Colt Model 1900 .38 ACP
Now I have always been impressed by the wonderful art that the old Gun Companies put out in the form of Blue prints.
In the days before computers. These plans had to be hand drawn by Draftsmen. Having taken a drafting class in Junior HS, a few centuries ago. I can tell you it is not a easy job.
So here is a few of some of the better ones for you to ponder upon.
The BAR Exploding diagram
Now as any US Marine* will tell you. It seems to them that they are always the last to get any kind of new gear. Especially because the of these facts. As that most of the time. The money comes out of the Navy’s budget. That & the Marine Corp has a well earned reputation for frugality.
Now in the spirit of semi open disclosure. I am one of the few Army Guys that like the Marines for the most part. That is to say. When they are not trying steal everything from us. That is not nailed down with an armed guard on it.
But that is for small minds to ponder upon. Anyways, when WWII came our way. The Marines were having a very hard time getting their hands on Machine Guns. Since it was a seller market at the time.
So when the Sales guy from H&R came around. The Marines snapped them up. In spite of the fact that the Army said a very firm “No Thanks pal! That & do not let the door hit you in the ass on the way out”.
As the Marines were soon to found out on why, pretty quickly. When they took them with them to Guadalcanal. Where they performed miserably in combat.
What with a lot of jamming, problems with field stripping and cleaning. So they dumped them as quickly as they could. Then getting anything else that could shoot. That they could get their sticky fingers on.
Again nothing new here as any Marine will tell you after a few adult drinks.
Yes Bugs Bunny was in the Corp!
A Very Senior Marine NCO with both versions of the M-50. The shorter version was for the Paramarines with a folding wire stock.
The Paramarines were Marine Airborne Units. That the Marine Corp raised because of the Army’s 82nd & 101st Airborne Divisions publicity.
(They had a mixed reputation and were disbanded by the Corp near the end of WWII)
Here is some more information about the M50
|Model 50 Reising|
The Reising Model 50 submachine gun
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||See Users|
|Wars||World War II
Costa Rican Civil War
|Manufacturer||Harrington & Richardson|
|Variants||M55, M60, M65|
|Weight||3.1 kg (6.83 lb) (M50)
2.8 kg (6.2 lb) (M55)
|Length||959 mm (37.8 in)
787 mm (31.0 in) stock retracted (M55)
|Barrel length||279 mm (11.0 in) (M50)|
|Cartridge||.45 ACP (M50 and M55)
.45 ACP (M60)
.22 LR (M65)
|Action||Delayed blowback, closed bolt|
|Rate of fire||550 rounds/min (M50)
500 rounds/min (M55)
|Muzzle velocity||280 m/s (919 ft/s)|
|Maximum firing range||300 yards|
|Feed system||12- or 20-round detachable box magazine|
|Sights||Front blade, rear notch|
The .45 Reising submachine gun was manufactured by Harrington & Richardson (H&R) Arms Company in Worcester, Massachusetts, and was designed and patented by Eugene Reising in 1940. The three versions of the weapon were the Model 50, the folding stock Model 55, and the semiautomatic Model 60 rifle. Over 100,000 Reisings were ordered during World War II, and were initially used by the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and the United States Coast Guard, though some were shipped to Canadian, Soviet, and other allied forces to fight the Axis powers.
The Reising submachine gun was a very innovative weapon for its time featuring firepower, accuracy, excellent balance, light weight and ease of manufacture compared to the Thompson Model 1928 submachine gun, the leading American competitor of the time. But poor combat performance of the Reising contrasted with favorable combat and law enforcement use of the Thompson forever mired the weapon in controversy.
Eugene Reising was an excellent marksman and ordnance engineer who believed engineering principles must match actual field needs. Reising practiced his creed by being an avid shooter, and by serving in the early 1900s as an assistant to firearm inventor John M. Browning. In doing so, Reising contributed to the final design of the US .45 Colt M1911 pistol, one of the most reliable pistols in history. Reising then designed a number of commercial rifles and pistols on his own, when in 1938, he turned his attention to designing a submachine gun as threats of war rapidly grew in Europe.
Two years later he submitted his completed design to the Harrington & Richardson Arms Company (H&R) in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was accepted, and in March 1941, H&R started manufacturing the Model 50 full stocked submachine gun. Months later, production began on the Model 55 (identical to the Model 50 other than having a folding wire buttstock, no compensator, and a barrel half an inch shorter); and the Model 60 full stocked semiautomatic rifle that also resembled a Model 50, but had a 7.75 inch longer barrel without cooling fins or compensator.
H&R promoted the submachine guns for police and military use, and the Model 60 for security guards. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 the US was suddenly in desperate need of thousands of modern automatic weapons. Since the Reising’s only competitor was the venerable .45 ACP Thompson Model 1928A1 submachine gun, a weapon that epitomized reliability and exquisite machining, the more easily manufactured Reising was quickly adopted by the US Navy and Marines as a limited-standard weapon.
The US Army first tested the Reising in November 1941 at Fort Benning, Georgia, and found several parts failed due to poor construction. Once corrected a second test was made in 1942 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. In that test 3,500 rounds were fired resulting in two malfunctions: one from the ammunition, the other from a bolt malfunction. As a result, the Army didn’t adopt the Reising, but the Navy and Marines did, faced with insufficient supply of Thompsons.
The Navy and Marines also noticed that the Reising had certain advantages over the Thompson. It was less costly, costing $62 compared to the $200 for the Thompson. It was much lighter (seven vs. eleven pounds). And, the Model 55 was much more compact (about twenty-two vs. thirty-three inches in length)–the most compact, accurate, and lightest submachine gun in the world at the time.
The Reising cost and weighed less than the Thompson because its metal components were mostly stampings instead of machined parts. Its low weight was due to its delayed blowback design, whereas most WWII-era submachine guns utilized the simple blowback principle. Simple blowback relies largely on the mass (weight) of the bolt to secure the cartridge when firing, and therefore requires this component to be particularly heavy. (The 1928A1 Thompson had a more involved Blish lock system, but this was similarly dependent on high bolt mass.) It was more balanced because the barrel-and-receiver-group rested concentrically within the stock. It had smoother lines because the stock was of conventional shape, and the cocking handle (action bar) was placed inside the forearm. In addition, it was more accurate because the closed-bolt only shifted the hammer and firing pin on firing, whereas the Thompson slammed home a heavy bolt and actuator.
Though described as a submachine gun, the Reising was designed as a compact lightweight semi-automatic delayed blowback carbine, firing from a closed bolt for accuracy. The Reising was made in selective fire versions that could be switched between semi-automatic or full-automatic fire as needed and in semi-auto only versions to be used for marksmanship training and police and guard use. The Reising had a designed full-auto cyclic rate of 450–600 rounds per minute but it was reported that the true full-auto rate was closer to 750–850 rounds per minute. At those rates, the twenty round magazine could be emptied in less than two seconds. In 1941, the Reising was priced at approximately $50 per weapon as opposed to $225 for the standard military issue Thompson submachine gun.
There were four versions of the Reising, two selective fire models: the M50 and M55, and two semi-automatic only variants—the M60 a .45 ACP light rifle variant and the M65 chambered for the .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge designed for training purposes.
There were two differences between the M50 and the M55, those being the elimination of the compensator and the addition of a folding wire buttstock making the M55 lighter and shorter. M55 was originally issued to Marine parachute infantry and armored vehicle crews.
The M60 was a long-barreled, semi-automatic carbine model designed primarily for military training and police use. However, few of these were ever sold. The Marines used M60s for training, guard duty, and other non-combat roles. Some M60s were believed to have been issued to Marine officers at Guadalcanal. The remaining guns were passed on to State Guards and civilian law enforcement agencies.
The Reising entered military service primarily because of uncertainty of supply of sufficient quantities of the Thompson submachine gun. In the testing stage, it won out over some other competing designs. It was very light and quite accurate in aimed fire, and “capable of intensive fire against personnel within a range of 300 yards.” This was attributed to its better stock fit and intricate closed bolt, delayed blowback design, though its firepower was somewhat limited due to the 20-round capacity of its largest magazine. Most submachine guns fire from the open bolt position, meaning the full weight of the bolt slams forward when the trigger is pulled; with the Reising, only a lightweight firing pin striker moves when the trigger is pulled.
The U.S. Marines adopted the Reising in 1941 with 4,200 authorized per division with approximately 500 authorized per each infantry regiment. Most Reisings were originally issued to Marine officers and NCOs in lieu of a compact and light carbine, since the newly introduced M1 carbine was not yet being issued to the Marines. Although the Thompson submachine gun was available, this weapon frequently proved too heavy and bulky for jungle patrols, and initially it too was in short supply.
During World War II, the Reising first saw action on August 7, 1942, exactly eight months to the day after Pearl Harbor, when 11,000 men from the 1st Marine Division stormed the beaches of Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands. This sweltering ninety-mile long mountainous island was covered with dense jungle and swamps, and was defended by Japanese troops. Since Guadalcanal had an airfield, the island had to be taken as Japanese aircraft from there could isolate Australia and New Zealand from America. To the Marines’ surprise, as they stepped off their landing craft and their naval fire crept forward, they were met not by the Japanese, but by silence and shattered coconut groves that fringed the beach. Advancing cautiously into the dark, musky jungle, they pushed forward and took the airfield the following day. But Japanese warships and reinforcements were en route. That night, powerful shell fire swept the Marines as they were suddenly cut off from sea; to be locked in mortal ground combat with the Japanese 35th Infantry Brigade, and 2nd and 28th Infantry Divisions.
On the same date of Guadalcanal’s invasion, the Model 50 and 55 saw action by fast-striking, camouflage-dressed, 1st Marine Raiders on the small outlying islands of Tulagi and Tanambogo to the north. Two companies of Marine paratroopers, “The Devil Dogs,” dressed in olive drab jump smocks also used Model 55s to attack the island of Gavutu, between Tulagi and Tanambogo. Although Tulagi and Tanambogo were each secured in a day, the fighting was fierce. Japanese firing from caves and beach dugouts destroyed many of the raiders’ assault craft before touching shore. At day’s end, the raiders suffered 234 casualties from a 750-man force. The paratroopers fared worse. Of the 377 men who assaulted Gavutu, 212, roughly two-thirds were killed or seriously wounded, many because escorting warships couldn’t provide close fire support in the uncharted waters, and bombers sent to assist the paratroopers dropped their ordnance short killing their own men. Following six months of intense fighting, Guadalcanal fell to the Marines on February 7, 1943, at a cost of 6,000 wounded and killed Americans as well as 20,000 dead Japanese. Guadalcanal’s capture marked the beginning of the end of the Japanese Empire; other than minor advances in Burma and China, the Japanese were continuously pushed back to their homeland.
Although Paramarines and armored crewmen had been issued the folding stock M55, the weapon’s poorly designed wire-framed stock tended to fold while firing and soon earned the M55 a poor reputation. Moreover, the Reising was designed as a civilian police weapon and was not suited to the stresses of harsh battle conditions encountered in the Solomon Islands—namely, sand, saltwater and the difficulty in keeping the weapon clean enough to function properly. Tests at Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Benning Georgia had found difficulties in blindfold reassembly of the Reising, indicating the design was complicated and difficult to maintain. Many of the parts were hand fitted at the factory; this lack of parts interchangeability was not a problem for a civilian security or police firearm, but it was very problematic when Reisings were maintained in the field under combat conditions.
While more accurate than the Thompson, particularly in semi-automatic mode, the Reising had a tendency to jam. This was in part due to its overly complex delayed-blowback
The Reising earned a dismal reputation for reliability in the combat conditions of Guadalcanal. Fortunately, the M1 carbine eventually became available and was often chosen over both the Reising and the Thompson in the wet tropical conditions, as the M1928 Thompson’s built-in oiling pads in the receiver were a liability.
Withdrawal from the Fleet Marine Force
In late 1943 following numerous complaints, the Reising was withdrawn from Fleet Marine Force (FMF) units and assigned to Stateside guard detachments and ship detachments. After the Marines proved reluctant to accept more Reisings, and with the increased issue of the .30-caliber M1 carbine, the U.S. government passed some Reising submachine guns to the OSS and to various foreign governments (as Lend-Lease aid). Canada
Many Reisings (particularly the semiautomatic M60 rifle) were issued to State Guards for guarding war plants, bridges, and other strategic resources. And after the war thousands of Reising Model 50 submachine guns were acquired by state, county, and local U.S. law enforcement agencies. In this role the weapon proved much more successful, and by doing so, forever mired the weapon in controversy.
