Small Arms Data by Wire (SADW): November 2002

By Nick Steadman

Issue No 61- June 2002
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KASHMIRI PEN PISTOL: the Asian Age (13 Jun 02) ran an AP/PTI photo of a pen gun captured from a dead member of the Jash-e-Mohammed insurgent group in Kashmir. It was fairly crude, with a black barrel which unscrews in the middle for loading like a conventional pen. There is a pocket clip and the cocking-piece is an unusual pyramid-shaped knob at the top end of the pen above the pocket clip. A quarter of an inch or so above the central joint are two double gold bands about a third of an inch apart. Calibre is .25 Auto, which we imagine would be painful to fire in such a device.

SA80A2 MAGAZINES MARKETED FOR OTHER WEAPONS: we note that Heckler & Koch Inc in the USA is now offering the new 30-round magazines which the company developed at the UK MOD’s behest for the upgraded 5.56mm SA80A2 rifle and LSW. This would appear to firmly knock on the head recent rumours circulating in the UK that the A2 magazine was not suitable for other NATO 5.56mm weapons (as is required by NATO STANAGs).

The new magazine has a steel body & follower and weighs 250 grams. H&K points to the magazine’s success in the SA80A2 reliability & durability trials, which took place in arctic, desert & jungle conditions and involved 500,000 rounds. The company claims that US military and police users also say it is the best and most reliable magazine available for the M16/M4 family.

IMI TAR-21 TAVOR SPOTTED ON OPERATIONS: a Los Angeles Times news update of 20 Jun 02 on Israeli forces re-entering Jenin in the West Bank was accompanied by a photo of one soldier armed with an TAR-21 Tavor bullpup, so we can safely conclude that these weapons are now being deployed, though to what extent we don’t yet know. It doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense, other than to make work for the order-strapped IMI, since the Israelis could get more M16s or M4s from the US for little or nothing anytime they wanted.

NEOSTEAD SHOTGUN UPDATE - AND SOME ADP NOTES: we recently met once more with the Neostead shotgun team from South Africa. These 12-shot ‘pump-forward’ bullpups are currently in low-rate production over there - parts for an initial 1,000 weapons have been procured, and the guns are being built under Truvelo’s manufacturing licence in batches of 100.

Of the very first batch, at least 50 have now been sold; customers so far include Italy, the Philippines and TV companies, and one determined US dealer already has an import licence, possibly for collector sales.

Chief markets at present are seen as Africa, the Far East, Middle East & Latin America, and the US commercial market, which is still stymied by import restrictions (see previous issues) is well down the list, but Neostead is confident it can sell the entire first 1,000 guns without having to depend on US custom. The wholesale price is US $700.

One aspect which may in future be emphasised rather more in the Neostead sales drive will be the suitability of the gun for less-lethal applications, since a different ammunition nature can be loaded in each of the gun’s twin magazine tubes.

The company’s US legal problems would evaporate immediately if the gun was to be made in America, and - as it happens - Neostead is currently in negotiation with a major US gunmaker about the possibility of a licenced manufacturing deal. Other outcomes, like the sale of the entire data package, with or without parts or parts kits supplied by Neostead from South Africa, would also be considered. More on this in a couple of months time.

We gather meanwhile that ADP pistol designer Alex du Plessis, likewise in South Africa, is also talking to a US manufacturer about a new manufacturing partnership now that his licencing deal with Heritage Arms has come to an end. And we also understand that the ADP, in common with many other pistols these days, has now been modified to incorporate an integral keyed safety lock. Another of du Plessis’ activities, by the way, is making polymer frames for Wilson Combat pistols.

As hardnosed cynics, it’s rare that we single out products for special praise, but the reliability of the South-African made 9mm ADP appears to be exceptionally high, even when abused, and it put the stylish but undependable Denel CP-1 we also tested a few years back to shame.

Both pistols have a similar gas-braked mechanism, but the utilitarian ADP went on and on like the Duracell bunny, even if left uncleaned, and pretty much regardless of the ammunition used, while the much glitzier CP-1 repeatedly malfunctioned. Stylishness is not something one should ever worry about with a personal weapon; the only real criterion is whether the thing will fire every time you haul it out.

