Category Archives: gun culture

Palmetto State Armory Retro H&R M16

Ran into this at SHOT:

The company that owns PSA grabbed some legacy gun maker names from the Remington Outdoors federal bankruptcy sale, including Harrington & Richardson (H&R). While this sparked a lot of folks to think PSA would be making break-action shotguns for the budget market, they have apparently gone a whole new direction.

You see, back in the 1960s, H&R made early M16 rifles for the Army during Vietnam as Colt needed some help filling the needs of Uncle Sam. Relax, the company was involved in fulfilling small military contracts for the Army for almost a century.

H&R was one of only four manufacturers (along with Colt, Fabrique Nationale, and GM’s Hydramatic Division) to have ever made an official M16 variant for the U.S. Military. Due to their relative scarcity, all H&R military weapons are considered highly desirable by collectors. This vintage transferable H&R-marked M16A1 went for $40K at a RIAC auction.

Well, using NoDakSpud’s retro black rifle know-how (PSA recently acquired NDS) they are sending a classic H&R-marked AR throwback to the market. Receivers and barrels are available this spring. Complete rifles available later in 2022. No price was mentioned.

After taking a half-decade off, FN has Re-entered the Hi-Power Game

FN America on Tuesday announced they are returning to the Hi-Power market in force with a new generation of 9mm pistols in three different variants. 

FN was the initial maker of the classic last handgun design conceived by John Moses Browning and realized by Dieudonné Saive, the latter the father of the FN 1949 and FN FAL. The company ended the line in 2017 and others have gone on to clone the iconic 9mm. 

To set the record straight, FN has returned the Hi-Power/High Power to production in an updated format with improved internals, a modern barrel lockup, a 17+1 flush-fit magazine capacity, and the ability to run hollow points.

Featuring ambidextrous controls and the elimination of the oft-detested magazine disconnect, the new High Power is available in stainless, FDE, and black finishes, retaining a single-action trigger that breaks crisply and cleanly.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Want to see a shotgun fit for a Sommo Poeta?

To mark the 700th anniversary of the passing of Dante, the famed Italian poet, writer, and philosopher, Beretta produced a one-of-a-kind shotgun.

Born in Florence in 1265, Durante degli Alighieri, better known to history as Dante, died in 1321. Among his best-known works are “Divine Comedy,” “Paradise,” and “Inferno,” which are frequently required reading in many classic Lit courses.

“To celebrate this milestone anniversary, we created a unique masterpiece 20 gauge. SL3 shotgun with 30-inch barrels, continuing the one-off series based on that platform,” noted Beretta.

It has 800 hours of engraving and inlay work in multiple styles from a team of four master engravers.

More in my column at Guns.com.

No Snow Days for the Old Guard

Arlington National Cemetery noted this week it is witnessing its first snowfall of the year with a series of photos that show quiet stillness and dignified respect.

(Photos by: Elizabeth Fraser, U.S. Army/ Arlington National Cemetery)

The above memorial is the mast of the lost USS Maine (Battleship No. 10), sunk in 1898, an event that sparked the Spanish-American War. It was dedicated at the cemetery in 1915 after the warship was raised. 

Among the images were some of the Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, who stand watch 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in any weather.

Drawn from volunteers of the Fort Myer-based 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” they are equipped with Vietnam-era M14 rifles rather than the more current M16 or M4 variants. Sergeants of the Guard carry one of four custom M17 9mm pistols, specially crafted for the unit by Sig Sauer. 

On Deck for 2022: Colt Combat Pythons and S&W Firestorms

Although they haven’t “officially” announced them, both Colt and Smith & Wesson seem to have new handguns inbound for this year that mines at the tried-and-true vein of gun culture nostalgia.

Smith’s new CSX (Chief’s Special X?), a single-action-only subcompact 9mm that is hammer-fired, has an alloy frame, and a 10+1 or 12+1 magazine capacity, could be a hit with folks that don’t want polymer striker-fired micro 9s and are more familiar with carry-friendly M1911s such as the Colt New Detective or Sig Sauer P938.

The S&W CSX

It also, in my opinion, looks a lot like the old Star Firestar M43, although with a larger magazine capacity.

The Star Firestar was made from 1992-97, and would probably still be in production if the Spanish gunmaker was around as these were well-received little guns

Then there is the Colt Python with a 3-inch barrel.

While Colt produced the original Python in several barrel lengths between 1955 and 1994, including 2.5-inch snubs and commanding 8-inch Python Hunter, Python Silhouette, and Python Stalker models, the big I-frame snake gun rarely came with a factory 3-inch barrel. This was reserved for a short run of “California Combat” guns and a batch of 500 “Combat Pythons” made in 1988 for Lew Horton complete with a special “K” prefix serial number.

This circa 1974 Colt Python with a factory 2.5-inch snub-nosed barrel is sweet, but folks just went ga-ga for the 3-inch version, and Colt could do well to put such a thing back in production

The rebooted Pythons, introduced in 2020, including both a 4.25- and 6-inch model, with nothing shorter. With all that being said, the new 3-incher could prove both a hit with collectors as well as providing a more “carry friendly” Python for a new generation of wheel gun aficionados.

Either way, SHOT Show doesn’t start for another two weeks, so get ready for much more new gun news…I got my bags packed.

