Tag Archives: Winchester

Winchester WW II Victory Series Ammo

Several days ago Winchester  unveiled and add for one of its new “collectors”  ( gimmick) ammo  series. This one centered around WW2.  I saw this advert on the MidwayUSA instagram account and screenshot it.   The, being the chump I am, ordered some.

It is pretty nifty.  It comes in a little wood box  with various designs and artwork on it.   Nothing new as winchester has issued  special runs of ammo in little wood boxes like this often over the years. Usually in .22long rifle.     Inside the wood “ammo crate” is a  brown box down up to look like  a box of ball ammo  that gives off military vibes and nostalgia with all the extra decoration.     It was only 24 yankee  greenbacks for  the 50 rounds. Of course what you are really buying is the containers. Or that was the case for me anyway.    Below are pictures I took of both boxes for your gratification.   I felt it was worth the 25 as I am a sucker for this sort of think as you all know by now.

The outer wood box.

Inside of the wood box is the  brown paper box.  The top of the wooden container just slides off.

I think it’s  a cool little run with some nice throwback artwork.   I’m not going to shoot the ammo so no report on that. It will just set with the mountain of older militaria and firearms related nostalgia stuff I accumulate.

Winchester Model 52

The Winchester Model 52.  One of the greatest rifles of all time. Some even have called it “perfect” in the past.  I don’t know if it is perfect but it comes about as close to it as I would want in a rimfire target rifle that comes from a factory.     The M52 was made in a time when manufacturers still made  stuff mostly by hand. Especially when it was prestige or target model.

The 52 came out in 1919 and was used in the national matches that year and it was an instant hit.   The original models, often referred to now as “As’ or Pre As”  looked more like  a training rifle for the military ( which it was meant to be) than it looked like most people’s concept of a target rifle.   It went on to be refined over the years before it was discontinued.

The two we are going to look at here is the model52 “B” and “C” variants.

The differences in the two variants is slight.   The triggers are different designs, the barrel band is slightly different than the stock has minor differences but they would not really have been different enough for Winchester to bother to note  them as different models in catalogs at the time.

The top rifle is the “C” and as you can see, it has mounted on it a 20x power Unertl combination rifle scope. The Unertl/Fecker type optics attached to the guns via target blocks that are screwed to the barrels.  You can see see the target blocks the optics mount to  on the barrel of the lower rifle. I will have more on the Unertl in a few days if it as caught your attention

All rifles would accept all of the popular target iron sights of their time. Usually something made by Lyman or Redfield.   The lower gun has mounted Redfield  Olympic competition ironsights. The rifles take a standard 5 round detachable magazine that is removed via the mag release button seen on the right side.

The rifles have an accessory rail on the bottom of the stock forend.  This allowed attachment of the front sling swivel and the  combination handstop/sling swivel seen on both guns.  This was for shooting with sling in matches.  The rail also would accept  other items for use off hand standing,    The pattern of stock is known as the”marksman” stock and was used  on the Model70  national match  andd Bullguns. It was so well thought of that it continued on into the early 2000s but as a synthetic model made by HS-Precision with a bedding block and pillars for the heavy varmint line of Model70s.

The barrels are  heavy contour match barrels. When I say match I do mean match. They have a flat 90 degree target  crown  and you can see the target block  for placing the olympic  front sight with either globe of post.

Accuracy testing the rifles was done with the 20x Unertl on a rest. All groups were fired at 50 yards.

 

As with center fire rifles,  rimfires have their favorite loads.   If you want the best out of your rimfire,match ammo is a must and not the high velocity stuff.   A well known phenomenon is that  a 22 rimfire will shoot better of damp days.   For further accuracy  I recommend a Niel Jones rimfire headspace gauge for measuring rim thickness for consistency and weighing live rounds into lots.

http://www.neiljones.com/html/rimfire_gauge.html

rimfire

Both guns were shot with a variety of ammo in five shot groups.

