Why would we make a single dealer the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week? Well, Horst Held is not just any dealer. Not when you take into consideration the historic significance and quality of the collector pieces Horst is selling. Even if some of them are priced in the nosebleed range, his collection is broad enough, deep enough, historic enough, and packed enough with odd curiosities — like the flintlock revolver currently on the front page — to be an education in itself.
We first came across his site while trying to decode the mysteries of the repeating pistols of Weipert (Vejprty), Bohemia. For example, he has two Gustav Bittners in stock. Given the prices he has placed on them, all we can do is look, but he has characteristically included numerous photographs of these peculiar and historic “missing links” between the first single-shot and double-barrel cartridge pistols, and the true semi-automatic service pistol which came along in a few years and rendered the repeaters, operated lever-action (usually by action of the trigger guard), obsolete.
Bittner Repeating Pistol, (7.7mm?) cased with tools, ammo and en-bloc clips, from Forgotten Weapons. We believe this pistol to be in the personal collection of Horst Held.
He also has a page on those strange hybrid weapons that incorporate a pistol or revolver and some kind of knife or sword blade, with an awful lot of examples, not including the rare Elgin Sword Pistol. The Elgin may be rare in absolute terms, but it’s common compared to his examples, like this Dumonthier revolver with a folding bayonet!
But there’s far more here than just that. If you can look at this site and not learn anything, we’ll be very surprised — “By the heathen gods that made ye, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”
And if you look at the site, you’ll almost certainly be entertained. You may not want to spend thousands on exotic antiques, but you’ll marvel at the ingenuity that went into some of these artistic creations, even as you wonder at the thought processes of the designer who thought it might be practical.
Carbines for Collectors is a website that has outrun its own name. Originally, it had pages on some of the key bolt-action carbines of the 20th Century, but over time it has evolved to contain a great deal of information on many weapons and the historical periods and events that they helped shape.
One of the reasons that this site may have been overlooked is that there are relatively few embedded pictures. Instead, the pages are mostly text, and the pictures are mostly linked. This does mean it loads lightning fast, and you don’t have to load pictures you don’t care about. But if you’re a visual learner, clicking back and forth might be frustrating for you.
Despite the dense, high-quality content, it is a very simple collection of pages menued off the index page. Navigation is a snap, and if you want to learn the ins and outs of, say the rifles of the Spanish Civil War (an extremely complex period) or a specific rifle like the Mexican Modelo 1936 (left) then this is for you.
It isn’t only about rifles; there’s some good pistol content, too, and it isn’t just for collectors, because there’s plenty of meat for history buffs. It also has excellent pages that try to explain the small arms history of specific countries.
There are good essays on, for instance, the small arms of Bolivia (below)…
…or of many other nations, and even some small crew-served weapons like the Japanese 50mm “knee mortar” grenade launcher.
RK Smith, Dan Reynolds, and Cliff Carlisle are credited with this site, but at least some specific pages are written by well-known authorities — we noted that Ruy Aballe was responsible for the pages on Spanish pistols.
All in all, Carbines for Collectors is a good site for anyone interested in the military weapons of the world, especially those of the mid-20th Century.
Here is a fine example of Your Tax Dollars in Action (for our international readers, Some Other Guys’ Tax Dollars in Action), being returned to the public in the form of freely downloadable publications, all related in some way to Special Operations: The Joint Special Operations University Publications.
Is that whirring we hear the sound of hard drives spooling up? Be our guest. You’ve paid for the knowledge and expertise contained in these documents. They are yours to learn from.
In 2016 alone, JSOU published nine numbered Papers, a fistful of Occasional Papers, and some themed collections of articles. They’re all here. They cover subjects like: unconventional warfare doctrine, the history of how one 7th Group battalion task force took down an al-Qaeda underground/auxiliary network in Iraq, and an evaluation of how better to meet SOF language and human domain knowledge needs. Some of it is aimed more at the academic than the practitioner, but it’s all useful stuff.
For example, at this writing the most recent of them is The Evolution of the Global SOF Enterprise from a Partner Perspective, by Lieutenant Colonel Asbjørn Lysgård, Norwegian Army. (The .pdf is here, also). LTC Lysgård is a Norwegian Military Academy graduate and longtime veteran of an element we foreigners aggregate with all other Norwegian SOF as NORSOF, but that the Norwegian services know as NORASOC. In fact, each Norwegian SOF element has its own history and skillset, and each can reach back to earlier Norwegian SOF that were formed in close collaboration with British and American SO elements in World War II.
Norwegian SOF in training.
