Top: Semi-automatic Model 60; Bottom: Model 50 Submachine Gun, Photo by Frank Iannamico
By Frank Iannamico
After having success selling the Reising submachine gun to many law enforcement agencies, H&R Inc. introduced a semi-automatic-only version of the Model 50 submachine gun. The new semi-auto Reising was designated the Model 60. The .45 ACP caliber Model 60 carbine went into production in the summer of 1942. It has never been determined exactly why a semi-auto was produced. One can only speculate that H&R Inc. had requests from many police departments for a weapon similar to the Model 50 submachine gun, but in a semi-auto-only configuration. Perhaps many police chiefs felt that a submachine gun was “too intimidating” or “politically incorrect” for their department. The Auto-Ordnance Company had also offered a semi-automatic only version of the famous Thompson Sub Machine Gun. The semi-auto-only 1927 Model Thompson SMG was actually a Model of 1921 that was modified to fire semi-automatic only. Because of its machine gun receiver and short barrel it was controlled by the National Firearms Act after 1934.
The United States was embroiled in WWII when the Model 60 was introduced. The entire country was on edge fearing enemy acts of sabotage and spying. Many Model 60 Reisings were sold for arming factory guards. Many railroad bridges were protected from sabotage by placing an armed guard at each end. Many of these guards were armed with Model 60s that were purchased by the various U.S. railroads. During World War II the federal government controlled virtually all firearms sales within the United States. Firearms were only available to police or government agencies that were assigned priority codes for purchasing weapons. The priority codes were issued and controlled by the War Production Board (WPB). Few if any, new firearms or even ammunition was sold for civilian hunting or sport shooting during WWII. Most firearms were procured through a government-operated entity known as the Defense Supplies Corporation. On 6 February, 1942, the War Production Board authorized the Defense Supplies Corporation to order 500 Reising Model 50 submachine guns at a cost of $75.00 each, and 1700 Reising Model 60 semi-automatic rifles at a cost of $60.00 per weapon. These arms were purchased directly from the Harrington & Richardson Arms factory. The weapons were stored in DSC warehouses until they were resold to authorized stateside organizations.
The Model 60 was known to be issued by many law enforcement and government agencies, the US Navy, the Coast Guard and several large US prisons. The U.S. Marines issued them as training weapons, and several WWII veterans have reported that the Model 60 was issued to Marine officers in the Pacific Theater of operations.
The Model 60 is very similar to the Model 50 submachine gun and shares virtually all the same parts except for the barrel. The Model 60 barrel is much longer at 18.25 inches, and with a few exemptions has no radial cooling fins. The front sight is adjustable for windage via a small hex-head screw. No compensators were fitted to the Model 60. The auto connector lever is absent from the M60 and the stud that supports it is partially cut away so that the lever cannot be fitted.
The early Model 60 shared many features of both the “military” and “commercial” Model 50 Reisings. This was in part to the M60 being introduced during the transitional period when the “commercial” version of the submachine gun was being transformed into the “military” model. A few early Model 60s were blue, and some have been observed with 28 fin barrels. All other features were the same as the military Model 50: military stock with lateral tie screws, large knurled take-down screw, sling swivels mounted on the bottom of the stock and a three screw trigger guard. Many Model 60s have been noted with the finger grooves in the foregrip of the stock. All models 60s are equipped with the 2nd design receivers discussed in an earlier article. The 2nd design receivers have the logo stamped so that it is readable from the weapon’s left side. Early blue guns are often fitted with a milled three screw trigger guard, and the push style magazine release lever. At approximately serial number 900 the Model 60s began to be factory Parkerized rather than blued and took on all the features of the military version Model 50 including the stamped trigger guard and the common pull type magazine release lever. The 18.25-inch barrels were smooth with no cooling fins. Because of its longer barrel, Harrington & Richardson advertised the M60s effective range as 400 yards as opposed to 300-yard range of the short barreled (11-inch) Model 50. Target style sights were an option in later production. The optional sights consisted of a fully adjustable ramp type front sight, and an aperture style rear sight adjustable from 50 to 200 yards. The standard sight arrangement was the same as the submachine guns. The sight radius of the M60 is 26 inches.
The Model 60 first used the twenty round double stack/single feed magazine, and later the twelve round single/stack, single feed version when it was introduced. Some late manufacture Model 60 guns were equipped with the ribbed magazine housings that only would accept the single/stack twelve round magazine. The fire selector switch is mounted in the same position as the submachine gun version, but has only two positions: “SAFE” and “S.A.” (Semi-automatic). The top of the receiver is marked H&R Model 60. The Model 60 was advertised in Harrington & Richardson’s 1943 and 1944 catalogs for “Military and guard purposes and also as an excellent sporting rifle” The Model 60 came from the factory furnished with one magazine, a sling, cleaning rod and brush. The 1944 catalog only offered the 12 round magazine.
According to the surviving H&R records, the Model 60 Reising serial numbers ranged from 1 to 3248 and were manufactured from 1942 until 1949. Some Model 60s have been documented with letter prefixes in their serial numbers. There is evidence of a special run of Model 60s thought to have been manufactured in the 1960s for a foreign contract. These guns have an R prefix in their serial numbers. Factory documents show the serial number range as R41 to R1935. The R prefix Model 60 is seldom encountered in the United States today.
The Model 60 semi-automatic carbines are sometimes available on the collector market today. But because they were manufactured is such small numbers, (according to the BATF 5,142 Model 60s were produced), they often command a higher price than their submachine gun counterpart, the Model 50. Most Model 60s examined have been in very good condition and in most cases had seen very little use.
The contents of this article were excerpted from the new book “The Reising Submachine Gun Story” available from Moose Lake Publishing 207-683-2959.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V3N10 (July 2000)|