C-more Sights/Colt Optics

For a while during the 90s, Colt  and Cmore sights worked together to bring to market optics for Colt rifles and pistols as well as some competition parts for M1911s.

The first year these optics were introduced was 1997. This is the same year the Colt Accurized Rifle  CAR-A3 HBAR Elite was introduced ( CR6724).   The CARA3 as you can see above, was pictured with a tactical 10x optics with Mildot and target turrets.  By all accounts it was a very nice optic. Though now the idea of a fixed 10X optic  wouldn’t find much favor with discerning shooters.  The rings and mounts available for most users of the  flat top AR15s of the of the day left much to be desired.  At this point in time, few civilian shooters did not have many options available to them.

The 10x was an optic I hunted for years to acquire and have still not found one.   You can see blow its features.  An adutable objective lens, tactical/target turrets and plenty of internal adjustment for longer range shots.  In the inserts can be seen a spotting scope and three smaller optics  more suited for hunting.  I have never had my hands on any of these.

Being Cmore was the maker of the optics it is no surprise that they also offered their most well known AR15 optical sight with the colt name.  Pictured below is the the red dot/A2 rear sight combo.  If you want more details about this sight Howard has already written about his earlier this year. While not the Colt branded one it is more or less identical.  While I have seen the Cmore sight before, I have never seen the colt marked units.

 

You can see the cantilevered version below.  Also are two other smaller optics. One a carry handle mounting optic that brings back memories of the original 3x and 4x Colt scopes and a 1x-5x variable power illuminated reticle  scope. The “ring and dot” is very likely to be similar to the system used on the leupold  MK AR 1x-4x optics.  The 1x-5x  seems a little ahead of its time  since now a days a variable power optic in low magnification with  a dot has become the current hot choice for carbine optics.   I would love to find one of those.

You might be asking right now”did these ever hit the market or were they just advertised vaporware”?      Good question and It would be reasonable to think they never sold.  They did though.  I have  seen at least 3 pictures in the last 10 years of shooters  who posted them online who have the 10X  optic  and a couple others.    Here is an image  I saved years ago of one of the 10x optics up for sell.   Too late for me to buy it of course.   Sad panda.       It seems there was either a change to the 10x optics at some point before it was discontinued or there was more than one version of it.  As you can see below this one is slightly different and doe not have an AO.

Sorry to say I don’t have much more info on this stuff for you.   I wish I did.    I will update if I turn up more.

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.

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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.

Market

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!

benelli_b76.pdf

COLT COBRA PART 2 ACCURACY REVIEW

 

Last time in part 1 we took a look at the gun.

COLT COBRA REVIEW PART 1

Now we are going to take a look at how accurate it is.  I won’t bother saying anything about reliability, it is a double action revolver after all and one made by Colt so it obviously will work.

I shot a variety of  commercial factory loads  for accuracy at 25 yards.  The Buffalo Bore plus P load being one of the best.  It was also one of the hottest.  While it shot great it was not a pleasure to shoot out of a small compact revolver.

I tried this 90 grain lighter load in anticipating that a lot of users of a gun this size would buy loads that may mitigate recoil.   It wasn’t a tack driving load but it is certainly  pretty decent.   I would carry it and use it inside the ranges I expected  I could make a hit under pressure with a snub nose.

 

The next was the Hornady critical defense flex tip, 110 grain bullet. Another lighter load.  Again, it shot pretty good.

The worst of the ammo I tried  was the Winchester super X.  Not gonna set the world on fire.

I’m not going to lie,  I have never been much of a wheel gun shooter and even less of a snub nosed revolver guy. The lighter guns surprised me how tiresome it can get shooting for groups with stiff loads.  I was happy try this reduced recoil self defense load from federal.  It shot great too.   The best group picture blurred and already tossed the target,  but here is the second best group.

 

I had a few rounds of this Fioocchi some one gave me a few months ago.  I fired all ten rounds  offhand at 25 yards at the head just to use them up.  I was dumbstuck at how well it shot and how well I shot on double action off hand.  May be because I was relaxed and did it just to goof.     But, surprises  do happen if you shoot enough long enough.  I wish I had  more of this ammo to   shoot another group from the bags.

