Today I decided to do another post about things I have run across or crosses my mind. Like the first time I did this it will be images I found interesting or noteworthy.
First off is a first. Serial number 1 Colt model of 1911. It doesn’t get any more historic than that.
On that note, here is a colt recently shown by RIA. A great example of the gunmaker and engravers art.
This is an interesting picture I ran across on a facebook page about the Vietnam war. A soldier that is a radio operator who seems to not have liked to the idea of not carrying anything. But the part that sticks out is the “sniper rifle”. I don’t think it is a Model 70 based on the shape of the stock and rear sight. It may be a M700. An optic has been mounted to the gun by some one. In this case the optic appears to be the m84 optic originally put on the sniper variants of the M1 Garand. Some did end up being used on M14s during the war when sniper rifles were urgently needed.
More on sniper stuff is this SOF cover of a kinda well known image. Taken during the invasion of Iraq, it’s a USMC sniper team. I have always liked this picture. It really gives us a look back on how much has changed since then. Changes in guns and gear has been rapid since things started in 2001.
Seems the russians have a interesting way of training prospective snipers.
Jerry “Mad Dog” Shriver, MIA in during the Vietnam war while on a cross border top secret operation. I think everyone who would come to a site like this has heard of him. A few months ago on one of the militaria collectors forum shared something he was able to secure from Green Beret Shriver’s mother.
The dress uniform may or may not have been worn by the legend. It was used at the funeral service for Shriver. An empty casket as real life action hero’s body has never been recovered to date.
Above is the picture of 1 carbine owned by another legend. The gun was owned my Audie Murphy and given to a friend. the mags are still taped up the way Murphy had them with the same ammo it came with when gifted to his friend.
Last is a bit of humor I ran across that gave me a good laugh.
Lately my mind has been stuck on Vietnam war era sniper optics and rifles. Friends keep asking me about the subject and it has come up a lot this month. It is an evergreen topic for most people interested in US martial arms , sniping and long range shooting anyway so I thought I would touch on it a little more today before my longer article on the Unertl 10X USMC sniper optic some times next week( hopefully).
I like to think most of our readers are already familiar with the M40 and Redfield 3x-9x optics since I’ve covered it a few times already. When the M40 came from Remington originally the rifle. the optic and mounts were all marked with the same serial number. Remington had very carefully zeroed the optics to as to nearly bottom out at 100 yards with only a few clicks lefter over. This gave the scope its 40plus minutes left over and allowed the scope to dial up to shots at 1,000 yards. Of course once the guns got to Vietnam, things got taken apart and mixed up and precious kept the scope/base/gun matching. As a result most of them could not be dialed up to 1,000 yards. Or much past 500 really. Below is an example of how things got mixed up.
The Redfields were had a range finding capability. The reticle was standard crosshairs but there was also a range ladder to the right side with two extra horizontal stadias. As you can see below the idea was to adjust the zoom ring until the two top stadias fit with the top on a man’s shoulders and the bottom on his belt. The ranger scale would then show the yardage. The redfields ranging scale and measuring stadia worked well with the average measurements of an adult asian male. Now if that was done on purpose or not I have yet to find out. One you had the range you could either dial in the DOPE ( usually never done as it took too much time) or you held off. This system was also incorporated as part of the US Army’s ART system used on the XM21. But that is another day. Word has it few Marine snipers used the scope’s ranging ability very often. The range finding stadia and ladder often melted when the sun came through the objective lens after a relatively short amount of time so care was taken to keep it covered or out of direct sun. Because of that a lot of the scopes are minus the range finding ability.
And here we have a picture of The Master Sniper himself with the M40 he used on his second tour as a scout sniper. The picture is noteworthy not only for being who it is but for he gear he is carrying. What Hathcock carried with him on most missions has been recorded multiple times. He noted many times he usually took nothing more than his rifle, binos a belt with two canteens, a pistol, a poncho , a knife, a compass and a bandoleer of 30cal match in cloth bandoleer tied around his waist. This was done in case he had to drop his pistol belt to run, he still had “all he really needed.” Yes, a gun and some ammo is truly the only thing Hathcock really needed if you had the idiocy to chase him through the countryside. The rest he carried in his pants cargo pockets. Here is is wearing the M56 belt with what appears to be two M56 ammo pouches, a flak vest and his NVA pack. I found it interesting that Carlos appears to have a lanyard attached to his 1911. Hathcock wears his signature 3rd pattern ERDL jungle fatigues and his boonie with his white feather in it laying on his back.
