Category Archives: Machine Guns

Names for Malfunctions

“I’ve never had a malfunction on paper.”

George M. Chinn

On this page at the international website all4shooters, we noted the following paragraph from Andrea Giuntini:

American experts invented names and achronyms for all kind of gun-related malfunctions, yet there isn’t one that suits this. That was definitely not an FTF (“Failure to Feed”), as the round were fed and fired properly, nor an FTE (“Failure to Extract) since, as a matter of fact, the case was extracted and ejected; nor it is a stovepipe malfunction − if it was, the case would be stuck vertically in the ejection window.
May you, ALL4SHOOTERS.COM readers and followers, invent a name for this kind of malfunction? Tell us about it, and about any peculiar kind of malfunction you may have experienced in your everyday shooters’ lives!

The article actually looks into a screwy, one-off malf of a Glock 17, in which a fired casing got turned around backwards and jammed the slide from going into battery on the next round:


We couldn’t duplicate the jam with a G17 and dummy rounds in the office, but Andrea traced it to a piece of metal debris under the extractor (his Glock was brand new).

A gun is a machine, and a machine does the same thing every time, given the same input; therefore, a machine never fails for no reason, and the reason is always discoverable, given the right theory, concept, and inspectional technique. Basic troubleshooting, which worked for Andrea Giuntini and should make a good post here some day. But meanwhile, it got us thinking about what are the types of malfunctions?

Most of what an Internet search will find is the same stuff repeated endlessly, which probably comes, ultimately, from Cooper. We leave finding it in Cooper’s voluminous bibliography as an exercise for the reader; his Commentaries are online, for example.

Cooper, in turn, followed Chinn. But an even earlier taxonomy of malfunctions comes from then-Captain Julian Hatcher and his assistants, Lieutenants H.J. Malony and Glenn P. Wilhelm,  at the Machine Gun School of Instruction at Harlingen, Texas in March, 1917.

Jams, Malfunctions, Stoppages

Distinguish carefully between these terms, and use them correctly. Any accidental cessation of fire is a stoppage. It may be due to a misfire, or to the fact that the magazine has been emptied, etc. In this case it is not a malfunction.

A malfunction is an improper action of some part of the gun, resulting in a stoppage. For example, a failure to extract the empty cartridge case.

A jam is some malfunction which causes the mechanism to stick or bind so that it is difficult to move. Do not use the word “Jam” too much. Most troubles with the guns are merely temporary stoppages due to some malfunction, and real jams are comparatively rare.1

An alternative version comes from the Royal Armouries of England and Great Britain. In the 1960s, its standard report format (which we saw in the Vz 58 report) contained this boilerplate key2 to malfunctions:

1. b.f.c. Breech Block fails to close. The round has been fed into the chamber but breech block not fully home.
2. b. f. r. Breech Block fails to remain to the rear. When the trigger is released the breech block fails to engage on the sear.
3. d.t. Double Tap. When the mechanism of the weapon is set to single shot firing two rounds are fired with one pressure of the trigger.
4. f. e. Failure tc Eject. This occurs when the round is correctly fired and fired case is extracted from chamber but not thrown clear of the weapon.
5. f. e. c. Failure to Extract Fired Case. This occurs when the round is fired correctly but the fired case is left in the chamber when the breech block moves to the rear.
6. f. f. Failure to Feed A conplete failure of the breech block to contact the base of the round and remove it from belt or magazine i.e. breech block closes on empty chamber. Position of round in magazine or belt indicated where possible i.e. 19th
7. hf.      Hangfire This occurs when the time interval between the striking of the cap by the firing pin and the firing of the round is apparent to fixer. Definite time lag in milli seconds is however used by Ammunition personnel.
8. l. s. Light Strike This occurs when the cap of the round receives a slight indentation from the firing pin which is insufficient to ignite the cap composition.
9. p. f. f. Partial Failure to Feed or Malfeed. This is a partial failure in that the round has beer taken partially from the magazine or belt by breech block but has not chambered.

Position of round in magazine or belt indicated where possible, i.e. 19th round etc.

