Tag Archives: m3 grease gun

How Many Can You ID?

Check out this layout of Warsaw Pact and WWII Allied small arms captured by U.S. Marines of the 22nd MAU from Cuban stores of the Grenadan People’s Revolutionary Army in that briefly-Marxist British Commonwealth nation in October 1983:

Note the Marine in the top left corner in ERDL camo with a slung M16A1, M1 helmet, smoke grenade, and early PASGIT kevlar vest. Notably, the Army’s 82nd Airborne and Ranger units in the same op had kevlar helmets. DOD Photo 330-CFD-DN-ST-85-0202 by PH2 D. Wujcik, USN, via the National Archives. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/6395935

Give up?

Official caption: Seized weapons on display are: (clockwise from the back) Soviet-made 82 mm M-36 mortars, 5 Soviet 7.62 mm PK general-purpose machine guns, two Bren light machine guns, 7.62 mm ammunition, two AK-47 assault rifles, an RPG-2 portable rocket launcher, a 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant rifle, a Czechoslovakian made Model-52 7.62 mm rifle and a US-made .45 cal. M-3A1 submarine gun

Z Man Loadout

The “Z Special Unit” or “Z Force” detachments, immortalized in the early Sam Neil/Mel Gibson action film Attack Force Z (which included some great suppressed M3 Grease Guns and folbot action from an Oberon-class SSK) ripped up Japanese held islands throughout WWII. There is a really fascinating history behind these units and the redoubtable men who served in them.

Check out this loadout, showing a Webley/Enfield revolver, M1 Carbine, the wicked Welrod suppressed .32 “special purpose” gun, a machete (or possibly one of William E. Fairbairn’s Smatchets), and pack, courtesy of A Secret War.

Now, that looks fun. (Photo: A Secret War)

Fairly Well Preserved Ammo for 50 Years in the Drink

Vietnamese media recently reported on a pile of vintage small arms ammo that was recovered from the mud of the Tiền River that looks like it just came from the factory. 

Local media showed members of the Vietnamese Army inspecting the ammo, reportedly illegally salvaged from the river near Thuong Phuoc on the Cambodian border and confiscated by Border Guards. It has been underwater for decades, purportedly in a deep-sixed PCF, perhaps one that was put there in 1975 by its ARVN crew during the final days of the regime. 

The fact that it was in fresh water and likely covered by a layer of mud surely helped but either way, you have to hand it to the quality of those green ammo cans, much of which likely dated to WWII anyway. 

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.

The forgotten 50 year insurgency in West Papua

Called the province of Papua Barat by Indonesia, who annexed the region from the Dutch in 1963 as a part of the New York Agreement that got Holland out of their East Indies colony for good, many locals in West Papua would rather just see their independence as a free state. Over the past 50 years, there have been a variety of efforts both by domestic groups and idealistic would-be freedom fighters from abroad to pry West Papua away from Jakarta, all with little success.

Today, a contentious highway project has reignited a smoldering conflict, reports Australian media, and clashes between Free Papuan groups and Indonesian security forces are mounting, while an internet blackout and media dead zone keep the war under wraps.

“We will kill, we will fight,” says Sebby Sambom, a Papua New Guinea-based spokesman for the armed independence movement. “We will continue to fight — no compromise.”

West Papuan separatists armed with a variety of weapons including M3 Grease Guns possibly left behind from the Dutch Indies War of the 1940s, an Italian BM59, an FN  Minimi light machine gun (with the jam-a-matic magazine installed) and several Pindad rifles, a clone of the FN FNC. The Minimi and Pindad are surely former Indonesian military weapons under new management. 

More here.

Silent Grease

When I was a kid, I loved the early 1980s Australian action flick, Attack Force Z, which was loosely based on the Z Special Unit actions of WWII.

Sadly, and not to ruin the movie, but Z ops often turned into suicide missions in which many teams just were never heard from again. Especially great in the movie is the first few minutes, which show a Royal Australian Navy Oberon-class submarine surfacing and, decks almost awash, discharge the commandos in their boats.

Of note, the Z commandos in the movie use suppressed M3 Grease Guns to good effect. So naturally, I went all a ga-ga when I saw this in Indy last month.

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

Not your average Grease Gun

Ian with Forgotten Weapons takes a close look at an SMG used for clandestine operations by the OSS — as well as a booby trap attachment for the same.

While the M3 was a simple .45ACP burp gun popular with the late-war regular GI’s of the day and designed as a cheap and easy replacement for the much more complex Thompson, the gun in Ian’s hands was made for use in more covert operations. Specifically, for an assassination team behind the lines in German-occupied Europe.

The war ended before this specimen could be used, leaving it in collector-grade condition including its wire mesh screened over-barrel suppressor.

As for the booby trap trigger device, stick around and check that little dirty trick out separately.

The Philippine Arsenal has been kicking it as of late

In 1967 the Armed Forces of the Philippines built the Government Arsenal, DND, in Camp Luna in Lamao, Limay, Province of Bataan, about 120 km from Manila by land, 70 km from Subic Naval Station and 90 km from Clark Air Force Station. The factory by 1971 was producing small arms ammunition for the AFP and today cranks out 5.56mm (M855, M193, Blank ammo); Cal. .45 M1911 ball, 7.62mm (linked & loose), Cal .30 M1 (the PI still has over 35,000 M1 Garands issued) and Cal. M2, 9mm parabellum.

However, since 2011, the Arsenal has also been modding and refurbing the PI’s legacy firearm inventory, much of it WWII surplus.

The main rifle of the AFP is the M16/M4 in a number of variants. Between 1974-1986, a local company, Elisco Tool Manufacturing Co.made 150,000 M16A1s for the Philippine Government under license from Colt. As part of the license agreement, in addition to the TDP Colt provided technical assistance to establish the manufacturing line.

The AFP also used locally made M7 bayonets, marked with the country crest. More info on those here

In 1983, the company picked up ArmaLite’s remaining production line at a fire auction and started making AR-18s, though not for PI military use.

These M16A1s have been the backbone of the AFP for 40 years, and have seen much use in rough conditions. To augment the aging 5.56 eaters, 63,000~ new Remington R4 (semi-auto only select-fire M4s) have been acquired in the past few years with DND doing in-house upgrades on them including installing slings, Troy flip-up backup iron sights (BUIS) and EOTech optics.

AFP troops in Mindanao firefight with a Remington R4. Good TD

But wait, there’s more!

They have also been reworking old Elisco Colts into two new versions for use by police and military forces:

Worn out AFP M16A1s. Note they are largely “in the white” and you have some obvious handguard issues

They become the new 16″ Mid Length Carbine

Or the SDMR

Note the Israeli style slings. Also, odds are the OD green as well as the 16-inch barrels, and M4 style collapsable stock are more welcome in the jungle environment than black A1 “Mattel” furniture and 20-inch barrel.

Note the old Elisco Tool markings

Old 1911A1s are getting similar treatment.

WWI?WWII-era M1911A1s, the newest of which was made in 1945. You can bet the ones taped together have long since lost their internals, cannibalized to keep other pistols working.

Speaking of new, the serial number on the pre-owned Ithaca is in the 1945 run.


It’s a shame as those old 1911s were collectible war vets, but you have to admit these upgrades are night and day differences. You work with what you have I guess, although it could be argued they could have sold the WWII era guns on the milsurp market and bought brand new PI-made Rock Island/Armscor 1911s, but hey…

Then there is the Arsenal’s M3 Grease Gun updates for the PI Marines:

Philippines modified M3 on the range– note suppressor. That’s just good clean fun there

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