 

I won’t give any commentary  about the groups pictures and will allow readers to view them  all sine each group has ammo type used noted.

As you can see three different people  fired both guns using a large range in ammo. The Eley Edge and Federal ammo being the  best performers across all three shooters and both guns.   No surprise there.   The Fiocchi  320  was a surprise to me though.  My friend who purchased mentioned that only that lot shot that well. That identical boxes of a different lot shot terribly.  That is why you always test  your zero when going to a new lot of factory ammo. Especially if  you are a Police sniper.  Even if you are not, it is very prudent to check zero and accuracy when you use a different lot of the same ammo.

The Winchester Model52 is another great American classic. If you are into vintage target rifles or you want a rifle you could do well with in any local match , you can’t go wrong with a M52.

 

Colonel William S. Brophy & Sniping In The Korean War

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.

A BOY AND HIS RIFLE II

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.[3] 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,[4] 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[5] and the United States Army intervened by presidential order”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Blair_Mountain

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.

What’s so special about John Moses Browning?

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

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

 

Himself.

Himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Born to the Trade

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

Jonathan Browning Revolving Repeater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prolific Output

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

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

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

Master of the Toolroom

The Browning workshop, back in the day.

The Browning workshop, back in the day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living and Timing

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

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

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

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

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

Inspiration and Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

About Hognose

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

Vietnam Sniper Study

Today’s article is a repost  from   our  deceased friend Hognose, owner  of Weaponsman.com.  Kevin, AKA Hognose passed away last year and as an ongoing tribute to his memory and excellent work we repost the  his works to help preserve it. 

Vietnam Sniper Study

In 1967, the Army got the idea to study whether, how, and how effectively different units were using snipers in Vietnam. They restricted this study to Army units, and conventional units at that; if SF and SOG were sniping, they didn’t want to know (and, indeed, there’s little news either in the historical record or in conversations with surviving veterans that special operations units made much use of precision rifle fire, or of the other capabilities of snipers).

Meanwhile, of course, the Marines were conducting parallel development in what would become the nation’s premier sniper capability, until the Army got their finger out in the 1980s and developed one with similar strength. The Marines’ developments are mentioned only in passing in the study.

Specific Weapons

The study observed several different sniper weapons in use:

  • ordinary M16A1 rifles with commercial Realist-made scopes. This is the same 3×20 scope made by Realist for commercial sale under the Colt name, and was marked Made in USA. (Image is a clone, from ARFCOM).

realist11

  • Winchester Model 70s in .30-06 with a mix of Weaver and Bushnell scopes, purchased by one infantry brigade;
  • two versions of the M14 rifle. One was what we’d call today a DMR rifle, fitted with carefully chosen parts and perhaps given a trigger job, and an M84 scope. The other was the larva of the M21 project: a fully-configured National Match M14 fitted with a Leatherwood ART Automatic-Ranging Telescope, which was at this early date an adaptation of a Redfield 3-9 power scope. (Image is a semi clone with a surplus ART, found on the net).

M21 ARTR

The scopes had a problem that would be unfamiliar to today’s ACOG and Elcan-sighted troopies.

The most significant equipment problem during the evaluation in Vietnam was moisture seepage into telescopes. At the end of the evaluation period, 84 snipers completed questionnaires related to their equipment. Forty-four of the snipers reported that their telescopes developed internal moisture or fog during the evaluation period. In approximately 90 percent of the cases, the internal moisture could be removed by placing the telescope in direct sunlight for a few hours.

The leaky scopes ranged from 41% of the ARTs to 62% of the Realists. The Realist was not popular at all, and part of the reason was its very peculiar reticle. How peculiar? Have a look.

Colt realist 3x20 scope reticle(A later version of this scope, sold by Armalite with the AR-180, added feather-thin crosshairs to the inverted post. The British Trilux aka SUIT used a similar inverted post, but it never caught on here).

The theory was that the post would not obscure the target, the way it would if it were bottom-up. That’s one of the ones you file away in the, “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” drawer. Theory be damned, the troops hated it.

