Tag Archives: Anniston Army Depot

Meet No. 24

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but back in 2015, I was one of the first people in gun media– or any media for that matter– to cover the story of Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers’s effort to include an amendment to the NDAA while the Pentagon spending policy bill was in the House Armed Service Committee. Rogers, who represented the district of Northern Alabama that included the Annison Army Depot and CMP’s headquarters operations, found out that the Army had 100,000 surplus World War II-era M1911s in long-term storage at a cost of $200,000 per year, or about $2 per gun.

The amendment: save Uncle Sam the cash by transferring the guns to the CMP for sale to qualified members of the public, with the funds generated used to support worthwhile marksmanship projects ranging from JROTC to 4H and the National Matches.

I continued to cover the story, which grew legs and captured the imagination of– no joke– millions according to the analytics. Over the course of the next half-decade, I would file at least a dozen updates for a couple different publications. In 2017, after an initial batch had been greenlighted for transfer by the Obama administration (!) on a visit to the “Army’s attic” the Army Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, I was shown crates packed and filled with M1911s pulled from the military’s museum stocks that were in excess of the service’s needs, pending shipment to the CMP once the handgun program got underway.

The thing is, 19,000 people got excited enough about the first round of M1911 sales from CMP and submitted packets for the first 8,000 guns transferred. With that, I felt I had little to no chance of getting one for myself, so I did not wade into the deep waters of trying to get one of these old warhorses through the program.

C’est la vie, right?

However, as CMP announced their Round 2 of the M1911 program earlier this year, I cautiously allowed myself to get optimistic that, perhaps, my chance had come as the really rabid collectors had already shot their bolt– CMP only allows an applicant to get one of these pistols– in the initial go-round.

So I spent a day getting my packet together, sent it in during the open window (January 4 to March 4, 2021), and sat back to wait. On 6 April, I got an email saying I had a randomly generated number (20581) and found out that the current batch of orders was going to start at 20,000.

Nice.

Then, on 20 April, I got the call. All three grades (Service, Field, Rack) were available, so I selected Service– the best– and asked politely for a Colt.

The very next day (after a mandatory two NICS checks!) I walked away from my FFL with this:

The M1911A1 has a Colt GI Military frame, SN 904594, of 1943 production with GHD inspector’s stamp (left) complete with a dummy mark (!) and ordnance wheel/US Property/M1911A1 US Army stamps on the right.

Rather than the original slide, it has a “hard” GI replacement slide with FSN (Federal Stock Number) #7790314 M (magnaflux inspection) TZ (IMI Israeli, who supplied such slides under contract to the U.S.) with a minty chrome-lined barrel marked with FSN #7791193 91. The plastic grips have “24” rack number.

Although I could find no arsenal rebuild stamps, I am theorizing that the gun was reworked at Anniston late in its life, probably in the 1980s, then put back in storage.

I’m totally happy. It was worth the wait.

The 7791193 series barrels have a good reputation for accuracy. I’ll let you know…

Behind the scenes: U.S. Army’s Small Arms Repair Facility Anniston Army Depot

A behind the scenes look at the U.S. Army’s Small Arms Repair Facility at Anniston Army Depot.

Here, Army experts with the U.S. Army Materiel Command bring small caliber weapons to fully mission capable status, from disassembly, repair, modification, to target accuracy testing. The full overhaul resets US Army equipment and generates readiness. They cover M249 SAWs, conversion of M2 BHMGs to the improved M2A1, M4s, et. al. They show off a Frigidaire-made M2 as well as an example by Kelsey Hayes Wheels

I am kinda disappointed that the M-4 standards for accuracy are 5-inches at 100 meters, seems a bit loose. But meh. Also, they should have mic’d old boy, as its hard to hear him (sorry).

Still, between CMP and Anniston Army Depot, there is probably no better pool of U.S. small arms gunsmiths in any town its size in the world.

As noted by DLA:

“The depot’s Small Arms Repair Facility is the primary Small Arms Rebuild Center for the Department of Defense.

Here, employees overhaul, repair and upgrade small caliber weapons from the M9 pistol to the M2 50-caliber machine gun, grenade launchers, mortars and much more.

The men and women who work in the depot’s Small Arms Repair Facility are able to refurbish many parts, bringing them back to like-new condition.

For example, as much as 60 percent of a M2 weapon can be refurbished and reused as the artisans upgrade it to a M2A1 machine gun. ”

That rack tho:

Language added to NDAA to speed up 1911 transfers to CMP

An Alabama Congressman has managed to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act out of committee aimed at moving surplus Army pistols to the public.

In a statement from his office, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican that represents the Anniston area in Congress, announced his amendment to the NDAA has moved out of the House Armed Services Committee and is headed to the floor. The measure is designed to speed up the now two-year saga of transferring a stockpile of 100,000 surplus M1911 .45ACP handguns from Anniston Army Depot to the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

More in my column at Guns.com

When it comes to captured enemy weapons, the Army never throws anything away

I recently had the chance to tour U.S. Army’s Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, the keepers of the flame for military history in the country.

