Category Archives: gun culture

Didn’t think I’d see this…

I’ve always thought the select-fire Cristóbal rifle, a neat little gun chambered in .30 Carbine produced in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, was interesting.

Italian merc Elio Capozzi (U.S. HBT camo and AR-10) speaks with a Dominican rebel with a Cristobol Carbine, 1965, image from LIFE Archives

The Armería F. A. San Cristóbal produced about 200,000 of these carbines, a big number considering the Dominican Republic never fielded more than 40,000 troops

Designed by exiled Hungarian firearms engineer Pal Kiraly (who made guns for SIG back before WWII and then the Danuvia 39M and 43M models of lever-delayed blowback submachine guns for the Royal Hungarian Army during the war), the gun wound up being used in a few weird places including Baptista-era Cuba.

San Cristobal carbine on display at US Army Airborne Museum at Fort Benning. The Army captured a few of these back during the U.S. Intervention in the DR in 1965-66 (great 250-page U.S Army paper on that here and click on the image to big up if you want

San Cristobal carbine on display at US Army Airborne Museum at Fort Benning. The Army captured a few of these back during the U.S. Intervention in the DR in 1965-66 (great 250-page U.S Army paper on that here) and click on the image to big up if you want

Well, it seems some of the Dominican Republic-made ammo wound up in Ethiopia at some point, because RTI now has some on hand for a price ($39 per 50-round box) that is sure to make bullet collectors interested.

The boxes certainly are eye-catching, stamped by the San Cristobal Arsenal:

Secret Agent Man…

Colt really pioneered the modern small-frame revolver when it introduced the Detective Special, fundamentally an abbreviated Police Positive Special with a 2-inch barrel, in 1927. Introduced at the height of Prohibition and the era of the great automobile-borne gangsters of the “Roaring Twenties,” the Colt Detective soon became a hit and was successful enough to remain in production until 1995, which is one heck of a run.

Immediately after World War II, Colt pioneered making handguns with such “Atomic Age” aerospace materials as early aluminum. With the material dubbed “Coltalloy” at the time, Colt introduced an aluminum-framed variant of the popular Detective Special in 1950 named the Cobra– the company’s very first of an extensive line of “Snake Guns.”

The same footprint as the 21-ounce all-steel Detective, the Cobra lost more than a quarter-pound of weight, hitting the scales closer to 15 ounces with the same 6-shot capacity.

In 1955, Colt responded to the newly introduced and popular S&W Chief’s Special by moving to make the Cobra even more compact. Taking the aluminum-framed 6-shooter and trimming the length of the grip frame down while keeping everything else intact, the Agent was born.

More in my column at

The Coil Accelerator over the mantle…

While browsing the exhibitors at the NRA Annual Meeting in Houston last month on the lookout for new guns, I saw a glimpse into a potential future of projectile arms with the Coil Accelerator.

The 7-pound CA-09 isn’t a firearm according to current ATF regs, and after a one-hour charge can run single shots, five-round bursts, or full-auto out to a maximum range of about 40 feet, all without that annoying and NFA red tape.

Marketed out of the North Shore Sports Club in Illinois of all places, the CA-09 is in low-rate production. In a nutshell, the makers claim it is the first-ever commercially viable electric-powered Coil Accelerator. The basic overview is that it uses onboard electromagnetic coils– kind of like a rail gun but without a sliding armature– to quietly pull nickel-plated iron disks at an adjustable rate of fire.

It is fed from 50-round magazines and can fire about 700 times on a single charge.

When the tech matures in a couple of years to drop that price and raise that velocity, things could get super interesting, especially when you toss in concepts like 3-D printing and file sharing.

More in my column at

Farewell, Ideal Conceal

Ideal Conceal hit the scenes early in 2016 with its two-round capacity .380 pistol that folded up to look like a smartphone and a tagline that read, “From soccer moms to professionals of every type, this gun allows you the option of not being a victim.”

Drawing flak from anti-gun types including Chuck Schumer in record time – even before the guns were shipping– Ideal Conceal’s founder, Kirk Kjellberg, kept plugging away and by 2018 the little gun was in low-rate production.

I caught up with the Ideal Conceal crew at the 2018 SHOT Show in Las Vegas – their first time exhibiting at the industry trade show – where they had some mock-ups on hand to give a feel for the gun, then with an MSRP of $500.

Since then, the guns have increasingly filtered out to the market.

However, in recent days, all the items on the company’s site have been listed as “out of stock” and Kjellberg confirmed to me that a mix of component issues and cash flow problems has spelled the end of the road for the company, leading him to refund orders and close shop.