Here is a photo taken from where Hathcock took perhaps his record breaking 2,500 yard shot. If you have seen this photo before else where claiming that is Hathcock in the image beside the gun, it is not . That is SSGT Roberts, his spotter on that mission and the picture is from Carlos’ own collection so I think he knows who was in the picture. You can see the 8x Unertl mounted to the M2 Browning he used to make his famous shot and the terrain beyond. Perfect position to make a shot like that.
Back to the 3x-9x sniper Redfield. Few seem to know but it was also used on the M2 browning.
Back to the Unertl 8x for a bit. The scope is forever tied to Carols in the minds of many when it comes to USMC sniping and of course the gun Carlos used in his first tour during the time he made most of his most celebrated accomplishments of combat sniping. Below is pictured a real USMC Model 70 sniper rifle with USMC contract Unertl 8x. I’m sure many younger people would look at that and see ancient gun tech and wonder how they did what they did with it. Truth is even today that combo would wreak havoc as a sniper rifle in capable hands.
The Unertl was used on the model 70s and the M2 browning, but some imaginative snipers managed to mount it on other rifles they wanted to snipe with. I’m don’t think I need to say how much I would love to try that out.
The Mil-Dot reticle used by the USMC was made by Premier reticles and sent to Unertl to be installed into the Unertl 10X USMC sniper scope. Below is a tray of the mildot reticles ready to be shipped out to J. Unertl.
As the Korea war rages in 1952 and A captain in IX Corps Ordnance and veteran of infantry combat during WW2 in the Pacific , William S. Brophy recognized a total lack of US Army sniping equipment and marksmanship compared to its current and future needs. In an effort to reverse some of this and educated units in the field he visited several units to discus with and educate the on sniping equipment and tactics.
At this time the Army had the scoped m1 rifle as their standard sniping rifle. This system limited the sniper to a range not much greater than 600 yards. To demonstrate what a skilled marksman with proper equipment could do and to hopefully get the Army to pay serious attention, Captain Brophy bought at his own cost a Winchester Model 70 “Bull gun” in ,30-06 and Unertl 10X target optic. The Winchester rifle listed as the “bull gun” was a target gun with heavy target stock and 28 inch heavy barrel.
Brophy using his rifle and skill developed during a career in competitive shooting was able to register several Chinese communist kills. The reaction to his ability was quick and people began to take note. However it was still the usual position of the Army that the weapon was not durable enough for combat use. Brophy and the selected men who used the rifle to demonstrate what it could do and endure did finally get the Army to seriously consider the Model 70 as a sniping arm.
Ultimately it was decided that it was not desirable to inject a special rifle into the supply system with a requirement for match ammo for it. Oddly enough over the coming years in Vietnam match ammo which was earlier labeled too hard to supply to troops in the field was readily available to snipers so much so that not one ever said that concern for having enough match ammo never crossed their minds.
The Model 70 was not the only effort then Captain Brophy put forth to improve US Army sniper ability. While out sniping with the Model 70, targets appeared beyond the range of even the match .30cal sniper rifle . To remedy this Brophy had the barrel of a Browning .50cal aircraft model machine gun mounted to a Soviet PTRD 14.5mm antitank rifle. A butt pad and bipod were also added as well as a 20x Unertl optic.
With this set up, Brophy and his team was able to make several Communists into good communists. Hits with the 50 were recorded at ranges from 1,000 yards to 2,000.
This rifle went on to inspire several other of its types with different barrel and scope combinations. This attempt at a longer range sniping arm no doubt was one of the predecessors to today’s Barrett M82. Below Brophy demonstrates one of the 50 cal rifles in Korea to higher officers.