10. mf. Misfire. This occurs when the cap of the round has been correctlv struck but fails to ignite the charge and fire the round.
11.  r. g.  (3),(4),(5), etc. Runaway Gun. No. of rounds in brackets. When the mechanism of the weapon is set either at single shot or auto and continues firing after release of trigger,
12. s. c. Separated Case This occurs when a portion of the fired case is left in the chamber, the remainder being extracted normally. The succeeding round will fail fully to enter the chamber and breech block will fail to close.
13. s. n. r. Snubbed Nose Round. This occurs when the nose of the bullet does not enter the chamber correctly but on striking the barrel face is crushed by the foiward movement of breech block. This snubbing may take place at various points on the barrel face or lead in and where possible, is indicated as SN 3 o’clock SN 9 o’clock etc.
14. t. f. c. Trapped Fired Case. This occurs when the fired case is correctly extracted but on ejection the fired case rebounds into the mechanism and is trapped between some portion of the moving parts (usually the breech block) and the body of the weapon.
15 Failures through Breakages These will obviously cause stoppages and will be described in full.

The fact is, malfunctions are conceptualized differently by the engineer, by the armorer or gunsmith, and by the firearms operator. From the operator’s-eye view, you don’t need to get wrapped around the axle trying to name them al. What you really need to know is what sorts of malfunctions a particular weapon is prone to, and how to correct them. And there is no better way than experience to master the art of malfunction correction.


  1. Hatcher, et. al. p. 1.
  2. UK Ministry of Defence, Inspectorate of Armaments, Woolwich, Small Arms Branch Testing Section, RSAF Enfield Lock, Form 7248/1. Retrieved from:


Hatcher, Julian S., Wilhelm, Glenn P. and Malony, Harry J. Menasha, WI: George Banta Publishing Co., 1917.

UK Ministry of Defence, Inspectorate of Armaments, Woolwich, Small Arms Branch Testing Section, RSAF Enfield Lock, Form 7248/1.

A New Pistol Caliber Carbine?

Have a look at this teaser picture, from Grand Power in Slovakia. It’ll embiggen a wee bit, but not much, if you click on it. We found it on their website at

Grand Power Stribor

In the foreground, four of Grand Power’s ingenious patented roller-locked pistols. Background… well, here are all the facts that we know GP has said about it on its website:

  1. It is called the “Stribog,” a very cool name (He was the pagan Old Slavic god of the wind and sky).
  2. It is coming in August (presumably, for EU customers). Remember, it takes GP about a year to work their way through both Slovak and United States red tape with any new product.

We’ve learned that a full-auto version has been manufactured.

Stribog Typu U

However, the S9 semi-auto 9mm variant of the Stribog is trickling out to Slovak domestic reviewers, if not to the market just yet. This Slovak-language video reveals some more details, some by giving the firearm itself the beady eyeball, and some by applying an understanding of Czech to the Slovak speaker. Mostly, the gun just sits there and you can look at it.

There’s some firing of an automatic version at the end, Significant facts here are the use of standard AR trigger internals; the weapon is as modular as possible. Also, there is expected to be availability of an adapter to use AR stocks instead of Grand Power’s own folding stock, reversibility of those controls not ambidextrous, and use of GP proprietary magazine or, with an adapter that slips into the magwell, Uzi mags.

…and it turns out there’s more on the Slovak-language version of the Grand Power page, including some specs:

Caliber: 9mm Luger
Method of Operation: Semi-Automatic
Overall Length: 484.5 mm folded (19″)/ 747 mm extended (29.4″)
Height without Magazine: 200 mm (7.87″)
Overall Width: 46.5/57 mm (1.83″ stock extended/2.24 ” folded)
Barrel Length: 254 mm (10″)
Weight w/o Magzine: 2800 g (6.16 lb).
Standard Magazine Capacity: 10/20/32

(Written Slovak is a lot easier for a Czech speaker than the spoken language).

What we find curious about Grand Power is that, as a domestic producer that makes high-quality firearms, they haven’t been tagged by the Slovak Army for them. The SK military uses Czech pistols, for instance.

What GI Joe Knew about Landser Fritz’s Small Arms

Here’s a once-classified (if mildly so) World War II training film that teaches American GIs how to recognize, operate, field-strip and reassemble four basic German infantry weapons: the Kar.98k rifle, the MP.40 submachine gun, and the MG-34 and -42 general purpose machine guns.

If you ever wondered how the three different feed arrangements for the MG-34 worked, or what that big washer on a Kar.98 stock was for, this movie has your answer. If you knew all that, enjoy learning what was thought to be important, sensitive information to pass to American GIs.

There are a few errors in the film. They even correct one with a title card: no, don’t disassemble the MP.40 (or anything else!) with the magazine in place. Another is referring to the MP.40 as the Schmeisser, which came about, as we understand it, because some early MP.38 magazines noted that the dual-column, single-feed magazine was made according to a Schmeisser patent. 