Always sad when an innovative product in the industry runs out of gas.

See: The Hudson Firearms Company’s H9.

For the record, this was not a factory option from Hudson (Photos: Chris Eger)

A Special Flag Day, looking back 80 Years

A popular trope is that on U.S. military bases the flagpole’s finial– the golden ball at the top of the pole–contains a razor, a match, and a bullet, just in case the base falls, so that the banner doesn’t fall into enemy hands.

(Photo: Chris Eger)

With that being said, the West Point Museum holds a small strip of cloth, a fragment of an American Flag, formerly carried by Black Knights legend, Paul D. Bunker (USMA 1903).

As noted by the Museum:

(Photo: West Point)

This artifact in the West Point Museum collection rotates on and off exhibit. Following his graduation, Bunker served 40 years in the Army. During World War Two he was on the island of Corregidor when it was captured by Japanese forces, becoming a prisoner of war. On 6 May 1942, Colonel Bunker was ordered to remove the U.S. Flag from its pole for destruction and raise a white sheet (signifying the American surrender). Prior to the U.S. Flag’s destruction, he cut a piece out of the red stripe. On 10 June he cut this piece of the flag into two segments giving one piece to fellow POW Colonel Delbert Ausmus and holding on to the other. Bunker would not survive his time in captivity and died of starvation and illness on 16 March 1943. He was cremated with the segment of the flag he kept. Ausmus kept Bunker’s war diary, as well as this segment of the flag through his time in captivity.

Ausmus said, “On several occasions, the shirt and all of my possessions were examined by the Japanese without the piece of flag being discovered”. Upon liberation, Ausmus presented this segment of the U.S. Flag at Corregidor to the Secretary of War.

Colonel Bunker’s cremated remains were recovered in 1948 and re-interned at West Point. His legacy still lives as an inspiration in the West Point Community. During his time at West Point Bunker was an outstanding football player, contributing to three victories over Navy. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame in 1969, as well as the Army West Point Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.

The Coolest Pistol of 1998, Now Optics-Ready

FN America on Monday announced a long-anticipated update to its Five-seveN pistol, one that brings improved ergonomics and an optics-ready slide to the party.

Originally introduced in 1998 after a decade of development during the Cold War, the 5.7 NATO chambered FN Five-seveN, while interesting, feels very dated these days, especially now that the cartridge it fires is seeing a rebirth of sorts in a lot of new guns. Besides lots of tactile changes– enhanced slide serrations and extended cocking ridges at the rear of the slide, an enlarged/reshaped magazine release, and new stippled texturing on the grip frame– the new FN Five-seveN Mk3 MRD is miniature red dot-ready.

About time for a round that is laser-accurate to 100 yards.

The plate system is compatible with sights from Leupold (DeltaPoint Pro), Trijicon (RMR), Vortex, Burris (FastFire series), Docter, and more. In addition, it ships with three-dot photoluminescent sights that are adjustable for elevation and windage and co-witness with certain MRDs.

See more in my column at

RIP: Serbu Super Shorty, We Hardly Pumped You

The Willy Wonka of gun craft has officially waved goodbye to one of his most famous offerings. The production of the Serbu Super Shorty has ended.

Tampa, Florida’s Mark Serbu announced on Monday that the final four Super Shorty models were being sent out, some of which had been on the waiting list going back three years. “The main reason we discontinued them is because they take our limited resources away from our main products, the BFG-50, RN-50, and BFG-50A,” said Serbu.

The final four Serbu Super Shorties headed out the door, all crafted from Remington 870 models including a Police Magnum and an 870 Tactical. (Photo: Serbu Firearms)

During a visit to Serbu’s plant in 2019, he told me a bit about the compact scattergun’s evolution.

“There was a group I was involved with– we’d gone to different events– and this one guy I always hung out with we rented cars together we rented hotel rooms, and I owed him a bunch of money. It was like $500 or $600 bucks,” regaled Serbu. “And he says, eh, ‘instead of giving me money why don’t you just make me a really short Mossberg shotgun, make it the shortest you can.”

After a year of tinkering around with the concept (“Because I hated it and thought it was the dumbest idea in the world. You know, if you have something you just hate, and you can’t do it?”) Serbu gave the world the Super Shorty.

For better or worse, the Super Shorty proved his biggest hit for a long time, with the guns going on to show up in dozens of movies and games including the “Crank,” “Fast,” and “Terminator” franchises. Over the past 20 years, Serbu modded both Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 shotguns in both 20 and 12 gauge to produce the Shorty.