The gun trade nowadays often reminds us of the car industry - every year more minor styling changes, just to boost sales, but these ‘enhancements’ actually add little or nothing to the product’s inherent usefulness.

RUSSIANS OUTSOLD USA ON ARMS IN 2001: according to the prestigious Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), over the five year period 1997-2001, the value of US arms transfers totalled $44.82 billion, of which the 2001 figure was $4.56 billion.

While the US remained the top arms exporter, the Russians, in second place, increased their exports by 600% over the same period, for a total of $17.35 billion, and in 2001 they actually beat the USA with $4.97 billion, an increase of 24% on the prior year.

China was the biggest recipient of arms in 2001, up 44% from 2000, and India’s arms imports climbed by 50% to reach third place. Saudi Arabia, Taiwan & Turkey were the other main recipients over the five-year period.

Though Washington typically still leads the pack, US arms exports have actually dropped by 65% since 1998 (original sources AFP/IHT, 14 Jun 02 and SIPRI).

SOLOMONS - 450 POLICE GUNS STILL MISSING: ‘Rebels who stole about 500 military-style weapons from authorities two years ago returned only about 50 of them during a gun amnesty.....Peace monitors said the amnesty, which lasted several weeks and ended at midnight Friday, was a partial success in that nearly 1,650 old or homemade weapons were turned in. The Solomons.....have been wracked by violence since a coup in June 2000 when militants broke into a police armory and stole hundreds of high-powered guns.’ (AP, Honiara, Solomon Islands, 1 Jun 02)

USMC SEEKS NEW COLD STEEL: National Defense (May 02) reported that the USMC is looking to buy over 100,000 new bayonets to replace their M7 models, which reportedly date from the 1960s, but the Corps hasn’t yet figured out exactly what characteristics are required. However, the weapon selected will combine the roles of bayonet and combat knife. So it’s goodbye to the trusty old Ka-Bar then?

Apparently it was planned to award a non-competitive contract to Eickhorn in Germany last year, but the subsequent storm of protest from US firms has now compelled the USMC to invite 17 companies to compete for the order. The intention is to purchase an off-the-shelf design.

There is a lot of mythology about bayonets. We recall that even during WW1, which was reknowned for its suicidal bayonet charges, actual bayonet wounds were so rare that they were listed among miscellaneous casualties, which we believe were only around 2% of the total.

While there is probably a case for having a bayonet on the end of a bullpup to extend the soldier’s reach, there really is little or no justification for these blades on any other weapons. They belong to a fighting concept which has been obsolete for many decades.

The USMC cites a new emphasis on CQB training, in which the bayonet is allegedly required to play a part, but this is rather misleading, since even in Afghanistan (one of the theatres quoted as an example) there has been very little close contact - nor does this jive with the current push to avoid friendly casualties at all costs. We’re also rather forgetting the M9 pistol here - and the old favourite, the butt stroke - always assuming the M16-series weapons will take the abuse.

What the Marines should be looking for, first & foremost, is a capable field knife; if they insist it also be suited to clipping on the end of an M16 or M4 barrel, so be it, but this should not be allowed to compromise its primary role.

SADW is a monthly electronic publication from Nick Steadman Features. Nick, intrepid world traveling reporter for much of the arms industry, files this 40,000 to 50,000 word report once a month to his loyal subscribers. Those lucky ones pay a mere $50 (US) £32.50 (UK) per year for the privilege of getting the hot tips and insights from one of the industry’s insiders. Nick’s unique perspective is globally based, as is his wit. Here is a small sampling of a few of the July 2002 SADW articles. You can contact Nick at the email above, and make arrangements with him to obtain the full service sent directly to your email address. In order to receive SADW your e-mail system must be capable of receiving attached files, and the e-mail software system or settings do not reject files as large as 400kb. Each issue is full of insight and information for those with an interest in Small Arms, as well as his observations on world travel.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V6N1 (October 2002)
and was posted online on December 27, 2013


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