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Small Arms Data by Wire (SADW): August 1999

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. Each issue is full of insight and information for those with an interest in Small Arms, as well as his observations on world travel.

1. WEAPONS, EQUIPMENT, TRAINING& ORGANISATIONAL NEWS

LAKE CITY 1962 MATCH - TIME TO SAY GOODBYE?: Col Jeff Cooper recently noted that some batches of 1962-vintage Lake City 7.62mm NATO Match ammunition were showing evidence of ‘primer decay’, and he suggested stocks should now be expended, though not on any critical requirements.

LEMAG MAG-15 CONVERSION: new this year from LeMAG Firearms in Michigan is the MAG-15 .45 calibre conversion, intended for AR-15s, M16s, Mini-14s and other weapons designed to fire the 5.56mm cartridge or derivatives thereof. It is also compatible with the Ruger Mini-30. The .45 Professional cartridge used in the conversion is based on the .284 Win case with .500” diameter body and .473 (.308 Win) rim, firing 230 gr pistol bullets (FMJ flatpoint or JHP) at claimed velocities in excess of 3,000 fps.

Of these, the FMJ is claimed to be effective against vehicles and walls and the JHP is said to break up on impact, making it preferable for police and home defence purposes, since it’s unlikely to penetrate structural materials, though it will deliver high levels of blunt trauma to anyone protected by ballistic vests. LeMAG says the 20, 30 or 40 round magazines for M16-series weapons will respectively hold 8-9, 12-13 or 17-18 rounds of .45 Professional ammunition. Winchester will reportedly manufacture the cartridge cases and LeMag will load the ammunition.

By the way, when converted, the Ruger Mini-14/Mini-30 series weapons are separately designated Mini Mag-14. LeMAG claims superior ‘improved’ steels are used in the barrels for all the conversions. A customised AR-15 shown had a substantial muzzle brake and a thumbhole stock (LeMAG, Tel/Fax (248) 634-1312).

SIERRA INFINITY BALLISTIC SOFTWARE: latest bulletmaker to come up with its own ballistic software is Sierra, with a $39.95 Windows 95/98/NT program called Infinity, on CD-ROM. It is for calculating exterior ballistics and offers multiple trajectory charts & graphics plus the ability to calculate point-blank range, zero, uphill/downhill corrections, maximum range and other readings.The accompanying bullet library includes projectiles from Sierra and other bullet/ammunition manufacturers. You’ll need a 486 or higher PC with recommended minimum 16Mb RAM, 5Mb free disk space, a CD-ROM drive, pointing device, soundcard, speakers or headset, plus a colour VGA or higher display. For $59.95 you can obtain Infinity complete with Sierra’s 4th edition Rifle & Pistol reloading manual, also on CD-ROM. (http://www.sierrabullets.com, e-mail: sierra@sierrabullets.com)

EXTENDED RANGE FOR LATEST NIGHT VISION KIT: a report by CNN on new night vision technologies demonstrated to US & NATO personnel in Apr 99 at Fort AP Hill in Virginia said that $3,000 prototype forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) heat-sensing devices shown were up to 50% more powerful than the previous generation of these sensors and, in ‘near darkness’, could detect the outlines of T-72 tanks and US armoured vehicles to ranges of as much as 6,000 metres.

SERBIAN CROSSBOWS MADE BY BARNETT: we mentioned in an earlier issue that Serbian special forces had been photographed carrying crossbows. Another photo, in Newsweek (3 May 99), showed one of these scope-equipped weapons clearly marked with the Barnett brand name. Barnett International is a British firm.

PAUZA RIFLES - STATE OF PLAY: recent national press reports in the USA stated that Pauza Specialties, the Texas-based manufacturer of .50 calibre rifles, ‘went out of business’ some time in 1998. We recently contacted Pauza, who stated that the P-50 semi-automatic is ‘not in production at this time’. The company’s designer Bob Pauza is however still working on a couple of projects and negotiating possible license agreements.

H&K .45 UMP SUBMACHINE GUN: some novel features of this gun, which will cost just short of $900, as per recent coverage in Jane’s IDR:-

a. Tungsten powder is used in the bolt to reduce ‘rebound’, which we assume has the effect of depressing the cyclic rate, listed as 700 rpm. This will, in turn, improve control.

b. There is a firing pin block, which is an unusual feature on an SMG, but we noted this was one of the modifications Ruger insisted upon in the transformation of Uzi Gal’s Gal-Tech 201 into the Ruger MP9.

In this latter case we don’t think it is an operational bonus, since it makes it harder to fire short bursts, as the trigger breaks further back. However, with frivolous liability suits so rampant in the USA, we can kind of understand why it was adopted.

c. Despite the polymer receiver, the rated life of the UMP is reportedly 100,000 rds, assisted by a buffer for the bolt at the rearward end of its travel.

d. A rubber cheekpiece has been incorporated to improve operator comfort and allow maintenance of the proper cheek weld.

e. The UMP will also reliably consume the high-powered .45 Super ammunition without modification.

Semi-auto versions are coming, and a variety of three & four-position trigger groups will be offered for the military & police guns.