If you ever caught yourself wondering why everybody used to call an MP.38 or .40 a “Schmeisser,” showing this video to 12 million or so GIs may have been a factor.

The classification with which this video is marked, “Restricted,” is long defunct. (In some postwar documents, it is labeled “Restricted — Security Information.”) It is not to be confused with the sensitive “Restricted Data” marking used for nuclear weapons information, much of what is still not classified, and is marked “Formerly Restricted Data.” RD/FRD was not an Army/Navy or DOD clearance, but an Atomic Energy Agency, later Department of Energy, clearance.

Regular Army/Navy “Restricted,” on the other hand, was a notch below the first true stage of classification, “Confidential.” It was often used on things like this that discussed enemy and/or threat weapons, tactics, or operational art.

A civilian might suspect that classifying such things is a classically military example of blockheadedness, but the reason for the secrecy is not because some cretin in the Pentagon thinks it would be dangerous to show the  Germans how to field-strip their own machine guns, but because we’d rather not have had the Germans knowing what we know about their guns.

And this video, in Wehrmacht hands, would have told them something about our understanding of their weapons policy. By this point, the Wehrmacht had been combat testing the intermediate-round assault rifle for months if not a year, and this film makes no mention of the Mkb.42 (H) and )(W) or the MP.43. Our best guess is that the Germans were testing these new weapons primarily on the Eastern Front, not in the Western Desert or Italy where they were engaging American or British forces. But in the end that is only speculation.

The movie itself is a fact, a primary source for all of you, from World War II. Source here if you’d like to download an MP4 copy or grab embed code for your own blog.

A Mystery in Springfield

Meet Colt XM16E1 Serial Number 50,000, held by ATF SA Allan Offringa on a visit to the Springfield Armory Museum.

SA Allan Offringa w sn-50000

The ladies flanking him are forensics types: Nancy McCombs of the California State DOJ, Katherine Richert of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, and Lily Hwa of the Houston PD. Might as well keep the names with the picture, yes?

This M16 has some sort of a gold finish, and is a bit of a mystery gun. Most likely it was dressed up because of it’s serial number: 50,000. It was made in 1963, and Springfield Armory National Historic site notes a rumor that it may have been intended for presentation to President John F. Kennedy, himself something of a gun buff (Kennedy accepted a gift of an AR-15 at some time, and that rifle is in a collection in the USA). It didn’t come to the Museum until 1966.

XM16E1 SN50000 left

Springfield describes the rifle like this:

U.S. ASSAULT RIFLE XM16E1 5.56MM SN# 050000
Manufactured by Colt, Hartford, Ct. – Special presentation XM16E1 assault rifle. Gold finish and black plastic stock and black sling. Weapon has forward assist. 85,000 manufactured under Contract “508” at a cost of $121.84 each. Weapon complete with 20-round detachable box magazine and in good condition. There is some belief that this weapon was intended for presentation to President John F. Kennedy.

Magazine housing: COLT/AR15/PROPERTY/OF U.S. GOVT./XM16E1/CAL. 5.56MM/SERIAL 050000.

Weapon transferred to the Museum on 8 February 1966. At that time weapon was appraised at $250.00.

Army card #8986 – “Presentation weapon.”

XM16E1 SN50000 right

Contrary to common belief, there is no definitive difference between an “XM16E1” and an “M16A1” except the roll mark, which was changed when the rifle was finally standardized on 28 February 1967. All of the changes that collectors discuss as if they marked the transition from XM16E1 to M16A1 were actually running changes on the production line: the closed-end “birdcage” flash hider, the protective boss around the magazine release, and the parkerized instead of chromed bolt and carrier, were among the hundreds of changes that the M16A1 rifle experienced during the first three or four years of its long production life. Every XM16E1 and M16A1 from Day 1 of production had the forward assist.

Number 50,000 has some markers of a very early production rifle. The stock appears to be Type C (it’s hard to tell without a comparison in the picture). The magazine is a very early “waffle” type. The lower receiver is one of the earliest forgings, with no protective boss and a reinforcement line that lines up from lower to upper receiver. (It is possible that, when the receiver change came through, one or more of the now-surplus older forgings was set aside for use on “specials” like this presentation gun. Colt often used obsolete parts on tool-room prototypes, and was still using slick-side first-generation forgings on SP1 semi-autos into the late 1980s). This firearm is not semi-auto — you can see the sear pin quite clearly above the safety/selector, thanks to the contrast between the Parkerized pin and the gold-finished lower receiver.