Norway, however, following the Second World War, disbanded all its SOF units to prioritize a larger conventional force structure to meet the Soviet threat. The legacy of OSS and SOE was still present though, especially in the reserves and the Norwegian Home Guard. Finally, almost a decade after the war, Norwegian Defense Forces started to reinvest in SOF. In 1953, the Navy established the first teams of Frogmen and, in 1962, the Army established Hærens Fallskjermjegerskole (HFJS), the Army’s Commando School, to train long-range reconnaissance units for parachute insertion behind enemy lines. During the Cold War, U.S. SOF worked closely with HFJS to shape the battlefield, fighting off a potential threat from the East. Throughout the Balkan wars and the Kosovo crisis, Norwegian SOF became an expeditionary strategic deployable force, which later developed into Hærens Jegerskole/Forsvarets Spesialkommando, the predecessor of the current strategic command.
The Norwegian Special Operations Command (NORSOCOM) was established on 1 January 2014, when its first commander, Rear Admiral Nils Johan Holte, took command of the two tactical Norwegian SOF units, Forsvarets Spesialkommando (FSK), and the Navy SOF unit Marinejegerkommandoen. Since that time, the NORSOCOM commander and his staff have strengthened the long-established relations between the different SOF units around the world.
LTC Lysgård explains, from the point of view of an Allied officer, what it’s like to be one of the over two dozen partner nations in the Global SOF Network, a functional and technical means of coordination and cooperation.
In reading his paper, we learned a thing or three about the current status of interoperation among friendly SOF, and in fact it goes quite a bit further than we thought it did. If you’re interested in such things, it’s a thought-provoking read.
And if you’re not? Keep looking around the JSOU Library. You’ll find something that’s more to your taste.
Today we’re not calling out a website so much as one guy’s, and one company’s, YouTube channel. Mark Serbu’s Serbu Firearms is known for its .50 rifles and other innovative products, which manage to combine shade-tree mechanics with practical engineering. But his YouTube channel is something else entirely.
For instance, he unearthed this video of a mid-2000s prototype .50 BMG semi-auto, the HyperDel, which seems to have vanished, since. It was a 5-round semi .50 with a tubular receiver and a Stoner-style direct-injection gas system. The barrel is screwed into the receiver with a racheting barrel nut à la Uzi. It looks like the trigger and hammer are AR-sourced, and the mag release resembles the M-14, Tokarev, AK style. It seems to have a cross-bolt safety on the receiver, but we might just be seeing that wrong.
The recoil-management and -measurement rig is pretty clever and straightforward. It looks like they went back to the drawing board after this video. Not only does the video have some possible gaps, the “design enhancements” suggest that the prototype had failures to fire, feed, and extract. According to Mark, this company did not advertise completed guns, only plans.
The Patented hyperDEL™ semiautomatic big bore rifle, chambered in either 50 BMG or 50 DTC Euro calibers, is now undergoing the second of four, live-fire, test phases. See News for more information.
Caliber: 50 BMG or 50 DTC Euro
Dual Caliber Rifle, Barrel Assy Interchangeability
Patented hyperDEL™ Gas Reciprocating Action
ON/OFF Gas Toggle for Bolt-Action-Like Touch-Offs hyperBUFFER™ Adjustable Damping System
Free Floating 29 in. Kreiger Barrel, Chromed Chmbr
Dry Weight: 30 lb. (no scope, no ammo)
Overall Length: 60.1 in.
Four Lug Bolt and Barrel Extension
Alloy Steel Barrel/Action Construction
Aircraft Aluminum Receiver
Patented hyperTAME™ Recoil Brake Patent Pending hyperTIGHT™ Group Size Reducer
Fixed Head Space
“AR15” Fire Control hyperGRIP™ Pistol Grip for Man-Sized Hands hyperLIGHT™ Trigger Break Patent Pending hyperPOD™ Bipod
Two 10 rnd., Dual-Stack, Parkerized Steel Mags
Ambidextrous Magazine Release
Magazine Accommodates Both Calibers
Finishes: Hardcoat, Parkerizing, DuraCoat®
Easily Breaks Down into Receiver & Barrel Assys
Field Strips w/o Tools
Rotatable Butt Pad To Fit Any Shoulder Pocket
Sorbothane II Shock Dissipating Butt Pad
MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny Rail, 50 MOA Declination
Closed-OFF Ejection Port While Bolt in Battery
By 2010, the site was occupied by domain squatters, cheating advertising networks with bogus searches and hits. It last resolved in DNS at all in 2015.
Recently, Mark has been engaging with the much reviled experimenting kid, Rick, whose YouTube persona is Royal Nonesuch… helping both to educate the boy and keep him from killing himself. We suspect that Mark sees in the tinkering youth a shade of his own young self, and his own tinkering keeps him young at heart.
