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.

Romanian TTC Tokarov Pistol

The TTC Tokarov pistol, from Romania, is one hard hitting weapon. Similar in external appearance to the Browning 1903, the Tokarov is internally a totally unique design. Firing the powerful 7.62*25 Tokarov cartridge, this pistol is one of only a few that can penetrate level II and IIa body armor at ranges of 25 yards, and punch through a U.S. Kevlar helmet at ranges of 25 feet.

Looking for a replacement for the Model M1895 revolver, the Russian army selected the 8 round Tokarov using a more powerful version of the 7.63 Mauser bullet. The Tokarov can fire the lighter 7.63 Mauser bullet but the same cannot be said for the German C96 pistol as the action cannot handle the higher pressures. Many captured Russian Tokarov's were used by the Germans with Mauser ammunition.

While many Tokarovs were manufactured in World War II, they never fully replaced the M1895 revolver. The Russians manufactured the Tokarov, known as the TT-33, until 1954. Other Soviet countries manufactured the weapon in their own armories, such as Romania, China, and Yugoslavia.

The Romanian TTC Tokarov in my collection was made in 1954. While the grip looks skinny, it is actually very comfortable and solid feeling. The round is very powerful but has less recoil than the smaller 9mm Makarov that replaced it. Ammunition is cheap and plentiful in the surplus market, but new production is higher priced than more common calibers due to so few pistols or rifles that use it. With a muzzle velocity of about 1450+ feet per second, the round has one of the highest velocities for a pistol and I have little difficulty engaging targets at ranges of 100 yards with it.

Czechoslovakian CZ-82 Pistol

Czechoslovakian CZ(vz) 82 Semi Auto handgun.

The CZ-82 pistol was Czechoslovakia's answer to the soviet request that the army convert to the new 9mm Makarov cartridge. The pistol design is very solid and simple to maintain as the entire weapon breaks down, without tools, into only 3 main parts; Frame with attached barrel, main spring, and slide.
The magazine holds 12, 9mm Makarov (9mm*18) cartridges. This round is slightly larger, though less powerful, than the more popular 9mm luger (9mm*19) round. The simple blow back operation of the CZ-82 makes felt recoil higher than one would expect as little exists to absorb the recoil other than the main spring and heavy slide.

The barrel is unique in that it does not have the typical rifling grooves normally expected in a firearm. The CZ-82 uses polygonal rifling; a sort of off-center cut barrel, that spins the bullet and creating the gyroscopic forces that keep the bullet stable in flight. When recovered, the bullet will have none of the striations normally seen cut into the metal. The polygonal rifled barrel produces less friction (helping the recoil) and thus less wear than a typical barrel. Accuracy does not seem to be any less, however.

The example in my collection was manufactured in 1979. Recoil was more than expected when first fired and I replaced the original main spring with a stronger , 20 pound replacement spring. This reduced the felt recoil to a more comfortable level. The pistol is very ergonomic and comfortable in the hand. It features an ambidextrous safety that is easily reached with your thumb. The magazines are difficult to load with all 12 rounds and features sharp edges at the base that press into your hand when loading (ouch!). Surplus ammunition is not common but new production ammunition is not very expensive.

Mosin Nagant Model 91/30

Mosin Nagant Model M91/30

Pronounced: "Mo zeen - Na gone"

Following the Russo-Turkish war in 1878, Russia began looking for a new battle rifle to replace the single shot Berdan rifles currently in use by her military forces. The 3 line caliber rifle, model 1891, was accepted as a joint design between Russian Colonel Sergei Ivanovich Mosin who designed the bolt and receiver, and the Belgian Emile Nagant (designer of the M1895 Nagant Revolver), who designed the magazine system.

Infantry and Dragoon versions were the two designs primarily produced (although a Cossack version exists also). This was to simplify production. The Dragoon model is slightly shorter and lighter and was intended for use by mounted infantry. The lighter, shorter weapon was very popular with the regular infantry and during the 1930 modernization of the weapon, nearly all models were further reduced in length and weight to become the new Model 91/30. Other changes were made to the front and rear sights to convert them to meters from the older unit of measure, the Arshin.

