manufacture armes

Winchester M1895 Russian contract rifle

Designed by John M. Browning c.1895, manufactured by Winchester Repeating Arms Co. c.1915-17 for the Russian empire.
7,62x54mmR 5-round internal box magazine, lever action repeater, stripper clip guide, bayonet lug, full military-style forestock.

Good things happen when you take hunting weapons and militarize them, it’s like trench guns. Visually good things if anything.

Who Invented The Patent?

The Venetians started patents in the 1400s, by requiring inventions to be registered with the government. But the system was quite different. For one thing, the government owned the invention, the inventor owned nothing. The government could grant ownership of new inventions to whomever they wished. This was important when, for example, an improvement on a musket was invented and the government wanted to have an arms manufacturer produce this better musket for their army. And no one else’s army.

You know what changed this system? The United States Constitution. Yup, that’s right. It states that “for a limited time…authors and inventors” will have “exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

This was revolutionary! In more ways than one, because now not only did inventors owned their creations, but patents could run out, so that no one could monopolize a particular market forever. Under the old system, where governments monopolized the market, the patent held until someone stole the invention’s designs for their government!

Winchester Model 1897 riot shotgun

Designed by John M. Browning and manufactured by Winchester Repeating Arms Co. c.1898-1935.
12 gauge 5+1 tubular magazine, pump action repeater, riot-size 20″ barrel, slamfire capable.

Used by police forces and the American Express mail company, the riot grade M1897 predated the trench model and lacked the later’s distinctive heat shield and bayonet lug.


The Robbins and Lawrence Pepperbox Pistol,

Robbins & Lawrence was a large mid 19th century arms manufacturer based in Windsor Vermont that specialized in producing muskets for the US Army.  In 1851 company head Richard Lawrence decided to enter the civilian market, in particular with the production of pepperbox pistols.  The design was invented by George Leonard, foreman of the Robbins & Lawrence factory.  While being a pepperbox the Robbins & Lawrence still had a lot of really neat features that were quite ahead of its time. A five shot pistol, it featured a hammerless design, the hammer being completely inside the frame.  Whereas almost all pepperbox pistols of the day had revolving barrels which were typically hand turned, the Robbins & Lawrence featured fixed barrels.  Each barrel was loaded by hand with gunpowder and a bullet (they were produced in .28 and .31 caliber).  The pistol broke open much like a beak top revolver, revealing nipples upon which to place percussion caps. This protected the caps from moisture and the elements, decreasing the chance of a misfire.

Inside the frame was a rotating hammer, which would rotate to the next chamber each time it was cocked. The pistol featured two triggers.  The larger ring trigger was used to cock the pistol, the smaller forward trigger fired it.  On the rear of the grip is a decocking button, an interesting feature that wouldn’t common until the 20th century with semi automatic pistols.

Production of the Robbins & Lawrence pepperbox began in 1851, but would quickly cease in 1854 with barely 3 years of production. The invention of the Colt revolver made pepperbox pistols obsolete, and their popularity quickly began to wane. Around 7,000 Robbins & Lawrence pepperbox pistols were manufactured.


Winchester M1887 display model shotgun

Designed by John M. Browning, manufactured by Winchester Repeating Arms c.1888 and factory engraved c.1888 and 1901 - serial number 6728.
12 gauge five-round tubular magazine, lever action repeating shotgun, 76cm long damascus steel barrel, piano polish, extensive engravings.

One of only five display M1887 shotguns, which makes it extremely rare on top of being gorgeous.


The Commission Rifle Part II — Gewehr 88 Woes

In case you missed Part I

The rushed development of the German Gewehr 88 Commission rifle meant that when it was adopted it was far from a perfect infantry rifle, and there were many problems that needed to be solved and fixed. Fortunately the German Rifle Testing Commission acted quickly and decisively to fix them. First was the function of the action. Jams, double feeding, and failure to extract were common problems, but were easily solved with some simple modifications to the bolt, magazine, and extractor. Then there was the problem of the magazine, a problem common with every Mannlicher type magazine; the port in the bottom through which the en bloc clip dropped was an excellent opening for dirt, dust, and moisture to enter the action. At first Germany didn’t really do anything about this problem, but later a special stamped metal plate was introduced which went over the port, and with the touch of a button the en bloc clip would be ejected out of the top of the action. While the use of the barrel shroud to create a free floating barrel was an interesting idea, it also served as a space in which rust could accumulate. Regardless the Commission decided that he barrel shroud was such a great idea that it had to be kept. Many other users of the Gewehr 88 such as the Turks and the Chinese would do away with this feature.