Of greatest interest to WeaponsMan.com readers, perhaps, is his series Gun Design 101 in which Mark originally intended to talk about conceptual and detail design (like some of the books on our Gun Design Books page linked at the top of WeaponsMan.com) but has wound up, instead, talking design of simple, almost improvised, firearms. So watch these three videos, and be Ready for Hillary.
December 2014: “The Making of the $7 12-Gauge Zip Gun Shotgun”
He calls it the ZG-12 for “Zip Gun 12,” heh, and doesn’t give dimensions directly as a “barrier to entry” — if you can’t figure it out, he says, you’re a “punk.” It’s not a terribly practical gun, but it exists “as a testament to what can be done,” with minimum costs, materials, and time.
The video is actually a good “Design 101” because it shows the conceptual design and engineering substantiation of the firearm, as well as its production. If you’ve been listening to Dyspeptic Gunsmith about the power of a file, you’ll be nodding along when Mark applies the unexpected combination of a massive industrial CNC turning center and a hand-held file together on the same operation!
Firing the gun lets him check his calculations.
Even in oppressive environments where guns are outlawed, the last ammunition to become unavailable is birdshot.
The next video in Gun Design 101 makes a slam-fire .22 pistol.
May 2016: Apocalypse Hardware Store Gun Build!
“We’re not talking a complete apocalypse, where you’re running around in a loincloth in the woods.” And “We used some pretty expensive equipment, but we didn’t have to.”
And the latest (and possibly ultimate?) version: the GB-22. The “22” in the name is obvious… the “GB” stands for “Gun Buyback,” which is one suitable deployment for such a firearm… used to convert doo-gooders’ cash into money to buy that Serbu .50 you’ve had your eye on.
October 2016: World’s simplest homemade pistol…the GB-22! Gun Buybacks beware!
“16 years ago I came up with the idea for this really simple gun to turn in on a buyback.”
World’s simplest homemade pistol…the GB-22! Gun Buybacks beware!Skills displayed here include making and heat treating a spring with improvised tools, including a toaster oven as a heat-treating oven (including a temperature botch that didn’t produce the desired temper)
The HNSA is a sort of online clearinghouse for information about museum ships and related facilities. As they put it on part of the website:
We promote visiting the world’s historic naval ships and advocate for the need to save these important vessels for future generations so that they may continue to proudly serve their countries in honor of those who served and continue to serve at sea.
…but we also looked at pages for other vessels, like BAP Abtao, a sub that was built by Electric Boat for Peru and is on display in that Andean nation after a career that included over 5,000 dives and the rescue of the crew of another Peruvian sub sunk by collision.
We particularly like their reference library.
So what’s there? How about the text and some illustrations of a 1945 PT Boat manual, Know Your PT Boat. Written in a style reminiscent of the German Panzerfibel with cartoon illustrations, it gives the sailor newly assigned to PT Boats an overview of its systems and operations. Unfortunately, this version has been slightly bowdlerized; cartoons that made racist caricatures of Japanese have been removed. (And some haven’t).
Know Your PT Boat even deals with maintaining the refrigerator:
Your refrigerator can make ice cream, ice cubes, and frozen delights (especially good is frozen fruit cup). Once a Jap bullet punctured a refrigerator unit and drained it of all its freon. Several of the boats then decided to put armor plate about the refrigerator. So you see it’s really very important, for it contributes to the living comforts which are all too few in the Area. Your refrigerator pump and motor need servicing. Don’t let them wear down or overheat. To keep meat, your refrigerator must be in top shape. It is rare to have fresh meat and when issued it comes in 100-pound quantities. Hence the necessity for a good freeze or reefer. Have a drip pan properly placed or the meat juices will leak into the bilges and in a week you’ll be accused of carrying a dead Jap around in your bilges.
Of course, WeaponsMan.com readers will probably be most interested in the gunnery.
Don’t be like one boot who ducked down inside his “armored” turret during an attack and then later when he discovered that the turret was made of 3/4″ plywood he fainted.
Aside from the actual firing of the guns the important thing is the preparation. Everything must be in perfect operating order. “Be Prepared” is not just a Boy Scout motto, it is the watchword of every fighting ship. You can make no excuses to the Japs for a jammed 50, a weak drive spring, or a 20-mm. magazine with no tension on it. The guns must fire when you want them. They will, only if you have done your drills so that you can do everything automatically. Strip your guns regularly, exercise the springs, and make other routine checks. Then you will know in times of action how to put tension on a magazine and how to blind load.
