Category Archives: Scattered Shots

Lebman’s “BabyMachinegun” Full Auto M1911s

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

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

 

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

 

Ahem..

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

Vietnam War Individual Equipment

Will the Vietnam war ever stop being fascinating? Not to me it won’t. One of the many things  from that period that is fascinating to me is what the fellows carried and used while in the war. Not just the Special Forces,  but the regular  guy.  The equipment started out much like the gear of the past generations. Made of cotton and canvas and metal.  Then , towards then end, we started to see the first widespread use of the nylon and plastic that would be the materials of the ALICE system used all through the 1980s and most of the 90s.    Today we will take a look at two set ups used in the war and a few other things.

First we have  up a near mint set of the webgear that would have been carried by an infantryman in the US Army.  It is the M-1956 Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE), also known as the Individual Load-Carrying Equipment (ILCE).  This is the system that replaced the the combat pack of WW2 and Korea and the multitude of cartridge belts used to support the older US family of weapons.  The M56 gear was developed and came out during the time the military was  going to the M14 and then on to the M16.  Because it was a time when a lot of the older legacy weapons  were still being used, the equipment was very general purpose. Especially the M56 ammo pouches.

The M56 ammo pouch  would carry a 6-pocket M1 cotton bandoleer of M1 Garand enbloc clips (8-rounds each; total of 48 rounds), 8 x M1 Garand enbloc clips (8 rounds each; total of 64 rounds), 2 x BAR magazines (20-rounds), 4 x M1 or M2 carbine magazines (30-round), 3 x 40mm M79 grenades, or 2 x M26 hand grenades plus 2 x hand grenades fastened on the sides of the case.   Then with the newer rifles it  would hold 2x M14 magazines and 3x M16 magazines.  Or so it is said it will hold only 3  mags for the M16 but it will hold 4x M16 magazines though tightly.

The belt is  is a slightly different design than the WW2 era belt but in function it is nearly identical. With the adoption of the M56 pouches, this combo did away with  the the M-1936 individual equipment belt, the M-1923 cartridge belt for the Garand , and the M-1937 cartridge belt for the  BAR.   The M56, like the older belt, also has the holes for using equipment  that attaches via the 1910 wire hangers.

The new H harness suspenders are cotton canvas with two webstraps for hanging various items from like the flashlight shown above and the  general purpose first Aid/Compass pouch on the other. The H -harness is very wide and flat and comfortable.    Out of all the older military webbing I have tried over the decades, the M56 H suspenders is the most comfortable.

The M56 canteen covers are heavy canvas with heavy wool lining. They aren’t that different  from the older covers  but use the “slide keepers of all M56 gear.  The slide keeper is now known as “ALICE clips”.   Covers held one 2 quart canteen and cup. Though they were used by special operations forces to hold rifle magazines and various grenades  in other units like MACVSOG. Those units needed to carry considerably more ammo and munitions that the average infantryman and the  M56 ammo pouches were not enough.   The canteen covers could be worn on the belt or on the field pack ( AKA butt pack) by attaching it to wide webbing straps on each side of it.  Or, they could be attached to webbing straps on the various rucksacks used in the war.  The cover was meant to be soaked in water  to help cool the water in the canteen.  This soaking and drying  faded the color and it is common to see surplus covers nearly  khaki in color from fading.

The field pack, also known as the butt pack, is the samll backpack looking bag at the center rear This pack is the M1961 pack and is and upgrade from the original M56 pack The M61 pack has a rubberized collar inside to protect the contents as well as eyelets along the outside flap  to attach more equipment.    The field pack was meant to carry the items the soldiers needed,  one day’s ration, toilet paper, socks and such.    It didn’t take long to find out that the “butt pack  ” did not hold enough.

In addition to the M56 gear  you can see the M16 bayonet with scabbard and light weight rip stop poncho attached to the bottom of the M61 field pack.  A M56 entrenching tool cover was also issued.  The shovel cover held the folding shovel and had  two grommets and strap for attaching the rifle bayonet to it to make room on the belt.   Also, a convoluted sytem of webbing straps  exists with the purpose of carrying the bed roll. I have a set but did not picture it  since putting it together is a nightmare.

Next up is  a belt worn in the early days of the war in some units  whose automatic rifleman used the M14. It   was issued to indig forces who  used the older US family of weapons from Korea nad WW2 and it was a popular choice by US Army Special forces.

Of course we are talking about the M-1937 cartridge belt for the BAR.  This one is an unissued example made during the Korean war era. This is why it is a dark shade of green instead of the OD3 mostly used during WW2.      The  BAR was popular because it would hold would hold more M16 magazines  than the M56 pouches that was standard issue.  The belt also was lined on the bottom of the magazine pouches with holes for the older 1910 wire hangers and the  webbing on the back had room for M56 canteen covers.  The top holes on the belt would also fit the M56 H-harness.

Each  cell of the BAR belt would  fit x M16 20 round magazines.  I have read many times that it is possible to get 5 mags in each pouch but I have never been able to get 5 in all of them.  It does require stretching to get it to hold  5 magazines.  It would also hold a variety of other items if desired.    One of the practices of SOG recon teams was to hang a older WW2 type canteen covers off of the lower grommets  for additional canteens or to use as munitions pouches. Using this they could carry grenades or the larger 30 round M16 magazines.   In various books about SOG, it  is noted that the canteen cover was hung on the left side for reload magazines and the right side for hand grenades.

