Thursday, March 24, 2011

Polish PPS-43C

The PPS-43 Sub-Machine Gun.
During World War II, the Russian Army was looking for a shorter, easier to manufacture Sub-Machine Gun for their forces to replace the expensive PPSh-41. The result was the PPS-42, and shortly after that, the even simplier to manufacture PPS-43. Made from stamped steel parts, these weapons were mass produced in the millions.

Firing in full-auto only, the PPS-43 used 35 round stick magazines and was chambered in the 7.62*25 Tokarov caliber. Effective Range is 100 meters, with a 200 meter maximum range. Like most Soviet equipment, this weapon is extremely simple to operate and maintain. Pushing a button on the back of the receiver allows the lower portion of the weapon to swing down for easy access and cleaning.

This example is a new, semi-auto production and is manufactured in the Polish Radom Arms factory. The magazines are original issue but everything else is newly manufactured. Weighing in at 6½ pounds empty, it is classed and sold as a pistol. This is due to the 10½ inch barrel length being too short for rifle classification. Since pistols are not allowed to have shoulder stocks, the folding stock on this model is welded in the folded position. A SBR (Short Barrel Rifle) tax stamp can be purchased for $200, and then the welds can legally be broken to render the stock operational again.
My daughter was shooting this at the local range.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mk1 Drill Rifle

While it may not look like much, this handmade rifle was manufactured with loving attention by my father when I was just a little boy of 4 or 5 years. The stock appears to be walnut and I believe it was cut from a mattress support that came from my parents bed. A Thompson sub-machine gun was made for my brother that same day.

Chambered for the imaginary cartridge, the magazine capacity was infinate, being able to fire all day long without a required reloading, although it typically held 5, 10, or 15 rounds depending on how many bad guys were coming at the time.

This weapon was lost for many years until finally found behind an old refrigerator at my grandmothers house. Seeing this rifle brings back so many memories of the adventures my older brother and I had. Other kids may have had more authentic looking guns to play with, but mine is still here while theres most likely lay upon the trash head of time.

Thanks Dad, for bringing it home.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Type 24 "Chiang Kai-shek" Mauser

Type 24 "Chiang Kai-shek" Mauser

A Chinese-made copy, shortened and lightened, of the German Mauser Gewehr 98. The rifle served as one of the main battle rifles for the Chinese Revolutionary Army. The quality of the weapon varied from arsenal to arsenal. Some were of superior quality while others were crudely made. Although it entered service in 1935, China's limited industrial capacity meant that it was built in low numbers. By the 1950s, the Type Zhongzheng rifle was phased out in favour of American aid equipment, such as the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, and the Thompson machine gun. Used against the Japanese during their invasion of China, the Type Zhongzheng rifle had advantages over the Arisaka used by the Armies of Japan. It had better stopping power with the use of 8mm Mauser rounds, the rifle had a better rate of fire, and a greater range than the Arisaka.

The example in my collection was manufactured in 1936 and was purchased from a Pawn shop that litterally pulled it from a barrel of similar rifles they had purchased from a U.S. Customs warehouse auction. The rifle was a mess. Caked in 80 year old preservative grease, it took weeks to get clean enough to identify. The bolt is not the one made for this rifle. Many of these rifles were captured by Japan, who, wanting to prevent them being used against them, would pull the bolts and store them separately. Later, Japan needed training rifles and would put any bolt that fit back in. Since they were not fired, this was a quick expedient to train troops in the motions of firing a rifle without using a bullet. My rifle may have been one of these mismatched examples.

The serial number and other markings are in English. Chinese characters are also present that identify the year it was made. The stock has a cartouche burned into it. It has been translated as an older symbol for "Dragon" and may have been a luck symbol. Since this would not have been allowed in the regular army, this may mean the rifle was issued to one of the militias fighting within the Chinese forces.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Enfield No.5 Mk1 "Jungle Carbine"

The Enfield No.5 Mk.1 Carbine, .303 caliber

Late in the war, the need for a shorter, lighter rifle for the British Army led to the development of the Rifle, No. 5 Mk I aka:the Jungle Carbine. It featured a severely cut-down stock, a flash hider, and a receiver machined to remove all unnecessary metal. The No. 5 was shorter and 2 lb lighter than the standard No.3 and No.4 Infantry rifles in use at the time. Production ceased in 1947. However, the No. 5 Mk I was popular with soldiers owing to its light weight, portability, and shorter overall length than a standard Lee-Enfield rifle. The No. 5 was first issued to the British 6th Airborne Division and in use during their occupation of Denmark in 1945.

Due to its popularity with collectors, many "Counterfeit" versions exist. Most are simply modified Enfield No.3 and No. 4 rifles with stocks and barrels modified to resemble the No.5, which commands a higher price to collectors.

The example in my collection is an authentic No.5 Mk1 as identified by the electro-penciled, not stamped, designation on the left side of the receiver. The hollowed out bolt handle end, rubber recoil pad, flash hider, and proper magazine type, amongst other features.