The use of the rifles varied unit by unit.  Two units contemptuously dismissed the scoped M16s, and wouldn’t even try them (remember, this was the era of M193 ammo, rifles ruined by “industrial action,” and somewhat loose acceptance standards; the AR of 20145 is not the AR of 1965). The proto-M21s came late and not every unit got them. It’s interesting that none of the weapons really stood out, although the NATO and .30-06 guns were the ones used for the longest shots.

None of the weapons was optimum, but in the study authors’ opinion, the DMR version of the M14 was perfectly adequate and available in channels. The snipers’ own opinions were surveyed, and the most popular weapon was the M14 National Match with ART scope, despite its small sample size: 100% of the surveyed soldiers who used it had confidence in it. On the other hand, the cast scope rings were prone to breakage.

The biggest maintenance problem turned out to be the COTS Winchester 70 rifles, and the problem manifested as an absence of spare parts for the nonstandard firearm, and lack of any training for armorers.

Looking at all the targets the experimental units engaged, they concluded that a weapon with a 600 meter effective range could service 95% of the sniper targets encountered in Vietnam, and that a 1000 meter effective range would be needed to bag up to 98%. (Only one unit in the study engaged targets more distant than 1000 m at all).

Snipers were generally selected locally, trained by their units (if at all), and employed as an organic element of rifle platoons. A few units seem to have attached snipers to long-range patrol teams, or used the snipers as an attached asset, like a machine-gun or mortar team from the battalion’s Weapons Company.

An appendix from the USAMTU had a thorough run-down on available scopes, and concluded with these recommendations (emphasis ours):

Recommendations:
a. That the M-14, accurized to National Match specifications, be used as the basic sniping rifle.

b. That National Match ammunition be used in caliber 7.62 NATO.

c. That a reticle similar to Type “E” be used on telescopic sights of fixed power.

d. That the Redfield six power “Leatherwood” system telescope be used by snipers above basic unit level.

e. That the Redfield four power (not mentioned previously) be utilized by the sniper at squad level.

f. That serious consideration be given to the development of a long range sniping rifleusing the .50 caliber machine gun cartridge and target-type telescope.

(NOTE: It is our opinion that the Redfield telescope sights are the finest of American made telescopes.)

Note that the Army adopted the NM M14 with ART (as the M-21 sniper system) exactly as recommended here, but that it did not act on the .50 caliber sniper system idea. That would take Ronnie Barrett to do, quite a few years later.

Rifle_M21_2

The Effects of Terrain

Terrain drives weapons employment, and snipers need, above all, two elements of terrain to operate effectively: observation and fields of fire. Their observation has to overlook enemy key terrain and/or avenues of approach. Without that, a sniper is just another rifleman, and snipers were found to be not worth the effort in the heavily vegetated southern area of Vietnam.

In the more open rice fields and mountains, there was more scope for sniper employment. But sniper employment was not something officers had been trained in or practiced.

The Effects of Leadership

In a careful review of the study, we found that the effects of leadership, of that good old Command Emphasis, were greater than any effects of equipment or even of terrain. The unit that had been getting good results with the Winchesters kept getting good results. One suspects that they’d have continued getting good results even if you took their rifles away entirely and issued each man a pilum or sarissa.

Units that made a desultory effort got crap for results. Some units’ snipers spent a lot of time in the field, but never engaged the enemy. Others engaged the enemy, but didn’t hit them, raising the question, “Who made these blind guys snipers?” Sure, we understand a little buck fever, but one unit’s snipers took 20 shots at relatively close range and hit exactly nothing. Guys, that’s not sniping, that’s fireworks. 

The entire study is a quick read and it will let you know just how dark the night for American sniping was in the mid-1960s: there were no schools, no syllabi, no type-standardized sniper weapons, and underlying the whole forest of “nos” was: no doctrine to speak of.

