Category Archives: weapons

MK25 Gets some Screentime

The “Terminal List,” which debuted earlier this month on Amazon Prime, is based on the best-selling novel by Navy SEAL veteran Jack Carr and follows Navy Lt. Commander James Reece (Chris Pratt) after his entire platoon SEALs is killed in an ambush during a covert mission overseas. Besides Pratt– who has fast become a staple of Hollywood sci-fi/action films, the series stars Constance Wu, Taylor Kitsch, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jai Courtney, Patrick Schwarzenegger, and, oh yeah, a SIG P226 MK25.

Besides a slew of serious hardware and edged weapons, the MK25 gets a lot of screentime, especially in the first episode, and is even included in the opening credits. The gun is such a key plot point, in fact, that you can’t get two seconds into the trailer for the series without seeing it.

The MK24/25 series P226 models go back to at least the early 1990s in service with the Navy’s frogman corps.

A pair of SIG MK25 1962-2012 50-Year SEAL Team Commemoratives I ran into at the company’s headquarters in New Hampshire. (Photo: Chris Eger/

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Turkish Cheetah

To be clear, I love the Beretta 80-series of DA/SA pistols, best known to collectors as the Cheetah line. In my opinion, they were the high-water mark for when it comes to 1970s-80s all-metal hammer-fired compact carry guns. A simple blowback action, the pistol is light due to its abbreviated size, open-top slide, and aluminum frame.

As Beretta was in the small pistol market for about 60 years before the Cheetah hit the scene, they knew what they were doing when they came up with the design. What people wanted. What worked.

I have a couple of different .32 and .380 Beretta Cheetahs, all recently imported former Italian police guns, and I really like them.

While surplus Euro police guns can be had for around $300-$400 today, they often have a good bit of abuse to them as, let’s face it, many were carried for 25-30 years. Still imported as new-production for the commercial market as late as 2017, a factory-fresh Cheetah these days almost always goes for $1K or higher.


This lead us to the Turkish-made, some say commercially licensed (production started two years after Beretta closed down its own Cheetah line) Tisas Fatih B380 as brought in by SDS Imports, a double-stack 13+1 capacity .380 that I have found in testing to handle fairly well…

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Stomping around New England

So I spent last week fighting canceled, delayed, and bumped flights to Boston-Logan and back at the behest of Sig Sauer, who has a couple of really interesting new guns coming out in a few months (more on that later) as well as to attend the opening of the company’s new 40,000 sq. ft. SIG Experience Center.

The facility includes a huge retail store where you can “try before you buy” anything Sig makes on the in-house series of shooting ranges ($10 per gun), a coffee shop, meeting and training areas, and the Sig Sauer Museum.

It is the latter, of course, that I found most interesting.

Originally an importer of West German-made guns established in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia in 1985, SIGARMS later became Sig Sauer in 2007 and has been manufacturing firearms in the U.S. for the past two decades.

I remember the $18,500 P226 Black Beauty from SHOT Show 2012, and it remains stunning.

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SEAL Vet Holds Class on SOPMOD History

Every gun nerd knows about SOPMOD. SOPMOD refers to Special Operations Peculiar MODification kit.

This stuff:

The purpose behind SOPMOD is to provide rifles with the flexibility and versatility to adapt basic issue weapons to meet mission-specific requirements.

It started off a lot less high-speed. 

Retired Navy SEAL Mark “Coch” Cochiolo talks about his career in SOPMOD, with a great 11-minute show and tell below going from the old days of pipe-clamping Maglights on MP5s, and drilling eye-bolts through handguards to where we are at today.

Michigan Hwy 28 becomes Hawk LZ

Last week, Michigan National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 127th Wing made history by conducting landing, taking off, and performing Integrated Combat Turns on a closed 9,000-foot section of a Michigan highway.

It was the first time that ICTs, which enable the quick rearming and refueling of a running jet, was conducted on a public highway in the U.S. (Photo by Master Sgt. David Kujawa)

Via the USAF and the Michigan Air Guard:

Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt IIAir Force Special Operations Command MC-12W LibertyC-145A Combat Coyote and U-28A Draco, and a C-146A Wolfhound from the Air Force Reserves landed, took off, and performed integrated combat turns on a closed 9,000-foot section of Michigan highway M-28.

