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FROM THE EDITORS OF WORLD OF FIREPOWER INSIDE MILITARY SURPLUS • FALL 2016 U.S. $9.99 • DISPLAY UNTIL: 10/04/16

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09281 01506 Engaged Media Inc.

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,FZ.PE JTIFSF 5.

AccuPoint TR24G • Trijicon 1-4x24 Riflescope $1,020.00

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• BCMGUNFIGHTER™ Stock $55.95

Blue Force Gear VCAS Sling $45.00

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BCM® A2X Flash Suppressor $34.95

Ranger • BCMGUNFIGHTER™ • GEARWARD Grip Mod 0 $29.95 Band 20-Pak $10.00

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Low Profile • BCM Gas Block $44.95

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BCM® KMR-A KeyMod Free Float Rail Handguards

For 1” diameter lights $39.95

Same as the fantastic original KMR but machined from aircraft aluminum!

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BCM BCM BCM BCM

9 Inch KMR-A9 . . . . . . . . $176.95 10 Inch KMR-A10 . . . . . . $179.95 13 Inch KMR-A13 . . . . . . $189.95 15 Inch KMR-A15 . . . . . . $199.95

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Wilson Combat Tactical Trigger

PWS DI 12 Inch Rail . . . . . . . . $249.95 PWS DI 15 Inch Rail . . . . . . . . $249.95

PWS KeyMod Polymer Bipod Adapter $23.95

$269.95

Inforce WML-HSP $119.00

Daniel Defense SLiM Rail Handguard Slim, Light, Modular KeyMod Free Float DD SLiM Rail 12.0 . . . . . . . . . . $265.00 DD SLiM Rail 15.0 . . . . . . . . . . $265.00

Trijicon TA31RCO-M4 ACOG 4x32

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Daniel Defense KeyMod 1 O’Clock Offset Rail Assembly

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KeyMod Modular Light Mount For 1913 mounted lights $39.95

Arisaka Inline KeyMod Scout Mount $34.00 Arisaka Ring KeyMod 1” Light Mount $44.00

Thorntail KeyMod Offset Adaptive Light Mounts Thorntail 1.030 Mount $70.00 Thorntail M3M6 1913 Mount $50.00

Arson Machine Company KeyMod Light Mounts Scout M600 Mount $48.00 1” Ring Mount $44.00

All pricing is subject to change without notice. Please see our website for current pricing.

Hartland, WI U.S.A. / Toll Free: 1-877-BRAVO CO (1-877-272-8626) / Fax: 262-367-0989 / BravoCompanyMFG.com


KeyMod is here! TM

Industries • Midwest Folding Front Sight $79.95

Micro H-1 2 MOA • Aimpoint with LRP Mount $709.00

• BattleComp 1.5 $155.00 1913 • BCMGUNFIGHTER™ Modular Light Mount, KeyMod $39.95

KeyMod™ is the tactical industry’s new modular standard!

Industries • Midwest ERS BUIS $93.95

Ranger • GEARWARD Band 20-Pak $10.00

• BCMGUNFIGHTER™ KMSM KeyMod QD Sling Mount $17.95 KMR-A13 KeyMod Rail • BCM Handguard 13 Inch $189.95

• BCMGUNFIGHTER™ QD End Plate $16.95

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KAG • BCMGUNFIGHTER™ Kinesthetic Angled Grip, KeyMod $18.95

PWS FSC556 Tactical Compensator $98.95

TangoDown ARC MK2 30 Round Mag $14.95

• BCM PNT™ ®

Trigger $59.95

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• BCMGUNFIGHTER™ Stock $55.95 • BCMGUNFIGHTER™ Grip Mod 3 $17.95

Polymer Trigger Guard $6.95

Vltor Carbine EMOD Stock

Comp Mod 0 - 556 Threaded 1/2x28 for 5.56 AR15 platform

$89.95

$119.65

Comp Mod 1 - 556 Threaded 1/2x28 for 5.56 AR15 platform

$94.95

IWC KeyMod QD RL Sling Mount Accepts heavy duty or standard QD swivels

$17.00

IWC KeyMod Hand Stop

VTAC MK2 Wide Sling

BCMGUNFIGHTER™ Enhanced Lower Parts Kit BCMGUNFIGHTER™ With BCM® PNT™ Trigger Assembly, BCM® Mod 3 Grip, BCM® Trigger Guard, and Mil-Spec hardware kit. BCMGUNFIGHTER™ ELPK, semi-auto $99.95

Mount-N-Slot design $34.95

BCM® KeyMod Picatinny Rail Sections Mil-Std 1913 rails, Nylon Rails available in Black, FDE, Foliage Green.

Nylon Rail, 3 Inch . . . . . . . . . . . . $8.95 Nylon Rail, 4 Inch . . . . . . . . . . . $11.95 Nylon Rail, 5.5 Inch . . . . . . . . . . $14.95 Aluminum Rail, 3 Inch, Black . . $19.95 Aluminum Rail, 4 Inch, Black . . $24.95 Aluminum Rail, 5.5 Inch, Black . $29.95

BCMGUNFIGHTER™ KAG

Kinesthetic Angled Grip

Uses biomechanically efficient forward rake, small profile textured front and back for positive engagement. Impact resistant polymers, in Black, Flat Dark Earth, Foliage Green and Wolf Gray. KAG-KM, KeyMod Version . . . . . $18.95 KAG-1913, Picatinny Rail Version . $19.95

$44.95

VG MOD 3

Low-profile length for increased mobility and decreased “snag”. Made in the U.S.A. from impact resistant polymers, available in Black, Flat Dark Earth, Foliage Green, Wolf Gray. VG-KM-MOD-3, KeyMod Version . . $18.95 VG-1913-MOD-3, Picatinny Version . $19.95

Aimpoint Comp M4S Red dot sight, fully NVD compatible, with QRP2 Picatinny Rail Mount

$846.00

EOTech HOLOgraphic Weapon Sights

PWS KeyMod Picatinny Rail

BCM® KeyMod Rail Panel Kits

Polymer Rail, 5 Slot. . . . . . . . . . $11.95 Aluminum Rail, 5 Slot . . . . . . . . $28.95

5.5 Inch Rail Panels, in Black, Flat Dark Earth, Foliage Green, Wolf Gray - 5-Pack . $9.95

Model 512 $429.00 Model 552 $529.00

All pricing is subject to change without notice. Please see our website for current pricing.

Hartland, WI U.S.A. / Toll Free: 1-877-BRAVO CO (1-877-272-8626) / Fax: 262-367-0989 / BravoCompanyMFG.com


INSIDE MILITARY SURPLUS

Images Etc Ltd/Getty Images


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92 BRITISH DOGLEG BOLT

116 POLISH PUNCH

The Enfield P14 rifle, while not as fast to operate as the Lee Enfield, was an accurate, sturdy rifle that saw much use. By Bob Campbell

The semi-auto BRS-99 is reliable, well-built and should make an effective home defense gun. By Abe Elias

100 RESCUED REMINGTON Restoring a vintage Remington Rolling Block rifle took a little patience and a lot of love. By Mike Searson

108 MAUSER MAKEOVER Rebuilding the Swedish Mauser takes patience and know-how, but the results can be worth the effort. By Abe Elias

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BUYER’S GUIDE

46 SURPLUS GUNS DEPARTMENTS

124 SOUTH AMERICAN FIREPOWER

8 EDITORIAL 10 OPENING UP 130 LAST LOOK

Bersa’s Thunder 9 Pro DA/SA 9mm service pistol is a good shooter and an excellent value. By Abe Elias

Cover: Polish BRS-99 Photograph: Courtesy of Tactical Imports Cover Design: Eric Knagg

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AMERICA’S

PREPAREDNESS

SUPPLIER CALL TOLL FREE 1-800-441-8855 ORDER ONLINE www.majorsurplus.com VISIT OUR STORE: 435 W. Alondra Blvd. Gardena, CA 90248


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EDITORIAL Doug Jeffrey Steven Paul Barlow Wendy Wilson Henry Z. De Kuyper

n this issue’s special section on the Civil War, author Ryan Lee Price shows us some authentic artifacts from the war. Most of these things soldiers carried on their persons or in their packs. There are implements necessary for battle and pieces of equipment required for life in camp. Included, too, are personal items—documents, letters from home, photographs. Whether you’re a firearms enthusiast or a history buff, it’s only natural to imagine yourself in the role of a soldier in those times. What things would you have packed along? If you had the choice of weapons from either side of the conflict, which would you choose? Would you carry a Springfield rifle musket? In this flight of fancy, money is no object. Maybe you would go the personal expense of a Henry repeater, or maybe you’d prefer a Spencer carbine. Would your revolver be a Colt or a Remington or maybe a LeMat? And knowing you’d be away for months or maybe years, what personal items and reminders of home would you carry? Now let’s advance in time and technology to World War I. If you had the choice, would you be carrying a Springfield ‘03, a Lee-Enfield or a Mauser ‘98? What about a Mosin-Nagant? Maybe you’d opt for a Winchester 1897 trench gun. Would your sidearm be a Colt 1911, a Luger or perhaps a Webley? Look at the choices you’d have for World War II. There’s the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, Thompson submachine gun and Sturmgewehr 44, among others. For a sidearm, would you be carrying a Walther P38, a Browning Hi-Power or would you stick with your trusty 1911? Chuck Taylor, who wrote the article on the Walther P38 for this issue, mentions using a Thompson submachine gun in Vietnam. The staying power of some weapons is amazing. If you had made the trip to Southeast Asia, would you opt for an M14, one of those new-fangled M16s or would you give the AK-47 a try? And look, that 1911 pistol is still around. What about other gear? Look at the uniforms, the holsters, the packs and the boots from across the years. Which were the most practical, the longest wearing, the most comfortable, the warmest or the coolest? Different styles of mess kits might not be significant, but what about the chow itself? Would you rather be eating hardtack and salted beef, K-rations or the more modern MREs? None of the above? These musings are entertaining, but it’s important to remember that most soldiers didn’t have the luxury of making these choices. They used the gear they were issued or whatever else they could get their hands on. Whether it performed well or failed miserably could mean the difference between life and death. And while the weapons and other gear have changed over the years, one thing hasn’t. The soldier still has to follow his marching orders.

INSIDE MILITARY SURPLUS

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Steven Paul Barlow, Editor

Editorial Director Editor Managing Editor Senior Staff Photographer

DESIGN Eric Knagg Design Director

CONTRIBUTORS Bob Campbell, Abe Elias, Ryan Lee Price, Mike Searson, Chuck Taylor, Leroy Thompson

ADVERTISING Spiro Demetriadi Group Publisher Gabe Frimmel Ad Sales Director (714) 200-1930 gfrimmel@engagedmediainc.com Casey Clifford Senior Account Executive (714) 200-1982 Mark Pack Senior Account Executive (714) 200-1939 Charles Dorr Account Executive (714) 200-1931 John Cabral Advertising Design Gennifer Merriday Advertising Traffic Coordinator Kristan Beckman Advertising Traffic Coordinator

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Business Analytic Manager IT Manager Newsstand and Circulation Analyst Subscriptions Manager Administrative Assistant Administrative Assistant Intern Program Manager

EDITORIAL, PRODUCTION & SALES OFFICE 22840 Savi Ranch Parkway, #200, Yorba Linda, CA 92887 (714) 939-9991 • Fax: (800) 249-7761 www.engagedmediamags.com www.facebook.com/eembybeckett INSIDE MILITARY SURPLUS is published by Engaged Media Inc., LLC, 22840 Savi Ranch Parkway, Ste. 200, Yorba Linda, CA 92887. © 2016 by Engaged Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.

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This magazine is purchased by the buyer with the understanding that information presented is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by Engaged Media Inc., as to the legality, completeness or technical accuracy.


