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Vale, P239

I always kinda liked the P239. Slightly more ergonomic than the classic P6/P225 West German police pistol, it was a great carry for its time, sort of a 9mm Walther PP.

P239 with Hogue G10 grips, SRT, Trijicon HD’s and a new guide rod spring

Sig Sauer debuted the compact, personal-sized handgun in 1996 in 9mm and .357 SIG, later adding .40 S&W to the stable two years later. Over the years the company sold them in DAO and double/single action configurations as well as with their DAK trigger system with various finishes and options.

However, when the 2018 catalog and dealer price list came out last Fall, Sig forums lit up with the news that the model had been quietly discontinued. Last month, it largely disappeared from the company’s website, leaving with a whisper.

More in my column at

WWII mines and trawlers don’t mix

French mine clearance divers ensure the proper neutralization of the mine. Photo: Préfecture de la Manche

Off the coast of Normandy last week the French trawler Le Retour hauled in a heck of a full net, to include one Monika-type Luftmine B (G-mine), formerly of German ownership.

UXOs are a common thing along the shores of Europe.

The big minenbombe had an explosive charge somewhere on the order of 860 kilos, which would have wrecked Le Retour for sure ala the spy trawler Saint Georges in the 1980s Bond classic, For Your Eyes Only.

Gratefully, French Navy clearance divers were able to render the big easter egg inert with no casualties.

More here.

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.

SOCOM increasingly moving to red dots for handguns

As far back as 2016, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command identified a need for 11,894 “low vis” optics-ready Glock 19 handguns with the slide cut to accept a red dot sight, a separate requirement from the MHS program.


The gun was termed the FLVCP, in mil-acronym

At the same time, the service identified a need for at least 12,592 handgun RMR sights for use across Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force special operations units.

This led to a solicitation last year that saw submissions from a number of red dot makers and, last week, a $7.62 million contract to Trijicon for an “indefinite” number of RMRs.

The contract was awarded for a handgun sight to be used “for rapid day and night pistol target engagements in confined spaces, while prisoner handling, or in extremis after the primary weapon malfunctions.” (Photo: KE Arms Charlie slide with the Trijicon RMR, Gemtech Tundra and a Surefire X300U on a Glock 19 by Charles Vernor)

More in my column at


The time machine that is Camp Perry

1908 California rifle team at Camp Perry, Ohio. The site of the National Shoot. 5×7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection via Shorpy.

When Camp Perry opened, the Krag Jorgensen rifle was still king of the range. It was not until 1908– as shown in the above photo– that enough of the Model 1903 rifles were available that they could be set aside for use in the National Matches.

Of interest in this photo from Perry in 1907 is the use by the shooter in the foreground of a Pope sight micrometer, attached to the rear sight elevation leaf. Harry Pope’s micrometers, unlike most of the several varieties that were made and sold, were intended to be left in place while the rifle was being fired. Photo via American Rifleman

At the 1907 National Matches, the rifle ranges accommodated 160 targets for shooting out to 1,000 yards, while the revolver targets (the M1911 was still a half-decade away from making an appearance at the match) numbered 5 each at distances of 15, 25, 50 and 75 yards.

US Army Rifle Team at the 1911 National Trophy Team Matches. Photo via Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Today the National Matches are a great deal more diverse and draw a slightly larger attendance, but one thing that hasn’t changed in the past 100 years is SAFS.

The Department of Defense first conducted the Small Arms Firing Schools (SAFS) as part of the National Matches at Camp Perry in 1918 and  Federal law continues to require the annual course– which now instruct nearly 1,000 pistol and rifle shooters each year in firearms safety and fundamental marksmanship skills.

The current token entry fee of $45.00 ($30.00 for juniors) provides SAFS shooters with classroom instruction, field training, live fire squadded practice session, entry to the M16 EIC Rifle Match, as well as ammo for the course. The winner gets a plaque. The top four get medals. All get a t-shirt, a lapel pin, and a memory to keep forever as their very own experience in the National Matches.

