Small Arms Data by Wire (SADW): July 1998

By Nick Steadman


As touched upon in our SHOT Show 98 report, CATCO Inc. in the USA is offering semi-auto Indian 9mm SA-2 MkII Sten Guns (‘Sten rifles’) with extended barrels, new machined receivers & semi-auto parts plus some Indian components at $599 dealer (5 extra mags for $39.95).

Standard length barrel versions (semi-auto) are available to Class 3 licence holders. And a CATCO receiver & semi-auto parts kits is sold for self-assembly using purchasers’ own Sten MkII surplus parts kits (not supplied) at $299 dealer. As at end-Jan 98, the first 100 ‘Sten Rifles’ had already been shipped, with more to follow. A .40 S&W version was also likely.

CATCO also sells no-gunsmithing scope mounts for SMLE, Enfield No 4 and Indian 7.62mm NATO Ishapore 2-A rifles, plus two-shot magazine extenders (base units) for Makarov, High-Power, CZ-75 & Witness, Beretta 92/Taurus and Glock pistols. By the by, we’re told Gibbs Rifle Co. imported 67,000 of the Ishapore 2-A rifles into the USA, and Century Arms another 6,000 to 7,000.

(CATCO Inc., 1325 Imola Avenue W, #5045, Napa, CA 94559, USA, Tel (707) 253-8338, Fax (707) 253-7149. They also have an address at: 316 California Ave., #341N, Reno, NV 89509, USA, which appears to handle orders for everything but the Stens) (Tel/Fax nos. are the same as for Napa address)

HECKLER & KOCH MILITARY UPDATE: This year H&K Inc in the USA is also offering the 5.56mm G36 for US government & law enforcement sales (at prices from $932 downwards), plus an optional cheaper deal on the 7.62mm NATO PSG-1 semi-auto sniper rifle by dint of excluding the $2,000 Hensoldt 6x42mm scope and providing just the 30mm scope rings.

Other new intros include extended selector levers, (also ambidextrous versions), for MP5 & HK53 SMGs plus HK33 and G-3 series rifles. And the side-folding Choate buttstocks first seen on the MP5K PDW are now offered for standard MP5s, HK53s and HK33 models. H&K Oberndorf has apparently been making the MP5K PDW as a production item for two to three years now, and we understand H&K (UK) at Nottingham has now also commenced manufacture. The barrels are reportedly about 1.5” longer than those on the old standard MP5K and apparently have both 3-lug mountings and threads for suppressors.

Cartridge case deflectors with removable case collection bags are available for the MSG-90 semi-auto sniper rifle and H&K machine guns. And the 50-round G8 magazine can be supplied for any weapons accepting the standard G3 box magazine. Knight’s Armament Mk23 (SOCOM) and new USP45 Tactical screw-on suppressors are also listed, together with Eagle Discreet Carrying Cases & Shoulder Carry Rigs for SMGs & rifles.

SACO LIGHTWEIGHT 40MM AGL: National Defense magazine gave further details of the lightweight 40mm automatic grenade launcher which Saco Defense has recently admitted it has been developing. The magazine says the new launcher, reportedly designed by the late Gene Stoner, weighs only about 36 pounds, by comparison with 77 pounds for the Mk19, and has a slower rate of fire, at 250-300rpm, another feature - along with the closed-bolt mechanism and much heavier recoiling mass - intended to reduce dispersion.

It has been tested using standard ammunition, re-fuzed by Bofors to provide pre-programmable airburst capability which we believe may be similar to that of the 40mm 3P ammunition developed for the Bofors air defence gun. If so, this would most likely deliver an area burst pattern.

New software-controlled fire control equipment from Computing Devices in Canada incorporates a laser rangefinder, and the launcher has a detachable barrel. First burst (three round) hit probability of nearly 100% is being claimed. We hope to offer more details shortly.

US SOCOM is said to be taking an interest, but given general budget economies and the fact that the US forces are still - we believe - in the process of receiving issues of Saco’s standard Mk19 Mod 3 launchers, we’re not sure of the new model’s chances on the home front. It could however be an attractive export item, if the high-tech fuzing is affordable.

