Welcome to Milgeek.co.uk, my blog about my obsession with things military, including my airsoft hobby, family history in World War 2, military gaming, defence news and much more.
Entries in Weapons (30)
America's guilty secret love affair with the Russian AK series continues with this rather amazing looking rail system for Molot's VEPR Super .308 conversion of an AK (based on a heavy duty RPK reciever).
The system is made by ATI Gunstocks and really gives the venerable AK a space age look. The crane stock is also by ATI and their web site has some nifty conversion accessories for the Russian assault - ahem, sorry 'sporting' rifle!
The Mollot on it's own is worth a look at as it is a very handsome looking take on a sporterized AK...
I have to say that with the ATI rail system on this would look exceptionally cool as an airsoft clone - and a bit different from the plethora of Draganovs that have flooded the market over the past two years. Hopefully some Asian airsoft clone company is looking at this and thinking it would make a good piece of kit!
It would make a nice conversion kit for the CYMA RPK. Thanks to The Firearm Blog for highlighting this.
A date bandied about for the SA80 ( L85A2) replacement has been 2020, although given cut-backs and the state of the country's finances this may 'creep'. However, serious discussions about this will have to start (if they haven't already) within the next five years. I personally think they have been put on ice until after Afghanistan comes to a conclusion...
Anyhoo. What choice is there? Well, frankly, at the moment it's rather like the great Henry Ford once said about the Model T - 'you can have any colour you want, as long as it's black.'
In reality that famous saying is a bit of an urban myth, but it's slight inaccuracy is sort of like the situation is with possible replacements for the SA80. There are contenders from Colt, Diemaco, FN, H&K, Steyr Mannlicher and many more, but the fact is that the majority of these so called competitors actually produce a derivative of the Armalite AR15 design. Amazingly, H&K, FN and Steyr, who are noted for their innovative G36, SCAR and AUG respectively have relented and dabbled in the Armalite format.
Above: The 'new' Steyr Mannlicher STM556. Whatever happened to the space-age AUG you might ask? Well, it seems that the whole Bulpup adventure that Europe embarked on was something of a blind alley, the majority of manufacturers are now returning to the more conventional arrangement for magazines. Photo source: The Firearm Blog
So much for market forces and competition breeding innovation!
If you research the infamous British ex-squaddie forum - ARSSE - and throw away a lot of the nonsense you do tend to get the impression that the HK416/17 is the favoured contender (along with the reintroduction of the L1A1 SLR)!
This modified variant of the Armalite design has such a good reputation that even the US Marine Corp use it in preference to the Colt manufactured version. It put's right many of the intrinsic faults with Stoner's original AR design including the introduction of a 'new' short stroke gas piston system (derived from the G36).
The SAS (and similar) use the Canadian Diemaco, although there have been recent rumours that they are turning to the H&K417 instead. If you look at the list of global Special Forces groups who use the 416/17 then the case for it's reputed reliability becomes quite strong (SF groups traditionally having the ability to chose what's 'best').
So are there ANY non-AR contenders as a possible SA-80 replacement?
Well, the FN SCAR is highly thought of and has been adopted by French and American Special Forces units. But otherwise there aren't a great many weapons systems out there that can compete with the ARs flexibility and cost effectiveness.
Above: The main SCAR versions - 5.56mm & 7.62mm - form the basis of a family of weapons for a variety of infantry roles, from CQB to sniping. The French and US Special Forces have adopted the SCAR system, but one gets the idea that the French only did this to say 'f** you, America' in that way that they do (and at least it's a Belgian design!), but I think they got a good deal. Interestingly they adopted this so they could dump thier FAMAS bullpup - can you see a pattern forming? Photo source: Wikipedia
What about a new British design?
The million dollar question. Could a UK company (which would have to mean BAE) come up with a competitor for any hypothetical replacement competition?
BAE - under the guise of their subsidiary GSC - do have the technical ability to design and build a new weapon, but considering the amount of R&D required AND the emphasis on a 'combat proven' system the likelihood as they would probably come up with - guess what - some sort of AR15/M4 based design. The UK government and MoD in all likelihood feels that they got their fingers so badly burnt wit the SA80 that anything other than a proven system will not do.
