Category Archives: gun culture

FDE Times Two

So on my plate in the next few weeks are these beauties by way of Fabrique Nationale’s hipper new American subsidiary, FN USA. I met both of these hoglegs in prototype/first run format at SHOT Show/NRAAM earlier this year and finally got hooked up with production versions of them for T&E purposes. 

The guns are the FN Five-seveN Mk3 MRD, the company’s third generation take on the 20+1 capacity 5.7x28mm pistol, and the new 17+1 9mm FN High Power, which looks a lot like Mr. Browning’s/M. Saive’s Hi-Power of old (notice the difference in spelling) but only looks that way.

Expect more on both very soon.

History takes a hit…

It should come as no surprise that I’ve always loved living history stuff ever since I was a kid.

In my 20s, I even owned a McClellan saddle– the most uncomfortable saddle I have ever used– and took part in such activities myself.

The thing is, in a state of 20 million, the hobby has now effectively been blackballed.

Following a 6-3 ruling this summer from the U.S. Supreme Court concerning New York’s unconstitutional “may issue” concealed carry permitting scheme, state lawmakers scrambled to pass a flurry of new anti-gun bills in a matter of days. Breathlessly signed into law by Kathy Hochul, New York’s unelected governor, these included NY Senate Bill S51001 which bans the carry of legally possessed firearms– even with a permit– in “sensitive” places.

The thing is, on S51001’s sweeping list are libraries, museums, parks, performance venues, schools of all stripes, and just about any facility owned by Federal, state, or local governments, with zero exceptions. What this means for reenactors at New York’s historical forts and battlefields is that, while they may be welcome, their antique flintlocks, percussion muskets, pistols, and revolvers are not– under a threat of a felony charge.

Oof.

And the guns rang out

Traditional gun salutes honoring the late Queen Elizabeth rang out across the United Kingdom on Friday “and at saluting stations at home and abroad as the world watched on and mourned her loss.”

The 96-gun salutes, one for each of her years, typically took an average of 16 minutes to ring out in slow fire, one round every 10 seconds.

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired the Death Gun Salute in Hyde Park from Great War-era 13-pounder Field Guns.

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire the Death Gun Salute in Hyde Park

And at the same time, it was also fired at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in ceremonial attire. The latter salute is fired from four 25- pounder guns located on Tower Wharf facing the River Thames.

The Death Gun Salute was fired at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company.

Meanwhile in Scotland 96 rounds also rang out from the battlements of Edinburgh Castle as 105 Regiment Royal Artillery, an Army Reserve regiment that recruits across Scotland and in Northern Ireland, fired the salute with Major Brian Robson RA in charge. They use the current 105mm light howitzer the L118 (the U.S. Army uses a modified version, the M119 for airborne and light infantry units.)

Soldiers of 105 Regiment Royal Artillery fired three L118 Light Guns at Edinburgh Castle

In Wales, salutes rang out as 104 Regiment Royal Artillery, the only Army Reserve Artillery regiment in Wales, fired their salutes amid the sunshine and showers at Cardiff Castle.

In Colchester and East Essex Cricket Club, the salutes were fired by members of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery from Colchester Garrison.

The Airborne gunners of F (Sphinx) Parachute Battery 7 Royal Horse Artillery fired 96 rounds from their L118s

In York, where the salutes took place at the York Museum Gardens, Lt Col Matt Brockleby, Commanding Officer, 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “This is an honor for the Regiment.”

L118s of 4 Regiment Royal Artillery fire their Gun Salute at York Museum Gardens on Friday 9 September 2022

And over in Northern Ireland, Captain Joshua McKee, of 206 Battery 105 Regiment Royal Artillery, gave the order to fire the salutes as people laid flowers outside the walls of Hillsborough Castle.

A 96 Gun salute, conducted by 206 (Ulster) Battery, Royal Artillery at Royal Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland.

