Tag Archives: guns

Arisakas Still at Work

The Japanese Type 38 (as in the 38th year of the Meiji period) rifle, was first adopted in 1906 by the Emperor’s troops after feedback from the recent wars with Qing-dynasty China and Imperial Russia. Almost 3 million of these simple bolt-action 6.5x50mm rifles would be made at three Japanese arsenals (Tokyo, Kokura, Nagoya) as well as one in Japanese-occupied Korea (Jinsen) and Manchuria (Mukden) until as late as 1944. While you would think that these all went into Japanese military hands, you would be incorrect as lots were exported abroad including 728,000 to Russia of all places during the Great War; 150,000 to the UK to arm British sailors in the same conflict; 200,000 to Republican China in 1917-18; 24,000 to Estonia in the 1920s.

One of the lesser-known Arisaka rifle contracts was from the government of Siam, now Thailand, which had ordered several aircraft, naval vessels, and small arms from the increasingly powerful Asian power in the 1930s. The Thais bought 50,000 “Type 66” (Type 38s chambered in Bangkok’s domestic 8x52R caliber) in 1924 from the Tokyo Army Arsenal. These were later augmented by a smaller quantity of 6.5×50-chambered guns provided as military aid in WWII. Post-war, some of each were converted to 30.06 M2, of which the government had a lot of due to close relations with the U.S., and dubbed Type 83/88s. They even carried them to war in Korea in the 1950s. 

It would seem that at least some of those (probably non-firing) Arisakas are still soldiering on in Thailand as training rifles, as witnessed by these recent photos:

The above green-uniformed/bereted troops are members of the NST, or Military Student Training Supervisory Authority. The program, which runs for five years, is coordinated by local Territorial Defense Commands in the country and trains young men and women 17-25 with some 40-to-80 hours of field/classwork per year instead of joining the military proper for a period of active service (Thailand has conscription). After completion of the NST period, members transition to a non-drilling reserve. 

Besides the Arisakas, the NST also uses lots of M1 Carbines, M1 Garands, and M60 GPMGs in their live-fire and fieldwork, which is run by local cadres from active-duty units. Besides the Vietnam-era hardware, they also run locally-made ALICE gear, M1956 style bottle canteens, and the like. 

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…

That’s a lot of Guns

One of the best indicators of firearms sales, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System logged 3,602,296 checks in November, an increase of 41 percent over the figure of 2,545,863 for November 2019. In fact, it was the biggest November in the NICS program’s 21-year history.

However, when checks and rechecks for carry permits and the like are subtracted from that figure by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, leaving a more concrete number for over-the-counter checks on gun transfers conducted through federal firearms licensees, it yields 1,949,141 checks, which is an increase of 45.2 percent compared to the November 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,342,155. 

When added to the rest of the year, the 2020 running total stands at some 19.1 million adjusted checks, dwarfing the 2016 annual record of 15.7 million checks, and the year still has another month to go before the books are closed. Of those checks, NSSF estimates that a whopping 7.7 million came from new first-time gun buyers. 

Oof.

200,000th M17/M18 Delivered to DOD

Sig Sauer has been trucking right along with deliveries of the Modular Handgun System pistols– the full-sized M17 and more compact M18– since 2017 and just announced they have delivered the 200,000th such 9mm sidearm to Uncle.

Of note, the M17 and M18 are in use by all four Pentagon-reporting service branches and some 451,586 are on the schedule.

The MHS system is a P320-based platform, featuring coyote-tan PVD coated stainless steel slides with black controls, utilizes both 17-round and 21-round magazines, and are equipped with SIGLITE front night sights, removable night sight rear plates, and manual safeties. The M18 is shown in the foreground while the M17 is in the back. (Photo: TACOM)

More in my column at Guns.com.

Keeping Maggie in shape

A simple step that is often missed in the act of care and maintaining semi-automatic firearms, such as the AR-15, is to spend a minute keeping the magazines up to snuff. With that in mind, I put together a quick and dirty guide to cleaning both the most common polymer (Magpul PMAG) and aluminum (STANAG) mags along with some tips and tricks.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Repairman Jack’s Gatt

Originally billed as a “vest pocket .45” built for maximum concealment in mind, the 4+1 Semmerling LM-4 pistol was only 5.2-inches long, 3.7-inches high, and a svelte 1-inch wide. For reference, this puts it in the same neighborhood as common .32ACP and .25ACP pocket pistols, but in a much larger caliber. Today it still holds the title as perhaps the smallest .45ACP that isn’t a derringer and, for comparison, it is about the same size as a Ruger LCP.

It is also the only manually-worked slide action .45ACP carry gun I can think of…

And I have been fooling around with serial number #31 lately

More in my column at Guns.com. 

The Far-Reaching UN Forces in Korea and the Things they Carried

With this month being the 70th anniversary of the rush by the Free World to help keep the fledgling Republic of Korea from forced incorporation by its Communist neighbor to the North, it should be pointed out that the UN forces that mustered to liberate Seoul and keep it so carried an interesting array of arms. Gathered ultimately from 21 countries you had a lot of WWII-era repeats such as No. 3 and No. 4 Enfields carried by Commonwealth troops as well as M1 Garands/Carbines toted by American and a host of Uncle Sam-supplied countries.

But there were most assuredly some oddball infantry weapons that were used as well.

One historical curiosity was the initial contingent supplied by the Royal Thai Army, who left for Korea in October 1950 wearing French Adrian-style “sun” helmets and armed with 8x52mm Type 66 Siamese Mausers that were actually versions of the bolt-action Japanese Type 38 Arisaka built before WWII at Japan’s Koishikawa arsenal.

Note their French-style helmets, U.S.-marked M36 packs, and Japanese Showa-period rifles. Ultimately, more than 10,000 Thai troops would serve in the Korean War alongside U.S. forces, fighting notably at the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. (Photo: UN News Archives)

More in my column at Guns.com. 

That sweet .223 AK, 1989 edition

While today the .223/5.56 NATO-caliber AK is a staple product on the U.S. commercial market– and indeed, companies like Kalashnikov in Russia are making them for export elsewhere– back in the 1980s, they were downright unheard of, only floating around in a few high-dollar Valmet M71/S and Hunter models.

Then, China Sports, Inc.– located in Ontario, California of all places– introduced a couple of new Norincos to the market in late 1988, notably chambered in calibers other than the traditional AK 7.62x39mm. This included the 5.45x39mm Type 88 and the Type 84S AKS in .223 Remington.

This. You could pick these up, new in the box with two mags, a bayonet, and accessories, for $275 in 1989.

The thing is, they were only imported for one year.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Guns of the U.S. Army, 1775-2020

While you may know of today’s standard U.S. Army infantry rifles, and those of the 20th Century, how about those present at Lexington and Concord or the line of Springfield muskets from 1795 through 1865? What came after?

For all this and more, check out the easy 2,000-word primer I did for this last weekend at Guns.com.

Colt: Back on the Consumer AR Market

While Remington has quietly ditched traditional black rifle brands Bushmaster and DPMS in the past several months– perhaps in a bid to get bought by the Navajo Nation — Colt exited the AR market late last year, much to the applause of anti-gun groups and politicians.

However, I spoke to Colt at the time and they made clear the departure was only temporary, due to having landed a multi-million FMS contract for overseas allies.

With that being said, Colt says they are now back to the business of shipping ARs for the consumer market again. Everything old is new again, it would appear.

Colt first began marketing the semi-auto AR-15 Sporter to consumers in 1963 and continued to sell the SP-1 (R6000) series with few changes until 1984, since moving on to other AR-style rifles.

More in my column at Guns.com.

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