The second biggest problem with the Gewehr 88 was that the rifling tended to wear out very quickly.  This was due to the switch from black powder to smokeless powder. The designers and manufacturers did not take into account what the greatly increased velocity produced by smokeless powder would do to the rifling. After around 5,000 - 6,000 rounds the Gew 88 could become almost completely shot out. This was a problem common to many other new smokeless designs of the period, most notably with Britain’s Lee Metford rifle.  The solution to this problem was actually very simple, manufacturers found that deepening the rifling by a mere half a milimeter made a huge difference in extending the life of the Gew 88′s rifling. 

By far the biggest problem with the Gewehr 88 were burst chambers. It wasn’t a common occurrence, but every now and then during training a rifle might just explode. This problem was again caused by the switch from black powder to smokeless powder. The chambers were machined to be too narrow and fragile, a problem which was simply fixed by beefing up the chambers a bit. The primary cause of this problem however, was in production, not design. Production of steel for black powder firearms is relatively easy, however production of steel strong enough to contain the pressure of smokeless powder required extra attention and exact standards.  Such standards included the time and temperatures at which the steel was forged and the carbon content. It was not uncommon fo batches of brittle low carbon low quality steel to be used in the manufacture of Gewehr 88 chambers and receivers. Thus new standards were set in the production of steel, ensuring that strength of the steel produced was standardized and uniform. Later in the early 20th century, the Americans would have similar problems in the early production of Model 1903 Springfields, and would institute similar solutions. Finally there was the issue of proof testing. With blackpowder firearms proof testing involving firing a more powerful charge of gunpowder in order to test the strength of the barrel and ensure it is safe. This proves that the firearms can discharge thousands and thousands of round without the risk of failure. With smokeless powder proof testers were unsure of how to adequately test the new rifles. So they would simply load and fire standard loaded cartridges.  This resulted in bad rifles passing the proof testing phase without notice. To solve this Germany instituted new proofing standards using hotter loaded cartridges, then ordered a Gewehr 88′s produced to be re-proofed.

Most of the major problems with the Gewehr 88 would be quickly solved and remedied, however the German Rifle Testing Commission made one huge mistake in how they handled the situation.  For the most part, they tried to cover up the many early problems with the rifle and hide them from the German public.  Despite this stories of the Gewehr 88′s failures quickly spread, resulting in rumor of conspiracy in German manufacturing.  These rumors would greatly damage the reputation of one major German arms manufacturer, and would nearly doom the Gewehr 88.


We’re halfway through NYCC and Marvel so far:

* Got attacked by angry assholes who hate that not everyone is a white straight asshole anymore..

* Went full “Logan, Laura, Daken, Jimmy and old Logan can all coexist in Marvel Universe just fine. In fact, he is a book for our Hulk Wolverine. I don’t have a Wolverine problem! You have a Wolverine problem, bub!”

* Let Dan Slott threat to kill a character when a fan asked if she’s coming back.

* Announced partnership with an arms manufacturer to shoot themselves in the foot better.

* DC keeps throwing shade at them for this backlash to diversity (then announcing they’re doing of it more themselves) and Hydra Cap.

Basically, the only fully positive thing was Runaways teaser and it’s panel.

I dread next two days.

- Admin


The Commission Rifle Part III — The Jewish Musket

In case you missed Part I, Part II

Upon introduction the Gewehr 88 was far from a perfect infantry rifle, and there were many flaws in its design that needed to be worked out.  To the German Rifle Commission’s credit, it acted quickly to resolve these problems, resulting in a pretty good bolt action rifle as an end result.  However, one mistake the Commission made was to quickly cover up any reports that there were problems with the new rifle.  Rumors from soldiers who trained with the rifle spread throughout the German military, which combined with the coverup bred an atmosphere of suspicion among many and speculation that a nefarious conspiracy was in the works.