The 15,200-acre installation in North Alabama was established in World War II and overhauls both small arms and vehicles for the Army. A longstanding tenant on the sprawling base, based out of Building 201, is the Museum Support Center, operated by the Center of Military History. The CMH maintains an immense collection of 650,000 historic items across 228 sites including 57 large museums that are a part of the Army Museum Enterprise. Items not yet on display, waiting for a public home, or are excess to current museum needs are stored in the “Army’s attic” in Anniston.

In secured storage at the MSC are 13,000 live weapons of all sorts, ranging from 13th Century Ottoman gear to guns captured recently in Afghanistan…and they were gracious enough to roll out the red carpet for me:

More in my column at Guns.com

Inside the CMP, and the word on M1s coming back from overseas and possible 1911s…

To see just what the non-profit has on the shelf, I visited the Civilian Marksmanship’s South operations in Anniston. Co-located near the Anniston Army Depot — which is actually in nearby Bynum — and stores much of the Army’s stockpile of guns and items not needed for current operations, the CMP has a series of warehouses dotting the rolling hills of the area.

Unfortunately, most of them are nearly empty.

While now-retired CMP boss Orest Michaels told me back in 2010 the organization had 125,000 M1 rifles on hand including complete rifles, stripped receivers, and welded drill rifles, the group is coy about just what the numbers are today after several years of brisk sales and surging interest in U.S. martial rifles.

As Jim Townsend, CMP’s business development officer, walked me through a tour of their largest warehouse, he swept his arms over a large expanse of empty floor space and said, “When I first started here, this whole side of the building was full of M1s.” Repurposed crates that once contained M1s returning from allies in Greece and Denmark now hold everything but.

Repurposed crates that once contained M1s returning from allies in Greece and Denmark now hold everything but.

Why keep the empty space?

Check out my column at Guns.com for the answer.

The Army’s surplus gun pipeline may be fixing to run dry

m1_lede

Last week the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the 2017 defense authorization act– but hidden inside its pages is a section that could destroy the military’s current stock of surplus rifles and pistols.

The Senate’s version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes some $602 billion in spending and despite President Obama’s threat to veto the annual policy measure over issues including a ban on closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison, saw widespread support, passing 85-13 last Tuesday.

While many have noted the measure includes such items as requiring females to register for the draft beginning in 2018, others have been lost in the almost kafkaesque layers of the bill.

In short, within 90 days of the bill becoming law, the Army would transfer almost all of the surplus guns it held at Anniston to Rock Island for meltdown. The only exceptions would be for up to 2,000 M1911 pistols and 2,000 M14 rifles that could be donated to military museums for preservation.

This could mean the death knell for surplus guns for CMP, the 1033 Program which supports some 8,000 local police agencies, and the Ceremonial Rifle Program which provides guns for veterans’ groups such as the VFW and DAV.

More in my column at Guns.com

If it ain’t broke

U.S. Army Cpl. Brittany Montana fires an M2 Browning .50-caliber machine gun on Camp Atterbury. Montana is a Reservist assigned to the 354th Military Police Company. U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret.

U.S. Army Cpl. Brittany Montana fires an M2 Browning .50-caliber machine gun on Camp Atterbury. Montana is a Reservist assigned to the 354th Military Police Company. U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret.

Earlier this year Anniston Army Depot, which is upgrading all the service’s legacy M2 Browning heavy machine guns to the new M2A1 standard which allows faster barrel changes without having to headspace (laws yes), had a vintage 1921 production model Ma Deuce come through. The gun, serial number 324, has somehow remained in service for 94 years and still works just fine.

From the Army’s presser:

“Looking at the receiver, for its age, it looks good as new and it gauges better than most of the other weapons,” said John Clark, a small arms repair leader.

Despite the fact that the weapon still meets most specifications, it may be destined for the scrap yard.

Modifications made to the weapon in the field mean part of the receiver would have to be removed through welding and replaced with new metal, a process which usually means the receiver is scrap.

“I’d rather put this one on display than send it to the scrap yard,” said Clark, adding the weapon’s age makes it appealing as a historical artifact.

Here’s to hoping the gun stays on extended retirement rather than goes to the torch. After almost a century on the sharp end of the spear, the old soldier deserves it.

CMP may get into the 1911 business

remingtn 1911 with knuckleduster1918
An add-on to the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act that passed committee includes a plan to transfer the U.S. Army’s remaining stock of .45 ACP 1911A1 pistols to the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Added as an amendment by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, while the NDAA was in debate in the House Armed Service Committee, it could see potentially the largest remaining stock of military surplus World War II-era handguns in government hands sold to the public.

The lawmaker disclosed that the military currently spends about $2 per year to store 100,000 Model 1911s that are surplus to the Army’s needs. While 8,300 have been sold or disposed of in recent years – largely through the controversial Department of Defense’s 1033 Program, which offers eligible law enforcement agencies up to one pistol per full-time officer – the guns still on hand have in many cases been stored since the 1980s when they were withdrawn from service in favor of the then-new Beretta 92F (M9).

More in my column at Guns.com