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Small Arms Data by Wire (SADW): May 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

BM59s FROM COLLECTORS’ ARMORY: newest venture from Collectors’ Armory in the USA is its 7.62mm NATO BM59/62-99 rifle. The BM59 is the Italian 7.62mm conversion of the M1 Garand, and the components (less the unimportable receivers) of the rifles now to be offered in the US are coming from a batch of some 5,000 weapons in Argentina which had been converted over there to BM59E (full auto) standard. Collectors’ Armory has now found a manufacturer (Ramo) for the new (semi-auto) receivers who may also be prepared to take over the whole BM59/62-99 programme on its behalf.

5.56mm BOLTHEADS FOR No 4 ENFIELDS: Graig M Whitsey (Gunmakers) Ltd, a firm in Arundel (UK) is offering replacement 5.56mm/.223 Rem boltheads for No 4 Lee-Enfield rifles, with integral extractor & ejector, obviating the need for any modification to the receiver. Target shooting with 5.56mm is still in its relative infancy in the UK, but can be expected to develop steadily as better weapon designs and more accurate ammunition appear. Apart from anything else, if you’re a reloader, the powder charge is half the price of that required for 7.62mm NATO (UK contact Tel (01903) 883102, Fax (01243) 820673).

CROSSBOWS WITH YUGOSLAV SPECIAL FORCES: a very clear Reuters photo in the Independent at the end of Jan 99 showed a couple of members of the Yugoslav (Serbian) army special forces, riding in a vehicle. They were armed with 9mm MP5s, wearing Kalashnikov magazine pouches, and one was also holding a crossbow equipped with a telescopic sight. We’re aware the South Korean special forces use crossbows, and the UK has reportedly also done so in the past, though they seem an odd alternative to a suppressed firearm.

SUPPRESSED WEAPONS FOR EUROGUARDS: a Cybershooters item, quoting from the European Voice, said that suppressed sniper rifles with telescopic sights had been purchased by the European Commission in Brussels for use by its ‘security guards’. The writer suggested the disclosures raised some interesting questions regarding the legal relationship between these armed guards (who are presumably private citizens from a legal standpoint) and the Belgian police. In fact, the whole question of EU security is currently a closed book to all voters in member countries.

INDONESIANS JUMPY ABOUT CATAPULTS: Reuters said in early Jan 99 that police in Indonesia had discovered a training centre at a university near Jakarta where students were being taught how to use catapults (US - slingshots) against the security forces. Police said they had uncovered a plan to import large quantities of catapults for this purpose from the USA and Canada, including US ‘wrist rockets’, which the authorities claimed were almost as effective as a .45 pistol, though we can guess which the police would prefer to have in their holsters.

SOUTH AFRICAN SMART GUN: the Pretoria News said that the South African Department of Arts, Culture, Science & Technology’s National Innovation Fund was supporting 19 new projects over the next three years to the tune of nearly Rand 97m. Among these projects, which are aimed at improving crime, health & the environmental situation in South Africa, is an ‘intelligent firearm’ (aka Smart Gun), designed to respond only to a personalised signal, which could be a code, voice, fingerprint or retinal scan, and maybe only for a prescribed period, such as the shift worked by a security guard. It might also be capable of recording the time & date it is fired and the exact location of the weapon at that instant. We suspect the developers have been reading about similar ideas from Colt & Metal Storm. The story surprised our South African sources, who didn’t think the government had any spare money for projects like this.

STONER SR-50 SITREP: Knight’s Manufacturing was hoping to ship the first 100 production units of its .50 semi-automatic SR-50 rifle by May 99. This Gene Stoner design is best described as an upscaled M16 derivative, using a similar gas impingement mechanism working against the bolt carrier.

Refinements now include a one-piece tubular receiver with stiffening rails top & bottom, a straight-line gas tube system, two large securing lugs for the quick-detach barrel and a bolt hold-open setting on the change lever. The SR-50’s buttstock is also to be encased in a sorbothane tube for firer comfort. The side-mounted magazines will come in five and eight-round sizes and the two-stage trigger can be factory or user set. At the time we last spoke with the company, .50 rifle designer Charles Poff (best known under the American Arms & Ordnance Inc (AAO) name) had been working on the SR-50 with Knight’s Manufacturing for the best part of a year. Poff is still able to pursue his own bolt-action .50 AAO repeaters.