The ship’s company of HMS Queen Elizabeth mustered on the flight deck mid-Atlantic for their own 96-gun salute and to mark the passing of “the boss.”

So long, Liz

Unless you have been under a rock for the past 24 hours, we have witnessed the end of the second Elizabethan age as Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at Balmoral, Scotland, aged 96. Born early in one century and laid to rest well into another, she was crowned the same year Edmund Hillary ascended Mount Everest and an unsteady truce neared in the Korean War. Since then, she saw 14 U.S. Presidents, met with 15 Prime Ministers (Churchill was in office when she was coronated!), and saw the last leader of the Soviet Union buried.

I’m not here to eulogize, and indeed around the world lots of leftists and know-nothings, who bemoan everything British– without noting the ascendance of guys like Idi Amin/Yoweri Museveni, Robert Mugambe, and Yahya Jammeh to fill the vacuum the old Empire left behind– are celebrating her passing like a bunch of ghouls.

What I am going to do is point out her WWII military service, and the fact that she served at least 80 years continuously in the military.

Per the IWM:

queen eliz

During the Second World War, King George VI was reluctant to let his daughter – and heir – join any of the organisations that women could serve in during the war. However, in February 1945, Princess Elizabeth was allowed to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, as she was known, was part of Number 1 ‘Beaufront’ Company and trained as a mechanic and truck driver in Surrey. Her classes included practical maintenance, mechanics theory and map reading. She told a friend, “I never worked so hard in my life. But I enjoyed it very much.” The princess graduated as a fully qualified driver, but the war ended before she was able to make practical use of her new skills

She remained a Junior Commander, Women’s Royal Army Corps after the war, rising to Captain by 1952 with semi-regular periods of service.

Like all monarchs and members of the Windsor family, she kept up her military obligations, and for the past 70 years, from 6 February 1952 through 8 September 2022, was Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. As such, it is possible she inspected more troops than any leader in history.

RoyalLadiesMilitaryUniformQueenElizabeth

On Elizabeth’s sixteenth birthday, 21 April 1942, she was appointed Colonel of the Regiment of the Grenadier Guards and promptly inspected them in her first solo appearance. It was a responsibility she took seriously, after all, a war was on and some of the men were shipping out to North Africa shortly. 

She would inspect “her” Grenadiers as well as the Paras just prior to D-Day. 

Princess Elizabeth inspecting the 2nd (Armoured) Battalion Grenadier Guards, 5th Guards Armoured Brigade, Guards Armoured Division, at Hove in East Sussex, England prior to DDay – May 1944. IWM – Malindine E G (Captain) Photographer. © IWM H 38532

Princess Elizabeth visits British Airborne Troops prior to DDay May 1944 IWM H 38603

Ultimatley, she was named Colonel-in-Chief of the: Royal Australian Engineers, Royal Australian Infantry Corps, Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps, Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps, le Régiment de la Chaudière, 48th Highlanders of Canada, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s), Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery,  Governor General’s Horse Guards, King’s Own Calgary Regiment, Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, Royal 22e Régiment, Governor General’s Foot Guards, Canadian Grenadier Guards, Carleton and York Regiment, Canadian Guards, Royal New Brunswick Regiment, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, Calgary Highlanders, Wellington Regiment, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, The Life Guards, Royal Horse Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards, Welsh Guards, Royal Regiment of Artillery, Corps of Royal Engineers, Royal Tank Regiment, Malawi Rifles, Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons), Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Corps of Royal Military Police, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers,Queen’s Royal Lancers, Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry, Royal Welsh, Royal Regiment of Scotland, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

As well as the Air-Commodore-in-Chief of the Territorial Air Force of New Zealand, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, Royal Air Force Regiment, Royal Observer Corps; Captain-General of the Honourable Artillery Company, Commandant-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force College, Countess of Ranfurly’s Own Auckland Regiment, et.al…

She was tied to the Forces in both public and private in every way, and it could be argued her primary job since the age of 16 had been that of a service member. 

