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Small Arms Data by Wire (SADW): May 1998

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.

NEW WEAPONS & EQUIPMENT

DENEL BOLT-ACTION RIFLES

Now that the US/South African arms import/export spat is finally resolved, expect to see initial batches of Denel-manufactured Musgrave-style bolt-action sporting rifles appearing in the U.S.A. We’re told the barrels are particularly good.

H-S PRECISION M700 REM DETACHABLE MAGAZINES & NEW PISTOLS:

H-S Precision in South Dakota has finally introduced its long-awaited detachable magazine and trigger guard housing for Remington M700 rifles. The units are all-stainless and come in four-round short-action (.308” etc) and three-round long-action (Magnum case) versions. Retail price is $145. The company has also launched two Pro-Series 2000P single-shot bolt-action pistols, in Varmint (wide forearm) and Silhouette variants, both based on an H-S Precision stainless receiver, 15” fluted stainless H-S barrel, titanium firing pin and a composite H-S stock (also available separately) which retains the company’s integral bedding bar system employed in the US army’s M24 sniper rifle and Remington M700 Police & Varmint Synthetic rifles. Barrels & receivers are both Teflon coated.

Calibres are .17 Rem, 6mm PPC, .223, .35 Rem, .308, 7mm-08 and 7mm BR. Pistol price is $1,250 (stocks only $245). Tel +1(605) 341-3006, Fax +1(605) 342-8964)

FEDERAL AMMO INTRODUCTIONS

New 1998 ammunition lines from Federal Cartridge include:-
--- reduced-recoil 12g & 20g Personal Defense shotgun cartridges (2.75”) with No 2 pellet load.
--- reduced-recoil 12g (2.75”) Tactical 000 eight-ball copper-plated buckshot (1,140fps)
--- reduced-recoil Tactical 12g (2.75”) Hydra-Shok one-ounce Slug (1,300fps) (also offered on civil market as the Premium low-recoil slug load)
--- Premium Tungsten Iron No 4 shot 12g turkey loading (3”) (1,300fps). 1 3/8 ounce
--- new Premium Barnes Expander Sabot Slug loads in 12g (2.75”) - slug is copper-plated HP, one ounce. Designed for rifled tubes. MV 1,450fps. Groups to 2.5” at 100 yds
--- .223/5.56mm BallistiClean loads with non-toxic priming & lead-free zinc-core bullets. 40gr soft-point & stranded core versions offered, both suitable for police (& military!) training

.22RF KIT for SIG-SAUER P226

Deutsches Waffen-Journal (DWJ) profiled a prototype model of a new .22 rimfire training conversion kit for the 9mm SIG-Sauer P226 pistol and its German police P6 variant, developed by Schuetzenbedarf & Waffen in Offenbach, Germany. Projected price is DM 1,165. The kit comprises a new blowback Lothar Walther barrel, slide, recoil spring and 10-shot magazine, though our German sources said (at mid-Jan 98) the magazines were not yet available in production quantities. The front underlug of the slide forms part of the barrel in this kit, clearly a measure to boost felt recoil effects. IWM’s tester reported malfunction-free performance in all circumstances, except with some very weakly-loaded indoor practice cartridges (Zimmerpatronen), and recoil with high-velocity .22LR ammunition was not dissimilar to that of 9x19mm. 25 metre rested groups were under 50mm.

(Schuetzenbedarf & Waffen (Oliver Pfeiffer), Siemensstrasse 9, 63071 Offenbach, Germany)

.222 SSS RIMFIRE SYSTEM (MEXICO)

Industrias Tecnos in Mexico, producers of Aguila ammunition, have developed a new .222 SSS rimfire cartridge. One application (there may well be more) is for sniping out to 200 metres. The cartridge comprises a .22 Short case loaded with a long 60gr unplated solid lead roundnose bullet (not hollow-pointed) which brings the overall length of the round to that of the .22 Long Rifle. For sniping, the new round is intended for use in a suppressed .22 precision rifle with 30mm diameter 8x56mm scope. The .22 SSS will apparently penetrate 10-12” of pine wood at 200 metres.

