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RAFFICA
By Dan Shea

Q- I need some information about the Argentine FMK-3 9mm SMG. I have read that Uzi magazines can be used in this gun if the magazine catch is modified. If so, please show how this is done. Is it possible to modify the Uzi magazines and leave the mag catch of the FMK-3 unaltered?

A- The FMK-3 submachine gun is a standard tube gun, very reliable and robust. It is open bolt, and uses a 40 round magazine that is very similar to the standard Uzi submachine gun magazine which is generally 25 or 32-rounds capacity. Obviously the 40-round magazine has interested Uzi owners in the US.

The FMK-3 magazine is similar enough to convert over, and the accompanying pictures should help with understanding what is involved.

Q- In your Raffica column (June 2006) you mentioned having had a pair of VZ58’s from the Vietnam War. I was a crew chief/door gunner on a Huey during ’67-’68 and saw a number of interesting weapons floating around. There was a guy who had, what I now believe, was possibly a VZ26. I remember the Swedish K’s, “Greaseguns” and Thompsons, but this particular gun was new to me. Could it have been a VZ26? What was the production period of the VZ26’s?

A- The East Bloc supplied a lot of aid to the North Vietnamese through their affiliation with the USSR. I have had some very interesting conversations in formerly communist countries where men in my age group discuss how they gave blood or donated goods to help their communist brothers in North Vietnam. The same is true of the weaponry. Since that was the war that was in progress, different countries tried their weapons in combat from Uncle Ho’s side just as much as the West tried out their various weapons from the South’s side.

The VZ-58s that I had were brought back by a US soldier. I have never seen a bring back VZ23, 24, 25, or 26. It would be difficult to pin down the exact model you might have seen. The Model 23 and 25 were made from 1948 to 1952, when they were upgraded in production to the Model 24 and 26 respectively. Hard to tell the difference in the production runs, except the 23 and 25 had a folding stock, and the 24 and 26 had a fixed stock. The 23 and 25 were in 9mm Parabellum, and the 24 and 26 were in 7.62 TT. There are differences of course, but going back over 35 years in memory it is going to be tough for you to ID those mostly internal differences. In any event, it is quite possible from the hodgepodge of weapons in South East Asia that you saw one of the Czech subguns.

Q- Is the 14.5mm PTRG cartridge a Class3 round?

A- If you mean “does it require registration as a Destructive Device,” the simple answer is no. Even the rare “HEI” versions of 14.5mm ammo do not have enough explosive in them to qualify as a Destructive Device. Transportation and storage of the HE type rounds might bring in explosive regulatory issues if the quantity was large enough, but these rounds are generally restricted to single pieces in collections in the US. They are hoarded by those with the guns, since they can not be imported since the diameter of the projectile is over 1/2 inch.

There are two basic cartridges referred to as 14.5mm in the US. The 14.5x51R (or “14.5mm Spotter”) is a much shorter cartridge used in artillery training subcaliber devices. Frequently these projectiles are sold as pulled marking projectiles. They are definitely not compatible with the other type of ammunition which is the subject at hand, 14.5x114mm.

Remember that there are two basic weapon systems that use this cartridge; the PTRS41 and other 14.5mm anti tank rifles from the World War II era, and the modern 14.5mm KPV-T anti-aircraft systems (frequently used for anti-ground as well). Users of the early anti-tank rifles should note that while the cartridge case is the same, the KPV-T ammunition is significantly more powerful and will damage the early anti-tank rifles to the point of dangerous catastrophic failures. Just a word to the wise: pay attention to what you are putting in these old guns.

Q- I picked up a minty Colt M16A1 ser# 937xxxx that I think is in the 621 configuration. It is all ‘A1’ with the exception of a round hand guard and square front sight post. Barrel is 20” heavy with C MP B and a lug double pinned right behind the flash cage that looks to be for an M14 bipod. Is this really a 621 and what was it designed/intended for? What is the rarity? Anything else unique or significant?

A- The 9 million serial number range would be correct for the Colt Model 621, which is the true “H-Bar” most people think of. If it was, then the bipod would be for M60 legs as in the photo. The M14 bipod was first used on the Colt Model 606B (Referred to as the “06B”). To be correct as the Model 621, you would have forward assist, chromed bolt carrier, triangular fore end (not the round fore end), and the barrel would be heavy over the full contour. The Model 606B, which used the M14 bipod, would be marked Model 606B. I have seen what were supposedly original Model 621 H-Bars with an M14 bipod, but could not check the pedigree. I pulled the pictures here from the Colt M16 ID Guide we published early in Small Arms Review magazine’s first year, and the complete Guide is also in the Machine Gun Dealers Bible, 4th Edition.

Q- I picked up some 6.5 Italian ammunition in a brass stripper that has a handle on one end. There are twenty cartridges in the stripper, which has a brass sheath on each end. The guy who sold it said it was for the Breda 37 machine gun.

A- Close, but no cigar to your friend. This “charger” is for the Fucile Mitriagliatori Breda Modello 30, or the Breda Model 30 for short. This was a light machine gun that weighed about 23 pounds and it was basically the second model of LMG in the Italian arsenal in the Pre-World War II period. The Modello 1924 gave birth to the Modello 1930. The 1930 is an intriguing design, and it is much misaligned like the French Chauchat Mle 1915. Taken in context of a time when machine guns were all tripod mounted and frequently were water cooled, lightening a portable rifle caliber machine gun was a leap forward. Successful models like the 1918 BARs, the 1903 and 1914 Madsen LMGs, and the Hotchkiss guns of 1922 and 1926, were almost oddities themselves when compared to many of the attempts that were seen.

The Breda suffered from a number of deficiencies that should be pointed out to prospective owners. First is the very nice addition of a quick change barrel that somehow left out the idea of a carrying handle, leaving the A-gunner with a hot barrel to pull off of the bipod mounted gun. That was still easier than pulling off a standard M60 barrel with bipod on the barrel, though. The real issues arise around the magazine and the unlocking system. When the Breda unlocks, the barrel and bolt travel rearward together and unlock quite violently through a cam action. This puts undue stress on the spent cartridge, which means a lot of broken and stuck cartridge cases. To lessen the strain on this, the Breda has an oiler that squirts a shot of oil on each and every cartridge that feeds into the chamber. Thus, the bolt is lubricated as well. Hard experience taught the Italians that this system also quickly led to making either a slow down gunk or nice jewelers paste that either gummed up the system or wore down the parts depending on the size and composition of sand or particles that mixed with the oil. That is a “Bad” thing for a combat machine gunner.

The magazine appears to be either a sophisticated, modern designed piece of machinery, or a true Rube Goldberg invention; depending on your point of view. To load the magazine, a lever is pushed and the side mounted magazine flips forward. The operator then charges the magazine from the rear, using the pictured 20 round charger, and withdraws the empty charger. Since the actual feed guide lips are on the receiver, leaving the magazine forward is considered “Safing” the machine gun. Damage the magazine, and you are out of action. I have always liked them because they are so interesting, but really wouldn’t want my life to depend on a Breda Modello 30 functioning. -Dan

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