The concept of the 50 caliber sniping rifle was further developed by the AMTU and Col. F.B Conway. Later attempts used optics such as the ART scope system and even a Boys Antitank rifle.
And of course one of the more more famous early 50 cal sniping systems.
In these early attempts , accuracy of the ammo was the main problem holding back the weapons. Standard service ammo was the only thing available for use at the time.
Colonel Brophy passed away in 1991 and left behind an amazing record of accomplishment as a shooter, an Army officer who served in WW2, Korea and Vietnam and writer of many definitive books on US small arms.
After college I worked for a man who really became a mentor to me when it came to precision shooting, I had been shooting for all of my life of course, but he was the person who is responsible for most of my knowledge of precision hand loading for extreme accuracy, Bench-rest shooting, proper cleaning methods for match barrels, a taste for vintage target /varmint rifles and optics and most of my knowledge about firearms history from the early 1900s up until about 1990. He had been a national bench rest shooter, he tested prototype rifles from Ruger, was one of the testers of the rim fire ammo used by the US Olympic teams in the 70s and earl 80s and even had a few wild cats rounds to his name among many other things.
Above is my mentor and friend shooting a heavy varmint Model 70 Winchester in .243WCF using a 12x Unertl sometimes in the mid 80s.
I got to hear a lot of stories from his past over those years and one of my favorites is this story from his boyhood.
He grew up and lived all of his life , not including a few years in the Army with 18 months of that in Vietnam, in a small town in WV named Stollings, which is just a couple of miles from Logan, WV. From his office window I could see the famous Blair mountain. If you don’t know, Blair mountain is the site of the Battle of Blair Mountain. If you don’t know about that, here is some text about it I ganked from Wikipedia. My friend was also paid by the state to help identify fired cases and gun parts found on the mountain while searching it for historic items some years ago.
“The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest labor uprising in United States history and one of the largest, best-organized, and most well-armed uprisings since the American Civil War. For five days from late August to early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, called the Logan Defenders, who were backed by coal mine operators during the miners’ attempt to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired and the United States Army intervened by presidential order”
As a side note. Blair mountain is now history itself. The mountain is gone since it has been stripped mined. Like most things in Southern WV, Logan WV in particular , if the local politicians can get a kick back from it, then history be dakjed
It was a rough area in those days and was through his childhood and honestly it still is. I live and have lived in KY my entire life, but o very close to the border of WV. The Matewan massacre , which you may have heard about or seen the movie, happened only about 20 minutes drive from me, and the entire area was the stomping grounds of the Hatfield and McCoy feud.
I said all that so you can see how wild the area was for some one born in 1948 and had to grow up there. Many places in the outskirts of the town he grew up in was full of less than honest businesses. One of those places of less than high moral standards helped him earn money for ammo.
In Stollings at the time he was about 10 years old there was a building that was like a small hotel. Two or three stories and multiple rooms. The entire building was more or less a brothel. One part was used as a small bar. The occupants of the building would set any garbage out back before some one would come collect it for disposal and this of course drew in rats from all over. It didn’t take long for a population of rats to grow out of control.
My friend some how worked out a deal with the owner of the brothel for his services. So, every summer day my friend would walk down to the area and wade across the little creek and set up on the opposite bank. He would lay there with his Winchester model 1904 and shoot rats all day. At the end of the day he would cross back across the creek and collect up all the dead rats. The owner would give him 25 cents for every 2 rats he killed. He would use that money to buy his 22 ammo and soda and snacks all summer long.
As you can imagine, he had a lot of fun with that rifle and made a lot of good memories with it. I asked about it after hearing this story and sad to say, he told me about it’s fate. When he went off to Vietnam, his younger brother got it some how. His idiot brother decided he wanted to mount a scope to it and in typical Hilljack fashion,found some kind of mount meant for side mounting to a receiver. His solution was to take nails and nail the side mount to the stock on the left side of the gun below the action. This did exactly what you would expect it would do and split the wood and ruined the gun. Having ruined it, the brother just tossed it into the garbage.
I have have been on the lookout for the same model on an off over the years since he told me this story. If I ever find one in good shape at a reasonable price I intend to buy it for him.