The 1910 attachment holes also allowed for attaching more pouches like extra first aid kits from WW2, the jungle survival kit, handgun holsters or  pouches for radio antenna.  You can see int he image below the way a Special Forces SOG recon man has set up his BAR belt.   Often later int he war the SOG  troopers replaced  the H harnes and M56 web belt with the STABO  harness. The BAR belt was added  to the STABO rig.  The STABO  harness allowed a man to snap into a rope from a chopper quickly to be lifted away.

Above you can see how the older 1910 wire hangers allowed the user to  attach the older equipment like this WW2  era type first aid pouch and the  jungle first aid kit.

I have also recreated the common practice of tapping water purification tablets to the plastic USGI canteens. The M56 covers did not have the side pouch for the tablets.   Perhaps extra tablets would have been taped to the canteens anyway so as to always  have extra in a convenient spot. The covers have been painted over  for camo  sake. Which was another common thing seen done by the SOG recon units, along with uniforms and guns.   Being the BAR belt is mint I demurred from  painting it.

Another iconic piece of equipment common;y seen during the war was the now rare lightweight rucksack. The pack was originally designed for arctic use to replace the mountain rucksack. It was the first all nylon piece of equipment to be adopted by the US Army

The pack will hold more items that you can carry and most equipment the soldier did not need to immediately fight with was store on or in the rucksack. Things like  LAWS rockets,  rations, shovel, machetes, extra canteens and clothing could be places inside its main compartment of the three smaller ones outside or hung from the webbing and cargo straps on the frame.   The pack could be worn  low on the frame, in the middle or high up depending.

Of all the things my Dad spoke about using during the war, the light weight ruck, the M16 and the poncho liner was like the holy trinity to him.  For years I hear about how comfortable the curving tubular pack frame was.  Finally after 30 years I was able to track down two of these packs for him and bought both of them. He was right, the pack frame is very comfortable  when wearing it. Below you can see how the frame curved for the body.

The suspension system of straps on the frame also kept the pack off of the back and allowed air to move through to help  stop over heating. The original waist belt band is missing on this example and some one had replaced it with the ALICE pack style kidney pad at some point post war.  IF you look at the shoulder straps you can see the quick release feature. The vertical straps are cargo straps for holding  items added above the pack.

From the side you can see the webbing straps to hold addition canteens.  Both the left and right side have webbing straps for the older 1910 wire attachment or the  M56 covers with  ALICE clips.  A web strap with buckle goes around the canteen to secure it and to keep it from flopping around.   This pack was replaces later in the war with the tropical rucksack  that is the  basis for the later ALICE pack.

A pack that did serve as inspiration for the tropical  ruck was the ARVN ruck or also known as the indigenous ruck sack.    The pack was made in the US for ARV troops. It became popular with US troops who could get it  as it was a better option than the M1961 butt pack. This pack is the one seen in the movie Platoon.

The ARVN ruck used the same  X frame that was later used int he US tropical ruck .   The ARVN rucksack is a handy pack about the size of modern  assault packs.

The ARVN ruck is hard to find now a days as it was made and issued only for the military of the Republic of South Vietnam.    It was never issued to US forces for US military use.   It  was a handy little pack though and you can still see  the influence it had in later years on other packs.

 

 

What’s so special about John Moses Browning?

This post is a re post from weaponsman.com. We share it here today to honor and preserve our friend Hognose, who died last spring 

What’s so special about John Moses Browning? by Kevin O’Brien

 

Himself.

Himself.

If you take that question the wrong way, you’re thinking who is this bozo to diss Saint JMB? But we’re not putting the emphasis on the JMB side of the sentence, but the What’s so special? end. As in: we really want to know. Why is this guy head and shoulders above the other great designers of weapons history? What made him tick? What made him that way?

Browning was not a degreed engineer, but he is, to date, the greatest firearms designer who has ever lived.  Consider this: had Browning done nothing but the 1911, he’d have a place in the top rank of gun designers, ever. But that’s not all he did, by any means. If he had done nothing but the M1917 and M1919 machine guns, he’d have a place in the top ranks of designers. If he’d done nothing but the M2HB, a gun which will still be in widespread infantry service a century after its introduction, and its .50 siblings, he’d be hailed as a genius. One runs out of superlatives describing Browning’s career, with at least 80 firearms designed, almost 150 patents granted, and literally three-quarters of US sporting arms production in the year 1900 being Browning designs — before his successes with automatic guns.

He did all that and he was just getting warmed up. He didn’t live to see World War II, but if he had, he’d have seen Browning designs serving every power on both sides of the war. If an American went to war in a rifle platoon, a Sherman tank, a P-39 or P-51 or B-17, he and his unit were gunned-up by Browning. If he made it home to go hunting the season after V-J day, there were long odds that he carried a Browning-designed rifle of shotgun, even if the name on it was Remington or Winchester. Browning’s versatility was legendary: he designed .25 caliber (6.35mm) pocket pistols and 37mm aircraft and AA cannon, and literally everything in between. He frequently designed the gun and the cartridge it fired.

A lot of geniuses have designed a lot of really great guns since some enterprising Chinese fellow whose name is lost to history discovered that gunpowder and a tube closed at one end sure beats the human hand when it comes to throwing things at one’s enemies.  But nobody comes close to Browning’s level of achievement; nobody matches him in versatility.

So why him? As we put it, what’s so special? 

We think Browning’s incredible primacy resulted from several things, apart from his own innate talent and work ethic (both of which were prodigious). Those things are:

  1. He was born to the trade
  2. He was prolific: his output was prodigious
  3. He was a master of the toolroom
  4. He lived at just the right time
  5. He could inspire and lead others

Born to the Trade

John M’s father, Jonathan Browning, was, himself, a gunsmith, designer and inventor. He made his first rifle at age 13, and despite being an apprentice blacksmith, became a specialist in guns by the time he was an adult. From 1824 he had his own gunshop and smithy in Brushy Fork, Tennessee, and later would move to Illinois (Where he befriended a country lawyer named Lincoln). He joined the Mormons in Illinois and fled with them to Utah, making guns at each way station of the Mormon flight.