This is not the first time we have seen suppressed .22 rimfire rifles proposed for short-range sniping, though they would not be most people’s first choice. Selection of a 60gr bullet is presumably a device to gain the maximum downrange energy within the limitations of subsonic operation. We guess a high-energy propellant is used to get the necessary results from the diminutive .22 Short case.

BARRETT LIGHTWEIGHT .50 MACHINE GUN

Having toyed with this idea for some years, Ronnie Barrett of Barrett Firearms has finally confirmed it is his aim to start cutting metal on a new lightweight, belt-fed .50 machine gun design of his own, weighing about 35 pounds, by Christmas 1998.

CZECH-MADE M6 SCOUT RIFLE

In West Virginia we briefly examined one of the Springfield Armory M6 Scout rifles nowadays made for the US supplier by CZ Strakonice in the Czech Republic. These are reportedly rather hard to come by just now. The M6 is a rather agricultural-looking weapon, a break-barrel, over & under design with (in our case) the upper barrel in .22 Hornet calibre and the lower in .410 shot. A .22LR/.410 version also exists. Upper or lower barrels are selected by respectively pulling out or retracting a round-headed catch above the external hammer. Spare ammunition is stored under a soft plastic cover in the buttstock. Sights comprise a rear aperture and a blade foresight. The trigger is a horizontal bar underneath the small of the butt, and trigger pull is pretty bad, but recoil is modest, bearing in mind the minimal weight of the gun. The M6 was not tested for accuracy, mainly since it was pitch black outside at the time!

Overall, despite its appearance, the M6 is clearly a useful tool for its intended purpose, and works well. It would be a valuable item to have in the emergency kit of any vehicle, boat or plane. Our hosts had removed the trigger guard on this Scout to allow the gun to be folded to a more compact package, as earlier versions could be. However, the long trigger bar is then in such an exposed position that should the external hammer be cocked before closing the gun there is a chance it could be fired when gripping the butt to close the action. We therefore caution at all times against cocking this weapon until the breech is firmly closed.

CHINESE LIGHTWEIGHT 12.7mm MACHINE GUN

Details have been received regarding the Chinese QJZ89 12.7mm machine gun, which is the result of a lightening exercise apparently earlier applied also to the Chinese Type 77 & Type 85 guns in the same calibre. This QJZ89, a short recoil design, is equipped as standard with day and low light (night vision) optical sights and customarily fires AP and APIT ammunition. New ammunition natures include AP-Fragmentation and saboted AP. Total weight of the system is 26.5kg, which is claimed to be 47% lighter than the Type 77 gun and 27% lighter than the Type 85. It is primarily a ground-to-ground weapon but is also intended for use against helicopters.

SILVA’s FIGHTING KITE

Soldier magazine reveals that military compass suppliers Silva (UK) Ltd have come up with a new survival gizmo - the 2 square metre Skystreme inflatable kite, made from metallised fabric which is radar-reflective. It can also be illuminated using a Cyalume Light Stick, and comes with a 50m cord. When not required in its primary role, the kite can be worn as a thermal vest or inflated to act as a splint. It compresses into a pocket-sized package when not in use. All in all, it sounds as if Silva has come up with a winner here. But perhaps they should have made it edible too? Silva (UK) Ltd, Tel (01784) 471721. US Distributor is BE Meyers (1-800-327-5648). Manufacturer is Skystreme - http://www/skystreme.uk.net/

INDUSTRY & FOREIGN NEWS

UK LARGE-CALIBRE RIFLE TRIALS MOVE TO AUSTRALIA

Soldier magazine in the UK carried an item about the British army trials of .338 and .50 Browning weapons in pursuance of the UK’s Long-Range Large Calibre Rifle (LRLCR) programme. It showed the .338 and (for the first time) .50 rifles from Accuracy International, the .50 PGM Hecate II from France and the .50 Barrett M82A1 semi-automatic, all in snow and temperatures of -30 degs Celsius during Alaskan trials, courtesy of the US army’s Cold Region Test Center.