There might be a strong case for BAE setting up a manufacturing plant for the production of any successfully adopted weapon in the UK, and tradition has it that the MoD would probably add some form of modification unique to our needs. But as for a truly British military rifle, I'm afraid that will in all likelihood never happen again (unless we develop some form of phaser in the future).
In conclusion...Stating the obvious
Well, Henry Ford may have not said that famous phrase but his attributed bon mot is a truism which is uniquely apt when it comes to Western military rifles. Whatever design is chosen to replace the SA80 it will most likely be Armalite influenced.
Above: A Danish soldier using the 5.56mm HK416 in Afghanistan, the M4 (carbine) format is the current trend for infantry, but that does mean a DSR - like the 7.62mm HK417 - needs to be added to the mix for ranged engagements.
What we have to do is bite the proverbial bullet and decide whether this is actually a bad thing. Both Heckler & Koch and - more recently - Styre Manlicher have produced very worthy improvements over the original Stoner/Colt AR15/M16 designs. And whether 'we' (gun enthusiasts) like it or not British soldiers are in favour of the HK416/17 and at least we can say we have the 'best of European' designs if we do adopt it.
Me? I am actually less concerned about the platform we adopt so much as whether we will act on what we have learned in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and adopt a sensible new cartridge! (Say the 6.5mm Grendel for it's proven knock down superiority over the NATO 5.56mm round.)
...But that's a different story!
Nice to return to having my Milgeek Media Friday, and this week it's all about the old Lee Enfield .303.
Now I used the .303 (Model No. 4) when I was a school cadet in the 1970s, it was still the standard cadet training rifle then as the Army was using the 7.62mm L1A1 SLR and so I guess they thought it was good for us to train using a long large calibre rifle. Anyhoo...
Recently I watched a really entertaining video called 'Lock n' Load' on YouTube featuring R. Lee Ermey - you know, the Gunnery Sgt. from Full Metal Jacket! - where he did a rapid fire challenge between the British Lee Enfield and the American M1 Garand (yes, I know - not entirely fair as the Garand is semi-auto).
Still, this was a really cool comparison because when I was a teenager the Battle comic - a great favourite of mine - had a strip in it called 'Union Jack Jackson'. This was a fictional story of a Royal Marine who's ship was sunk in the Pacific so he ended up attached to a US Marine unit - and he had a competition with a Garand armed Marine to see who could fire the fastest, and the Brit won!
Now I know that was just a comic, but...The British Army were trained to fire their Lee Enfields rapid fire in what became known during the First World War as 'The Mad Minute'. Legend has it that so rapid was the British fire from the .303 that attacking Germans thought they were being fired on by machine guns!
Anyway - R. Lee Ermey's competition ended up with a predictable win for the Garand, but I was a little dubious as to the ability of his British opponent who - give him his due - wasn't that far behind the 'Gunny' at one point but wilted towards the end. My suspicions that he hadn't trained much with rapid fire with his .303 were somewhat backed up when I saw another video from the Good Ol' Gun Gripe boys YouTube channel!
This video shows an American gun enthusiast and Lee Enfield fan firing his .303 in true rapid fire style - and I couldn't help thinking that if he had been the Gunny's opponent then the Enfield would have probably have come out on top!
See what you think - first view the Lock n' Load video clip and then the 'Mad Minute' clip...
...Check out the speed of the aimed rapid fire here...
What do you think? I say let's have a rematch! :)
I love this - mainly because this will have the annul stitch counters (?) at the Red Alliance forum spitting feathers! LMAO
Yes, it is true - what many have suspected for a long time now - there is a Russian licensed version of the Glock being made. Great news for Russian loadout airsofters as there is still a dearth of Russian airsoft pistols out there.
...Sorry - I'm still laughing about the Red Alliance guys (who will undoubtedly insist that the Russian version is somehow better - OR, like Chechkov from Star Trek, insist that they came up with the design first)!
[Re-blogged from the Firearm Blog] This is just gob-smackingly cool - it's the new Saiga 12 C EXP 01 Shotgun...
