Monthly Archives: August 2016

Welcome back, Auto Mag

Designed by unsung firearms genius Harry Sanford, the .44 Auto Mag (44 AMP) was born in 1958 and the gun that shot it has been out of production since 1982.

That may be changing.

With an R&D by Harry Sanford and Max Gera that lasted more than a decade, this huge hogleg was perfected enough by 1969 to enter low rate production.  Billed as the “Aristocrat of Big Bore Handguns,” at the time of its introduction the Auto Mag Pistol (AMP) fired the most powerful production handgun round on the market.

The original Auto Mag was rarely encountered outside the vein of big game handgun hunting, except for the likes of Dirty Harry and Mack Bolan

The original Auto Mag was rarely encountered outside the vein of big game handgun hunting, except for the likes of Dirty Harry and Mack Bolan

Tipping the scales at 57-ounces (yes, that is slightly more than 3.5 pounds); its 6.5-inch barrel gave it a length from muzzle crown to hammer spur of 11.5-inches. Overall it was a hair shorter and about two ounces heavier than the six shot S&W Model 29 .44 Magnum wheelgun, but it also offered better handling, a longer sight radius, two extra shots with a quicker reload if needed and improved recoil.

In 1982, after the company had changed logos (and hands) several times, the line was closed down.

In 2010 a company billing itself as Auto Mag, advertised that they would be selling some of the classic old guns in more or less new production at $5600 a pop—but as of yet none appeared.

Then in 2015 a new company was formed to bring this iconic hand cannon back to the market, Auto Mag LTD. Corp.  This lasted reboot purchased all of the assets and rights to the legendary Auto Mag from the Sanford family and have been quietly working to both put the AMP back into production and offer services to owners of legacy guns.

And it seems like they are almost ready to start production.

Yup, that's a new Auto Mag.

Yup, that’s a new Auto Mag.

More in my column at

Grip options for an MP5K, on full-auto burst

Besides your classic HK-made MP5s, Virginia-based Zenith makes a pretty true to form roller-locked MP5K shorty clone (MKE Z-5K) which can be really fun if you have a post-86 dealer sample select-fire version.

The only problem when zipping around at a very spicy 600+rpms when cyclic is keeping on target. Keep in mind we are talking a magdump in just 2-3 seconds.

Above you see Lea, a nurse by trade, who is working on being a fairly decent gunslinger, try out the vertical foregrip hold as well as a magwell hold to see which works best.

“I prefer the magwell hold as opposed to the VFG, I think my arms are shorter and lets me ‘tuck in’ more and get all tight while shooting,” she notes. “That said, the gun definitely heats up so you need gloves if you are going to utilize that grip.”

Meet the Marines’ Budweiser

USMC introduces Marine Special Operator insignia for RaidersIn addition to the treasured and iconic Eagle, Globe and Anchor, Marine special warfare personnel who complete training will receive the new Marine Special Operator uniform insignia.

The insignia will be issued to critical skills operators or special operations officers who have completed the grueling 196-day MARSOC Individual Training Course and will not be given lightly. According to a statement from the Marines, the device is similar to the way combat crew wings distinguish an aviation crew chief or jump wings and dive bubbles distinguish a Recon Marine.

“The individual MARSOC operator must be trained and educated to think critically and function in an increasingly complex operating environment — to understand and interact in dynamic, dangerous and politically-sensitive battlefields,” said MARSOC commander, Maj. Gen. Carl E. Mundy III. “Our rigorous training pipeline ensures that a newly minted critical skills operator has developed the skills required for full spectrum special operations. This badge serves as a visual certification that they have trained and prepared to accept their new responsibilities.”

There is much symbolism in the new insignia.

The bald eagle, which represents the U.S., has outstretched wings to show the Corps’ global reach. The upward-facing dagger is the Marine Raider stiletto, used by the force in World War II and patterned after the British Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife. The iconic Raiders’ five star “Southern Cross” pattern commemorates Pacific campaigns. “Spiritus Invictus” in Latin on the scroll above the eagle’s head translates to “Unconquerable Spirit.”

The new device will be issued first to the next ITC graduation class and then out to the rest of MARSOC soon after.

The U-2 is still amazing some 70 years on

Boxcar is still utterly magnificent even far past the 1950s technology that tossed this unlikely recon asset into the air as shown in this video from USAF.