The gold finish must be some kind of plating or paint. Is it possible to get plating to adhere evenly over aluminum (the receivers) and steel (the barrel) at all?

By the time this gun arrived at the Springfield Museum, the writing was on the wall for Springfield Armory. This gun’s page at the Museum website includes extensive quotes from a news story that also ties Colt (maker of this M16) and Springfield: in 1966, Colt was recruiting soon-to-be-unemployed Armory workers for its busy plant an hour south, down newly built Interstate 91.

Springfield Union, July 1, 1966 – “Business & Industry. Colt Firearms Div. Gets Recruits from Armory. Hartford Plant Said Capable Of Matching Job Skills Exactly.
Springfield Armory workers, apparently resigned to the projected closing of the installation by the Department of Defense, are responding in undisclosed numbers to a recruitment program at Colt’s Firearms Division of Colt Industries, Hartford, Conn.
That word came Tuesday from Bruno Czech, personnel director of the firearms manufacturing concern, who said that recruitment for the Hartford plant from Greater Springfield in on the increase.
Workers Hired – Skilled and unskilled workers are being hired by Colt’s which now has a training program in operation for the first time in its history.
The facility manufactures hand guns, shotguns, machine guns, the AR15 rifle and military pyrotechnics.
Czech said that although the firm is generally recognized as a military producer, more than 60 per cent of its sales are commercial.
Plans for an increase in military production of heavy weapons systems had in part resulted in an expected 30 per cent increase in employment by the end of the year, he said.
Armory Conference – ‘When the proposed Armory closing was announced by Secretary MacNamera,’ Czech said, ‘we conferred with officials there pointing out that we desired capable workers and that if the closing became a reality, we would definitely offer positions in our plant.

One wonders how it felt for former Springfield workers to be offered work on the production line of the M-16 — the very rifle that many of them blamed, fairly or not, for their unemployment.

OK, Who’s Missing a G36?

The ATF has got one… from Pennsylvania.



(This one was a dealer sample, for sale from Virginia, of this exact model)

HK G36KE Armslist

And the one from Mt Wolf, PA is being forfeited to the agency. The owner would have had to have been an FFL dealer, and only one dealer comes up in Mt. Wolf. We wonder what the story is?

The ATF announced two years ago that it was going to be more aggressive about forfeitures, and a quick search of HKPro finds a G36 horror story, although it’s from ‘way back in 2009. It’s interesting that the ATF agents in the 2009 case insisted that was breaking the law, and the firm’s Adam Webber was indicted for gun law and tax violations in 2014. Webber’s charges hinge on the fact that he had earlier settled a disagreement with the ATF by forfeiting his FFL and agreeing not to deal in firearms. We have been unable to find any update since the indictment.

More ATF forfeitures at





Small News Items on Army Small Arms

There’s a bunch of little news bits going around the Army about maintenance issues and problems. We’ll cover them from most to least serious:

Item: Somebody Blew It


File photo of failed M9 slide. Not the mishap firearm.

In late 2015, a very high (but unknown) round count M9 pistol had a catastrophic failure of the slide. With the Army scrimping on O&M money, especially on the ripe-for-replacement Beretta handgun, failures are not unusual and usually turn out to be fatigue failures from parts that have been carelessly used long past their service life. So was this one. The pistol was older than the soldier shooting it, and, as it turned out, someone, somewhere had pencil-whipped the maintenance records.

Slides fail every week, somewhere in an Army with hundreds of thousands of pistols that were almost all bought 30 years ago. But what happened next wasn’t supposed to happen. When the pistol slide failed at the slide’s weakest point, the locking-block cuts, the rear half of the slide kept on motoring, striking the GI in the cheek and upper jaw area and causing non-life-threatening injuries.

The investigation determined that a mandatory maintenance work order, MWO 9-1005-317–30-10-1, issued twenty-seven years ago in March, 1989, had never been complied with. They couldn’t track where the pistol was at the time it was not repaired; Army units and activities with M9s had until June, 1993 to comply.

Somebody reported that his M9s were in compliance, when they weren’t. This is what you get when a zero-defects, up-or-out culture undermines integrity while at the same time penny-pinching undermines maintenance. The soldier who drew that defective M9, and every soldier that’s been drawing and shooting it since 1989, is damned lucky to be alive. (Fortunately, when a slide fails on most pistols (or a bolt on a Mauser C96, etc.), gravity usually  ensures that the part hits below the eye, on cheek, jaw, chest or shoulder).

