Tag Archives: gun culture

Cracking the Army’s Budget Book on SmallArms

The Army’s recently announced budget request for the fiscal year 2022 includes at least $114 million for new rifles, handguns, and the next generation of small arms. 

While the overall FY2022 Defense Department Budget is $112 billion, most of the non-operational dollars are for high-level R&D and big-ticket items like the F-35 fighter. The Army’s budget book for weapons and tracked combat vehicles meanwhile has a low nine-figure ask when it comes to individual small arms. 

The bulk ($97 million) is to go to the Next Generation Squad Weapons, with much of the balance to acquire new Barrett-made Precision Sniper Rifles, and a few crumbs for M4s, M17s, and the like.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Python Shorty

While most of Colt’s world-famous Python .357 Magnum models were service-sized and longer, some more abbreviated variants were made.

First introduced to Colt’s 1955 catalog for a price of $125 and pitched as “a finer gun than you actually need” to “a limited number of gun connoisseurs,” the big double-action revolvers were most common with barrel lengths in 6-inch and later 4-inch formats. There were even some big 8-inchers that came along eventually.

Downsizing, Colt produced a few short runs of these vaunted revolvers with a 3-inch barrel known to collectors as “Combat Pythons,” and, off and on between 1955 and 1994, the 2.5-inch model, which still sported full-sized grips.

And they are beautiful.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Could the Army Ditch Brass for Plastic?

The hybrid polymer-cased cartridge, developed by Texas-based True Velocity as part of the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon program, is compatible with legacy firearms as well.

The 6.8mm TVCM composite case design, coupled with the Army’s 6.8mm (.277-caliber) common cartridge projectile, was originally developed and optimized for use in the NGSW-Rifle and NGSW-Automatic Rifle submissions submitted to that military program by General Dynamics-OTS. It performs better ballistically than 7.62 NATO and weighs 30 percent less.

However, using what True Velocity characterizes as a “switch barrel” capability, they have demonstrated it can work with much of the Army’s currently fielded small arms including the M240B belt-fed machine gun, the M110 semi-automatic sniper system, and the M134 minigun.

Which could mean that, even if NGSW tanks, there could be a revolutionary advance in the ammo used by U.S. troops in the near future.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Sig Shows off Planned Army Future Weapons

Sig Sauer, as I’ve covered a few times in the past couple of years, is one of the three teams who are in the running for the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapons, a group of guns using the same 6.8mm caliber that is set to replace the M4 and M249 families. Further, they are the only one that is solely a firearms company and plans to do everything in-house as opposed to the other two teams which are made up of several sub-contractors. 

Their submission:

Sig’s MCX Spear series carbine aims to be the Army’s NGSW-Rifle, replacing the M4. Standard features include a fully collapsible and folding stock, rear and side charging handle, free-floating reinforced M-LOK handguard, fully ambidextrous controls, and a quick-detach Sig Next Generation suppressor. (Photo: Sig Sauer)

Sig’s Lightweight MMG is a belt-fed general-purpose weapon intended to become the Army’s NGSW-Automatic Rifle, replacing the M249 while hitting the scales at 40 percent lighter and with a round that has double the effective range of 5.56. (Photo: Sig Sauer)

Both platforms use Sig’s 6.8mm hybrid ammunition, which is billed as offering a significant reduction in weight over traditional ammo while offering better performance and greater penetration while using a 121-grain bullet. (Photo: Sig Sauer)

Further, Sig thinks they are positioned to pull it off, a move that, when coupled with the fact that their P320 pistol has been adopted as the M17/M18, would give the company the Pentagon small arms hat trick with the exception of 7.62 caliber platforms.

Sig: Next-Gen Weapons Delivered to the Army

Sig Sauer this week announced it has completed the delivery of the company’s Next Generation Squad Weapons system to the U.S. Army.

The company is one of three contractors who in 2019 got the nod from the Pentagon to continue with the NGSW program. The sweeping initiative aims to replace the Army’s 5.56mm NATO small arms – the M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Sig’s program consists of an in-house-designed lightweight high-performance 6.8x51mm (.277-caliber) hybrid ammunition, NGSW-AR lightweight machine guns, NGSW-R rifles (based on the MCX carbine), and next-gen suppressors.

They certainly look the part and, if selected, would give Sig the small arms hattrick as their P320s have been adopted as the DOD’s standard handgun to replace everything from the USAF’s lingering K-frame 38s to the Marine’s M45 CQB railguns and everything in between. At that point, the only man-portable system used by the Army not made by Sig would be the M240 and M2, which FN still has a lock on.

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Standard Bearer for the Modern .32 Pocket Gun

Ludwig (Louis) Wilhelm Seecamp was a pre-WWII German gunsmith who, once called up and placed in the Gebirgsjäger, logically served as a unit armorer, furthering his firearm skills. Post-war, he emigrated to Canada and then to the U.S., starting a career with Mossberg that endured across the 1950s and 60s.

At age 72, he founded L.W. Seecamp Co. in 1973 after a lifetime of experience, specializing in double-action M1911 conversions until, in his 80s, he patented a series of compact DAO all-stainless pocket pistols that didn’t skimp on craftsmanship.

The LWS 32

The small double-action gun didn’t have sights, which adhered to Seecamp’s wartime experience on the Eastern Front. 