I Love Old Savage Pistols. New Ones? Well, That’s Another Story

Savage marketed its moderately successful Model 1907/1915/1917 pistols until 1928. The handy autoloader was one of the first popular American-made semi-auto carry guns, made in .32 ACP, .380 ACP, and .45 ACP. The Savage Model 1907 was even considered by the U.S. Army in the trials which saw the Colt M1911 adopted for nearly a century of service.

Other than occasional runs of bolt-action benchrest guns and the MSR 15 Blackout pistol which was only made for a couple of years, Savage has concentrated in the long game, eschewing handguns as a category since Calvin Coolidge was in the White House.

Company officials say the time is right, now two years after it separated from Vista Outdoors to become a stand-alone operation, for Savage to move back into handguns.

Their new handgun? Polymer-framed striker-fired 9mm micro-compacts intended for carry and self-defense, use a serialized chassis that allows it to easily swap across a range of various grip frames with black, gray, and FDE modules available at launch, all with interchangeable backstraps to adjust grip size.

The “Stance” has a 3.2-inch stainless-steel barrel, making it just slightly shorter than the Glock 43 and more akin in size to the FN 503 and Sig P365 in that metric. The new Savage pistols have 7, 8, and 10-round magazine options.

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Ruger M1895 Does Exist

Ruger last week made good on its promise to start making new Marlin rifles before the year was out, releasing the M1895 Stainless Big Loop variant to the market.

The company, which purchased the historic Marlin Firearms assets for $30 million during Remington Outdoors’ federal bankruptcy auction last summer, has been teasing the return of the familiar line under new management. Christopher Killoy, Ruger’s CEO and president, this October said the company will begin deliveries of the Marlin Model 1895 in December and, true to form, Ruger showed off the first production model shortly after.

Now the 1895 SBL, chambered in .45-70 Govt, is shipping to distributors.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Cockleshell Heroes on Tour

Men of “L” Squadron SBS (Special Boat Squadron) investigate the ruins of the Acropolis in Athens, 13-14 October 1944. Note that three of the operators carry M1 Carbines while the fourth seems to have a more British BREN gun.

Offical caption, “Once inside the Acropolis, the troops take time off to examine these famous ruins of a former civilization. Photo by Johnson, Sergeant, No. 2 Army Film and Photo Section, Army Film and Photographic Unit. IWM Photo NA 19483.

When it comes to the fact that the Marines above are using American carbines, other British elite units in Greece at the time did the same thing, as referenced by this image of Paras from 5th (Scots) Parachute Battalion, 2nd Parachute Brigade, taking cover on a street corner in Athens during operations against members of ELAS, 6 December 1944.

IWM NA 20515

A good primer on the SBS in Greece, as well as other such units in the Med during WWII, is Brook Richard’s excellent “Secret Flotillas Vol II: Clandestine Sea Operations in the Western Mediterranean, North African & the Adriatic 1940-1944.” 

Chasing relics for ‘public safety’

Police in Northwest England have been celebrating ridding the tough streets around Liverpool of collectible antique firearms, air guns, and starter pistols. 

The Merseyside Police this month closed a two-week gun surrender event focused primarily on taking in antiques that were recently designated as being forbidden under the country’s strict firearm codes. The new change targeted firearm chambered in one of seven long-obsolete 19th Century ammunition types, once protected under the UK’s Firearms Act 1968, for old guns typically “held as an ornament” or curiosity.

“During the surrender, we had 14 viable guns handed in, comprising of shotguns, revolvers, and self-loading pistols as well as 9 blank firers, 12 air weapons, and a quantity of ammunition,” said Merseyside Police. 

The photos released by the agency showed off a sampling fit for the likes of Colonel Mustard or Professor Plum. 

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Of Long Barreled Broomhandles

The Mauser Construktion 96, or C96, entered service in 1896 and was made– barring Chinese and Spanish unlicenced copies– into the late 1930s for both the consumer market and military contracts. While the standard barrel length of the “Broomhandle” was 5.5-inches, and shortened “Bolo” length guns ran 3.9-inchers, there are a few that went significantly longer.

And of course, any of these could have been fitted with a stock to make them more “carbine” regardless of barrel length

The M1896 Kavallerie Karabiner, made for just three years, ran a 15-inch barrel with a permanently affixed wooden stock and forend. This was later repeated briefly in the M1917 Mauser trench carbine proposal during the Great War that never reached production.

Then came the 12-inch Karabiner pistols, with detachable stocks.

During the 1980s and 90s, Navy Arms custom made a few batches of faux Karabiners in rifle format, complete with fixed stocks and 16.25-inch barrels to keep them NFA legal.

They were produced from a pile of C96 parts Navy Arms had imported from overseas. (Photo: Morphy)

Morphy’s Auction House has been specializing in these long boys for a minute, having sold several over the years.

Morphy also in 2019 auctioned a one-of-a-kind engraved C96, complete with a 12 inch, slightly heavier custom barrel that was made by the Bohler steel company of Austria.

It went for $3700.

Then there is this, in the current Morphy Collectible Firearms & Militaria auction, running this week.

Chambered in .30 Mauser– the Lord’s caliber for Broomhandles– it is made from an Oberndorf-marked C96 and carries a 16-inch barrel, but is still a pistol.

Bidding is within my range, currently, so maybe we’ll get to bring this one home.

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