Tag Archives: Shotgun

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.

Pancor Jackhammer, not entirely vaporware

In the early 1980s, Korean War vet and firearms inventor John Andersen (sometimes-spelled Anderson) thought out the concept of a gas-operated, automatic-fire shotgun for military and police use. His gun would allow full-auto (up to 240 rounds per minute) fire of new and advanced 12-gauge shells, be rapidly reloaded via a 10-round cassette, and still be small and compact enough (17 pounds) for the average foot soldier to carry into combat.

To accomplish this, he envisioned a reciprocating barrel with a fixed gas piston enclosed in a cylinder. When the gun fired, the barrel pushed forward and the action, set in a bullpup style behind the trigger group, ejected the spent shell hull and loaded another in what we would consider a very complicated process. This unique action gave the gun (which turned out looking rather industrial anyway) a very distinctive ‘jackhammer’ style of operation when firing that led to its nickname. If the trigger was kept depressed after the first shot, the weapon would continue cycling, thus producing automatic fire until the trigger was let up or the weapon ran out of ammunition. There was no option for single-shot fire; the gun was full-auto only commenting directly on its philosophy of use.

The 20.75-inch smoothbore barrel gave a 31.10-inch overall length and a weight (unloaded) of ten pounds. Polymers were used as much as possible in the firearm to keep weight low, in itself was a very visionary concept for 1982. At the time, the Glock 17 aka “the plastic fantastic” was only then being introduced into the US.

Perhaps most interestingly though, some of these loaded cassettes could also be laid as booby traps. Referred to by the company as a ‘Bear Trap’, the cassettes could be set like mines and would trigger all ten rounds simultaneously if disturbed—possibly the first time a multi-use explosive trap was included as a factory option in a firearm.

Officially called the MK3, the concept was best remembered as the Pancor Jackhammer automatic shotgun.

The thing is, it never got out of the beta test phase and is basically weapon vaporware. However, a few prototypes went on to legendary status in more than 20 video games (Max Payne, Far Cry, and Rainbow Six ring a bell?) between 1998 and 2018.

Speaking of which, Morphys has the only working Jackhammer up for auction.

Yes, it’s real. Yes, it’s full-auto. Yes, it is transferable. Yes, it is expensive.

What is billed as the only working Pancor Jackhammer, via Morphys

That scattergun love

“PFC. Art Burgess, a candidate in the Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP), 2nd Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger), fires a Winchester-built Model 12 combat shotgun during special weapons training at Range 31, 13 January 1982.” The gun has been modified with a heat shield over the barrel, a bayonet lug/sling swivel, an over-folding buttstock, and pistol grip.

Dig the early PASGT kevlar vest with the old-school M1 pot. Soooo early 1980s. (DA-SN-83-09168 Via NARA)

The U.S. military fell in love with the Winchester 97 as a trench shotgun in WWI but soon augmented those with the much more widely-sold Model 12. The Army and Marines brought these guns to the Great War (700) World War II (over 68,000) and Vietnam.

They served as riot guns with military police, trench guns in the front lines, and in support duties. While officially replaced by newer Remington 870s and Mossberg 500s since then, these old vets still continued to get spotted in pictures of US soldiers in harm’s way as late as the recent conflicts in Iraq. Odds are, there are some still in armories somewhere, especially in reserve and National Guard units.

Scratch 50K guns in Oz…

Under threat of a fine of up to A$280,000 ($219,000), 14 years in jail, and a criminal record for being otherwise caught with an unregistered or illegal gun, Australia’s National Firearms Amnesty concluded on Oct. 1. Australian media is reporting that 51,461 firearms of all type were turned over to police in the three month period, up from the 26,000 tallied by early September.

However, some of the rarer birds were saved….

A Webley Mk VI, a flat-side C96 Mauser, Frommer Stop, Gaulois palm pistol and a pinfire revolver with folding trigger, all saved from the scrappers

More in my column at Guns.com

I say, is that a Thornton-Pickard Mk III?

I thought this was great.

Australia is conducting their first nationwide firearms amnesty since the great melt-down of 1996 in an effort to get an estimated 300,000+ undocumented guns either on the books or in the furnace and they have had a lot of interesting stuff show up. These included this awesomely wicked specimen turned over to blue heelers in QLD.

The thing is, the impressive hand cannon is actually a British-made Thornton-Pickard Mk III H model “camera gun” of the type used by the Royal Air Force, and to a lesser degree the U.S. Army Air Corps, during WWI and the immediate post-war period.

The only thing it shoots if film.

Thornton Pickard Mk III H (Hythe) (PHO 75) British Thornton-Pickard Mk III H camera gun of the type used by the Royal Air Force during the First World War and immediate post-war period. See also PHO 22. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30004956

More in my column at Guns.com

Museum saving what it can in Australian gun amnesty

The Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum opened its doors 20 years ago in the home of the historic Australian firearms works that made Enfield and Steyr rifles for the military. Staffed by volunteers, they are now working during the three-month National Firearms Amnesty to keep some of the more interesting pieces from the scrappers.

Among the historic guns brought to the museum since the turn-in event kicked off last month are a Webley .455 revolver with three notches cut into the grips — reportedly used by a Gurkha unit soldier in World War I.

Now that is a beautiful .455

Other weapons, saved from likely destruction if turned over to police, include a Swedish AB Ljungman rifle and an antique palm pistol as well as a Slazenger 1B sporting rifle with intricately carved stocks and a 1902 Winchester.

More in my column at Guns.com

When things are so bad that you have to send it to the people

So in California, which has had an assault weapon ban going all the way back to 1989 and yet still have mass-shootings with California-compliant firearms, lawmakers tried to pass over 20 legislative actions on increased gun control this session.

A baker’s dozen of these made it through the legislature in Dem-heavy votes of which Gov. Jerry Brown signed 7 into law and returned five with vetoes.

Since gun rights groups and Republican lawmakers couldn’t derail these, a group of gun owners on a gun forum (Calguns) got together and decided, “Let’s try for a ballot referendum to repeal these…”

And that’s exactly what they are doing.

With a pressing deadline of Sept.29, they are trying to get 450,000 signatures on 7 different propositions. Of course, California has 13 million gun owners, which by definition should all be capable of registering to vote, so it’s not far-fetched.

I’ve spoken with the man behind the effort, a San Diego tech company executive, and it’s a hail Mary play with a lot of spunk behind it.

More over in my column at Guns.com here and here.