GOVPLANET PHOTO

OPENING UP

SUPER-SIZED SURPLUS A USED MILITARY RIG COULD BE THE BEST CHOICE FOR YOUR NEXT SPECIAL PURPOSE VEHICLE or many people, military surplus brings to mind worn but inexpensive firearms and old canteens, mess kits and backpacks. But the military uses lots of equipment to conduct its business. That means many more things are out there that become available as the military replaces its old gear. Among some of the better surplus bargains are used military vehicles.

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There are Humvees, motorcycles, 2.5ton and 5-ton trucks, and all manner of construction equipment. If you need some heavy equipment or if you want a rugged off-road vehicle, here’s where you can get it:

BOYCE EQUIPMENT Boyce Equipment is a family-run business that has been operating for more than 50 years. It offers civilian

heavy equipment as well as military surplus vehicles and parts. If you’re looking for an M1008 1¼-ton GM pickup, Humvee, M35A3 Bobbed Deuce or a 2.5-ton truck, you’ll find it here. The company maintains a shop in Ogden, Utah, where it services everything it sells and will do a complete rebuild if needed.


For David Newman, refurbishing military surplus vehicles was more of a hobby when he started Eastern Surplus in 1999. Now the company has 15 full-time mechanics in its 30,000square-foot shop and warehouse in Philadelphia. The company provides equipment for military and industrial customers and it designs and builds custom vehicles for law enforcement and emergency management agencies, which use them for disaster preparedness. They also offer vehicles from Humvees to 2.5-ton cargo trucks to the large 5-ton rigs.

GOVPLANET You name it, GovPlanet has it. They have military surplus vehicles, but also construction equipment, including compact track loaders, mobile cranes, crawler tractors, excavators, telehandlers, graders, backhoe loaders and generators. Unlike the other companies, GovPlanet sells through weekly online auctions.

a compact track loader, such as this one from GovPlanet, might be just the trick for your business or homestead when it isn’t cost-effective to buy new. GovPlanet photo

Major Surplus & Survival is offering this World War IIera Russian M72 Ural motorcycle with sidecar, based on a BMW design. It includes machine gun mounts. Major Surplus & Survival photo

MAJOR SURPLUS & SURVIVAL Major Surplus & Survival provides surplus and newly manufactured gear for survival preparedness and all types of outdoor activities. They offer military surplus from around the globe and, while they don’t specialize in it, they do offer some vehicles and other large equipment on occasion. They have a store front in Gardena, California, but like so many other companies, much of their business is online. IMS

this crawler tractor from GovPlanet is just an example of the kind of heavy equipment available through surplus outlets. GovPlanet photo

BIG BIGSURPLUS SURPLUS SOURCES SOURCES Boyce Equipment Boyce Equipment

www.boyceequipment.com www.boyceequipment.com 1-800-748-4269 1-800-748-4269 Eastrn Surplus Eastern Surplus

www.easternsurplus.net www.easternsurplus.net 1-855-332-0500 1-855-332-0500

GovPlanet

www.govplanet.com 1-844-225-8799 Major Surplus & Survival

www.majorsurplus.com 1-800-441-8855

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EASTERN SURPLUS

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CIVIL WAR SCENES

BITTER BATTLES SMALL ARMS ON BOTH SIDES HELPED TO DETERMINE THE FATES OF THOUSANDS OF CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS It wasn’t always artillery that made the difference. In this special section, we look at some of the key small arms of the Union and the Confederacy as well as some of the everyday carry items these soldiers had in their packs. And if you want to experience some of the sights and sounds for yourself, see our top picks for Civil War battle reenactments held annually.

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COPYRIGHT JENNIFER COUNTER 2007/ GETTY IMAGES

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CIVIL WAR SCENES

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n BY RYAN LEE PRICE

SOUTHERN ARMS

DEAGOSTINI/GETTY IMAGES

ONCE THE WAR BEGAN, THE CONFEDERATE STATES SCRAMBLED TO GET GUNS WHEREVER THEY COULD


he United States of America may start wars based on principles, ideals, democracy or defense, but it most certainly ends them because of technology, production and equipment. As the last 150 years have shown, you can’t out-produce the U.S.A. when it comes to military gear. This is no more true today than it was when fighting began at Fort Sumter in 1861. In the early days of the Civil War, the Confederacy was experiencing an increasing scarcity of guns. Though by the spring of 1861, Southern men were ready to fight, the Southern industry was not ready to equip them. Gunpowder was especially scarce, and the Confederate States held stockpiles barely adequate to outfit their recently raised armies. With no domestic suppliers available, foreign sources offered, at best, only a temporary solution to the Southern states’ dilemma. But it didn’t help if they had nothing to shoot besides personal rifles brought by the new enlistees from the farms. These mostly consisted of rifles that were considered antiques, even by 1861 standards, such as German Jaeger rifles, English Brown Bess muskets and French Charleville muskets, all finding service in the War of 1812 and earlier. Because of the South’s primary agricultural economy, it lacked the extensive armament industry of the North. Only a handful of companies produced weapons in the South: the LeMat revolver from New Orleans and a small number of Tarpley carbines from North Carolina, for example. Representatives of the Confederate States were sent to scour Europe in search for modern rifles to outfit its troops. Companies like Birmingham Small Arms Trade, Bond, James, Scott & Son, and London Armoury Corp. in England provided around a half-million rifles, most of which were the 1853 pattern Enfield rifle. As the war wore on, most of these older rifles were captured, lost, worn out or damaged beyond repair. For example, more than 70,000 Southern rifles were lost in the defeats of Vicksburg and Gettysburg in 1863. Matters were compounded once the naval blockade took affect. Many of the guns used during the Civil War saw action on both sides as armories were captured, shipments intercepted, or individuals picked up rifles and pistols on the battlefield. April 1865, both sides were flush with weapons, but with 1.8 million men dead or wounded, the problem was finding men to use them.

T

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ENFIELD 1853 PATTERN RIFLE This was the standard-issue musket of the British Army starting in 1853, and by the end of the war, some 1,500,000 were in circulation around the world. At 9.5 pounds and 55 inches long, it was a reliable percussion-fired muzzle-loading long gun and considered very accurate due to its rifled barrel. The 29-inch-long barrel accommodated the 500-grain .577 Minie ball. This was the same projectile used by the Springfield Model 1861 musket, which made the Enfield especially useful because they could fire captured Union ammunition. In the hands of a skilled shooter, the Enfield could take reasonably accurate shots at 600 yards. The barrel was held to the wooden stock by three metal bands, which has led to the rifle being referred to as the “3-band Enfield.” The ramp rear sight was adjustable through a rear friction cross bar/standing leaf mechanism, while the front site was a fixed post.


INSIDE MILITARY SURPLUS

The Enfield 1853 was an accurate rifle that fired the .577-caliber Minie ball. Rock Island Auction photo

The British Enfield Pattern 1853 was used by both sides during the Civil War. This one sold recently through the Rock Island Auction Co. for $2,300. Rock Island Auction photo

ENFIELD MODEL 1853 SPECS Origin: Great Britain Manufacturer: Royal Small Arms Factory Service Years: 1853-1871 Overall Length: 55 inches Barrel Length: 29 inches Weight: 9.5 pounds Caliber: .58 Action: Percussion lock Muzzle Velocity: 850 ft/sec Rate-of-Fire: 2-3 rounds/min Maximum Range: 1,000 yards Sights: Adjustable rear; fixed front

Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was related by marriage to Jean LeMat, inventor of the LeMat revolver and owned 25 percent of the LeMat company. James D. Julia photo

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The British Whitworth rifle was expensive to manufacture, but it was renowned for its long-range accuracy. Wikipedia photo

WHITWORTH RIFLE Engineer and philanthropist Sir Joseph Whitworth, developer of the British standard for fasteners (screws, bolts, etc.), designed in 1857 a rifle to replace the Model 1853 Enfield. During tests, his Whitworth Rifle outperformed the Enfield, but the barrel was four times more expensive to machine than the Enfield. Rejected by the British, 13,400 units were produced for the French Army, but by 1863, most of them ended up in the South, desperate for any type of rifle at the time. The maximum range of the gun was listed at 1,500 yards, but a skilled marksman could hit targets around 2,000 yards out. They utilized a .45-caliber bullet, and the barrel length varied with three variants made, but most used by the Confederates were the 33-inch-long rifles. The main advantage of this rifle lay in its design. The barrel was a rifled hexagonal shape that received a similarly shaped bullet and had a tighter rate of twist (one turn in 20 inches, compared to one turn in 78 inches for the Enfield). When fired, the bullet better conformed to the spin of the rifling and gave the Whitworth a very accurate reputation among the sharpshooters who used them. The Whitworth proved itself in the hands of skilled marksmen, made famous on May 9, 1864, at the Battle of Spotsylvania. Union General John Sedgwick—the highest ranking officer killed in the Civil War—was shot under the left eye by a Confederate soldier using a Whitworth rifle from 1,000 yards. Sedgwick’s last words before being hit were: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

LORENZ MODEL 1854

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Developed in Austria by an army lieutenant named Joseph Lorenz, this rifle quickly modernized Austrian land forces by converting all of their long arms from flintlock to percussion lock systems. They did not fire traditional skirted Minie balls but instead a solid bullet that, along with the inconsistent bore diameters (due to lack of quality control at the manufacturer), contributed to the rifle’s mediocre performances—except for the models that were produced in the Vienna Arsenal, which were considered to be of a fine quality. During the Civil War, 326,924 examples were purchased, with 100,000 going to the Confederate, making it the third-most-used rifle. They were bored to receive a .54 caliber cartridge, but Union versions were upgraded to .58 caliber to maintain a single caliber for its most popularly used rifles (both the Enfield and Springfield were .58). Because the South lacked much in the way of a centrally organized manufacturing facilities, the Lorenz rifles remained .54 caliber for the duration of the war. In the middle of the war, a second version was produced, Model 1862, which had a lock plate similar to the Enfield. Most of the barrels of these were blued, which were easier to care for than the highly polished Springfields.

WHITWORTH RIFLE SPECS Origin: Great Britain Manufacturer: Whitworth

Rifle Company Service Years: 1857-1865 Overall Length: 49 inches Barrel Length: 33 inches Weight: 9 pounds Caliber: .45 Action: Percussion lock Muzzle Velocity: 1,000 to

1,200 ft/sec Rate-of-Fire: 2-3 rounds/min Maximum Range:

2,000 yards Sights: Iron front and rear

LORENZ RIFLE MODEL 1854 SPECS Origin: Austria-Hungary Manufacturer: State-run

factories Service Years: 1854-1867 Overall Length: 52 inches Barrel Length: 37 inches Weight: 8.8 pounds Caliber: .54 (Union: .58) Action: Percussion lock Muzzle Velocity: 1,200 ft/sec Rate-of-Fire: 2-3 rounds/min Maximum Range: 300 yards Sights: Iron front and rear


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HARPERS FERRY MODEL 1841 (“MISSISSIPPI RIFLE”) The armory at Harpers Ferry (along with the Springfield Armory) produced most all of America’s earliest used long guns, and in 1841 it began manufacturing the “Mississippi Rifle,” so named because the rifle’s popularity in the MexicanAmerican war, specifically at the hands of the Mississippi volunteer regiment, lead by Jefferson Davis. Though both sides carried the rifle in great numbers, the South continued to do so until the conclusion of the war, whereas the North had switched to other long guns by 1863. Originally chambered for the .54 ball, it was switched in 1855 to accept the .58 Minie ball (which became standard issue when the Civil War began). With a velocity of 1,200 feet per second, its effective range was around 1,100 yards, and sighting was done through a V-notch rear and a blade front. Though the rifle was considered old-fashioned at the outset of the war, many recent enlistees were pleased to have a rifled weapon (as opposed to the smooth-bored guns some were issued).

