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Frozen Mosin!

If you are anywhere near the Pleasant River Fish & Game Conservation Association in Columbia, Maine, they have their annual Frozen Mosin shoot coming up this weekend, promising that it is the “most unusual shooting event in the Northeast.”

If you have a Nugget and want to get it icy, head on over!

FN Still Cruising Along on M4 Contracts for Another 5 years

South Carolina-based FN America beat out a crowd of other vendors to land a whale of a military contract for new M4s.

The company was awarded a $119,216,309 firm-fixed-price contract for a mix of two 5.56 NATO-caliber weapons– the M4 Carbine, NSN: 1005-01-382-0973, and M4A1 Carbine, NSN: 1005-01-382-0953. The contract, awarded by Picatinny Arsenal on behalf of Project Manager – Soldier Lethality (PM SL), was made public last Thursday and stemmed from a March 2019 solicitation for which six bids were submitted.

I visited the company’s Columbia, South Carolina facility, last summer and FN said at the time they made roughly 500 M4s every day.

After they’re test fired, they’re disassembled, cleaned, then reassembled and given a 101-point inspection. Then, they’re literally dipped in preservation oil and packaged 50 rifles to a large wooden crate.

Gonna be a lot more crates over the next several years.

More details in my column at Guns.com 

Revolver Taco Lounge

You often see crazy ornate guns coming out of Mexico, sadly those often displayed are M1911 .38 Supers and AKMs owned by narcotraffickers.

A notable example of a commercial Colt 1911 Aztec Jaguar .38 Super Serial #29 of 300. This one sold for $3,424.99

However, there are many no doubt owned by regular citizens who bend over backward to slice through federal red tape to be able to legally possess firearms. And when you consider you can typically only own one or two guns in your life, the odds you may get them customized are pretty high.

Many Mexican-Americans continue that tradition here in the U.S.

With that, Vice (don’t groan, it is a good short doc) visits with 77-year-old Arturo Rojas Castelan, son of a blacksmith, who balances his time engraving guns and working as a dishwasher at his family’s Mexican restaurant, Revolver Taco Lounge, on Main Street in Dallas’s trendy Deep Ellum district, where he works the afternoon shift.

That’s one big, goofy revolver

So recently I have been researching one downright weird friggen wheel gun.

Boom

Traits:
*9-pounds.
*20-shot cylinder with a loading gate.
*11mm/.45cal (ish) chamber.
*10-inch barrel.
*No sights.
*No grip or stock.
*All-metal.
*A long pry-bar shaped trigger with a rope hole in the bottom.
*Belgian proofs that date between circa 1893 and 1911.

I was able to find two clues throughout gun history where other people have encountered such a beast in the wild.

A 1927 Bannerman’s military surplus catalog listing to a rare revolver “found in a Paris gunshop.”

And a 2007 Hermann Historika listing in Germany of an “Unbekannter Grabenrevolver(?),” which translates roughly to an unknown trench/turret revolver (?). Other than the fact it is a top break, it is a dead ringer.

You know when they use the term “unknown” in a two-word title, and end it with a question mark, something bananas is going on.

So what is it?

Good question, more in my column at Guns.com.

Great War Gatling guns?

Although Dr. Richard Gatling’s early hand-cranked “battery guns” had been introduced as far back as 1862, for the first 15 years of their existence they were bulky and used a series of unshielded barrels to produce their fire. Round were fed loosely into a hopper and the weapon could produce a (theoretical) rate of fire of about 600 rounds per minute, although due to jams and gas issues, it was typically closer to 200 and often could not be maintained.

Early Gatling guns, such as this .58-caliber RF 1862 model, with a half-dozen 33-inch barrels, had a rate of fire of 600 rpm, an overall length of 64-inches and a weight, with carriage and limber, of about 630 pounds, unloaded. (Photo: Springfield Armory National Historic Site)

By 1866, Colt took over making Dr. Gatling’s guns and won the first large U.S. Army contract for the devices, one they were eager to keep by introducing upgraded generations. By 1873-ish, the caliber had switched to .45-70 Government and short-barreled “Camel” guns were being produced, which were much more maneuverable.

They called it a Camel gun for a reason…

In 1877, Colt introduced a new model that enclosed not only the barrels but also the breech section in a bronze housing covered by a front plate through which the muzzles protruded. Further, the crank could be rotated to a more ergonomic rear position and, through use of a 40-round Bruce vertical feed mechanism which could be topped off, the rate of fire really jumped to well over 1,000 rounds per minute as the gun in a 10-barreled format, fired 10 rounds with each turn of the crank. Best yet, the smaller 5-barreled gun, when used on a tripod, only weighed 90-pounds.

In an Army test of a prototype gun, one of the Bulldogs fired 1,000 rounds in 79 seconds— which is amazing even by today’s standards– and scored 996 hits on target at a range of 500 yards. Uncle Sam bought 17 Bulldogs for the Army as well as others for the Navy and the model proved popular in overseas sales as well.