37-mm. Gun.-To the “Barge Hunters” this is a fondly loved gun. Its flexibility, ease of firing, destructive power, and flat trajectory make it a grand gun against targets at moderate range. A 37-mm. seldom jams of itself. The few jams that do occur are usually traced to faulty ammunition.
20-mm. Gun.-This gun is so powerful that it has earned the name “cannon.” When you hit something with a 20-mm., you really do some damage. Not small punctures but gaping holes are the marks left on the enemy by this powerful shell. Aside from the usual preparation and care of a 20-mm., the following are helpful hints:
Precaution must be taken in clearing a 20-mm. jam. Always have a bucket of water on hand. When a jam occurs, souse the breech and barrel. If you cannot get the projectile out in a few seconds, secure the gun for about 5 minutes. In any case, never stick your nose or fingers into the breech. Keep clear and use your ram rod.
Practice cocking of the 20-mm. It is a tricky operation and should be done speedily and with ease, especially in the dark. It is the only war to clear a jam, and to get the gun set to fire again.
The loader must get a rhythm in his task and eliminate groping at night. The gunner and loader who drill in the daylight with their eyes closed are doing a wise thing. The magazine is quite heavy. On a high trunnion gun, the loader should be both strong and tall.
Be sure that prior to any imminent action all magazines are on full tension at 60 pounds. If your magazines have been in use a long time, it is wise to pull out a few rounds before loading, but be sure you still have on the full tension. This precaution will give the last few rounds in your magazine an extra push and will prevent jamming.
There’s a lot more in Know Your PT Boat, but it’s only one of the features to be found on this site.
Most of all y’all aren’t members of AFIO, which we think goes by the initials now but used to be the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. (There are ways to join if you’re not former military or government spook, also). AFIO has two great benefits, if you’re not in the National Capital Area where they have frequent high-quality meetings. (Which are a great thing, but not enough to live in that loony bin. Visiting or blogging asylums is quite sufficient, thank you very much).
The first of those two benefits are the members’ magazine, The Intelligencer, which would be worth a membership just for the book reviews, even if all the other content sucked (which it definitely doesn’t). Some of it is retreaded (now declassified) stuff from Studies in Intelligence, most of which is going to show up on CIA’s Studies public website soon enough if it hasn’t already, and some of it is kind of inside-player personnel policy stuff, but enough of it is of value for a student of espionage and unconventional warfare to make the whole thing worth it, even without the reviews.
But the second one is a weekly information- and link-dense email called the Weekly Intelligence News, or WINS. Trying to unscrew our membership access to the site this week (the administrators ultimately bestowed a temporary password, for which, thanks), we stumbled across the fact that, while current and recent WINS are members-only, 2015 and earlier ones are available to all of those who are not intelligence officers.
(Or even, intelligence officers for an adverse party. Tell Vladimir Vladimirovich that WeaponsMan says hi, and why is he wasting bullets on journalists?)
To access the 2015 and earlier WINS, use this link.
Because, even though we delayed this post for over 12 hours, we’re still drawing a blank. so we’re throwing it open for suggestions. Because we know there’s lots of ’em we haven’t covered yet but they’re not in the forebrain at present. For the Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week, it’s Thursday noon, and we still got nothin’. So… help!
Let’s celebrate the opening of the Oliver Stone film Snowden, not to mention, the latest dump of information from the FSB’s Snowden archive, within an interesting website: The Spy Museum.
While WeaponsMan.com readers might be most interested in the museum’s collections of spy weapons and other spy tech, the human stories of the villains and heroes of espionage — their hero/villain status often depending on whose side is looking at it.
Along with all the spies you’ve heard about, the museum features ones you probably haven’t, like Judith Coplon. Coplon, an employee of the FBI and Department of Justice, seems to have been an ideological recruit to the Soviet Union just after World War II. Like many left-leaning New Yorkers such as the more famous Rosenbergs, the Soviet tale of collectivized equality and working-class solidarity was more appealing to Coplon than American individualism.
Coplon came under suspicion, and…
…[w]as placed under intense surveillance. FBI agents placed taps on her telephone line, monitored her mail and followed her as she traveled. Neighbors claimed that Coplon was quiet and did not entertain male guest in her apartment. Surveillance, however, indicated that she engaged in sexual affairs with several men, presumably for the purpose of obtaining classified information.
Often traveled to New York City on the weekends, often asking to leave from work early on Fridays. Took classified documents home with her and retyped them. Gave the retyped documents to Gubitchev when she visited him in New York.