HARPERS FERRY MODEL 1841 SPECS Origin: United States Manufacturer: Harpers Ferry Armory Service Years: 1841-1865+ Overall Length: 48.5 inches Barrel Length: 33 inches Weight: 9 pounds, 4 ounces Caliber: .58 Action: Percussion lock Muzzle Velocity: 1,000 to 1,200 ft/sec Rate-of-Fire: 2-3 rounds/min Maximum Range: 2,000 yards Sights: V-notch, rear; blade, front

The Harpers Ferry Model 1841 was also known as the Mississippi Rifle. This set of two, marked with Eli Whitney as the manufacturer, recently sold at a James D. Julia auction for $2,587.50. James D. Julia photo


This LeMat revolver is still in excellent condition and it was once owned by General Beauregard himself. It sold at a James D. Julia auction recently for $224,250. James D. Julia photo

Jean LeMat was the inventor of the revolver named after him that featured a revolver barrel over a shotgun barrel. James D. Julia photo

LEMAT REVOLVER

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Securing a patent for a revolver in 1856, Dr. Jean Alexandre Francois LeMat of New Orleans was married to Justine Le Pretre, cousin to P.G.T. Beauregard who financed a lot of LeMat’s inventions, one being the LeMat Revolver, a “grapeshot” design that was patented in 1856. The revolver consisted of nine chambers that fired a .42-caliber ball through a traditional barrel, while just below the barrel was a 16-gauge barrel that fired a grapeshot charge similar to a shotgun. Both barrels utilized the same hammer, but with a flick of a lever, the firing pin could be positioned lower to access the shotgun barrel. Confederate forces nicknamed the LeMat the “Grapeshot Revolver,” and it was used by Confederate notables such as J.E.B. Stuart, Richard Anderson, and Braxton Bragg. Although LeMat received Confederate contracts to produce the pistol locally, no manufacturers had the capabilities to cover the job. The first 100 were made by John Krider of Philadelphia in 1859, and only about 600 were officially shipped from the Paris factory of Charles Frederic Girard and Son (where they were eventually made) through Bermuda to avoid the Southern blockade. A total of 2,900 were made between 1856 and 1865 (undoubtedly many of these made it into Southern holsters). The revolver, constructed of blued steel with grips of checkered walnut, was not considered to be a very accurate weapon, although it was deadly at close range because of the 16-gauge buckshot barrel. A rare pinfire version was made late in the war.

LEMAT REVOLVER SPECS Origin: Confederate States

of America Manufacturer: Charles

Frederic Girard and Son Service Years: 1856-1865 Overall Length: 12.25 inches Weight: 3 pounds Caliber: .42 (ball), 12-gauge buckshot Action: Single action, percussion cap Muzzle Velocity: 620 ft/sec Rate-of-Fire: 9 shots/min Maximum Range: 40 yards Sights: Rear notch; front fixed


INSIDE MILITARY SURPLUS

This French 1854 Lefaucheux pinfire revolver used an early type of self-contained cartridge. This one sold recently at a Rock Island Auction for $1,840. Rock Island Auction photo

LEFAUCHEUX MODEL 1854/1858 PINFIRE

“...GENERAL... SEDGWICK... WAS SHOT...BY A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER USING A WHITWORTH RIFLE FROM 1,000 YARDS.”

Joining an influx of pistols used in the Civil War was the uniquely designed Lefaucheux Model 1854 Pinfire. Casimir Lefaucheux was a French gunsmith credited with inventing the first efficient self-contained cartridge in 1836, which was the pinfire (based on the earlier cartridge inventions of Pauly and Prélat). A small pin protruded from the side of the casing, which was struck by the hammer’s pin (instead of striking on the rear or rim as in later types of shells). The French Army first used the Lefaucheux in 1858, and it was used extensively by both sides during the Civil War. Over 12,000 units of the M1858 were used by the cavalry in 1862 but were replaced when the more popular models were available (Colt and Remington). In the South, the Lefaucheux remained in service until the conclusion of the war, as there was no other weapon available as a replacement. Both the 1854 and 1858 models were considered effective and efficient, though obtaining the ammunition proved difficult. The pinfire cartridge was easy to load (compared to cap and ball). It used six chambers and fired a 12 mm cartridge (.47 caliber). The pinfire system was used on many different types of guns during that period and helped spur the popularity of breechloading guns, but they were eventually obsolete with the arrival of rimfire and centerfire cartridges. IMS

LEFAUCHEUX MODEL 1854/1858 PINFIRE SPECS Origin: France Manufacturer: Lefaucheux Service Years: 1854-1865 Overall Length: 12 inches Barrel Length: 6.1 inches Caliber: 12 mm Action: Single action, pinfire Muzzle Velocity: 550 ft/sec Rate-of-Fire: 12 shots per minute Maximum Range: 40 yards Sights: Front fixed

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YANKEE SHOOTIN’ IRONS THE GUNS OF THE UNION ARMY INCLUDED ISSUED WEAPONS AS WELL AS PERSONALLY OWNED AND BORROWED FIREARMS n BY STEVEN PAUL BARLOW


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The Springfield Models 1861 and 1863 were the most used rifles by the Union Army during the Civil War. This one, made by Whitney Arms, sold at a recent Rock Island Auction for $1,495. Rock Island Auction photo

hen the first shots were fired in the Civil War, neither side was prepared with sufficient stores of small arms. To complicate matters, during that time, firearms technology was in the midst of a revolution of its own, as new arms designs were being developed at a rapid pace. As a result, both armies acquired and used a dizzying array of arms, domestic and foreign, from muzzle-loading percussion single shots, to breech-loaders using paper cartridges, to brand new repeaters firing experimental selfcontained cartridges. Due to an initial shortage of arms, soldiers often brought or borrowed firearms from home or purchased them upon enlisting, if they could afford to do so. Sometimes firearms were picked up from casualties on the battlefield, but getting a steady supply of ammunition for them was often a problem. Some notable small arms used by the Union Army include:

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SPRINGFIELD 1861 The most widely used firearm of the Union Army was the Springfield Model 1861 rifle musket, a muzzle-loading

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Most of the Henry rifles that saw action in the Civil War were purchased privately by soldiers. It was very effective at close range as it offered 16 rapid-fire shots against combatants armed mostly with single-shot muzzle-loaders. James D. Julia, Inc. photo

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This Spencer Carbine and Colt 1851 Navy revolver both belonged to William H. Lovering of the U.S. Cavalry. They sold together through a James D. Julia auction for $11,500. James D. Julia, Inc. photo

percussion firearm that fired a .58-caliber Minie ball. It normally had a 38-inch barrel and weighed about 9 pounds. Including the later 1863 variant, the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts and private contractors produced about 1.5 million of these rifles. The rifle featured two flip-up rear sights, one set for 300 yards and the other for 500. This was the last of the muzzle-loading rifles adopted by the U.S. Army.

SPENCER CARBINE The Spencer was used with devastating effect on the battlefield. It was a short, lever-action, seven-shot repeater issued primarily to cavalry units. It used .52-caliber, self-contained copper rimfire cartridges that fed from a tubular magazine in the carbine’s butt stock. The cartridge was the .56-56 Spencer—in this case the first “56” referred to the case diameter and not the bullet caliber. Designed by Christopher Spencer in 1860, the gun used a lever to extract spent casings and to chamber fresh cartridges. The hammer still had to be manually cocked for each shot. This was still much faster to fire than the singleshot, muzzle-loading rifles carried by the majority of soldiers on both sides. At just over 39 inches with its 22-inch


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“…DURING THAT TIME, FIREARMS TECHNOLOGY WAS IN THE MIDST OF A REVOLUTION OF ITS OWN, AS NEW ARMS DESIGNS WERE BEING DEVELOPED AT A RAPID PACE.”

barrel, it was also considerably handier than the Springfield, which was 56 inches overall. Approximately 200,000 were made by Spencer, Burnside and Winchester between 1860 and 1869.

BURNSIDE CARBINE Ambrose Burnside was poorly regarded as a military leader; he led the Union Army to defeat in several battles. But he designed a single-shot, breech-loading carbine and self-contained cartridge in 1855 that saw widespread use in the war, especially with the cavalry. The cartridge featured a brass case, which effectively sealed the breech upon firing—no hot gases blasted back toward the shooter. It fired a .54-caliber bullet at about 950 feet per second. The Burnside Rifle Company and the Bristol Firearms Company manufactured an estimated 100,000 of these carbines between 1858 and 1870, 55,000 of which were ordered by the Union Army.


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SHARPS CARBINE

HENRY

Full-length Sharps rifles saw limited service in the Civil War, mostly among long-range marksman units, such as Berdan’s Sharpshooters. But the Model 1859 Sharps Carbine was the most prevalent of all the Union cavalry carbines. About 90,000 of these carbines were produced. The .52-caliber, breech-loading, falling block design enabled the use of paper cartridges to be loaded during the war. In the years following the war, surplus Sharps Carbines were converted to firing self-contained metallic cartridges, such as the .50-70 Government. These converted surplus guns were very popular on the American Frontier.

The Henry rifle was created after Oliver Winchester acquired the assets of Volcanic Repeating Arms, which had produced early attempts at lever action firearms. Winchester’s New Haven Arms Company had its gunsmith, Benjamin Tyler Henry, improve the lever action design. The Henry rifle and its .44 Henry rimfire cartridge, introduced in 1860, were to be the predecessors of a long line of successful Winchester rifles and cartridges. The Union Army purchased very few Henry rifles. The Henry, with its open tubular magazine, was more fragile compared to the Spencer. Its cartridge wasn’t as powerful; it featured a 200-grain bullet traveling a bit over 1,100 feet per second. The gun was expensive too, about $50—three times the price of a single-shot rifle at the time. And believe it or not, many of the military decisionmakers didn’t want the army to have a repeating rifle as its standard shoulder arm because they believed the soldiers would just waste ammunition. That’s one reason why the U.S. military was still issuing single-shot rifles up until 1892. All that didn’t stop soldiers from buying their own

SMITH CARBINE

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Slightly more than 30,000 Smith Carbines were produced during the Civil War for use by Union troops. The breech-loading, .50-caliber carbine was made by the Massachusetts Arms Company, American Machine Works and American Arms Company, all of Massachusetts, and was distributed by Poultney & Trimble of Maryland.


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The Sharps Carbine was the most widely used carbine by the Union Army, especially among cavalry units. Rock Island Auction photo

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The Colt 1851 Navy .36-caliber revolver was a very popular firearm of its time, despite the fact that it was no more powerful than the .380 autos of today. This one sold through a James D. Julia auction for $3,450. James D. Julia, Inc. photo

Closeup of the Spencer Carbine. James D. Julia, Inc. photo

Henry rifles. There was nothing faster than working the lever and pulling the trigger to fire a Henry that held 16 cartridges in its magazine. Among the Confederate soldiers that had to face it in battle, the Henry rifle became known as “that damn Yankee rifle you load on Sunday and shoot all week!”

COLT 1851 NAVY Many felt Samuel Colt’s 1851 Navy revolver was just the right size for a belt pistol. The .36-caliber, single-action cap and ball revolver was smaller than the Walker and Dragoon models normally carried in saddle holsters, but larger than the company’s 1849 Pocket Model. Each of the six chambers had to be manually loaded with powder and an 80-grain ball that would leave the barrel at about 1,000 feet per second. An estimated 272,000 Model 1851 Navy revolvers were made, and some remained popular with such notables as Wild Bill Hickok even after the widespread use of cartridge revolvers. Some of the pistols were converted to fire .38caliber cartridges.

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The Smith carbine was a single-shot breechloader. This one sold through a recent James D. Julia auction for $4,600. James D. Julia, Inc. photo

Closeup of the Smith Carbine. James D. Julia, Inc. photo

GUNS BY THE NUMBERS

Here are some estimates of the number of these firearms models that were manufactured. Not all were purchased by the U.S. Army, and some continued to be purchased privately after the war. Springfield Models 1861/1863: 1.5 million Spencer Carbine: 200,000 Burnside Carbine: 100,000 Sharps Carbine: 90,000 Smith Carbine: 30,000 Henry Rifle: 14,000 Colt 1851 Navy Revolver: 272,000 Colt 1860 Army Revolver: 200,000 Remington New Model Army Revolver: 122,000 Remington New Model Navy Revolver: 28,000 Walch Revolver: 3,000


WALCH REVOLVER

CIVIL WAR ARMS HIGHLY COLLECTIBLE

Firearms from the Civil War era continue to be prized by collectors. Prices of these historic guns can vary greatly depending on their rarity, their condition, their desirability and whether they have a documented history. As an example, one LeMat revolver sold recently at an auction for $11,500. Another LeMat, in exceptional condition with documentation that it once belonged to Confederate General Beauregard, sold at a James D. Julia auction for an incredible $224,250. Some firearms are still within reach of the average collector, however. Sometimes a good quality Colt 1860 Army or a Spencer Carbine can be purchased for less than $3,000. There are two primary auction houses that buy and sell vintage firearms: James D. Julia, Inc. (www.jamesdjulia.com) and Rock Island Auction Company (www. rockislandauction.com). Both companies are great sources of information on firearms for collectors and those who simply have an interest in history.