Issues of reliability
H&R was justifiably proud of the Reising’s superior accuracy and balance, lighter weight, and ease of manufacturing when compared to the Thompson. However, the Reising’s close tolerance and delicate magazine proved unreliable in the sand and mud of the Solomons—unless kept scrupulously clean. The gun quickly became despised by front-line Marines, and Lieutenant Colonel Merritt A. Edson, Commander, 1st Marine Raider Battalion, ordered that Reisings be flung into Guadalcanal’s crocodile infested Lunga River, as his troops resorted to reliable bolt-action Springfield rifles.
This failure made a mockery of H&R’s company slogan, “Six-and-one-half pounds of controlled dynamite. The H&R Reising will get a bullet there when you need it!”
There are other reasons for its failure. Foremost was the Reising’s complex design of many small pins, plungers, springs and levers. Disassembly and assembly was difficult even under normal conditions. Simple maintenance was problematic as there was no bolt hold-open device. Chambering a cartridge was awkward as the action bar was hard to grasp in the forearm and could be obstructed by the sling. Worse, the safety/selector switch couldn’t be sensed by feel at night if it was in the safe, semi, or automatic position.
“Filing-to-fit” of certain parts during production limited interchangeability. The exposed rear sight had no protective ears and was vulnerable to breakage. The adjustable front sight could be lost if the retaining screw wasn’t tightly secured. The weapon was susceptible to jamming if grime clogged the bolt’s locking recess in the receiver. The two small magazine guide retaining pins and corresponding receiver stud holes were tapered allowing disassembly and assembly only from one direction—right to left for disassembly, and left to right for assembly; adding unacceptable levels of complexity in a combat environment. The retaining pins had to be delicately pounded out whenever the bolt needed to be removed for cleaning. During the reassembly process, if the retaining pins were inserted too much or too little when reassembling, the receiver might not fit back into the tight confines of the stock.
What constitutes a “commercial” and “military” Model 50 is amorphous. First, H&R never made a distinction; the distinction is made by collectors. This confusion stems from a period in production where early Model 50s were manufactured with commercial characteristics and H&R’s wartime practice of randomly installing old parts in stock throughout production.
While there is not one factor that distinguishes the so-called commercial from the military model, the commercial model is usually blued. It commonly has a fixed front sight and a rear sight with no retaining screw. It often has 28 fins on the barrel, a one piece magazine release, no outward flanges on the safety/selector switch, and no sling swivels. Lastly, the commercial model commonly has a smooth take-down screw, a two-hole trigger guard, and serial numbers ranging from one to 20,000.
Military Reisings are usually parkerized. They often have an adjustable front sight with an Allen screw and a rear sight with a retaining screw. They routinely have 14 fins on the barrel, a two piece magazine release, outward flanges on the safety/selector switch, sling swivels, stock ties (crossbolts through the forearm), and a knurled take-down screw. Finally, the military model commonly has a three-hole trigger guard, proofmarks like “PH” or “Pm2” above the chamber, and serial numbers ranging from 20,000 to 120,000.
There are three types of H&R magazines. The first and second models are both smooth body, are blued, and are twenty-shot double column. The first model is distinguished by five cartridge peep holes on the left side, a feature eliminated on the second model to prevent mud and sand from entering. In contrast, the third model is parkerized, has two long indentations on the sides to reduce its capacity to a twelve-shot single column magazine because of feeding problems experienced with former models.
Post World War II
Production of the Model 50 and 55 submachine guns ceased in 1945 at the end of World War II. Nearly 120,000 submachine guns were made of which two thirds went to the Marines. H&R continued production of the Model 60 semiautomatic rifle in hopes of domestic sales, but with little demand, production of the Model 60 stopped in 1949 with over 3,000 manufactured. H&R sold their remaining inventory of submachine guns to police and correctional agencies across America who were interested in the Reising’s selective-fire capability, semi-auto accuracy, and low cost relative to a Thompson. Then faced with continued demand, H&R resumed production of the Model 50 in 1950 which sputtered to a halt in 1957 with nearly 5,500 additional submachine guns manufactured. But just when the Reising story seemed to end, a foreign order was received in the 1960s for nearly 2,000 more Model 60s, but that order was finally the end.
Decades later, in 1986, H&R closed their doors and the Numrich Arms (aka Gun Parts Corporation) purchased their entire inventory. Acquiring a number of Model 50 receivers, Numrich assembled them with parts. These weapons all have an “S” preceding the serial number and were sold domestically in the early 1990s after reparkerization and fitting with newly manufactured walnut stocks. These stocks are distinguished from originals by their wider than normal sling swivels and buttstocks, by the fact they have no stock ties, and have H&R marked plastic buttplates (originals were unmarked metal).
Machine gun murders
In New Zealand in December 1963, two men thought to have been operating an illegal beerhouse business were murdered execution-style with a Reising machine gun. Machine guns were a type of weapon thought not to exist in the country at the time.
- Costa Rica
- French Indochina: 4,000 ordered, delivery and issue not confirmed.
- Finland: Captured from the Red Army.
- Nazi Germany: Captured from the Red Army.
- New Zealand
- Soviet Union: Received in the form of Lend-Lease aid.
- Philippines: Used by the Philippine Army and Philippine Constabulary during World War II and into the 1960s.
- United States
- United Kingdom
**Warning Crude GI Humor Below!**
* I was once told by a Vietnam War Marine friend of mine. Who use to strap a M-60 Tank on his back up in I Corp.
What a REAL Marine actually is. It is a Green Amphibious Monster. That lives on three kinds of shit (Horse, Chicken and Bullshit) Who also has the spirit of the Waffen SS and the weapons of the Italians. I really do believe that he was steel on target about that one.
The German MP40 Versus the American M3A1 Grease Gun
Teutonic Refinement Meet Yankee Brown
World War II changed most everything about planet earth. Society, culture, industry, and politics all underwent a seismic shift during this worldwide conflict that ultimately claimed 50 million souls. This most horrible of wars spilt rivers of blood.
Previously gunmaking retained some modicum of art. Military weapons combined the machinist’s touch with the woodworker’s skill to produce weapons that were elegant, graceful, and expensive. Receivers typically began life as huge chunks of forged steel before being cut or turned into something mechanically complex, sometimes on machines still driven by steam. In the desperate fight for national survival that defined World War II, however, man perfected the mass production of his implements of destruction.
MP40 M3A1 Grease Gun
- Weight. 8.75 lbs 7.95 lbs
- Length—Stock Extended 32.8 in 29.8 in
- Length—Stock Retracted 24.8 22.8 in
- Barrel Length 9.9 in 8 in
- Cartridge 9mm .45 ACP
- Muzzle velocity 1,300 feet/second 920 feet/second
- Rate of Fire 500 rounds/minute 450 rounds/minute
- Sights Fixed Fixed
- Total wartime Production 1.1 million 700,000
The MP38 was cut from a heavy steel tube and can be readily identified by the longitudinal grooves cut in the receiver. The MP38 also has a dime-sized lightening hole stamped into both sides of the magazine well. Otherwise, the MP38 incorporated stamped steel fire controls, sights, and ancillary widgets. The gun also eschewed the use of wood anywhere in its production.
The MP38 was initially intended for use within and around armored vehicles. As a result, a synthetic polymer barrel rest was included underneath the barrel. The hook on the end of the rest was designed to rest outside the armor of a halftrack such that the muzzle didn’t inadvertently wander into the crew compartment under recoil.
The MP38 rendered superb service in the hands of German Fallschirmjagers during their parachute assaults into Norway, Poland and Belgium. This tidy little submachine gun also armed German Panzer troops on their Blitzkrieg across Europe early in the war. Despite its incorporation of advanced production techniques, the Germans still saw room for improvement.
The primary difference between the MP38 and the subsequent MP40 rested in the production of the receiver. The receiver of the MP40 was pressed out of thin gauge sheet steel on industrial presses. As a result, the gun could be produced en masse by semi-skilled labor. Production of the MP40 continued until the MP44 assault rifle supplanted it. Around 1.1 million of these guns were ultimately produced.
The MP40 fed from a double column 32-round box magazine that tapered to a single feed for presentation. While offering reliable feed geometry, this design was prone to stoppage when dirty and required a magazine loading tool to load. The gun also incorporated a unique recoil assembly wherein nested steel cups telescoped into themselves around the recoil spring. This gave the MP40 an unusually smooth firing cycle. When combined with the weapon’s sedate rate of fire and front-heavy design this made the gun imminently controllable. The weapon was fully automatic only.
The original MP38 and early MP40s lacked a manual safety beyond a cutout to lock the bolt to the rear. However, the gun could be dropped onto its butt with a loaded magazine in place and suffer an accidental discharge. In this circumstance, the bolt might drop back far enough to pick up a round but not far enough to engage the sear. The fix for this problem involved cutting a locking slot in the front of the receiver and replacing the bolt with an improved version. The new charging handle could be snapped in place to secure the bolt in the forward position. Until the fix could be updated the Germans issued a special leather strap that would lock the bolt in place externally.
Despite the streamlined nature of the MP40 the Germans just couldn’t bring themselves to let go of their compulsive gunmaking proclivities. As a result, the MP40 is simply festooned with waffenamt acceptance stamps and every part big enough to accept one sports a serial number, to include the firing pin. This does indeed make for an elegant firearm that likely inspired confidence in its users, but did not lend itself to mass production by an industry threatened both day and night by Allied bombing. The MP40 has been encountered in action as recently as the Syrian Civil War.
The American Buzzgun
World War II was a come-as-you-are affair for the United States, and we found ourselves woefully unprepared when Pearl Harbor finally dragged us kicking and screaming into war. Our issue submachine gun of the day was the 1928A1 Thompson, but it was obsolete before the first bomb fell on that fateful Sunday morning. However, we Americans are a hearty lot and we responded by doing what we do best. We banded together, rolled up our sleeves, and built stuff.
The M1928 morphed into the somewhat simplified M1A1 Thompson that was a bit easier and cheaper to build. Around 1.5 million Tommy guns rolled off the lines during the war to equip Allied forces of all nationalities. Even while we were ramping up to build Thompsons by the hundreds of thousands the War Department was rushing to secure a low-cost replacement.
The Thompson was sinfully heavy. With a loaded 50-round drum in place it weighed nearly what a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) might. It was also mechanically complicated and suffered simply dreadful ergonomics. Despite its shortcomings, however, American GIs loved the gun. Many to most of them had cut their teeth on Saturday afternoon crime serials and going to war with a gangster chopper held an allure. The replacement for the Thompson was as unlike this big pre-war gun as might possibly be imagined.
The Grease Gun
The M3 Grease Gun was first adopted for service just over a year after the Pearl Harbor attack. In stark contrast to the Thompson, the M3 was simple, ugly, and utilitarian. The receiver was comprised of two halves of sheet steel welded together to form a shell. The bolt rode loosely within this assembly on a pair of guide rods. This allowed the gun to function in the face of modest damage. The sliding stock was formed from heavy gauge steel wire. In the original M3 version a ratcheting lever on the right side of the gun actuated the bolt. Everything that could be produced via industrial stampings was produced via industrial stampings. When compared to the elegant and meticulously built Thompson the M3 was positively homely.
The charging handle of the M3 was found to be unduly flimsy and the unfenced magazine release allowed the magazine to be dropped inadvertently. As a result, the improved M3A1 added a raised steel fence around the magazine release and dispensed with the ratcheting charging handle entirely. In its place was a simple divot in the bolt that allowed the operator to retract the bolt with a standard finger.
The Grease Gun weighed around 8 pounds and fed from the same sort of double column, single feed magazine that drove the MP40. In the M3A1 version the wire stock incorporated a useful and effective magazine loading tool. A large stamped steel dust cover folded in place to occlude battlefield grunge. A steel tab on this appendage locked the bolt and served as the gun’s sole safety. The gun’s heavy bolt and long travel conspired to yield a rate of fire of around 450 rounds per minute.
The Grease Gun cost $15 to make in 1943 (around $215 today) and was quite literally disposable. The Army supply system did not stock spare parts. When a Grease Gun went down it was discarded. There was a field modification of early M3 models that involved milling a slot in the receiver for a steel charging handle that reciprocated with the bolt for use when the ratchet system failed.