Beale Air Force Base, California, is home to the U-2, an aircraft that was originally designed to fly high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions during the Cold War. Today, the U-2 flies in support of a variety of missions from ground combat to disaster relief. During high-altitude missions, U-2 pilots often see a natural occurrence called the “terminator line,” which separates day and night. This “ah ha” moment is an awesome reminder of mankind’s diminutive size when skimming the edge of space. (U.S. Air Force Video by Andrew Arthur Breese)

Lithuanian partisan, with a few eggs and a rifle courtesy of Izhevsk

Portrait of female partisan, Sara Ginaite at the liberation of Vilna, 10 August 1944

Portrait of female partisan, Sara Ginaite at the liberation of Vilna, 10 August 1944. She is just over 20 years old.

Her weapon? A Soviet-made M44 Mosin-Nagant rifle, likely newly acquired, and (at least) two German Eierhandgranate 39 egg-type hand grenades, which the Soviets put into production post war as the modified RDG5.

Ginaite was just 15 when the war started. The Soviets came into Lithuania in 1940 and the Germans occupied the country in June 1941 during Barbarossa.

As noted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Sara was among the first group of 17  underground members of the Kovno Ghetto who in mid-December 1943, left for the Rudninkai Forest and became partisans.

Over the next nine months she repeatedly snuck back into the ghetto to lead more partisans out, pretending to be a nurse and claiming that she needed to escort sick workers to the ghetto hospital, bringing them to the forest instead. Her unit helped liberate Vilna (Wilno/Wilna), where the above image was taken by a Soviet major who was surprised to see a female, Jewish partisan standing guard when they entered the town.

Ginaite survived the war, married her wartime boyfriend who was another underground member, and settled in Vilna.

Warship Wednesday Aug 24, 2016: 100-feet of Turkish Surprise

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday Aug 24, 2016: 100-feet of Turkish Surprise


Here we see the steam-powered Nordenfelt-type submarine Abdülhamid of the Ottoman sultan’s fleet (Osmanlı Donanması) as she was completed in 1886.

The Ottoman Navy dates back to the 14th Century and was hardened in centuries of warfare with the Greeks, Russians, Venetians, Spaniards, Mamelukes, and Portuguese and ventured as far as the English Colonies in North America and the Indian Ocean by the 17th Century. However, the fleet peaked around 1708 and fell into steady decline, being annihilated first by the Tsar’s navy at Chesma in 1770 and then again by the Brits at Navarino in 1827. This led to a building and modernization spree under the reign of first Sultan Mahmud II, then Abdülaziz.

While the Ottoman Navy was largely inactive during the Crimean War, by 1876 the fleet was again the focus of attention as the country loomed to yet another war with Imperial Russia.

And, after getting another licking at the hands of the neighbors to the North, new Sultan Abdülhamid II had on his hands 13 ironclads including the British made Mesudiye (formerly HMS Superb) as well as a number of dated wooden vessels and river gunboats. Further, the Ottomans had been introduced to the bad end of a new weapon when Russian torpedo boats carrying surfaced launched torpedoes in 1878 sank the Turkish ship Intibah.

Unable to afford to go bigger, the Sultan needed to stretch his funds and innovate.

Enter Swedish industrialist Thorsten Nordenfelt.

With the help of British inventor George Garrett, who had crafted two small steam-powered submersibles in England, in 1885 the Swede living in the British Isles paid to build a 64-foot steam-powered submarine of some 56-tons, which he dubbed unimaginatively the Nordenfelt I.

The Greeks, fearing the Sultan’s ironclads and taking a cue from the Russian use of torpedoes in the late great regional hate, promptly purchased the tiny submarine– though they never used her. Further, and most ominous for the Turks, the Russians were looking at Nordenfelt’s designs as well.

Nordenfelt I in trials in Landskrona, Sweden just before she was handed over to the Greeks. (September 1885)

Nordenfelt I in trials in Landskrona, Sweden just before she was handed over to the Greeks. (September 1885)

With the writing on the wall and already falling behind in the submarine arms race, the Ottomans doubled down and bought two improved Swedish steamboat subs.

Ordered 23 January 1886, the Turkish vessels were longer, some 100-feet overall, and as such topped 100-tons on the surface (160 submerged). Powered by a Lamm locomotive type engine and boiler fed by up to 8-tons of coal, they could make 6 knots on the surface by steam, then did the unusual and shut down the engine to dive and carry on underwater until the pressure on the boiler dropped– usually just a few minutes or so.