The Walch 10-shot revolver, designed by John Walch in 1859, did not play a major role in the war. Only about 3,000 of the .31-caliber models were produced, but it is an interesting firearm. The Walch uses a long cylinder with five chambers. Two charges of powder and ball are stacked in each chamber. There are two primer nipples and two flash channels for each chamber. The pistol has two hammers that must both be cocked at once. Pulling the trigger drops one hammer and fires the forward round in the chamber. Pulling the trigger again drops the second hammer, firing the rearmost ball. An earlier .36-caliber model was actually a 12-shot gun. While the revolver is just a footnote in history, some were carried by Union soldiers in the Civil War. IMS

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and New Model Navy in .36 caliber were sturdy, large frame revolvers distinguished from the Colt pistols in that the Remingtons had a frame with a solid top strap over the cylinder. Because of the strong design, velocities of bullets from the Remington’s 8-inch barrel could be pushed to over 1,200 feet per second. Another advantage over the Colt revolver was that the cylinder of the Remington could be removed easily and the cylinders were interchangeable. The big benefit was that you could carry extra cylinders for your handgun. For the fastest reload of those times, you popped the empty cylinder out of your Remington, inserted another that you had pre-loaded, and you were back in the fight. (Clint Eastwood performed that technique toward the end of the movie Pale Rider.) Remington produced about 122,000 New Army and 28,000 New Navy revolvers. Most of the New Army models were sold to the U.S. government.

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CIVIL WAR SCENES

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A reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg in 2013 commemorated the 150th anniversary of the event.

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n BY RYAN LEE PRICE

THE BATTLES RAGE ON AT THE TOP-FIVE CIVIL WAR REENACTMENTS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY


Open field fighting during a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. Between 46,000 to 51,000 died in the three-day battle, July 1-3, 1863. John Moore/Getty Images

ecause the American Civil War is a uniquely American event that affected millions of Americans in 36 states across the ever-growing country at the time, it isn’t surprising that the reenactment culture is so popular. With millions of Americans having ancestors who fought in or lived during the Civil War, there is a strong tie to that particular era of our collective history. The result for many is to take part in a living history of the Civil War by immersing themselves into all aspects of it. Civil War reenactments touch on tangible events that took place locally, as most reenactments take place on (or near) the battlegrounds they are meant to represent. With serious undertones, reenactors take their responsibilities of representing history as somber reminders of a very deadly time in our country’s history. In an article from the American Civil War Association (ACWA), “Participants are interested in getting a historical perspective on the turbulent times that gripped the nation, particularly if they can trace their ancestry back to

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those who fought in the war. Others participate merely for the escapism that such events offer.” The modern era of reenacting Civil War battles began around the 100th anniversary of the war in the early 1960s but quickly faded by the end of the decade. Interest in the Civil War resumed in the 1980s and early 1990s, again proving that the Civil War battles are by far the most popular to reenact. As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War came and went these last few years, activity and events swelled in popularity. Hundreds of reenactments, living histories, living dioramas and public demonstrations take place around the country, most of which are in Virginia, Pennsylvania and a couple of southern states. Reenactment groups and Civil War history organizations are established in all 50 states; a reenactment group in Alaska celebrates the actions of the CSS Shenandoah in the Aleutian Islands, a ship that fired the last shot of the Civil War and didn’t strike its colors until November 1865. Here are five must-see events:


1. Gettysburg Anniversary Reenactment Annually: July 1-3 Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Contact: GettysburgReenactment.com This is the motherlode of Civil War reenactments, which makes sense because Gettysburg was the pivotal battle that turned the tide of the Civil War and is uniquely celebrated and is most well-known by everyday Americans. The Gettysburg Anniversary Reenactment (GAR) played host to the largest Civil War reenactment in the country in 1998 when more than 41,000 reenactors and 45,000 spectators attended. The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee began in 1995 and This 19th century lithograph depicts the Battle of Gettysburg. spent almost a year planning each GAR event, employing up to De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images 400 people. Dozens of activities and events are held over the course of the three days, from live mortar and artillery fire demonstrations, period music performances, horse and cavalry displays, and discussions of battle strategies to presentations by Mrs. Robert E. Lee on being a soldier’s wife and tours of the camps. Various battles are reenacted for the audience (East Cemetery Hill, Custer’s attack on Stuart and Cushing’s Stand are planned for 2016). All battles are narrated by Licensed Battlefield Guides.


2. 155th Bull Run-Manassas Annually: July 22-24 Location: Cedar Creek Battlefield, Middletown, Virginia Contact: CCBF.us

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Presented by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation for the past five years, the reenactment of the Battle of Bull Run (called the Battle of Manassas by the South), one of the first major engagements during the Civil War, taking place on July 21, 1861, near the city of Manassas, which isn’t far from Washington, D.C. The event takes place on the Cedar Creek Battlefield in Middletown, Virginia (about 40 miles from the actual Battle of Bull Run site). In keeping with the tradition of the Battle of Bull Run being the first battle of the Civil War, the weekend will consist of the reenactment of three important early engagements, one on each day of the event: Battle of Rich Mountain, Blackburn’s Ford and Battle of Bull Run. During the Battle of Bull Run event, the four main stages of the battle will be highlighted: the Union activity on Matthews Hill, the Confederate consolidation at Henry Hill, the Union assault of Henry Hill, and the Union defeat and retreat. The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation also hosts a reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek in October.

There were few luxuries in camp life during the Civil War. Here Union soldiers pose during a lull in the fighting. Sipley/Classic Stock/Getty Images


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Fire and smoke fill the air as these Confederate reenactors fire their muskets. DEA/C. Balossini/Getty Images

3. Battles of Lawrenceburg and Dogwalk Annually: September 23-25 Location: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky Contact: BattlesOfLawrenceburgAndDogwalk.weebly.com In conjunction with the annual Anderson County Burgoo Festival (a spicy stew), the Lawrenceburg/Dog Walk Battlefield Association has played host to the reenactments of the Battles of Lawrenceburg and Dogwalk since 2009. According to an article by James K. Bowen and Robert Warren Myles: “The skirmishes at Lawrenceburg and Battle of Dog Walk, located in Anderson County, Kentucky, are probably the most significant Civil War engagements fought in Kentucky of which no one has ever heard. Alpheus S. Bloomfield, 1st Ohio Light Artillery, wrote of his experience at Dog Walk in a letter home to his ‘Respected Father.’ ‘This was a great deal harder fight than Shiloh was according to the number engaged.’” The various camps are open all weekend and offer and an education of what camp life was like, and a collection of sutlers will be offering a variety of Civil War related wares for sale. The companies and artillery batteries will perform drills for the public, and after dusk on Saturday, the artillery will undertake a night firing demonstration. The Battle Lawrenceburg will take place on Saturday, while the Battle of Dogwalk will be on Sunday.

“THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF REENACTMENTS, LIVING HISTORIES, LIVING DIORAMAS, AND PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS AROUND THE COUNTRY…”


4. Battle of Plymouth: Living History Weekend Annually: April 22-24 Location: Plymouth, North Carolina Contact: LivingHistoryWeekend.com Fought in 1864, the Battle of Plymouth was an attack of the Union garrison at Plymouth, North Carolina, by the CSS Albermarle and Confederate forces led by Major General Robert F. Hoke. After sinking the USS Southfield and the USS Miami and taking the garrison, it was a Confederate success. Celebrating its 26th year in 2016, the Washington County Historical Society’s annual Living History Weekend is one of North Carolina’s best Civil War events. Set on the Roanoke River riverfront, the event features two battle reenactments, several debates and presentations, period music, a period fashion show, troop encampment, and naval and artillery demonstrations. The weekend culminates with the “Fall of Fort Compher” battle reenactment. On the last day of the event, organizers host a wreath laying and tribute to the fallen.

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“…REENACTORS TAKE THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES OF REPRESENTING HISTORY AS SOMBER REMINDERS OF A VERY DEADLY TIME IN OUR COUNTRY’S HISTORY.”


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5. 41st Reenactment of the Battle of Olustee Annually: February 17-19 Location: Olustee, Florida Contact: BattleOfOlustee.org The Battel of Olustee (also known as the Battle of Ocean Pond) was the only major battle that took place in Florida, and the Floridians at Olustee Battlefield Citizens Support Organization, Inc. host an annual event to celebrate one of the largest reenactments in the Southeast that attracts around 2,000 reenactors and 25,000 spectators. Throughout the weekend, there are memorial services, educational seminars, barn dances, fashion shows, artillery demonstrations, a medical demonstration, cavalry drills, and a period wagon parade. The battle reenactments, which include a small skirmish on Saturday and a scripted battle on Sunday, will accurately mimic the actual Battle of Olustee. IMS

This reenactment of the Battle of Olustee in Florida is one of the largest reenactments in the Southeast. Pat Canova/Getty Images

PLAN YOUR NEXT BATTLE For information on a Civil War reenactment event near you, visit CivilWarTraveler.com.


CIVIL WAR SCENES

ARTIFACTS OF WAR ITEMS FOUND IN A SOLDIER’S PACK INCLUDED ESSENTIAL GEAR AND TREASURED BITS OF HOME

n TEXT AND PHOTOS BY RYAN LEE PRICE

rtifacts held and used by everyday people in the past always carry with them a quiet sense of immortality. A book, for example, with the original owner’s name scribbled on its endpaper, patiently travels through time in the possession of one person after another, all the while retaining the spirit of its original owner. They become mere custodians of these artifacts, helping them along through time to an unknown destiny. Although fewer items were carried into battle during the Civil War than that of future wars, the things a typical Northern or Southern soldier carried in his pack and pockets are ubiquitous to all soldiers— past, present and future. Pictures of loved ones, letters home, important papers and equipment to help him through his time in service were standard gear for soldiers, along with comfort items such as camping and cooking supplies. Following are just a handful of original artifacts associated with the Civil War and the millions of men who fought for the cause.

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An army runs on it stomach, and although not every soldier was fortunate enough to carry with him a full-sized dish, cup and silverware in his pack, he might have found it a luxury to eat off of a tin plate and drink from a brass cup such as these while in the field.

2. Pictures of loved ones at home (or sta-

tioned in other units) were an important part of morale. Tintypes were also known as melainotype or ferrotype and were most popular during the 1860s. Unlike ambrotypes or daguerreotypes, tintypes were rugged and could withstand rough treatment and were relatively inexpensive to reproduce.

3. Political farce or Union inspiration. Humiliating a political opponent is nothing new, proven by this faked cartes de visite of Jefferson Davis wearing a dress, poking fun at the rumor that he was caught by Union soldiers fleeing in a woman’s dress.

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Shown here are the volunteer enlistment forms of New York City resident Richard Kennedy, a 25-year-old blacksmith from Ireland who volunteered to join the U.S. Army on Aug. 16, 1862. He was 5 feet, 4 1/2 inches tall with hazel eyes and light hair. He was mustered into Sickles’ Excelsior Brigade that saw notable action at Gettysburg.

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Tin and brass cups like these were issued and used as drinking and cooking vessels both on the north and south sides. So popular, they were part of the kit for a U.S. soldier well into the Indian wars of the 1870s.