BLACK HILLS AMMUNITION ACTIVITY: Black Hills Ammunition in Rapid City (South Dakota) reports that it has secured the three-year contract to supply custom-loaded 5.56mm match ammunition to the USMC. It is produced to an overall length which permits magazine feeding in the M16A2 and loaded with a moly-coated 73gr Berger hollow-point bullet. The Marine Corps specified that the chosen load must deliver an average group of 2” or less with five consecutive ten-shot strings at 300 yards. It is used in competitive events out to 600 yards. Black Hills first supplied this ammunition in 1998 on a non-contract basis, and the Marines have used it to win several team and individual matches.

Separately, the US Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) has renewed its contract with Black Hills for the supply of 5.56mm long-range target ammunition loaded with the 80gr Sierra MatchKing. The ten-shot grouping requirement is below 0.6 MOA at 300 metres. Because of the overall length of the loaded cartridge, it must be manually loaded in the M16A2. Reportedly this 5.56mm load in the M16A2 will repeatedly outshoot the 7.62mm NATO M14. Black Hills first supplied the AMU with the 80gr loading in 1997; prior to that the army handloaded its own supplies.

Separately, there’s a new commercial 5.56mm Black Hills load with 62gr FMJ bullet, intended for faster-twist barrels. It can be supplied built from all-new components or in reloaded cases. MV is 3,150fps. There are now a dozen Black Hills factory loads developed for ‘cowboy action shooting’ events. The latest are the .44 Colt and .45-70 Government. The .44 Colt ($24.45 per 50 retail) is loaded in Starline cases with a 230gr RN flatpoint bullet at 730fps, and can also be fired in SA revolvers chambered for .44 Spl or .44 Magnum.

The .45-70 round ($21.95 per 20 retail), has a 405gr cast lead bullet with an MV of 1,250fps. Cases are a special heavy-duty Starline variety, 20grs heavier than other brands. It’s suitable for any modern weapons designed for smokeless powders, including replica Trap Door rifles.

Other Black Hills ‘cowboy’ calibres, all with plain lead bullets and packaged in period-look boxes, are .357, .38-40, .44-40, .45 Long Colt, .32-20, .44 Spl, .45 Schofield, .38 Spl, .38 Long Colt & .44 Russian. Black Hills also makes a range of military & law enforcement ‘specials’ in .308 calibre, not all of which appear in its commercial catalogues. They include .308 Subsonic for suppressed weapons, a .308 Minimal Penetration round which penetrates less than 12” of ballistic gelatine, plus a ‘superior’ .308 Match round using the Hornady 168gr BT Match bullet. A .308 Glass Penetration round is in development. The company now even has its own BHA headstamp (Contact e-mail: bha@black-hills.com, http://www.black-hills.com/)

B&T SUPPRESSORS FOR RECOIL-OPERATED PISTOLS: Bruegger & Thomet in Switzerland has become a significant player in the suppressed weapons market in recent years. It also supplies Heckler & Koch. One of its lines is the Impuls family of detachable muzzle suppressors for pistols, solving the functioning problems traditionally encountered with silencing of short-recoil handguns.

The Impuls design incorporates a special spring-mounted chamber at the rear of the suppressor which helps generate sufficient rearward impulse to operate the slide. There is a choice of the Impuls I, a basic model good for 100 rounds before cleaning, the Impuls II, which has a separate recoil chamber and rotating lock allowing the user to select quieter locked-breech operation if desired, plus the Impuls III, basically an Impuls II with an additional rubber wipe near the muzzle to augment suppression.
(http://www.bruegger-thomet.com/, E-mail: bruto@ibm.net)

SIMPLE SIMON’S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR: Jane’s IDR reported that, following a recent US army/USMC MOUT (urban warfare, or FIBUA in UK parlance) technology demonstration, a number of new equipments and stores would be purchased, most significantly Rafael’s ‘Simon’, a ‘breaching system’ from Israel, muzzle-launched from the M16 rifle. Simon is a hollow-charge munition offered in several ‘strengths’; Simon 50 blows windows, Simon 150 does for doors and Simon 300 makes holes in walls. Maximum stand-off range for firing is stated as 40 metres. Round dimensions were given as 357mm long by 100mm in diameter, with a one-off cost of $1,600, but half that sum in quantity. General stores being adopted include Tuff Cuffs and slash-resistant gloves and ‘sleeves’.

From the illustration accompanying the IDR report, it would appear that Simon can be used from quite close to the target, so we assume the vast majority of its target effects are focused forwards. But we’re not sure why something like this should be needed to blow out windows. Against doors & walls we assume it is an alternative to linear cutting charges.

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