China Spent Decades Trying to Build a Better AK-47
In the mid-1960s, the Chinese military began to seek a replacement for its assortment of Soviet-licensed small arms, including the Type 56 semi-automatic rifle, the Type 56 assault rifle and the Type 56 light machine gun. The result was the Type 63, first issued in 1968, which combined characteristics... Read more
The Hotchkiss Portative Made For a Decent Tank Gun
Laurence Benét and Henri Mercié designed the Hotchkiss Portative light machine gun at the turn of the 20th century. It was a gas-operated, air-cooled, select-fire weapon that fired from an open bolt. A number of nations adopted the weapon, including France, Belgium, the United States and Britain. The United... Read more
Kick In Some London Embassy Windows in ‘6 Days’
Icon Films just released the teaser trailer for 6 Days, a film dramatization of the Iranian embassy siege in London 37 years ago. In the summer of 1980, Iranian separatists held hostage 26 people inside Iran’s embassy in London. British Special Air Service commandos stormed the building after six days.... Read more
AAI’s Rifle-and-Grenade-Launcher Combo Went Nowhere
The U.S. Army’s Objective Individual Combat Weapon program launched in December 1993. The goal was to develop a new, ergonomic infantry weapon combining a rifle and grenade launcher and possessing superior hit probability at intermediate and long ranges — 500 and 1,000 meters, respectively. The OICW had to be better than... Read more
Germany’s A115 Semi-Automatic Rifle Arrived a Decade Too Early
The Walther A115 from the mid-1930s made use of advanced stamping techniques and extensive machining. The German weapon was ahead of its time. Walther ultimately abandoned it. The A115 was gas-operated, had a rotating bolt and fed from a fixed. 10-round double-stack, single-feed magazine that the shooter loaded by... Read more
‘Shock Troop 1917’ Is a Brutal War Film … From 1934
Hans Zöberlein’s 1934 feature film Stoßtrupp 1917 — Shock Troop 1917, in English — depicts German stormtroopers fighting on the Western Front during World War I, slogging from the Aisne to Champagne to Cambrai. The film is deeply nationalistic — and was hugely popular in its time. Compared to... Read more
The U.S. Army Tried Really Hard to Replace the M1911 Pistol
Starting in 1948 the U.S. military made a valiant but futile effort to replace its World War I-vintage Colt M1911A1 pistol. The U.S. Army approached several companies to submit bids. Ithaca declined to bid. High Standard, Colt and Harrington & Richardson all submitted proposals, but the Army quickly rejected... Read more
In the 1980s, U.S. Troops Almost Got a Killer New Shotgun
In the early 1980s, the U.S. military wanted a new combat shotgun. The Close Assault Weapon System program aimed to produce an automatic shotgun with greater range and more firepower than a conventional shotgun possessed — and which could engage targets between 100 meters and 150 meters with a... Read more
Some Pretty Weird Prototypes Preceded the P90 Submachine Gun
In the mid-1980s, Belgian firearms-maker Fabrique Nationale began working on a new personal-defense weapon. In time, it evolved into the iconic P90. But not before producing several rather bizarre prototypes.   In 1989, NATO issued a specification for two personal-defense weapons — one a pistol and the other a shoulder-fired compact... Read more
France’s Fall Didn’t Make Any Difference to Gun-Maker MAB
Frenchman Léon Barthe established Manufacture d’Armes de Bayonne in 1920. While named in the style of France’s great national arsenals — MAS, MAT and MAC — MAB was actually a private enterprise. Apparently, profit motivated Barthe to keep right on producing pistols even after his country fell to the Nazis.   MAB brought... Read more
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