Manufactured at the Royal Ordinance Factory in September, 1945, it features a 10 round detachable magazine, although it was normally only removed for cleaning. Recoil is reported to be hard due to the full powered .303 round being fired from a shorter, lighter rifle. While some information on this weapon speaks of a flaw in the rifle design resulting in a "Wandering Zero", testing of the rifle has never borne this out. It is believed that the flaw never existed and was simply a convenient excuse by the army to stop production and acquire a more modern, semi automatic rifle design.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Austrian M95 "Stutzen" Carbine

The Austrian M95 "Repetier Stutzen" Carbine was used by the Austrio-Hungarian empire during World war I and was one of the first successful magazine fed rifle used by any army. The Stutzen (it means "Support") was intended for use by artillery units, combat engineers, and other 2nd line support troops. The weapon features a unique bolt system called the "Straight Pull" and unlike most bolt action rifles, it does not require that the shooter rotate the handle upward to unlock the bolt. You simply pull backward and the bolt head rotates to unlock and retract. Rifles were manufactured in the Steyr plant and are marked STEYR M95 and also in Budapest and are marked BUDAPEST M95.

The rifle uses an enbloc clip (shown loaded with 5 rounds above the rifle)and is similar to the later M1 rifle. When empty the clip falls from the bottom of the rifle rather than flying out of the top like the M1 does. The enbloc clips can be difficult to find and are almost a necessity. Loading the weapon by hand is not advised as the extractor must then be forced over the cartridge rim when closing the bolt and can be easily broken.

After World War I, Austria-Hungary collapsed and many of the M95's were distributed to the victorious Allied countries. Several were modified by the new owners to work with their standard ammunition types and no longer use the original 8mm*50R ammunition. In 1930, Austria, who still had a significant quantity of these rifles, re-chambered them to a more powerful 8mm*56R cartridge. The re-chambered rifles are typically marked with a prominent 'S' or 'H' on the receiver, above the manufacture mark.

The example in my collection was made in 1917 and is Budapest marked. The round is 8.32mm and one of the heaviest rounds I fire. Because of its shorter length, recoil is very strong. Ammunition can be difficult to find and I have a quantity of ammunition dated 1938 (Bulgarian) and 1940 (German). that I still fire (Yes, it still works and no duds yet). I have found some new production that is about $1.25 per round but that is not much more than what you might pay for the much older ammunition, and is re-loadable. The rifle is in excellent shape and looks like it was just put into storage a few years ago.

The straight pull bolt system allows the shooter to reload without having to take the rifle off the shoulder as you would with many turn bolt guns. This allows you to hold your aim better than is typical. How the bolt doesn't embed itself into your forehead after each shot is still a mystery to me, but it works.

Chinese Type 56 Carbine

Not to be confused with the Chinese Type 56 Assault Rifle based on the Soviet AK-47, this is the Type 56 Carbine based on the Soviet SKS.

The Type 56 Carbine is almost an exact copy of the Soviet design. The Chinese did make many minor changes and even with the same series one can find differences. Chinese copies used many stamped parts while Soviet versions typically had milled receivers. Early models had a blade type bayonet while later models (after serial number 9,000,000) had a spike bayonet. It retains the internal 10 round magazine. Many military Type 56 Carbines were later re-arsenaled and exported to the United States where they were purchased in larger quantities as "Sporter rifles". Many had the bayonets removed to comply with import restrictions. These are , however, true military weapons. China did import many Commercial version based on the Type 56 design but these were strictly for import and were never used by the military though the names might imply otherwise. These include the M21, "Cowboy's Companion", Hunter, Models D/M, Paratrooper, Sharpshooter, and Sporter.

The item in my collection is a Type 56 Carbine with (missing) spike bayonet. It is about two pounds lighter than the Yugoslavian M59/66a1 and very accurate. It came to me sporterized with a aftermarket stock but, thankfully, the owner had kept the original wood stock and I was able to put it back in its military configuration once again. The Type 56 can seem a tad short for long armed western shooters but its light weight compensates for that very well. The "Cheese Grater" type upper hand guard is also not part of the military configuration and has since been replaced with the original wooden part, no longer painted black.

This is how she looked when I purchased it. You can see the black painted handguard in the lower right.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yugoslavian M59/66a1

Yugoslavian M59/66a1

The Yugoslavian M59/66a1 was the last in a series of battle rifles for the Yugoslavian military. Based on the Soviet SKS carbine, the M59 was a close copy of the Soviet SKS with a stripper clip guide manufactured into the bolt and a blade type bayonet. In 1966, a 22mm NATO specification grenade launcher was added and the wepaon was renamed the M59/66. Flip up illuminated night sights were added a few years later to be called the M59/66a1.

The M59/66a1 retains the 10 round internal magazine of the original SKS, fed by a charger, or stripper clip. The 7.62*39mm cartridge is the same round used by the more well known AK-47 assault rifle that eventually replaced the SKS in most Soviet arsenals. It is unique, however, for its built on grenade launcher, launcher sight, and gas shut off valve. By flipping the valve button to the top position, the gas port is shut off and the grenade launcher sight is released and can then be moved to the upright position. Firing the weapon at this point will not cycle the bolt, meaning it has become a single shot weapon. This was to protect the weapon from damage when shooting the more powerful grenade launching blanks contained within the tail of the grenade itself. Today, while surplus grenades are hard to find, a variety of other objects may be fired with a suitable adapter, such as tennis and golf balls.

The example in my collection was manufactured in 1972. The bipod shown in the picture above is not standard and is not part of the rifle. The Yugoslavian M59/66a1 is a battle rifle, rather than a carbine, as the barrel is longer than standard due to the grenade launcher on the end. it is not an assault rifle, however, media outlets typically call it one. assault rifles by definition are capable of full automatic fire which the Yugoslavian rifle, nor any other SKS design, cannot do.
If not properly maintained the weapon can produce a "slam fire", and fire the entire magazine non-stop. This is because the firing pin has no return spring, and if gummed up by bad maintenance, can lodge in a forward protruding position which will set off the loaded round when the bolt is snapped closed on loading.