Armament was a pair of 14-inch torpedo tubes forward and outside of the pressure hull. An initial stockpile of Schwarzkopf torpedoes (Whiteheads made in Germany) were acquired, each capable of carrying a guncotton warhead some 600 yards. These fish were popular with navies of the time, being purchased by the Chinese and Japanese as well as both the Spanish and Americans on the eve of their dust up in 1898.

For surface action, Mr. Nordenfelt offered a pair of double-barreled 35mm heavy machine guns of his own design. Good guy Thorsten.

Nordenfelt two-barreled 25mm gun on naval mounting. The guns sold to the Turks were the same, except in a larger caliber. (Courtesy: Royal Armouries)

Nordenfelt two-barreled 25mm gun on naval mounting. The guns sold to the Turks were the same, except in a larger caliber. (Courtesy: Royal Armouries)

Barrow Shipyard in England built the two submarines under contract by Nordenfeld in 1886. The first sub, Nordenfeld-2 was dubbed Abdülhamid and was launched 9 June 1886 after the sections were assembled at the Tersane-i Amire shipyards in Constantinople.


The second vessel, built as Nordenfeld-3 in sections, was commissioned at Tersane-i Amire as Abdülmecid on 4 August 1887 (though she never had her torpedo tubes fitted).

Library of Congress's Abdul Hamid II Collection

Library of Congress’s Abdul Hamid II Collection

The Sultan paid some £22,000 for the two ships and their gear all told, which was quite an inflation from the £1,200 that the Greeks paid for their Nordenfeld boat.

The Ottomans were also forced to establish an entire infrastructure to support their fledgling submarine arm.

Turkish torpedo factory. Library of Congress's Abdul Hamid II Collection

Turkish torpedo factory. Library of Congress’s Abdul Hamid II Collection

Turkish made torps. Library of Congress's Abdul Hamid II Collection

Turkish assembled torps. Library of Congress’s Abdul Hamid II Collection

Divers at the Imperial Naval Arsenal, 1893. Library of Congress's Abdul Hamid II Collection

Divers at the Imperial Naval Arsenal, 1893. Library of Congress’s Abdul Hamid II Collection

Battalion divers at the Imperial Naval Arsenal. Library of Congress's Abdul Hamid II Collection

Battalion divers at the Imperial Naval Arsenal. Library of Congress’s Abdul Hamid II Collection

After trials in the Golden Horn and Bosporus in late 1887, the two submarines sailed together with a tender for the Bay of Izmit in 1888 and the wheels fell off. They suffered from stability problems and super easy to swamp on the surface in any sort of sea state. The longest leg of the trip completed without the assistance from their tender was just 10 miles.


Due to their lack of reliable propulsion while submerged, they were static when awash and, being very primitive indeed, their raw crews (no such thing as experienced submariners in 1888) were unwilling to submerge very deep, though they were thought capable of 160-feet submergence.

Still, that spring, Abdülhamid made history by firing a Schwarzkopf while submerged in the general direction of a target barge– the first such submarine to do so.

Like the Greeks, the Turks soon had their fill of their tricky Nordenfelds and the vessels were docked after the Izmit tests and scrapped in 1914 when it was found they were in condemned condition.

As for Nordenfelt, he had similar luck. Getting out of the U-boat biz after his fourth submarine sank while en route to the Russians, he was forced out of his machine gun company by a fellow named Hiram Maxim in 1890, which he fought in the courts for years without success. Bankrupt, he retired in 1903.


Displacement: 100 tons surfaced (160 submerged)
Length: 30.5 m (100 ft.)
Beam: 6 m (20 ft.)
Propulsion: Coal-fired 250 hp Lamm steam engine, 1 boiler, 1 screw
Bunkers: 8 tons of coal
Crew: 2 gunners, 2 firemen, 1 coxswain, 1 engineer, 1 officer (7)
6 kn (11 km/h) surfaced (10 on trials)
4 kn (7.4 km/h)
Test depth: 160 ft (49 m)
Two 356 mm torpedo tubes, Schwarzkopf torpedoes
Two 35mm Nordenfelt twin machine guns

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Hunter S. Thompson’s widow returns antlers stolen from Hemingway’s home

After the death of “Papa” Hemingway, then-budding journalist Hunter S. Thompson swiped a pair of elk antlers while visiting the author’s home in Idaho in 1964.

Now, Thompson’s widow has returned them.

