Know Your Weapons: 5 of the Most Effective Man-Killing Tools in History

Lethal Weapons: 5 of the Most Effective Man-Killing Tools in History

Some obscure weapons here. Very interesting.

I am intimately acquainted with the Shuriken (aka throwing star) when I was a kid growing up, like most kids my age, I was heavily into martial arts, especially ninja movies and thanks to a mail order catalog a friend of mine had and their loose standards for minors ordering lethal weapons (I think you had to forge a parent’s signature? Oh the good ole’ 1980’s, how I miss them!) I had half-a-dozen throwing stars, a pair of nunchaku’s and a set of those “tiger claws” in my arsenal, but the only thing I ever managed to use them on was a sheet of plywood with a painted target on it! Good Times!


Obscure Weapons: The Browning Gas-Toggle Pistol


On the April 20th, 1897, now-legendary firearms-designer John Browning received four patents for various pistol designs. These included two recoil-operated systems, a blowback design and — most interestingly — a pistol using a gas-operated toggle action.

Browning had developed the gas-operated design a few years earlier in 1894 and ’95. It was actually Browning’s first pistol design. Unfortunately, it also proved to be an evolutionary dead end.

Chambered in what would become known as .38 ACP, the prototype reflected Browning’s then-ongoing experimentation with gas-operation. It had a vent on top of the barrel that allowed venting gases to act on a “gas lever” connected to the breech-bolt by way of a toggle link.

Unlike Browning’s later recoil and blowback designs, the gas-toggle pistol didnot feature a slide. To cock the weapon, the shooter pulled the gas lever, bringing the bolt to the rear.

When the pistol fired, the gas lever flipped back toward the operator. A connecting rod then pushed the breech-bolt to the rear, unlocking the breech, ejecting a spent case, cocking the hammer and stripping a new round from the magazine as it returned forward under spring-pressure.

The prototype was 21.6 centimeters long, weighed 964 grams and fed from a seven-round box magazine. It was this pistol that Browning first demonstrated to Colt representatives on the July 3, 1895. They were so impressed with the pistol and Browning’s other designs that they entered into a verbal agreement to purchase production rights to Browning’s pistols.

On the July 24, 1896, Colt bought the manufacturing and sales rights to all four of Browning’s pistol designs. While the blowback and recoil-operated designs would go on to spawn iconic pistols, the gas-operated design languished. Browning built only the single tool-room prototype.

Read the Remainder at Historical Firearms

Know Your Weapons: French Marine Commando’s with CETME Rifles


I was doing some reading up on the early roller-delayed rifles (in Blake Stevens’ exquisitely technical and detailed book Full Circle: A Treatise on Roller Locking) and came across this very cool story, which I wanted to share…

Spain formally adopted the CETME Model B in 1958. It was mechanically pretty much the same gun we know today as the CETME-C or G3, but still chambered for the 7.62 NATO-CETME cartridge. This was a Spanish response to the NATO cartridge requirements – it was dimensionally identical to the 7.62mm NATO but fired a 125 grain projectile at 2300 fps, rather than the 143gr @ 2790fps of the NATO standard. The Spanish saw that the standard cartridge was too powerful to be effective in a select-fire rifle, and the reduced load was developed to reduce recoil to a manageable level. This was done for only a few years, until they surrendered and adopted the Model C in 1964 using standard ammunition. The CETME-B would still use the NATO ammo, but it was rough on the guns.

Anyway, the French were busy fighting against Algerian rebels at this time, and in March 1961 a Danish freighter named the Margot Hansen was spotted by a French maritime patrol aircraft and stopped off the coast of Algeria. Upon boarding and inspection, it was discovered that the ship was carrying 200 brand new CETME-B rifles and ammunition for them, destined (illegally) to the ANL and FLN rebel groups. The arms were confiscated, of course, and put into storage at the French naval depot at Mers El Kebir. This depot held other seized weapons as well, mainly of German WWII origin – Kar 98k Mausers and StG-44 assault rifles. When the 200 CETMEs arrive, the quickly drew the attention of the French Marine Commandos who were stationed at the port.


