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Now that is Tyrolean

The great combined Austro-Hungarian Army of Emperor Franz Josef– as well as its two national reserve forces, the Royal Hungarian Honvéd and Imperial Austrian Landwehr–fielded the enbloc clip-fed Mannlicher M1895 rifle for the last few decades of its existence.

Chambered in 8x50mmR, some 3.5 million(ish) of these were made by FEG in Hungary and Steyr in Austria as well as by CZ/Brno (the latter just starting in 1918.)

The straight-pull bolt action typically used a 30-inch barrel to produce a very hefty 50-inch rifle.

Thus. Also, great overshoes.

However, one of the rarer variants, sniper rifles which used telescopic sights made by Reichert, Kahles, Suss, Fuess, and Oigee, saw much lower production numbers, with just 13,000 made. Luckily Austria was home to the lion-share of optics makers at the time!

An even rarer subset of these was the M95 sniper carbine. Yes, sniper carbine.

And, as the Italians took most of these for war reparations in 1919-20, which Rome subsequently scrapped, they are one of the rarest of all sniper breeds.

A WWI-era Steyr M95 sniper rifle with a 20-inch barrel and a three post-C. Reichert Wein-marked 3x optic. It carries a “Wn-18” acceptance mark. (Photos: RIA)

The optic uses a three-post European style reticle and a very…peculiar mount.

My homie Ian has details on such a rifle, below.

The more things change…

Two pictures, about a century apart, but in the same part of the world and with the same context.

An ANZAC soldier trying to spot Turkish snipers during the Gallipoli Campaign, 1915 Turkey, raises his Wolseley pith helmet on his Enfield as his buddy observes for Ottoman muzzle flash.

A USMC Marine uses his entrenching tool to hold his helmet and attract enemy fire while a spotter searches for targets through a small hole in Fallujah, Iraq, 2004

Just waiting for ET to kick up a fight somewhere past Uranus sometime around 2090, then we can put a Space Force sniper team here for a third picture follow-up.

Sniper Olympics

A Dutch sniper team leaving room for Jesus while getting a good supported position. Also, hopefully, the Dutch government saved a ton of money on that Glock holster contract.

The Europe Best Sniper Team Competition being held this week is like the World Cup of military marksmanship, but with tougher competitors. Held at the U.S. 7th Army’s Grafenwoehr Training Area in Bavaria for the past week, according to the Army the event tests “marksmanship skills, physical prowess, and mental agility while engaging in team-building competition.”

In all some 36 teams from 17 NATO countries joined by heavily armed and Russia-adjacent neutrals Finland and Sweden, faced off in a set of professional skill tests– and there is a ton of really nice hardware on display.

A sniper from Finland on the stress lane. Renowned for marksmanship (ever heard of Simo Haya?) the Finnish Army use the Sako-built TRG-42 as their TKIV 2000 rifle, as well as the more legacy Valmet TKIV 85/Mosin 91 conversion in 7.62x53R– not to be confused with the old standard Russian 7.62x54R, although it can use that in a pinch.

Much more in my column at Guns.com.

You do know the Model 1851 Feldstutzer, yes?

From the Hungarian site Kapszli comes a great piece on the Swiss Army’s innovative Model 1851 Federal Rifle, otherwise known as the Feldstutzer or Eidigenössischer Stutzer.

Via Cap & Ball (Kapszli)

“The Model 1851 rifle at the time of the acceptance was truly the best military rifle of its age. First of all, it fired a much smaller diameter and lighter bullet than any other military rifle. While the French military rifle fired a 17 mm bullet, the American and British a 14.7 mm bullet, the Swiss rifle fired a 10.4 mm bullet weighing only 16.5-17 g. The bullet was pushed from the bore with a relatively high 60-grain charge of fine grade black powder resulting in a 440 m/s muzzle velocity and a flat trajectory.

The flat trajectory was a key feature in Switzerland the soldier had to master shooting downhill and uphill. The Swiss army consisted of free people for many centuries. These civilians were more important to the state than to let them be killed in melee combat so sniping the enemy from a safe distance was always an important element of the Swiss tactics since the introduction of firearms. It is also a reason why the shooting sports have been always so popular in this beautiful little country.”

Much more here

Sig 1-6x Tango optic to outfit Army’s new SDMR

Sig’s 1-6x24mm TANGO6 optic will top off a variant of the Heckler & Koch G28E rifle to serve as the Army’s new SDMR, replacing legacy accurized M14 rifles. (Photo: Sig Sauer)

The Army has announced that Sig Sauer’s 1-6x24mm Tango6 optic has been selected to equip the service’s new Squad Designated Marksman Rifle.

The Tango6 series scope, as selected for a 6,069-unit SDMR requirement, will include a flat dark earth aluminum main tube, 762 extended range bullet drop compensation illuminated front reticle and a red horseshoe dot for daylight target acquisition.

More in my column at Guns.com

1945: ‘A sniper is near’

“A Sniper is Near, and the Man Pointing has Located Him, Directing the Sharpshooter to his Whereabouts,” by Marine combat artist Harry Reeks (1921-1982). Via Prints, Drawings, and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.

Description: A Marine sharpshooter stands in profile with a rifle in hand, as another Marine points in front of them. The background of the image is left blank.

Don’t mind me, just duck hunting Stukas

Here we see a Degtyaryov PTRD-41 team practice anti-air gunnery with a single-shot 14.5×114mm antitank gun.

Don’t laugh, it actually worked a couple of times, reportedly.