About 37 million were produced or converted from older model M1891 rifles. in 1936 the rifles were further modified to have a round receiver rather than the Hex shaped (actually octagonal) receiver.This simplified production but did not impair the rifles function. Many were converted to sniper use and an ex-sniper M91/30 demands higher prices on the collector market.

The Mosin Nagant M91/30 fires the powerful 7.62*54R cartridge. Known also as the Russian 30.06, this round is a high powered cartridge capable of reaching ranges of over 1 mile with killing force. The rifle has an internal, 5 round magazine that is loaded from a charger, or stripper clip holding the 5 rounds and allowing them to be pushed into the magazine quickly with your thumb. Rounds can also be loaded one at a time into the magazine well.

The example shown in the photograph above is a 1927, Ex-Dragoon, Hex receiver model. These rifles are very inexpensive and are a great choice for a beginning collector. Surplus ammunition is available and new production is also cheap. The recoil is very strong and the bolt can be difficult to open due to the short handle. Also, due to soviet ammunition being steel case, it was coated in lacquer to prevent rust. This coating slowly built up over time and coated the interior of the chamber. Failure to remove this build up can cause the bullet cases to stick in the chamber making the weapon very hard to cycle, even impossible in some cases. Allowing the weapon to cool allows the cases to become unstuck and eventually removed. Using a 20 guage shotgun brush and a gun solvent is a good method to remove most of this build up lacquer and improve loading and cycling ease.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nagant M1895 'Gas Seal' Revolver

Nagant M1895 'Gas Seal' Revolver

The Nagant M1895 revolver was designed and produced by Leon Nagant, a Belgian industrialists. While Nagant designed similar revolvers for several countries, this model for Tsarist Russia is unique as it has a gas seal.

The M1895 fires the 7.62*38R cartridge, unique also as it incorporates the bullet entirely within the cartridge case. The case is then crimped over the bullet leaving a small bottle neck on the end. When the trigger is pulled, or the hammer cocked, the 7 shot cylinder revolves, and then moves forward to insert the bottle neck into the chamber. When fired, the bullet moves forward, pushing out the crimp and forcing it to seal against the walls of the chamber. This prevents the loss of pressure caused by the gas escaping through the cylinder gap like in all other revolver designs, and gives a bit more speed to the round (about 100fps). Because the bullet does not have to jump the gap, it also increases accuracy as it more perfectly engages the rifling within the barrel.

The Nagant M1895 revolver in my collection was manufactured in 1938 and is in very good condition. Because the cylinder must be pulled forward, the trigger pull on this model revolver is very hard, about 20 pounds in double action, 13 pounds in single action (cocked first and then fired).

Accuracy is affected by the hard pull as the strain on your finger causes the gun to wonder away from the bulls eye in Double action mode although its not as bad in single action mode. The weapon is accurate when held steady though. The ammunition is fairly hard to find locally but is available from various sources on the internet for about $25 per box, plus shipping. recoil is almost (Above picture courtesy of Wikipedia) non-existent, especially when compared to a
modern firearm. The rounds are almost anemic in regards to power. They will still kill you, but they have nowhere near the power of a 9mm or even the .38 caliber. Still this is one of my favorite pistols due to the unique action and ammunition.

Historical Firearms Collection

My hobby for the past four years has been the collection of historical weapons of World War II and beyond. My collection focused primarily on Soviet design weapons, but a few from other countries have crept in, due in part to interest, or just too good a deal to pass up.

For my own enjoyment and the potential education of others who may be interested, I will be posting photographs of my collection, give some details about the history of the weapon, and some specs about the example in my collection. I invite others to comment on these weapons as well. I hope to read your views on the history and personal experiences you may have on each weapon.

I do reserve the right to move or delete those posts that may not apply to the topic at hand.

Thank You, and enjoy.