The first recorded combat use of the Grease Gun was on the Airborne drop in support of D-Day. While GIs distrusted the Greaser early on for its crude appearance, most ultimately expressed grudging admiration for the design. The gun was profoundly robust and thoroughly reliable. The improved M3A1 version briefly saw action in the closing weeks of the war. The Grease Gun was used through the Korean War and Vietnam War all the way up to the Gulf War. I encountered high mileage World War II-vintage M3A1 Grease Guns in the hands of U.S. Army tankers while I was on active duty in the 1990s.
Both these guns are bulky. The left-sided nature of the charging handle on the MP40 means the sling must be arranged on the right. This makes the gun a bit more awkward to tote. The Grease Gun uses a standard canvas M1 Carbine sling, while the MP40 employs an adjustable leather version. The MP40 sights are flip adjustable for 100 and 200 meters while the Grease Gun’s are simply fixed, but they are comparably effective.
The two guns sport very different personalities, but I found that I could keep my rounds on target with a comparable facility with both guns. The big .45ACP bullets are fully twice as heavy as the 9mm rounds the MP40 fires, so they bring markedly more horsepower. Both weapons enjoy a sedate rate of fire so singles and doubles are easy with a disciplined trigger finger.
The MP40 and the M3A1 Grease Gun were birthed under utterly different circumstances. One nation wanted to enslave the world. The other wanted to free it. That these guns share so many similar morphological characteristics is intriguing. These days rifle-caliber carbines have displaced the submachine gun in the arsenals of most developed countries. However, for a time, these two stamped steel submachine guns slugged it out to determine the mastery of the world.
For more information about period gear used as support in this article, click here.
This a very strange and frankly ugly at least for me pistol. I have only see it once. When I was much younger.
It seemed to work for the owner and he had a fairly good pattern with it. But I was told that it is extremely hard to find ammo for it now a days. Frankly I was NOt impressed by it then or now.
Here is some more information below about this false start of a Semi Auto Pistol.
I hope that you like this.
|Place of origin||Austria-Hungary|
|Used by||See Users|
|Wars||World War I|
|Muzzle velocity||1070 ft/s (326 m/s)|
|Feed system||8 round stripper clip into magazine|
The M1901 Mannlicher Self-Loading, Semi-Automatic Pistol was an early semi-automatic pistol design.
This pistol is one of the most simple of blow-back semi-automatic pis
According to the Steyr factory records this arm, patented in 1898, was originally introduced as the “Model 1900” and used a special 8 mm cartridge.
When introduced commercially in 1901 it was chambered for a special straight-case cartridge listed in Austria as “7.63 mm Mannlicher”, designated in Germany as “7.65 mm Mannlicher” (Note: There is also another 7.65 mm Mannlincher cartridge, M.1903, similar to 7.65 mm Borchard), and described in the U.S. as “7.65 x 21 mm”. The Mannlicher “straight sided” cartridge actually has a straight taper to help in extraction.
The cartridge for this pistol was manufactured in Europe until the beginning of WWII. The cartridge has a bullet weighing approx. 85 grains (5.5 g) which may be steel or cupro-nickel jacketed. The powder charge varies with the type of powder used, the European standard being about 3.5 grains (227 mg) of DWM standard powder, producing a muzzle velocity in the neighborhood of 1070 ft/s (326 m/s).
While this is a cartridge of considerable power to use in a blow-back action, the pistol design itself is so sturdy that the arm has given satisfaction through the years.
The firing chamber in this design is part of the receiver proper. The magazine is housed in the grip and is loaded with a clip through the top of the open action. Because of the extremely simple lock work employed, the pistol has a minimum bulk for an arm of its type.
The moving breechblock of this pistol was designed as a slide with two rails extending forward beneath the stationary receiver/barrel where they are connected by a cross beam which is also part of the single breechblock forging. The barrelis screwed into the chamber section of the receiver and has a front sight top rib which is part of the barrel forging.
A spiral recoil spring is positioned horizontally, directly below the barrel between the parallel guides of the receiver and rails of the breechblock. An illustration of this spring is shown in the drawing from page 216, Mannlicher Rifles and Pistols, Smith, 1947. When the pistol is discharged, as the breechblock moves to the rear and the slide rails travel back in the receiver guides, the cross-beam at the forward end serves to compress the recoil spring against the frame.
The lockwork is incorporated on the left side of the frame where it is covered by a removable side cover housing of unusual design, being wrapped around at the forward end and serving also as a cover of the recoil spring. An illustration of this cover is shown in the drawing from page 218,. This cover is installed on the frame from the front and is retained buy a spring catch forward of the trigger-guard.
The trigger is connected on the left side of the frame to a trigger bar which, as the trigger is pulled, moves rearward pushing against the sear tail which is under the control of the V-spring that serves as both trigger and sear springs. The sear nose engages in a notch in the left fork of the hammer (the hammer is external) to provide a fine trigger pull which is very unusual in an automatic pistol.
Mounted on the frame under the right portion of the side cover housing is the mainspring, a heavy V-spring. Its greater arm (lower) engages a notch in the right fork of the hammer to drive it forward when released by the sear. Its lesser arm (upper) continuously presses a cam upward that engages a slot in the under surface of the breechblock slide when the action is closed.
To load the pistol grasp the breechblock on the serrated gripping surfaces on the sides and pull the machine straight to the rear. The magazine follower rises to hold the action open while the cross beam at the forward end of the slide compresses the recoil spring. Insert a loaded stripper clip into the clip guide in the face of the breech block and then strip the cartridges into the magazine, compressing the spring below the follower. An illustration of this process is shown in the drawing from page 214, Mannlicher Rifles and Pistols, Smith, 1947. The spring lip at the top of the magazine serves to hold the cartridges. The cam on the right side of the frame, being forced up by the lesser arm of the mainspring, pushes the cam into the slot in the under surface of the breechblock slide and holds the machine back as explained above.
Because of this cam hold-open, the pistol does not close when the clip is removed. However, drawing back slightly on the breechblock will ride it over the cam, and releasing it will permit the recoil spring to close the action.
As the breechblock goes forward, the extractor mounted in the top of the block will snap over the extracting groove of the cartridge as it is chambered.
Movement of the trigger linked to the trigger bar releases the sear from the hammer notch. The compressed arm of the mainspring, pushes against the hammer notch, rotating the hammer on its axis to strike the firing pin, discharging the cartridge.
The breechblock starts back at the instant of discharge, carrying the empty cartridge case with assistance of the extractor. The empty cartridge case is brought sharply against the ejector which is a bar at the back of the magazine. The underside of the breechblock is slotted to travel over the ejector.
The recoiling slide riding over the hammer causes the hammer to rotate on its axis, locking the sear in the notch of the left hammer fork.
The magazine spring forces the next cartridge up into line. At the apex of the recoil stroke the recoil spring acts to reverse the direction of the breechblock, chambering a fresh cartridge. Until trigger pressure is released another discharge is not possible.
Magazine unload lever
A unique feature of this pistol model is the unloading device. While the breechblock is held open, pulling down on the serrated lever on the right side at the top of the grip panel will withdraw the lip which is holding the cartridges in the magazine, enabling the magazine spring to move the platform up and force all the cartridges out of the magazine.
If and when I win the Lottery or something. This is what I am going right out & buy. That if it is still legal to so. So here is my list of what I would buy 1st. If you have a better idea post a response below.
Ohio ordnance BAR Semi Automatic Rifle
As you have no doubt guessed by now. I up and bought myself a new toy. So I thought that I would share my experiences with it so far.
Now for a while now I wanted another Sig in 9mm. Since my P-220 in 45 ACP was getting very lonely.
So I went shopping and found out this. That here in the People’s Republic of California. It is easier to find a Trump Supporter in San Francisco. Than it is to find a P-226 in 9mm at a reasonable price. Surprised huh?
Therefore I had to “settle” for one in 40 S&W. (Life can be so hard at times!)
Anyways here is what I found out at the local noise pollution arena. (The Pistol Range)
Like the other Sig that I have. It is very well designed & built. It is also almost boring as to how accurate it is. Once you figure out where the piece throws its bullet.
This pretty close to what my pattern looked like at 20 feet. Honest!
Now about the 40 S&W Round itself.
I found that the round itself basically is a lot like the 45 ACP round. While the recoil was pretty much the same. As was the report too.
Since it was a Sig. I really can not say anything about accuracy. As up to now. I have not either seen or shot one that was not boringly accurate. Also I have never had one jam on me either.
But the big problem for me with this round are two fold. As the ammo is not cheap out here! That and sometimes it is very hard to find also.
So I am now seriously debating on if I am going to keep it or not. Time will tell, I guess!
Comparison of the 40 to other defensive rounds
here is some more videos, technical & other Information below!
Thanks for reading this!
An expanded hollow point bullet (left) and an unfired hollow point .40 S&W cartridge
|Place of origin||United States|
|Designed||January 17, 1990|
|Parent case||10mm Auto|
|Case type||Rimless, Straight|
|Bullet diameter||.400 in (10.2 mm)|
|Neck diameter||.423 in (10.7 mm)|
|Base diameter||.424 in (10.8 mm)|
|Rim diameter||.424 in (10.8 mm)|
|Rim thickness||.055 in (1.4 mm)|
|Case length||.850 in (21.6 mm)|
|Overall length||1.135 in (28.8 mm)|
|Case capacity||19.3 gr H2O (1.25 cm3)|
|Rifling twist||1 in 16 in. (406 mm)|
|Primer type||Small pistol|
|Maximum pressure||35,000 psi (240 MPa)|
|Test barrel length: 4 inches (100 mm)
The .40 S&W (10×22mm Smith & Wesson in unofficial metric notation) is a rimless pistol cartridge developed jointly by major American firearms manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Winchester. The .40 S&W was developed from the ground up as a law enforcement cartridge designed to duplicate performance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s (FBI) reduced-velocity 10mm Autocartridge which could be retrofitted into medium-frame (9mm size) semi-automatic handguns. It uses 0.40-inch (10 mm) diameter bullets ranging in weight from 105 to 200 grains (6.8 to 13.0 g).
In the aftermath of the 1986 FBI Miami shootout, in which two FBI special agents were killed and five wounded, the FBI started the process of testing 9×19mm Parabellum and .45 ACP ammunition in preparation to replace its standard-issue revolver with a semi-automatic pistol. The semi-automatic pistol offered two advantages over the revolver: 1) increased ammunition capacity and 2) increased ease of reloading during a firefight. The FBI was satisfied with the performance of its .38 Special +P 158 gr (10.2 g) L.S.W.C.H.P. (lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint) cartridge (“FBI Load”) based on decades of dependable performance. Ammunition for the new semi-automatic pistol had to deliver terminal performance equal or superior to the .38 Special FBI Load. The FBI developed a series of practically oriented tests involving eight test events that they believed reasonably represented the kinds of situations that FBI agents commonly encounter in shooting incidents.
During tests of the 9×19mm and .45 ACP ammunition, the FBI Firearms Training Unit’s Special Agent-in-Charge John Hall decided to include tests of the 10mm cartridge, supplying his personally owned Colt Delta Elite 10mm semi-automatic, and personally handloaded ammunition. The FBI’s tests revealed that a 170–180 gr (11.0–11.7 g) JHP 10mm bullet, propelled between 900–1,000 ft/s (270–300 m/s), achieved desired terminal performance without the heavy recoil associated with conventional 10mm ammunition (1,300–1,400 ft/s (400–430 m/s)). The FBI contacted Smith & Wesson and requested it to design a handgun to FBI specifications, based on the existing large-frame S&W Model 4506 .45 ACP handgun, that would reliably function with the FBI’s reduced-velocity 10mm ammunition. During this collaboration with the FBI, S&W realized that downsizing the 10mm full power to meet the FBI medium velocity specification meant less powder and more airspace in the case. They found that by removing the airspace they could shorten the 10mm case enough to fit within their medium-frame 9mm handguns and load it with a 180 gr (11.7 g) JHP bullet to produce ballistic performance identical to the FBI’s reduced-velocity 10mm cartridge. S&W then teamed with Winchester to produce a new cartridge, the .40 S&W. It uses a small pistol primerwhereas the 10mm cartridge uses a large pistol primer.
The .40 S&W cartridge debuted January 17, 1990, along with the new Smith & Wesson Model 4006 pistol, although it was several months before the pistols were available for purchase. Austrian manufacturer Glock Ges.m.b.H. beat Smith & Wesson to the dealer shelves in 1990, with pistols chambered in .40 S&W (the Glock 22 and Glock 23) which were announced a week before the 4006. Glock’s rapid introduction was aided by its engineering of a pistol chambered in 10mm Auto, the Glock 20, only a short time earlier. Since the .40 S&W uses the same bore diameter and case head as the 10mm Auto, it was merely a matter of adapting the 10mm design to the shorter 9×19mm Parabellum frames. The new guns and ammunition were an immediate success.