Hunter S. Thompson’s widow returns antlers stolen from Hemingway’s home

Of course, when visiting Hem’s house in Key West (they have brochures available in like 30~ languages except for English) I found this was perhaps the most memorable souvenir out there, but hey, everyone has their own thing:

hemingway portrait

Admiral Arleigh Burke’s Deep Dive Diploma

Image of Deep Dive Diploma awarded to Admiral Burke.

U.S.S. Robert E. Lee (SSBN 601) Pax Deterrendo Deep Dive Diploma

Be it known among all ye landlubbers and topside sailors that on 15 Nov 60 I was visited in the depths of my domain by the U.S.S. Robert E. Lee (SSB (N) 601) during a dive to DEEP DEPTH. And among the distinguished present at that time was Admiral A.A. Burke, USN He shall forevermore bear the mark of the confirmed Ballistic Missile Submariner.

For Davy Jones
W.F. Dawson
His Majesty’s Scribe

Neptunus Rex
His Majesty’s Servant

Arleigh Albert “31-knot” Burke was of course the longest serving Chief of Naval Operations, a job typically filled in two-year terms, serving from across the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, working 15-hour days, six days a week, starting in 1955. Born 19 Oct 1901, he was just a couple weeks past his 59th birthday when he picked up his Deep Dive diploma above.

Upon completing his third term, Burke was transferred to the Retired List on August 1, 1961.

Though famous for being a destroyer man, he oversaw what became the Navy’s SSBN program, arguing that land-based missiles and bombers were vulnerable to attack, which made the U.S.-Soviet nuclear balance dangerously unstable. By contrast, nuclear submarines were virtually undetectable and invulnerable– the strongest part of the nuclear triad.

The Robert E. Lee was a George Washington-class fleet ballistic missile submarine and the third to join the fleet when she was commissioned 15 September 1960. She served until replaced by a more modern Ohio-class boomber in 1983 and was recycled by 1991. When commissioned (and while Burke took his cruise) Lee carried 16 UGM-27 Polaris SLBMs, each capable of being armed with a single Mk 1 re-entry vehicle, carrying a single W-47-Y1 600 kt nuclear warhead.

Army Mariners hard at work

A lot of people forget that for centuries the Army has maintained both seagoing and coastal assets. Sure, there are bridging units with pontoon boats, Army Corps of Engineers dredges, and SF dive teams (trained in Key West) but I mean honest to goodness blue water Army ships.

In fact, there are more than 1,000 Soldiers in MOSs (88K Watercraft Operator, 88L Watercraft Engineer, 880A Marine Deck Officer, 881A Marine Engineering Officer) directly tied to watercraft operations and Big Green currently fields 49 oceangoing vessels (USAV’s) including:

35 1,100 ton, 174-foot Runnymede-class LCUs
6 1,000-ton, 128-foot MGen. Nathanael Greene-class tugs
8 4,200-ton, 272-foot General Frank S. Besson-class LSTs

From an interesting article put out by 7th Fleet PAO.

“We don’t call ourselves ‘sailors,’ because that title is already taken,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Carmen, with the 605th Transportation Detachment, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. “But we are Army mariners, and it is a full-time job, absolutely.”

On Friday, Aug. 12, Carmen and 30 other Soldiers — about eight warrant officers and 23 enlisted in all — boarded Army Vessel CW3 Harold C. Clinger, in Hawaii, and set off on an 18-day cruise that will take them to Nagoya, Japan, to drop off gear to be used in the Orient Shield exercise.


And they go relatively well-armed:

The 272-foot USAV Clinger is a “logistics support vessel,” or LSV. The Army has eight of these cargo ships in its inventory, and each can carry a load up to 2,000 short tons, whether it’s 37 Stryker vehicles, or 24 M1A2 Abrams tanks, or 50 20-foot cargo containers.

For security, the USAV Clinger is armed with four M2 .50-caliber machine guns, two M249 Squad Automatic Weapons, or “SAWs”, and two Mk 19 grenade launchers. The enlisted crew also carries M16 rifles, while the warrant officers carry 9mm pistols.

A 12-guage shotgun is also available to protect the ship, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Lloyd, who serves as master maritime of operations with 8th TSC.

“Just like any mariner out there in the world, like the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine, we follow a set of drills from abandon ship, to man overboard, to fire drills, and in the case of our vessel, we also do battle drills,” Lloyd said.

More here.

« Older Entries Recent Entries »