Tag Archives: NFA

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.

 

My guns, Colt 733 upper

For a while now I have thought about posting about my personal firearms.  Wasn’t quite sure how I should approach the subject.  I’m going to start with my Colt 733 upper.

Above is an old picture, below is a picture taken today.

Sometime about 2004-2005 CMMG got in a bunch of trade in Colt 733 uppers and sold them cheap.  I thought about getting one, but waited, and missed out.

A few years back I saw a police trade in 733 upper for cheap, so I bought it.  Then, of course, I found a nicer one for sale cheaper.  So I bought that one also and sold the first one.  This upper in these pictures is that second 733 upper I had.  It is great that I can keep multiple uppers laying around and swap them out as I see fit.

The Colt 733 has a lightweight 11.5 inch barrel with a 1:7 twist.  Fixed A1 sights and a brass deflector (often called a C7 upper).  The bayonet lug is shaved.  It came with the Colt 6 hold “CAR” hand guards (as opposed to the wider/taller M4 hand guards).  This makes for a very lightweight upper.  This configuration is so light and handy it feels like a toy.  It was also called the M16A2 Commando.  They have been used in a few movies like Black Hawk Down and Heat.

The only change I’ve made to the upper is that I replaced the A1 rear sight with a vintage military low light sight.  The A1 rear sight has 2 peep apertures set for different ranges.

These old military M16 night sights were meant to be used with a Promethium 147 night front sight.  This system was obsoleted with out a replacement.  The large aperture opening is larger than an A2 rear sight, and is on the other side than an A2 sight.  So you flip it the other direction as an A2 sight.

I like to think of my firearms as “combat ready”.  But realistically many of them, such as my 10/22 are not really any where near that.  But this configuration can fire modern high performance ammo, and make the hits when I do my part.  This 733 short barreled rifle is something I would feel confidant to use in a fight, but it would be far from my first choice.  Given the choice, I’d rather have an optic.  If I could only have one AR, it would not be this.  But I’m not limited, so this is a fun gun to have.

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.

 

 

 

 

M203 9″ vs 12″ barrel velocity

B.L.U.F.:  Negligible difference in muzzle velocity between the 9 and 12 inch M203 barrels.

About 2 years ago I decided I was going to buy a M203.  I had the extra cash and realized if I didn’t then, I never was going to.  Not to mention I had wanted one for years.  I searched out dealers in my state that had one in stock, and both dealers that I found wanted about $400 over MSRP.  MSRP being about $1600 for a LMT M203.  I went to my local NFA dealer, talked to them, and they ordered me a M203 and sold it to me for far less than MSRP.  Dealer made a profit, I saved a good bit of money, we both were really happy.

Still it took a while.  Took a long time for my dealer to receive in the M203, then with the 43P changes making things confusing for me, and the like, it took about 2 years from when I decided to buy a M203 to when I was able to take it home.

I tell you, going around and telling all my friends that I own a M203 was worth the cost and weight right there.  The fact that I get to shoot it just icing on the cake.

I ordered a standard mount M203 with a 12 inch barrel, while I waited I picked up a 9 inch barrel.  Really glad I did.  Also got the LMT stand alone stock for it.

Now to cut down on the rambling, I will get to the point.  I was recently contacted by someone from AR15.com forums asking about muzzle velocity on the M203.  Military manuals claim that the 14.5 inch barreled M79, the 12 inch barreled M203, the 11 inch barreled M320, and the 9 inch barreled M203 have the same muzzle velocity.  That seems a little hard to believe.

The muzzle velocity is said to be 250fps.  So, I have both barrel lengths and a chronograph so it is easy enough to test.  I fired a chalk round though each barrel length.  Lot Number on the ammunition is MTL13G614-034.  The Chronograph was set about 10 feet in front of the muzzle.  Rounds were fired into a 50 yard berm.

These training round consist of a zinc “pusher” base, a blue plastic cap filled with chalk.  The case is polymer with a .38 blank inserted into it.

From the 12 inch barrel, I got a result of 238.6 FPS.

For the shot from the 9 inch barrel, it was 233.5 FPS.

Now a sample size of 1 shot from each barrel is far from statically relevant.  But with only a difference of 5.1 FPS, I’m ready to call the difference between the two barrels negligible.