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6. The biggest problem with Confeder-

ate currency was that it wasn’t backed by gold or silver, but simply a promise (provided the South won the war). Called “greybacks,” most all of the states issued currency as did the Confederate government. The $100 bill on top was printed by Hoyer & Ludwig in Richmond and 284,000 were issued, part of the fourth series of currency issued in early to late 1862. The $1 bill shows the bust of Clement Clay, a southern senator from Alabama.

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Opposites meet. These two Minié balls, both .69 caliber examples, were found in excavations on opposite sides of the battlefields around Richmond, one southern and one northern, but both exactly the same.

8. There were very few women allowed in camp, at least not with the rank and file infantry, so when repairs to clothing were needed, thread, needles and thimbles were handy to keep at the ready. These two were found in excavations around Richmond, Virginia.


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9. Civil War troops wore insignia on their

hats and caps to designate their branch. Most popular were the crossed cannon (artillery), crossed swords (cavalry) and horn (infantry). The horn, being symbolic of a European hunt, was used before the familiar crossed rifles. The more familiar style of the infantry horn, used extensively during the Civil War, first appeared on officer's forage cap bands in 1839.

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There are dozens of different styles of buttons used by the Union soldiers during the Civil War. These brass eagle uniform buttons are the most common types used for all enlisted men and were available in the three sizes shown. However, the button with the stars around the edge (right) were used by staff officers.

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Issued to Union cavalrymen (both enlisted men and NCOs), brass metal shoulder scales (part of a pair) were not only a decorative accoutrement to the uniform, but historically provided some protection during a sword fight. However, by the Civil War, they were merely part of the dress uniform and served as decoration only.

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On the June 26, 1865, at Fort Ellsworth in Virginia, 29-year-old Private John H. Thomas was mustered out of Company F of an artillery regiment. He no doubt returned to his occupation as a farmer.

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Borrowed from the French, the Kepi cap was most often issued to Union officers. With the sunken top and squared leather visor, it was often called a “McClellan cap.� The Kepi was a favorite among the troops and became standard issue for New York infantry regiments. The embroidered crossed swords on this example shows it was issued to a cavalryman.


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14. Cavalry troopers used this

wide leather sling to keep their carbines handy while mounted. The carbine itself would be attached to the sling with this snap swivel.

15. At approximately 2-inches in

diameter, grapeshot was devastating at close range. Also known as canister shot, it was used primarily against massed infantry charges.

16. In many ways, this Model 1854

Lefaucheux large-bore pinfire revolver, based upon the patents of Casimir and Eugene Lefaucheux, was one of the most modern and advanced military handguns to see use on the battlefield during the American Civil War. Thousands of these pinfire revolvers were imported for use by U.S. troops, and at least a few hundred saw service with Confederate troops as well.

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17. Months after the famous sea battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, on Dec. 31, 1862, the Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in a severe storm with the loss of four officers and sixteen crewmen. This patriotic token was struck in 1863, at a time when most metal coinage was dwindling from circulation. They were used as collectors’ items as well as currency (valued at 1 cent). The other coins are Indian head pennies also from 1863, as well as a Union patriotic token on the right.

18. These regulation-issue, straight-bladed swords with

brass hilts and double-clamshell guards are the 1840 Pattern NCO swords, but were carried only by sergeants largely as a badge of rank, setting the sergeants apart even more clearly from the privates and corporals. C. Roby & Co. of West Chelmsford, Massachusetts, sold several thousand swords to the U.S. government during the Civil War. IMS

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THE ENFIELD P14 RIFLE, WHILE NOT AS FAST TO OPERATE AS THE LEE ENFIELD, WAS AN ACCURATE, STURDY RIFLE THAT SAW MUCH USE n TEXT AND PHOTOS BY BOB CAMPBELL


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he British Enfield Pattern 1914 (P14) and its variant, the Pattern 1917 (P17) were two important military rifles of World War I. The P17, while the preferred rifle by many shooters, was basically a minor variant, simply chambered for a different cartridge. (I know that there are more specialized designations for the rifles, but P14 and P17 are used by respected authorities and collectors for brevity.) But what a rifle the P17 was!

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THE P14’S HERITAGE The history of the P14 begins with the Pattern 1913 (P13). This was a rifle designed as an answer to the accu-

rate and fast-shooting Mauser rifle. The British gained respect for the Mauser during the Boer War. One must suppose the primary factor in earning this respect was the marksmanship of the native Boer riflemen. The Mauser, however, fired a highvelocity cartridge superior in many respects to the .303 British cartridge that was used in the Short Magazine Lee Enfield. Specifically, it was not as accurate as the British had hoped. In those days 1,000-yard accuracy against massed troops was a consideration. Development of the P13 rifle was one answer. The P13 was more Mauser-like and chambered a radical and powerful .276 cartridge. In contrast to the two-

piece stock of the Lee Enfield, the new rifle featured a conventional stock and chambered the new rimless .276. The .303 used a cartridge rim similar to the 7.62x54 Russian and other early 1890s cartridges. All did not proceed well with the new loading. Field tests showed excess recoil and muzzle blast to be a problem. The cartridge was considerably more powerful than the .303 British or even the 8mm Mauser class of cartridges. Though the rimmed .303 British cartridge left something to be desired compared to the .30-06 Springfield as an example, the .276 cartridge was considered overly powerful for general issue.


Ladder or aperture sight of the rifle is folded down in this illustration.

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The “dogleg� bolt has plenty of leverage. It also locks down securely as a safety measure.

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This is the unit roundel for the P14 rifle.

THE WAR CHANGES EVERYTHING

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During the experimental phase of the P13 program, World War I broke out. It was not practical to replace the Lee Enfield service rifle, so the SMLE soldiered on. The P13 program, however, was deemed too good to throw away. With Britain short of rifles for Army use, the P13 was considered the easier rifle for American manufacturers to produce. Contracts were let for the P14, a .303 chambered variant of the P13 rifle. These rifles were manufactured by Remington, Winchester and Eddystone Arsenal. The P14 combined good features of both the Mauser rifle

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and the Lee Enfield. The action was ideal for rapid fire as the bolt cocked on closing. This was similar to the Lee Enfield, one of the fastest bolt action rifles ever built. But the rock solid lockup was more similar to the Mauser rifle. The rifle featured a distinctive “dogleg” bolt handle that afforded excellent leverage for working the bolt. This bolt handle locked into the receiver and, in essence, was the equivalent of an extra locking lug. The aperture sights were shrouded by protective sides. The large, fixed magazine gave the rifle a distinctive appearance. In common with other aperture sights of the day, the Enfield sight could be adjusted to a long 1,600 yards. An interesting feature mounted on the left side of early rifles was a set of volley sights. These allowed sighting on groups of soldiers or artillery positions to several thousand yards. The P14 featured plenty of leverage for camming cartridges from the chamber. The rifle is generally regarded as being smoother in operation than the German Mauser 98 rifle. It is arguable that the P14 was the most accurate rifle in common use during the war. During the war, the reality of trench warfare and rapid movement showed the superiority of the Lee Enfield to the P14 rifle. With a 10-round magazine and a very fast action, the Lee Enfield was preferred to the heavy and slower handling P14.

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OBSERVATIONS ON THE P14 I have fired a number of P14 rifles over the years and I’ve made several observations. The dogleg bolt handle is close to the firing hand during operation of the rifle and allows a trained user to rapidly cycle the bolt. The sights are excellent military sights. When using good ammunition, such as the Winchester Super X 180-grain load, the rifle is superbly accurate. It isn’t unusual for a rifle in good condition to exhibit the ability to group three shots into 2 inches or less. Occasionally a trained marksman may turn in a group of 1-1.5 MOA. The problem is that match grade .303 British ammunition isn’t available. With carefully tailored handloads, I suspect this rifle would be the most accurate .303 ever manufactured. Just the same, after the war the Lee Enfield was retained as the standard British rifle. But this isn’t the end of the story with the P14.

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U.S. SOLDIERS USE P17 When the United States entered World War I, the army was short of rifles needed to arm the new recruits. Because American makers were already in production with a superior rifle design, it only made sense to take advan-

tage of this capacity to supplement production of the standard Springfield rifle. It would have been a considerable effort to turn these makers to manufacture of the Springfield rifle, so the Enfield P14 was redesigned to take the .30-06 Springfield cartridge. Since the original .276 chambering was practically a Magnum power cartridge, there was plenty of strength in the action for the Army cartridge. Thus was born the Model of 1917 rifle or P17 Enfield. During the war, more than 2,270,000 P17 rifles were made, a remarkable accomplishment. The aperture sights


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This is the forward volley sight.

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This rifle was produced at Eddystone arsenal.

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Note the small volley sight beside the standard Enfield rifle sight.

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The dogleg bolt handle and high sight protectors are earmarks of the Enfield rifle.

“THE ENFIELD, WITH ITS HEAVY 26-INCH BARREL AND EXCELLENT SIGHTS, PROVED AMONG THE MOST ACCURATE SERVICE RIFLES OF THE 1900TO-1950 ERA.”


were simplified and there were detail changes in the wooden furniture, but the rifle was very close to the original P14 rifle. More than half of the American soldiers in Europe during World War I were armed with the P17 rifle.

ENFIELDS SEE ACTION AROUND THE WORLD The P17 rifles were stored after World War I and the Springfield was standard issue, but many were sent to allies as lend lease, most notably the Philippines. The rifle was also sent to Nationalist Chinese forces. During World War II, the Enfield rifle was used to arm the French. As for the P14 rifle, many were issued to the home guard in Britain during World War II. Quite a few .30-06 P17s were also sent to Britain. These featured a red stripe across the stock to denote .30-06 and to avoid caliber confusion.

CONVERSIONS After the war, the Enfield was treasured for its strength and for conversion to powerful sporting calibers such as the .300 Winchester Magnum and even stronger cartridges. As a side note, Remington made some 30,000 sporting rifles

In this illustration the ladder sight is at high elevation.

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Note the large safety lever. This safety was positive in operation and locked securely.

“MORE THAN HALF OF THE AMERICAN SOLDIERS IN EUROPE DURING WORLD WAR I WERE ARMED WITH THE P17 RIFLE.�


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NICKEL P14

as the Model 30, a close copy of the Model 1917 rifle with a sporting stock. For most intents, World War II was the end of front line service for the P14 and P17 rifles. That rifle was an important key note in history.

The rifle illustrated is a nickel plated P14. Unlike many plated rifles, this one is completely original, and the plating did not obscure original proof marks. Why it was done is a mystery. Perhaps there was some significance to the original owner. Perhaps it was a presentation piece. In any case, the rifle is original save the plating, and it is in an historical sense an intriguing rifle.

THE ENFIELD ADVANTAGE The rear aperture sight was faster to use and more accurate than the typical Mauser sight, which was mounted in front of the chamber. The M1 Garand used sights more similar to the P17 than the Springfield, and for good reason. The receiver is heavier and stronger than the Mauser or Springfield actions. The bolt aids in locking by recessing into the receiver on clos-

These are original British proof marks. Nickel plating did not obscure the marks.

ing. The cock-on-closing feature with a stroke of the bolt aided in rapidity of fire. The rifle’s six-round magazine gave the P17 an advantage over the Springfield’s five-round magazine. The safety location was much different than the Mauser, more similar to the Lee Enfield, and superior to both for

rapid manipulation. The Enfield, with its heavy 26-inch barrel and excellent sights, proved among the most accurate service rifles of the 1900-to-1950 era. If there were a drawback to the rifle it is the weight. The rifle averages some 9 pounds and 3 ounces. IMS

P14 SPECS Caliber: .303 British Length: 46.25 inches Weight: 9 pounds, 3 ounces Length of Barrel: 26 inches Integral box magazine

P17 SPECS Caliber: .30-06 Springfield Length: 46.25 inches Weight: 9 pounds, 3 ounces Length of Barrel: 26 inches Integral box magazine

This is a .30-06 caliber Enfield

BALLISTICS .303 British Standard WWI loading Winchester 180-grain

.30-06 Springfield 174 grains 180 grains

2,440 fps 2,400 fps

Standard U.S. Military Winchester 180-grain

174 grains Power Point

2,640 fps 2,700 fps

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REMINGTON n TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MIKE SEARSON


Thirty years in an evidence room contributed to more wood loss after the original damage was done by the shotgun blast.

ometimes you can find a military surplus rifle that needs a little—or a lot—of TLC to get it working. Maybe a previous owner attempted to deck it out and a few parts are needed to restore it to its original configuration, or you bought a cracked stock or gunsmith special at a discount. Restoring old rifles has been a hobby of mine over the past 30 or so years, and it can be very easy to put more money into such a project than

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Not a bad case of termites. This is what happens when a rifle takes a close range shotgun blast.

what the end result is worth. My most recent restoration was with a Remington Rolling Block single-shot rifle that came into my hands for less than the price of a fast food meal. My first exposure to this family of rifles was through a Navy Arms replica import chambered in 45-70. True to the design of the originals, it was massively overbuilt and a fine reproduction of a 19th century Buffalo Rifle. Pedersoli was the manufacturer and it still turns out fine modern replicas of these old rifles.