The report said the weapons (which strike us as a very limited selection) had already been tested in Kuwait, Brunei and the UK; they would now be going to Australia for final trials. We assume these are all locations to which RAF transports already fly at no extra cost. Likely role for the LRLCR, destined to equip the UK’s Joint Rapid Deployment Force, was described as ‘defensive’ - it was most likely to be used in circumstances where indiscriminate fire was out of the question......which sounds like a roundabout definition of a long-range countersniper weapon.

Clearly, since the army already uses smaller-calibre Accuracy International sniper rifles, there will be a product-loyalty thing going in respect of that producer’s new .50, though if rapid repeat-fire capability is required, the Barrett semi-auto would seem the only answer. But for pure portability the Barrett M95 bullpup would be even better.

BOZ .224 UPDATE

Further to our initial report on Civil Defence Supply’s BOZ .224 cartridge, based on a 10mm case necked down to 5.56mm, we understand that the company’s supply of Carl Gustaf 5.56mm AP bullets is now assured, so CDS will not need to produce its own. The Glock pistol is no longer being pursued as a host for this cartridge, because of difficulties ensuring satisfactory functioning, even with a light alloy slide. The recoil spring also has to be weakened, plus the striker spring, and this produces unreliable ignition. Instead, CDS is going for what it describes as a wide-frame M1911-style pistol frame allied with a linkless camming barrel and SIG-style lockup at the ejection cutout. Jungle wisdom actually suggests the name Tanfoglio. This pistol will be hammer-fired, with DA/SA trigger and decocker. Prototypes are now being made.

Fast rifle powder is still being used in the BOZ round; this provides the precise firing characteristics CDS is after, and faster-burning (pistol) powders would generate excessive backthrust. As at end-Jan 98, Heckler & Koch had yet to provide MP5/10 SMGs for BOZ conversion, but Bar-Sto in the USA will be making the .224 barrels. The testbed weapon for the BOZ conversion of the Colt Commando/SMG has already been seen - it has a gas block relocated nearer the breech plus a new magazine. Both the new pistols and the SMGs are also still to be chambered for .40 S&W. And CDS is still tinkering with a .40-based BOZ cartridge which would have wide applicability, but this is clearly a second priority.

DUAL STANDARDS

UK Prime Minister Blair is convinced of the efficacy of the UK handgun ban in making the nation a safer place. Or is he? An item in the Police Guardian reportedly states that a special team of 28 armed police bodyguards, issued with all the latest weaponry and day/night sighting systems, has been formed to protect Blair plus his home back in his Durham constituency 24 hours a day. By our reckoning that’s a whole platoon in army terms. The guy must be really popular.

BROLIN ACQUIRES MITCHELL ARMS ASSETS

In answer to the frequent question at the 1988 SHOT Show “Where is Mitchell Arms?”, New Gun Week says that Brolin Arms acquired the Mitchell Arms assets and is to offer Mitchell products itself, with Don Mitchell acting as a consultant.

UK MINE DISPOSAL TO BE ACCELERATED

At the end of Jan 98 the UK Defence Secretary announced an accelerated programme to destroy British stocks of one million anti-personnel mines, which will leave the UK forces with just 4,000 samples, to be used in EOD training. The minister, George Robertson said (and note our italics):

“Getting rid of these evil weapons is one of our main priorities. The Convention allows us four years to destroy them, but I am determined to show our commitment by reaching the target in less than half that time; two years from now. Our action today demonstrates how the UK has set its face against the use of these evil weapons which continue to cause suffering and distress to thousands of people around the world.”

Funny how what were formerly regarded as essential components of the army inventory are suddenly, in politico-speak ‘these evil weapons’, once there’s an international ban in place. Could it be a ‘holier than thou’ contest is upon us?

WHITE BOX 9MM MISFIRES

A professional trainer running shooting courses out West in the USA reports an unexpectedly high misfire quotient with current Federal ‘white box’ 9mm military ball ammunition used in Glock pistols, both new and well-used weapons.