REMINGTON NIGHT VISION ADAPTER: Law enforcement accessories from Remington Arms Co now include the RB 9712 night vision scope adapter & monocular. It comes in two versions, Gen II+ (RB 9712A) and Gen III+ (RB 9712B). Weight is under two pounds and battery life with AAA cells an average of 63 hours. Estimated tube lives are 2000+ hrs (Gen II+) and 10,000+ hrs (Gen III+).

Users have the option of attaching the device (via a snap-on mount) to the scope eyepiece of their chosen precision rifle, or it can optionally be used as a hand-held night vision monocular. With appropriate mounts it can be attached to single-lens reflex or video cameras, not to mention spotting scopes. For rifle mounting, extra high scope rings are required to allow easy bolt clearance.


US TO RESCIND ALL EUROPE EXPORT LICENCES?: As the May 98 G8 Summit meeting in Birmingham (UK) approached, a major US flap blew up, apparently out of the blue, over firearms export licences to Britain & Europe.

Press reports said the US had ‘discovered’ that its own export controls had no effect on what happened to weapons on arrival in Europe, and Washington was unhappy at guns being legally exported from Europe to countries to which the US would rather they didn’t go.

Reportedly, neither the UK nor the EU enforces what was described as a US government requirement that re-export of American weapons must first be approved by Washington, and European ‘law enforcement officials’ (at Interpol, it seems) apparently felt powerless.

However, this US restriction, which requires the completion of a State Department Form DSP-83 (end-user certificate) is only relevant to military, not (excepting large consignments) commercial exports, which - from the thrust of the press reports - are the chief subject here.

The exports story first appeared in the New York Times and was widely picked up thereafter. It was alleged that ‘thousands’ of ‘high-powered and semi-automatic’ (note the emotive language) US pistols & rifles had found their way to Rwanda, the Balkans, Algeria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran and to criminal elements elsewhere.

Reportedly there are 250 licences for UK companies still in the mill, covering 14,000 handguns, and the NY Times said the US State Department was considering revoking them all. US London embassy communications were also cited, alleging that the EU was not supporting US firearms controls.

Whatever individual officials in US or European law enforcement agencies might think, the EU itself seems unlikely to welcome Washington wielding a big stick on this issue, particularly since it would directly impact the ability of countries like the UK to sell freely to EU partner states within the ‘common market’.

But it gets worse. The NY Times said that Washington was also pondering the revocation of handgun export approvals to all EU countries, citing outstanding licences to Germany (over 84,000 weapons), France (nearly 23,000) and Italy (almost 19,000).

It was suggested that guns exported to all these states had gone on to other destinations - the Turks, for example, had complained that the Kurds had received guns from Germany, where handguns were allegedly often trans-shipped immediately on first arrival at ports.

The report mentioned a number of UK small arms exports, to Indonesia, Turkey & Sri Lanka, all places the US would typically have refused to supply, and implied that British weapon exports to the UAE, Oman & Qatar could end up in Iraq or Iran.

It even questioned UK exports to the Channel Islands, Singapore & Malta because these were (but so what?) ‘Offshore banking & trading hubs’. And sales to Italy, Spain, Portugal & Greece were criticised because all these countries have ‘long sea borders’ and an alleged reputation for smuggling. However, the story was short on hard evidence as to exactly what proportion of weapons supplied out of European countries were actually of American origin, which is the only aspect on which the US government can expect other states to accept that Washington has any legitimate say.

If the US State Department, the FBI or Interpol actually wanted to make some progress on this matter, they have chosen a very unfortunate way to advance it. Collectively, the allegations in the NY Times report make a case not only for the US to cease exporting firearms at all, but for the rest of the world to follow suit. Clearly, this is quite unrealistic and isn’t going to happen. It is also pretty rich stuff coming from the USA, which is the world’s largest producer, consumer and importer of firearms of every type.

We can now safely expect that the US ‘disclosures’ will become the focus for frenzied activity at and around the G8 Summit by non-governmental organisations with an ‘arms control’ axe of one sort or another to grind. The US administration should bear in mind the implications for its own manufacturing industry. Though US commercial firearms exports are not huge in relation to production & imports, they are nevertheless significant for a number of companies, for example Remington, USRAC, Mossberg and Smith & Wesson.