The .40 S&W case length and overall cartridge length are shortened, but other dimensions except case web and wall thickness remain identical to the 10mm Auto. Both cartridges headspace on the mouth of the case. Thus in a semi-auto they are not interchangeable. Fired from a 10mm semi-auto, the .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge will headspace on the extractor and the bullet will jump a 0.142 inches (3.6 mm) freebore just like a .38 Special fired from a .357 Magnum revolver. If the cartridge is not held by the extractor, the chances for a ruptured primer are great. Smith & Wesson does make a double-action revolver that can fire either at will using moon clips. A single-action revolver in the .38–40 chambering can also be modified to fire the .40 or the 10mm if it has an extra cylinder. Some .40 caliber handguns can be converted to 9mm with a special purpose made barrel, magazine change, and other parts.
The .40 S&W has 1.25 ml (19.3 grains H2O) cartridge case capacity.
The common rifling twist rate for this cartridge is 406 millimetres (16.0 in), 6 grooves, ∅ lands = 9.91 ;mm, ∅ grooves = 10.17 mm, land width = 3.05 mm and the primer type is small pistol. According to the official C.I.P. guidelines, the .40 S&W case can handle up to 225 megapascals (32,600 psi) piezo pressure. In C.I.P.-regulated countries every pistol/cartridge combo has to be proofed at 130% of this maximum C.I.P. pressure to certify for sale to consumers.
The SAAMI pressure limit for the .40 S&W is set at 241.32 megapascals (35,001 psi) piezo pressure.
The .40 S&W cartridge has been popular with law enforcement agencies in the United States, Canada, and Australia. While possessing nearly identical accuracy, drift and drop as the 9mm Parabellum, it also has an energy advantage over the 9mm Parabellum and .45 ACP, and with a more manageable recoil than the 10mm Auto cartridge. Marshall & Sanow (and other hydrostatic shock proponents) contend that with good jacketed hollow pointbullets, the more energetic loads for the .40 S&W can also create hydrostatic shock in human-sized living targets.
Based on ideal terminal ballistic performance in ordnance gelatin during lab testing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the .40 S&W earned status as “the ideal cartridge for personal defense and law enforcement”. Apart from the imperfect relationship between ordnance gelatin ballistics and actual stopping power, critics pointed to the reduced power of the round compared with the 10mm Auto it was based on. Ballistically the .40 S&W is almost identical to the .38-40 Winchester introduced in 1874, as they share the same bullet diameter and bullet weight, and have similar muzzle velocities. The energy of the .40 S&W exceeds standard-pressure .45 ACP loadings, generating between 350 foot-pounds (470 J) and 500 foot-pounds (680 J) of energy, depending on bullet weight. Both the .40 S&W and the 9mm Parabellum operate at a 35,000 pounds per square inch (240 MPa) SAAMI maximum, compared to a 21,000 pounds per square inch (140 MPa) maximum for .45 ACP.
.40 S&W pistols with standard (not extended) double-stack magazines can hold as many as 16 cartridges. While not displacing the 9mm Parabellum, the .40 S&W is commonly used in law enforcement applications in keeping with its origin with the FBI. Select U.S. special operations units have available the .40 S&W and .45 ACP for their pistols. The United States Coast Guard, having dual duties as maritime law enforcement and military deployments, has adopted the SIG Sauer P229R DAK in .40 S&W as their standard sidearm.
The .40 S&W was originally loaded at subsonic velocity (around 980 ft/s (300 m/s)) with a 180 grains (11.7 g) bullet.Since its introduction, various loads have been created, with the majority being either 155, 165 or 180 gr (10.0, 10.7 or 11.7 g). However, there are some bullets with weights as light as 135 gr (8.7 g) and as heavy as 200 gr (13.0 g).Cor-Bon and Winchester both offer a 135 gr (8.7 g) JHP and Cor-Bon also offers a 140 gr (9.1 g) Barnes XPB hollow-point. Double Tap Ammo, based out of Cedar City, Utah loads a 135 gr (8.7 g) Nosler JHP, a 155 gr (10.0 g), 165 gr (10.7 g) and 180 gr (11.7 g) Speer Gold Dot hollow-point (marketed as “Bonded Defense”), a 180 gr (11.7 g) Hornady XTP JHP, and three different 200 gr (13.0 g) loads included a 200 gr (13 g) Full Metal Jacket (FMJ), a 200 gr (13 g) Hornady XTP JHP and Double Tap’s own 200 gr (13 g) WFNGC (Wide Flat Nose Gas Check) hard cast lead bullet; the latter specifically designed for hunting and woods carry applications.
Case failure reports
The .40 S&W has been noted in a number of cartridge case failures, particularly in older Glock pistols due to the relatively large area of unsupported case head in those barrels, given its high working pressure. The feed ramp on the Glock .40 S&W pistols is larger than on other Glocks, which leaves the rear bottom of the case unsupported, and it is in this unsupported area that the cases fail. Most, but not all, of the failures have occurred with reloaded or remanufactured ammunition. Cartridges loaded at or above the SAAMI pressure, or slightly oversized cases which fire slightly out of battery are often considered to be the cause of these failures, which are commonly referred to as “kaBooms” or “kB!” for short. While these case failures do not often injure the person holding the pistol, the venting of high pressure gas tends to eject the magazine out of the magazine well in a spectacular fashion, and usually destroys the pistol. In some cases, the barrel will also fail, blowing the top of the chamber off.
M3 and M3A1 Grease Gun SMGs
M3 submachine gun
|Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M3|
World War II-era Guide Lamp M3 submachine gun with 30-round magazine and other accessories. The Buffalo Arms bolt in this original M3 is dated January 1944.
|Place of origin||United States|
|In service||1943–1992 (US) Philippines (revived 2004)|
|Manufacturer||General Motors, others|
|Unit cost||Approx. USD $15 (1943; equivalent to $208 in 2016)|
|Length||29.8 in (760 mm) stock extended / 22.8 in (579.1 mm) stock collapsed|
|Barrel length||8 in (203.2 mm)|
|Action||Blowback, open bolt|
|Rate of fire||450 rounds/min cyclic|
|Muzzle velocity||920 ft/s (280 m/s)|
|Effective firing range||Sights fixed to 100 yards (91 m)|
|Feed system||30-round detachable box magazine|
|Sights||Fixed rear peep sight and blade foresight, calibrated to 100 yards for caliber .45 M1911 ball ammunition|
The M3 was an American .45-caliber submachine gun adopted for U.S. Army service on 12 December 1942, as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M3. The M3 was chambered for the same .45 round fired by the Thompson submachine gun, but was cheaper to produce, and lighter, although, contrary to popular belief, it was far less accurate. This myth stems from a US army training film portraying the M3 as more accurate than its counterparts. The M3 was commonly referred to as the “Grease Gun” or simply “the Greaser,” owing to its visual similarity to the mechanic’s tool.
Intended as a replacement for the .45-caliber Thompson series of submachine guns, the M3 began to replace the Thompson in first-line service in mid-1944. Due to delays caused by production issues and approved specification changes, the M3 saw limited combat use in World War II and the M3A1 none. The M3A1 was used in the Korean War and later conflicts.
In 1941, the U.S. Army Ordnance Board observed the effectiveness of submachine guns employed in Western Europe, particularly the German 9×19mm MP 40 and British Sten guns, and initiated a study to develop its own Sten-type submachine gun in October 1942.The Ordnance Department requested the army submit a list of requirements for the new weapon, and ordnance in turn received a separate list of requirements from both the infantry and cavalry branches for a shoulder-fired weapon with full- or semi-automatic fire capability in caliber .45 ACP or .30 Carbine.
The two lists of requirements received by ordnance were then reviewed and amended by officials at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The amended requirement called for an all-metal weapon of sheet metal construction in .45 ACP caliber, designed for fast and inexpensive production with a minimum of machining, and featuring a dual full-automatic and semi-automatic fire capability, a heavy bolt to keep the cyclic rate under 500rpm, and the ability to place 90 percent of all shots fired from a standing position in full-automatic mode on a 6×6 foot target at a range of 50 yards. The benchmark for testing the M3’s performance would be the M1928A1 Thompson.
George Hyde of General Motors‘s Inland Division was given the task of designing the new weapon, while Frederick Sampson, Inland Division’s chief engineer, was responsible for preparing and organizing tooling for production. The original T15 specifications of 8 October 1942 were altered to remove a semi-automatic fire function, as well as to permit installation of a kit to convert the weapon’s original .45 caliber to that of 9mm Parabellum. The new designation for the 9mm/.45 full-automatic-only weapon was the T20.
Five prototype models of the .45 T20 and five 9mm conversion kits were built by General Motors for testing. At the initial military trials, the T20 successfully completed its accuracy trials with a score of 97 out of 100. In the endurance test, the test weapon fired more than 5,000 rounds of brass-case ammunition, with only two failures to feed. Four army test boards composed of multiple army service branches independently tested and reviewed the T-20 prototype weapons including the Airborne Command, the Amphibious Warfare Board, the Infantry Board, and the Armored Forces Board. All four branches reported malfunctions caused by the M3 magazine, mostly attributed to defective or jammed magazine followers.
The T20 was formally approved by U.S. Army Ordnance for production at GM’s Guide Lamp Division in Anderson, Indiana in December 1942 as the U.S. Submachine Gun, Caliber .45, M3. Guide Lamp produced 606,694 of the M3 variant submachine gun between 1943 and 1945. Although reports of malfunctions caused by the single-feed magazine design appeared during the initial firing trials, no changes were made to the M3 magazine.
Around one thousand M3 submachine guns in caliber 9mm Parabellum were built by Guide Lamp. These original 9mm guns, identified by the markings “U.S. 9 mm S.M.G.” on the left side of the magazine well (without any model designation, such as M3), were delivered to the OSS in 1944. Additionally, Rock Island Arsenal and Buffalo Arms Corporation manufactured parts for a limited number of 9mm conversion kits for the M3. Though 25,000 kits were originally requested for procurement, this was changed to a recommendation by the Ordnance Committee in December 1943 that only 500 9mm conversion kits be obtained. Procurement was authorized in February 1944, but it is believed that only a limited number of kits were actually produced. These conversion kits included a new 9mm barrel, replacement bolt and recoil springs, a magazine well adapter for use with British Sten gun 32-round magazines, and a replacement 9mm Sten magazine of British manufacture. As the M3’s sights were not altered for the new cartridge, the 9mm M3 shot high at 100 yards, but the sighting error was deemed inconsequential. The OSS also requested approximately 1,000 .45-caliber M3 submachine guns with an integral sound suppressor (designed by Bell Laboratories). Specially drilled barrels and barrel nuts were manufactured by Guide Lamp, while the High Standard Firearms Company produced the internal components and assembled the weapon. The Bell Laboratories suppressor was estimated to be only 80% as efficient as the British suppressed STEN Mk IIS.
With its stamped, riveted, and welded construction, the M3 was originally designed as a minimum-cost small arm, to be used and discarded once it became inoperative. As such, replacement parts, weapon-specific tools, and sub-assemblies were not made available to unit-, depot-, or ordnance-level commands at the time of the M3’s introduction to service. In 1944, a shortage of M3 submachine guns created by the need for interim production changes forced U.S. Army Ordnance workshops to fabricate pawl springs and other parts to keep existing weapons operational.
After its introduction to service, reports of unserviceability of the M3 commenced in February 1944 with stateside units in training, who reported early failure of the cocking handle/bolt retraction mechanism on some weapons. Similar reports later came from U.S. forces in Britain who were issued the M3. An investigation revealed several deficiencies in the construction of the M3’s bolt retraction mechanism, together with issues concerning barrel removal and retention as well as easily bent rear sights. As a result, several product improvements were incorporated into all new M3 production, including a new design retracting pawl with improved heat treatment, a new spring stop fitted to the right-hand brace of the retracting lever, a modified ejector featuring a cocking lever trip, a larger ratchet pad with improved heat treatment to more securely retain the barrel assembly, and strengthening gussets fitted to the sides of the fixed ‘L’ rear sight. After new complaints were raised about accidental magazine releases and failure of the wire buttstock to remain in place in the collapsed position, two additional changes were made to M3 production and approved by Ordnance on 31 August 1944.This included a small sheet metal guard around the magazine release button, and the inclusion of a stop between the two rods forming the wire stock at the butt end.