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The breech block of the Remington Rolling Block measures over .69 of an inch thick. In the 1870s, the Belgian proof house at Liege decided to torture-test the rifle and loaded a .50 caliber rolling block from breech to muzzle with 750 grains of black powder (about 10 times the recommended load), 40 bullets and two wads in an attempt to make the rifle fail. They never even came close.

HISTORY Remington's Rolling Block rifle was a breech-loading rifle produced from 1866 to around 1920. Known for its strong action, the rifle was one of the few mid-19th century designs that could handle the new (at the time) smokeless powders of the late 19th century. Chambered in a host of rimfire and centerfire calibers, I have seen these rifles built for various 12.17mm calibers formerly favored by the Swedish and Norwegians as well as 43 Spanish


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(11.15x58mmR). Yet many more were manufactured in (or later converted to) 30-06 Springfield, 7x57mm Mauser, and 8x50mmR Lebel. According to factory records, Remington made close to 46,450 of the No. 5 rifles between 1901 and 1910. Many were sold to Mexico and other Central American countries. These are the most common types that will be found on the surplus market. In the midst of World War I, the British Royal Navy purchased 4,500 of these rifles chambered in 7mm Mauser

for use by crewmen of various ships. Almost 100 years later, one of these rifles came into my hands.

MY “BLASTED” RIFLE On a Saturday night at my local Cabela's in Reno, Nevada, a load of firearms came in on consignment. They had formerly been in the possession of the nearby Lyon County Sheriff's office and were in various stages of condition from "Destroyed" to "Fair." This rifle caught my eye, not because I was particularly a fan of the

rolling block, but because the left side of the rifle had obviously been on the receiving end of a shotgun blast. The metal was now wore a brownish patina from decades of neglect while in the property room and whatever it went through the century before that. Yet I saw no other signs of damage beyond the wood. I picked up a few of these guns for projects, including a pair of shotguns, a revolver and the rolling block. My initial investment in the rifle was less than $10.

The loss of the top rear hand guard caused loss of bluing on the rear sight base.


The opposite side of the rifle was virtually pristine.

In contrast to modern military firearms, rifles such as these are a bit more labor intensive to strip down. Flat springs must be compressed to remove barrel bands, sight towers must be rotated to remove or add hand guards and the screws and nuts are of an unholy late 19th century design that no modern tool will fit without modification. My suspicions were correct that beyond the destroyed wood, the metal was intact aside from some corrosion. Suddenly the next question was: Where do I find replacement wood for this piece? The usual gun parts suppliers all turned out to be dead ends until I came across Womack's Rolling Block Parts. I knew the Remington I had was a British No. 5 and that it was chambered in 7mm Mauser. A quick look through the website confirmed I needed a fore end and an upper hand guard. Further information revealed that Womack's was within 50 miles, and I was able to pick up what we needed without shipping costs or delays.

THE PROJECT

The wood parts I bought from Womack’s were not reproductions, but actual wood that came off an original Remington Rolling Block No. 5. The grain and color closely matched the butt stock and I saw no numbers or cartouches on any of the wood that would create a “mix master.” As par for the course, I decided not to attempt to refinish the metal. It had obviously never been refinished and I preferred to leave it that way. I did clean it as best I could. I have to say that in three decades of collecting and restoring surplus rifles, including working for Century International Arms for at least two of those years, I had never encountered a bore this dirty. It took about 25 cotton patches soaked in Sweet’s Solvent and, eventually, Break Free to clean out all the fouling. Once it was clean, I saw a bore with no pitting and sharp rifling. With everything secure on the rifle, I checked the headspace with a set of 7mm Go and No-Go gauges, confirming that the rifle was still in spec and safe to shoot. This is significant, should you attempt to fire a 7mm Rolling Block. The Remington Rolling Block proved a favorite military rifle for many countries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The following list is far from all-inclusive: Back when the 7x57mm cartridge was standardized by • Egypt • England • Finland • Belgium • Demark SAMMI (Sporting Arms and • Argentina • Uruguay • Italy • United • Norway • China • Mexico • Papal States • Sweden Ammunition Manufacturers' • France • Austria States • Spain Institute) in the 1920s, the powers that be settled on a

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“AT 50 YARDS, THE RIFLE TURNED IN A 1.5-INCH GROUP. I HAVE FIRED MORE ACCURATE RIFLES, BUT THIS PERFORMED A LITTLE BETTER THAN I HAD ANTICIPATED.” PARTS SOURCE Womack’s Rolling Block Parts http://www.rollingblockparts.com/

A very dirty chamber and bore lead the author to believe that the notorious headspace issue with these rifles had been corrected. He still verified with a set of Go and No-Go gauges.


With new wood, the rifle was back in shootable condition.

case length that was slightly shorter than the original 7mm Mauser cartridge for which these rolling blocks were chambered since 1892. The end result is that modern 7mm Mauser cartridges can have excessive headspace in the chambers of these rifles. Some shooters solve this challenge by fire forming their cases, neck sizing the brass and only using that brass with the rifle. Apparently a previous owner had a gunsmith take more corrective action on the chamber, which made the rifle compatible with modern “off the shelf” 7mm Mauser ammunition. My first hint of this was the excessively dirty bore indicating that this rifle had been fired numerous times. In this case, I

ROLLING BLOCK’S RAVE REVIEW

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The Remington Rolling Block design achieved a famed reputation soon after it was introduced. In 1867 at the Imperial Exposition in Paris, the Remington Rolling Block was unanimously selected by the High Commission on Firearms as, "the finest rifle in the world" and was awarded the Silver Medal of the Exposition, the highest award for military and sporting arms. General Custer famously used the single-shot rolling block in many hunting expeditions on the Great Plains and the rifle was more widely used against buffalo than the more commonly known Sharps rifle of the period.

simply lucked out. Should you come across one of these rifles always check the headspace. Improper headspace can cause case separation while shooting and despite the strength of a rolling block action, this can lead to catastrophic failure, as 7mm Mauser is a smokeless round. Replacement of the wood involved removing the bands and screws and rotating the rear sight forward and upward to accommodate the hand guard. Replacement took less than 20 minutes and my rifle was once again in a serviceable condition as a shooter. Aside from the condition of the metal and the replacement wood, the rifle was essentially as it had left the factory once again. I fired some 175-grain Spanish surplus ammunition that I had sitting around. At 50 yards, the rifle turned in a 1.5-inch group. I have fired more accurate rifles, but this performed a little better than I had anticipated.

FUTURE PLANS These particular rifles in 7mm Mauser represent a minor footnote in military history, but the demand is out there to turn them into custom single-shot rifles for long range competitive shooting. My previously mentioned Pedersoli reproduction in 45-70 is a true tack driver for that cartridge. Some shooters of the rolling block cite that the 7mm


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107 The right side of the rifle looks as good as the other side with the replacement hand guards.

Sight increments out to 1,300 yards/meters are not overly ambitious on these rifles. This was used for volley fire where a squad or platoon would sight in at an extended range target and fire all at once in an indirect mode of fire.

Mauser is more than a capable deer rifle, but there are better options to lug around the woods in search of venison than a 10pound single-shot 19th century rifle. As much as I hate to tinker with history, the next step in this rifle’s life may be a new barrel in something a bit more interesting than 7mm Mauser. My rifle may end up as a single-shot long range shooting stick over the course of the next few years. Of course that would require new wood, a new barrel and a new trigger. I might even go with a tang sight for greater accuracy due to the increased sight radius. IMS

“THIS RIFLE CAUGHT MY EYE… BECAUSE THE LEFT SIDE OF THE RIFLE HAD OBVIOUSLY BEEN ON THE RECEIVING END OF A SHOTGUN BLAST.”


MAUSER MAKEOVER REBUILDING THE SWEDISH MAUSER TAKES PATIENCE AND KNOW-HOW, BUT THE RESULTS CAN BE WORTH THE EFFORT n TEXT AND PHOTOS BY ABE ELIAS

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“SINCE I BOUGHT MY FIRST SWEDISH MAUSER AT THE AGE OF 16, I HAVE BEEN IMPRESSED WITH THE 6.5X55 CARTRIDGE.” A Swedish Mauser (top) as you might find it on the surplus market. Below it is our rebuild in progress with barrel mounted, receiver work done and chambering finished. The fitting of the stock—floating the barrel and bedding the action—is still to come.


“I FEEL BETTER IF I KNOW THE RIFLE I AM SHOOTING IS MORE ACCURATE THAN I CAN SHOOT IT. AT LEAST AT THAT POINT I KNOW NOTHING WAS LEFT ON THE BENCH.” ince Paul Mauser first designed his boltaction rifle, the design has become legendary. To this day, many companies use the Mauser-style action to manufacturer their bolt-action rifles. It is the most widely copied and reproduced action, and it has seen service in the militaries of numerous countries. The most famous of the models has to be the K98, which was the version used by the German army. Many rebuilds have been based on surplus K98 actions. Out of the number of countries that produced Mausers for their military, a few besides the German Mauser have gained notoriety. Among the most notable are the Argentinean Mausers for their quality and the Swedish Mausers for their quality and accuracy. I enjoy rebuilding Mausers, so I tend to keep my eye out for ones that have lost their collector’s value. Occasionally, if I am in luck, I will find a Swedish Mauser ripe for the picking. There are a number of the key points to keep in mind when rebuilding a Mauser, and I’ll let you know why it is a good idea to leave it in its original 6.5x55 caliber.

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BUILD ON A BUDGET Rebuilding a rifle is not about the money. It is about getting your hands dirty and taking ownership of building your rifle to the best of your abilities. After a number of builds you might find a way to cut costs, but it is not cheap to get into the rebuild game. I often like to say tools are free because they eventually pay for themselves. Well, at least the idea “tools are free” is true if they are for things such as renovating or automobile repair. Having your own tools can help you avoid paying someone else for labor. In gunsmithing, it is true to an extent, depending on which tools. In the rebuild game, unless you are planning to do multiple rebuilds, you just have to live with the idea that the tools are an extra expense.

PARTS When you are getting ready for a build, keep your eye out for deals. In the case of my Swedish Mauser, I found one that had a rusted barrel. The owner had fired corrosive ammunition out of the rifle. A bad barrel was fine with me because I was going to put on a new one anyway. Things such as bolt handles are easy enough to find at times. Instead of buying a new one, I saved money by finding a M1917 Enfield bolt for only $25. It always helps to lay out a plan when assembling your parts, but be flexible; in the end it will save you time and money.


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My project rifle that I bought for $250. The stock has been chopped and the barrel had some pitting.

Installing the new Timney trigger is simple; it takes just one pin. After you have drifted the pin, there are a couple of screws for adjustments. Afterwards the rest can be done at the range if need be.

