Tag Archives: assault rifle

Common use and the 223

A lot of folks feel that the .223/5.56 cartridge only became a thing in consumer gun culture in 2004, the year the Federal Assault Weapon Ban expired and the masses who had been forbidden from picking up such “evil black rifles” surged forward and purchased something like 20 million of them since then.

The thing is, the round and the rifles had been popular long before that moment. In fact, they have been on the consumer market since 1963– now some 60 years ago.

First developed from a commercially available sporting cartridge, the .223 Remington and its 5.56 NATO cousin, along with the guns that use them, are among the most popular in circulation.

The story began in 1950 with the rimless, bottlenecked .222 Remington, an accurate and flat-shooting varmint and target cartridge that “Big Green” introduced with a companion Model 722 bolt-action rifle chambered for the new round. That well-loved and still viable round by May 1957 had been tweaked to become what was dubbed the .222 Remington Special and was soon tapped by upstart rifle maker ArmaLite for its prototype new AR-15 rifle – with the “AR” standing for the first two letters in the company’s name. 

The lightweight carbine was based on Eugene Stoner’s AR-10 of the same manufacturer.

In March 1958, ArmaLite submitted 10 new AR-15s chambered in .222 Special to Fort Benning for the Infantry Board field trials, but the Army wasn’t enamored with the gun.

Soon the company sold the rights to the handy little carbine to Colt, which started making the guns in late 1959, with small orders filled with Malaysia and India.

The first consumer review hit the stands in the October 1959 “Guns” magazine, with the testers using ArmaLite AR-15 Serial No. 000001, chambered in .222 Rem Spl. During roughly the same timeline, the .222 Rem Spl became known as the .223 Remington, to avoid confusion.

Then, at a now-famous Fourth of July party in 1960, General Curtis LeMay, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, was given a chance to zap watermelons with a new-made Colt AR-15 and soon recommended that the service purchase enough of the new guns to replace aging WWII-era M2 Carbines used by the Air Force’s Security Police. In December 1961, the first contract for 1,000 guns was issued by the Pentagon, and just two years later, the Army was onboard for adopting the rifle in select-fire format, dubbed the XM16E1 and then later the M16.

By 1963, Colt was advertising the AR-15 Sporter, later dubbed the Model R6000 SP1 Sporter Rifle, to the consumer market.

“If you’re a hunter, camper, or collector, you’ll want the AR-15 Sporter,” reads the circa-1963 ad copy. By 1969, something like 15,000 SP1s had been made.

In 1969, only a few years after the SP1 was introduced, ArmaLite was selling a completely different semi-auto AR chambered in .223 – Eugene Stoner’s AR-180– to get around Colt’s patents. Already the AR-15 was getting competition.

Besides the SP1 and AR180 semi-autos, in 1973 – just a decade after the first .223 sporters hit the consumer market –Ruger introduced the Mini-14. Styled on the M14 but downsized to use the smaller .223 round, one of the Ruger’s rifle’s chief engineers was L. James Sullivan, a man who had done lots of work on the AR-15 previously.

About $50-$100 cheaper than other .223s on the market in 1973 dollars, and not as “scary looking,” Ruger’s downsized Garand/M14-ish rifle was a big hit with both police and consumers. Well over 3 million Mini-14/Ranch Rifles have been made since 1973.

In the early 1970s, if you were looking for a .223 sporter, you could get a side-folding ArmaLite AR-180 for $294, a Colt SP1 for $252, or a Ruger Mini-14 for $200, as seen in this vintage Shooter’s Bible.

And that was 50 years ago…

Kimber Sending Makos to Ukraine

Alabama-based Kimber is donating 9mm pistols and .308 Winchester-caliber rifles to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

The company announced on Wednesday it is inspired by the courage of the Ukrainian people in their struggle against an ongoing military invasion from neighboring Russia and is ready to help.

“The people of Ukraine are enduring tremendous hardships and are in need of support from around the world,” said Leslie Edelman, Kimber owner and CEO.

In terms of support, Edelman says Kimber is sending 200 R7 Mako 9mm subcompact pistols (my current EDC for the past several months), 10 Advanced Tactical rifles in .308 Win., and 10 bolt-action rifles in .308 Win. Each rifle will include two magazines and a replacement firing pin assembly while the Makos will ship with 800 extra 13-round magazines.

While shipping such pistols to a modern European combat zone seems curious at first, handguns are in common use as sidearms for officers, specialists, pilots, and heavy weapons operators.

Of note, the Mako is roughly comparable in size to the PM Makarov, long a standard pistol in Eastern European service, while offering a higher magazine capacity and a more effective cartridge.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

SUB2000s in Ukraine?

Florida-based firearms maker KelTec made the most of a sudden surplus of 9mm carbines and donated them to Ukraine. 

Adrian Kellgren, director of industrial production at KelTec– and son of the company’s legendary founder, George Kellgren– told local media the company was recently left with a $200,000 order for SUB2000 carbines. The original order, to a longtime vendor in the Black Sea Ukrainian port city of Odesa, was unpaid for, and the vendor was unable to be contacted.

The 400 9mm carbines had been ordered last year, but by the time the red tape cleared the client was unable to accept them and Ukraine is now fighting off a Russian invasion– with enemy troops closing in on Odesa. The solution hit on by Kellgren was to donate the guns to the Ukrainian government to aid in the resistance to the invasion. 

Introduced in 2001, the KelTec SUB2000 9mm pistol-caliber carbine is now in its second generation. Lightweight at just 4-pounds while still retaining a 16.1-inch barrel, it folds in half for easy storage and transport, able to be carried in a pack.