UK SUPPORT WEAPON REQUIREMENT ANNOUNCED

The UK MOD has formally announced its requirement for replacement or enhancement of its 7.62mm NATO GPMG inventory in the Sustained Fire (SF) role, and is now seeking expressions of interest’ from industry by no later than 11 Mar 98. As we have reported before, the MOD is presently looking at MMGs, HMGs, lightweight cannon and automatic grenade launchers, but also welcomes additional ideas. It will require mounts, sights, ammunition and tools with any purchase. Something like 1,000 weapons are planned, to be in service by 2004.

(Contact Contracts Branch CB/ELWS2c, Tel (0117) 913-1375)

AUSTRIAN ARMY TO SHRINK BY 50%

Jane’s News Briefs noted that the coalition partners in the Austrian government had agreed that by the year 2000 the size of the Austrian army would be halved. Presumably this will throw up sizeable surpluses of AUGs.

THE FULL ULSTER TOLL

Gleaned from the Royal Ulster Constabulary statistics for deaths & injuries stemming from ‘The Troubles’, 1969-97

Killed - 3,234 (including 654 Army/UDR/RIR* and 2,279 civilians)
Injured - 40,652 (including 5,983 Army/UDR/RIR* and 26,144 civilians) (from 1968)
Shootings - 35,458
Bombs exploded or defuzed - 15,003
Armed robberies - 20,199 (from 1971 only)
Persons charged with terrorist offences - 17,802 (from mid-1972 only)
Firearms recovered - 11,395
Explosives recovered (kg) - 114,544
(Road deaths 1969-97) - 6,658
(Road injuries 1969-97) - 263,153

*(nb: UDR/RIR - Ulster Defence Regiment/Royal Irish Regiment)

The figures may help demonstrate to non-UK readers why Britain tends to look at the terrorist question in a rather different light from the rest of Europe - and particularly the USA - where those few domestic attacks that do occur are taken as a national affront and generate major public panic. However, the Ulster traffic accident data does help put even The Troubles in perspective.

30mm AGS-17 BARRETT ADAPTATION

Ronnie Barrett mentioned recently that he had in the past considered adapting his .50 M82A1 semi-automatic rifle, or something very similar, to fire the Russian 30mm AGS-17 grenade-launcher cartridge, but had not proceeded with the idea.

INDONESIAN INSTABILITY THREATENS AUSTRALIA

Asian Age ran an AFP report which said that Australian defence chiefs were considering changes to their regional strategy to take into account the possibility of Indonesia’s President Suharto being deposed in a popular uprising. Hitherto Indonesia had been seen by Australia, its closest neighbour, as a bastion of regional security, but the growing political unrest, levels of violence and the ongoing effects of the Asian financial crisis on the economy there could not be ignored.

EURO ARMS CURBS ATTACKED

Radio & press reports, including an AFP item run by The Asian Age, cited reactions to initial European Union discussions on the Anglo-French draft uniform code for approving arms exports. A key provision is the clause seeking to ensure that no EU country approves exports to a destination declined by another without first consulting the other state, but this is diluted by other terms which allow countries to do pretty much what they like in their own political or economic interests. Also, though the code seeks to deny arms exports to recipients who might use them for ‘internal repression’, there is another letout allowing sales of kit to protect security forces - a pretty wide definition.

Some human rights organisations would prefer there to be a presumption that goods will not be exported, with sellers having to make a persuasive case to prove why this presumption should be overridden, however this seems unlikely ever to fly. Press reports noted that the USA, unlike the UK, has since 1994 denied supplies of small arms and riot control equipment to Indonesia, and that loose European policies were at odds with US efforts to bolster controls.

M16s KILLED TURKISH GALIL DEAL?

Jane’s Foreign Report said that Israel lost the chance of selling the IMI Galil rifle to re-equip Turkish forces when visiting military staff from Turkey spotted that Israeli troops they met all still had US-made 5.56mm M16s.

THANKS FOR THE GUNS, BOSS

An AP item run by The Asian Age said that 243 prisoners at a jail in Honduras escaped, armed with stolen Kalashnikovs, after rioting and overpowering their guards. Sounds like a very good argument for not storing large quantities of firearms in prisons.