According to Soviet sources, one Red Army sniper of 82nd Guards Rifle division, Mihail Lysov, shot down a Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber in October 1941, using such a rifle while another Hero sniper of 796th Rifle Division, Vasily Antonov, downed a much larger Ju88 with four rifle shots of a semi-auto Simonov PTRS-41 in July 1942.

The single shot PTRD and 5-round PTRS were popular in the days of thin-walled tanks such as the PzKpfw I which had just 13mm of armor at its thickest point (the 14.5mm round could zip through 40mm of steel at 100 meters), but as tanks got meaner the guns were basically used to snipe trucks and thin-skinned vehicles at ranges out past 1 km.

However, the Soviets used them in their whaling fleet as late as the 1970s

And they still pop up in the Donbass today…

Pro-Russian rebels stand next to newly dug trenches at a fortified front line rebel position near the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk May 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

Camo grass suit: The hottest thing in 1942 Solomon Islands sniper wear

From the Thayer Soule Collection (COLL/2266) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

“SNIPER GOES TO ROOST— Garbed in captured Japanese sniper’s outfit, a U.S. Marine on Guadalcanal Island proves that the Japs are not the only fighters who can “shinny” up a coconut tree, secret themselves in the lush foliage and hammer away at unsuspecting troops. Here he is giving them a mock dose of their medicine…

A U.S. Marine dons Japanese snipers outfit and mocks ascent into a palm tree. So well taught in the art of camouflage are the Japanese that were it not for the report of their rifles it would be almost impossible to spot them. Photo was taken on Guadalcanal, B.S.I.P.”

“This is one of mine. This is Sergeant Art I believe, or maybe Sergeant Fue. I get them mixed up. He was one of the survivors of the Getge patrol. Here he’s demonstrating the way the Japanese used that clip thing to climb the trees. Japanese rain cape, Japanese helmet, Japanese rifle. And before he went up, he was very careful to make sure everybody knew that he was one of us and not one of them.”

“Coming down” From the Thayer Soule Collection (COLL/2266) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

November 4, 1942: “The U.S. Marine at the right shows a companion how he looks in a Japanese sniper’s jacket made of long-haired animal’s skin. The skin blends in with the underbrush making such snipers extremely difficult to locate.”

OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO 6013611

Labeled “Japanese sniper suit for use in trees”

The above capture surely leads to this report:

“Japanese Camouflage Garment” from Tactical and Technical Trends, 14 Dec 1942, via Lone Sentry

The garment shown in the accompanying sketch was captured in the Solomons area. A number of similar garments were found packed in bales, and in at least one instance, one was found on a Japanese sniper shot out of a palm tree by U.S. Marines.

It is made from the shaggy, reddish-brown fiber that grows at the base of the fronds of the coconut palm tree. Sheets of this fiber are sewed together to form the garment.

It can serve as a camouflage garment to be used in areas where there are quantities of coconut palms. It has been used by snipers strapped in among the fronds of palm trees, and it could also be used effectively on the ground under suitable color conditions.

Comment: This type of garment is widely used in Japan as a raincoat. Those made of coconut palm fiber are used by Japanese fishermen, while the Japanese farmer makes his with reeds or rushes.

Beyond that, the suit was published in YANK in 1943, as a reference moving forward for Japanese uniforms (look at the right-hand corner).

A brief look at the ratchets of Marine snipers through the years

Over at Guns.com I did a quick geardo rundown of several of the Corp’s modern sniper rigs from the early WWI Rifle, “USMC Telescopic Rifle, Model of 1917” which is basically just a good shooting early M1903 with a fixed Winchester A5 scope through WWII’s updated M1903A-1 model Springfield with a Unertl 8x scope– immediately distinguishable by its long shade on the objective lens– which they designated the M1941 Sniper Rifle, and then the Korean War’s M1C and the various guns of Vietnam.

U.S. Marine firing the “USMC Telescopic Rifle, Model of 1917” which is an M1903 with a Winchester A5 scope. (Photo: National Archives)

“A U.S. Marine Marksman using a telescopic sight and with his Springfield cocked and ready, waits for a troublesome North Korean sniper to pop up so he can pick him off in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea on Sept. 28, 1950. Note the Unertl. (Photo/caption: Max Desfor/AP)

“Pvt. Randall E. Josey, a Marine sniper attached to Co. H, 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, has a bead on a Viet Cong at over 1,000 meters. Using a 3 x 9 power scope, a Remington 700 rifle has accuracy up to 1,100 meters and has been used effectively up to 2,000 meters or more.” June 19, 1967 (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)

More here.

Farewell, Paladin

Once described as being a product of the “most dangerous publisher in the world,” the Boulder, Colorado-based media house and distributor is closing its doors at the end of the year.

As noted on the company’s website, Paladin is shuttering following the death earlier this year of their co-founder and publisher, Peder Lund, and is selling off remaining inventory at greatly reduced prices. Over the decades, Paladin has marketed 800 how-to books and videos on topics like self-defense, firearms, martial arts, and survival as part of its Professional Action Library. Some are downright hokey, but others are very valuable texts, especially those on military history.

“There will be no more books or videos sold after November 29, 2017,” the company’s website says. “We are incredibly grateful to all of our amazing customers and authors for their continued loyalty and support over the decades.”

I ordered a mystery crate of 50 titles for $50 as well as a few classic volumes that I didn’t have hard copies of for basically chump change. For example, they have Maj. John L. Plaster’s excellent work on Great War snipers, which just came out and has a $40 MSRP, on sale for $6 measly dollars.

You are welcome!

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