over on a summer evening and shoot that ground hog that has been eating up the tomatoes in the backyard.    Try that now a days.

The rifles of this same basic formula were  clearly markets  to kids but  I have always wondered   just how many were bought for boys and how many were bought by grown men, late teens and seasoned citizens for the pleasure that comes with shooting a rimfire sporter.

There is just something about these vintage bolt action 22s.   Something that  can’t be replicated with a 10/22 or any  modern made rimfire rifle.    I don’t know what it is and it’s hard to even explain.    I have  rarely ever shot a modern rimfire rifle that would be the equivalent of the old rifles  that is any where near as accuracte or made as well.    In fact that may be a mistake.  Those old guns, though made for cheap boys rifles back then, would be sold as a higher priced special  prestige grade model if brought out today.

The 514 is a simple single shot bolt action rifle capable of being taken down for transport or storage with the single  bolt in the bottom of the stock.   Having no magazine like other models, it has a solid receiver.   The three lug safety on the rear is rotated to active and disengage the safety with one lug with a red marking to indicate safe or fire.   Models did not come from the factory drilled and tapped for scope mounting bases. Unfortunately a bubba gunsmith got ahold of this rifle long before I did.   Whoever it is didn’t realize the requirement for mounting bases on the 514  was for two holes side by side and not in line down the bore axis. The bright spark  apparently was going to put two holes on the front and rear of the receiver and got half into it before realizing there ain’t enough room on the rear portion he so poorly chose for the  rear  position. I don’t think you need me to point out where the two rear holes should have been drilled..   No problem though as I never had intention of using one of these with an optic.

No, when it comes to these old .22s, I stick to the iron sights.  Some models of the 514 came with a nice little rear peep sight for more precise target work.   This one has the more common open sights. The style seen on countless  hunting rifles. Not the easiest to use for people use to peep sights but capable of fine shooting.

Accuracy  is as good and honestly probably better than most moden rimfire rifles.   The two groups were fired at 25 yards using  ammo that is nothing special. Just bulk Federal  solid lead.

These guns are getting more expensive to buy every year.   Twenty years ago it was not hard to find any old rimfire bolt action rifle and  not pay  much over 100 yankee green backs for it.   Those days are gone sad to say.  Not surprising. Everything made longer ago that 5 years seems to be rising in price.    If you  want a plinker 22 rifle to carry in the woods or teach your kid I  would chase down one of these before I ever thought about buying a new made rimfire.