The picture doesn’t show it well, but these training rounds are horribly dirty.  Crud, sealant, unburned power, and all manner of gunk are left in the barrel after a single shot.

In any event, shooting a M203 is fun.  Little less fun shooting off the bench.  I used to own a .45-70.  I loved shooting that gun off hand, but when I shot it from the bench it would recoil straight back and be rather uncomfortable.  The M203 is similar.

M203 Information

I was asked by someone on AR15.com to find some information about the M203.  I am posting it here so it will be available for everyone.

I weight a 9 inch and 12 inch barrel on a precision scale.  Both barrels had grease on them which I did not clean off.  I can’t tell you how much the grease threw off the measurements, but this should still give  you a fair comparison on weights.

The 9 inch barrel is 14.7 oz, or 416.6g.

The 12 inch barrel is 17.54 oz or 497.5g.

It makes me think that since the 12 inch barrel is so close to 500 grams that may have been a target weight for the barrel.  When I first put the 12 inch barrel on the scale it said 500 flat, but when I moved it and wiggled the barrel it ended up settling down to 497.5g.  So in the end, the 9 inch barrel is about .18 pounds lighter than the 12 inch barrel.

LMT M203 with unknown brand 9in 40mm barrel.  LMT Stand Alone Stock, Daniel Defense Front Sight, and unknown rail mount leaf sight.

Also, the Army says that the muzzle velocity of the M320 is 236.22 fps, and the M203 is 250 fps.  But I don’t know what barrel length they are referring to in that.

WTF Autoglove?

So I was just informed about the “Autoglove”.

Picture taken from their website, click on the picture to visit their website.

It is a glove with some sort of electronic plunger to press a firearms trigger for you quickly.

First, stuff like this goes to show how stupid our gun laws are.

Secondly, you have to be impressed with how the free market will come up with a solution to any perceived problem.

Third, I am very curious if this will actually be approved by the ATF or not.  Previously they did not allow for the electric actuating of triggers.

I wouldn’t recommend this thing to anyone.  I believe you would quickly see shooters lose control of weapons with it.  What we really need is this unconstitutional NFA act abolished so silly law work arounds would be unnecessary.

Springfield Armory’s Forgotten AR-15: The XM15

Despite what several gunwriters are claiming, the Springfield Armory Saint is not their first AR-15 rifle. Their first was the XM15, introduced circa 1982-83. However, Springfield has very good reasons to try to sweep the XM15 under the rug.

Springfield Armory XM15 wood furniture
Here’s a vintage 1980s gun magazine advertisement promoting the Springfield Armory XM15 and its optional wood furniture.

It appears that in 1983, Springfield (or their fraternal sibling Rock Island Armory, Inc.) wrangled a ~$900,000 FMS contract for 2,000 “M16-type” rifles to El Salvador. For those who don’t remember, RIA specialized in Title 2 NFA items, while Springfield focused on Title 1 firearms. Dennis Reese was president of Springfield, while his brother David was president of RIA. This 1984-vintage Washington Post article notes the Springfield rifle contract, along with some other questionable FMS contracts to El Salvador.

Colt caught wind of the XM15 contract and unleashed their lawyers against Springfield and their parts suppliers. Springfield Armory and Colt ultimately settled the suit in September 1984. While the majority of Colt’s patent rights should have already expired by the early 1980s, Colt’s argument was that Springfield and its suppliers were using Colt’s proprietary engineering drawings to manufacture the parts. It is my understanding that Springfield was permanently enjoined from selling their existing XM15 rifles. Moreover, Springfield could not use Colt’s proprietary drawings and information in the future manufacture or sale of AR-15/M16 rifles, unless Colt was later determined to have lost its trade secret rights.

While the decision in Colt Industries Operating Corp., Firearms Division v. Springfield Armory, Inc., 732 F. 2d 168, (Fed. Cir.) was unpublished, you can find mention of the suit in a series of related cases involving one of Springfield’s suppliers, Charles Christianson. Christianson fought back against Colt for several years, with one appeal even hitting the US Supreme Court.