Meanwhile, the Army sent an urgent Safety-of-Use message mandating an Army-wide inspection of all M9s for completion of the MWO. Since the resources for completing the MWO no longer exist, the remedial action is to immediately deadline and turn in the offending M9 and draw a replacement.

How many units pencil-whipped their response to that ALARACT message?

Item: Safety? Sometimes it’s Evolution in Action

FOOM!Word is, some genius removed himself from the breeding population of Homo sapiens in 2014 by “improvising” M203 ammo (may have been 320) by cutting the links off of (higher-pressure) Mk19 belted ammo. The links were actually designed so they couldn’t snap off by hand, to prevent that.

Can we get a “FOOM!” from the assembled multitudes?

And oh, yeah, trying to belt up 203 ammo and fire it in an Mk 19 leads to FOOM also, of a different variety — out of battery ignition. Another opportunity for poka-yoke missed.

Item: Ambi Selectors Reaching Troops.. slowly

The Army has finally woken up to two facts:

  1. About 10% of the troops are left-handed, and
  2. There are lots of good ambi selectors available.

So the Army chose one and put it into the pipeline. So far so good, right? Not entirely. The selectors are only being replaced when the weapons are overhauled. And they don’t fit in the M12 racks many units still have. Work around is to cut a notch in the rack with a torch, or with a file and plenty of time, or to bend the part of the rack that hits the right-side selector out of shape so that the selector clears the rack.

Also, the slow migration of the ambi selectors means not all M4/M16 weapons in any given unit have them. Why don’t they just push the parts down to the unit armorers? Three reasons:

  1. The big one: they’re afraid of armorers stealing parts if they take rifles apart
  2. It doesn’t fit the concept of echeloned maintenance, even though that’s being streamlined;
  3. They don’t trust the armorers let alone the Joes, not to botch the installation.

On top of that, of course, it’s not penny wise and pound foolish in the great Army tradition.

Item: New Stuff Coming in, Old Stuff Going Out

A number of new arms are reaching the troops, and old arms are going away.  We’ll have more about that in the future, especially the M2A1 and the coming “rationalization” of an explosion of shotguns and sniper rifles. We just broke it out of this post to keep the length manageable.

ITEM: MG Maintenance Problems = Operator Headspace & Timing

m249-PIPThe biggest single problem the Army has with the current pair of machine guns (M240 and M249) is burned out barrels. That’s caused by not changing barrels, either in combat, or especially on the range. Often, units go out without the spare barrel so it’s not like they gave themselves any option.  (The M2 version of this is going out with only one set of gages for the M2s. The gages are not required for the M2A1). The Army is falling back into the peacetime mindset of “leave it in the arms room and we can’t lose it.” True enough, we’ll just destroy the one we take out instead.

The fact is, and it’s a fact widely unknown to GIs, MGs have rate-of-sustained-fire limitations that are lower than they think. (Remember the MGs that failed at Wanat? They were being operated well outside their designed, tested envelope).

The M249 should never be fired more than 200 rounds rapid fire from a cold barrel. Then, change to a cold barrel, repeat. The Army being the Army, there are geniuses who think that they can burn a couple belts in a few seconds, change barrels, burn a couple belts in a couple more seconds, then put the original honkin’ hot barrel back in and burn — you get the idea. If you have a situation where you’re going to fire a lot of rounds from a single position, like a predeployment MG familiarization for support troops or a defensive position, you might want to lay in some extra barrels (and yes, Army supply makes that all but impossible, so you have to cannibalize your other MGs).

The M240 is a little more tolerant but should still be changed every 2 to 10 minutes of firing, and even more frequently if the firing tends towards real sustained fire. (The deets are in the FM, which is mostly only available on .pdf these days).

One last thought, your defensive MG positions need to have alternate, displace positions, and you need to displace after sustained fire from one position — unless you want to share your hole with an exploding RPG, ATGM or mortar round. “Where’s your secondary position?” or “-fallback position?” should not produce the Polish Salute.

As ordnance experts have observed ever since World War II, a barrel can be burnt out due to overheat and still mic and even air-gauge good. You only know it’s hosed when it can’t shoot straight.

