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Flotsam at the crossroads of the history

The city of Ostroh (Ostrog) in what is today Western Ukraine has flown many flags over the past 900 years. Just in the last century, it was part of the Tsarist Russian Empire, then Poland, then the Soviets in 1939, then German occupation during WWII, then the Soviets again in 1944, and finally, since 1991, an independent Ukraine.

It should, therefore, be no surprise that when a local house was torn down in the city, it disgorged some interesting contents.

Belted ammo, 7.62x54R on stripper clips, and what looks like a Mosin 91 that has been given an indigenous obrez or SBR treatment

Yes, that is a very obrezed Mosin

Some German occupation-era matches. The ammo at the bottom looks like either .30 Mauser pistol or Soviet 7.62x25mm Tok. 

Potato Masher: Everyone loves a bundle of Stielhandgranate 24s!

How about a gently used Steyr-Hahn 1912? Adopted by the KuK as the Repetierpistole M1912, Poland, Germany and others used these through the 1940s, which means this bad boy could have come from numerous sources

Another Mosin as well as what looks like an SVT barreled action

Some people get all the luck. The best thing I ever found left behind on a house demo was a coffee cup.

TBT, Springfield Armory edition

This Springfield Armory layout from 1961 shows a then-current uniform of a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery with a new M14 rifle and jungle boots coupled with a view of World War II-era army uniform and one from the Spanish-American War.

Of interest, the WWII “Ike” jacket has an SFC sleeve patch, 4th Armoured Division shoulder sleeve patch, German Occupation medal, and good conduct medal. A “K” ration box rests on top while an M1 rifle and coverless M1 helmet and liner chill nearby.

The SpanAm War shot includes the iconic U.S. M1892 Krag along with the khaki 1889 Pattern campaign hat and 1898 Pattern blouse.

Combat Magnum!

You have to admit, the Model 19 Combat Magnum was about as perfect as it came in a carry revolver. They were also easy on the eyes.

Designed with input from an early legend in the gun community, the Smith & Wesson M19 has been a hit with wheel gun aficionados for generations.

To get the appeal of the Model 19, understand that S&W first debuted their medium-framed swing-out cylinder revolvers, known today as K-frames, back in the late 1890s with the Hand Ejector and Military & Police models. Then came the larger N-frame hog legs in 1907 with the advent of the Triple Lock or New Century. While the “Ks” typically ran in .32 to .38 calibers, the “Ns” were offered in beefier chamberings like .44 Special and .44 Russian. Fast forward to the 1930s and when the dream team of Elmer Keith, Phillip Sharpe, and D. B. Wesson joined forces to create the .357 Magnum cartridge, they developed an N-frame model to run it, the Model 27.

And so, it remained for decades until S&W heard from a WWII and Korean War-veteran Marine officer and U.S. Border Patrol supervisor, William “Bill” Jordan, about the what would make the perfect “combat” duty revolver.

USBP Assnt. Superintendent of Patrol William H. “Bill” Jordan. The gun is his Combat Magnum SW 19 

In short, Jordan advocated a K-frame-sized double-action chambered .357. While today these seems as logical as peanut butter and jelly, it was revolutionary at the time and, after some R&D and trial and error, the K-framed Combat Magnum was created in 1955

Outfitted with a shrouded barrel with an enclosed ejector rod and an adjustable rear sight, the Combat Magnum that hit S&Ws catalog in the mid-1950s was built on a 4-screw frame with a square butt. The frame sported a larger yoke and a fluted cylinder that had been counterbored. Unlike the Model 27 which was offered in numerous barrel lengths, the original Combat Magnum only came in a 4-inch format as standard.

While a nickel finish was offered, most were in Smith’s bright blue finish of the time.

In regular production until 1999, the guns were later made with both square and round butts and in 2.5-, 4-, and 6-inch barrel formats across eight generations.

What’s not to like?

It’s a Snap(haunce)

“Imperial Russian 17th Century Snaphaunce rifle,” apparently the only one in America, coming up at auction by Morphy next month.

The predecessor of the true flintlock, the snaphance (from the Dutch “snaphaan” or “pecking rooster”) came after the snap lock and had its moment in the sun from about 1580 to 1650.

More on the type’s history from a 1970 paper by Dr. Arne Hoff, Director, Royal Museum, Copenhagen, here. 

Secret Service Apparently Ditching Sig

Secret Service agents walk on both sides of President Theodore Roosevelt’s carriage during his inauguration on March 4, 1905– the first such use of the USSS for such a detail. Vice President under McKinley, Teddy moved into the White House after the former Union Army vet was shot during the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist. TR himself would later survive a 1912 assassination attempt in Milwaukee by the skin of his teeth– or more appropriately, the thickness of a speech.

Founded in 1865 to fight counterfeiters as part of the Treasury Department, the U.S. Secret Service today has something like 7,000 agents, uniformed division personnel and support staff. For the first 130~ years of their existence, they carried wheel guns, alternating between Colts and Smiths over the decades. In the 1990s, they went semi-auto, adopting first the Sig Sauer P228 in 9mm and then the P229R in spicy .357SIG.

Now, it seems they have elected to go Glock, piggybacking on CBP’s recent huge $85 million contract.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

JFK milestone

The future aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy’s (CVN 79) recently had the final deck piece, the upper bow, installed at Newport News. It was the 447th and final super-lift section to be installed.

The 100,000-ton+ behemoth is the second in the Ford-class and is expected to take to the water later this year at launching. Commissioning is set for 2024, which hopefully is enough time to get the bugs worked out of the class.

Alamo gets its “Maverick” 16-pounder returned

The Alamo’s early 19th Century Spanish 16-pounder was the largest artillery piece at the 1836 siege. After the iconic Texan last stand, it was spiked by the Mexican Army and buried rather than taken away as a trophy. Fast forward to 1852 and the Maverick family purchased land around the former mission and, in the process of clearing the grounds, unearthed the old iron cannon and returned to the Alamo during the early 1900s. There, it sat for another century, described incorrectly as an 18-pounder.

Recently restored, it was mounted on a new carriage and installed outside the Long Barrack last week.

Below is an interview with Dr. Bruce Winders and Texas A&M’s Dr. Jim Jobling about the conservation process on the gun, which involved lengthy soaking it in sodium hydroxide to remove decades worth of corrosion and protect the original iron. Then the whole cannon gets boiled in a rinse and coated in tannic acid– in effect rebluing the gun. Then comes industrial paint to protect it.

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