One vocal agitator was Hermann Ahlwardt, a journalist and elementary school teacher who was known for his extreme anti-Semitism.   To say Ahlwardt was antisemitic is putting it very mildly. In 1890 Ahlwardt wrote the book Verzweiflungskampf der arischen Völker mit dem Judentum (The Desperate Struggle of the Aryan Peoples with Judaism), founded the German Antisemitic People’s Party, and once gave a speech to the Reichstag where he proclaimed that Jews were like cholera and needed to be exterminated for the good of the German people.

Ahlwardt attacked the German Rifle Commission, German military and government, and German industry claiming that all had been infiltrated by Jewish conspirators who aimed to bring the German Empire down.  He made claims that the Gewehr 88 was purposely manufactured to be a flawed rifle and that good rifles were secretly being produced and stockpiled by Jewish officials for some conspiratorial scheme.  Ahlwardt called the new rifle the “Judenflinten” or Jewish musket, publishing two pamphlets by the same name in which expounded upon his theories.  In particular he pointed the most blame at the German arms manufacturer Ludwig Loewe & Co., then one of the largest German producers of arms and military equipment. It’s no secret that Ahlwardt chose Ludwig Loewe for his accusations, the Loewe’s being a Jewish family.  He even accused business head Isidor Loewe of being a spy for France.

Ahlwardt’s rabble rousing did the trick, and soon the German people were demanding that the Germany government investigate the situation or end production of the Gewehr 88 entirely.  Of course, investigations of the army and Ludwig Loewe turned up nothing.  Ahlwardt was charged with libel and slander, resulting in him losing his job as a teacher and a four month prison sentence.

In the meantime Ludwig Loewe’s name and reputation was damaged so badly that Isidor Loewe had to orchestrate a major business deal in order to ensure the survival of his factories. In 1896 Ludwig Loewe brokered a merger between several other arms companies that Isidor Loewe had majority ownership over.  This included Mauser, Fabrique Nationale (Belgium),  Waffen- und Munitionsfabrik A.G.(Hungary), and various German ammunition companies.  The merger created a new German arms conglomerate called Deutshe  Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM), which would become a very influential arms manufacturer throughout German history.

Over time rumors of the flawed Gewehr 88 and the Jewish conspiracy would blow over, resulting in a fine German bolt action rifle that earned the respect of the average German infantryman.  However, the Gewehr 88 was not complete, Germany now had a reliable infantry rifle, but was lacking in cavalry carbines and artillery rifles.


Fusil Semi-Automatique Mle1949/56

Made by the Manufacture d’Armes de St-Etienne post-WW2 until 1965 at a total of 295840 units, including an initial production of 20240 MAS 49.
7,5x54mm 1929C 10-round removable box magazine, gas-operated semi-automatic fire, built-in compensator/Nato 22mm grenade launcher with sights.

This rifle’s had a long and tortuous development, in major parts due to a little historical event you might have heard of. First of all it’s important to note that its action is in fact based on Rossignol’s B5 prototype rifle of the French military rifle trials in the early 1900′s. This is in fact the direct impingement system that would later be used not only in these MAS rifles but also in the American AR series.

The Rossignol B5 ENT-1901 rifle.

In 1938, with a war looming and thus in the very same circumstances that saw France try to modernize its arsenal around the turn of the century, the Manufacture d’Armes de St-Etienne started development of a new semi-automatic military rifle. The resulting weapon was the MAS 38/39 and MAS 40 prototypes, both featuring a 5-round fixed box magazine like the bolt action MAS 36, but making use of the Rossignol system.

The MAS 40 rifle.

About 60 working prototypes were made during the early days of WW2, before being adopted in March of 1940. Unfortunately much like the A6 Meunier in 1913, there were no time or resources to implement a new military rifle during a world war. With German occupation becoming unavoidable, workers at MAS hid the plans to the gun as well as its prototypes.
They did their job extremely well, to the point that Free French forces in their now liberated country had to reverse-engineer the MAS 40 without blueprints to resume production, leading to the creation of the MAS 44.

The MAS 44 rifle.

Less than 7000 Mle1944 were manufactured for use by French Marine Commandos in the later stages of WW2. This is the first iteration of the design to introduce a detachable box magazine holding ten rounds.
Following the end of the war and the rebuilding of the country’s infrastructure, the rifle was very lightly modified and rolled out for mass production as the MAS 49. It was supposed to see service with all branches of the French military but only ended up in the hands of soldiers fighting in the conflicts of the Decolonization era.