The SUB2000, while not a frontline weapon by any means, can for example fill a role with static defense/home guard-style units posted at local infrastructure to keep an eye out for sabotage, or in guarding POWs, of which there seems to be an increasing amount.

I bet Hugo Schmeisser is rolling and spinning

There, under the Krinkov, is a German StG44 in exploded view, which would probably be OK on any monument except that of Mikhail Kalashnikov

As I covered over at Guns.com, the Russians spent 35 million rubles (about $580K US) on a sprawling monument to the late firearms engineer Mikhail Kalashnikov that was unveiled in Moscow last week. Besides a nearly 30-foot high statue of Kalashnikov, the base of a monument to St. Mikhail, the Orthodox patron of gunsmiths and warriors, contains a representation of several of the engineer’s designs including an AK42 sub gun, AK47, AKM and AK74 rifles, as well as RPK and PK machine guns.

However, as noted by some sharp-eyed firearms enthusiasts and reported by Russian-based Kalashnikov magazine, just under a Krinkov AKS-74U is what appears to be the parts diagram for a German StG-44 Sturmgewehr.

Which some (notably outside of the Motherland) have contended that the AK was based on for decades.

This has caused understandable heartburn in Russia, and, as Russian firearms wonks pile on to disagree with the lineage of the AK– noting it is as Russian as a Florida pirated movie salesman, the offending diagram has been torched out.

What your average Tommy DMR looks like

Photos via British MoD

Photos via British MoD

Here we see the British Army’s L129A1 service rifle, sniper, better known on this side of the pond as an LMT LM308MWS. The Brits bought 3,000 of these bad boys in 2014 and are known for a sub-MOA group at 800m with match 7.62x51mm NATO ammo, which is not bad out of a 16-inch barrel. The basic optic is the Trijicon 6×48 ACOG. Also shown are the standard SA80/L-85 Enfield bayonet (note the wirecutter sheath in the top left), and the MilSight S135 Magnum Universal Night Sight (MUNS).

Not pictured is the L17A2 Schmidt & Bender 3-12 × 50 Sniper Scope for long distance work and the SureFire SOCOM762-RC husha can for when you want to spend some quiet moments in the hills looking for ISIS-types. Weight all up (with the ACOG) is 11-pounds, if carrying other sights or the can, this jumps, as does adding a bipod or scrim. She takes regular AR-10 style mags, which you will notice that the Brits use PMAGs (doesn’t everyone).

What she looks like with her shit together

With the U.S. Army looking for a new commercial-off-the-shelf Interim Combat Service Rifle (ICSR) in 7.62x51mm, you better believe guns like the LMT 308MWS are being looked at.

The all-seeing eye (of the networked FFL)

Go ahead, tell me you wouldn't shop there...

Go ahead, tell me you wouldn’t shop there…

Following the news that the terrorist in the Orlando attack was able to legally purchase his firearms from a local store after he was turned down by one licensed dealer just days before, I spoke a couple weeks ago with software developer and long-time gun owner Seth Banks who came up with an idea that gun shops could help network to keep this from happening in the future.

The idea is simple. A private network for verified Federal Firearms Licensees to share and report incidents they have with suspicious buyers, and communicate with each other. When one shop in the network posts an alert, other dealers within driving distance are alerted via email, in-app notification, and/or text message.

“FFLs deny gun purchases for all sorts of reasons; including mental health, straw sales, intoxication, violent comments in the store, etc. … FFLs are on the front line protecting our community from bad actors already. Why not make their jobs easier?” Banks argued.

And with that Gun Shop Watchlist was formed.

More in my column at Guns.com

Happy St. Paddy’s: Those ‘red-headed’ AR18 rifles

And here is a bonus in honor of all those who wore green to work today…

Ireland never really had that much of a firearms industry, but when you mention the AR18 across the pond, you should know that it was (almost) the most iconic rifle of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland during the last part of the 20th century

female ira terrorist with AR180 ar-18 ar18 rifle

More in my column at Guns.com

What IS an Assault Weapon?

With all this talk about assault weapons, let’s look at what they are talking about. Just what makes something an ‘assault weapon’ and how does this term compare to the concept of what lawmakers are looking to regulate.

The first true assault rifle was born in 1943 Germany. Invented by firearms engineer Hugo Schmeisser, it was a select-fire (either full auto or semi-auto at the flick of a switch) rifle that fired an intermediate caliber round (larger than a pistol but shorter than a rifle round), and had a large detachable magazine that could be changed quickly. This gun was dubbed the StG44 or ‘storm rifle model 44’ and was a crucial addition to the German arsenal in the end of World War Two.

This rifle was very popular and the Soviets soon had a modified version they adopted a few years later as the AK-47. The current assault rifle of the US military is the M4A1 carbine, which has a select-fire trigger, 14.5-inch barrel, and can fire at 750-rounds per minute until its ammunition is exhausted. For a private citizen to own one of these types of weapons, it has to be made before 1986 as the Hughes Amendment banned production of select-fire weapons for private sales that year. Even if a ‘pre-86’ gun is available, they run upwards of $10K and take 3-6 months to transfer from a Class III dealer after an extensive ATF approval process that includes a $200 tax stamp.

AKS-74U ‘Krinkov’ of the Russian Army. It is 19-inches long with a 8.3-inch barrel and fires 30 rounds of 5.45x39mm at about 700 rounds per minute. Its a true assault rifle…..now lets talk about the mythical creature that is an ‘assault weapon’…..

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com