When I first read this, it was like the same gut punch when I learned Kevin had passed. I am glad his brother and family have given his friends and fans a chance to have something to remember Kevin by, Something tangible, But. Seeing that large collection of guns,Kevin’s collection of CZ weapons, accumulated over years in support of his effort of writing a book on the subject of CZ weapons, now being sold off sort of finalizes it for me I guess. He is gone, Now his guns, being sold off to the four corners, scattered about. All the stories and memories that went with them lost. The feeling is certainly something Roy Batty would be familiar with.
If you knew Kevin or you are a fan and admire the man, now is a chance to give some of his guns a good home in honor of the man. I bought a small rimfired rifle from the estate earlier and it will hold a place of honor in my collection until I am gone I’m sure. Below is the post with all weapons being sold listed and where to buy them. Now I think i will go mourn Kevin a little more this evening.
It won’t shock you to know that Kevin had a lot of firearms, firearm accessories, knives, bayonets, swords and other military memorabilia.
As we have been cleaning out his house to get it ready for sale this fall, we are selling most of his collection on consignment through Original Bobs Shooting Range & Gun Shops in Seabrook, NH and Salisbury, MA (http://originalbobsshootingrange.com).
This means you have a chance to get something to remember him by. All of these items are for sale NOW or in the near future. Some of them may be gone already. Please contact Original Bob’s or MAC Tactical directly if you are interested. Remember, MAC only has the Class 3’s – everything else is at Original Bob’s.
At the bottom of this post will be a list of his firearms. Original Bob’s has a lot of other items and knows what comes from “The Collection of Kevin O’Brien.”
Now before you ask, yes, I am keeping some of his stuff. But there was never a possibility that I would keep any weapons. I’m not a “weapons man” myself and I would prefer to see his weapons and related items in the hands of people who would enjoy them.
Some of the other most personal items have been distributed to his closest friends. Just the other day the helicopter chair (remember that?) left Kevin’s house for its new home in the Lakes Region of NH. It now belongs to a good friend who served with Kev. Other stuff that honestly holds no sentimental value is going to be sold at an “estate sale” on Saturday, September 9th. Most of his books are going to team members and friends.
I’m keeping all the airplane parts, all the tools, all the “active” computers, a few oddities (did you know Kevin had a recumbent bike?) and a few practical items. I am keeping his diplomas and other military records, his dress uniform, beret and dog tags.
But that leaves a lot for Weaponsman readers, if you want. And somebody else will buy and enjoy whatever is left!
Here is a list of firearms:
Pistol – Astra (Spanish) Model 100 Special pistol w/ Asian markings SN 8862
Pistol – Astra Unceta Pocket Pistol SN 294895
Pistol – Bauer .25 ACP SN 13141
Pistol – Belgian New Model type 1 Melior Pistol w/ holster SN 4028
Pistol – Bryco Arms Model J25 pistol w/box SN 536456
Pistol – Colt (CMC) M1910/72 .380 Model SN A3166
Pistol – Czech “Z” r6.35 mm SN 249700
Pistol – Czech (little Tom) .32 Pistol SN 30941
Pistol – Czech (Little Tom) 6.25mm (.25 ACP) SN 26854
Pistol – Czech 45 Nickel plated & engraved SN 89325
Pistol – Czech 75 compact, P-01 cal 9mm Luger SN B798603
Pistol – Czech CZ 45m proofed 1946 SN 30200
Pistol – Czech Jaga Model Pistol w/holster SN 5550
Pistol – Czech Model 1922 9mm SN 16947
Pistol – Czech Model 1936 w/holster SN 18615
Pistol – Czech Model 27 SN 568818
Pistol – Czech Model 50 7.62 cal w/mag SN 678961
Pistol – Czech Model 50/70 w/2 mags SN C59705
Pistol – Czech Model 52 pistol with holster SN D13662
Pistol – Czech Model 70 VZOR .32 ACP SN 652090
Pistol – Czech Model 83 SN 2846
Pistol – Czech Praga Model 1921 SN 10024
Pistol – Czech Type 52 pistol VOZ 77 78 SN EE13370