 

 

Lastly, again because I aim to please, the 10 0 yard target.  I fired these from a rest, but not bags, at a man sized-ish  target to see what  all CCW guns could do if pressed into having to make a critical longer range shot.  Ammo was the stiff Buffalo Bore +P round.

 

A few notes.   I need more time to get uses to the revolver sights.  I am used to a back sight like a Novak  or BOMAR. The trench in the top strap with front sight is something I keep shooting too high with.   I would really have to work with revolvers with this sight set up for a while to get used to that if I intended to carry it.   Using +P ammo in a small frame revolver, even in 38spl  gets hard on the hands after a while, rubber grips are a must for me anyways.

The action of the Cobra is very slick  and smooth.  Lovers of the mythologized python would no doubt like the action of the Cobra. I have never shot a revolver on DA  as well as I have this one.  It is a nice  compact gun that I can find no fault with if you are looking for one to CCW or just to buy cause you like 6 shooters.  For a closer look at the gun, its finish and craftsmanship, refer back to part one in the link above.

OPTIC OF THE WEEK Leupold VARI-XIII TACTICAL 3.5x-10X

This scope has a lot of history.   Leupold made these in the 90s and for a long time, it was the standard scope that came with the Remington M700 police sniper rifle package sold to countless LE departments across the country.    The scope is the  Leupold VARX-III 3.5x-10X tactical with mil-dot . It has a one inch tube and  comes with the target turrets used on most target and varmint optics from that time.

Adjustments are 1/4 inch per click with  60 clicks in one full rotation.  Being a leupold, the adjustments are solid, repeatable and accurate.This scope is over 20 years old and it has not failed me.  The turrets have set screws that can be loosened to reset the turret to have the index line  and the “0”  line up  where you want to set it.  You can also remove the turrets and replace them with a large version that can not be covered by the turret protective caps that screw on and protect the turrets. If you don’t like either of these, leupod will install the M1 tactical turrests for $130 yankee dollars.

The scope comes with the tactical mild dot reticle.  The glass is clear as is usual for leupold.

The power is 3.5x at the low end and 10x at the max end.  The power ring is also marked like all variX-IIIs in that you can use magnification and the reticle to range a target within hunting distances. Not needed with a mil-dot, but  was marked anyway.

 

It is a long way from the ultra modern long range tactical optics found today with its once inch tube and  no side focus knob or illuminated reticle. It does have enough internal adjustment for long range shooting.  It has a reticle that is useful still especially for those of us older guys who grew up with it and not the various christmas tree reticles now popular.    It is a tough and dependable optic so much so that I still use it on my MK12 MOD1 and have no plans of replacing it.

Mounted on the most excellent Larue SPR base it is a favorite combo for me.   If you see one some where used at a good deal I give it my highest recommendation.  Even if its too”cold” or not tactical enough for you, or you are ashamed to show it at the gun prom it would still serve you perfectly in any thing you see fit.

 

 

 

SO, WHAT DID HAPPEN TO UNERTL OPTICS?

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.

3D Printing Guns

I can’t seem to listen to the news with out hearing people say stupid things about the threat of 3D printed guns and how much we need laws to stop this.

This so very stupid on so many levels.

First, it is legal to build your own gun.  Doesn’t matter how, you can.  A push to make 3D printing guns illegal is likely to be used to try and make all home made firearms illegal.

Second, 3d printing sucks for manufacturing firearms.  It would be quicker and easier to drive down to the hardware store, buy some plumbing, and use a drill press to make a gun.  But 3D printing technology is getting better and better.  There is a rumor mill that part of the firearm industry is pushing for these laws to help prevent them from having competition.  I really hope that is false.

You can buy an AR15 for less than $400 right now, you’d be hard pressed to find a $400 3D printer that isn’t garbage for making precision parts.

Ultimately, this is about power.  Some of our politicians want to give them selves the power to regulate speech and information.  They are using fear tactics to get people to support the government censoring information.

Childrens School Book Bag Protection from Gunfire

Today I am reposting another article from 4 years  ago.  A lot of our older stuff gets over looked because it keeps getting buried under an ever growing mountain of new content.  A lot of newer readers probably aren’t even aware of some of the good stuff we have done in the past. Some of it even useful !   With school starting back this month I thought it a god time to re post this one.  Yes, It is some what of a lazy cop out today but some times it can’t be helped , or as the Japanese say, “shikata ga nai “.   I am working  on time intense articles all week for the new daily content and they can sometimes be labor intensive  and time consuming. To avoid radio silence every one in a while you get to read something from the “looserounds greatest hits/golden oldies.