In December 1944, in response to field requests for further improvements to the basic M3 design, an improved, simplified variant of the M3 was introduced, the M3A1. 15,469 M3A1 submachine guns were produced before the end of World War II.
It was originally hoped that the M3 could be produced in numbers sufficient to cancel future orders for the Thompson submachine gun, and to allow the army to gradually withdraw the more expensive Thompson from front-line service. However, due to unforeseen production delays and requests for modifications, the M3 never fully replaced the Thompson during World War II, and purchases of the Thompson continued until February 1944. A total of 622,163 M3/M3A1 submachine guns of all types were assembled by the end of World War II, by which time the Thompson, at over 1.5 million guns produced, outnumbered the M3 and M3A1 in service by a factor of nearly three to one. The M3A1 did not see combat in World War II, but was used in Korea and Vietnam.
The M3 and M3A1 were largely withdrawn from U.S. frontline service beginning in 1959 and into the early 1960s, but continued to be used until the mid-1990s as on vehicle equipment aboard armored vehicles. During the mid 1970s tank drivers of the 1st Battalion 67th Armored attached to the 2nd Armored Division were issued the M3A1, because of its size and portability. During the Gulf War, drivers of the 19th Engineer Battalion attached to the 1st Armored Division were equipped with the M3A1 as part of their vehicle TOE. It was also the initial submachine gun equipping the Delta Force who prized it for its impressively quiet performance when equipped with a silencer.
The M3 was an automatic, air-cooled blowback-operated weapon that fired from an open bolt. Constructed of plain .060-in. thick sheet steel, the M3 receiver was stamped in two halves that were then welded together. The M3 was striker-fired, with a fixed firing pin contained inside the bolt. The bolt was drilled longitudinally to support two parallel guide rods, upon which were mounted twin return (recoil) springs. This configuration allowed for larger machining tolerances while providing operating clearance in the event of dust, sand, or mud ingress. The M3 featured a spring-loaded extractorwhich was housed inside the bolt head, while the ejector was located in the trigger group. Like the British Sten, time and expense was saved by cold-swaging the M3’s barrel.
The M3 operating sequence is as follows: the bolt is cocked to the rear using the cocking handle located on the right side of the ejector housing. When the trigger is pulled, the bolt is driven forward by the recoil springs, stripping a round from the feed lips of the magazine and guiding the round into the chamber. The bolt then continues forward and the firing pin strikes the cartridge primer, igniting the round, resulting in a high-pressure impulse, forcing the bolt back against the resistance of the recoil springs and the inertial mass of the bolt. By the time the bolt and empty casing have moved far enough to the rear to open the chamber, the bullet has left the barrel and pressure in the barrel has dropped to a safe level. The M3’s comparatively low cyclic rate was a function of the relatively low pressure generated by the .45 ACP round, a heavy bolt, and recoil springs with a lighter-than-normal compression rate.
The gun used metal stamping and pressing, spot welding and seam weldingextensively in its construction, reducing the number of man-hours required to assemble a unit. Only the barrel, bolt and firing mechanism were precision machined. The receiver consisted of two sheet metal halves welded together to form a cylinder. At the front end was a knurled metal cap which was used to retain the removable barrel. The cold-swaged, rifled barrel had 4 right-hand grooves. M3 and M3A1 submachine guns could be fitted with an optional, detachable flash hider, though none saw any service in World War II. A later production flash hider designated Hider, Flash M9 was produced in time to see service during the Korean War. It proved popular in combat, as frequent night engagements emphasized the need to reduce flash signatures on small arms. In Korea, U.S. soldiers equipped with automatic weapons were taught to look above the flash of their weapon during night firing, a tactic that sometimes prevented the detection of crawling enemy infiltrators and sappers.
Projecting to the rear was a one-piece wire stock made from a formed steel rod that telescoped into tubes on both sides of the receiver. Both ends of the stock were tapped and drilled so that it could be used as a cleaning rod. It could also be used as a disassembly tool or as a wrench used to unscrew the barrel cap.
The M3’s cocking handle assembly was located on the right-hand side of the receiver on the ejector housing, just forward and above the trigger, and consisted of nine parts. As the handle is pulled to the rear, a pawl rises to engage a notch in the bottom of the bolt, pushing the bolt to the rear until it locked back on the sear.
The fixed sights consisted of a rear aperture sight preset for firing at 100 yards (approximately 91 m) and a front blade foresight. All M3 submachine guns were test-fired for accuracy at a distance of 100 feet (30 m). With the sights set at six-o’clock on a bullseye target, each gun was required to keep four out of five shots within or cut the edge of a three-inch (76 mm) bulls’ eye to meet accuracy requirements.
The weapon’s only safety was the hinged ejection port dust cover. This cover had a projection on the underside that engaged a notch on the bolt, locking it in either its forward or rearmost positions. The M3 had no mechanical means of disabling the trigger, and the insertion of a loaded magazine would load the gun. With receiver walls made of relatively thin-gauge sheet metal, the M3/M3A1 were subject to disabling damage if dropped on an open dust cover – the covers bent easily, negating the safety feature. Dropping the gun on a sharp or hard surface could dent the receiver enough to bind the bolt.
The M3/M3A1’s 30-round magazine was the source of complaints throughout the service life of the weapon. Unlike the Thompson, the M3 fed from a double-column, single-feed detachable box magazine which held 30 rounds and was patterned after the British Sten magazine; the single-feed design proved difficult to load by hand, and was more easily jammed by mud, dust, and dirt than double-column, double-feed designs like the Thompson. Additionally, the feed lips of the single-feed design proved more susceptible to feed malfunctions when slightly bent or damaged. Plastic dust caps were later issued to cover the feed end of the magazine and keep out dust as well as protect the sensitive feed lips.
In December 1944, a modernized version of the M3 known as the M3A1 was introduced into service, with all parts except the bolt, housing assembly, and receiver interchangeable with those of the M3. The M3A1 had several improvements:
- Most significantly eliminating the troublesome crank-type cocking lever assembly, replaced by a recessed cocking slot machined into the top front portion of the bolt, letting it be cocked by putting a finger into the cocking slot and pulling back the bolt.
- The retracting pawl notch was removed, and a clearance slot for the cover hinge rivets was added.
- The ejection port and its cover were lengthened to allow the bolt to be drawn back far enough to be engaged by the sear.
- The safety lock was moved further to the rear on the cover.
- To make loading the single-feed magazine easier, a magazine loading tool was welded to the wire stock; it also served as a cleaning rod stop.
- The barrel bushing received two flat cuts that helped in barrel removal by using the stock as a wrench.
- The barrel ratchet was redesigned to provide a longer depressing level for easier disengagement from the barrel collar.
- The spare lubricant clip (on the left side of the cocking lever assembly) was removed, replaced with an oil reservoir and an oiler in the pistol grip of the receiver assembly. The stylus on the oiler cap could also double as a drift to remove the extractor pin.
At 7.95 pounds empty, the M3A1 was slightly lighter than the M3, at 8.15 pounds empty, primarily due to the simplified cocking mechanism. The M3A1 was formally approved for production on 21 December 1944.
The M3A1 modifications resulted in a more reliable, lighter weight, easier to maintain, and easier to field strip submachine gun; the original M3 needed both the trigger guard removed and the cocking crank assembly detached from the receiver housing before unscrewing the barrel, but the M3A1 only required the user unscrew the barrel. To date, only one 9mm conversion kit for the M3A1 has been discovered.
Because it had already been issued in large numbers, the existing M3 magazine design was retained, despite demonstrated deficiencies exposed during the weapon’s firing trials and its early combat service. In an effort to improve reliability, a hard plastic Tenite cap designated T2 was adopted in November 1944 to fit over the feed lips of loaded magazines. These caps protected the feed lips while keeping out dirt, sand, and debris. Sometime during the 1960s the hard T2 plastic cap was replaced in service with one of pliant neoprene rubber, which could be removed with less noise. Unfortunately, during service in the humid climate of Vietnam it was discovered that the rubber cap caused rust to form on the covered portion of the magazine, while causing loaded ammunition to corrode.
Initially, M3 submachine guns returned for repair were not upgraded to the M3A1 standard, but merely inspected to ensure they had the improved M3 housing assembly and magazine release shield. During the Korean War, existing M3 guns in service were converted to the improved M3A1 configuration using additional new production parts. During the conversion, armorers frequently removed the M3 cocking handle, leaving the rest of the now-redundant cocking mechanism inside the subframe. Overall, the M3A1 was seen by most soldiers and Ordnance technicians as an improvement over the M3. However, complaints of accidental discharge continued to occur even as late as the Korean War. These incidents were sometimes caused by dropping the weapon on a hard surface with an impact sufficient to knock open the ejection port cover and propel the bolt backwards (but not enough to catch the sear). The return springs would then propel the bolt forward to pick up a cartridge from the magazine and carry it into the chamber, where the bolt’s fixed firing pin struck the primer upon contact.
In 1945, the Guide Lamp factory manufactured 15,469 M3A1 submachine guns before production contracts were canceled with the end of the war. During the Korean War, Ithaca Gun Co built another 33,000 complete guns as well as manufacturing thousands of parts for the repair and rebuilding of existing M3 and M3A1 weapons.
Foreign variants and derivatives
P.A.M. 1 & 2 (Argentina)
In 1954, a variant of the U.S. M3A1 submachine gun was designed at the Argentine FMAP (Fábrica Militar de Armas Portátiles) factory in the city of Rosario and put into production the following year as the P.A.M. 1 (Pistola Ametrelladora Modelo 1). Constructed of somewhat thinner-gauge steel than the U.S. M3A1, the P.A.M. 1 was in essence a 7/8 scale replica of the U.S. weapon in 9mm Parabellum caliber, but was lighter and had a higher rate of fire. This was due to an incomplete transfer of all details to Argentina. In service, the P.A.M. 1’s thinner sheet steel receiver tended to overheat with extended firing, while the gun itself proved somewhat more difficult to control in automatic fire despite the smaller caliber. Additionally, triggering the weapon to fire individual shots proved difficult owing to the increased rate of fire. Problems with accidental discharges and accuracy with the P.A.M. 1 led to an improved selective-fire version with a grip safety on the magazine housing known as the P.A.M. 2, first introduced in 1963.
Colloquially referred to as La Engrasadora (the Greaser), 47,688 P.A.M. 1 and P.A.M. 2 submachine guns were produced between 1955 and 1972. A number of P.A.M. 1 and P.A.M. 2 submachine guns were used by the Argentine Army during the Falkland Islands War with the United Kingdom in 1982, and captured examples were tested by British military forces.
Type 36 & 37 (China)
The Type 36 is a direct clone of the M3A1, manufactured in 1947 at the Shenyang Arsenal in Mukden. It resembles a M3A1, except that it has no flats to allow the use of a wrench for easy removal and it has no oil bottle trap in the pistol grip. Its parts are not interchangeable with the M3A1.
10,000 Type 36s were made before they were obtained by pro-Communist forces in 1949.
The Type 37 is a direct clone of the 9mm-chambered M3, made at the 60th Jinling Arsenal near Nanking. Production continued in Taiwan as the Type 39, a successor to the Type 37.
- Brazil
- People’s Republic of China: Copies made as the Type 36 and Type 37and used in the Korean War by Chinese soldiers.
- Republic of China
- Colombia: Used by the National Army of Colombia and the National Police of Colombia from the 1950s up to the 1970s, when it was replaced by the UZI submachine gun.
- Dominican Republic
- Greece Used by the Greek armed forces during World War II and the post-World War II period.
- Japan: Used by the JSDF until the adoption of the Minebea PM-9. Known to be used by JGSDF tank crews as a personal defense weapon. Still used in limited numbers in certain branches of the JSDF.
- Republic of Korea: Mainly used by Republic of Korea Army Special Warfare Command.
- North Korea[unreliable source?]
- Macedonia: 707 surplus M3 submachine guns were transferred to Macedonia in 1999.
- Mexico
- Morocco: 1,472 surplus M3A1 submachine guns were transferred to Morocco in the 1990s.
- Philippine Commonwealth: Used by the Philippine Commonwealth Army, Philippine Constabulary and the Recognized Guerrillas during World War II under the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945 and Post-War Era from 1945 to 1946.
