By Dan Shea
The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs. Self-conceit often regards it as a sign of weakness to admit that belief to which we have once committed ourselves is wrong. We get so identified with an idea that it is literally a “pet” notion and we rise to its defense and stop our eyes and ears to anything different. – John Dewey
The anti Second Amendment fanatics are out there right now, trying to legislate some local bans on the ownership of so-called Assault Weapons. It is amazing how focused on non-issues they can be. Statistically, we are safer now that the stupid AW Ban expired over a year ago, but it remains to be seen if there is any connection at all between statistics and reality. So called “Assault Weapons” were a minor problem to begin with.
There have been a lot of Freudian accusations about why firearms owners have firearms – the most common being that we are “compensating” for something missing or inadequate. My opinion of most of the firearms collectors that I know is based on watching what interests them, and the collecting of firearms seems more related to a techno-geek type of thing. Most of the people I know are highly interested in history, technology, the science of ballistics, the amazing diversity of accessories or models, or just plain fun at the range. There might be a few who have some “compensation” thing going on, but the majority seem pretty stable, just focused on their interest or hobby. I can’t say the same for the anti-Second Amendment crowd. A very interesting observation that I have experienced over and over again, is the reaction of many anti-firearms ownership people who happen to be in a place where there are military type firearms. When talking with them, politely, I hand them a machine gun, or a rifle, and they look electrified and frightened and say, “I couldn’t have one of these – I might kill somebody.” Seriously, dear readers, I have heard this too many times to ignore.
This makes me think that the firm belief in the Second Amendment comes down to some fundamental beliefs about personal responsibility. With few exceptions, the firearms community has a strong thread of Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Rugged Individualism” in it. Most of us are taught by our fathers, uncles, drill sergeants, hunting instructors, or other significant adults, that we are responsible for what we do with a weapon, and it is never pointed somewhere you don’t want a bullet to go. We are taught restraint. We are taught responsibility. Those who desire to disarm the others seem to lack that trait. In reading Dewey’s commentary, the above struck me as a concise paragraph on why the anti firearms ownership crowd doesn’t “get it” when they are obviously wrong. Dewey can also remind us to reassess our own beliefs and stands on issues, so that we can not make the same mistakes we are confronted with.
Off the pulpit, on to the questions….
Q-I was at a gun show, and saw a magazine on a table that said it was for fifty caliber. It seemed sort of short for a fifty but was quite large. I bought it for twenty bucks and brought it home, and sure enough it was too short. Any idea what it is?
A- There are so many unusual magazines out there it would be tough to say what it is simply from your description. I suspect, however, that it is the standard .50 caliber spotter magazine for the US M8C spotter rifle that mounts to the M40 series 106mm recoilless rifle. These do show up at gun shows fairly frequently, and there is a longer version as well. Twenty bucks is a good price for one as generally they are between forty and seventy-five dollars. Since you have ruled out it being one of the actual .50 BMG magazines due to the length of a cartridge that would fit, the Spotter magazine is the prime suspect. Other possibilities would be the magazines for the double sized military training rifles for the BAR, M14, M16, and M1 Carbine. These show up on the tables very rarely, are difficult to identify due to their oversize and are not a real weapon status. Please sell these oversized trainer magazines to me, as these are part of my personal fetish for oversize trainers. I suppose some might think I am “compensating.”
The M40 series of 106mm Recoilless Rifles are still in use in many countries around the world, and the US still has them in the inventory, although not generally active today. The M8C spotting rifle is mounted onto the main tube of the M40, sighted in, and the tracer/marking .50 caliber projectiles it fires duplicates the trajectory of the 106mm round. The M8C is semiautomatic, reloading itself from the magazine I suspect you have found. This is handy for the operator, because the 106mm is a breech loaded weapon, and having the next spotting round ready automatically cuts out one more operation in getting a second round ready to fire. The spotter rounds allow for an increased hit probability with the gun. Once the weapon is ready, the spotter round is fired. It won’t move the firing platform off of its aim and once the operator sees he has the target nailed touches off the main gun. Great for stationary targets, not quite so functional on laterally moving ones.
There are not too many M8C spotter rifles in private hands, but there are a few. The owners I am aware of have plenty of magazines for their guns, so this isn’t really a hot commodity; it is more of a collectable curiosity. The fifty caliber shooting community prizes spotter ammunition because many people pull the projectiles and reload them into .50 BMG cartridges, to achieve that very visible trace and target marking hit. However, these projectiles are very sensitive, especially to feeding, and much care should be taken with that process.
Q-I recently purchased a pre-86 dealer sample AR-10 machine gun. The seller called it a “Sudanese” model, and he had no other information on these. In the process of collecting the right parts to complete the weapon display board, I bought an” AR-10″ bayonet on E-Bay. When it came in, it didn’t fit on my AR-10. The seller insists it is an AR-10 bayonet and won’t refund my money. Who’s right on this?
A- As to whom is “right” that is a tough call. There was more than one type of AR-10 bayonet during the original production of these guns, and if he sold you an “AR-10 bayonet” and it is one – just not the right one for your gun. You are kind of stuck with it. I don’t think you will have too much trouble selling it as there are a lot of bayonet collectors out there. The basic models of original AR-10s are the very rare “Hollywood” guns, some of which could use a modified Carcano bayonet. The “Sudanese” models, which are Dutch, have a very special Mauser style bayonet. The “Portuguese” models, also Dutch, also use a Mauser styled bayonet which is cruder than the intricate and interesting Sudanese style bayonet. Since the production of the Sudanese style AR-10 rifles was limited to less than 4,000 pieces, it seems obvious that these are very rare bayonets. The Sudan contract was for 2,500 rifles, and there was another run of approximately 600 of this model with minor variations sold to Guatemala. If your gun says “Armex” on it, then odds are it is actually the Guatemalan contract gun.
This is actually a subject near and dear to me. I have always thought the Sudanese AR-10 bayonet was pretty tricked out, so let’s take a bit of time and look it over. This should help you in your search for the ultimate Sudanese AR-10 accessory. -Dan
Q-I enjoyed the picture of the VZ58 found by an SAR reader in Iraq, but you mentioned that it is not unusual for there to be “special” models made for guards in the Mid-East. I have not found reference to these models in other print references. Can you elaborate?
A- Yes, this is not an uncommon practice. In the small arms community it is not unusual to take the standard rifles or machine guns and make special presentation models or “dress” models out of them. These usually do not have a special designation. Frank James’ book on the HK MP5 series “Project 64”, includes pictures of the dressed up MP5s, and the official HK book has pictures as well. Since we were talking about Iraq, we should mention that SAR Contributing Editor Bob Bishop is a Colonel in the US Army Special Forces and he noted gold plated AK47 and RPG7s in the factories they captured. We are looking forward to getting more info later on these. As another example of this type of special run of submachine gun, I submit the following three photographs. This is a Sterling MK4 (L2A3) submachine gun that has been gold and chrome plated for the Saudi Royal Guards. On the white pistol grip is part of the symbol of the House of Saud, the Palm Tree and crossed swords. The complete symbol would have a wreath around it and a crown at the top, but for markings on a weapon this is accepted. There is no special model designation that would be recorded at the factory on these; they are simply MK4 submachine guns. I hope this helps convince you that the factories around the world do, indeed, produce the special runs of weapons for Dress Duty. (Photos by Dan Shea, Courtesy MOD Pattern Room)
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|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V9N2 (November 2005)|