It was the first time integrated combat turns, which enable the quick rearming and refueling of a running jet, have been conducted on a public highway in the United States. The temporary landing zone is one of several progressive training scenarios held this week during the Michigan Air National Guard’s exercise Northern Agility 22-1 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Northern Agility 22-1 demonstrates the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment doctrine — ready to execute missions quickly in unpredictable ways. The landing zone was named “Hawk LZ” in honor of F-16 pilot Maj. Durwood “Hawk” Jones from the Wisconsin ANG’s 115th Fighter Wing, who lost his life in a training accident in Michigan in 2020.

Michigan National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 127th Wing Combat Turns Highway July 2022 (Photo by Master Sgt. David Kujawa)

More here.

A Roman candle without a fuse

Describing it as a “Roman candle without a fuse,” Mark Serbu takes a look at the science behind the maniac assassin’s electrically-fired black powder SXS shotgun tragically used in Japan recently, a country with probably the strictest and most efficient gun control in human history.

Keep in mind that the mad scientist/gunman was an unemployed 41-year-old unemployed forklift driver whose only martial background was a short stint in the Japanese Navy as a Quartermaster striker.

I’ve met and talked to Mark dozens of times and he is probably one of the smartest guys in the gun industry, so his take is interesting.

Hey, you got 9mm in my Tokarev…

Back in the 1980s and 90s, you could get a great deal on a 9mm Tokarev copy, if you didn’t mind the wonky lettering on the slide.

In 1951, as part of a short-lived period of Revolutionary Co-Prosperity with Moscow, Mao’s China and Stalin’s Soviet Union shared the technology package to build the TT-33 Tokarev pistol design in the land of The Red Dragon. In short order, an estimated 250,000 Tokarev clones, made with a mixture of donated Soviet and new-made Chinese parts, came off the lines as the new Type 51 pistol. A few years later, the design was gently modified into the all-Chinese Type 54, a pistol that remained in Chinese front-line service well into the 1990s and still exists in second-line armories.

Fast forward through Nixon’s rapprochement with Communist China and the normalization of trade between the two Pacific giants, and in 1980, the China North Industries Corporation, better known as Norinco, was formed. Within a few years, tons of new-made Norinco firearms, including SKS and AK pattern rifles, were being shipped to the U.S. for sporting purposes.

This brings us to the Norinco TU90 and 213.

With a 4.5-inch barrel and 31-ounce weight, the Norinco 213 is an 8+1 9mm that is roughly the same size as an M1911 Government Issue and is based on the Chinese Type 54…which is based on the Soviet TT-33 Tokarev…which is based on the…

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How the British Army’s mortar primer needs sparked an Ammo Plant in Minnesota

Federal ammo is celebrating its Centennial this year, as I’ve discussed before, and they are increasingly doing an archival dump, which I find very interesting. During WWII, the company was charged with standing up the Twin Cities Ordnance Plant by the Army, one that continued in operation through Korea and Vietnam. However, what really got Federal that deal was an earlier one for mortar shell igniters for the British Army.

As detailed by Federal:

In 1940, as World War II ramped up, the British Purchasing Commission placed an order for 1.4 million mortar ignition cartridges.

If you’re not familiar with the term, an ignition cartridge is essentially a blank 12-gauge shotshell that is inserted in the base of the mortar bomb just before firing. The bomb is positioned in the upward-pointing muzzle of the mortar tube. It is released to slide down the tube, and the primer of the ignition cartridge impacts on a fixed firing pin at the bottom

This ignites the powder charge in the ignition cartridge, which in turn ignites the propelling charge of the mortar round. In some mortars, this can be adjusted by adding or subtracting propellant rings on the round.

The British continued to order ignition cartridges, and soon the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps was buying them as well. Federal’s fast and reliable fulfillment of these contracts gave it the credibility to bid for the Twin Cities Ordnance Plant contract.

Federal’s first foray into military production was with 1.4 million mortar ignition cartridges ordered by the British in 1940. 

This led to similar orders from the U.S. military.

Federal also provided trap and skeet ammunition during the war for aerial gunnery training and recreational use. These were in Monark and Hi-Power configuration, while Hi-Power ammo was offered in 00 Buck.

USAAF gunner with a training weapon, a Remington Model 11 set up to emulate flexible-mount .50 caliber M2 Browning. The military used millions of rounds of low brass 12 gauge for training

On the skeet range at N.A.S. Saint Louis, Missouri, 29 April 1944. Gunner is Lieutenant Junior Grade Rothschild, instructed by Martin. Shotgun is a Remington Model 11, 12 gauge semiautomatic, on a shotgun mount assembly Mk. 1 Mod. 0 consisting of gun mount adapter Mk. 12 mod.2 and .30 caliber stand Mk.23 Mod.0. Note boxes of Peters “Victor” brand skeet cartridges. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-237387

Some buckshot loads were made with brass collars at the front of the hull for more reliable feeding from the variety of pump and autoloader shotguns being issued.