Jonathan Browning Revolving Repeater

Jonathan Browning Cylinder Repeater. Image from a great article on Jonathan Browning by William C. Montgomery.

Very few of Jonathan’s rifles are known to have survived, but he made two percussion repeating rifles that were, then (1820s-1842), on the cutting edge of technology. The Slide Bar Repeating Rifle  was Jonathan’s term for what is more widely called a Harmonica Gun. The gun has a slot into which a steel Slide Bar is fitted. The slide bar had, normally, five chambers; after firing a shot, the user cocked the hammer and moved the Slide Bar to the side to move the empty chamber out from under the hammer, and a loaded chamber into place. When all five chambers had been discharged, the Slide Bar was removed, and each chamber loaded from the muzzle and reprimed with a percussion cap. Jonathan Browning’s gun differed from most in that it had an underhammer, and that an action lever cammed the Slide Bar hard against the barrel to make a gas seal. He also made a larger Slide Bar available — one with 25 chambers, arguably the first high-capacity magazine.

The second Browning innovation was the Cylinder Repeating rifle. This was a revolver rifle, with the cylinder rotated by hand between shots. Like the Slide Bar gun, the cylinder was cammed against the barrel to achieve a gas seal — the parts were designed to mate in the manner of nested cones.

Young John M. Browning. From the Browning Collectors web page.

Young John M. Browning. From the Browning Collectors web page.

The designer of those mid-19th-Century attempts to harness firepower sired many children; like other early Mormons, he was a polygamist, and his three wives would bear him 22 children. From age six one of them apprenticed himself, as it were, to his father. Within a year he’d built his own first rifle. This son was, of course, John Moses Browning.

(Aside: the last gun made by Jonathan Browning was an example of his son’s 1878 single-shot high-powered rifle design, which would be produced in quantity by Winchester starting in 1883).

Malcolm Gladwell has popularized the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of hard work to become an expert — that’s roughly five years of fulltime labor. JMB had exceeded this point before puberty.

If you aspire to breaking Browning’s records as a gun designer, you need to acknowledge that, unless you started from childhood, you’re starting out behind already.

Prolific Output

Browning worked on pistols, rifles, and machine guns. He worked on single-shot, lever, slide, and semi-automatic actions, and his semi-autos included gas-operated, recoil-operated, direct-blowback, and several types of locking mechanism. Exactly how many designs he did may not have been calculated anywhere: it’s known he designed 44 rifles and 13 shotguns for Winchester alone, a large number of which were not produced, and some of which may not have been made even as prototypes or models.

His military weapons included light and heavy infantry machine guns, aerial machineguns for fixed and flexible installations, and several iterations of the 37mm aircraft and anti-aircraft cannon, the last of which, the M9, would fire a 1-lb-plus armor-piercing shell at 3000 feet per second; an airplane was designed around it (the P39 Airacobra, marginal in US service but well-used, and well-loved, by the Soviets who received many via lend-lease). All the machine guns used by the US from squad on up in WWII and Korea were Browning designs. But these were only his most successful designs; there were others. At his peak, he may have been producing new designs at a rate of one a week. 

If you want to to be the next John Browning, you need to start designing now, and keep improving your designs and designing new ones until the day you die. (Browning died in his office in Belgium).

Master of the Toolroom

The Browning workshop, back in the day.

The Browning workshop, back in the day.

From an early age, John learned to cut, form and shape steel. This is something common to most of the gunsmiths and designers of the early and mid-20th Century — if you remember our recent feature on John Garand, the photo showed him not a a drawing board by at a milling machine.

Browning could not only design and test his own prototypes — he could also design and improve the machinery on which they’d be produced, a necessary task for the designer in his day. Nowadays, such production development is the milieu of specialized production engineers, who have more classroom training, and probably less shop-floor savvy, than Browning brought to the task.

A reproduction of Browning's workshop in the Browning Museum in Ogden, UT.

A reproduction of Browning’s workshop in the Browning Museum in Ogden, UT. (From this guy’s tour post).

In Browning’s day, processes were a little closer to hand-tooled prototype work, but it still required different kinds of savvy and modes of thinking .

If you want to be Browning, you have to master production processes, for prototypes and in series manufacturing, from the hands-on as well as the drawing-board angle. There may never again be a designer like that.

Living and Timing

John M. Browning in 1921 with Mr Burton of Winchester and the category-creating Browning Automatic Rifle.

John M. Browning in 1921 with Mr Burton of Winchester and the category-creating Browning Automatic Rifle.

John M Browning lived in just the right time: he was there at the early days of cartridge arms, when even basic principles hadn’t yet been settled and the possibilities of design were wide-open and unconstrained by prior art and customer expectation. No army worldwide, and no hunter or policeman, really had a satisfactory semi-auto or automatic weapon yet (except for the excellent Maxim)

It’s much easier to push your design into an unfulfilled requirement than it is to displace something a customer is already more or less comfortable with.

If you’re going to retire some of John M. Browning’s records, you’re going to need the right conditions and a few lucky breaks — just like he had.

Inspiration and Leadership

To read the comments of other Browning associates of the period is to see the wake of a man who was remarkable for far more than his raw genius. Browning was admired and respected, to be sure, but he was also liked. At FN in Belgium, the gunsmiths called him le maître, “the master,” and took pleasure in learning from him.

M Saive at the drawing board. Image: FN Herstal.