Special ties to the Fleet

Elizabeth was closely associated with the Royal Navy. After all, she was the daughter, wife, and mother of naval officers.

She was also a battleship sailor, having embarked on HMS Vanguard in 1947 for the Royal Cruise to Africa. She was familiar with the Royal Navy’s final (and largest) dreadnought, having christened her in 1944 while still Princess Elizabeth– the first time her standard was broken out on an RN vessel.

She also became possibly the only Queen in history with a Shellback certificate, as she took part in the traditional festivities upon Crossing the Line. 

Elizabeth participated in the traditional line-crossing ceremony and was initiated into the Kingdom of Neptune. Elizabeth was a good sport but was excused from a few of the harsher hazings meted out to Pollywogs

She even got in some target practice from Vanguard’s decks in 1947 and was reportedly a good shot. Of note, while I have seen several images of her with a rifle, I have never seen her use eye or ear protection– and tough old bird indeed.

The 1953 Spithead Review, while smaller than some that came before, was the largest gathering of British warships that has not been surpassed since– and likely never will. Of note, Vanguard would grace the cover of the official commemorative as flagship.

The 1953 Spithead Coronation Review.

She also sponsored five other warships and submarines including the new carrier that holds her name, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), the largest British warship ever built, and attended her christening in 2014. A bottle of fine Scotch from the 240-year-old Bowmore Distillery was broken across the carrier’s bow via an actuator that the Queen controlled via a push button. 

In remembrance

Now, across the corners of the Commonwealth, there will be celebrations of her passing– heck, Biden has ordered all federal ensigns half-masted. The most notable, besides the looming pageantry of her state funeral, will be “Death Gun” 96-gun salutes fired from Cyprus to Sydney.

As noted by the New Zealand Army: 

𝗗𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗵 𝗚𝘂𝗻 𝗦𝗮𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗳 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝗠𝗮𝗷𝗲𝘀𝘁𝘆 𝗤𝘂𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗘𝗹𝗶𝘇𝗮𝗯𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗜𝗜, 𝗪𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘁𝗼𝗻 𝗪𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗻𝘁, 𝟵 𝗦𝗲𝗽𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝘁 𝟲.𝟬𝟬𝗽𝗺
 
We will fire a Death Gun Salute marking the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the Wellington waterfront this evening.
 
16 Field Regiment will fire 96 rounds – one round for every year of Her Majesty’s life. The Death Gun Salute will commence at 6pm. The salute is expected to last at least 16 minutes. 
 
Given the length of time the gun salute will take to conduct, it is recommended that hearing protection is worn by those planning to attend.

Ah, the joy of Maple

I’ll admit it: I do sometimes like to dress up my guns. I’m a grip guy first and foremost. Odds are, if a gun’s grip panels can be swapped out or otherwise upgraded (not stippled, don’t even get me on the soapbox about that abomination!) on a long enough timeline, it will happen if the pistol is in my collection long enough.

One of my latest is a set of curly maple panels for 1911s that I picked up from Bill Griffith (Griff’s Grips) for my Kimber Rapide 10mm.

Gotta say, they both feel great and look awesome. Judge me if you will…

Goofy Glock-Lishnikov (That’s actually kinda fun to shoot)

Introduced by Century Arms a few years ago, the WASR-M, like its standard WASR (Wassenaar Arrangement Semi-automatic Rifle) older brothers, are all essentially semi-auto variants of the Cugir Arms Factory’s PM md. 63/65 series AKMs, licensed Kalashs that the Romanians made by the hundreds of thousands over the past half-century.

WASRs have been popular on the U.S. import market for years, and Century made them 922R-compliant by adding furniture, mags, pistons, and triggers. Heck, when renting an AK for a class at Gunsite, the only in-house choice is a WASR. It’s a budget answer to more spendy Arsenals or Zastavas still made by folks who understand Kalashnikovs. Century has splashed in 9mm AK water with Cugir before, having marketed first the Draco NAK-9 pistol and the newly announced Draco 9S in recent years.