The MAS 49 rifle.

It was finally after these experiences in the Indochina war, the Suez canal crisis in Egypt and the start of the Algerian war that the MAS 49 was refined into the Mle1949/56, with an overall shortened and modernized exterior more fit of a battle rifle. Before that it still looked very much like the MAS 36 bolt action rifle, which is fine if you’re into hunchbacked Lebels.

The MAS 49/56 rifle ready to fire a 22mm grenade.

Dulled Mind - Chapter 1

“Welcome to the greatest hive of scum and villainy in this entire damned sector,” Bulat chuckled as he landed the cruiser in the spaceport of the most aptly named Avarice Quartus. “Now, let’s get fucked up, shall we?”

Naomi leapt off the ship, going through the bubble of contained air after their ship had been maglocked to the port. They landed on the surface of the spaceport, and walked inside. The artificial gravity kicked in, and Naomi’s feet planted firmly on the ground. She brushed the clinging static of the containment field off her black shirt and waited for Kate to get off the ship.

Kate’s long hair stood up in messy strands from the static electricity, levitating in the air. When she straightened her hair and let it hang down again, Naomi decided to have a little fun. Kate’s hair floated back up, suspended high in the air like some sort of creature that had taken up residence on her head. Kate flattened it down again, shrugging it off as just some electricity that hadn’t quite gone away.

Naomi made it rise up again. Kate caught on, glaring at Naomi, who responded with a smug smile. The hair came to life under her influence, moving and twisting around to form a false mustache around Kate’s mouth.

“Hey, stop!” Kate pushed the hair away, trying and failing to hide an amused smirk. “That tickled.” 

Naomi blew a kiss over in her direction.

“Love you, babe,” she said.

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Commodorians Part 1

This was one of the three mega exhibits for the 40th anniversary of the big three appliance computers launched in 1977.   Anthony Becker, Jeffrey Brace, Chris Fala, Todd George (captain), & Bill Winters combined their skills, collection, and love for Commodore equipment to showcase the PET-2001′s family tree.

Before Commodore Business Machines was making computers, they were making office equipment, namely typewriters.  They got into the game of manufacturing adding machines, followed by calculators which were constantly decreasing in size while improving their capabilities.  During the calculator wars, Texas Instruments had an upper hand in the market by being a main source of calculator integrated circuits.  In an attempt to subvert TI’s control, Commodore purchased MOS Technology so they could produce their own semiconductors in house. 

It just so happened that MOS had a microprocessor, the now famous 6502, which they were using in the KIM-1 trainer./demonstrator. Commodore continued selling the KIM-1 with their own branding, and one was on display acting as a clock.

However, the 6502 really shined in their first home computer, the PET-2001, available initially in an 8K version and a short lived 4K version.  The PET was unique compared to its contemporary appliance home computers (the Apple II and TRS-80 Model I) in that it included a monitor and tape drive all in the same chassis.  You’ll also note that the case of the 2001 is made from metal, not plastic like the competition.  In true Commodore fashion, this was a money saving move – they re-purposed their file cabinet manufacturing arm to make cases for the PET line resulting in very sturdy cases.  The keyboards were re-purposed from cash registers, resulting in an incredibly clunky and uncomfortable design that didn’t last long. 

I made it a personal mission to sit down at the PET-2001-8, just as I had at my first VCF East a decade ago, and program something.  I tweaked the existing random character generator program on screen to use different PETSCII graphics than the demonstrator they had set up.  This is an early blue bezel model, which makes up for the terrible chiclet keyboard.

The PET-2001 was succeeded by the 4000 and 8000 series machines, boasting larger screen options, a proper full travel QWERTY keyboard, more memory, better external interfaces, and more advanced versions of Microsoft BASIC.  The IEEE-488 interface was fully implemented by this point, and was used with larger storage mediums like the 4040 and 8050 dual floppy drives, and rare CBM D9090 hard disk drive.  The real oddity here is the very late SFD1001 drive, which uses the IEEE-488 parallel interface, but crams it into the case of a later 1541 drive more synonymous with the C64.