M Saive at the drawing board. Image: FN Herstal.

His Belgian protégé, M. Dieudonne Saive, went on to be a designer of some note himself. While he did not achieve Browning’s range of designs, he, too, is in the top rank for his work finalizing the High-Power pistol (also known as the GP or HP-35) that Browning began, and for his own SAFN-49 and FAL rifle designs, and MAG machine-gun, all of which owed something to Browning’s work as well as Saive’s own.

If you want to be the next John Moses Browning, you have to know when to step back, and how to share the burden — and the credit.

About Hognose

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

THE LEE-ENFIELD No4 (WW2’s BEST BOLT ACTION BATTLE RIFLE?)

Last week’s post about theM1903 and  bolt action battle rifles got some good discussion going in the comment section.  Naturally this turned to comparing and talking about more battle bolt action rifles from the two world wars.    I opinionated on what I think was the best bolt action battle rifle, the Lee Enfield  No 4.

The example shown in the No .4 MK 2, the improved and refined version made afterWW2.  But it will stand in for the older model for purposes of this article.   This one is an example of some of the last ones made.

The No. 4 is made in the British service round .i.e, the .303 British  like its past family members.  This is a rimmed bottle neck round firing a .303 diameter bullet, or 7.7mm. That is the same as the Japanese “7.7mm Jap” round.  By WW2 the standard loading for rifle use was the MK MKVII load.  This was a  174 grain  spitzer bullet with a muzzle velocity of around 2500fps.   The trick part of the projectile is this.  The front tip of the FMJ was not filled with lead. The tip was filled instead with aluminum, (  sorry ,Al-U-min-e-um for you limeys out there) or a type of plastic or a few other fillers.

 

This shifted the  center of gravity to the rear of the bullet.  When the round hit the target it it lost stability and  will yaw.  The wounding of this was  much greater than the normal ball round.  This is not the same as the ” DUM DUM” round. It would however bend or break apart.  The MKVII is also  considered very accurate, and it is or a WW2 era military service round.   There was and is a load for machine gun  use. A slightly heavier 175 grain boat tailed bullet loaded with a higher pressure. The round was made to provide the machine guns with a round that would allow for longer range more accurate fire.  It    would wear the barrel quickly due to its  powder used and bullet design.  It is safe to fire in small arms but the British Army did not allow it to be used unless in an emergency.  Of course this means rifleman quickly grabbed up all the could find to use in their rifles.

The rifle  used a detachable 10 round magazine but practice was to load with 5 round charger clips. The charger /stripper clips are very good designs and sturdy.  The rifle had the usual guide lips made into the receiver for the clips and two of them would fully load the magazine  very quickly in practiced hands. Of course you can also load from the top one round at a time by hand.  Lastly you can of course swap out magazines if you have a spare one.

The rifle is another design that cocks on closing. Some like it , some don’t.   Me and a lot of other people find it very fast.  Working the bolt for rapid fire can be done very quickly. Opening  is easier since  you are not also cocking the action  and when pushing the bolt forward, you already have the momentum and speed   going.  This allows for some rapid bolt action fire with practice. One of the things the design and the British rifleman were famous for.

The safety on the No.4 is on the left side and its a  large lever easy to get to and manipulate in all conditions.   To the rear is safe.

Forward is of course fire.

As you can see above in the picture, the gun can also be cocked by pulling on the   square notched piece on the bolt.  Though it is not recommended.  This would allow carry of a live round int he chamber without the gun cocked.  I have seen some old timers who hunted with these rifle carry them in condition 2 for hunting then reach up and cock the gun  by hand.    I have  no idea why they chose to do this

The above picture also shows the two piece design of the rifle stock. The idea of a 2 piece stock bothers a lot of people and is said to not be as strong,   In this case it is not an issue. The rifle is a combat rifle meant for the roughest of handling.   It will not give you a problem as long as you don’t get hit with an 88mm.

One of my favorite part of the No 4 is it’s sights.   Unlike the forward mounted rear sights of most of it’s peers, the Enfield has the rear sight in the right spot.

The rear sight is a  receiver aperture battle sight calibrated for 300 yd (274 m) with an additional ladder aperture sight that could be flipped up and was calibrated for 200–1,300 yd (183–1,189 m) in 100 yd (91 m) increments.   This is much faster  and easier to use than the  open V notch sight of most other country’s  battle rifles and  more accurate.  This  rear large peep  sight is much like modern combat rifles iron sights and would be very familiar and comfortable even for a user only used to  modern rifles and carbines.

Folding the sight into the up position gives you a smaller peep for more precise aiming for longer ranges. The ladder with range markings is clear and easy to read and use.   And it is in yards!! not  the system used by countries that have not been to the moon.  I have done some very accurate long range shooting using this sight on this very gun over the years.  It is not user adjustable for windage since that is set by the factory and  the rifleman was expected to hold off for any wind conditions.

The front sight is a protected blade .  Two large “ears” on each side kept it safe from being knocked off, bent or broken.  Each protective  ear was slotted to allow  in as much light on the front sight as possible

Now with all those features it is time to see what counts the most. The accuracy of the rifle.   Since this gun belongs to my brother and not myself and it is in such great condition I did not bang away with it for ours using the original service round which is corrosive.  Instead I sued a couple of handload. This was to show what it was capable of  beyond  the service round for those who may want to use it for something other than killing krauts. I did shoot some surplus MKVII loads just to see what it would do .