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 609 F.Supp. 1174 (1985)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 613 F.Supp. 330 (1985)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 798 F.2d 1051 (1986)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 822 F.2d 1544 (1987)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 486 U.S. 800 (1988)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 870 F.2d 1292 (1989)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES, 766 F.Supp. 670 (1991)

Christianson appears to have been sourcing his parts primarily via Colt’s Philippine licensee Elisco, as well as certain Colt subcontractors within the US. However, I also have circumstantial evidence that the South Korean licensee Daewoo was one of Springfield’s other suppliers. According to an old GAO report, Daewoo allegedly tried to sell 12,500 spare parts worth ~$127,000 to an undisclosed US company in 1983. The GAO stated that this sale was halted due to legal action by Colt against the US company.

In 1989, Dennis Reese plead guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy, and filing false statements regarding their FMS contracts with El Salvador. There were accusations that Reese had conspired with a US military adviser (Col. Juan Lopez de la Cruz, US Army) and bribed him to the tune of ~$70,000 to help grease the skids for a $3.7 million contract. They reportedly falsified claims for $94,600 in sales commissions to a pair of Salvadorans, who then kicked back the majority to Reese. Reese also told the Defense Security Assistance Agency that the Greek Portuguese-vintage HK G3 barrels they were selling were of US origin. Reese was granted immunity to testify against the Col. Lopez; however, the latter was ultimately acquitted.

However, the US Justice Department was not finished with the Reese family. In 1990, David Reese and RIA were indicted by a Federal grand jury over the illegal manufacture and transfer of machine guns. The Feds alleged that RIA had sold 148 M60 with serial numbers recycled from transferable Title 2 weapons bought from John Stemple and Kent Lomont. The following link is one of the court decisions resulting from the RIA indictment:
U.S. v. ROCK ISLAND ARMORY, INC., 773 F.Supp. 117 (1991)
.

RIA Ad - November 1982
This RIA advertisement ran in a popular gun magazine’s November 1982 issue.
RIA Catalog - 1982
Here’s a page from a 1982 RIA dealer catalog showing off their XM15 rifles, uppers and other parts.
Springfield XM15 Ad - April 1983
This is one of the first Springfield Armory-branded advertisements for the XM15. It appeared in a gun magazine’s April 1983 issue.
Springfield XM15 Ad - September 1983
Note that the prices have changed in this Springfield Armory advertisement from the same magazine’s September 1983 issue.
RIA Catalog - 1984
This 1984-vintage dealer flyer from RIA notes their settlement with Colt over the XM15.

Two M231 Port Firing Weapons Or How Bad Can You Want Something Complete?

About 10 years ago the ARFCOM  retro forum had not become the price driving monster it would end up.  During that time it was still still possible to find some pretty rare parts on ebay and various places.  Some of those parts could be made into a full weapon minus the lower of course.  That is the goal for most of the retro builders. Ideally they want all original parts they can get to finish the gun. A lot of people manage to piece together a gun by finding all the correct parts. Obviously I am leaving out the full auto lower, but when I say all, I mean everything but that lower and whatever other parts that would risk crossing the absurd rules.

What really sticks in the craw for a lot of people, is getting 90% there. Ewww that has to burn!   You get something super rare and cool and you just can not wait to post pics of it all over place at the gun prom!  But. You just can’t. Get. It. All!    So what do you do?  Give up?  Sell it all off to some other guy who still has a hope of  finishing it up?

Nope. You go online and find some one who knows a guy who knows a guy and just have the parts you need made from scratch of course!.

oijoijSo now we come down to the “rest of the story”.    The two guns shown are of course Colt M231 post firing weapons.  An oddball from a period of time where the military wanted to  have something to fire from the side holes of a Bradley.  You can look up the details yourself but it basically a M16  simplified down and with a really high cyclic rate meant to be used from the Bradley.  There are a few variants of it but one in particular more or less stands as the standard model as far as looks and recognition goes.   A guy who ended up becoming a dear friend came on the retro forum one day after ending up with a hand full of M231 parts from some auction and wanted to finish it up as it was not something being done at the time. He was really stuck on a couple of parts that seemed to be impossible to find and was out of options or ideas.    I happened to wonder into that thread and after seeing the  almost finished weapon, really got hot to see it completed.

I contacted my friend who is a skilled machinist about the possibility of making that part for  the arfcommer.   After some emails and back and forth the project was on its way.