A general cancellation of export licences would have a major impact on distributors, dealers and shooters throughout Europe, since it would presumably affect all American rifles, shotguns, handguns and associated ammunition. Though there are alternatives closer to home, many are much more expensive. And any arbitrary government action which hits US producers and damages their business is an issue on which we would also expect the American NRA to take a strong line. More later when the Birmingham summit meeting has come & gone.

Incidentally, the NY Times stated without qualification that Conjay Arms in the UK bought 1,600 ‘handguns’ from a US company in February, and since this was around the time all handguns were finally banned in the UK the paper says US and British ‘officials’ (but who?) concluded the guns were bound for a third country. There’s only one thing about this aside - it’s strenuously denied by Conjay, which has assured us (& the NY Times) categorically that it never made such a buy.

(nb: whilst the NY Times chiefly used the term ‘handgun’ in its article, we’re not sure if that’s actually what is meant - it could have become shorthand for ‘hand-held weapons’ (aka ‘small arms’) in general).

UK GOVERNMENT RESPONSE: On 21 Apr 98 the UK Foreign Office issued a response to the reported threat of US firearms export approvals being rescinded, stating (inter alia) that:

‘The British government fully shares US concerns over the proliferation of small arms. Any import of controlled firearms from the US requires a valid import licence. Export licence applications to export weapons from the UK are subject to the UK’s normal export controls. Transfers within the EU are subject to the EC Weapons Directive. We will not licence for export equipment which might be used for international aggression or internal repression.’

We interpret this response as coded language intended to reassure the US of the UK’s good intentions while suggesting to Washington that the UK and Europe have their own quite adequate controls, which do not require US oversight. The FO did not appear to have picked up on the confusion twixt military & commercial weapons.

.303” UK AMMUNITION SELL-OFF: Those in the UK seeking supplies of .303” ammunition from UK MOD surpluses - including the relatively recent Greek stock from Pyrkal - will, we’re afraid, most likely be disappointed. The MOD offered 4.5m rounds to Royal Ordnance, including ball, blank and bulleted blank (for Bren LMGs), and the last 3m of this consignment were sold overseas in a job lot to Century International. It is not thought any more .303” stock will be disposed of, but Royal Ordnance is checking.

PIRATED GECO 9MM AMMO: An item in Deutsches Waffen-Journal said that forgeries of Dynamit Nobel’s commercial Geco 9mm ball ammunition existed, distinguishable by poor quality printing on the packaging and by different coloured lacquers used for neck and primer sealant - red for genuine DN 9mm, violet for the copies. Cartridge cases also differ in color from the originals, likewise the bases of the bullets. Headstamp dates are 1969.The article did not discuss comparative performance or indicate the likely source of the forgeries, but you can probably envisage the same list of potential culprits as we can. China or the former Soviet bloc are likely to be the leading candidates. Our German sources tell us that forgeries of Dynamit Nobel’s RWS Meisterkugeln airgun pellets have also been seen.

Itar-Tass said at the beginning of April 98 that a total ban was being imposed on imports of guns and ammunition into Mongolia while the authorities put through new legislation to regulate the trade. Last year, licences were granted to import 5,000+ firearms and 21m rounds of ammunition.

SIGARMS ACADEMY: Like Smith & Wesson and H&K Inc before it, Sigarms Inc in the USA now has its own ‘firearms academy’, offering training for ‘the armed professional’ in pistol, shotgun & rifle handling, weapon retention, concealed carry, officer survival etc. Armourer and instructor training are also provided.

(Contact: Sigarms Academy, Corporate Park, Exeter, NH 03833, USA, Tel (603)679-2003, Fax (603)679-1639, WWW - http://www.sigarms.com)

NZ PM PLAYS DOWN GUN CONTROL ISSUE: The New Zealand PM, Jenny Shipley, warned against hysteria in the debate on possible further gun controls in her country, pointing out that people - not guns - kill people. The government is currently still studying a report, which has now been on the table quite some time, that recommended new measures including registration and a buyback of military-style weapons.

We’d very much like Ms Shipley to meet PM Blair in the UK and gently explain to him the facts of life - chiefly that scapegoating legal gun owners will not halt firearms crime, but instead creates overnight a large number of implacable political opponents.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N10 (July 1998)
and was posted online on March 31, 2017


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