Well-maintained MGs are more accurate than people seem to give them credit for. Some SOF elements have selective fire M240s and really, really like them. (The standard M240 has no semi setting). They’re capable of surprising accuracy from the tripod.

ITEM: For Want of a Cord, a Career was Lost

GIs frequently lose or throw away the idiot cord on the PVS-14 night vision monocular. If these sights were being properly inspected, which they usually aren’t until a team comes in just before deployment, they’d be tagged NMC (non mission capable) for missing  that stupid cord. You don’t want to be in the bursting radius of a unit CO who’s just been told 85% of his night vision is NMC… especially when that news is delivered in earshot of his rater and senior rater. It’s a bull$#!+ requirement but it’s in the book, and if the Army ever has to choose between following the book or winning the war, the book comes up trumps every time.

You’re not going to stop GIs from losing cords, but replacement cords are in the supply catalog.

How to FOOM! a Springfield

Here’s a Springfield M1903A1 rifle that’s been subjected to a bit of the ol’ FOOM.

M1903 fired with 8mm "S" Patrone

As the image’s text makes clear, the cause of this kinetic reversion to kit form was chambering and firing a German “8mm” cartridge, which is what American users called the 7.92 x 57mm Mauser cartridge for most of the 20th Century. The nominal .317 bullet of the German “S-Patrone” has two possibilities: it can swage down to .308 and exit before pressure peak exceeds the strength of a Mauser action (which is what the ’03 is), or, well, not. This image is what “not” looks like.

The plate is from a remarkable manual that collects images and lessons learned from a variety of American small arms: TM 9-2210 Small Arms Accidents, Malfunctions & Causes, dated 1942. A digitized version is available from

The weapons are those that were common in US service in the years before the manual’s date: Springfields, the 1917 Enfield, the Browning machine guns, the 1911.45 caliber pistol, and the 1917 .45 caliber revolver. The M1 rifle is notable for its absence, six years after its original acceptance. (Perhaps GI’s hadn’t kB!’d enough of them yet).

Apart from the .30 caliber weapons, whose 7.62 x 63mm chambering was a comfortable fit — at least, until fired — for the 7.92 x 57 round, you couldn’t blow these guns up by putting the wrong ammo in. You needed to use proof rounds (which shouldn’t ever pass into troop hands) or bad ammo. Here’s an illustration of some Springfield barrels that were fired with bore obstructions.

Springfield Rifle Obstructed Barrels

The original text explains what each bore obstruction was, but the file is missing a significant number of pages, and so does not. Obstructions can include cleaning rods or materials, grease (as in Cosmoline for storage), or a previously-fired bullet from a squib round. (See the bullet seized in the barrel, third barrel from the top).

Even the oversized S-Patrone might only have cause a bulged barrel, if it were a conventional jacketed lead bullet. If it was the late-war jacketed steel bullet, the pressure wasn’t going to be sufficient to swage it down — and the receiver and barrel wasn’t going to suffice for retaining  the barrel.

In addition to user-operation problems, the Springfield Rifle was also plagued by manufacturing deficiencies. The manual contains a number of illustrations of barrels and rifles destroyed by faulty manufacturing, particularly excessive temperatures (in manufacturing).

Springfield Overtemp Barrels

The manual advises the would-be investigator that a key indicator of this type of failure is that the barrel has burst whilst the cartridge case does not show such markers of overpressure as a bulged case, blown primer, or separated case head. If the case appears normal in all respects, chances are good the round made normal pressure, and the gun failed for some other reason, probably metallurgical.

 Cracked rifle barrel -- bad metallurgy

Likewise, a barrel that fails due to obstruction has a way of telling you how it happened. An obstruction near the chamber causes such a rapid overpressure that the case head usually blows out and the receiver of the firearm suffers. An obstruction midway down the barrel leads to a bulge, if a bulge is enough to release it; otherwise it leads to a blown-out barrel. And an obstruction near the muzzle usually just causes a split.

Despite the missing pages, this obscure manual is a worthwhile read. Along with these shattered Springfields, there are similarly enlightening pictures and tales of busted Brownings and pranged pistols.

We’re willing to digitize & host a better copy, if we can get our hands on one. (The UWORL hosts a Fujitsu book scanner).

Classification of Automatic Weapons Actions

Chinn used this chart in 1942 (it’s in Part X in Volume 4, and can be read or downloaded at this link — warning, it’s a monster .pdf). In it, he classifies the actions of the machine guns he knew:


His choice of classifications is interesting, and he includes some designs that are not machine guns (Webley-Fosbery, Williams floating chamber). But he doesn’t include everything, if only because he drew this up some three-quarters of a century ago, and designers haven’t been idle.