For the hand loaded  match ammo I shot the gun from a bench with sandbags .  Each string of fire was slow fire with time to allow the barrel to cool as I did not want the heating up of the barrel and wood to affect the gun’s potential for accuracy.    I also used the smaller peep of the long range ladder sight and was able to hold in a way to get the shots close to red dots.  This was a bit of a chore figuring out where to hold odd and then making another aiming point for precise hold off while still  hitting close to the dots.  After I finished I realized the stupidity of  going through the trouble and frustration just to be able to show nice neat photos of  groups by  the  “aiming point” when I should have just shot and took a picture of the groups where ever they happened to pint.    But I like the look of a group close to whatever was ostensibly supposed to be hit.  Anyway, I’m an idiot that worked too hard in 108 degree heat.

First 5 round  group  is  the sierra HPBT  .303 match bullet.  This was some hand loads I had made up for the gun for my brother to use at long range about 14 years ago.   You can see why the sierra match kings have long been favorites of mine.  This group was fired at 65 yards.

This next four rounds group is  the Hornady 178gr A-MAX ballistic tip bullet hand loads.  This was also fired from 65 yards.  Why only 4 rounds and not 5?   Because It was all I had left after shooting up the rest trying to figure out the hold off.

This last group is 5 rounds  was the Sierra  match King HPBTs again. This time at a full 100 yards.   This was the best group fired  at 100 yards. The rest looked  about like this or slightly bigger but in my foolish pointless quest to get the group to print close to the red dot I did not take pictures of them because they were not close enough to the red dot to suit me.   I can only the guess that the reason for this stupid temporary  obsession was the  furnace like heat and what felt like 1 million gnats in my face and the 200 percent humidity.  Mea Culpa.

I had a hand full or original MKVII British ammo left over from a batch we bought back in the mid 90s.  So i used it to  shoot 300yards to see how it did.    I didn’t shoot further because I only had  300 yards available to me where I was shooting and I also wanted to see if the  sight really was calibrated to the load as it is supposed to be.

It was!

It shot pretty good as well.   I shot two targets but this is the best of the two. I would show the other one but i do not think it is fair to the rifle because of the other  10 rounds I shot at it, 4 of those rounds had faulty primer/powder ignition.   I would fire the gun, hear the primer pop the a half second later the gun would fire.  Not very conducive of accuracy.     You can imagine how the target looked. Not to mention how nervous I started to get about  the ammo.

The gun is very accurate and it helps that it is one of those mint UF 55 rifles as they are called, brought into the US in the mid to late 90s.  My brother bought it for  the Arab Princely sum of 139 yankee green backs.   Even with years of him firing surplus corrosive ammo through it , the barrel is still capable of good accuracy though it fouls out fast from the damage he inflicted on it from not cleaning it fast enough after firing the old ammo . As you can see in the following picture  You can also see the dee, sharp lands and grooves the rifles are famous for.  The lug on the right side of the barrel is  for mounting the bayonet. Also note that the  barrel of the No.4 is heavier than the older Lee Enfields which helps it’s accuracy potential.

Several years ago when a few of us here  were on a kick to see the furthest we could shoot surplus military bolt action rifles, this rifle was able to  hold it’s own  against even a K31, which is pretty impressive as the K31 with its  GP11 service round is hard to beat . It was easy to shoot the Enfield out to 700-800 yards  from prone slinged up.

The No.4  is such a good and accurate rifle that it didn’t take much imagination to  select it and turn it into a sniper rifle.  With the addition of the No.32 optical sight and a few other  enhancements the rifle became the No. 4 Mk. I (T) sniper rifle.  The rifle used the same .303 round and it was in my opinion, arguably  the best  sniper rifle of the war.   It served on even after the adoption of the 7.62mm NATO.  Even today if  it turned up on the battlefield in the hands of a competent sniper  with fieldcraft and shooting skills it would still wreak havoc and be very effective.   By today’s concept of sniping and long range precision fire it would easily compete in the DMR role at the least. Losing out only because of its lack of semi auto fire.

 

The No 4 Enfield  is in my opinion, the best bolt action rifle used in WW2 with the No.4 MK 2 being the even more refined version.   If you can find one in good enough condition to be a shooter I give it my highest recommendation.   It served the British Empire for many years before being replaced by the FAL  but  even after that it served other nations faithfully. It is fast, easy to manipulate, durable and tough , the sights are capable of very good  precision shooting at range  and it has plenty of  power in its service round.  Even with its draw backs it was still  a battle rifle that has a record of performance any other bolt action service rifle would envy.

 

Day 4: A firearm project

Started a little firearm project.  I really shouldn’t mentioned it until it is finished.  But I thought it might be more fun to give live updates.

I ordered most everything on the June 21st.  Lets see how long it takes me to get the stuff in.  I’ll give you more details as I get the parts.

Site improvements.

Time for us to upgrade LooseRounds.com.

We have a ton of good content, we are getting close to a thousand posts. But that means that much of our best work is buried away and is hard to fine. We need to make it more visible. We need a better way to help you find the content you want to read. We also need a better way where you can comment and tell us what you think.

What do you want to see in an updated LooseRounds.com?Comment on this post with your requests and suggestions.

Oh, the issue with images not being enlargeable should be fixed going forward, but we don’t way to easily fix that in the old posts.

The Suppressed M16 In Vietnam & After

“With the emergence of  the M16 as the principal infantry arm of the  US ground combat forces in South Vietnam, the  major thrust of suppressor development was centered on the 5.56mm rifle.     The USAMTU had been actively involved with suppressor testing during the course of Army revaluations.     So far as the AMTU was concerned, if there were certain benefits to be gained by field use of a suppressor-equipped M16 rifle, then fitting a similar device to an accurized rifle “offered endless possibilities” for combat use in Vietnam. ”  -Senich

While suppressed guns had been used in past wars ,their use and development during the war in Vietnam was the golden age of silencers in use as  more than assassinations or sabotage special missions.     The effectiveness of  long range fire on enemy at night or day light  with out being able to determine true range or direction  can not be questioned .  The impact of the effectiveness of  knowing friendly troops have suppressor equipped rifles even has an effect to their fellow soldiers.  “ I would see these guys from time to time, they would come in just after first light and I couldn’t help thinking how damn glad I was they were on our side” To many US troops the sight of other US combat personnel with suppressed rifles made and impression.