While the Dracos are fun, those wanting a full-sized stock and barrel are left out of the party, which brings us to the WASR-M. The significant difference in the WASR-M variant is that, instead of being a gas-piston operated rifle chambered in 7.62×39, it is a direct-blowback-action pistol-caliber carbine chambered in 9mm NATO that uses doublestack Glock 17/18/19 mags.

Ladies and gentlemen, the WASR-M, made by Cugir in Romania and imported by Century Arms of Vermont, which added enough U.S. parts to make the ATF happy. (Photo: Chris Eger).

I’ve put about 500 rounds through one and detailed the whole deal. Check it out after the jump.

Arizona Marine Det flotsam

While at Gunsite earlier in the month, I spent some downtime wandering around (so I didn’t cramp up in the Arizona heat, to tell you the truth) and saw lots of plaques and trophies dotting the walls of the classrooms. As legendary Marine Col. Jeff Cooper originally founded the training facility as the American Pistol Institute (API) in 1976, wall decorations abounded. Besides the myriad of police and LE plaques and letters, there were tons of Army SF (mostly 10th Group) and, as expected with the pedigree, lots of “thank yous” from assorted Marine units.

One of these I thought you guys would find interesting:

Yup, the old school FBM Simon Lake-class submarine tender USS Canopus (AS-34), the first submarine tender in the United States Navy capable of refitting and maintaining a submarine with the UGM-73 Poseidon SLBM System– hence her Marine detachment.

Laid down in 1964 at Ingalls in Pascagoula, Canopus repeated the name of a WWII-era tender (AS-9) lost in the Philippines in 1942.

USS Canopus (AS-34) after its launch in Pascagoula, Mississippi on 12 February 1965. “The Polaris submarine tender Canopus (AS-34) made her slide into the Singing River following her launching at Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries, Pascagoula, Mississippi today and came one step closer to becoming an indispensable part in support of the US Navy’s Polaris Weapons System. Upon her scheduled delivery this September, Canopus, from an overseas base, will be capable of fully supporting nine nuclear-powered submarines on patrol, keeping them in a high state of combat readiness.” NHHC Catalog #: L45-42.08.08

USS Canopus (AS-34) Underway at sea, circa 1968. This photograph, taken by Airman T.J. Sharpe, was received by All Hands magazine on 8 July 1968. NH 107767

On active duty for 29 years, Canopus shuffled between Rota, Spain; Bremerton; Holy Loch, Scotland; Charleston, and Kings Bay, being a mothership to her incredibly powerful brood.

Decommissioned on 7 October 1994 (after Trident I was phased in and Poseidon was retired), she was disposed of in 2010.

As the plaque refers to API and not Gunsite, it dates to pre-1992, which tracks.

Remember those front sight presses when using 1911s, guys.

‘The Boss’ Just Doing What She Does

I’ve talked about Staff Sgt. Amanda Elsenboss a few times in the past. A Woodbury, Connecticut native and marksman/instructor on the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s Service Rifle Team, she picked up the 2019 NRA National Long Range Championships at Camp Atterbury, Indiana with a win in the Mustin match and a shoot-off score of 100-9x. She also won the Leech Cup with a 200-15X and 100-6X shoot-off score as well as the Viale (with a 198-11x) and Critchfield Memorial Match (200-12x) then shot a 200-12X in the Kerr Match– going on to win the Overall Long Range Champion title with a 1,641 – 95x.

At the 56th Interservice Rifle Championships in 2017, she won the High Service Woman Title, the Interservice 1000-yard Individual Match (Open Division), and the Interservice Individual Long-Range Match. She was also an integral member of two match-winning teams during this 56th annual competition between the military services. Tabbed into the President’s Hundred, she joined the Army in 2010 and has been competing with the AMU since at least 2014 after a prep career where she made the Connecticut All-State Rifle Team out of Nonnewaug High School.