As noted by the company’s history, “Ludwig had become a firm believer in the value of DA after a Walther P-38 saved his life in WWII. That incident, which left him with a cheek-long scar and some missing teeth from a bullet wound, also convinced him point shooting rather than sight use is the reality in close range combat.”

The LWS 32 proved so popular, introduced at a time when John Browning’s circa 1899 cartridge was dying out in defensive pistol use, that the handgun market was soon flooded with pocket pistols in the same caliber and general layout. These included the Beretta 3032 Tomcat, the NAA Guardian, and the Kel-Tec P-32.

As they say, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery…

More in my column at Guns.com.

NGSW? Don’t Hold Your Breath

The current NGSW field 

The U.S. Army is full-speed ahead on an initiative to select a new series of innovative 6.8mm-caliber Next Generation Squad Weapons to phase out its 5.56mm platforms for combat troops. However, it would seem the Department of the Army is hedging their bets with traditional systems just in case things don’t work out like planned such as in past ambitious programs for futuristic small arms.

In April, FN won a 5-year $119 million contract for new M4/M4A1 Carbines from the company’s South Carolina factory– where 500 of the shorty 5.56s roll out every, single, day.

And this week, Big Army likewise issued a $78 million award to FN for more M249s, the squad-level U.S-made variant of the FN Minimi light machine gun that has been standard since 1982.

Just google the Individual Carbine (IC), Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), or the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) programs to see why keeping the legacy infantry arms in production until things work out is a good idea.

The army advanced combat rifle ACR prototypes.

Serial Numbers, Serial Numbers, Serial Numbers or how Gun Day Needs to Happen

A deer rifle swiped from underneath a blanket on the bed of a pickup truck during hunting season 47 years ago recently surfaced some 500 miles away from where it vanished from. Police were able to recover the gun when detectives ran the serial against the federal database— but only because its previous owner had known and reported the serial.

Even though the hunter died in 1998, police are now contacting his children, who have an opportunity to claim their lost father’s rifle.

The problem

According to a recent U.S. Department of Justice study, there is an average of at least 135,000 unrecovered guns stolen in residential burglaries nationwide each year. The main reason for guns not being recovered is that the owners did not record and keep up with their serial numbers.

In Nevada recently, law enforcement has been inundated with calls for stolen guns. Guns that when they are recovered, no one can come reclaim.

“When they are taken, more often than not the owner can’t ID them — they can’t name the make or caliber or serial number,” said Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley told the Reno Gazette-Journal

“So, in reality, when a weapon is stolen, it can’t be traced or returned because we don’t know who it belongs to,” he said.

To help fix this, Haley said he would ask two things: “Take personal responsibility if you own a gun, secure it in your home. And two, keep the serial number in a secure place separate from the gun.”

Monthly ritual

Me and the crew on Gun Day…almost

One thing I like to do in my home is the simple ceremony I refer to as “Gun Day.”

On the third Saturday of the month (you have to set a specific day to do this or you will forget, I promise), I like to spend a couple hours in my mancave going through my personal collection. Now of course, like most gun guys, it varies from year to year, sometimes from month to month as I buy, sell, trade, swap and rearrange my collection.

However, no matter whether you have one old rusty shotgun or a half dozen bulging gun safes, Gun Day needs to happen.

If I’m out of town or something comes up, it GD can be rescheduled but it still happens.

At least once a month.

For me it’s simple. I sit, put on my gloves (I hate to leave excess fingerprints on my guns as the oils and salts left behind can lead to surface rust), and go through my collection. I have a simple Field Note Book that I write down my collection in with the date I acquired the gun, the make, model, caliber, my estimated value at the time, and serial number. The six things fit on one line.

Each month I go back over the book, remove any old guns that have been traded away (or note guns loaned out to friends, trust me, this can help figure out missing guns months later!) and add any new pieces.

While going through my guns I have a chance to notice any issues that may have come up in storage such as rust, dust, and the like, keeping the band going strong.

New guns even get a photoshoot for reference just in case something ever happens to them. Lightboxes are cheaper than you think, and if you don’t have a lightbox, just take a photo on your back porch in natural light.

Speaking of photos, I take a picture every month of that notebook entry and email it to myself, just in case something ever happens to it.

Then it’s back into the safe and cabinet, closet, holster, and nightstand for the collection.

Until the next Gun Day.

My thoughts on the New Colt Python

So Colt brought the Python back from retirement after a 15-year hiatus. The old I-frame was a hand-fitted full-lug .357 with a tight lockup and superb finish.

The classic Python…

The new gun is different.

I handed several models both on the floor at SHOT Show and at the range on media day and I have to admit: the new gun looks like a Python and shoots like a Python but it just isn’t. Arguably, it is better, with modern CNC techniques producing a wheel gun reportedly stronger, more durable and made to tighter tolerances than the Python of old.

Changes that came as part of the reboot included re-designing the internals to trim the number of parts (14 less to be exact), thus streamlining the trigger group, while improvements were made to reinforce the new Python through the use of stronger stainless steel alloys. The results say Colt, is that the upcoming Python has a smooth-as-butter trigger, and is more reliable, easier to maintain, and more robust.

The “semi-bright” stainless finish on the new Colt Python after running hundreds of rounds on Industry Day. Colt tells us they fed the two shooting models on hand Monday over 4,000 rounds with no issues. (Photos: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

More in my column at Guns.com

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