By Dan Shea

"A Navy F6F Hellcat that ditched in 3,400 feet of water off of San Diego, California, on January 12, 1944, was recovered by Lockheed's "Deep Quest" last October 10, 1970. All of the plane's magnesium parts had corroded away, but they apparently served as sacrificial cathodes to protect the steel parts. An M2 .50 caliber machine gun from the plane was sent to the Naval Weapons Laboratory in Dahlgren, Virginia for checking. It was cleaned, lubricated, and test fired without a stoppage or mechanical failure. Oceanographers point out that 3,400 feet deep off the coast of California is very close to the zone of minimum oxygen concentration in sea water, and that the same result should not be expected from water layers containing more dissolved oxygen .- "Under Sea Technology", the industry's recognized authority for oceanography, marine sciences, and undersea defense. January 1971, Vol. 12, No. 1.

One could surmise from the above that if one needed to store Ma Deuce underwater for long term, then 3,400 feet deep in sea water is an appropriate place. This illustrates once again the truly amazing resilience of Browning's system. The Browning M2 machine gun has been in service for around eighty years and stories abound on the Browning's reliability. Seeing that twenty-five years underwater didn't stop Ma Deuce is an eye opener. Deep Quest was a program of forty foot long research submersibles that had a crew of five, starting in the mid 1960s and ending in 1980. They could stay deep underwater for 18 hours and were designed to reach 8,000 feet in depth, with their record being a dive to 8,310 feet when they planted an American flag on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Recovering this F6F was one of many highlights of the program, and I thought that readers of Raffica would be interested in it, although I suspect that this M2 was not registered with the NFRTR.

Q- Is there any quick way to tell whether you are looking at a Stoner 63 or a Stoner 63A?

A- Aside from all the plug and play variations of the Stoner 63/63A system that outwardly may appear the same but are not compatible, the fastest way to tell the difference is in the gas tube appearance. All of the Stoner 63A guns have a gas tube that is silver in appearance and is made from matte stainless steel, whereas the Stoner 63 gas tubes are carbon steel and finished in matte black. Another telltale sign is the location of the charging handle. The Stoner 63A handles are either on top of the handguard area or underneath it depending on the configuration, while the Stoner 63 charging handles are on the side of the weapon. Each part or piece has a different way of being ID'd (too much information for Raffica), but a few more clues are as follows. The 63A has a dust cover, 63 does not. The selector on the 63A has two positions with a separate sliding safety, the 63 has a three position safety; Safe, Semi, Full Auto. Internally, the rollers on a 63 are dual rollers and fixed, with an up or down position, while the 63A has a single roller that is spring mounted to allow the top cover to close with bolt forward or to the rear, and also has the up or down position. More on Stoner 63, 63A and 63A1 later in SAR.

Q- I have a magazine that was ID'd to me as an FG42 mag and I would like to sell it. I don't know which model it is for. Can you help on this?

A- While there is one rifle style that is called an FG42, there are numerous variants within the group. Those variations fall into one of two categories for the purposes of this answer: First Model FG42, or Second Model FG42. Since the magazines are distinct between those two groups, I would like to keep it simple to this sub-grouping. If you do indeed have an FG42 magazine, then you have a rare item. You should have no trouble at all selling it. Bring it to Knob Creek or put a classified in SAR after you identify the model.

Ten round magazines (Not shown) have the characteristics of the First Model FG42 magazines.

Magazine: FG42 First Model
Manufacturer: WWII German
Notes: Floorplate spring on this example was broken

Category: RDS2B (Rifle caliber, Dual column, Straight, presents from 2 columns, Box style)

Caliber: 7.92x57mm (8mm Mauser)
Capacity: 20 Rounds
OA Length: 5 7/8 inches
Backstrap: 5 7/8 inches
Max. Width: 3.710 inches
Body Width: 3.340 inches
Max. Depth: 1.000 inches
Body Depth: 1.000 inches
Construction: Steel

Magazine: FG42 Second Model
Manufacturer: WWII German
Notes: This example has a small threaded hole drilled on the left side.

Category: RDS2B (Rifle caliber, Dual column, Straight, presents from 2 columns, Box style)

Caliber: 7.92x57mm (8mm Mauser)
Capacity: 20 Rounds
OA Length: 6 1/8 inches
Backstrap: 6 1/8 inches
Max. Width: 3.940 inches
Body Width: 3.360 inches
Max. Depth: 1.177 inches
Body Depth: 1.037 inches
Construction: Steel

Q- I have been having a lot of trouble loading my Suomi 50 round mags for my Swedish K. I was told that there is a Madsen 9mm loader that works. Do you know a source?