Source: The Firearm Blog
At a time when the airsoft industry seems to have completely run out of new ideas why has no-one tackled the Russian Saiga tactical shotguns? I would like to see someone making an AEG of the above with a 3-burst mechanism to simulate a shotgun effect
Read more here: The Firearm Blog - Saiga 12 C EXP 01 Shotgun
I am old enough to remember when the UK had sensible gun laws, in fact I was just about to make the transition from field target with airguns to 'Practical Shotgun' competition JUST as the laws in this country changed and the sports of practical pistol and shotgun were lost forever here. So when I see programs or articles about the the American gun market I always feel there are two reasons why Americans shouldn't have access to so many guns - not just because they are apt to use them, but because they are apt to have the worst taste in gun design in the world!
Above: Featured on the usually excellent Fire Arm Blog this attempt to 'Westernize' (apply the aesthetic of the Old American West) this AR10 exemplifies why Americans should stick to the side of gun design that involves designing guns and not applying design to guns. [Fire Arm Blog: Turnbull TAR-10 Rifle: Western-Style AR-10]
While on holiday I happened to catch an episode of 'American Gun' on the discovery channel. In many ways it's the fire arms equivalent of the excellent 'American Chopper' or ' American Hotrod', with one important exception - while we all marvel at the wonderfully creative designs produced in the later programs American Guns seems to be more akin to 'Pimp my Gun' with all the aesthetic good taste of a street gangster.
I sat through 40 minutes of wincingly bad modifications to a custom Colt 1911 which eventually saw the classic pistol adorned with dubious engraving, sloppy silver plating and - OMG! - diamond encrusting!
...There just isn't any justice.
If you are a firearms enthusiast worthy of the name then this is very exciting news. The Firearm Blog has posted up and article about a newly unearthed semi-automatic rifle by George Luger, creator of the legendary German pistol. What is so tantalizing - and has the gun nut fraternity all a buzz - is the date of this design...1906!
The implications are delicious and at the same time scary. That Germany could have had a quality semi-automatic rifle in time for the First World War does not bear thinking about.
Luckily for us - non-Germans - it is debatable whether this design, based on the mechanism of Luger's pistol, would have been a sturdy enough design for military use. Still, the thought that there could have been a German Garand is a little terrifying.
'What if?' senarios aside, even in it's prototype form a 'new' design by the legendary gun designer is enough to cause a stir. Read more on the Firearm Blog: George Luger’s Secret Rifle
I was watching a excellent BBC report - by Frank Gardner - on protection squads aboard ships running the gauntlet of Somali pirates when I spotted an appearance of an old friend! It looks very much like the venerable 'Stupidly Long Rifle' still has life in it (as many of it's fans have quite rightly been saying for years).
The report showed ex-Marine Brits who now work for one of the many marine protection companies using a variety of arms to 'deter' would be pirates. Apparently the long range of the L1A1 and it's 7.62 x 51mm round is very useful for putting one across the bow of any suspect skiff before it gets anywhere near a merchant vessel.
I should add the Frank Gardner is just a superb guy who I have no end of admiration for, and this is a particularly amazing report: BBC News - Dangerous waters: Running the gauntlet of Somali pirates
It's always a bit embarrassing to say that 'I love guns', the negative connotations in this PC age is far too overwhelming for most of us 'gun nuts' to admit our weakness in polite company. But this new historic replica reminds me why the admiration of 'the gun' as a piece of creative engineering is wholly justified. The Colt 1887 Bulldog Gatling Gun replica is a work of art...
This item pushes all the right buttons for me, both as a gun enthusiast and a fan of the Steampunk genre, quite what it is about a hand-cranked lump of gleaming brass which spits hot lead in large amounts quite escapes me. But in any case, every Englishman - and even some Scotsman like myself - should have one of these contraptions in the library of his stately home!
Here's a video of the weapon, made by U.S. Armament Corps - bear with the photo montage to get to the actual operation...It's well worth it!
Big thank you to The Firearm Blog for bringing this to our attention
Harry famously said that his .44 magnum '...being the most powerful handgun in the world...' could blow the head clean off a bad guy. Well, let's say that you not only wanted to blow that bad guy's head off but the heads of his two friends behind him - say hello to the Smith & Wesson .500 magnum revolver!