Marines are timeless

Devil Dogs just before the Tarawa landings doing what Marines normally do…

marines just before the tarawa landings

Tragically, Tarawa was a hard nut to crack for the 2nd Marine Division and these leathernecks deserved every bit of happiness they got prior to hitting the beach. In just three days the Marines suffered 1,009 killed and 2,101 wounded, a casualty rate of some 10 percent.

In the Roman times such a rate was called decimation.

Gun control is universal

For generations the 150,000-officer South African Police Service (SAPS) have been issued Vektor R5 rifles in addition to their sidearms. They are usually carried one per 2-officer car much as patrol carbines have been carried in the states for years. If you don’t know what the gun is, its a short carbine version (13.-inch barrel) of the 5.56 mm Israeli Galil SAR, which is license-manufactured in the country and has been since 1980.


Now, gun control advocates are seeking that the government stacks them up.

“This follows a shocking report from the Farlam Commission at which an expert witness, Cees de Rover, noted that the use of R5s was “extremely dangerous and violated international policing best practice” because a bullet fired from an R5 rifle will travel for up to 600m after it is fired — increasing the risk of injuring bystanders. Also, because bullets from these rifles disintegrate, it is extremely difficult to holding individual officers accountable when the rifles are used to shoot at a crowd….”

600m from a 5.56mm?  SS109 rounds Disintegrate? Seriously?

No mention of course that the murder rate in SA is 44th in the world (the U.S. is 100th) and that heavily armed criminals in border regions still have access to a vast array of old  Zimbabwe/Angola-era Warsaw Pact weapons.


Government issue Ruger plinkers

Between 1956 and 1986, the U.S. military ordered some 23,000~ rimfire semi-auto Mark I and Mark II pistols direct from the company for the use of service marksmanship teams.

Bill Ruger produced his Ruger Standard pistol in 1949, taking lessons from the Japanese Nambu and the Hi Standard .22. His neat little $37 pistol with its 9-shot magazine and 4.75-inch barrel turned out to be his first product and a great seller. So much so that by 1956, the U.S. military sought out a 6 7/8 inch heavy tapered barrel version for use by military shooting teams for practice and competition. The first order, for 4,600 of these guns in serial number range 75845 to 79945 was produced in that year. All were marked “U.S.” on the top right hand side of the receiver.

ruger mk 1 us

Now that doesn’t mean that all the guns in that range are GI pistols, as the factory made commercial guns right alongside those for the military. Over the next 15 years, at least another 1,500 guns were bought in a half dozen or more smaller contracts spread out from serial number 150036 to 331744 (about 1 percent of the production volume for that period).

Then of course there were the Mk II models in at least two different barrel lengths and secret ‘hush-puppies” that Mitch WerBell had a hand in…

vietnam mk i ruger
For the rest of that story, check out my column at Ruger Talk 

Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Leslie Gilbert Illingworth

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sunday, I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Leslie Gilbert Illingworth

Born 1902 in Wales, Leslie Gilbert Illingworth took a job as a teen in the lithographic department at the Western Mail while attending the Cardiff School or Art. While at the Mail he was an assistant to noted political cartoonist J. M. Staniforth who covered political and social unrest in the UK and Wales through the First World War. After the War, Illingworth attended the Royal College of Art then took Staniforth’s old job when the master retired. He later went to write for Punch and, in 1938 when the noted Percy Fearon retired as cartoonist of the Daily Mail, Illingworth joined the big leagues just in time for the Second World War where he really came into his own.

Although he wasn’t per se a “military artist,” he covered (with dry British satire) the military events of his day.

Freedom 1940

Freedom 1940

Japan's army arrives at New Guinea, 1942

Japan’s army arrives at New Guinea, 1942. Note the cricket bat dropped at the ‘Roo’s feet


Spirit of the Ark Royal

Spirit of the Ark Royal, sunk in 1941

Free French

Free French



Neutrality Patrol March 1941

Neutrality Patrol March 1941

Japan enters the war 1941

Japan enters the war 1941


After the war he continued his work, but still revisited military issues as they pertained to the overall political climate

German rearmament 1950

German rearmament 1950

Berlin 5 April 1948

Berlin 5 April 1948. Note the Atom Bomb on Truman’s GI belt

Illingworth remained active through 1974 when he finally retired. He was the inaugural president of the British Cartoonists’ Association and his art was some of the most stinging of the 20th Century.

Illingwortheslie_0He died 20 December 1979 at age 77.

Thank you for your work, sir.