INSAS DEPLOYMENT STATUS: JDW reported the Indian army’s Director General Infantry as saying that about 30,000 of the indigenously-developed 5.56mm INSAS rifles and 20,000 LMG variants have so far been issued to replace the 7.62x51mm NATO 1A1 rifle (locally-produced FN FAL). However, there have been substantial delays getting these new weapons into the field, and it sounds as it it may be a while yet before the whole of India’s army of two million is equipped. We note that in recent years the Indian MOD has been compelled to purchase two lots of 100,000 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov rifles, one from Bulgaria, the other from Romania, to meet pressing needs.

The INSAS is essentially based on a Kalashnikov mechanism, but with a number of features copied from Western weapons, such as the SIG-style translucent magazines, G3-style cocking handle and FAL-style buttstock & carrying handle. It also has conventional aperture sights like the Galil.

We’ve already mentioned 7.62x54mm Dragunov SVD sniper rifles spotted with Indian troops, and it’s clear from JDW comments that these are a new issue. Units being equipped with the SVDs include those which are fighting Kashmiri separatists. The magazine also says Indian battalions are to receive hand-held GPS units, new ballistic helmets and multi-role hand/rifle grenades.

OLYMPIC ARMS INTRODUCTIONS: new for 1999 is the 5.56mm PCR7 rifle, an M16-lookalike with 17” barrel but a full-length M16A2 handguard in order to keep the sight radius as long as possible. It’s fitted with a new multi-perforated muzzle compensator. There’s also a new OA98 AR-15 ‘pistol’ which features extensive lightening (it’s mostly holes!) to get it down to 14.6 ounces, below the legal limit of 15ozs.

BALL & CHAIN: we’ve received very recent reports that fully-armed troops are still heavily in evidence in Paris as part of the French government’s ongoing ‘terrorist’ precautions. They’re at the Eiffel Tower and even travel in groups on the Metro, with fingers on the trigger. Interestingly though, the powers-that-be are clearly concerned about losing the odd FAMAS or two - so the rifles are actually chained to the troops’ belts!

.45-70 ENFIELD No 4; here’s an odd one, profiled in New Gun Week. Navy Arms in the USA has prototyped a new .45-70 rifle based on the .303” Enfield No 4, with 18” or 22” barrel, commercial walnut or Zytel furniture, new sporting open sights and (eventually) six-round capacity using an insert in the original .303” magazine. Prototypes are single-shot. Likely retail price will be $375.
‘ALTERNATIVES’ TO ANTI-PERSONEL MINES: an item in Signal (AFCEA’s journal) said that Alliant Techsystems and Textron would be proposing technologies for three ‘tactical munitions’ concepts presented to the US Army’s ARDEC R&D centre as alternatives to anti-personnel landmines, which the US military is disposing of by 2006. No clues were given as to what these alternatives might actually comprise, though - whatever they are - 2004 may see one of them fielded. Presumably they won’t be remotely mine-like, or they would breach the Ottawa Convention - though since the US hasn’t signed up to the mine ban, maybe not.

FBI MAJOR BEAMHIT BUY: SHOT Business reported that the FBI is buying Beamhit Laser Marksmanship Training Systems (LMTS) for all its field divisions; this equipment is apparently already in use at the Quantico FBI Academy. It added that the FBI & DEA both use a new Glock DA Trainer, licensed from Beamhit, with the LMTS, allowing Glock triggers to be re-set between shots without the slide first having to be racked.

FRONT SIGHT, NEVADA: an upcoming new Nevada community plan profiled by AP in Apr 99 sounds just the place for dispossessed European shooters to head for.

The Front Sight development, ten miles from Pahrump and midway between Las Vegas and Death Valley (California), will be a private 550-acre estate incorporating 177 one-acre lots for custom homes, 350 town homes, a school, community centre, airstrip.........plus 13 shooting ranges, a SWAT tower and other weapon training facilities. The Nevada development is the brainchild of the owner of the existing Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in Bakersfield (California), founded in 1996, which has generated the necessary funds for the new venture.

According to AP, the first new Front Sight residents will be welcomed by the end of next year. Ranges and training accommodation are being built now, but for the time being the dusty Nevada plot, where training began in Jan 99, is home only to some tented classrooms.

Nevada is well-known as a more gun-friendly state than California and still allows Class 3 weapons. AP said the residential accommodation will be in Nye County, with the ranges in neighbouring Clark County. You can only obtain a Front Sight plot by buying special categories of membership, at prices ranging up to $200,000, which also covers training.

The concept is interesting, since it is not greatly dissimilar to Col Jeff Cooper’s original Raven-Gard plan at Gunsite, which was to encourage former students to build properties on plots surrounding the Paulden range complex to prevent encroachment by ‘hostiles’.

GLOCK THREE-SHOT BURST CONVERSION?: a Denver Post report on illegal guns on the city’s 16th Street Mall quoted street claims that Glock pistols were popular ‘because they can be turned into ‘Baby 9s’, which spit three bullets with a single pull of the trigger’. This is news to us. If any reader knows more about this apparent burstfire conversion, please let us know.

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