And this month, “The Boss” made history at age 33, becoming the first woman to win the President’s Match an event that’s been in existence since 1894, firing a very impressive 391-12X (ST-99-1, P-RF-99-4X, P-SF-99-4X, Final-94-3X).

More over at The Gun Bulletin.

The Old Breed’s Last Bolt-Action Battle

Some 80 years ago this month, a scratch force of Marines waded ashore on a little-known island in the Pacific, with their beloved ’03s in hand, determined to stop the Rising Sun.

Some eight months after Pearl Harbor was attacked, and long after Wake Island, Guam, and the Philippines fell to the Japanese onslaught during World War II, the Allies in the Pacific moved to seize the initiative and launched the first Allied land offensive in the Theater as well as the first American amphibious assaults of the war. Between Aug. 7 and Aug. 9, 1942, some 11,000 men of the newly-formed 1st Marine Division landed on the beaches of Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Japanese-occupied Solomon Islands, a chain of islands far closer to Australia than to Tokyo. There, the Marines aimed to seize an airfield the Japanese were carving out of the jungle and use it for their own fighters and bombers.

However, while the Army in 1937 had opted to switch to the M1 Garand from the M1903 Springfield– a bolt-action .30-06 adopted during the administration of Teddy Roosevelt– the Marines were slower to move towards the semi-auto battle rifle. It was only in Feb. 1941, just ten months before Pearl Harbor, that Marine Gen. Alexander Vandegrift wrote that he considered the Garand reliable enough to arm his Marines. With that, it wasn’t until after America was in the war that the Corps officially adopted the M1 Garand and later the M1 Carbine.

“Captured Japanese Battle Flag, Guadalcanal Airfield, circa 1942.” (Photo: Thayer Soule Collection/Marine Corps History Division)

Guadalcanal Campaign U.S. Marines rest in the field on Guadalcanal, circa August-December 1942. Most are armed with M1903 bolt-action rifles and carry M1905 bayonets along with USMC 1941 pattern packs. Two men high on the hill at the right have vests to carry patrol mortar shells and one in the center has a World War I-style hand grenade vest. The Marine seated at the far right has an M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. (Photo: U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.)

More in my column at Guns.com.

Battle of the (Hi-Power) Clones

I’ve been kicking around a pair of 21st-century Hi-Power clones with two different origin stories, and we have a few things to talk about.

John Browning’s GP design, as delivered to the firearms world in 1935 via Fabrique Nationale’s resident gun genius Dieudonne Saive, was given its gold watch by FN in early 2018, and BHP fans the world over wept. While Turkish gunmaker Tisas briefly sent their Regent BR9 clone over here, other one-time Hi-Power clones such as Israeli-made Kareens and imports of the same branded by Charles Daly, Dan Wesson, and Magnum Research were history.

Then came 2021.

In September of that year, EAA announced they were on the cusp of bringing in the Girsan-made MCP35 from Turkey while Springfield Armory in October started hinting around at the gun they would soon introduce as the SA-35. Both were different takes on the classic Hi-Power of old, offering new ways to satisfy that eager fan base that was left with separation anxiety after FN exited the BHP biz.

Since then, I’ve given each of these newcomers a series of tests and evaluations, including putting over 1,000 rounds through each model. With that, let’s see how they stack up against each other – and the ghosts of Hi-Powers past with which they must contend.

At the end of the day, it boils down to why you want a Hi-Power in the first place. Both guns are better clones than I have seen in some past efforts under other banners (see the FEG, PJK, and the Bulgarian Arcus 94). Heck, even when stacked against late-model FN MK IIIs assembled in Portugal in the 2000s, there is little to grouse about. This is firmly an apples-to-apples comparison.

More on said apples in my column at Guns.com.

« Older Entries