An M1883 Colt Gatling gun in .45-70 with a 104-round Accles magazine

While more modern autoloading machine guns replaced Gatlings in U.S. service, some were still seeing combat in China and the Philippines in the early 1900s.

The M1893 Gatling, the first chambered in .30-40 Krag. This wonder, fitted with 10 31-inch octagon barrels, could let those big buffalo-killer sized rounds rip at 525 rounds per minute, which would produce a giant billow of burnt black powder in the process. Weighing in at 200-pounds (sans bipod) this thing was a beast to run but had all the bells and whistles of a modern Gatling design including the Murphy Stop and the Bruce Feed.

9th U.S. Infantry Gatling gun detachment in the court of the Forbidden City, Peking, China 1900 Boxer rebellion LC-USZ62-137103 1874

Gatling guns trained on the Filipinos, near Manila, Philippine Islands Nov 25 1899 LC-USZ62-136148 1893 models

Further, Gatlings were only fully retired by the U.S. Army after 1914, not a bad run considering only about 500~ in 20 different marks were acquired between 1866 and 1904.

U.S. Army/Navy Colt Gatlings acquired, model, caliber and number:

M1866 .50-70 (50 Army)
M1871-.50-70 (10 Army)
M1874 Camel .45-70 (56 Army)
M1875 Long .45-70 (44 Army)
M1875 Camel.45-70 (4 Army)
M1875 Navy .45-70 (10 Navy)
M1876 Long .45-70 (19 Navy)
M1877 Bulldog .45-70 (17 Army)
M1879 .45-70 (32 Army)
M1881 .45-70 (27 Army)
M1883 .45-70 (40 Army)
M1885 .45-70 (21 Army)
M1886 .45-70 (20 Army)
M1887 .45-70 (20 Army)
M1889 .45-70 (18 Army)
M1891 .45-70 (17 Army)
M1892 .45-70 (18 Army)
M1893 .30-40 Krag (18 Army).
M1895 .30-40 (84 Army).
M1903 .30-06 Spfd (21)
In 1907, about 175 older Gatlings (M1895/1893/1892/1891/1889/1887/1886 models) were rechambered for .30-06.

The below unit return, from the 136th Company (Mine), U.S. Army Coastal Artillery, stationed at Fort Hancock, New Jersey, details they were still practicing with their .30-caliber Gatlings as late as October 1914. It would have been interesting to imagine them repelling an assault by the Kaiser’s infantrymen with such gear.

Indian Enfields see their last hurrah

Police in Northern India last week said farewell to a historic infantry rifle that has served them for generations– the .303-caliber Lee-Enfield.

Police for the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which counts roughly 200 million inhabitants, sent their Enfields off after using them for a final time in the country’s 71st Republic-Day Parade in late January, according to local reports. The force used 45,000 vintage Enfields, the agency’s standard-issue rifle since 1947. The historic bolt-action rifle will be replaced with domestically-made INSAS and inch-pattern FAL variants.

The below shows Uttar Pradesh police with their Enfields at last year’s RP Day parade.

“This (.303) rifle is a fantastic weapon and has served us brilliantly in various operations in the past,” police director-general Bijaya Kumar Maurya told AFP. “But it being a bolt action weapon with low magazine capacity, it was time for a change. Its production has also discontinued so there was all the more need for an upgrade.”

Although replaced, the Uttar Pradesh rifles will not be completely retired, they are reportedly being sent to the Indian Ordnance Factory at Ishapore to be re-worked into riot guns.

Going back to the old Magazine-Lee-Enfield of 1895, the Indians have used the venerable .303 for over 120 years in one form or another. In fact, starting in the 1930s Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) in the Bengal region made first 10-round MK. III* SMLEs then later what they termed Rifle 2/2A, a 7.62 NATO Enfield with a 12-round magazine in the 1960s and 1970s. Several thousand were imported to the U.S. in the late 1990s and sold for about $150.

An RFI (Ishapore) 2A1, note the longer 12-round magazine. These were made until 1975, possibly the last SMLE in factory production

I used to have an “Ishy” for several years and passed it on down the road to a friend. Of course, now I have regrets over that choice.

Nonetheless, I do still have an RFI-marked WWII-era Enfield P-1944 Jungle Bayonet with the late-war square pommel.

It is a beautiful bayonet with remnants of a white “drill purpose” mark around the band

The park is great on the blade and it is very tight. I would doubt it was ever used for anything except parade

Marked with King George VI’s cipher (GR) it has an RFI stamp and April 1944 production date.

As well as a DP stamp, which was likely applied in the 1946-47 era when these “ugly” square pommel bayonets were reclassified as second-line items.

Perhaps, with these stocks of vintage guns removed from service, we may see another wave of relic Enfields and their accessories wash up on our shores.

Smack talk, 357 edition

In the summer 1988 issue of American Handgunner magazine, Ruger hyped their then-new GP100 revolver as being thicker and beefier than “an ordinary .357,” showing their frame next to that of a Smith & Wesson Model 686. The argument being that thickness= strength.

Smith, on the other hand, fired back in the next issue, complete with a Ruger-shaped burger including the company’s distinctive grip panels.

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