“Now, years later, this is like my ‘Freebird,’ my ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ one of those songs that, while it’s a hit, the artists are just so sick of it,” he said.

Back in 2019, Serbu let me run one of his Super Shorty models in his shop– about two feet away from his office!

Another nail in the coffin of the gun was the fact that it was an NFA item due to the fact it started life as a shotgun and was modified into an Any Other Weapon (AOW). While it only required a Form 4 and a $5 tax stamp, it still was wrapped up in ATF waiting periods and red tape. When firearms like the Mossberg Shockwave and Remington TAC-14 came along after 2017, allowing almost the Super Shorty experience without the ATF having you listed in the NFRTR until the end of time, the market dried up a bit.

While the Super Shorty was more of a hacked production shotgun made by other folks, Serbu wants to spend his time on making his own guns such as the BFG-50, RN-50, and BFG-50A. There is only so much space on the workbench. (Photo: Chris Eger/

Still, you gotta love the old-school cool that is the Serbu Super Shorty.

Is an Inexpensive MP5 clone on the Horizon?

I love MP5s! And there is no shortage of them. For instance, check out this awesome PTR 9CT I saw in Houston last week.

With the old-school “jungle” handguards and three-lug barrel, this thing almost screams, “You son of a…”

The thing is, even that no-frills PTR is $1800.

Well, I stopped by ATI’s booth and talked to Jaime, then he showed me this:

The above 9mm pistol is made by German Sports Guns GmbH, who has long made .22LR lookalikes of the MP5 and a 9mm replica of the “Schmeisser” MP40 so it is nice to see them pull the trigger on this format, and good on ATI for snagging it for import.

I’ll let you know more as I get it.

Colt brings back a Baby Snake

Colt had a new revolver at NRAAM last weekend. A “King Cobra” Target model that looks and feels a lot like a .38/.357 but is actually a 10-shot 22LR.

The King Cobra Target 22 LR is crafted from forged stainless steel construction with a one-piece barrel topped with an adjustable target rear sight and fiber optic front sight. It comes standard with Hogue overmolded rubber grips and is available with 4-inch and 6-inch barrel lengths, both featuring a 1:16RH twist.

Of course, it could have just been called the Diamondback.

While the current King Cobra series, reincarnated in 2019, hit the market as a 6-Shot .357 Magnum big brother of the new line of Cobra wheel guns, the new King Cobra Target .22LR is a return to the company offering double-action rimfire revolvers. Not the first rimfire “snake” gun– Colt marketed the original circa 1950s first issue Cobra in .22LR and made a .22LR Diamondback into the early 1990s– the new Baby Snake fills a hole the company had in its catalog, and by extension is a first for CZ as well.

This 1985-production Diamondback is a 6-inch .22LR model. Surely, it would have been easier and better for Colt to reboot this name than to call the new model a King Cobra of all things…

MSRP on the new King Cobra Target .22LR models is $999. When compared to other DA/SA rimfire revolvers, this is on par with the S&W 63 and 617.

Fantail shooting

Growing up in Pascagoula, I had a neighbor that was an old GM2 (who one day became a GM3 out of the blue) who would regale and amaze me with sea tales of guns big and small. One weekend, he had a load of rifles and shotguns in his van that he had brought home to clean– from a small arms locker somewhere– and I dutifully helped him with that. Now, these weren’t Uncle’s guns, they were Browning A5s, bolt-action hunting rifles, plinkers, and the like. He said they were personal guns stored on ship. Before the weekend was over I helped him load them back up to take back to the Singing River Island.

Hey, it was the early 1980s, what can I say? Different time, I guess.

We’ve talked about non-standard weapons in lockers at sea before, for instance, trap guns for MWR use underway, and there are lots of images floating around the NHHC and NARA of unusual small arms being used informally.

Such as this:

Official caption: “A member of the Marine detachment assigned to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) prepares to fire an M1911 .45-caliber pistol during small arms practice from the ship’s fantail.” Of course, the First Sgt. is using a Browning Hi-Power, likely a personally-owned gun. NARA DN-SC-87-05848

With all this being said, check out this circa 1976 commercial Browning Hi-Power target model that we recently got at the shop:

The story from the owner is that he bought it new and often carried it on duty with the Navy in lieu of a signed-out M1911. An aviator, he carried it while flying King Ranch nighttime poacher patrols in the wilds of NAS Kingsville in 1982-83, then used it on in-port watches on board the USS Lexington (AVT-16) in the 1980s. Or so goes the story, anyway.

Hey, it was the early 1980s.

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