What’s missing, and why?

The first thing we note is that externally powered MGs are not on the list, but then, he does define “automatic machine gun” as “A weapon capable of sustained fire with its operating energy being derived wholly from the force generated by the explosion of the propellant charge.” That’s a reasonable definition, although we’d quibble about “explosion” and perhaps substitute “combustion,” and it excludes both the then-obsolete mechanical machine guns like Gatling, Nordenfeldt and Gardner, and the then-unimagined powered gatlings of the 1950s and beyond.

The next absence is the direct impingement gas system. At the time, it either had just gone into service, or was just about to go into service, in Sweden in the Ljungman AG42, which had been in development only for about a year before its issue. Of course, the direct-impingement system is best known to us today through the Stoner AR variant, which works completely differently (having a de facto gas chamber inside the bolt carrier), and secondarily through the French MAS-49 and MAS-49/56 rifles.

What else is Chinn missing? Is there truly nothing else new under the sun in threescore years and ten?

Iranian Capture of US Boats

Here’s a picture sent out by Secretary Kerry’s special friends, the Iranian government.

Navy Surrender3 It shows Navy sailors and officers surrendering to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. There is a dispute about what happened — one of their boats was disabled, and they say they were in international waters, the Iranians said they weren’t.

Navy Surrender8

The US boats (one of them on right) surrendered to small craft of the IRGC (left) with no attempt at self-defense.

The question could be answered by the several GPS devices on the boats. The Iranians, however, chose to retain them with the US State Department’s blessings, when it returned the crewmen. It’s unknown whether the Iranians returned the small arms and the cryptographic and communications equipment on the boats.

That the Iranians kept the GPS units suggests that our boats were in international waters. That no US ship or aircraft responded to defend them suggests that maybe they were not — or resources are just too thin in the region, after a decade of dismantling the Navy.

The two boats went together into Iranian captivity.  The boats appear to be riverine support craft, not Special Operations Combatant Craft. But we’re not experts in boat details… that’s the Navy’s department, the Frogs and the Boat Guys would know.

Tied up to the pier by their Iranian prize crews.

Tied up to the pier by their Iranian prize crews.

Prediction: some admiral, somewhere, is more worked up over the boat being dirty than he was by the boat being captured. 

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The next morning, the two boats were tied up alongside the Boston Whaler copies that outsailor’d ’em.

The Iranians gleefully displayed their trophies. Trophy weapons:

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The Elcan Spectre DR 1-4 power scope seen on the M4A1 is, or used to be, a special operations signature optic. But again, these do not appear to have been SOF sailors.

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More after the jump. The Navy and the nation should both hide their faces — neither covered themselves with glory here today.

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A Rare Gun Turns Up in a Terrorist Attack

It's hard to identify in screenshots, but if you watch the whole video at the DailyNews link, you can make out the silhouette of the Spectre M4 -- or, possibly a converted Spectre HC.

It’s hard to identify in screenshots, but if you watch the whole video at the NY Post link, you can make out the silhouette of the Spectre M4 — or, possibly a converted Spectre HC.

The latest in a series of palestinian terror tantrums that had already killed 20 Israelis and 2 foreigners (one American and on Eritrean) claimed two more Israelis killed and about eight wounded in a submachine gun attack in Jerusalem.

A stateless Arab has been identified as the attacker. His motivation? The usual terrorist manifesto, the Koran he left behind in the bag he’d used to conceal his weapon. But, rather than use a common and garden AK, he slew his Jews with an exotic and rare weapon, and that’s where we come in.

The New York Post says:

There were conflicting reports about the weapon used — with some witnesses describing it as an AK-47, others an Uzi submachine gun and at least one an M-16 assault rife.

Images aired by Israeli media also show a discarded ammo magazine that appeared to be from a Spectre M4 machine gun– a weapon rarely seen in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Reuters reported.

Recovered 30-round Spectre mag. This magazine fits no other weapon known to us.

Recovered 30-round Spectre mag. This magazine fits no other weapon known to us.

Simta co-owner Dudi Malka described the gunman as a “fairly short, light-skinned man holding an M-16 gun,” Haaretz daily reported.

According to the Daily Mail, the terrorist threw the weapon in a trash can as he fled; the Israeli authorities recovered it. His backpack was found to contain terrorist literature, to wit, the Koran.