TRIGGER Over the years I have learned a good trigger is worth its weight in gold, but do not tell the trigger manufacturers that. For my rebuilds, I use Timney triggers. I find the quality to be outstanding, and they have a wide selection. When dealing with Mausers, the safeties are always an issue, especially if you want to mount a scope on the receiver instead of scout style. The traditional safety located on the bolt shroud can be a problem with a scope, but you can buy replacement rear bolt shrouds to remedy the problem. The shroud safeties take time and machining to install. I will often get a Timney trigger with a safety built in to save me the time and expense of buying another part.

STOCK A number of companies make after-market gunstocks. Few companies, though, make stocks for the small ring Mausers. For my build, I purchased a Boyd’s gunstock. For my intended use of the rifle, a traditional hunting style stock is fine. As a suggestion though, if you can't find a source for the style you want, you can always start by using a wood stock for your base and building it up from there using fiberglass. Depending on your skill level, you may be able to insert your own aluminum chassis. A lot will depend on your personal skill level and how much work you choose to do yourself.

The old triggers on the ‘96 Mausers are pretty good, but why settle for pretty good when you can have better. To remove the trigger assembly just take a punch and drift out the pins from left to right.

GOOD OPTICS ARE WORTH THE MONEY You cannot talk about building a rifle without talking optics. I have seen a number of rifles over the years that cost $600 and up and in the end there is a piece of $50 glass on the top. Don't ask me why, but some people forget the optics should be as purpose-tasked as the rifle. Rebuild or new rifle, if you want to shoot distances, you need to buy glass. If you spend that much time and money building something, then to get the best out of it you will need to see what you are shooting at. I would buy the best optics I can afford. I feel better if I know the rifle I am shooting is more accurate than I can shoot it. At least at that point I know nothing was left on the bench.


A helpful trick I have picked up over the years is to splurge and buy locking plastic containers for the parts. There are a number of parts when disassembling a rifle from small to large, and it is easy to lose one. Therefore, having a case marked with the project helps. Make sure it locks so if it ever is dropped parts don't go flying about the room. Removable pilots allow the gunsmith to accurately fit the pilot to the bore of the barrel they are working on. The cost is more than buying fixed pilot reamers but after a while, you will eventually accumulate a variety for different calibers. The results are well worth it.

For precision work, you need precision tooling. I like to buy both my reamers and gauges from the same manufacturer. Here I have my finish reamer and gauges for the 6.5x55 from Dave Manson Precision Reamers. The company's website has a number of articles on gunsmithing in its resource section.

BARREL

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On this rebuild, I ordered a Barrel from Shilen Rifles in Texas. I went with a #17 stainless steel match barrel with a 1-in-8 twist so I can shoot the heavier-weight bullets. I chose the stainless steel to get a bit longer life out of the barrel. If the original barrel had been in good shape, I could have left it on if I wanted the rifle for just hunting. Your choice of parts will depend on your particular applications. I like to do a little recreational bench shooting and I want the rifle for hunting, too, so I chose a match barrel. You might decide you want the rifle for long range shooting and go with a heavier barrel. Given the 6.5x55 is a great small- to midsize game cartridge, you could go with more of a hunting profile. Again, I would emphasize matching your choice to the application. When ordering a barrel from Shilen, you have a choice of getting a blank or getting them short chambered. If you do not own a lathe to cut your own chamber, the price of getting a barrel with a short chamber is a good idea.

I will clamp the new barrel in the vise and run the receiver down hand tight. After it is hand tight, I look at the amount of space left and finish running it down to the shoulder with the wrench. If I have cut the shoulder too far back, I will have to cut the face back equal to the distance between the shoulder and receiver, and then work with the finishing reamer until the gauges tell me I am finished.


It is possible during a build to redo almost every part of a rifle. Here we have the bolt release, and I have seen a number of people dress these up when doing a rebuild. This particular one looks fine to me, so I will leave it as-is.

The saying goes, "It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools." But it should also say it is a poor craftsman who uses poor-quality tools. When it comes to buying your reamers, I suggest you buy the best you can afford. The cost of the reamer is not the only thing at stake, but also the cost of the whole project. To ensure I get topquality cutters, I buy my reamers from David Manson Precision Reamers at www.mansonreamers.com. I also buy my Go and No-Go gauges there. Buying both from the same source helps ensure consistency. Best of all, the customer service is top drawer. If you need advice, you will be talking to Mr. Manson himself. I would recommend that you also get reamers with interchangeable pilots so you can best match the bore on your barrel. If you decide to cut the chamber yourself or get a short-chambered barrel, you will still need a finishing reamer and gauges. If you are not comfortable chambering a rifle, then I would suggest hiring a gunsmith. Trust me: There are plenty of other things that you can do on your own to make it your build.

The rear sight has been soldered to the barrel. So that I can use my barrel vise, I will just apply a little heat and tap it off with a hammer.

Use a gauge to check the surface of the receiver to make sure the face is perpendicular to the bore. The surface after machining was off less than a half-thousandth of an inch.

Sometimes even with the right tools, the job doesn't go how we imagined. After trying for hours to break the receiver free, even using a little heat, I gave up on the wrench. I finally took the barrel to the lather and cut a relief just before the receiver. After that, the wrench broke it free in no time.

When you get your barrel, all the information about it will be engraved on the lip around the bore. After dressing the face, you can then cut your diameter after which you can begin cutting your threads.

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If you are going to get into rifle building, a good barrel vise and action wrench is a must. Sometime you can make your own. I bought both my vise and wrench from Wheeler Engineering and Gunsmithing Supplies.

As you can see, I have my receiver in white. After all the machining is finished, I like to polish the receiver before heat-treat so I can see the colors on it during the heat-treat process. Once heattreat is done, I clean the receiver again and finish it to match the rifle. When this build is done, I will Cerakote both receiver and barrel.

RECEIVER

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The receiver is a large part of the build but requires little work in comparison. It is important to know before you touch the receiver that a lot of these receivers are only case hardened, so once you have cut them you will need access to a heat treat facility. I might rebuild a rifle for a number of personal reasons, but the common goal is to get more out of it accuracy-wise. To get the most of out of your rifle, you need the receiver to be concentric with the bore of the barrel, and to do so, the face of the receiver has to be cut square to the receiver. Again, I would suggest getting help if you are not capable of doing this yourself. At the very least, the face of the receiver has to be squared and, if possible, the locking lugs should also be

I started polishing up the bolt from the M1917 just to get a look at its condition. Sometimes scrounging parts from other rifles can save money. I like the look of the M1917 bolt handles, and this one only cost me $25.

squared. After that, the rest of the work will be mostly cosmetic, unless you choose to polish the raceways and lap the bolt lugs. Before taking on any such task, I would start researching it in depth. The key points mentioned here are only to serve as a starting point. I would also check out resources such as American Gunsmithing Institute. I always find their instructional videos helpful. Do what you can do and farm out what you cannot. Chambering a rifle can be dangerous if done incorrectly; at the least you will lose accuracy. As you get more experience, you will build your skill set if you decide to stay with it. Either way it turns out if you decide to build multiple rifles or just the one, it is always good to have something you had a personal hand in making. IMS


Here we are just finishing up with our finish reamer. It is important to make sure you use plenty of cutting fluid and clear the chips after each pass.

THE FLAT-SHOOTING 6.5X55

There are a number of different ways to true up the face of the receiver. Here we are using a jig and a surface grinder to remove less than a thousandth of an inch from the face.

Since I bought my first Swedish Mauser at the age of 16, I have been impressed with the 6.5x55 cartridge. Some of the more modern cartridges in the 6mm family are getting more attention, but the proven 6.5x55 has its uses. As a 6mm cartridge, it is an efficient cartridge and in some cases, has more energy out at long distance than some of the magnum cartridges. It is a flat-flying cartridge with not as much drop at distance, say in comparison to a .308 Winchester. It will take bullets ranging from 100 grain up to 160 grains. Bullet weights such as those are good for a variety of different game. I personally would draw the line at elk for the Swede. Downsides would be that components are not as cheap as some of the more popular cartridges. As well, the barrel life on one of these rifles isn't as long as the .308.

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“EITHER WAY IT TURNS OUT, IF YOU DECIDE TO BUILD MULTIPLE RIFLES OR JUST THE ONE, IT IS ALWAYS GOOD TO HAVE SOMETHING YOU HAD A PERSONAL HAND IN MAKING.”

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Lead Photo: Tactical Imports Photo


THE SEMI-AUTO BRS-99 IS RELIABLE, WELL-BUILT AND SHOULD MAKE AN EFFECTIVE HOME DEFENSE GUN n TEXT AND PHOTOS BY ABE ELIAS

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“EXCEPT FOR THE FOREND GRIP, THE PISTOL GRIP AND BUTTSTOCK PLATE, THE BRS-99 IS MADE FROM THICK GAUGE STEEL. THE STEEL CONSTRUCTION ON THE GUN MAKES IT AS SOLID AS A TANK.” ometimes we don't have access to actual surplus items. Due to various import regulations or gun laws, not everything made for the world's militaries is available to the public.

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In cases where we cannot buy the actual surplus version of a military firearm, sometimes companies make a version marketable to the public. The BRS-99 is a semi-automatic version of the Polish PM-98, a submachine gun made by Fabryka Broni “Lucznik”-Radom. Because I cannot get the full-auto version, I decided to get the BRS-99 so I could experience the design.

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BRS-99 DESIGN Originally, the PM-98 was intended for police, armored vehicle crews and personal defense. The semi-auto BRS99 keeps the dimensions the same, making it a small, compact firearm. One can't help but notice the strong resemblance the BRS-99 has to an UZI. The full-auto PM-98 fires from an open bolt. The semiauto BRS-99 is a blowback-operated firearm that fires from a closed bolt. The bolt uses a double guide rod and spring system. The entire receiver housing is made from stamped metal parts. The charging arm on the PM-98 is ambidextrous.


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A magazine pouch along with a sling and cleaning kit comes with the BRS-99.

A TROUBLED HISTORY

The magazine design for the BRS-99 is a straight-stick, doublestack design.

After Poland regained its independence at the end of World War I and became the Second Polish Republic, the country wanted to secure its future by developing its own military arms. The state-run Fabryka Broni was founded in 1925 in the city of Radom to produce small arms for Poland’s military. The factory started production in 1927. A number of designs, both original and licensed, have come out of the factory over the years. The country’s independence was short-lived. The Germans overran Poland in World War II and took over the firearms factory. At the end of that war, Poland became a satellite of the USSR. It was under that Russian influence that the factory turned out such weapons as the Tokerav TT33 and the AK-47.


Field cleaning the BRS-99 is straightforward. At top is the receiver cover; next row is the bolt and barrel. Below them is the double guide rod and spring with barrel nut. Finally is the lower receiver. The safety operates in reverse of what we are used to. Normally when the red is visible, the firearm is hot. Here the lever is up and the red is exposed, which means the BRS-99 is on safe.

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Unfortunately for lefties, there is but a single charging arm on the BRS-99, and it’s on the left side of the firearm. As the gun is being fired the charging arm does reciprocate, so it’s best to watch how you hold onto the firearm. The magazine release is the only ambidextrous control. Magazines are loaded in the pistol grip of the gun. I found depressing the magazine release with my index finger from the right side to be easier than with my thumb from the left side. The bulky pistol grip makes it necessary for me to shift my hand to catch the release with my thumb, while I can maintain my grip when I reach for it with my index finger. The bolt lock and safety are on the left side of the firearm. When the safety is engaged, it blocks the hammer, breech and trigger. An important note about the safety-on indicator is that it’s backwards from most firearms. Normally if red is showing, the firearm is ready to shoot. On the BRS-99 when the red is covered, the firearm is hot.

DISASSEMBLY MADE EASY Field stripping the firearm is extremely easy. At the rear just under the rear sights, there are two tabs. To field strip the firearm, just push the tabs forward and down, and then lift off the cover. After you remove the cover, push the tabs forward and up. This will take out the double guide rod and spring assembly. Slide the bolt to the rear and lift up to remove. Removing the barrel for cleaning is as mentioned before. Putting back together requires doing everything in reverse order. If this were a fully automatic firearm, I could see how such a simple field strip would be greatly appreciated.


