This Interarms import has a four-inch barrel and sports fine workmanship and finish. And it functioned flawlessly.
In the November 1971 issue of Shooting Times, Dick Eades gave a thorough appraisal of the new Mauser version of the time-honored Luger caliber, and he found the Mauser Parabellum to be a quality handgun, indeed.
I have now received a test Parabellum from the importer, in a caliber I consider more desirable – the 9mm Parabellum. My gun is fitted with a four-inch barrel, and shows the same fine workmanship and finish as was demonstrated on the .30 Luger tested earlier.
Machine work on this pistol is of very high quality. Finish is a rich nitrate blue-black. Stocks are of good walnut, and well fitted to the grip frame, with coarse but even checkering. They have a rather square shape, as opposed to the gently rounded originals on pre-war P08 guns, and aren’t quite as comfortable to me.
The new Mauser carries a grip safety in the style of earlier commercial Lugers. While this feature might make the pistol more acceptable for importation under the Gun Control Act of 1968, it is of dubious value and makes the new Parabellum a bit clumsier to handle than Lugers without it.
The test 9mm is superbly accurate, shooting one-inch groups fired two handed from 45 feet. The fixed sights are perfectly regulated, and the S&W/Fiocchi, Super Vel, and Remington ammunition fired was all well centered in the black when a dead center hold was employed.
The trigger pull was rather heavy, about seven pounds, but crisp. Functioning was flawless, with no malfunctions occurring during the run of more than 250 rounds of assorted ammunition, much of it softnosed and hollow pointed. This is unusual reliability for a Parabellum.
The Mauser comes packed with two magazines, a stripping tool, and a cleaning brush. The stripping tool is quite useful in retracting the follower button of the magazines during loading, since their springs are extremely strong. These stiff springs, while a bit of a nuisance when loading, no doubt contribute a great deal to the positive feeding of cartridges in this fine Mauser.
The price of $265 for this new pistol may seem steep, but I defy anyone to find a brand new prewar Luger for that, and would advise them never to fire it if they did. It would be too valuable as a collector’s gun. You get what you pay for, and the Mauser Parabellum is as fine a pistol as any Luger ever made.
It is available from Interarms, Ltd., 10 Prince Ste., Alexandria, Va. 22313.
The sound of heavy machinery at the munitions factory in Washington, North East England, rumbles day and night for most of the week.
At the BAE Systems plant, workers are busy forging 155mm shell casings that will eventually be fired by Ukrainian soldiers battling Russia more than 1,400 miles away.
With Kyiv’s need for ammunition still enormous, all production lines are set to ramp up to a 24/7 operation by 2026 – boosting capacity eightfold.
Until recently, operations like these were largely neglected as governments cashed in the “peace dividend” following the fall of the Berlin Wall 34 years ago and the military-industrial economy in Europe was allowed to wither.
Now, governments around the world are scrambling to ramp up production as stockpiles run low and the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war signals yet more demand for munitions.
The Washington factory is just one cog in a vast industrial complex that is slowly spinning up again throughout the Western world, as the need for weapons and munitions reaches levels not seen since the Cold War.
For more than 20 months, the UK and its Nato allies have been funnelling weapons to Ukraine from their own stockpiles.
But Admiral Rob Bauer, Nato’s most senior military official, warned delegates at the Warsaw Security Forum last month: “The bottom of the barrel is now visible.”
He was speaking just days before a fresh conflict broke out between Israel and Hamas terrorists in Gaza, piling yet more pressure on international ammunition supply chains.
Since early 2023, the US has been sending 155mm artillery shells from its stockpiles in Israel to Ukraine.
Following the October 7 attacks, when Hamas massacred an estimated 1,200 Israeli civilians, Jerusalem told the Pentagon it needed the shells urgently for an impending invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The opening of a second war front comes as the US and Europe are already nervous about their own dwindling stocks and are also seeking to rearm, not least because they must be ready for any future conflicts that could break out.
Most wars fought by Western forces in the past 20 years or so – such as Afghanistan – have focused on counter-insurgency operations rather than the artillery-heavy, land-based fighting taking place in Ukraine.
This made it tempting for some governments to prune their stockpiles, rather than maintain large and expensive warehouses, says James Black, assistant director for defence and security research at RAND Europe.
Now, they need ammunition again but ramping up production is not the work of a moment.
“You can’t just flip a switch,” says Black.
Exactly how much ammo has been used, how big the stockpiles are and how much is needed is – unsurprisingly – classified information.
But Black says: “We’ve seen underinvestment and cutbacks to stockpiles, which have been viewed as inefficient uses of expenditure at a time of curtailed defence budgets.
“So today you have less ammunition stored in warehouses, ready to go, but also production lines have been reduced because there was not enough demand previously to justify investment.”
That all changed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
At first, Ukraine needed anti-armour weapons like British, shoulder-fired NLAWS to stop Russian tanks. But the fighting has since turned to heavy artillery fire after both sides dug in last winter, with Ukraine using howitzers as well as US-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers.