Requested a special document containing a list of suspected Soviet spies. Director Hoover personally delivered a fake version of the document to Coplon’s supervisor, who immediately provided it to her. Coplon, upon receiving the document requested the rest of the day off and then traveled to New York for the weekend (followed by FBI agents – January 14, 1949).
Was trailed by FBI agents around Manhattan until she finally met with Gubitchen in a restaurant. After exchanging documents, the couple left and boarded a subway train. As the doors to the train were closing, Gubitchev bolted from the train and evaded the trailing FBI agents.
At this point, the FBI had enough to bag Coplon, but they wanted her Russian contact, an intelligence officer using the name Valentin Gubitchev and under official cover as an employee of the United Nations, arguably the greatest CONUS nexus of foreign intelligence gathering. So they shuffled her to a new position… and kept a weather eye on her.
Having been observed passing documents, Coplon was transferred to another division of the Department of Justice, in order to keep her away from sensitive documents. Coplon continued to seek access to such documents, volunteering to aid her replacement in getting up to speed.
Requested additional classified information that her supervisor had recently obtained (fake information received from Hoover). Her supervisor left the information in Coplon’s view and left the room. Coplon left the room and caught a train to New York (March 6, 1949).
Coplon and Gubitchev were caught red-handed. Gubitchev had had diplomatic cover earlier as a member of the Soviet Delegation, but when he took the UN employee job he exposed himself to American law; he was tried and convicted. Coplon was defended by a mysteriously (cough Soviet cough) funded Dream Team of lawyers, and supported by a vociferous lobby of left-leaning literati, press and public members in Washington and New York, but she was still convicted.
It wasn’t the end for her, though, as her pro-Soviet lawyers didn’t give up: she married one of her attorneys, Albert Socolov, who helped get her off on technicalities on appeal. Socolov was himself both a WWII US Military veteran and a suspected Soviet agent or fellow traveler. In her obituary, her daughter Emily fences around Judith’s treachery (and suggests that she’s no more loyal than her mom):
It’s very hair-raising to read about your mother being given a code name and moved around like a chess piece. Was she a spy? I think it’s another question that I ask: Was she part of a community that felt that they were going to bring, by their actions, an age of peace and justice and an equal share for all and the abolishing of color lines and class lines?
Honey, if you think that’s what the USSR stood for, you slept through the 20th Century.
If these were things that she actually did, she was not defining them as espionage. If you feel that what you’re doing answers to a higher ideal, it’s not treason.
Sorry. Treason you got away with is still treason. Had justice truly prevailed, Judith would have been hanged, and Emily never born.
The Coplon case was, for both the American security authorities, and the Soviets’ Fifth Column of American Traitors and supporters like the lawyers, an important dry run for the imminent Rosenberg and Alger Hiss cases. Three groups of traitors, three different cases, three different outcomes.
In any event, the Spy Museum site will introduce you to a lot of spies like the late, unlamented Judith Coplon, and give you a rundown on the famous ones like Walker, Hanssen, and Pollard (as well as our famous spies in the adversary’s services, like Penkovskiy and Pacepa).
We’re so far behind that we’re going to put this up with a very minimal plug (sorry). But Ann Corcoran’s Refugee Resettlement Watch has been doing God’s work for years on a problem that rose into the consciousness of many people only much more recently.
One of the more annoying things is that the Beltway panjandrums who implement this ruinous policy don’t accept the consequences themselves. Functionally zero refugees are resettled in the National Capital Area.
And one thing Corcoran has pointed out here, again and again, is that the policy is largely set by the paid lobbyists who work for allegedly “non-profit” resettlement profiteers, and that Congress has completely abdicated their duty to exercise oversight and control.
Wonder why there’s a Somali organized crime ring in your city or state? Read RRW, and wonder no more.
Jeff Cooper is gone, but the wisdom of the very opinionated pistol expert and Marine Colonel lives on as the underpinning of practical shooting — whether you’re talking about “practical” as in competition, or “practical” as in a back alley.
The Cooper family maintains a website, where you can order some of Cooper’s books even today — they even have a small supply of irreplaceable signed, leatherbound copies.
Welcome to Jeff Cooper Books, the official website of Jeff Cooper and Wisdom Publishing.
Jeff Cooper was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1920. He was educated at Stanford University and took his advanced degree from the University of California. He was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1941 and served throughout World War II in the Pacific, achieving the rank of Major. Recalled to active duty for the Korean War, he moved up one rank to Lieutenant Colonel before leaving the service.
Cooper has been a shottist since the age of eleven, and in 1958 he originated the sport of practical pistol competition. From this activity he formulated the Modern Technique of the Pistol, now generally observed throughout the world. For the next thirty years he was active in teaching the new method throughout the Western World.