Monday, November 19, 2012

Nuclear scale

 Castle Bravo Test

Tsar Bomba test photo and a simulated blast zone overlaid on map of Paris

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Barrett back on top

Well, it has happened again. The record for longest sniper kill has been broken. Two unnamed snipers from the Australian Army have made what is apparently the successful longest rifle shot in the history of warfare. The snipers both used Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber rifles. The snipers fired simultaneously at a Taliban commander, hitting and killing him. It is not known which of the snipers fired the successful shot. This will likely remain an unofficial record for longest shot in warfare as it is unknown who fired the shot or for that matter, who the snipers were. The implication being that they were both members of Australia's Special Forces, probably 2 Commando Regiment, and will likely not be identified. The distance as measured by GPS was 3079 yards or 2815 meters. At this distance the flight time of the bullet is estimated at 6 seconds. At distances like this, great skill is of course needed, but luck certainly is a major factor. It would be next to impossible to measure the crosswinds, anticipate the targets position after the shot is fired and a dozen other factors that are important for super long range shooting. The previous record for longest sniper kill shot was held by Corporal Craig Ferguson of the British Army. His shot(s) were taken at a distance of 2707 yd or 2475 m with a .338 Lapua fired from a L115A3 rifle.

I am sure that they are pleased with this at Barrett Firearms Mfg, Inc. The last three records were made using their competitor's rifles. Congratulations to the Australians, I hope they will all come home safe and soon.

Completely unrelated picture of a American sniper with a Barrett M82A1 in Iraq

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

More Improvised Firearms

 I actually like this one, a snub nose built into what appears to be a reproduction 1918 Trench knife.  The fact that I think it is cool would not influence my decision to fire it though.

.22 LR lipstick gun. Not very useful, but cool in that James Bond kind of way. 

I can't tell very much about this one at all, but I do like the "cloak and dagger" style of it.

 A variant of the classic pen gun, I like this tire pressure gun because unlike most of the pens, it still looks like what it is supposed to be.  Most likely a .22 like all other pen guns I have seen.

 Provided that you could keep the muzzle free of obstructions, this cane-shotgun might be useful. I think that those are 16 gauge shells.

 Another key chain zipgun, caliber looks to be one of the .32 Longs or maybe a Super .38. This seems like it would be safe enough to fire, but I don't like my fingers to be that close to the muzzle of any weapon.

 This ring revolver is neat, but I certainly can not think of a real use for it. I think the risk of a negligent discharge would be really high as well. Caliber might be .25ACP (which is probably the most useless modern round)

Things like this scare me. Thank god I live in a country where I can buy a Hi-Point.  :)

 This one is known on the Internets as the Frankengun. The photo was taken in Iraq, sometime around 2007-2008 if I recall. The weapon is a 7.62x39mm that incorporates some AK parts like the magazine, barrel and front sight (which seems to be on backwards-no matter, right?) The pistol grip might be from a Beretta 92 or 951 (likely the Iraqi-made copy of the 951)
 The muzzle brake closely resembles the one from the Tabuk sniper rifle. It seems to have a commercial rail system tactical light and what is likely a inexpensive Chinese scope. I can't tell if any of the other parts come from a real gun or not. My question is, in a country awash with AKs, why risk your fingers and nose with this thing?

We don't see very many improvised firearms with stocks, and that is too bad, because you are going to need all the help you can get to hit anything with these pieces of crap. It is impossible to say for sure by this one photo, but it looks like this is a shotgun given the large barrel and the padded buttstock. For some reason, I think this one is from the Philippines, which have a long history of improvised guns.

                             This one is not a firearm per se, but is that cool or what?

T13 "Beano" Impact grenade

During WWII, all sides tried to come up with new military products for use in the war. Some were real breakthroughs and others, well not so much. And that brings us to the T13 "Beano" Impact grenade. Standard fragmentation grenades are used by pulling out the pin which holds the "spoon" or "paddle" on. When the pin is pulled, spring pressure throws the paddle off the grenade and ignites a fuse that burns for approximately 3 to 5 seconds and then detonates the primary explosive. The Beano worked differently. Instead of a timed burning fuse, it used a pressure trigger and an in-flight arming mechanism. To throw the grenade, the user would grip it like a baseball, that is with the first and middle finger together over the top of the grenade and its knurled "butterfly cap". Then the pin was pulled and the grenade thrown. The butterfly cap would come off when the grenade was thrown and then a nylon cord attached to it would play out until it pulled a second arming pin from the interior of the grenade. This armed the grenade to explode when it impacted a hard surface. 

Obviously, this raises some important questions. What if you threw the grenade and it landed in soft dirt or mud or water? You have a highly dangerous piece of UXO is what. How much pressure is needed to pull the secondary arming pin? Would it fail to work or be pulled accidentally? How sensitive is the impact fuse?  Could you tangle the cord and butterfly cap in gear or barbed wire and cause the grenade (now armed) to come back at you like a tetherball? 

The T13 grenade was developed by the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA and manufactured by the Eastman Kodak company. The idea behind its shape was that American soldiers were almost all familiar with throwing baseballs and that they would be able to throw a baseball-shaped grenade further, more accurately and with greater ease than the oblong shape of earlier grenades like the Mk2 "pineapple" grenade or the Mills bomb. Despite accidents and deaths during the testing process, the T13 was approved for field use and some 10,000 were sent to the field for use during the Normandy invasion. It was apparently withdrawn due to a high incidence of accidents and injuries from misuse or poor design. Most existing examples were destroyed and the plans classified. There was a similar design from Italy called the SRCM 35/38 or the "Little Red Devil". It was used  during the same time period and there are many documented cases of the grenades being found in an armed, but undetonated state, sometimes killing those who further disturbed them.

Today the T13 grenade (de-milled, of course) is one of the rarest grenades from the WWII era and are very highly sought after by collectors. The baseball shape of the T13 was resurrected years later in the highly successful M61 and M67 Fragmentation grenades.