- Philippines: Had their M3 submachine guns released from reserve stockpiles by the Philippine Navy for the Philippine Marine Corps‘s special forces due to budget constraints. Modifications done on the refurbished weapons include an integral suppressor and a Picatinny rail. The weapon had been tested with a prototype in May 2004.
- United States
- South Vietnam
|Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB|
M2HB heavy machine gun
|Type||Heavy machine gun|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||See Users|
|Wars||World War II
Indonesian National Revolution
First Indochina War
Portuguese Colonial War
Yom Kippur War
Lebanese Civil War
Colombian Internal Conflict
Cambodian Civil War
South African Border War
Invasion of Grenada
Bougainville Civil War
Invasion of Panama
Persian Gulf War
Somali Civil War
War in Afghanistan
Mexican Drug War
Syrian Civil War
Iraqi Civil War (2014-present)
Yemeni Civil War (2015–present)
Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
Conflict in Najran, Jizan and Asir
|Designer||John M. Browning|
|Manufacturer||Current: General Dynamics, Fabrique Nationale, U.S. Ordnance, and Manroy Engineering (UK)
Former: Sabre Defence Industries, Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Company, High Standard Company, Savage Arms Corporation, Buffalo Arms Corporation, General Motors Corporation (Frigidaire, AC Spark Plug, Saginaw Steering, and Brown-Lipe-Chappin Divisions), Kelsey Hayes Wheel Company, Springfield Armory, Wayne Pump Company, ERMCO, and Ramo Manufacturing, Rock Island Arsenal
|No. built||3 million|
|Weight||38 kg (83.78 lb)
58 kg (127.87 lb) with tripodand T&E
|Length||1,654 mm (65.1 in)|
|Barrel length||1,143 mm (45.0 in)|
|Cartridge||.50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO)|
|Rate of fire||450-600 rounds/min (M2HB)
750–850 rounds/min (AN/M2)
1,200-1,300 rounds/min (AN/M3)
|Muzzle velocity||2,910 ft/s (890 m/s) for M33 ball|
|Effective firing range||1,800 m (2,000 yd)|
|Maximum firing range||2,500 m (2,700 yd)|
|Feed system||Belt-fed (M2 or M9 links)|
The M2 Machine Gun or Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun is a heavy machine gun designed toward the end of World War I by John Browning. Its design is similar to Browning’s earlier M1919 Browning machine gun, which was chambered for the .30-06 cartridge. The M2 uses the much larger and much more powerful .50 BMG cartridge, which was developed alongside and takes its name from the gun itself (BMG standing for Browning Machine Gun). It has been referred to as “Ma Deuce”, in reference to its M2 nomenclature. The design has had many specific designations; the official designation for the current infantry type is Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Flexible. It is effective against infantry, unarmored or lightly armored vehicles and boats, light fortifications and low-flying aircraft. The M2 has been produced longer than any other machine gun.
The Browning .50 caliber machine gun has been used extensively as a vehicle weapon and for aircraft armament by the United States from the 1930s to the present. It was heavily used during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan in the 2000s and 2010s. It is the primary heavy machine gun of NATO countries, and has been used by many other countries as well. The M2 has been in use longer than any other firearm in U.S. inventory except the .45 ACP M1911 pistol, also designed by John Browning.
The current M2HB is manufactured in the U.S. by General Dynamics and U.S. Ordnance for use by the U.S. government, and for allies via Foreign Military Sales, as well as foreign manufacturers such as FN Herstal.
- 2Design details
- 4Geneva Convention use misconception
- 5Variants and derivatives
- 6Aircraft guns
- 8See also
- 10External links
Machine guns were heavily used in World War I, and weapons of larger than rifle caliber were appearing. Both the British and French had large caliber machine guns. The larger rounds were needed to defeat the armor that was being introduced to the battlefield. Armor was also appearing in the skies. During World War I, the Germans introduced a heavily armored airplane, the Junkers J.I. The armor made aircraft machine guns using conventional rifle ammunition (such as the .30-06) ineffective.
Consequently, the American Expeditionary Force‘s commander General John J. Pershing asked for a larger caliber machine gun.Pershing asked the Army Ordnance Department to develop a machine gun with a caliber of at least 0.50 inches (12.7 mm) and a muzzle velocity of at least 2,700 feet per second (820 m/s). U.S. Col. John Henry Parker, commanding a machine gun school in France, observed the effectiveness of a French 11 mm (0.43 in) incendiary armor-piercing round. The Army Ordnance Department ordered eight experimental Colt machine guns rechambered for the French 11 mm cartridge. The French 11 mm round was found to be unsuitable because its velocity was too low. Pershing wanted a bullet of at least 670 gr (43 g) and a muzzle velocity of 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s). Development with the French round was dropped.
Around July 1917, John M. Browning started redesigning his .30-06 M1917 machine gun for a larger and more powerful round. Winchester worked on the cartridge, which was a scaled-up version of the .30-06. Winchester initially added a rim to the cartridge because the company wanted to use the cartridge in an anti-tank rifle, but Pershing insisted the cartridge be rimless. The first .50 machine gun underwent trials on 15 October 1918. It fired at less than 500 rounds per minute, and the muzzle velocity was only 2,300 ft/s (700 m/s). Cartridge improvements were promised. The gun was heavy, difficult to control, fired too slowly for anti-personnel, and was not powerful enough against armor.
While the .50 was being developed, some German T Gewehr 1918 anti-tank rifles and ammunition were seized. The German rounds had a muzzle velocity of 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s), an 800 gr (52 g) bullet, and could pierce [clarification needed]1 in (25 mm) at 250 yd (230 m). Winchester improved the .50 caliber round to have similar performance. Ultimately, the muzzle velocity was 2,750 ft/s (840 m/s).
Efforts by John M. Browning and Fred T. Moore resulted in the water-cooled Browning machine gun, caliber .50, M1921. An aircraft version was termed the Browning aircraft machine gun, caliber .50, M1921. These guns were used experimentally from 1921 until 1937. They had light-weight barrels and the ammunition fed only from the left side. Service trials raised doubts whether the guns would be suitable for aircraft or for anti-aircraft use. A heavy barrel M1921 was considered for ground vehicles.
John M. Browning died in 1926. Between 1927 and 1932, Dr. S.H. Green studied the design problems of the M1921 and the needs of the armed services. The result was a single receiver design that could be turned into seven types of .50 caliber machine guns by using different jackets, barrels, and other components. The new receiver allowed right or left side feed. In 1933, Colt manufactured several prototype Browning machine guns (including what would be known as the M1921A1 and M1921E2). With support from the Navy, Colt started manufacturing the M2 in 1933. FN Herstal (Fabrique Nationale) has manufactured the M2 machine gun since the 1930s. General Dynamics, U.S. Ordnance, and Manroy Engineering (UK) are other current manufacturers.
A variant without a water jacket, but with a thicker-walled, air-cooled barrel was designated the M2 HB (HB for Heavy Barrel). The added mass and surface area of the heavy barrel compensated somewhat for the loss of water-cooling, while reducing bulk and weight: the M2 weighs 121 lb (55 kg) with a water jacket, but the M2 HB weighs 84 lb (38 kg). Due to the long procedure for changing the barrel, an improved system was developed called QCB (quick change barrel). The lightweight “Army/Navy” prefixed AN/M2 “light-barrel” version of the Browning M2 weighing 60 pounds (27 kg) was also developed, and became the standard .50-caliber aviation machine gun of the World War II-era for American military aircraft of nearly every type, readily replacing Browning’s own air-cooled .30 caliber machine gun design in nearly all American aircraft installations.
The Browning M2 is an air-cooled, belt-fed machine gun. The M2 fires from a closed bolt, operated on the short recoilprinciple. The M2 fires the .50 BMG cartridge, which offers long range, accuracy and immense stopping power. The closed bolt firing cycle made the M2 usable as a synchronized machine gun on aircraft before and during World War II, as on the early versions of the Curtiss P-40 fighter.
The M2 is a scaled-up version of John Browning’s M1917 .30 caliber machine gun, even using the same timing gauges.
The M2 has varying cyclic rates of fire, depending on the model. The M2HB (heavy barrel) air-cooled ground gun has a cyclical rate of 450-575 rounds per minute. The early M2 water-cooled AA guns had a cyclical rate of around 450–600 rpm. The AN/M2 aircraft gun has a cyclic rate of 750–850 rpm; this increases to 1,200 rpm or more for AN/M3 aircraft guns fitted with electric or mechanical feed boost mechanisms. These maximum rates of fire are generally not achieved in use, as sustained fire at that rate will wear out the bore within a few thousand rounds, necessitating replacement. In addition to full automatic, the M2HB can be selected to fire single-shots or at less than 40 rounds per minute, or rapid fire for more than 40 rounds per minute. Slow and rapid firing modes use 5-7 round bursts with different lengths of pause between bursts.
The M2 has an effective range of 1,830 metres (2,000 yd) and a maximum effective range of 2,000 metres (2,200 yd) when fired from the M3 tripod. In its ground-portable, crew-served role as the M2HB, the gun itself weighs 84 pounds (38 kg) and the assembled M3 tripod another 44 pounds (20 kg). In this configuration, the V-shaped “butterfly” trigger is located at the very rear of the weapon with a “spade handle” hand-grip on either side of it and the bolt release in the center. The spade handles are gripped and the butterfly trigger is depressed with one or both thumbs. Recently, new rear buffer assemblies have used squeeze triggers mounted to the hand grips, doing away with the butterfly triggers.
When the bolt release is locked down by the bolt latch release lock on the buffer tube sleeve, the gun functions in fully automatic mode. Conversely, the bolt release can be unlocked into the up position resulting in single-shot firing (the gunner must press the bolt latch release to send the bolt forward). Unlike virtually all other modern machine guns, it has no safety (although a sliding safety switch has recently been fielded to USMC armorers for installation on their weapons and is standard-issue for the U.S. Army for all M2s). Troops in the field have been known to add an improvised safety measure against accidental firing by slipping an expended shell casing under the butterfly trigger. The upgraded M2A1 has a manual trigger block safety.
Because the M2 was intentionally designed to operate in many configurations, it can be adapted to feed from the left or right side of the weapon by exchanging the belt-holding pawls, and the front and rear cartridge stops (three-piece set to include link stripper), then reversing the bolt switch. The operator must also convert the top-cover belt feed slide assembly from left to right hand feed as well as the spring and plunger in the feed arm. This will take a well trained individual less than two minutes to perform.
The charging assembly may be changed from left to right hand charge. A right hand charging handle spring, lock wire and a little know how are all that are required to accomplish this. The M2 can be battle ready and easily interchanged if it is preemptively fitted with a retracting slide assembly on both sides of the weapon system. This eliminates the need to have the weapon removed from service to accomplish this task.
There are several different types of ammunition used in the M2HB and AN aircraft guns. From World War II through the Vietnam War, the big Browning was used with standard ball, armor-piercing (AP), armor-piercing incendiary (API), and armor-piercing incendiary tracer (APIT) rounds. All .50 ammunition designated “armor-piercing” was required to completely perforate 0.875 inches (22.2 mm) of hardened steel armor plate at a distance of 100 yards (91 m) and 0.75 inches (19 mm) at 547 yards (500 m). The API and APIT rounds left a flash, report, and smoke on contact, useful in detecting strikes on enemy targets; they were primarily intended to incapacitate thin-skinned and lightly armored vehicles and aircraft, while igniting their fuel tanks.
Current ammunition types include M33 Ball (706.7 grain) for personnel and light material targets, M17 tracer, M8 API (622.5 grain), M20 API-T (619 grain), and M962 SLAP-T. The latter ammunition along with the M903 SLAP (Saboted Light Armor Penetrator) round can perforate 1.34 inches (34 mm) of FHA (face-hardened steel plate) at 500 metres (550 yd), 0.91 inches (23 mm) at 1,200 metres (1,300 yd), and 0.75 inches (19 mm) at 1,500 metres (1,600 yd). This is achieved by using a 0.30-inch-diameter (7.6 mm) tungsten penetrator. The SLAP-T adds a tracer charge to the base of the ammunition. This ammunition was type classified in 1993.
When firing blanks, a large blank-firing adapter (BFA) of a special type must be used to allow the recoil operated action to cycle. This functions on the principle of a recoil booster, to increase the recoil force acting on the short recoil action. This is the exact antithesis of a muzzle brake. Without this adaptor, the reduced-charge blank cartridge would develop too little recoil to cycle the action fully. The adapter is very distinctive, attaching to the muzzle with three rods extending back to the base. The BFA can often be seen on M2s during peacetime operations.