Federal supplied buckshot loads with brass collars at the front for more reliable feeding in the wide variety of shotguns in use by the various U.S. armed services.

Federal remains in the mortar igniter biz today, as the firm continues to make No. 150D primers for 60-120mm mortars and the No. 215D primer for the Mk 19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. These are almost identical to the Federal primers civilian handloaders use, except they have slightly shorter anvils, thus the D for “desensitized.” This lets them stand up to rough handling in combat.

El Tiburon Blanco looking great

The Reliance-class U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC 623, ex WPC-623) returned to homeport last week following a 55-day/11,000-mile counter-narcotics deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The 54-year-old 210-foot medium endurance cutter and crew conducted law enforcement and search-and-rescue operations in international waters off Central America from Mexico to Costa Rica.

With an embarked MH-65E Dolphin helicopter and aviation detachment from Air Station Port Angeles, Washington, and with additional crew members from the Tactical Law Enforcement Team Pacific, Electronics Support Detachment Detroit, Coast Guard Base Galveston, and three U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets, she got some amazing photo-ex shots while underway.

The crew aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC-623) stands in formation on the ship’s flight deck while underway off the coast of Central America on Memorial Day, 2022. An embarked MH-65 Dolphin helicopter detachment crew from Air Station Port Angeles hovered overhead for the photo in recognition of the day of remembrance. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Brad O’Brien)

Note that the awnings typically rigged on such patrols to shelter picked-up migrants and smuggling suspects, shield the cutter’s Mk38 25mm gun, which replaced her old 3″/50 in 1994. The 210-foot cutter has a pair of M2 .50 cals on her bridge wings that cover both her decks and for use in boardings. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Brad O’Brien)

The class is capable of operating HH-60 and HH-65-sized helicopters albeit without the ability to do in-depth maintenance as they have no hangar. Note the LSO box under the smack. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Brad O’Brien)

As noted by the USCG, on her latest deployment:

The crew of the Steadfast also worked with Mexican law enforcement assets on two occasions, to locate, track, and interdict fast-moving drug smuggling vessels, resulting in the seizure of 2,747 kilograms of cocaine by Mexican authorities, valued at $109 million.

While transiting South of Mexico, Steadfast’s bridge team sighted a disabled and adrift open-hull vessel with two Mexican adult males waving life jackets. Steadfast approached the vessel to investigate and determine the nature of distress. The imperiled mariners stated that they were fishermen who had been adrift for 23 days after their vessel had been beset by weather. Steadfast embarked both persons, provided meals and medical care, and returned them safely back to Mexico.

Steadfast is a Reliance Class cutter that has been homeported in Astoria since 1994. Previously, Steadfast was homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida where she earned the nickname “El Tiburon Blanco,” (“White Shark”) from drug smugglers for her notoriety in counter-narcotics operations in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea.

All in all, not too bad looking for a ship that launched in 1967.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast side-launched at the American Shipbuilding Company, Lorain 1967

That’s not just any ordinary Spaghetti Repro

The image above is of an Italian-made reproduction .44-caliber Colt 1851 Navy percussion revolver imported to the U.S. by Val Forgett’s Navy Arms in the 1970s.

Man I miss the old Navy Arms….

While these guns aren’t rare by any stretch and don’t cost a lot of cash– heck, original Civil War-era Colt Navy revolvers themselves only go for about $2K these days at auction, the above Italian repro just brought $17,400 at a Milestone Auction in Ohio last month.

You see, it was one of a pair of replica guns used by Clint Eastwood in the 1976 film The Outlaw, Josey Wales, and was accompanied by two signed certificates from Paramount Studios.

The movie, adapted from Forrest Carter’s western novel, was one of Eastwood’s cowboy stories actually shot in the U.S., filmed across Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and California in DeLuxe Color and Panavision, and was directed by Eastwood.

A commercial success that brought over 10 times its filming budget despite the hero being a Missouri Bushwacker with a backstory that included “Bloody Bill” Anderson, in 1996, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

One of the certificates identified the gun by serial number and attested to its having been used by Eastwood in his starring role in the classic Western. The gun, marked 1526 and Paramount on the butt, was found in 2000 storage by the studio and logged to the film.

It was then sold at a charity auction while its companion gun is now part of the Smithsonian collection in Washington, DC.

Milestone had estimated the gun would bring $5,000-$10,000. I guess they underestimated the draw of Josey Wales.

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