Even though rack grade M16s with suppressors had been issued for specialized units for covert missions  and regular forces for long range  patrols, recon, and ambush missions  no official organized program existed for fielding optic equipped suppressed M16s.  Examples of M16s with optics and suppressors are seen in many pictures, but usually this was an example of individual initiative or small  units going about it in a quasi official manner.

Official documents from as early as May 1966 show that a program to field suppressed M16s to RVN  had began. The USARV submitted an ENSURE request for “silencers for the M16A1rifle.”  Even so,  it took a considerable amount of time  before examples were sent to RVN for combat testing.

Most of the examples sent to VN for testing and use are the   US Army Human Engineering Lab, Frankford Arsenal  and Scionics inc.   After testing  it was concluded that all models did reduce  a noticeable amount of muzzle noise from the M16, they all also came with issues and an increased in cleaning.

During the testing and fielding it did not take long for users to bring up the idea of sub sonic ammunition to increase the effectivness of noise reduction.   From the book by Gary Douglas , A LRRP’s Narrative.

” I let Crowe carry my M16 with silencer. We had a number of 556mm rounds bootlegged, using low velocity powder and soft lead bullets that did make the suppressor quite effective .. The lead bullets worked fine, except for the one drawback. You had to hand cycle each round. “

Of course making sub sonic ammo is well thing the means of ammo producers  or handloaders but making sub sonic ammo that would cycle the action of  the rifle is another matter Not to mention the obvious requirement for effective terminal performance and range.    One problem encountered  was with making sub sonic ammo was the now empty space inside the case.  They found quickly that if the bore was pointed down, the powder would fall to the front of the case away from the primer resulting in failure of ignition or delayed ignition.

 “A concerted effort was made to develop suitable subsonic ammunition. However, a major problem  came as a result of the reduced powder loading.  When the M16 round was down loaded there was only a small amount of powder in the case, When the weapon was angled downward the powder showed the tendacy to move forward in the case, away from the primer and ignition was either irregular or nonexistent.  I was necessary to emply filler on top of the powder charge, Numerous substance such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, and cotton were tried; all with disastrous results. After firing a few rounds the rifle gas port and suppressor became clogged with the inert filler.” Donald G Thomas  -Scionics

The method to finally cure this was to use an epoxy inserted into the case in a way that left a small central cavity for the powder.   An effective but very time consuming and expensive.  The end result being that the vast majority of suppressors used and issued during the war  were used with standard service ammunition.

By the end of the War , the Scionics MAW-A1 suppressor was the model deemed the most suitable  and durable for  use on the M16 rifle.

The suppressed M16  became a very effective tool for operations in South Vietnam, especially for small recon  teams.  My mentor served  in a ranger company on LRRP missions in the 199th Brigade and carried a suppressed  M16.   He tells of ambushing a group of Viet Cong one night while cooking their dinner.

M16 suppressed

” They were about 5o yards away and it was  almost night . They were sitting around a fire cooking and smoking dope.   One had his back to me and I shot him in the back of the head.   He immediately fell over onto the fire and  the look on the faces of his friends was pure terror. The shock of being sprayed with their buddies head, not hearing the shot  and being stoned really took its toll Then the rest of the team opened up on them “

He was made more or less the team sniper and liked the suppressor and M16 combo.  He did say that in an emergency fight  he had to fire on full auto and at a certain point the suppressor blew off the end of the barrel and “took off like a rocket”.

The Army would take some time before getting serious about suppressing  M16 family of weapons for general or sniping use.   It went on to focus on the Xm21  system and a suppressor for it.  This  combining  762mm semi auto rifles and suppressors  of course went on to be more fully realized in the M110.

The concept of the M16 with suppressor was and is just too good to die.   The military went on to field the KAC NT4 suppressor for the M4 and MK18 carbines.   The with the more perfected idea from Vietnam of the M16 with suppressor in the excellent MK12  special purposes rifle using the  Opcs inc. suppressor.  Perhaps what many user in  the Vietnam wished for.

All of the previous systems are no longer used or being phased out of  and being replaced with  newer designs.    But the AMTU’s idea of a suppressed M16 is still as valid and useful as it was in  the 60s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT MUCH FOR FIGHTING: THE M1903 SPRINGFIELD IN WWI

NOT MUCH FOR FIGHTING: THE M1903 SPRINGFIELD

                                            OR

            HAS LOOSEROUNDS GONE TOO FAR?!

 

 

There are some US  military  fire arms that enjoy the love  and adoration  of millions of people. These guns earned a reputation from major battles and wars.   Guns that entire generations used to fight off the enemies of America large and small.  The M1 Garand, the M1911,  the M1 Carbine.  The M14…  ahem..        One of those seems to have a lure and romance about it equal to or maybe  beyond even the M1 Garand.  That being the United States Rifle, Caliber .30-06, Model 1903.  Also known as the “’03”  or  “Springfield”.

The  story of the M1903 being adopted as the US service rifle is  pretty well known to anyone who knows anything about it.  The US was not happy with the  very finely made and smooth action-ed  side loading Krag rifle and its .30-40 service round after being shot to pieces by Spanish Mausers  in the Spanish American War.  Something about being under effective long range rifle fire from the other guy while you can not return same really drives a demand for change.

