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Radom is back on top in Poland

Fabryka Broni Łucznik, Radom and the Polish Army go way back, at least as far as pistols go. Besides refurbishing captured/inherited Tsarist Russian M1895 Nagants, German P08 Lugers and various Austro-Hungarian Steyr/Frommer pistols for the force, in 1935 FB started manufacturing first Polish-closeout Nagants then the wholly-Polish Pistolet wz. 35, commonly known as the VIS after an acronym for the inventors’ last names.

Some 50,000 such guns were made for the country’s military prior to World War II — with Polish Eagle markings — and the Germans liked the single-stack 9mm so much they cranked out another 300,000 simplified guns, sans Eagles, for their own use during the war.

I saw this “sweetheart” gripped VIS at a collector show a couple years back. An occupation gun, it was captured in Western Europe by a U.S. soldier in 1944 and carried for the remainder of the war under new management.

Post-WWII, FB made the P-64s Czak and P-83 Wanad, both in 9x18mm, for the Polish Army and police forces but was edged out by the somewhat wonky WIST-94 in recent years.

Well, that has changed as FB just won a contract for 20,000 new PR-15 RAGUN pistols, which will be dubbed VIS 100s in Polish service, to both pay tribute to the old-school VIS-35 and the fact that Poland’s recent centennial celebration of achieving independence following World War I.

More in my column at

Also, FB just released 50 limited edition VIS Eagles, with similar honors

The gun is marked “100 LAT NIEPODLEGŁEJ” which translates roughly to “100 years of independence.” The special VIS also carries the banner of the 2 Dywizja Kawalerii (II RP), the famed Polish 2nd Cavalry Division, down the right-hand side of the slide.

And just like that, the Burkes are 30

A port bow view of the guided-missile destroyer USS ARLEIGH BURKE (DDG-51) underway in rough seas. Camera Operator: PH3 JAMES COLLINS Date Shot: 31 Mar 1993 DNSC9303708

USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), the paterfamilias of the largest class of warships built in the West since Korea and longest production run for any post-WWII U.S. Navy surface combatant, was laid down at Bath Iron Works in Maine on this day in 1988, set for a 1991 commission.

Elsewhere that day, Roy Orbison died of a heart attack at age 52, Nelson Mandela was transferred to Capetown’s Victor Vester Prison, Mikhail Gorbachev was Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and Ronald Reagan was busy packing for the ranch in California as George H. W. Bush was slated to move into the Oval Office.

The top of the Top 100 that week, as related by Casey Kasem, was Chicago’s power ballad Look Away.

To borrow a line from the song, the Navy may have been looking (hard) but they haven’t “Found someone else” and Burke remains on active duty. In 2011, she completed a hull, mechanical and electrical (HM&E) modernization to extend her service life to 40~ years, well into the 2030s. By that time, as many as 104 Burke-class destroyers could be on the Navy List.

The more things change…

These two images, of U.S. infantrymen some 100 years apart, show just how much the basic job of a foot soldier endures throughout time. You still feel exposed no matter what the cover is. You are still there for the Joe next to you. Your uncomfortable equipment is still made by the lowest bidder. You still just want to get through the day.

A soldier with 30th DIV sniping from a trench in Belgium on July 9, 1918. Note his Springfield M1903 rather than the more commonly-issued M1917 Enfield. Signal Corps image 18708

10th Mountain troops working the trench complex at Fort Drum, New York, Nov. 2018. For those who have experienced upstate NY this time of year, the pain is real.

Estonia to smooth out the hodgepodge

The Estonian Army numbers some 6,000 active and 35,000 reservists, fielding two infantry brigades, a legit operations task group, and a number of smaller units. The country also fields a large and organized unpaid militia.

The force, however, is armed with a wide array of small arms to include 7.62mm Swedish-made AK4 rifles (licensed copies of the HK G3A3) and 5.56mm Israeli Galils alongside German HK G36s. Most were well-used surplus rifles even before they were passed on to Estonia.

That’s a lot of different rifles for an army that, when everyone is counted, still weighs in at less than a Corps-sized element.

To homogenize the Baltic state’s arsenal, LMT was selected this week as the winner of a $25 million tender to provide Estonia with 16,000 5.56mm M4 and 7.62mm AR-10 style weapons, beating out competitive designs submitted by Heckler & Koch, Sig Sauer, and Patriot Ordnance Factory.

More in my column at

Good news: It is tiny and covert. Bad news: Only good for 50 rounds

Billed as a last-ditch defense option rather than a range plinker, the Pill Box is a throwback of sorts, but an interesting one.

Announced Monday, the tiny Pill Box uses a special wipe which GSL Technology says “should last at least 50 rounds minimum before needing replacement,” providing a sound reduction of some 24 dB. The wipe, a standard of suppressors dating back to WWII, has largely been phased out in recent years in favor of larger but more durable internal baffle systems.

The small black suppressor is made of 7075 aluminum and features standard 1/2x28TPI threads (Photos: GSL)

At a length of 1.44-inches and a diameter of under an inch, Pill Box weighs in at less than an ounce. The company says that it is the smallest can available on the market at the moment. As such, it stands to take the place of the old Gemtech Pill Bottle (prior to them being bought by S&W) and gives newer cans such as the Armtac Covert some serious competition in size.

To replace the wipe once it is worn out, GSL says a Type 7 FFL can do the work or they can replace it for $25 in-house. Sorry guys, they can’t ship spare wipes as they are considered to be regulated “suppressor parts” by the ATF.

MSRP is $285.

Check it out in action, below.

The story behind President George H.W. Bush’s long-lost service revolver

Before he was President, George H.W. Bush was a Navy pilot in WWII and carried a S&W revolver in case he had to bail out. After he managed to keep the .38 with him when he ditched his flaming Avenger in the Pacific and even in his time in the drink before a passing submarine picked him up, he parted ways with the gun in 1944 and didn’t see it again until 2007.

You see Bush, one of several downed aviators picked up by the crew of the Gato-class fleet sub USS Finback, “hot bunked” with one of the boat’s junior officers– Lt. (JG) Albert Brostrom– until she completed her 10th War Patrol.

As a gesture of thanks for splitting the precious real estate with him, Bush passed on his .38 once Finback made it to port.

Brostrom held on to it until his death in 1983 but his son, Ron, who knew the story and the Bush-tie-in, presented it to the 41st President at Philadelphia’s Constitution Center.

And the gun, a S&W “Victory” Model, still looked great.

More in my column at


Shelby Mules, 100 years ago

The below images are from the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum, depicting Doughboys of the newly formed National Army’s 38th “Cyclone” Infantry Division preparing at Camp Shelby outside of Hattiesburg for overseas service in WWI. The photos give a window into the equipment, men and animals of an ammunition train, a vital service which kept the Army fighting longer than 30 minutes.

Field marching order, note the M1917 Enfield

Pup tents and Army mules

Note the pioneer tools

As anyone familiar with the training area around Shelby should know, the roads there was good practice to those rutted muddy paths on the Western Front.

The 17-page scrapbook was donated to the museum in 1990 by TD White of Purvis, MS, and sadly the names of the men and mules in it are lost to history.

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