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The News

Plinking guns, the Winchester Model 61

There isn't anything so much fun as spending an afternoon chasing a beer can around the field with a .22 rifle.  Well, that may not be exactly true, but it is at the top of the list.  It has been said that a billion .22 long rifle shells are fired in the U.S. every year, and I believe it.

picture of Model 61 rifle

The Model 61 was a pump action .22 with a tubular magazine under a 24 inch barrel.  Manufactured from 1932 to 1963 with over 340,000 guns made, this particular example was built in 1945, and it shoots like the day it came out of the factory.  Earlier Winchester pump guns had external hammers, but the Model 61's streamlined shape was due to it's internal hammer.

picture of rifle's receiver

The Model 61 is a takedown design, the big captive screw at the rear of the receiver holds the stock and trigger/hammer group to the receiver.  Pulling the bolt up and out the back completes field stripping.  This gun will shoot any .22 except the magnum, of course, as it didn't exist when this rifle was designed. One quick look at Gunbroker.com and it is easy to see these Winchesters hold their value.

picture of takedown rifle

picture of bolt and trigger group

picture of rifle barrel 

Resources

Winchester Model 61 disassembly

Restoration of a Model 61

How to shoot an Enfield

Found this British Pathe period film on how to shoot an Enfield rifle, military style.  Also has some previews of the (then) new FN service rifle, and some experiments on the .280 bullpup.  Nato squashed the .280, and Britain might have been better off to just adopt the M-16, given the last Enfield's complexity and performance.

The FN was a great rifle, but suffered the same problems as the U.S. M-14, lousy full-auto controllability with a full power service round.  It was also pretty hard on the brass, banging in the neck on extraction where it hit the rifle on the way out.  Not that the military cared much about old brass.

From Peter H's channel

 

Two Books on British Gunrunners in the Civil War

Ran across some interesting books on the British gunrunning operations during the American Civil War.  "Clyde Built: The Blockade Runners of the American Civil War" by author Eric Graham documents the Scottish contribution to the Confederate war effort.  And it was quite a contribution, as many as a third of all gunrunning ships were built along the banks of the Clyde.  This book is taken  from the Scottish perspective, and while the general assumption is the Brits remained neutral in this conflict, there was so much money to be made, that it overpowered any thoughts of human rights highlighted by the war.  The Brits profited handsomely from their support of both sides in the war, with the added benefit of keeping an international competitor off balance by helping to continue the war.  The Independent published some pictures of the latest gunrunner discovery, the sunken Iona 2.

CLYDE BUILT: The Blockade Runners and Cruisers of the American Civil War at Amazon

picture of book

Another book, "Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast" by Andrew Hall, centers on Galvaston as a hub for gunrunning activity.  Plenty of tales of confederate gunrunners activities, along with the US Navy's efforts to curb the flow of guns from Britain.  The author has dived wrecks along the coast, and helped to document several wrecks from the period from both sides of the conflict.  One interesting note, none of the gunrunner's ships survive above water...  

Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast at Amazon

picture of book

 

Old British Sugru water guns....

Sugru is some kind of magic playdough invented by a Brit girl genius and marketed as space rubber or magic dust or something of the sort.  It can be molded and shaped into anything and can be used to repair stuff or invent stuff...

picture of Brit Girl Genius

A couple of Sugru engineers thought this was just the stuff for parts of a Gatling water gun they were thinking about.  It's hard to say what parts it was used for, but looks like a blast hosing down a few of your best pals, in color no less.  I might have to get some of this stuff...

picture of Sugru Gatling Gun

Video of gun in action

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American Rangers.. British Guns...

The morning of D-Day saw American Rangers heading for Pointe du Hoc to silence the big 155mm guns believed to be installed at the top of the cliff. To assault the cliffs, bombardment from British Destroyers were to keep the German heads down along with air assault.  The rangers had rocket fired grappling hooks to scale the cliff by rope and  DUKWs equipped with ladders from London fire brigades. These ladders had Vickers K guns installed at their tops, to help keep the German at bay while men climbed up. 

picture of Vickers K gun

 

picture of Rangers climbing Pointe du Hoc

About half of the landing force made it to the cliffs, but an hour late and lost the element of surprise.  The Rangers that landed were on their own, as the reinforcements were redirected towards Omaha Beach due to the delay.... Which was a good thing for Omaho Beach, as the Rangers were partially responsible for getting the stalled landing off the beach.  This reduced force still made it to the top of the cliffs with few casualties and did secure the gun position.  The guns weren't installed, however, but Rangers used thermite grenades to disable them anyway.  Alas, the British ladders and guns couldn't be brought to bear due to the heavy surf.  The real threat was the Maisy gun position a few miles inland, which the Rangers did take out 3 days later.

picture of top of Pointe du Hoc