Vietnam Sniper Study PB2004101628.pdf

Vietnam Sniper Study

About Hognose

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

The Inland MFG Custom Carry M1911

I been waiting on this gun for a while.   After testing the Inland USGI clone M1911A1 I had  been impressed.  I had seen this model in media release material and after the performance of the stock Inland I was  really curious to see how an Inland done up as a fully modern pistol would do.

I have had this gun for nearly 6 months as I write this. I kept it and waited so long to write about it because I wanted to really be hard on it.   It is more expensive than the 1911s I usually write about.  If you have been reading this website a long time you will know that I even don’t normally go for 1911s that  start going over the 1500 dollar mark.    My philosophy with the 1911 is  less than about 800 or more than about 1600 and as a rule,  a lot of 1911s will give you one set of problems or another.   Too cheap speaks for itself.  Too high and you get into finely tuned special purpose guns that can’t take WW1 trench conditions  no matter what the maker may claim.  With a few exceptions of course.  Heirloom precision, Derr precisions,  guns that are mil spec but have something else about them that drives the price up like coatings,  engraving or rarity.   Now you may not agree with me at all and I am sure many will  but I have been using the 1911 for 30 years now and in my personal experience, 1911s that cost over 1600 dollars and are made by medium sized companies that make “custom production” 1911s , usually will give problems.   Bigger established firms can make ones that work fine and the small  artists like Jason Burton does but the in between places I pass on.    That is one man’s opinion  from experience only.

Now the Inland gun is one of those made in the middle ground  I just mentioned.  And, being  in the “custom production ” class  that sets off my 2nd warning flag.   After spending a fortune on ammo, I can say to you it’s good to go.  It  is as good as the M1911A1 USGI clone with match accuracy.

So lets get to it.

The gun is what it says and  with all the features that implies.  As seen above the frontstrap is checkered with aggressive well done checkering.  That bad camera angle makes it look uneven for some reason but its not.

main spring housing  has matching checkering and is flat and not arched.  The grip safety is the upswept beaver tail with the memory bump to insure you depress it.

You can see the single side extended safety.   I really like the part as it is close to the safety that is my personal favorite.   Just to see what would happen, I removed it and tried 5 different colt and USGI  safety locks and all dropped in place.   That is a good sign in my opinion.  I like my 1911s to  meet or approach the milspec requirement to have interchangeable parts.

The magazine well has a very slight bevel.  That is one thing I did wonder about. I am not a big fan of extended beveled wells but a to of people are.  If you buy this gun you will have to add your own.

You can see  the other features of the gun.   Competition style skeleton hammer, Match trigger that really does break like a glass road and is  lighter than my own guns. Front and rear slide serrations which I love and prefer on guns like this.  A full carry dehorning and no slip grips.  The one bad thing was it came with a full length guide rod which isn’t too bad but it was the two piece part.   I asked why it had the full length guide rod and was told the first guns didn’t and so many people complain wanting it that Inland added it to appease the complainers. That baffles me because I was under the impression it had finally fallen out of the fad but apparently there are still a lot of people that like it for its looks or because they think a custom  or competition pistol is “supposed” to have it..     I replaced the guide rod with a personally owned  GI  part after my first session shooting it.   I fired 15 wilson 10 round mags through it non stop  with no oil to see how it did and at the end noticed the two piece rod  had unscrewed itself.   Don’t use two piece full guide rods people. Barrel is the same match barrel used in the USGI model and is fitted to match spec without being over  tight.   Lastly you can see the standard ejection port work common to all modern carry guns.

Rear sight  is black novak style with a wide notch.

Front is matching flat black wider  blade.  These sights work great for me   and are fast to use.  Both can be drifted out with a punch if you want something else.   I would leave them be myself.

Now on to  how it shot.     I fired all but the last group from  sandbagged position from a bench.  Temp outside was 11 degrees.

As usual the speer ball ammo  is pretty lackluster no matter what its used in.  But I include it because it is common around here  and a lot of people buy it for plinking.