SINGLE 30mm GUN MOUNTING REPAIR CONTRACT

The UK MOD is to invite tenders for the repair of spares & sub-assemblies for the Single 30mm Gun Mounting. Dates still to be advised. Contact phone number (UK) is (0117) 913-9611.

FMS ON THE WANE

Defense News produced statistics to show that the US DoD’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme was shrinking steadily as more and more countries were resorting to direct purchasing instead.

CALCUTTA - POLICE WEAPONS UNSERVICEABLE

The Asian Age said that police in Calcutta have such a poor choice of weapons that they are vulnerable to terrorists active in this Indian city. The police were described as equipped largely with WW2 ‘muskets’, most of which are ‘beyond repair’ and a danger to the users. There are also a few rifles in each police station, plus Webley and S&W revolvers. Officers visit the range just once a year.

COLOMBIAN BODY ARMOUR BOOM

In a previous issue we highlighted the £8.6m set aside by Colombian politicos for 1998 to provide themselves with ballistic vests, armoured vehicles & bodyguards. Business Week has since profiled the ballistic protection business in Colombia, where violent deaths are running at 30,000 a year and there are thousands of kidnappings. One firm, Miguel Caballero Ltd, specialises in stylish armoured fashion clothing with concealed ballistic panels. It designs and armours all its own garments, which come complete with holsters, if required.

Caballero’s products are composite-armoured, using Kevlar & Twaron combined with Spectra to achieve weight savings of up to 50%. Prices range up to $1,000 for rifle-level protection. They also do minefield boots and apparently even had a query concerning armour to wear under a monk’s habit (is nothing sacred?). The company’s sales reportedly rose from $90,000 four years ago to $440,000 in 1996, and could hit $1m in 1997. Exports have boomed, with garments going to the USA, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Russia & South Korea.

FIRE FROM COVER WITH CLAWS

Jane’s Defence Weekly spotlighted the Compact Lightweight Armoured Weapon Station (CLAWS) developed by Kollmorgen and ordered by Turkey for trials on amphibious APCs. The system allows top-mounted weapons to be fired remotely via a CCTV monitor, with the operator remaining under cover. The report says CLAWS can be used to mount the .50 M2HB HMG, the 7.62mm NATO M60 GPMG, the 40mm Mk19 automatic grenade launcher and other weapons, including cannon. A photo was shown of a 40mm Mk19 with CLAWS on a Turkish APC. If required, the mount can also be stabilised independently of vehicle movement.

BULGARIANS MAKING DRAGUNOV

Our east bloc advisers tell us that Kazanlac Arsenal in Bulgaria is now making the Dragunov SVD sniper rifle, only in the original 7.62x54mm calibre.

NAGAS HAVE CATHOLIC SELECTION OF ARMS

A photo from India run by The Asian Age showed members of the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) forces toting an RPG, an AK, M16A1s, an M1 Carbine, an unidentified belt-fed GPMG plus an SMG bearing quite a close resemblance to the 9mm Uzi.

NO PISTOL TRAINING FOR MARINES

A letter in the US Navy Times from a USMC captain complained that Marines are not taught anything about the 9mm pistol either in boot camp or during combat training. He guesses this might have some bearing on the high incidence of negligent discharges, wounding and deaths from mishandling of pistols. We guess he’s probably right.

ASIAN SLUMP WILL HIT ARMS SUPPLIERS

The Observer reported that Western arms manufacturers were getting worried at the implications of the widespread Asian slump, which was already reflecting in cuts to defense budgets in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines & Thailand. Clearly this is a major potential blow to those arms-producing countries who have been relentlessly pursuing Asian customers to make up for the Cold War ‘peace dividend’ and the reduction in Middle East business. Maybe they should have been equally attentive to their clients’ long-term ability to pay?

SOUTH AFRICAN NTW-20 FIRES 40mm GRENADES TOO

A simple single-shot conversion now allows the South African NTW-20 anti-materiel rifle to fire the 40x53mm high-velocity grenades used in the Mk19 automatic grenade launcher. Recoil is said to be similar to that of the 20x82mm cartridge round which the rifle was designed. The full list of calibres the NTW-20 can fire is now 20x82mm, 14.5x114mm, 12.7x99mm, 12.7x108mm and 40x53mm. The conversions reportedly take less than 30 seconds to effect.