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At the rear of the firearm just under the rear peep sight is the take down lever. To take down the firearm, you have to press on the tabs of the lever on both sides of the firearm and push forward and down. After pushing the tabs down, the receiver cover should just lift off from the back. Removing the barrel requires depressing the barrel nut locking lever and then just screwing off the nut. Because of the large pistol grip on the BRS-99, it is a bit hard to reach the magazine release. I found it easier to use either my index finger or my middle finger to reach the release. On the front of the firearm is a front horizontal grip made of plastic. If you prefer, you can unlock the grip and fold it down to create a vertical grip.


The front grip folds down to form a pistol grip. The grip locks in only one position: slightly forward of 90 degrees.

With the straight stock, it was difficult to get behind the iron sights. The BRS99 has standard MIL-SPEC rail at the rear, so the author used a red dot sight

“I DID NOT HAVE ANY FAILURES TO EJECT AND THE GUN WAS CONSISTENT IN EJECTING THE BRASS, SO I DID NOT HAVE A HARD TIME CLEANING UP AFTERWARDS.”

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GETTING A GRIP

PERFORMANCE

For the forward grip, you have a choice of folding it down to make a vertical grip or leaving it up for a horizontal hold. At the rear, there is a double-rod sliding stock that extends straight out with the push of a button and a slight tug. It extends out and locks in three positions. When stored, the rods stay alongside the receiver. The rear stock has to be one of my biggest gripes with this firearm. Because the stock extends straight out and does not angle down, it is hard to line up behind the iron sights. For the rear sight, there is an adjustable peep sight and the front is a caged post sight. Just in front of the rear sight is a MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail. Because I could not get into a good position behind the iron sights, I did pretty much all of my shooting with a red dot mounted to the rail. If you need to change the barrel out, the firearm is designed with a quick-change barrel feature. Depress the collar-locking lever, and then unscrew the collar. Once the collar is off, just pull up and out comes the barrel, making it easy to clean. To reinstall, just push the barrel in and align it with the locating lug, and then screw down the collar. To tote the gun around, a two-point sling is provided.

Operating the BRS-99 took some adjustment on my part because of the way the firearm balanced. Extending the rear stock for me did not give it a lot more stability. The stock came straight out and didn't have much weight to it to counter the weight of the BRS99. During the test, I ran a number of brands of 9mm through it, and it did not jam once. As I ran through each magazine, the bolt locked open and I was even able to run a few speed drills with no problems from the gun. I did not have any failures to eject and the gun was consistent in ejecting the brass, so I did not have a hard time cleaning up afterwards. Practical accuracy of the BRS-99 is supposed to be out to 150 meters, but we did all of our testing in close-quarters-combat distances. Once I dialed in the red dot—even when not using the buttstock—it was very accurate. I actually found the firearm more enjoyable to fire without the stock. I would love to see them design a different stock for it or improve the current one. Otherwise, they can keep it.


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BRS-99 SPECS Caliber: 9x19mm

Sights: Set at 75 meters; rear: user

Effective Range: 150 meters

selected U-notch or peephole; front:

Magazine Capacity: 5/15, 5/25

post, height adjustable

Method of Operation: Blowback, closed bolt

Length with Stock Retracted: 395 mm

Trigger Mechanism: Internal hammer, double stage

Length with Stock Extended: 610 mm

Mechanical Safety: Blocking hammer, breechblock

Barrel Length: 185 mm

and trigger

Sight Radius: 280 mm

ON THE WEB Fabryka Broni “Lucznik”–Radom http://fabrykabroni.pl/en/

HOME DEFENSE I enjoyed shooting the BRS-99. It was a good gun, dependable and accurate. As mentioned, we did not run into one operational issue. I personally would be much more enthusiastic about the BRS-99 if it were not for the collapsible buttstock. I would say I could see how this firearm might not be everyone's ideal choice. If someone was looking to buy one, I would suggest getting some range time behind the trigger first. I can see the firearm being a good home defense weapon. It is compact, maneuverable and accurate. It also shoots 9mm, which is readily available and not so highpowered that it will go sailing out of the house and into the surrounding neighborhood. Except for the forend grip, the pistol grip and buttstock plate, the BRS-99 is made from thick gauge steel. The steel construction on the gun makes it as solid as a tank. IMS

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FIREPOWER

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124 Bersa's Thunder 9 Pro is a well-made firearm with dependable performance.


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BERSA’S THUNDER 9 PRO DA/SA 9MM SERVICE PISTOL IS A GOOD SHOOTER AND AN EXCELLENT VALUE n TEXT AND PHOTOS BY ABE ELIAS


hen we think of surplus, we normally think of weapons left over from wartime. But many military and police agencies generate funds to keep their gear current by selling off their surplus. In turn, we become the benefactors of this as we can gain access to quality firearms at a discount. I had heard about the quality of the Bersa Thunder 9 Pro, which is in

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service with a number of police forces and Special Forces units throughout South America. After some research, I decided to get my hands on one.

BERSA THUNDER 9 PRO Bersa got its start in the mid 1950s in Argentina. In the early days, they were a parts manufacturer for the Ballester-Molina company. It was not until the 1960s that the company

formed as Bersa. It’s said that the name was derived from the first letters of each of the founder's names: Benso Benadimani, Ercole Montini and Savino Caselli. All of the founders emigrated from Italy and were mechanical engineers. Montini had worked for Beretta in Italy. Prior to the '90s, Bersa had a number of successful designs. In the '90s though, Bersa came out with its Thunder line of pistols.


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In 1994, the company introduced the Thunder 9. Over the years it has undergone improvements and now it is known as the Thunder 9 Pro. It was initially designed for military and police use, so it is a well-built and robust firearm.

DESIGN FEATURES The Thunder 9 Pro is a double action/single action short recoil-

Here we can see the take down lever on the left side of the pistol. To take the pistol apart, just pull the lever down and remove the slide. It doesn't matter if the hammer is cocked.

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To engage the safety and de-cock the hammer, simply push up. We can see the slide lock and safety are sculpted to flow together.

operated pistol. It shoots 9x19mm ammo. Mine came with 10-round, double-stacked magazines. There are higher capacity magazines available up to 17 rounds. I would compare its feel, weight and balance as being similar to a SIG P226. Sights on the pistol are a fixed three-dot system. Both the front and rear sights are dovetailed into the slide. Controls on

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Grips on the Thunder 9 Pro are a wraparound design with checkering on the sides and on the back strap. The size of the grip were made for the average hand. Unfortunately Bersa did not make the pistol with interchangeable back straps.

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The controls on the gun are ambidextrous. Here we can see that all we have to do to change the magazine release over is undo one screw.

MAINTENANCE IS EASY If more gun designs field stripped this easily, fewer boxes of parts would show up at gun shops for reassembly. To remove the slide on the Thunder 9 Pro, drop the take down lever on the left side of the firearm. That is all you have to do. There is no aligning of holes or struggling to get out levers or pins. After that, it takes down like other recoil pistols. Just separate the spring, barrel and guide rod, and then clean. Putting it back together requires pushing the slide to line up with the lever, then flipping the lever up. It might sound weird, but field stripping the pistol is almost as fun as shooting it.


Left) The Thunder 9 Pro was a pleasure to shoot at 30 yards. We had some respectable groups as the targets piled up. We ran so much ammo through the pistol that I was dead tired by the end of our time at the range.

Top) The pistol uses a double-stack magazine and comes with standard magazine wells. During testing, the magazines performed flawlessly.

“IT MAY SOUND WEIRD, BUT FIELD STRIPPING THE PISTOL IS ALMOST AS FUN AS SHOOTING IT.�

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the 9 Pro are completely ambidextrous. Out of the box, the magazine release comes set up for right-handed shooters but it can be changed by undoing a single screw. The controls for both the slide lock and safety are sculpted for ease of use and aesthetics. One thing that struck me about the pistol was the fit and finish. When a company pays close attention to detail, it is a hallmark of quality. When bringing the pistol up to fire, it is easy to see the loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide just rear of the ejection port. Putting the safety on blocks the firing pin, disconnects the trigger and de-cocks the hammer. This is one of my few complaints about the pistol. If you have a round in the chamber and want to carry the pistol cocked with the safety on, you can't. So if you carry the pistol with the safety on, your first shot will be with a double-action trigger pull. Bersa uses a Commander-style hammer for the Thunder 9, which is preferable if you choose to use this pistol as your carry firearm. Grips are a three-sided wraparound style with checkering on the sides and back strap. The

front of the grip has serrations on the frame. A large trigger guard, along with the large controls, makes the pistol very glove friendly. Bersa uses an aluminum alloy for the frame and a hardened steel slide. Rifling in the barrel is polygonal. At the front of the slide there is an accessory rail for lights and lasers. The rail is a standard size rail.

THUNDER 9 PRO availability Tactical Imports was excellent in getting this pistol to me in such short order. There are a number of sources for this pistol, however. bersa.eagleimportsinc.com www.impactguns.com www.budsgunshop.com

www.gunbroker.com www.tacticalimports.ca www.cheaperthandirt.net


As mentioned, the Thunder 9 Pro is a doubleaction/single-action pistol. The pull on the double action is long and a bit heavy. Take-up on the double-action pull is very little and when it breaks, it is a crisp break. On single action, the trigger has more take-up to it than on double action. The break on single action is very crisp and the pull is very light.

PERFORMANCE There is no doubt in my mind that this pistol is much more accurate than I can shoot it. I have never been a one-ragged-hole shooter, but in the right hands this pistol could be a tack driver. I was still able to hold groups that would have put every shot in center mass. I shot it at 10 meters and as I got used to the pistol, my accuracy went up. As I ran out of ammo though, I felt the pistol was capable of much more than

I could draw from it. Through a couple hundred rounds, the pistol just kept going. It took every round without one failure to feed or eject. The slide locked open at the end of each magazine. I did receive a used pistol, so it was well broken in when I got it. For the entire test, I ran straight through without cleaning it. The pistol proved to be accurate and dependable.

TYPES OF AMMO Part of making sure my shooting is hassle-free is using dependable ammo. Over the years, I have found that to accurately test a firearm, you need to eliminate as many variables as possible. Using dependable, quality ammo helps to eliminate a lot of those variables. I fed a number of brands through the pistol: Federal, Armscor, Hornady and Cor Bon. For the endurance part of the test, the majority of ammo fired was good old Federal FMJ 124 gr.

BERSA THUNDER 9 PRO SPECS Caliber: 9x19mm Eective Range: 50 meters Magazine Capacity: 10 Trigger Mechanism: Double Stage; SA/DA Mechanical Safety: Decocker; double action, firing pin

safety, hammer half cock, loaded chamber indicator Sights: Fixed 3 dot combat Sight Radius: 153mm Length: 192mm Barrel Length: 108mm Weight: 872 grams Real World Prices: Just over $400

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The pistol comes with a three-dot fixed dovetailed sight system. As you can see the system has clear markings. The lack of after-market night sights might be a put off for some people.

DRAWBACKS ARE FEW With the pistol itself, the only downside I can find is the safety and that is more of a preference. As far as accessories go, there aren’t many. To carry the pistol, you will have to get something custom made or use a generic-style holster. Also, magazines can be a bit hard to find, but at least when you find them, you don't have to mortgage your house to buy one. Bersa's Thunder 9 Pro is a quality firearm. The firearm did not surprise me, as I took some time to research it before purchasing. Still, even having a good idea of what to expect, I was very pleased. It is well-designed and has seen hard use in South America. By some standards, it might not meet the idea of surplus, but either way it is a pistol I would trust. IMS


LAST LOOK

MOST DEADLYWAR

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130 A semi-auto PE57 with the Stgw57 bayonet mounted.

John Parrot/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

The American Civil War pitted countryman against countryman and, in some cases, neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother. One study estimates that 620,000 died, which makes it the deadliest war in U.S. history. By comparison, 116,516 Americans died in World War I, 405,399 in World War II and 58,209 in Vietnam.


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