It is a dangerous world out there, and as uncomfortable as it is to think about, the current state of the country means not every one is armed to step up to defend the most helpless among us.  With that in mind and the recent  atrocities, we decided to do some testing on something often suggested as a means for children to protect themselves in case the unthinkable happens and no one is around with a gun that could otherwise stop the threat.

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IMG_3697

You may have heard or read about the idea of kids using a book bag as a means to trying to stop a round from an active shooter. I have even read some talking about bags lined with soft armor.  After my tests last year of seeing what common rounds would do inside a house, and the difficulty or even rifle rounds penetrating books and some tests shown on Best Defense years ago by Rob Pincus, I can attest to the ability of books to stop about any rifle round.

For the test, we filled a pack with some real text books. from a relatives left over college semester. and some magazines to simulate a note book of just paper.  Nothing else was added, not soft armor, or plates sewn in to give it any more help to stop a round. This was meant to see how it would do if books and some nylon was all you had.

Rounds used were 5.56 in M193 and M855, 9mm using NATO ball and .45ACP ball as well as 12 gauge 00 buck, slugs and the ever popular ( though absurd) birdshot.  Five rounds of each got fired into the bag to see how it would penetrate.  We could not set the Q target against the bag without knocking it down or tearing it every shot, so we settled on setting it a few inches away.  The test was not meant to show any blunt trauma, just penetration. Again, for those who will complain.. this was not scientific, nor does it prove anything as a hard fact, thought we feel it is useful and gives plenty to think about.

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First up. was 9mm ball, NATO pressure ammo, Fired from about twenty feet, as if the victim was running away. We later found even contact shots had the same result.  the 9mm failed to penetrate beyond a few inches of book and barely moves the bag.

IMG_3706

One manages about  3 inches, but most stopped inside the book. We fired another five rounds of 9mm to the same result. Those that did not stop in the books deflected at harmless angles. We both expected better performance since the hotter 9mm load is often touted as being a decent round for penetration.

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Next up was the .45ACP 230 grain ball ammo. Shot from the same distance

IMG_3719

Same results from the 45 with just a little deeper penetration into the books but with more damage to the books by this point. The bag did flop and move more violently, and for a second we thought one may have gotten through, but, once again, nothing got anywhere close.

IMG_3722

Above you can see the results of the .45ACP ball rounds on the books. Several 45 ball rounds were found in the books with almost no deformation.

Next up was the 5.56 fired from standard 16 inch Colt 6920 with 1/7 twist barrel from the same distance as the pistols.

IMG_3728 IMG_3723

To my absolute not surprise at all. Nothing got even close. Equally ineffective was the M855 round.  Both rounds fragmented inside the books and nothing big enough to even speak or was recovered once we started to sift through the remains of the bag and books.

IMG_3738 IMG_3740

Next we fired the 12 Gauge with the 00 Buck. Looking at the pictures with no back ground it may look impressive, but the pictures out of context tell a lie.  The dead center hit was from one of the pellets going high and missing the books in the bag. Sure this would happen in real life, but the point was to see what would make it through books being used as protection. Obviously a head shot would render it all a wasted effort, but that is not the point of this test. The other “hits” resulted from deflection. The buck hit the books, flattened and deformed and went around and out the sides. There was no real penetration. I am not really sure how to label this in contest of the test since none of the made it though the protective layer of books proper, but hits did get on paper.  Something to think about, and it may be a fluke because of the harder book covers and thickness, Obviously there is not real way to predict anything a round will do after it hits anything other than air.

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Next up was the punishing police slugs from the 12 gauge. five rounds from the same distance as the rifle and pistol. Nothing at all on paper. The bag sure looked like it felt it though. Damage to the body even from the slugs not making a hit  would be significant in my unlearned medical opinion. But I suppose it still beats getting a 12 gauge slug through the back.