NANKOU (CHINA) SHOOTING RANGE COMPLEX

Foreign press reports focussed on the various delights offered by the China North International Shooting Range, an ex-army facility an hour outside Peking. Here, during the last ten years, 80,000+ visitors - both Chinese and foreign - have been able to hire and fire weapons in all calibres from pistols, rifles (they have M16s too, as well as AKs) & SMGs through to GPMGs & heavy machine guns. Prices for using all but the ‘exotics’ are said to be very modest. Additional attractions include anti-aircraft and anti-armour launchers. The reports said there are plans to open a laser combat range and to allow visitors to fire weapons from armoured vehicles and aircraft. Whatever the Putonghua expression is for “Take Cover!”, we guess it’d be an idea to memorise it before going, once those trigger-happy turistas get airborne. You can just see the headlines now - ‘Salt Lake senior Wilbur (78) levels Forbidden City’.

USMC OFFICER ARGUES FOR RIFLE CHANGES

Writing in the Marine Corps Gazette, one Capt. Robert Gibbs argues that the time has come to consider some changes to the design of the combat rifle. Using the M16A2 as his case study, he singles out for criticism its iron aperture sights, mechanical trigger mechanism and overall dimensions.

Gibbs, listed as a competitive shooter and match coach, describes the aperture & post aiming procedure as ‘contrary to human nature’ and suggests optical devices such as the Aimpoint, Ultradot and the screen-based Bushnell Holosight would be preferable, the last having the added benefit of eliminating the tunnel vision aspect of squinting down a scope tube. As to triggers, Gibbs suggests an electronic triggering mechanism might be a way round the problem of poor trigger control, which he says is responsible for missed shots. To overcome potential electrical problems he considers there might still be a backup mechanical trigger.

Talking about weapon size, Gibbs says the M16 is excessively long, and points to the Steyr AUG bullpup as a better all-round solution. This apart, he suggests that novel rifling profiles and faster-burning powders could give better performance from shorter barrels even in conventionally configured rifles. Gibbs highlights the acceptance of a need for change already embodied in the ongoing CQB (compact) Weapon and Modular Weapon projects in the Marine Corps, both involving the addition of extra facilities for ‘bolt-on goodies’. He suggests that the simplest solution is for improved triggers and provision for optics to be absorbed into existing programmes such as these.

In fact, it would appear that most of Capt. Gibbs’ points are already being addressed. Flat-topped, short M4A1 carbines already exist with US SOCOM, designed specifically for use with scopes & reflex sights. As to triggers, we are not persuaded that electronics would make very much difference in combat shooting, where shots will inevitably be snatched anyway, and much firing is in short bursts, with ‘accuracy’ in bullseye-shooting terms a consideration well secondary to just hitting the target - with something.

M240Bs to 82nd AIRBORNE

Army magazine in the USA reported that the 7.62mm NATO M240B (a locally-made variant of the FN MAG 58 GPMG), which is the US army’s official replacement for the Saco M60, had been issued to infantry battalions (on a scale of 18 guns each) of the 82nd Airborne Div at Ft Bragg. The item said that whilst the complete M240B equipment with tripod weighed ten pounds more than the M60 with similar accessories, the M240B tripod has a recoil-absorbing gun mount and a universal sight rail. Barrel changes are also claimed to be easier.

As will be evident from the limited scale per battalion, the M240B is intended to be employed in what the UK calls the Sustained Fire role (US - Medium Machine Gun), i.e. as a true machine gun. US infantry squad automatic fire support requirements are the role of the 5.56mm Minimi (M249 SAW). The same source said that the 30mm M230 cannon already mounted on the Apache is to be fitted to some of the US army’s 160 Special Ops Aviation Regiment MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. A new Black Hawk M230 mount has been developed by Picatinny Arsenal’s ARDEC research centre.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N8 (May 1998)
and was posted online on June 16, 2017

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