From CMP:

The Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) is a two-day clinic that includes a safety training and live fire portion (30 rounds) on the first day and an M16 Rifle Excellence In Competition (EIC) match on day two. The course of fire after five sighting rounds for the M16 EIC match consists of 10 shots slow fire prone in 10 minutes, 10 shots rapid-fire prone in 60 seconds, 10 shots rapid-fire sitting in 60 seconds and 10 shots slow fire standing in 10 minutes, all fired from the 200-yard line.

The two-day Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) is a two-day clinic at national matches, which often sees military instructors impart their knowledge to 1,000 or so budding marksmen. (Photo: CMP)

The program is designed for beginning marksmen or those looking to earn their first EIC points, which are earned and applied toward receiving a Distinguished Rifleman Badge.


XM-25 Punisher gets a dirt nap– but Uncle is keeping the R&D

Developed by Orbital ATK, Heckler & Koch and L-3, the XM25 CDTE was a man-portable “smart” weapon system designed to fire 25mm high-explosive airburst round set to explode in mid-air at or near the target through the help of a laser rangefinder. It was planned to buy 10,876 launchers, and eventually arm one soldier in every fireteam, phasing out the various 40mm grenade platforms.

But not everything goes according to plan.

Then-U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno looks through the sight of an XM25 during his visit to Fort Belvoir, Va., Nov 1, 2013. Canceled by the Army last April, it was announced the program was officially ended last week. (Photo: DoD)

Although fielded in limited numbers for a 14-month period in Afghanistan that ended in 2012 but earned the super blooper a nickname (The Punisher), the Army ultimately pumped the brakes on the project in 2016 after a toxic cocktail of cost overruns (the estimated cost per unit more than tripled), failed testing, and malfunctions, which resulted in a lawsuit and finger-pointing between two of the contractors. Now, almost two years later, the Army has closed the door for good but will keep the technology as well as the prototype weapons, Stars and Stripes reports.

“After canceling the program last year, the Army has since received rights to the program’s research and development,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Isaac Taylor. “This is in addition to the 20 existing XM25 systems — to include high explosive air-burst and target practice rounds — that the Army garnered as part of the negotiated settlement.”

Singapore heavy

2nd battalion of Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in Malaya, pre-Pearl Harbor.

Offical caption, “Constant practice in patrolling jungle roads, keeps members of this famous regiment in full fighting for their special job.”

Their pecuilar fighting vehicle is the Lanchester 6×4 Mark I armoured car. Armed with three Vickers guns– a .50-caliber and .303-in the turret and another .303 on the left side of the hull, these 20-foot long land yachts weighed 7 tons, largely due to their steel frames and 9mm worth of sheet armor, which protected them from small arms rounds. Their 6-cylinder in-line, gasoline-fueled engine was fire prone if the Lanchester took damage.

Men of the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders training with a Lanchester six-wheeled armored car in the Malayan jungle, 13 November 1941.

Argylls and Sutherlanders in Malaya. Note the two Vickers in the turret, one a .50-cal and the other a .303. Also, the vehicles 3rd Vickers is seen on the hull to the lower right of the photo.

Just 35 Lanchesters were made, including only 18 Mark Is. Most, after service in Egypt with the 12th Royal Lancers, were sent to the Far East to defend Singapore in the ill-fated Malay Camapign against the Japanese– who for once had better tanks.

Japanese Type 97 Chi-ha tanks on captured Singapore street, February 15, 1942.

Japanese Chi-Ha light reconnaissance tanks, Malaya, January 1942. They had 47mm guns and 35mm or armor.

During the Malay campaign, Japanese troops captured a large number of serviceable British crawler armored personnel carriers, Bren Universal Carriers, and the Marmon-Herrington Mk III, as well as the Lanchesters.

Today, Singapore still imports European armor, today using German-made Leopard 2A4s upgraded to the Leopard 2SG standard with composite armour.

The Singaporean variant of the Leopard 2, the Leopard 2SG. The Leo 2SG features upgrades such as modular armor and the Commander’s Open Architecture Panoramic Sight (COAPS)

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