Vintage quiet time


Julia Auctions has a super rare Winchester 1894 take down model with a special order 22″ rapid taper round barrel and half magazine that has been threaded to accept a suppressor. Now this is an old school gun with a 1920s Maxim silencer on it (yup, pre-National Firearms Act of 1934 back when you could buy them mail-order). They combo which is fully transferable is set for $10-$15K.

Why so expensive? Well as my homie Ian over at Forgotten Weapons points out, when the Maxim silencer was on the market, they only cost like $7 and the 1934 NFA establised a $200 tax on them so most people that had em dummied up or threw them out. So finding one that is registered and transferable is uber-rare. As such, you can bet 90% of the auction price is for the Maxim and not the lever gun, nice though it is.

Well that didn’t last long

In 2014 NATO members met in Wales to discuss Europe’s defense posture with a resurgent Russia, threats from ISIS and Iran, and other matters at hand. They came up with the Wales Pledge, which consisted of the following:

“Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense will aim to continue to do so.Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below this level will:

• Halt any decline in defense expenditure;
• Aim to increase defense expenditure in real terms as GDP grows;
• Aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO’s capability shortfalls”

So now the NATO member military budgets for 2015 came out and it seems everyone was all “Wales, we already saved the Wales!”

Preliminary reports from fourteen countries examined for fiscal year 2015 suggest that only one (mighty Estonia) will spend 2% of GDP on defense. Most others are cutting their budgets even further to include Germany and the UK, who along with France are considered the Western European “Big Three.”

Military expenditure

Of course five of the 14 did have minor increases– the ones that share a border with Russia

BTW, The U.S., whose DOD-only defense spending (not counting money spent on the VA, Homeland Security which includes the Coast Guard, FBI Counter-terrorism, the Intelligence community and DOE Nuclear weapons programs) amounted to about three times more than all of NATO combined.

The Swiss man card

In the 15th Century the Swiss Army had the reputation of somewhere north of Israeli special forces and just shy of Mandalorians. Swiss mercenary regiments for for about 300 years or so were the norm in European armies for shock troops and detachments to be sent far, far away and left to their own devices.

In fact, Cat Island, an isolated and forlorn strip of nothing just off the Mississippi Coast where I grew up, although French after 1699, was garrisoned by Swiss troops back in the day and metal detector fanatics are constantly tearing up the dunes looking for old remnants out there.

Medieval/Renaissance Swiss mercenaries. They may have dressed like Liberace, but they could fight

Medieval/Renaissance Swiss mercenaries. They may have dressed like Liberace, but they could fight

Anyway, would the Swiss fight to the death for a bit of gold?


During the sacking of Rome on May 6, 1527, 189 Swissmen under one Captain Kaspar Röist held off a force of Hapsburg troops ten times their number to allow Pope Clement to beat feet. They nearly perished to a man and the man in the funny hat got away with his life. To this day, the Papal guard are made up of Swiss volunteers– the oldest continually operational military unit in modern history.

Well, on 10 August 1792, some 20,000 French Republican National Guards and others stormed the palais des Tuileries which was garrisoned by a handful of Royalist volunteers and 900~ Swiss dogs of war.

Again, like the sack of Rome, the Swiss fought like men possessed but could not hold back the sea.

Storming of Tuileries  portraying the massacre of the Swiss Guards, by Henri-Paul Motte, 1892. Click to big up

Storming of Tuileries portraying the massacre of the Swiss Guards, by Henri-Paul Motte, 1892. Click to big up

How did it go for them?

As British historian Nesta Webster says in her book Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette during the Revolution: “Could [Louis XVI] imagine…that the mob, not content with venting their fury on the Chateau, would massacre not only the Swiss Guard, men of the people who had remained at their posts, but even the luckless servants in the kitchens of the Palace? The horrors committed on this 10th of August were such as no human mind could possibly have conceived.” 900 Swiss guards were brutally killed, many tortured, some roasted, mutilated, decapitated, with their limbs distributed throughout Paris. Children played ball in the streets with the heads of the brave Swiss, and the steps of the Tuileries ran with blood, like some gruesome altar of human sacrifice. People dipped bread into the blood of the victims.

I guess that’s why the Pope still keeps these guys around and Hitler never crossed that border…

Swiss Soldiers from the Gebirgs Infantry Battalion 85’ training with the Light Machine Gun 05 (FN Minimi). All members of the Papal Swiss Guard are drawn from volunteers who have a clean service record with the Swiss Army

Swiss Soldiers from the Gebirgs Infantry Battalion 85’ training with the Light Machine Gun 05 (FN Minimi). All members of the Papal Swiss Guard are drawn from volunteers who have a clean service record with the Swiss Army

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