The French at the time were using MAS 49/56 rifles, semiauto only, and with 10-round magazines. The supplementary full-auto firepower was provided by Chatellerault 24/29 light machine guns, which had 20-round box magazines (which were occasionally adapted to 49/56 rifles, but that is a different story). The Marine Commandos were very interested in this new rifle, which looked to offer the capabilities of both their rifles and LMGs in a single light package. Because they were a unit of the French Navy and the guns had been seized by the Navy and were stored in a Navy depot, the Commandos were able to requisition the guns and the seized ammo for their own use without much difficulty.

The one obstacle that did surface was when someone noticed that all the rifles were missing their firing pins. Why? Nobody knows for sure, but most likely because the smugglers were planning to hold them back for security or for an addition payment. It is also possible that the whole smuggling setup was actually a fake operation being run by the SDECE (French secret police), but any records that could confirm that are long since destroyed. At any rate, the Marines didn’t let a minor issue like firing pins stop them, and the depot machinists reverse engineered the design and manufactured a large supply. They were never able to get the material and heat treat quite right, and their firing pins apparently had a tendency to break frequently – so the Marines carried a bunch of spares whenever using the guns.


Another obstacle that developed was that the seized ammunition turned out to be garbage. It had been hastily made from components sent to be scrapped, and dimensions like overall length varied substantially. Some cases had no primer flash holes. Headstamps varied significantly, and were mixed within boxes. The men were able to source French-made 7.62mm ammunition, and wound up using those CETME-B rifles in active combat operations as late as 1978. Quite the colorful path for a batch of early Spanish rifles, ultimately used for decades against the very groups they were intended to aid!

How did the guns make it out of Spanish control? That’s a good question. They would have been first-line military arms at the time, not guns being surplussed or otherwise left about unattended. However, CETME was actively working with Dutch and German firms and military organizations at the time, and shipments of rifles could have been legitimately bound for either of those countries. Blake Stevens suggests one possibility for the source was such a shipment being rerouted by a man like notorious German arms smuggler Otto the Strange – although this can only be speculation.

Read the Original Article at Forgotten Weapons

Obscure Weapons: The Standschultze-Hellreigel Submachine Gun


The Austro-Hungarian Standschutze Hellriegel debuted in 1915. Today the automatic, light firearm is something of a mystery.

The prototype blended pistol-caliber ammunition with the firepower of a machine gun, making it one of the first weapons which could be considered a “submachine gun.”

That much, we know. The rest is … conjecture.

The images in this story come from an Austrian archive, where they all fall under the title “Maschinengewehr des Standschützen Hellriegel.” The photos are dated 10.1915 — presumably meaning October 1915 — and show what appears to be a test-firing of the weapon at a shooting range.

The archival entry indicates that the weapon was named after someone with the second name “Hellriegel.”

Standschützen” may refer to the designer being a member of the Austro-Hungarian reserve force, the Standschützen, whose mission was to defend the Austrian states of Tyrol and Vorarlberg.

The Standschutze Hellriegel may have been developed for this corps or by a member of it.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring

Obscure Weapons: The 1898 Schwarzlose Pistol


A Pistol So Far Ahead of it’s Time Most Customers Rejected It

Schwarzlose is a name that most will associate with the M1907 medium machine gun that the Austro-Hungarian army used in World War I.

But there’s another Schwarzlose gun. In 1898, Andreas Wilhelm Schwarzlose completed a truly advanced pistol design that was well ahead of its contemporaries in design and ergonomics.

Schwarzlose was Prussian. As a young man he served as a gunner and armorer in the Austro-Hungarian army before training at the National Ordnance College and setting up his own company, A.W. Schwarzlose G.m.b.H., in Berlin in 1897.

Schwarzlose filed his first patent for the design in Britain in 1898 and got his U.S. patent in 1902 as production in Berlin was just beginning. The design evolved between the two patents, with the first showing a small bolt handle on the left-hand side of the bolt — a feature Schwarzlose later replaced with a T-bar charging-handle.

Additionally, the early patent describes an accelerator which, in theory, would have ensured that the action cycled. However, the 7.63-by-25-millimeter Mauser ammunition that the pistol used proved to be more than powerful enough to cycle without an accelerator — and Schwarzlose removed this design element by the time of the second patent in January 1898.

 Read the Remainder at War is Boring