A- The Suomi 50 round "Coffin" magazines are a bit unusual in that they are a four column stack as opposed to the more common two column, and they also present from one position so there is a radical transition at the top where all four columns must come to the center. The rounds can get stuck against each other and not move all the way to the top. This has led a number of people to observe live rounds stuck in magazine when they had visually inspected it for clear. I once found a Suomi M31 with magazine in it on the rack, took it down, and opened the bolt to see that all was clear. It was, and when I set it back on the rack, I heard a snap and metal on metal. On further inspection, there were eight rounds in the magazine, now ready to fire. I tried loading that magazine several times and had the incident occur again. A good reason to store firearms without magazines in them; but a definite cautionary tale regarding these four column magazines. Always check them so that you see the follower.

The Madsen M50 loader is the wrong loader and will not fit on the Suomi magazine. Your friend who told you about it was mistaken. The Suomi loader is very similar in appearance, however, and the wedge shape to the base should be a dead giveaway. If you use Suomi "Coffin" magazines in your Suomi, Swedish K, or other adapted SMG, the loader is a handy tool to have.

Q- I have an old AR-15 with a serial number in the 15,000 range. After hundreds of inquiries and chasing worthless leads, I was told that you may know something about my gun. I suspect that it is a tool room "Shorty" as I saw another in a book years ago with a number only 62 digits off of mine. I cannot remember what book it was though. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

A- This is a very common question: "What model did my Colt M16 start out as?" I chose this particular question to answer because of the early serial number, and the chart should answer most of the other questions people have on these earlier guns. However, this will not answer the questions regarding specific odd models that were simply taken from the production line and made into test or prototype guns. Those serial numbers are pretty well restricted to someone keeping record of the model as it came from Colt, or who has had it since it came from Colt. There are 1,600 listed as "Other" for model designation. The "03" or "04" stand for "Model 603" or "Model 604".

This letter is dated February 2, 1973, and was an internal Colt memorandum from B. Northrop to W. H. Craven. I corrected some spelling, but it is accurately reproduced below. Note that for the first time we have documentation of the set aside serial numbers for H&R as well as the Hydromatic Division of GM. This listing also gives the production for each type.

Prototypes, one-offs, and special runs were frequently made on receivers taken directly from the line or from NOS receivers (New-Old Stock). This list will tell you what the correct model should be, but if you have an odd model it may well be original. Many of the Colt owners have this problem because people have "upgraded" their Colt's to M4 or whatever, and if you want to bring it back to original, this should help. If you want to know the specifics of the model, such as the type of flash suppressor, bolt carrier, etc., the models are listed with examples in the Machine Gun Dealers Bible, Fourth Edition, available from SAR.

"In December of 1960 we started roll marking AR15 rifles. The following is a general breakdown by serial number of major types: Model 03, 04, SMG, Model 613 and Lebanon rifles.

Starting S/N 101 through 14,484. For General Curtis LeMay (AR15)
14,500 through 14,916 for S.A.W.S. Contract (AR15)
15,000 through 99,999 for Air Force - Model 04
100,000 through 199,999 for Army - Model 03
200,000 through 202,426 for British Contract
202,447 through 379,353 for Air Force - Model 03
400,000 through 407,297 for Air Force - Model 03
500,001 through 701,100 for Army - Model 04
703,278 through 749,999 for Army - Model 04
750,000 through 752,443 for Heavy Barrel Assault
760,001 through 899,999 for Army - Model 03
900,000 through 909,999 for Commando SMG
910,000 through 1,999,999 for Army - Model 03
4,000,001 through 4,060,000 for Air Force - Model 04
4,060,001 through 4,221,800 for Army - Model 03
4,221,801 through 4,285,400 for Air Force - Model 04
4,285,401 through 4,521,000 for Army - Model 03
4,521,001 through 4,521,850 for Air Force - Model 04
4,521,851 through 4,638,400 for Army - Model 03
4,638,401 through 4,643,400 Model 613 for Malaysia (5000)
4,643,401 through 4,701,400 for Army - Model 03
4,701,401 through 4,701,900 for Model 613 Commando (500)
4,781,001 through 4,844,400 for Army - Model 03
4,844,401 through 4,849,400 Model 613 for Taiwan (5000)
4,849,401 through 4,926,000 for Army - Model 03
4,926,001 through 4,928,000 Model 613 for Philippines (2000)
4,928,000 through 4,936,400 Model 03 Army

Serial numbers 2,000,000 - 2,999,999 were set aside for Harrington & Richardson. This company produced approximately 240,000 guns, serial numbers 2,000,000 - 2,240,000.

Serial numbers 3,000,000 - 3,999,999 were reserved for General Motors, Hydromatic Division. They produced approximately 480,000 rifles, serial numbers 3,000,000 - 3,480,000.

Colt Summary:

Model 03 Army 2,300,171
Model 04 Air Force 394,855
British 2,427
AR15 (Early) 14,801
Model 613 12,500
Commando SMG 10,000
Lebanon 14,014
Others 1,600 (Approx.)
Heavy Barrel 2,444
2,752,812 Military
25,774 Sporters

Send questions to: Raffica
Or mail to Small Arms Review Attn Raffica
631 N. Stephanie St #562
Henderson, NV 89014

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V9N8 (May 2006)
and was posted online on November 1, 2011


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