The major hold up for the arfcom retro guy was the gas block  that was also that part that hooked into the vehicle.  No one could find measurements or  even a picture to show it from all angles and sides.  Some found some specs some where and I sent it on to my machinist friend.   Just using pictures found online that no one took for the purposed of making a copy of it and eye balling it, my friend came up with a plan.  Below is a picture of a real one and the fake one made up by my friend, who has made an appearance on this website a few times over the years.

sdfsdfEveryone has heard of the 10 foot rule or some version of it.   Well most will agree that if you have never handled a M231 yourself and even if you did you likely never cared, this copy would most likely pass the 10 inch  test for anyone other than people very , very familiar with it

You can see the places where the fake , faked it.   Mostly this is a result of making a copy from pictures.

m231a

In this case, the length of the barrel gives it away. The real M231 upper has a slightly shorter barrel. The longer 16 inch barrel is used as the variant with stock, makes for a legal carbine. Real M231 upper with shorter than 16 inch barrel is a “Pistol” so as not to have to get into NFA laws.

The machining to make that gas block took a few months and trial and error.  Some experimenting had to be done with the gas system and gas tube.  A gas tube had to be cut down by the machinist and a one of a kind gas system made.  We tested fired it one night  and it was feeling of real accomplishment.

oipoipoipoi

The gas block above is pictured in the white.  The machine shop my friend worked at did not have an ability to park’ it and the owner received and and sent it off to be finished in the appropriate shade  for retro looks.

it was a lot of effort to pull this off. I did not mention that I and my friend live in Ky and the owner close to the other end of the country so much phone calls and emails , shipping and a lot of effort by guys on Arfcom retro forum went into getting this thing together. It tunred out pretty good I have to say.

Of course it was all kind of a waste because a month or two after it was all completely a real completely M231 came up for auction on gun broker and the owner of the M231 bought the complete upper.  If he had only waited !    It was all worth it regardless. things were learned, some one worked on something at work he was not supposed to. life long friends were made and some esoteric M16  retro parts skyrocketed on ebay ever after. Good times had by all.

Bellow I am posting some more picture of the oddities M231 parts. Most are the major parts that are a hang up for any one pondering putting one together.  At the time, I recall some other machinist was making copies of some of these parts.

Colt's Semi M16A1 and XM177 Coming Soon

002

Here at the NRA show, Colt is also showing two new AR15s coming in a few months.   The plan is to release to new and different semi auto versions of classic vintage  rifles with a plan to release two different rifles every year for the next 10 years .  Above is a picture of the first two vintage rifles that will be out in coming months.   First is the M16A1 ( semi auto of course) 603 correct in all ways save for the full auto parts.  The carbine is the immediately recognizable Xm177 that some know by its more slang name of CAR15.   The xm177 has the fake moderator attached permanently to make the barrel 16 inches and to comply with the pointless ATF rules keeping it from falling into NFA  territory.

A lot of attention and work is going into make these guns accurate as possible and high quality. Below is  the stock for the CAR15 in the early stages, showing it as a piece of aluminum. The stock will not be the later synthetic version.

026

I could not get better and closer pictures of the guns since they are on a rotating display. Fact is they fooled me into thinking they were the military original versions.   The attention to detail is impressive. No doubt much to the agony of retro part ebay  sellers and the boys at the retro forums.

barrack hussein o's new EO super duper gun safety orders

FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities

Gun violence has taken a heartbreaking toll on too many communities across the country. Over the past decade in America, more than 100,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence—and millions more have been the victim of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun. Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place. Over the same period, hundreds of thousands of other people in our communities committed suicide with a gun and nearly half a million people suffered other gun injuries. Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been shot to death protecting their communities. And too many children are killed or injured by firearms every year, often by accident. The vast majority of Americans—including the vast majority of gun owners—believe we must take sensible steps to address these horrible tragedies.

The President and Vice President are committed to using every tool at the Administration’s disposal to reduce gun violence. Some of the gaps in our country’s gun laws can only be fixed through legislation, which is why the President continues to call on Congress to pass the kind of commonsense gun safety reforms supported by a majority of the American people. And while Congress has repeatedly failed to take action and pass laws that would expand background checks and reduce gun violence, today, building on the significant steps that have already been taken over the past several years, the Administration is announcing a series of commonsense executive actions designed to:

1. Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks. Continue reading barrack hussein o's new EO super duper gun safety orders