The M2 .50 Browning machine gun has been used for various roles:
- A medium infantry support weapon
- As a light anti-aircraft (AA) gun in some ships; up to six M2 guns could be mounted on the same turret.
- As an anti-aircraft gun on the ground. The original water-cooled version of the M2 was used on a tall AA tripod or vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft weapon on a sturdy pedestal mount. In later variants, twin and quadruple M2HB Brownings were used, such as the M45 Quadmount (aka “meat chopper”) used on the US M16 half-track carrier. Twin or quad-mount .50 M2 guns normally used alternating left-hand and right-hand feed.
- Primary or secondary weapon on an armored fighting vehicle.
- Primary or secondary weapon on a naval patrol boat.
- Spotting for the primary weapon on some armored fighting vehicles.
- Secondary weapon for anti-boat defense on large naval vessels (corvettes, frigates, destroyers, cruisers, etc.).
- Coaxial gun or independent mounting in some tanks.
- Fixed-mounted forward-firing primary aircraft armament (AN/M2 and AN/M3 light-barrel versions only). The AN/M2 was used as primary armament in almost all World War II U.S. pursuit aircraft (such as the North American P-51 Mustang, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Bell P-39 Airacobra, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair). It was also used in fixed mountings in bombers and ground attack aircraft like the Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber, Grumman TBF Avengertorpedo bomber, and medium bombers such as North American B-25 Mitchell, Martin B-26 Marauder and Douglas A-26 Invader. The later, faster-firing electrically feed-boosted AN/M3 was used in many Korean War-era U.S.A.F.fighter aircraft such as the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, Republic F-84 Thunderjet, North American F-86 Sabre, and early versions of the Martin B-57 Canberra bomber. The US Navy had largely completed their move to the (unrelated) M2/AN 20mm autocannon for aircraft armament by this time.
- Turret-mount or flexible-mounted defensive armament, again only with the AN/M2 light-barrel version, in almost all US World War II-era bombers and patrol aircraft such as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator and Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers, North American B-25 Mitchell and Marin B-26 Marauder medium bombers, Consolidated PBY Catalina patrol flying boats, Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger torpedo bombers, and in a combined offensive/defensive turret mounting in many Northrop P-61 Black Widow night fighters. The AN/M3 was used as a flexible, quad-mounted, radar-directed tail-defence gun as late as 1980 on the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, until replaced by 20mm M61 Vulcan Gatling type cannon
- Variants of the AN/M3 are used as flexible door guns or as flexible remotely-controlled armament subsystems on many US Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard helicopters, such as the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk and variants, Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion, Bell OH-58 Kiowa and others.
At the outbreak of the Second World War the United States had versions of the M2 in service as fixed aircraft guns, anti-aircraft defensive guns (on aircraft, ships, or boats), infantry (tripod-mounted) guns, and as dual purpose anti-aircraft and anti-vehicular weapons on vehicles.
The .50 AN/M2 light-barrel aircraft Browning used in planes had a rate of fire of approximately 800 rounds per minute, and was used singly or in groups of up to eight guns for aircraft ranging from the P-47 Thunderbolt to the B-25 Mitchellbomber, which in the last J-version of the Mitchell could have up to fourteen M2s firing forward for ground attack missions – eight in a solid metal-structure nose, four more mounted in a pair of conformal twin-gunned gun pods on the lower cockpit sides, and two more if the forward dorsal turret’s pair of M2 guns were also aimed straight forward.
In the dual-purpose vehicle mount, the M2HB (heavy barrel) proved extremely effective in U.S. service: the Browning’s .50 caliber AP and API rounds could easily penetrate the engine block or fuel tanks of a German Bf 109 fighter attacking at low altitude, or perforate the hull plates and fuel tanks of a German half-track or light armored car. While the dual-purpose mounting was undeniably useful, it did normally require the operator to stand when using the M2 in a ground role, exposing him to return fire. Units in the field often modified the mountings on their vehicles, especially tanks and tank destroyers, to provide more operator protection in the anti-vehicular and anti-personnel role. The weapon was particularly hated by the Germans, whose attacks and ambushes against otherwise helpless stalled motor convoys were frequently broken up by .50 caliber machine gun fire. Vehicles would frequently “recon by fire” with the M2 Browning, i.e. they would fire continuously at suspected points of ambush while moving through areas still containing enemy forces. One vehicle would fire exclusively to the right, the following vehicle to the left, the next one to the right, and so on in order to cover both flanks of the advancing convoy.
Besides vehicle-mounted weapons, the heavy weapons companies in a World War II U.S. Army infantry battalion or regiment were each issued one M2 Browning with tripod (ground) mount. Mounted on a heavily sandbagged tripod, the M2HB proved very useful in either a defensive role or to interdict or block road intersections from use by German infantry and motorized forces. Hearing the sound of an M2 could often cause enemy infantry to take cover. There are numerous instances of the M2 Browning being used against enemy personnel, particularly infantry assaults or for interdiction or elimination of enemy artillery observers or snipers at distances too great for ordinary infantry weapons.
The M2HB was not widely used in the Pacific campaign for several reasons, including the weight of the gun, the nature of infantry jungle combat, and because road intersections were usually easily outflanked. However, it was used by fast-moving motorized forces in the Philippines to destroy Japanese blocking units on the advance to Manila. The quad mount .50 was also used to destroy Japanese emplacements.
The M2HB was used in Korea and Vietnam, and later in both Operation Desert Storm, the Afghan theater of Operation Enduring Freedom and in Iraq. In 2003, U.S. Army SFC Paul Ray Smith used his M2HB mounted on an M113 armored personnel carrier to kill 20 to 50 enemies who were attacking a U.S. outpost, preventing an aid station from being overrun and allowing wounded soldiers to be evacuated, SFC Smith was killed during the firefight and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
The M45 Quadmount was a mounting of four .50 M2HB guns with a single gunner situated behind an armored housing. This was used by U.S. AA battalions, fitted either on a towed trailer or mounted in a half-track carrier (M16 AA half-track). With 200 rounds per gun in a powered tracking mount, the guns proved very effective against low-flying aircraft. The use of four guns adequately compensated for the fact that the individual M2HB’s rate of fire (450-550 rounds per minute) was low for an effective anti–aircraft weapon.
Towards the end of the war, as Luftwaffe attacks became less frequent, the quad .50 (nicknamed the Meat Chopper or Krautmower) was increasingly used in an anti-personnel role, similarly to the earlier-introduced (1940) and more powerful — but much more difficult to keep well-fed with ammunition when in action — German 20 mm Flakvierling. Snipers firing from trees were engaged by the quad gunner at trunk level – the weapon would cut down and destroy the entire tree, and the sniper with it.
The M45 Quadmount was still in use during the Vietnam War.
Commonwealth and other forces
Commonwealth use of the M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun (known as the .5 Browning in British and Commonwealth service) was limited in World War II, though from 1942 it was standard armament on US-built AFVs provided under lend-lease such as the M4 Sherman, M7 Priest, M8 Greyhound, or M10 tank destroyer variously used by British, Canadian, Australian, South African and New Zealand units. Nevertheless, the heavy Browning’s effectiveness was praised by many British and Commonwealth soldiers in infantry, armored, and ordnance branches. Many commanders thought that the .50 Browning the best weapon in its class, certainly the best of the American weapons, including the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine. In North Africa, after Commonwealth units began to obtain sufficient parts, manuals, gauges, and ammunition for the new weapon, the .50 Browning was increasingly used, eventually replacing the 15 mm Besa,but in Italy it was often deleted from top turret mountings because the mount exposed the operator to low branches and enemy fire. All LRDGs, and some SAS units used the aircraft (AN/M2) version of the gun, while beam/waist-mounted and turret-mounted Brownings were used later in the war in such aircraft as the Short Sunderland and Lancaster bomber.
After World War II, the .50 Browning continued to see action in Korea and other theaters, in aircraft, tripod (ground), ground AA (hip-ring), and vehicle mounts. One of its most notable actions in a ground role was in a fierce battle with a nine-man SAS team at the Battle of Mirbat in Oman in July 1972, where the heavy Browning and its API ammunition was used to help repulse an assault by 250 Yemeni Adoo guerrillas, though the more famous weapon from the battle is a 25 pounder gun.
A .50 caliber Browning was installed along with a .30 caliber Browning machine gun in each compact one-man turret on M113 APCs used by the Royal Australian Armoured Corps in South Vietnam.
The M2HB has been in service with the Israel Defense Forces since its establishment and has served in all of Israel‘s wars, operations and conflicts. In 2012 the IDF upgraded its M2HB machine guns to the M2HQCB model, with heavy quick change barrel. Today the M2 serves as an infantry crew-served heavy machine gun, as a remote-controlled external coaxial gun on Merkava main battle tanks, as the main weapon on the Samson RCWS and as a secondary weapons on Israeli Sea Corps gunboats and missile boats.
Nigerian troops have extensively deployed the 50 caliber Browning, mounted on Otokar Cobra APCs, Panhard VBL M11s and Landcruiser gun-trucks in counterinsurgency operations in the Niger Delta, N.E Nigeria, the Jos Plateau and in Mali
M2 as a sniper rifle
The M2 machine gun has also been used as a long-range sniper rifle, when equipped with a telescopic sight. Soldiers during the Korean War used scoped M2s in the role of a sniper rifle, but the practice was most notably used by US Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock during the Vietnam War. Using an Unertltelescopic sight and a mounting bracket of his own design, Hathcock could quickly convert the M2 into a sniper rifle, using the traversing-and-elevating (T&E) mechanism attached to the tripod. When firing semi-automatically, Hathcock hit man-size targets beyond 1,800 metres (2,000 yd)—twice the range of a standard-caliber sniper rifle of the time (a .30-06 Winchester Model 70). In fact, Hathcock set the record for the longest confirmed kill at 2,250 metres (2,460 yd), a recordwhich stood until 2002, when it was broken in Afghanistan by Canadian Army sniper Arron Perry.
Geneva Convention use misconception
It is often stated, sometimes even by military trainers, that it is illegal under the Geneva Convention to use the M2 against enemy personnel since it would cause “unnecessary suffering”. As such, most gunners supposedly aim for enemy troops’ belt buckles, since those are technically equipment and thus permissible targets. However, there is no provision of the Geneva Convention that has ever been interpreted to forbid the use of the M2 on personnel. The misconception may have arisen during the Korean or Vietnam Wars when U.S. troops were told to use their M2s only on enemy equipment due to shortages of ammunition. It is also possible that a restriction during the latter period limiting the use of the M40 recoilless rifle‘s .50-caliber spotting gun to equipment only, since the M40 was meant to be used against armor and firing the spotting gun at personnel would have given away the M40’s position before it could be used as intended, was mistakenly believed to apply to all weapons of that caliber and given legal justification.
Variants and derivatives
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The basic M2 was deployed in U.S. service in a number of subvariants, all with separate complete designations as per the US Army system. The basic designation as mentioned in the introduction is Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, with others as described below.
The development of the M1921 water-cooled machine gun which led to the M2, meant that the initial M2s were, in fact, water-cooled. These weapons were designated Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, Water-Cooled, Flexible. There was no fixed water-cooled version.
Improved air-cooled heavy barrel versions came in three subtypes. The basic infantry model, Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Flexible, a fixed developed for use on the M6 Heavy Tank designated Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Fixed, and a “turret type” whereby “Flexible” M2s were modified slightly for use in tank turrets. The subvariant designation Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, TT was only used for manufacturing, supply, and administration identification and separation from flexible M2s.
A number of additional subvariants were developed after the end of World War II. The Caliber .50 Machine Gun, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, M48 Turret Type was developed for the commander’s cupola on the M48 Patton tank. The cupola mount on the M48A2 and M48A3 was thoroughly disliked by most tankers, as it proved unreliable in service. An externally mounted M2 was later adopted for the commander’s position on the M1 Abrams tanks. Three subvariants were also developed for use by the U.S. Navy on a variety of ships and watercraft. These included the Caliber .50 Machine Gun, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, Soft Mount (Navy) and the Caliber .50 Machine Gun, Browning, M2, Heavy Barrel, Fixed Type (Navy). The fixed types fire from a solenoid trigger and come in left or right hand feed variants for use on the Mk 56 Mod 0 dual mount and other mounts.