Above is the Winchester personal defense load that is basically the black talon bullet not coated black and sold every where.  It always does well  for me  and this gun was no different .

Here above we have the other NOT -black talon,  but the “ranger T”  which is a black talon +P load  in the winchester ranger police duty load. And of course for those who don’t know it is once again the black talon bullet just not black.

Best group fired with my handloaded Hornady 185 grain jacketed semi wad cutter match bullet.

Above is the most expensive group fired.   This is my carry load of  corbon 185 grain +P   solid copper hollow points.   Very accurate and effective.  I can’t recommend this load or the Barnes  version of it enough. You can also buy the same load marketed under the Colt Brand ammo I  and a various other specialty brands.

Below  is a group fired with my personal  favorite ball round, the winchester 230 FMJ which always seems a bit more accurate than other bulk buy  ball ammo for general use.

 

Lastly  we have the 100 yard long  range shot  by request.  As I mentioned before, the long range shooting  was requested by reader who was also a fellow visitor to Weaponsman’s blog who wanted to see some one  give  users an idea of what carry guns could do if  ever  the need  became a requirement  in a self defense situation or other emergency.   It instantly became a new standard policy for me to test such things.  It is something you should think about and try to test the limits of your own carry guns  and ability because it is something that very well could save your life or stop some kook like we have seen recently.

Group was fired at 100 yards. I did not use a full sand bag bench rest but I did use a support like one would use in real life.    Center of circle was  aiming point.    I used my most accurate load as a bit of a cheat and not a pure self defense or duty load.  Ideally people carrying  would  select the most accurate duty load they can regardless of intended distance they expect to shoot.   I think I can’t ask much more out of the Inland Custom carry.

 

The Inland is a 1911 I would own and use.  And you know how picky I am about my 1911s and who makes them.   Word from Inland is, some even bigger and better things are coming in their 1911s. I look forward to what is coming, I would like to tell you now but these things are not always something they are ready to share publicly without asking permission first.   But I am excited from what I hear.

The custom carry is a solid carry gun that is also competition ready.  The rep who sent it to me had been using this same model for matches for several months before I requested a sample.  You can use it for about anything you would want, I really don’t know what more to say about it. It worked. No excitement. It was as reliable as a claw hammer.    Buy with confidence .  not only can it do all those things well it can also protect  you from those damn dirty apes.

 

If you want more out of my pistol reviews please speak up.  I know reading pistol reviews can get dull  and they are the same over time.  It sometimes feels writing them is  as semi boring as reading them.  I am always looking for ideas of how to spice it up.    If you want more  video or mud tests or  further ranges shot comment below.  Tell me what you would like to see.    Nothing  pointless but anything you want to see that would help you decide if a gun is right for you or what would test its limits  please speak up.

Winchester Model 1897 Riot

I have always loved the Model97.  Just it’s look is iconic.  I doubt any one has made it to adulthood as a gun enthusiast and not seen pictures of Marines in the Pacific, GIs in Vietnam or even some Doughboy in the trenches with a M97.    That isn’t counting all the police units who have used it over the years.   And even in the hands of lowly  Joey Shmoe in the woods and fields for hunting,

The M97 is another  masterpiece from the Master , John M Browning himself.  A more refined and beefed up version of the earlier M1893.  It’s production running from  1897 , Natch, to 1957 with over 1 million made by USRAC, AKA Winchester.  It came in a variety of barrel lengths and in take down and non take down models but offered only in 12 and 16gauge.    On top of that we have seen clones from varies over seas makers since then.

The shotgun is like most in that it feeds from the bottom into the magazine tube and the “pump” is used to cycle the ammo with empties ejecting from the right hand side ejection port.  It does however have an external hammer and a slide does travel reward outside of the action while cocking the external hammer.     If you are not familiar with this, care has to be taken with your grip or you may end up  getting a little love bite from the gun.     Capacity is 5 rounds in the magazine plus  1 in the chamber of an un plugged gun.

