With the M203, the U.S. Finally Got a Decent Grenade-Launcher
In May 1963, the U.S. military asked industry to supply an underslung grenade launcher to complement the new AR-15 assault rifle that was then in early testing. The grenade-launcher program had its roots in the ultimately unsuccessful Special Purpose Individual Weapon program that had begun in 1951. In May... Read more
The Golden Age of Firearm-Suppressors Dawned in 1909
The first viable firearm suppressors appeared at the turn of the 20th century. Between 1909 and 1920, designers patented a wide range of suppression devices Hiram Percy Maxim, the son of Sir Hiram Maxim — the inventor of the machine gun — was among the first engineers to get... Read more
Underwater Firearms Are a Thing, and Russia Is Really Into Them
This story originally appeared on Feb. 13, 2016. The Soviet Union began developing underwater guns nearly 50 years ago. The idea — to arm commando frogmen and other combat divers for underwater engagements, however rare and unlikely these subsurface firefights might actually be. In the late 1960s, Moscow enlisted... Read more
The U.S. Army’s Gun-Toting Space Soldiers
This story originally appeared on Nov. 9, 2015. In space, no one can hear you scream. But in the early days of the space age, the Pentagon had a bigger problem — namely, earthly notions of ballistics and gun-design didn’t apply in vacuum. As the United States had started... Read more
Soviet Docs Shed Light on the Red Army’s Booze-Fueled Nuclear Vacation in Cuba
This story originally appeared on Dec. 18, 2013. The Cuban Missile Crisis is the closest we came to mutual nuclear Armageddon. But new documents have provided a glimpse at the Soviet troops sent halfway around the world with dozens of nuclear warheads in tow. Not surprisingly, the Red Army’s... Read more
What the Hell Is This Weird 1958 Body Armor?
These photographs depict a Detroit police officer firing a 20-inch-barrel Winchester 1897 Riot Gun at someone wearing unusual protective armor. It certainly looks like something out of 1950s science fiction. The officer appears to put several shots into the armor at close range. The armor appears to enclose the... Read more
During World War II, Australia Was Desperate for Submachine Guns
At the beginning of the World War II the Australian Army, much like the British Army, lacked a standard-issue submachine gun. Following Britain’s lead, in early 1941 Australia ordered a small number of Thompson submachine guns for trials purposes. The Australian military purchased 18,382 Thompson M1928A1s before deciding it... Read more
Bomb the Other Side of the Runway!
The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen next to no peace since its independence in 1960. While a series of bitter secessionist wars — involving large numbers of West European mercenaries, and then the CIA and its paramilitaries of Cuban origin — dominated the headlines in the 1960s, ever... Read more
Maxwell Atchisson Invented a Disposable Grenade-Launcher
Maxwell Atchisson was a prolific inventor who experimented with everything from rifles and shotguns to sound suppressors and light machine guns. He was best known for his AA-12 automatic shotgun. One of Atchisson’s most interesting designs was a disposable, 40-millimeter grenade launcher. The launcher is arguably more like a... Read more
That One Time the Nazis Helped China Fight Japan
This story originally appeared on Jan. 3, 2014. Most people who stayed awake for at least half of their high school history class knows that the Axis Powers in World War II consisted of Germany, Italy and Japan. But few know that German tactics and weapons—not to mention some... Read more
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