When the M2 was first being designed, John Browning faced two design challenges. With the machine tools available at that time, the dimensions that established the location of the bolt face and the depth of the chamber could not be held tightly enough to control the fit of the cartridge in the chamber. The round can be too tight in the chamber and the gun would not shoot, or be too loose in the chamber, resulting in a stoppage or ruptured cartridge. The other dimension that could not be held close enough was when the firing pin would fall. The solution to these problems was adjustable timing and headspace (“headspace” is the distance between the face of the bolt and the base of the cartridge case, fully seated in the chamber); the operator had to screw the barrel into the barrel extension, moving the barrel toward the bolt face to reach the proper headspace with simple gauges to allow the operator to adjust to the proper dimensions. By the late 20th century, the M2 was the only adjustable headspace weapon in the U.S. inventory. With rising reports of injuries from improperly headspaced weapons, the U.S. military held a competition for a quick change barrel conversion kit with fixed timing and headspace in 1997. Three companies offered kits and Saco Defense won the competition. However, funding was lost before the design could be fully evaluated and the program ended. In 2007, the military found money to start a new competition. Saco Defense had since been acquired by General Dynamics, which won the competition.
On October 15, 2010, the M2A1 heavy machine gun was type classified by the U.S. Army. Formerly known as the M2E2, the M2A1 incorporates improvements to the design including a quick change barrel (QCB) with removable carrying handle, a new slotted flash suppressor that reduces muzzle flash by 95 percent, fixed headspace and timing, a modified bolt, and a manual trigger block safety. “Timing” is the adjustment of the gun so that firing takes place when the recoiling parts are in the correct position for firing. When a standard M2 had a barrel change, the headspace and timing had to be manually set. Improper adjustment could damage the weapon and cause serious injury to the user. Fixed headspace and timing reduces risk, and the carrying handle allows the barrel to be switched in seconds. In June 2011, the Army began conversion of M2HB machine guns to M2A1s. The M2A1 was named one of the greatest Army inventions of 2011. As of November 30, 2012, 8,300 built or converted M2A1s had been fielded by the U.S. Army; the program will upgrade the Army’s entire M2 inventory of more than 54,000 guns. The U.S. Marine Corps plans to upgrade all of their ground-mounted M2s to M2A1 standard from 2016 to 2018. The first phase of conversions was completed in March 2017, with 3,600 M2A1s planned to be fielded by the Marines in total. The Israel Defense Forces adopted the M2-HQCB (the commercial version of the M2A1) in 2012 as a replacement to the M2HB.
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The M2 machine gun was widely used during World War II, and in later postwar conflicts, as a remote or flexible aircraft gun. For fixed (offensive) or flexible (defensive) guns used in aircraft, a dedicated M2 version was developed called the .50 Browning AN/M2. The “AN” stands for “Army/Navy”, since the gun was developed jointly for use by both services (unusual for the time, when the delineations between the Army and Navy were much stricter, and relations between armed services were often cool, if not outright hostile). The AN/M2 had a cyclic rate of 750–850 rounds per minute, with the ability to be fired from an electrically operated remote-mount solenoid trigger when installed as a fixed gun. Cooled by the aircraft’s slip-stream, the air-cooled AN/M2 was fitted with a substantially lighter 36-inch (91 cm) length barrel, reducing the weight of the complete unit to 61 pounds (28 kg), which also had the effect of increasing the rate of fire. The official designation for this weapon was Browning Machine Gun, Aircraft, Cal. .50, AN/M2 (Fixed) or (Flexible). The B-17G Flying Fortressheavy bomber was armed with up to 13 AN/M2 guns in both turreted and flexible positions, with only the later versions of the B-25J Mitchell medium bomber, field-fitted with solid metal noses carrying more AN/M2 guns. These could carry from 14 to 18 M2s, mostly aimed forward for attack duties, including two guns on the forward-located dorsal turret of the B-25H and J models.
The XM296/M296 is a further development of the AN/M2 machine gun for the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter. The M296 differs from previous remote firing variants in that it has adjustable firing rate (500–850 rpm), while lacking a bolt latch (allowing single-shot operation). As an air-cooled gun used aboard a relatively slow rotary-wing aircraft, the M296 has a burst restriction rate of 50 rounds per minute sustained fire or 150 rounds per minute maximum while conducting peacetime training requirements; the combat firing rate is unrestricted but a ten-minute cooling period after prolonged firing is mandated to avoid stoppages due to overheating.
XM213/M213, XM218, GAU-15/A, GAU-16/A, and GAU-18/A
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The XM213/M213 was a modernization and adaptation of existing .50 caliber AN/M2s in inventory for use as a pintlemounted door gun on helicopters using the M59 armament subsystem.
The GAU-15/A, formerly identified as the XM218, is a lightweight member of the M2/M3 family. The GAU-16/A was an improved GAU-15/A with modified grip and sight assemblies for similar applications. Both of these weapons were used as a part of the A/A49E-11 armament subsystem (also known as the Defensive Armament System).
The GAU-18/A, is a lightweight variant of the M2/M3, and is used on the USAF’s MH-53 Pave Low and HH-60 Pave Hawkhelicopters. These weapons do not use the M2HB barrel, and are typically set up as left-hand feed, right-hand charging weapons, but on the HH-60 Pavehawks that use the EGMS (External Gun Mount System) the gun is isolated from the shooter by a recoil absorbing cradle and all weapons are set up as right hand charge but vary between left and right hand feed depending on what side of the aircraft it is on. A feed chute adapter is attached to the left or right hand feed pawl bracket allowing the weapon to receive ammunition through a feed chute system connected to externally mounted ammunition containers holding 600 rounds each.
AN/M3, GAU-21/A, and M3P
During World War II, a faster-firing Browning was developed for aircraft use. The AN/M3 features a mechanical or electrically boosted feed mechanism to increase the rate of fire to around 1,200 rounds per minute. The AN/M3 was used in Korea on the F-82 Twin Mustang (the XP-82 mounted a total of 14 AN/M3 machine guns), F-86 Sabre, F-84 Thunderjet and F-80 Shooting Star, and in Vietnam in the XM14/SUU-12/A gun pod. Today, it can be found on the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano.
The M3-series is used by the U.S. military in two versions; the M3M and M3P. The fixed, remote-firing version, the FN M3P, is employed on the Avenger Air Defense System, and is currently used on the OH-58D, augmenting the XM296 .50 cal. machine gun. The M3M flexible machine gun has been adopted by USN under the designation GAU-21/A for use on helicopters. The GAU-21/A is also being used by the U.S. Marine Corps to upgrade from the XM-218/GAU-16 .50 cal. machine gun for the CH-53E, on the UH-1Y Venom, and on the Canadian Forces’ CH-146 Griffon via the INGRESS upgrade. The Air Force is looking to replace the GAU-18 on the HH-60G Pave Hawk with the GAU-21 because of its higher 1,100 rpm rate of fire, longer 10,000-round barrel life, and lower recoil through use of a soft mount.
The M2 family has been widely used abroad, primarily in its basic infantry configuration. A brief listing of designations for M2 family weapons follows:
|Argentina||No||M2HB||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun|
|Brazil||Mtr .50 M2 HB “BROWNING”|
|Canada||Yes||FN M2HB-QCB, GAU-21|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||No|
|M/2001 TMG||12.7 × 99 mm FNH M2HB-QCB|
|?||12.7 × 99 mm FNH M3M machine gun|
|Czech Republic||Yes||12.7 × 99 mm FNH M2HB-QCB|
|Djibouti||No||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun|
|Estonia||Yes||Browning M2 sometimes as Raskekuulipilduja Browning M2||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB. Usually mounted on vehicles, such as the Pasi XA-180 and XA-188, but the tripod version is also in use.|
|Ethiopia||No||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun|
|Finland||No||12,7 RSKK 2005||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun in Protector remote weapon stations in Patria AMVAPCs.|
|Gabon||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun|
|Ireland||.5 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG)|
|Israel||No||מק”כ 0.5||12.7 × 99 mm M2HB-QCB, used by all ground forces (infantry, armored fighting vehicles and tanks) and naval forces|
|Italy||Yes||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun|
|Japan||12.7mm Heavy Machine Gun M2|
|South Korea||K6 (standard HMG), MG50 (being phased out), M3M (used by Cheonghae Unit)||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB with additional modification; licensed by Yeohwa Shotgun|
|Kuwait||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun|
|Luxembourg||Mitrailleuse .50 M2 HB|
|New Zealand||Global Partner|
|South Africa||50 Browning|
|Soviet Union||No||M2 AA variant, Lend-Lease, 3100 pieces|
|Sweden||No||Kulspruta 88 (Ksp 88)|
|United Arab Emirates|
|L6, L6A1||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun; ranging gun for the L7 105 mm tank gun on the Centurion tank|
|L11, L11A1||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun; ranging gun|
|L21A1||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun; ranging gun for the 120 mm tank gun on the Chieftain tank|
|L111A1||12.7 × 99 mm M2QCB machine gun|
|M3M||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun; Upgraded M2 for use on Commando Helicopter Force and other units as helicopter door guns.|
|United States||Browning Caliber .50 M2, M2HB, XM218/GAU-16, GAU-21||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun|
|Uruguay||No||12.7 × 99 mm Browning M2HB machine gun|
I have always found “The Good Roosevelt” to be a refreshing kind of guy. So I thought I would share some of the things that I found on the net I hope that you like this!
As you an see the Old Boy really got around.
Since he is the only American so far to have been awarded the Presidency of the United States, The Nobel Peace Prize and the Medal of Honor.
(His Son -Theodore Jr got his for his actions as a Brigadier General on D Day at Normandy. Generals do not usually get that medal at that rank by the way.)
Roosevelt’s 1903 Springfield Rifle – The later it belonged to Kermit Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt’s son
I just wish we had more like him around!
I will post some more stuff about him later on.
Thanks for your time on this!
The Howdah Gun
Now back in the Glory Days of the British Empire and the Raj. If you were very rich or had gotten in trouble at home.
The Thing to do was to escape Blighty and head out to one of the Colonies. Especially if you were greedy & or Blood thirsty. Even more especially after the Sepoy Mutiny.
So as you went East of Suez. You would of course be invited to a Tiger Hunt. If you were of the right sort of chap naturally.
Yeah right, uh moving on.
How the Howah was usually used. Now back in the day. They way one properly hunted Tigers in India was on top of an Elephant.
If a Tiger decided to come join you in your basket. Then you had your handy dandy Howdah guns to greet him with. So as you can guess by now. These guns packed quite a punch.
The Howdah Pistol can also be very useful in Labor Negotiations with the locals at times. (Film The Ghost & The Darkness. Great Film by the way)
Anyways here is some other videos and other information about these heavy hitters.
The howdah pistol was a large-calibre handgun, often with two or four barrels, used in India and Africa from the beginning of the nineteenth century, and into the early twentieth century, during the period of British Colonial rule. It was typically intended for defence against tigers, lions, and other dangerous animals that might be encountered in remote areas. Multi-barreled breech-loading designs were later favoured over the original muzzle-loading designs for Howdah pistols, because they offered faster reloading than was possible with contemporary revolvers,which had to be loaded and unloaded through a gate in the side of the frame.
The term “howdah pistol” comes from the howdah, a large platform mounted on the back of an elephant. Hunters, especially during the period of the British Raj in India, used howdahs as a platform for hunting wild animals and needed large-calibre side-arms for protection from animal attacks. The practice of hunting from the howdah basket on top of an Asian elephant was first made popular by the joint Anglo-Indian East India Company during the 1790s. These earliest howdah pistols were flintlock designs, and it was not until about 60 years later percussion models in single or double barrel configuration were seen. By the 1890s and early 1900s cartridge-firing and fully rifled howdah pistols were in normal, everyday use.
The first breech-loading howdah pistols were little more than sawn-off rifles,typically in .577 Snider or .577/450 Martini–Henry calibre. Later English firearms makers manufactured specially-designed howdah pistols in both rifle calibres and more conventional handgun calibres such as .455 Webley and .476 Enfield.As a result, the term “howdah pistol” is often applied to a number of English multi-barrelled handguns such as the Lancaster pistol (available in a variety of calibres from .380″ to .577″), and various .577 calibre revolvers produced in England and Europe for a brief time in the mid-late 19th century.
Even though howdah pistols were designed for emergency defense from dangerous animals in Africa and India, British officers adopted them for personal protection in other far-flung outposts of the British Empire. By the late 19th century, top-break revolvers in more practical calibres (such as .455 Webley) had become widespread, removing much of the traditional market for howdah pistols.
Modern reproductions are available from Italian gun maker Pedersoli in .577 and .50 calibers, as well as in 20 bore.