The M97 also lacks a disconnector  for the trigger.  Yes that means that as long as you hold the trigger to the rear, and work the action the gun will fire as soon as the action closes and achieves lock up.   The gun can be fired very quickly this way and it is a big thing for guys now a days to want this.  It’s usefulness is arguable though and  in less experienced hands it can be dangerous for the careless.   But then again, what isn’t dangerous when in the hands of the careless? Oh, and the safety is the trigger at half cock.

The saw action in all those ways I mentioned above, and more.  It has certainly qualified as being in any gun hall of fame.    I’m not going to go into its vast detailed history here since everyone and his mother in law has a website somewhere talking about it.   I am going to show how mine shoots.

I fired some 00 bucks and  rifled slugs through the gun only.   My number 4 buck and various other shotgun loads are all 3 inch shells and the old ’97 is a 2-3/4 shell only affair.    Hopefully I will round up some more variety later and edit it into this  and repost  in the near future.

Having an open choke.  I kept it to normal shotgun ranges.   I did intend to fire slugs out to 100 but  there is only so much  the old shoulder can take  from a hard buttplate.

First picture below is  one round of 00 buck at 20 yards.  I fired this at the head of  the target and all but one pellet stayed on the “head” zone.

Above is one round of 00 from 25 yards.    Well within what I would want it to do.    I have noticed though that the federal “military ”  00 buck   full brass buck does not shoot as tight as the  federal low recoil low brass  00 buck load the local police use.   I did not have it on hand today , but in the past the low recoil load shoots excellent in every shotgun I have  used it in.   For a look at that  check out my review of the Inland/Ithaca  trench gun review from last year.  If you are too lazy to do that here is a target fired with the excellent federal low recoil 00 loads  from the other shotgun.   This is pretty standard performance in all shotguns when using this ammo in my experience. It shoots nearly identical in the m97.  The patter in the orange stick is from the shotgun.

You can see how well the low brass/low recoil load shoots even at distances I would  never actually risk shooting at some one with if I were a cop in a urban environment.   I wish I had  some  for this test by I had grabbed the wrong loads before I left sad to say.

Next up was the federal  rifled slug  load.

Above you can see my 3 shot group from 40 yards, off hand.   I really surprised myself because I hate and dread shooting slugs.  I hate shooting them and if I had some other sucker with me I would have made them shoot the slugs as I am wont to do.   The hole that looks like another slug hole is from  the wadding from an earlier shot.   The top left  hole that seems to be a flyer was  a slug I fired from 75 yards as I was finishing up.  I aimed a little higher and since I was off hand and hate firing  12ga slugs , I wasn’t able to  put it into the group from 40 yards.  But I will take it!   I also  fired two  last slugs at the  “head” from  50 yards and was able to keep them nice and tight. This was from a supported position.

The gun is pretty old but it is still very capable  in these modern  times.   It is fast to the shoulder, handles terrific and the action is slick and fast.

Beyond all that is just the plain cool factor. It is a classic and has been something I wanted  for many years.   Mainly since I saw William Holden and his pals wasting people in The Wild Bunch.   A film that obviously has spawned the wild bunch matches in cowboy action shooting.  Those matches have done more than anything to drive up the prices of models and make them harder to find.    Shooters of those matches quickly scoop up any original riot/trench model they can find as well as  longer barreled models for conversion.  Even the Norinco 97 copy  has  become a collectors item more or less.   Even made in China it  is fine gun  if you do run across one  by the way.  Do not hesitate to buy one if you find it and wonder.

The Model 97 Winchester is one of my favorite guns and when I see it and use it I always think of The Wild Bunch.  In fact the two are so intertwined in my mind I sought out the display  at the NRS museum  while in D.C. a few years ago  and took a picture.   The display model is the  gun used by Holden in the film.

 

 

 

Colt Lightweight Commander Review Part 2 The Accuracy Test

 

I know it seems like it’s been forever ago since I  did the first part of this review , but a lot has happened.  Sorry about the delay for those of you waiting on this.