The Army got together all the experts, took a look at the captured Spanish Mausers and decided  the US Army needed to be using comparable.   In fact it was so comparable that a law suit was brought about over just how comparable the 03 was to the Mauser.

After a  being adopted the M1903 had its share of problems.   A number of  Pre WW1  rifles had brittle metal and and the receivers would come apart in various uncomfortable ways while shooting. The problem was figured out and fixed eventually but it is not advised to risk shooting any “low number” M1903.

 

After getting this squared away the rifle  then went on to glory and ever lasting fame in the hands of Doughboys like  Sgt York ( maybe.. maybe not reports vary) and the USMC and its marksmanship skill.  Official accounts of Marines mowing down Germans from long range with their rifles  tell of great marksmanship with great rifles and images are every where os snipers using the  03 for the dawn of modern sniping.       Though it was  the standard service rifle it was not the most widely issued and used rifle by the troops. That was actually the M1917.  But even though the 03  was still the rifle most coveted by the US troops.  As  said by Cpl. Mike Shelton: “What we really wanted were Springfields.  They were the best rifles in the war”.

But were they?

 

The 1903 is a fine, fine rifle  with beautiful lines.  It handles like a dream compared to most of its peers and was accurate enough to be used to the US team int he Olympics.   This makes for a beautiful military bolt action rifle.

 

It has a very finely adjustable precision rear sight  and blade front sight.  When folded down the rear sight is the open V notch and very small.  When extended the rear sight has a tiny peep sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation.  The adjustment was so fine it was capable of very precise adjustments.  When using a sling  while prone on a nice sunny day  at Camp Perry a rifleman could  show what the 1903 could achieve.    The story of the Farr cup trophy and why it has that name is a great example of just what can be done with the sights of the standard M1903.

Those things  are all that great  , but not for the combat of WW1.

The  rear sight in on the front of the receiver. Too far away for best most efficient use.  Trying to look through the tiny  rear aperture was useless in low light.  And the light  didn’t have to be all that low to make it impossible to use.    The rain and mud of the trenches and battlefield could find its way into that peep.     The front sight blade was  too small and easily  damaged.  Low light also renders it difficult to see.  The front sight was so easily damaged that a thicker blade was used by the USMC and a protective hood  was used.   This did protect the front sight but it also allows a little less light  in.  It also capture mud into the hood and front sight assembly.   That being a common thing with all hooded front sights.

The rear sight’s  fine precision adjustments are just that.  Finely  made with micrometer like precision.  And slow. Very slow to use.  The marksmanship of some units like the USMC was at  a high enough standard that the rifleman could adjust their rear sight for outstanding long range precision fire on enemy infantry and machine gun positions.  But this was not  as often done as many make it seem.    Adjusting the rear sight for precise long range fire on moving targets at undetermined distance  while under rain and with  mud covered hands as artillery fell around them  made using  the long range sights a daydream for most.     The rear sight does have an open notch for faster firing and and closer range  but it is small and not easy for anyone with less than perfect vision. This sight was set for 547 yd (500 m), and was not adjustable.  Not very useful for ranges most likely encountered when  time is critical .    It also had the problem of not being well protected.   Something the sights on a battle rifle need to be in such an unforgiving environment.   Later  on the M1903A3 rifle had  a  more simple peep sight on the rear of the action closer to the eye.  The peep sight was better for most infantry engagements and was an improvement over the original.

The M1903 had a typical for it’s day safety lever.  It would be easy to complain about how slow it is to use if you need  to fire quickly  it was common.  Other Bolt action combat rifles of the day had similar systems and a few had a fast  and some what more natural  feeling system .

One  thing the military thought it needed was a magazine cut off.   This little bit of  brilliance was a lever that when activated would not allow the action to feed from the magazine. This would require you to load a single round by hand or flip it to allow magazine feed.  The idea was you would fire and load one round at a time while keeping the internal magazine in reserve for when you really needed it and had no time to single feed by hand.   This supposedly  would save ammo.    Either way it is always a dumb idea.  It was dumb when it was on the Krag and it was dumb on the 1903.  Especially since it could be unknowingly engaged.

None of  of the things certainly deal killers or mentioned are deal killers or make the rifle useless by any means.   The M1903 is a beautifully made gun and wonderfully accurate.

There is a reason for that old chestnut about service rifles from WW1. “The Germans brought a hunting rifle, the British brought a combat rifle and the US brought a target rifle.”

Now looking at the other option carried by US rifleman in WW1.  The rifle at the time not as well admire but more widely issued and used.  The M1917.

The M1917 was a rifle being made in the US for British troops in  .303.   When the US entered the war it did not have enough 1903s and there was no way to make enough in time.  The decision was made to tweak the  .303 rifle into using the .30.06 service round.   This went off easily and the gun became the M1917 and was issued.

While it is heavier, it is built like a tank.

The magazine held one more round than the M1903.   The safety was a lever on the right hand side.   Much easier to quickly disengage.

The rear sight  is positioned much closer to the eye  and has a nice peep  with a fold up sight for more precise longer range shooting.  A great feature is the huge “ears” on each side that protects the rear sights from damage,

Another  part of the M1917 that aids in fast action for combat is the action.  Unlike the M1903 the M1917 cocks on closing.  This may not seem like much  of a difference but it is.  In rapid fire  it is much easier to work the bolt and cock it while rotating the bolt down with the speed and momentum of forcing the bolt forward then turning down opposed to cocking while lifting the bolt handle.  The dog legged angled bolt handle is also very usable despite it’s oddball look.  This allows for a very fast operation.   It is also a feature of other British bolt action designs like the Lee Enfields. The MK 3 and MK 4s are very fast and smooth.   British troops famously practiced rapid long range volley fire using their rifles  and a technique of working the bolt and depressing the trigger with their bottom two fingers of the firing hand as soon as the bolt closed.   A company of British troops firing in this manner could  wreak a larger unit a long range  and was an effective way to compensate for lack of machine gun support.

