The Tale of the Pink Panther
By T. Allen Hoover

For years I sat at my gun show table next to the Idaho Automatic Weapons Collector’s Association (IAWCA) booth, doing a lot of people watching in between sales. I noticed how, invariably, a couple would come along, he would see the IAWCA booth and his eyes would glaze over and he would, as if in a trance, barge into the crowd in front of the booth, and drool as he fondled the machine guns. Now the wife, or girlfriend, as the case may be, might come in if she was a shooter or had a lot of interest in machine guns, but if she didn’t she might gaze for a while at the black and brown, sometimes greasy, always warlike historic weaponry and would lose interest. Upon realizing that her male companion was going to be obsessing for a while, she would saunter off to view things that were more to her interest. Gun people can yak for hours on the merits or demerits of one gun or another, they can recant glowing historic events and war stories, and unless one shares the interest one might feel excluded and leave.

Those of us who have the machine gun bug get really, really intense in our passions. There are a considerable number of women in IAWCA. Many are wives that caught the bug from their husbands, and there are many who have the shooting interest on their own. There is one girl that gives names to her pet machine guns. In the larger picture, there are too few women in the game at a time when we really need to protect (and expand) our rights.

My wife, Tonja, is a firearm enthusiast and has shot quite a few different guns in her life. When we first dated, she could disassemble and reassemble an AR-15 blindfolded. We would go to IAWCA events and shoot using a variety of borrowed guns (as well as all the regular shooting and hunting we would do). She rather liked historic military guns, her CMP Springfield Armory M1 Garand being her favorite and she was quite a respectable shot with it. She decided it was time to get her first machine gun. Looking to keep the costs down, we located a consecutively numbered pair of M-11s for a fair price. One went to a friend who kept his pretty much as issued, the other was destined to be talked about - or giggled about - as the case may be.

Jim Weaver of Weaver Engineering in Boise, Idaho did the majority of the customizing work. He cut off the magazine housing/grip and replaced it with a Craig Wheatley replacement that allowed the use of Sten magazines of which we had an ample supply and needed to put to good use. Jim then put a CAR-15 stock adaptor on the rear of the receiver and fitted an AR-15 SP-1 butt stock. A modified Mauser 98 firing pin was welded onto the back of the bolt so it would impinge upon the buffer assembly and slow the rate of fire down. An SWD 10-inch side cocking upper with FAL fore-grip was added as was a BSA 50mm red dot sight. A Bowers CAC-9 suppressor was added to increase forward stability of the platform and eliminate the need for uncomfortable ear muffs during competition runs.

While the rate of fire was down to around 600 rpm, she wanted this gun to just purr. We asked Roy Cagnacci to make a solid-bronze AR-15 style buffer that cut the rate of fire to less than 500 rpm, dependant upon the ammo employed. Now we have learned that anything but near full load FMJ rounds may result in some malfunctions, but the white-box Winchester ammo makes this gun sing.

Tonja is a fan of all the David Niven “Pink Panther” movies, and has acquired some of the “Pink Panther” collectibles, so we figured, this is her gun, so let’s make it a “Pink Panther” gun! I got some solvent-resistant VHT 550-degree engine enamel paint and baked it on and created the “Pink Panther.”

The black butt stock, pistol grips, scope and suppressor compliment the Hot Pink nicely, making it attractive to the eye, hard to steal, cute and silly at the same time. It would be hard for an anti-firearms ownership politician to hold it up before the TV cameras and call it an evil weapon of mass destruction.

Tonja has shot it at the IAWCA annual Idaho State Sub Machine Gun Match in the Women’s Division and took Top Gun for her very first effort. Her scores were better than many of the more experienced shooters. She looks forward to competing in the future and when she gets more comfortable with it, watch out guys, the “Pink Panther” will be coming to kick butt and take trophies.

Now, when a couple comes by the IAWCA booth, frequently the woman who may not have been interested in machine guns gets a glazed look as she zeros in on the one gun in the display that is NOT black, brown and greasy.

In all fairness, this may not be the first hot pink machine gun in the country. Kent Lomont saw these photos and told of a pink painted Sten Mk II that passed through his hands some decades back. It was on his tables at Knob Creek that year, and was quite a conversation piece. (Dan’s note: I remember that Pink Sten, I think that Newell bought it from Kent)

For more information on the Idaho Automatic Weapons Collector’s Association (IAWCA) visit:www.iawca.org

For information on the custom work described above, contact: Jim Weaver at (208) 376-4335

Roy Cagnacci at (208) 459-0269.

T. Allen Hoover is an NRA Personal Protection Course Instructor in Boise, Idaho. He has a degree in Political Science and is an activist in Idaho politics and Second Amendment issues. His political website is www.TALLENHOOVER.com. You can visit his commercial website at www.Y2kBodyarmor.com which offers body armor for civilians and Sten replacement parts sets.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V9N4 (January 2006)
and was posted online on March 22, 2013


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