In the time between these sections I have had a lot of time with this gun. It has taken over duties as my every day CCW piece, replacing the XSE Gov model I carried for the last 11 years.  That is how much I have grown to love it and trust it.   Believe me, replacing the Colt XSE was not an easy thing to do. Besides the quality and accuracy of that gun, there was a lot of memories and sentimental value that went with it.    Maybe that  was the final reasons I did put it in semi retirement as a constant carry  gun.

While shooting it these months I really appreciate the new dual recoil spring system colt has started using in all of their pistols.  No, it’s not some complicated thing if that’s what you are thinking, just a spring in a spring that can be easily taken out for cleaning just like normal. Its the same setup in the M45A1 and Delta Elites.   It does really well softening recoil on hotter rounds like the 10mm, and on the light weight frame commander it helps a lot with hot rounds I like to use for carry like the Corbon +P  solid copper hollow points.

I fired all my stand by accuracy loads in the commander to test it for groups and one ball round loading just to see,

Groups were fired from a bench with bags, slow fire as is my usual method.    I fired five rounds groups other than the 10 round group in upper right using ball. Only did this cause I had a wilson 10 round mag loaded with ball in my pocket when i went to do this. The ranger T load is upper left

These three groups are my carry load in upper left, my back up carry load upper right, which is the winchester DPX .  Bottom group is the excellently accurate hornady 185 match semi wadcutters.  A load me and a friend have been using for years for the most accurate handload we can come up with.

 

As requested recently, I have started shooting extended ranges ( for handguns) as part of my standard test and review.   This request was made by a reader curious to see what modern handguns could do if needed to shoot beyond distances most think of as normal handgun  ranges in the event of active shooter or terrorist attack. The idea being you HAVE TO made a longer shot for some reason, Maybe because the nut bag is wearing a vest that may explode and kill you if you are too close or the bad guy has a rifle and has ballistic advantage over you.   Either way, the testing has led to some pretty surprising results.   I may be paranoid and crazy but this has made me think it would be wise to start integrating longer shots into regular training  to prepare for that potential since modern handguns and ammo are up to the task with a shooter who can milk it.

First I need to say I did shoot at a man shaped paper target at 75 and 100 yards and  thought I took pictures of it.  Apparently I didn’t because I am an idiot.   Even more so because I burned the paper targets to clean up the area at the strip job we shoot longer ranges at.   So , trying not to litter means I can’t even go back and get the target.

I did take pictures of the 200 yard target.  Luckily.    The groups at 100 were so encouraging it made me try 200.  Bare in mind, it took me  20 or more rounds to get the right hold on the target, I didn’t just walk back 200 and fire for record.  It took some  careful hold and fire and see,kinda thing.   It is doable though and once I had the hold over figured out, it was repeatable. I used a steel gong to get the range down and after the record target we all took turns hitting the gong at 200.   This was a real revelation to a couple of the guy who thought a 45 ACP round  from a pistol wouldn’t even travel that far.

I used a 200 yard NRS bullseye rifle target.  Twenty rounds were fired and I got 8 rounds in the black. I only managed 14 hits total on the paper in the black and white.   Still pretty good I think if I do have to say so myself.

Obviously all shots were from a bench and bags not off hand.  But with enough practice I’m sure a man sized target could be hit with a pistol off hand or from some kind of support like using a car hood or truck bed.

Selection of round used would make it harder or easier as well.  A hotter and lighter  165 or 185 would shoot flatter than a 230 grain bullet fired from a walmart plinking loading.

Making these longer range testings part of the review process has really got me thinking though.  I  have in mind to try some 9mm handguns with some of the hotter self defense loads to see what can be done I think the lighter faster round may show some impressive results  and a future article will definitely be a test of various handguns and rounds at 100 yards and beyond to see the absolute limit to what you may be able to hit if you really need to.