Russia has been firing up to an estimated 60,000 shells a day, while this year Ukraine was reportedly firing 6,000 back at the height of its counter-offensive. The shells Kyiv is typically relying on are NATO-standard, Howitzer-fired 155mm rounds produced by the likes of BAE’s Washington factory.
The US has donated more than two million artillery rounds alone to Ukraine, while the UK has sent more than 300,000. Europe has promised one million, having delivered about one quarter of that so far.
Military stockpiles across Europe are now running too low to give more, meaning there must be a big production increase to meet Kyiv’s needs, which amount to about 1.5 million shells per year according to some estimates.
The entire output of 155mm shells across all of Europe was thought to be around 230,000 rounds per year before the war, according to the Warsaw-based Centre for Eastern Studies. It signifies there must be a rapid ramp up of production.
As a result, governments are spending heavily again and defence companies are ramping up activity. The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded contracts worth £410m in total to BAE to produce 155mm shells, 30mm medium caliber rounds and 5.56mm ammunition, aimed at restocking the Army’s arsenal.
The new UK contracts will require BAE to set up an additional production line in Tyne and Wear as well as a new explosive filling facility in Glascoed, South Wales.
Shares in BAE have leapt 36pc higher over the last year.
Similar contracts have been awarded by the European Defence Agency to contractors on the Continent.
In that respect, rearmament is proving a boon to defence contractors, including giants such as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, which also makes 155mm shells.
Others in Europe, such as sensor and radar maker Hensoldt, tanks manufacturer Rheinmetall and French fighter jet maker Dassault Aviation are also winning business.
But increasing production will take time, says RAND’s Black.
“These are skilled manufacturing jobs, handling explosive materials and sophisticated sensors and other equipment, so that takes a level of experience,” he explains.
It also requires consistency from policymakers.
Black says: “It is also a question of political will. How long will the war [and Western support for Ukraine] last?
“If you’re a manufacturer thinking about investing in production capacity, that will be contingent on what you think future demand looks like.”
On his first visit to Kyiv as Foreign Secretary last week, Lord David Cameron promised to give President Zelensky “all the military support that you need”. In Washington, activity is the highest it has been since the war in Afghanistan.
For now at least, there is plenty of work to go around.
An agreement between the Army and one of the nation’s largest ammunition manufacturers is receiving new scrutiny because of a little-known provision allowing a government facility to produce hundreds of millions of rounds for the retail market.
Over more than a decade, contracts between the Pentagon and a series of private companies have permitted an Army site, the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, to become one of the world’s largest commercial suppliers of cartridges for AR-15-style guns.
A New York Times investigation published this month traced rounds from Lake City to a dozen mass shootings and many other crimes across the country since 2012.
After the Times article, several members of Congress questioned the benefits of the Army’s arrangement with Olin Winchester, the current contractor, and demanded more information from the Army.
In a letter to the Army Secretary on Friday, Representative Robert Garcia, a Democrat from California, said that “federal subsidies may be artificially increasing the availability of ammunition in the civilian marketplace and contributing to serious violence by private citizens.”
The letter continued, “This raises serious questions about the role the Department of the Army has played in subsidizing the firearms industry and the level of oversight that the Department has exercised in supporting the plant’s operations.”
Mr. Garcia cited The Times’s reporting, as well as a subsequently published Bloomberg article about Lake City.
Another Democratic member of the House, Betty McCollum of Minnesota, also expressed concern about “the disturbing use” of Lake City ammunition in mass shootings.
“More questions need to be asked and answered about how this ammunition is being marketed to the American public,” she said in a statement. “I will be requesting a briefing from the Army on how the contracts are issued at this plant.”
While the Army has been public about the production of commercial ammunition at Lake City, it has obfuscated the scale, arguing that the information is confidential and can be released only by the contractor. That secrecy has prevented substantive public oversight of the contract.
The Army says that the arrangement, which requires contractors to maintain the ability to produce around 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition a year, is vital for national security and has saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The Pentagon has invested more than $860 million in improving and maintaining the plant over the past two decades, The Times reported earlier.
The Times investigation found that Lake City rounds, which are typically stamped with the plant’s initials, “LC,” were used in massacres including at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.; a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas; a high school in Parkland, Fla.; and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. They have also turned up in a variety of other criminal investigations, from robberies to the murder of police officers. Authorities have seized the rounds from drug dealers, biker gangs, violent felons and rioters at the U.S. Capitol.
Earlier this month Mr. Garcia, along with Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, introduced a bill aimed at putting more controls on ammunition sales — which are largely unregulated — by requiring sellers to obtain a federal license and to conduct background checks on buyers. It would also limit bulk sales of ammunition and prevent so-called straw purchases, in which a buyer with a clean record turns around and sells to someone else.
In a statement, Ms. Warren criticized the Lake City contract and called for “meaningful oversight” by Congress.
“It’s unconscionable for the U.S. government to be in the business of making military-grade ammunition to sell to civilians,” she said.
The revelations have also drawn outrage from gun control advocates and families of shooting victims.
Fred Guttenberg, the father of a high school student killed in Parkland, Fla., wrote on social media, “To learn Lake City Rounds like this were possibly used to kill my daughter & the sale may have been subsidized by the US Govt is hard to comprehend.”
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