The M1917 has recently started to  get the respect it deserves, it still does not have the   admiration or mythical status of the M1903.

Luckily most of the things  that make the M1903 less than idea for comabat were addressed in later models.   AS I mentioned the M1903A3  corrected the rear sight issues with a peep sight that was simple to use and  more suited for ranges most firefights  really  occur.      It wasn’t made with the same aesthetic care and old world craftsmanship as the M1903 but it worked is  really the better gun if you had to take one to war.

The M1903 served several roles in its career and is much respected.   In some of those roles it was everything you could ask and more In others not so much.     As a sniper rifle its  target rifle accuracy , handling and trim lines really made it shine.

 

 

It served as a sniper rifle  into WW2, Korea and even some in Vietnam.  The Army opted for using a  4x weaver with the M1903A4 while the USMC  adopted and used the Unertl 8x optic.  A deadly combination that  produced many  Japanese widows. As seen below a team of USMC sniper on Okinawa.

Today the Springfield still  enjoys a status as  a real classic.  A real icon of US military Arms.  It’s accuracy being the stuff of legend and its full powered 30 caliber round  will always be unquestioned in it’s ability.       But, its original classic M1903  incarnation  never saw  nearly the  amount of combat as many believe and it was certainly not the best bolt action of the war.   It wasn’t even the best Mauser action combat rifle of the war.

Just like the M14, the original issued M1903 was. not much for fighting.

 

 

 

 

North Hollywood Shootout

A few years ago, I ran across this image .  It is a display  of the weapons and gear the two bank robbers from the North Hollywood shoot out used.     It is interesting to think back on how things changed   because of this.

I remember a lot of talk after it about how the CA cop’s 9mm and 38 spl   handguns and 12 ga shotguns, weren’t effective against the robber’s boy armor.    A fact that makes me wonder why, decades later  the 9mm has  become the  miracle baby of LEO once again.

 

 

Approximately 650 rounds were fired by police at the two robbers.  No doubt mostly from their service handguns.  Once officers armed with rifles showed up , the fire fight was over  one way or another.

That  estimated 650 rounds though.  That is something to think about.   While the robbers were heavily armored, their heads were not.      I have over the years wondered  about how none of the officers on scene  made a head shot.   Did they not have the skill? Or was it lack of confidence in their ability ? Maybe they assumed  they had some kind of armor on their heads? You can see they  made many center mass hits.   Of course having two guys hosing you down with .30cal  is not the best time to try to take a head shot.

But the fact is, you may some day very well need to take a head shot. Either because it is the only target you got or because it is the only thing vulnerable.

It is pretty clear the police officers on scene were rattled and demoralized by being vastly undergunned.

An officer was heard on the LAPD police frequency approximately 10-15 minutes into the shootout, warning other officers that they should “not stop [the getaway vehicle], they’ve got automatic weapons, there’s nothing we have that can stop them.”

 

You can listen to the audio from the fire fight here.

The firefight ended the only way it could.  Both of the dirt bags Tango Uniform.    One suck started his M92 and the other one taken down by leg shots and bleeding out before an EMT could get to him.   Too bad for him.   Now a days I am sure the state of CA would lock up the officers for not doing more to save the animal’s life.

image

After this shoot out we read about how things changed in the police departments across the country. This was one of the factors that led to the  police starting to look more and more and act more and more like the military.   And with that the more tax payer money spent on paying for it all.     Then we see the recent FL  school  attack were the police were close to useless. I see police who can barely qualify with their handguns.

Again, you have to be ready to take care of yourself in an event like this.    You have to  have the skill to make a fight ending shot.  Or   you need to be able to  realize that even with great skill. you may not do any good in an event like this.    If a customer was in that bank after the robbers went outside and started up the TET offensive would it had been a good idea to come out behind them and  try to take a shot, even a perfect shot, once the police were there and not knowing who was who?   Yes if you wanted to avoid ever having to worry about anything ever again.

There are a lot of things that can be learned from the North Hollywood  Shootout.  Not just for the police but for military and the rest of us lowly peons who simply  do not rely on the state for our safety.

You can read a mountain of info on this famous,  world changing event.    I am not going to try my hand at any kind of in depth reporting on the event but you can read more here at this link.

https://projects.dailynews.com/north-hollywood-shootout/

Figures of the North Hollywood shoot out suspects, Larry Phillips, Jr., and Emil Matasareanu as they were dressed on the day of the Bank of America robbery at the Los Angeles Police museum in Highland Park. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

 

Hunting Nostalgia

I posted this picture a few years ago and like some of our older posts, the image got lost int he change over to the new improved  website. I ran across it again today while looking for another picture on my laptop.

I like this image a lot.   There was a time this stuff was  pretty well be state of the art.  I think any outdoors man would have been proud of this  spread.   Kinda sad that those days are gone.   Not that I would want to give up our modern guns, but  the simplicity of going out hunting in jeans and flannel.  Not a 300 dollar charcoal lined scent proof gortex jacket to set in a 40 foot high tree stand  over a feeder full of corn.    When I was a pre-teen, some of this stuff was still pretty common  in the part of the country I live.  Though it’s days were numbered.      So, since we all know I am a fan of this era of shooting and all its accessories and related, I thought I would  share the picture here again.