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Small Arms Data by Wire (SADW): March 2002

By Nick Steadman

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.

Issue No 55 - December 2001
An Electronic Publication from:
Tel : 01273-773362,
International +44-1273-773362
Fax: 01273-822078,
International +44-1273-822078

40mm Mk19 GRENADE LAUNCHER - NEW GD CONTRACT TRANCHE: the US DoD notified the following contract payment on 12 Dec 01:

‘General Dynamics Armament Systems, Inc., Burlington, Vt., is being awarded $13,743,118.40 as part of a $48,234,275 firm-fixed-price with two option periods contract for 880 MK19 Grenade Machine Guns. Work will be performed in by General Dynamic Armament Systems/Saco Operations, Saco, Maine and is expected to be completed by July 30, 2003. One bid was solicited on Nov. 6, 2000 and one bid was received. The contracting activity is the Tank and Automotive Command, Rock Island, Ill. (DAAE20-01-C-0090).’

Once all the US requirements for this launcher are completed, and given the new emphasis on the MAG58 rather than the Saco M60 GPMG - plus the appearance during the past decade of quite a number of foreign rivals to the now rather dated Mk19 - we assume the Saco GD activity will then be looking hard for new small arms contracts.

No news yet on where the lightweight Striker grenade launcher fits into all this - clearly the US forces are still content with the standard Mk19 for general applications, though we imagine the Striker and its programmable ammunition - though much more expensive - will continue to attract some interest from special forces.

HOME-MADE PALESTINIAN FIREARMS: a Reuters photo run by The Asian Age (5 Dec 2001) showed what were described as two ‘masked Palestinian gunmen’ in Nablus both armed with what appeared to be home-made SMGs. One weapon had a cut-down M16 buttstock, the other (a pig-ugly design with a very deep wooden stock, possibly adapted from a match air rifle) a buttstock probably taken from a Galil, together with a rudimentary M16-style carrying-handle.

Both had rear pistol grips and were fed from stick magazines (probably taken from 9mm Uzis) through the forward grip. The second gun looked quite businesslike, with a conventional wooden SMG stock, though the buttstock appeared to have been attached with duct tape.

Weapons seen with Middle-Eastern groups, particularly those waved by kids at protest rallies, are sometimes replicas or toys, but cocking handles, mainsprings and ejection slots were clearly visible in both cases, and we have no reason to believe these SMGs were non-functional mock-ups.

‘Cheap & cheerful’ jury-rigged SMGs would be relatively simple to make, but this is the first pictorial evidence we’ve ever seen that the Palestinians have built any. Even if these home-made designs are not sophisticated enough to guarantee burstfire, single-shot capability is better than nothing.

During the Eoka campaign in Cyprus, the Greeks made their own 9mm Sten Guns, using lead pipe for barrels. They worked, but burstfire was impractical, since it would have melted the barrels. However, when the chips are down, anything that will fire a bullet is a bonus.

X-TREME GLOCKALIKES FROM SPRINGFIELD ARMORY: new from Springfield Armory for 2002 is the company’s X-Treme Duty range of striker-fired, polymer-framed pistols, which in appearance resemble a Sigarms P229 slide mounted on a Glock frame, right down to the sub-trigger safety mechanism pioneered by Glock.

However, in addition there’s an M1911-style grip safety, something we must confess we’ve never much liked. Trigger pull is 5.5 to 7.7 pounds. These weapons are being offered in 9x19mm, .40 S&W and .357 SIG calibres, all with 4” barrels, and will cost $489. You can even order online.

The forged slides sport cocking grooves front & rear, dual recoil springs are used, frames incorporate an accessory rail on the forward underside, the steel sights are fixed (but dovetailed) and two ‘easyglide’ magazines (10-rounds for private sales, 12-15-rounds for official purchasers) are supplied.

Magazine release buttons are ambidextrous and there are both loaded chamber and cocking indicators. Weight is around 23 ounces. Fully-adjustable and tritium night sights are on the way.

Do we assume Glock’s patents & trademarks have now expired? We ask since Glock went ballistic on the legal front some years ago when Smith & Wesson introduced its Sigma series pistols, but since then there have been a number of other Glockalikes, including the Australian Felk and the Steyr polymer-framed pistols which were actually designed by a former Glock engineer.

Glock has certainly made its mark on pistol thinking in the USA, and they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the cloners always have the advantage, since they can incorporate useful extra features lacking in the original designs.

IDF ORDERS MORE NEGEV LMGs: a JDW short on 5 Dec 2001 said that the Israel Defence Force had ordered 5.56mm Negev LMGs from IMI, to the value of $8 million, to equip all its infantry & armoured units. However, we assume this is actually a follow-on contract, since Israeli sources suggest full-scale deployment of the Negev actually began in 1997. Presumably the order will be welcome news though for IMI’s small arms plant, which was previously under threat of imminent closure.

WINCHESTER .50 SNIPER ROUND: for years after the .50 Barrett rifle had become commonplace in military circles we used to check once a year to see whether Olin had yet come up with a sniper-grade cartridge in this calibre. Always the answer was the same - the likely market is probably too small.

Evidently not anymore. A year or so ago Olin finally announced a specialist .50 cartridge designated LRSA (Long Range Sniper Ammunition), but the new round is still only being offered to military customers at this time. It’s loaded with a special ‘open tip’ 750gr solid brass BT projectile turned on Swiss screw machines. Its central portion rides the bore, while larger diameter sections at the base and shoulder engage the rifling, like driving bands. The deep nose cavity helps shift the C of G towards the rear of the bullet.

The .50 LRSA is claimed to only a third the price of the Mk211 MP round (made under licence from Raufoss), but has a trajectory closely. matched to the Norwegian cartridge. As we recall, MP costs more than eight dollars a shot.

Average extreme spread claimed for LRSA at 600 yards from a 36” test barrel is 7.58”, compared to 12.3” for MP. And at 100 yards it’s claimed sub-MOA five-shot groups have been obtained with the LRSA cartridge.


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