To wrap up,  Colt LWT Commander is super  nice and as I said is now my standard carry gun.  It’s weight and handling make it a real joy and it’s got all the accuracy I need.  It has had 1876 rounds through it this summer of all kinds  of ammo with no problems.   It has lived up to be everything I asked out of it and more.

 

 

 

Something to Remember Him By. Hognose, AKA Weaponsman, AKA Kevin’s weapon collection being sold

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).

There are also two Class 3 firearms that will be made available for sale by MAC Tactical (http://www.mactactical.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
  • Pistol – Czech vz. 22 w/holster SN 53789
  • Pistol – DWM Luger SN 7433
  • Pistol – DWM Luger (Artillery), Reblued SN 2778
  • Pistol – East German Makarov 9X18 SN BV 1693
  • Pistol – FN Unique FN 1900 Copy Melior Pistol SN 20322
  • Pistol – French SACM 1935A w/mag SN 1135A
  • Pistol – Glock 17 G3 w/ paddle holster SN RXH737
  • Pistol – Italian Rigami Pistol SN 51108
  • Pistol – Nagant M1899? Revolver cut off SN 10195
  • Pistol – Soviet Tokarev Pistol w/ holster SN 3540
  • Pistol – Unknown Afghan double-barrel percussion pistol SN (none)
  • Pistol – USA Intratec Protec-25 ACP pistol with box SN 022114
  • Pistol – Walther Model 8 6.35 pistol SN 715820
  • Pistol – Walther PPK beater SN 864119
  • Pistol – Walther PPK RZM SN 843183
  • Pistol – Double-barrell pin fired SN 5435
  • Rifle – Barnett London V.R. 1869 SN (None)
  • Rifle – Chinese Type 56 carbine (SKS) SN 11363875
  • Rifle – Chinese Type 56 carbine (SKS) SN 14839
  • Rifle – Clayco Sports AKS-47 semi-auto SN 100574
  • Rifle – Czech 7.92 MM Model vz. 24 SN 2431N2(?)
  • Rifle – Czech Brno 7.92mm Moilet vz. 24 SN 3026M3(?)
  • Rifle – Czech Vz. 52/57 Rifle 7.62mm SN G 65221
  • Rifle – FN (A Coruna) Model 1949 SN FR8-05014
  • Rifle – FN (Egyptian contract) Model 1949 .8mm Mauser SN 11507
  • Rifle – FN (Venezuelan) M1949 Venezuelan SN 4955
  • Rifle – H&H Enterprises AR-10 SN 006470
  • Rifle – Johnson Automatics M1941 SN B0542
  • Rifle – Mosin-Nagant M44 Carbine 1955 SN 124738
  • Rifle – Mosin-Nagant Russian 1943 SN 2942746
  • Rifle – NDS (NoDak Spud) Model 601 SN C00794
  • Rifle – NDS (NoDak Spud) NDS-16A1 SN A02615
  • Rifle – NDS (NoDak Spud) NDS-16A1 SN A01669
  • Rifle – NDS (NoDak Spud) NDS-16A1 SN A01512
  • Rifle – Springfield M1 Garand SN 5855309
  • Rifle – Springfiled Model 15 .22 cal SN (None)
  • Rifle – Tokarev SVT-40 SN 3L5170
  • Rifle – Tower V.R. 18?6 (1836?) SN (None)
  • Rifle – Unknown Afghan percussion Enfield carbine SN
  • Rifle – US Carbine Iver Johnson 22 LR SN 1342
  • Rifle – Valmet M62S SN 131700
  • Rifle – Winchester 190 .22 SN B1157752
  • Rifle – ZB Brno Bolt action Rifle SN 2845
  • Rifle – ZB Brno Model 24?? Mauser SN C730 & 434
  • Rifle – HK HK416 conversion setup SN 88-101046
  • Class 3 – Colt M4 Carbine SN LEO98039
  • Class 3 – Kahr Auto Ordnance M1A1 Thompson SBR SN KC6544

 

About Hognose

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