IMG_3755

Lastly was every moron’s favorite home defense shot gun round. Birdshot. Nothing even got mush past the nylon bag, but as soon as the shot hit the hard cover book, they all deflected. lost most of its energy and followed the inside of the bag around an came out the other side, I guess you could call it a “hit”, though the pellets did not even go all the way through the cardboard, and did not even do much to the books. The shot did scatter everywhere once hitting the harder books and then deflecting.  Since it did not penetrate even the soft cardboard, I have no idea what it would look like on a human. My guess is the skin would be broken and some bleeding and pain, but not enough to kill a grown person, though it would still be terrible on a kid.  Of course the further away the person got from the shooter, the even more useless the bird shot would become. Another 20 feet and maybe safety glasses would be all you needed after a shot to the books and bag, but still its something to consider.

IMG_3756 IMG_3759 IMG_3763

After testing the pistols and rifle rounds again at contact distance and seeing the same results, I took the books apart and we sifted through the remains out of being curious. The closer fired 45 rounds seem to deformed a bit but not much, no fragmentation to be sure. Even less from most of the 9mm, I believe most of the damage to both was from fired rounds hitting already embedded buck shot or other bullets.  The lead buck and slugs became blobs of every shape and size  with the 00 buck flattening out but still looking in some what original condition while the slugs looked to have suffered great damage.

 

Could you use a bag full or books for a last ditch protection? Absolutely. If you had nothing else and got caught in the open, you sure could do worse,  Children should be taught to try to use the bags for cover, maybe even being coached to snatch a loose one up and wear one on the front and back while trying to make an escape if possible if it was not so heavy it impeded speed.. Stack books behind a door or desk being used to hide, turning it into cover would also be a great idea. The ideas are many and I will leaver that to the people more qualified than I am to advice you on your kids protection.  But, just like strategically placed books and shelves in the home to protect you from gun fire, the books in a pack will do the same if it came to that

My M203

I don’t know when I started wanting a M203 Grenade Launcher, but I’m pretty sure I wanted one right after I first saw one.

About three years ago I had a little extra cash in my pocket and I realized that if I didn’t buy a M203 then, I probably never would.

The M203 is a Destructive Device and requires annoying special paperwork to purchase.  Not that long ago the paperwork requirements changed and make it a little harder to purchase a M203.  I decided I would purchase one before these 41F changes.

Well, I wasn’t so lucky, took me a long time for the launcher to get to my local dealer, then a long time for the ATF to clear the post 41F paperwork.  But after about 2 years I finally got it.  I had shopped around local dealers and the only ones that had it in stock were charging about twice MSRP for a LMT M203.  I couldn’t find any other brands at a reasonable price.  I ended up buying from The Bullet Hole in Sarasota who special ordered it for me and got me a good deal.  I’m very glad I purchased from them.

I once saw a comment, it went something like, “The M203 is the most versatile useless thing you could own.”  There are a wide variety of rounds and subcaliber ammunition available, but all are for specialized purposes and are mostly useless for the layman.

One of these grenade launchers can also fire shotshells, flares, baton rounds, smoke round, CS rounds, chalk rounds, flash bangs, cameras, and a variety of other stuff.  But as I said, those are generally useless for the layman, not to mention rather expensive per round.

For example I purchased some chalk training rounds.  I paid about $7 a round shipped.  I believe I will be able to reload them for about $2 a round.  Not very cheap to shoot, but also something you wouldn’t be shooting very high volume with.  I purchased some 12 and 20 gauge adaptors allowing me to fire shotgun shells, but the M203 makes for a very awkward slow single shot.  I’ve been keeping an eye out for sales on other specialty rounds like flares and the like.  I want to get some, but I don’t want to spend $50 a piece for them.

My favorite part of owning a M203, and quite possibly the best part of owning a grenade launcher is being able to tell people I own a grenade launcher.  I get asked, “What are you going to do with a grenade launcher?”  To which I reply, “What ever I want, cause I own a grenade launcher.”

Ultimately I recognize that my M203 is just an expensive toy for me.  That is why I like having it on it’s own stand alone stock.  Mounting it on a rifle really means I am adding 3 pounds of dead weight to a rifle.  That said, the M203 needs a mount to be used so I purchased the KAC QD mount.  This lets me quickly mount this on a rifle should I want too.

The M203 is something I really don’t need, but I am really glad I bought it.  It is nice to have some fun guns.

 

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 weaponsman.com.   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 weaponsman.com 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 GlobalSecurity.org. Note that the stock on the A3 is more commonly like the one shown on the A1.

From GlobalSecurity.org. 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.

M1903A2_Ord18292

  • 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.