The weapon was a SITES Spectre M4 submachine gun, a rare 9mm weapon made in Italy, and later, in Switzerland. It was designed by Roberto Teppa and Claudio Gritti and made from 1984-1997 in Turin by Societa Italiana TEchnologie Speciali, SITES. Some additional arms were made until 2001 by Greco Sport SA in Massagno, Ticino, Switzerland (an Italophone canton). Greco Sport went paws up and appears to have been liquidated on 20 June, 2006.

In addition to the submachine gun version that the maker tried to interest world armies in, a semi-automatic pistol version was briefly imported into the USA before the 1994 assault weapons ban slammed the door on imported large pistols.

It did not sell well, as it was priced higher than shoddy Tec-9s and similar horse pistols, and import (different attempts by FIE, Mitchell Arms, American Arms) ended in 1993, well before the AWB took effect. Numbers imported were probably under 2000. It has gotten a new lease on life after being featured in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops, but the orphaned firearm is no longer a practical weapon despite its interesting features. (Of course, that doesn’t affect its use by a homicidal jihadi who’s expecting to throw his worthless life away, anyway).

Here’s one for sale, NIB, on GunBroker.

Spectre HC semi pistol 2The seller says:

Italian SITES Spectre HC semi-auto pistol AKA SITES Spectre Falcon or M4 semi-auto still in box with 2 original SITES 30 rd “casket” magazines, SITES speed loader, and forward grip which is still in unopened plastic. The original buyer never fired it so is in like new condition except for the box/packaging has some normal wear so am classifying it as “New Old Stock”. This one is in 9mm and was imported by American Arms, Inc sometime before 1993 and have not been imported since. These are no longer in production and is a great find, especially in this condition. Don’t let this one pass you by!

This next picture shows it from nearly the angle that the first surveillance video shows the terrorist.

Spectre HC semi pistol

It’s a penny auction with an unknown reserve; no bidders yet.

Here’s another one, not quite as mint as the first…

Spectre HC semi pistol second example right…with a more laconic description:

-USED- Sites Spectre in 9mm. 6″ barrel. One 30rd magazine, ambi safety a decocker. Adjustable sight. imported from 1990-93. Clean pistol. There is some wear from the charging handle. Original box and mag loader. No owners manual.

Spectre HC semi pistol second example right

He’s asking $1,500 to start and has, not surprisingly, no bidders.

The SITES Spectre was designed originally as a compact, advanced 2nd-Generation submachine gun in 9mm, in hopes of getting some of the cop money that was flowing to Oberndorf. It had extremely practical, ergonomic controls and a grip that was clearly borrowed from H&K.

Spectre HC semi pistol second example close-up

The US semi version, seen here, fired from a closed bolt, but so did the submachine gun. The SMG, called the Spectre M4, can be distinguished by its folding stock, which lies along the top of the receiver when folded.

Spectre M4 SMG with 50-round magazine.

Spectre M4 SMG with 50-round magazine.

All magazines were of the “coffin” type, and are normally found in 30- and 50-round denominations. All magazines are rare, but the 50-round mags, which were not intended to be sold into the USA, are extremely rare. Magazines sell, on the rare occasions they appear, for hundreds of dollars.

The Spectre M4 also has a unique trigger system, as described at

The trigger group is more similar to handguns, then to SMG – it is double action without manual safety but with decocker. So, Spectre could be carried with loaded chamber and hammer down and then fired immediately simply by pressing the trigger.

On the semi-auto pistol version found in the USA, the Spectre HC, the forward lever is the safety, which falls right to thumb (in either hand), and the trigger is DA/SA. The aft lever is a safe decocker that works independently of the safety. Thus it’s a bit like a SIG 22x series handgun in its manual of arms, except for its polymer-covered operating handle forward rather than having a pistol slide.

Max also notes that the bolt was designed also to pump air through the ventilated foregrip, cooling the barrel. The gun was assembled with few “user-serviceable parts inside” and extensive use of e-clips.

It will be interesting to see if Israeli police can determine where this crumb got hold of a Spectre. It is possible that the manufacturers sold into the Arab world, or to Iran (most foreign weapons sold to Iranian “police” are passed on to terrorist groups), and it’s possible, though unlikely, that it was originally a US-market semi. Against that possibility, the surveillance video seems to show automatic fire, and converting a Spectre HC to reliable full-auto fire would not be a slam dunk.