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The News

New book just out , The K-Frame Revolver

Received my copy of the newly published "The K-Frame Revolver, The S&W Phenomenom Volume II", by Timothy J. Mullin.  I look forward to many hours pouring over details of one of my favorite handguns, the K Frame Smith.  Almost could be called the perfect handgun, fits the hand, easily controllable, and quite good looking also.  This gun in it's many variations has been in production for over one hundred years, and there are so many variations a collector could add specimens for years and not get them all.  

picture of the K-Frame Revolver book

I look forward to reviewing this 520 page, well illustrated tome on the K-frame.  I was also able to contribute to this book in a small way with some pictures of a Webley 38/200 for comparison to the M&P Lend Lease guns, and a section on Spanish copies of S&Ws.  As always, this Collector Grade Publication is a feast for those with a historical or technical frame of mind.

picture of book

Middle East Commando and the Knuckle Knife

While researching the Apache Revolver and the British Commandos I came to realize how fond of brass knuckles the commandos seem to be.  Their equipment consisted of at least one fighting knife, the most famous of which was the Fairbairn Sykes Fighting Knife, but almost all the other knives they used had brass knuckles as part of the handle.  Some of these knives were leftovers from WW1, but one of the most unusual and interesting is the knuckle knife used by the Middle Eastern Commando.

picture of Commando knife

From Roy Shadbolt's collection

 It is hard to say how the Commandos that fought in the Middle East came by these knives, but I suspect they were locally sourced because of urgent need, and failure of wartime logistics.  The Commando's Death's Head knuckle knife came from Egyptian shops.  The blade was made from left over WW1 German bayonets, something common in that part of the world after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during WW1.  The Ottomans and Turks were German allies and used a lot of their equipment. The handles follow closely the same pattern as each other, but had to have come from a number of different shops.

picture of Commando cap badge

The Middle East Commandos even used a representation of this knife as their cap badge.  It's a unique symbol of a gritty time in history.  Knives and cap badges are still available but not cheap. Real ones are rare and many reproductions abound.

Men of No. 51 Commando

The Apache Revolver and the British Commando

The revolver was designed in 1860 by a Belgian, a Dolne Brevette... as a Multi Purpose Pinfire Revolver, and nicknamed Daisy, as it opened like a flower.  It consisted of three weapons, a knife, brass knuckles, and of course a pepperbox revolver body.  It could be hidden in a pocket and used folded up effectively as a knuckle duster, or a knife could be unfolded and used, or all of it could be unfolded and used as a  revolver.  As it didn't have a barrel, it was a strictly short range weapon.  The early guns were 5mm and 7mm pinfire, but a 9mm version was known to be used by British Commandoes in WW2.

picture of Apache Revolver

Photo by Michele M. F.

The end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries was a great time for the well to do.  They could enjoy the latest inventions and culture, it was so great it was called the Belle Epoque in Paris,  or the "Gilded Age" in the US. But in Paris, as elsewhere, everyone wasn't included in the prosperity, so gangs of Parisian hoodlums made a bit of their own prosperity.  They armed themselves with, among other killing weapons, the Multipurpose Pinfire Revolver.  One gang, Les Apaches, was so notorious that the revolver was named for them and became the Apache Revolver.  They preyed on the upper middle class, and made such a nuisance of themselves the even fought a week long pitched battle with the police, and it wasn't clear the police won.  World War One brought an end to the Apaches, though, and they and their kind were consumed in the trenches along with everyone else.

picture of Le Petit Journal

The last stop on the story of the Apache Revolver is the British Commando and the French Resistance. Numbers of these guns were still floating around when  WW2 came about, and it has been rumoured that when the Commando was born, this weapon was adopted and Whitehall is still quiet about their use.  The gun was supposed to be 9mm, and is still supposed to be in the Commando's arsenal.  The French Resistance undoubtedly used them, since any gun was better than none.  I for one think the Brits may have tried them, and rejected them for the flimsy and awkward weapon they are, even though they have a love for all things with brass knuckles attached to them.  They liked close in weapons so much the cap badges of the Commando Groups that fought in the middle east featured the early fighting knife with brass knuckles for a handle.  I think Whitehall liked the reputation the Commando's may have achieved by fostering use of such a malicious looking gun.

picture of Apache Revolver

Photo by Trinjac

Manchester Police horrified by 3-D printers

In a story in UPI-Beta, Manchester Police who raided a criminal gang's hideout scooped up a 3-D printer and a host of parts that were said to be gun parts.  The UK police have been up in arms over reports of printed guns made with the new and cheap 3-D printer technology.  If this becomes a real threat, their handgun ban isn't worth the paper is was printed on.  Making a real gun on 3-D printers is a real challenge, as it is hard even to make a decent water bottle cap that doesn't leak.  

picture of 3-D printed gun

A 3-D printed gun from Defense Distributed

In the end, this was all moot, as the printed parts turned out to be more 3-D printer parts themselves, according to GigaOhm's blog.  It was also reported that the street price for a real gun was around 200 US dollars  in Manchester.  I'd go for the real gun.

John Rigby... shooter manufacturer inventor

And did all quite well. He was descended from a well received line of shooters and gunmakers, stretching back to the late 1700's.  His grandfather won many awards as the top shooter of the Independent Dublin Volunteers.  John took over the family business of gunmaking on the death of his father in 1858.  His rifles are legendary, and had achieved local fame in Dublin, but were soon to be showcased on a larger stage, Wimbledon and Creedmoor for shooting contests, and Africa, as the taker of big game.

picture of John Rigby

In 1860  John invented the coiled brass case, used by Snider firearms, an important step to the introduction of the drawn brass case. Colonel Boxer used this case for the Snider, denying they came from John Rigby who was but an Irishman, but his patent stands for itself.  His rifles went against the best at the time at the shooting contests at Wimbledon, where the NRA had just started shooting contests to get it's country's riflemen in shape.  His rifles won the Queen's Prize in 1865.  He was chosen, along with 7 other Irishmen to go to Creedmoor to shoot against the Americans.  It was as close a contest as it gets.... the Irish lost the match by 3 points, with Rigby being the highest scoring shooter for the Irish.  The Irish used Rigby rifles exclusively, and the Americans a mixture of Remington and Sharps rifles.  Before going home, the leader of the Irish Team, Arthur Leech, presented a fine grade Rigby Rifle to General Custer, whose command shortly came to grief at the Little Big Horn, and the rifle disappeared.

picture of Rigby Label

1887 Became superintendent of the Enfield Small Arms Factory.  He oversaw the introduction of the Lee Enfield, and the development of the small bore cartridge.  At the time, the Lee Enfield Magazine System rifle suffered early erosion failure of the Metford designed barrels.  Rigby designed the rifling for it's successor, and while not mitigating the problem completely, did give satisfactory barrel life.  He was shortly booted from Enfield due to the age rule, around 60 or 65 years of age was the limit for working at Enfield.

picture of Mauser based Rigby

Towards the end, Rigby realized that as a modern rifle went, it would be hard to beat the Mauser system, and to that end, a number of game rifles have reached a sort of legendary status.  Also introducing the cordite .416 and .450 Rigby cartridge, loaded with solid nickel covered bullets in a double gun would take the largest African game animals.  The last Rigby that ran the company died in 1951.  Since then the company changed hands in a somewhat bewildering fashion, only to be bought my Mauser.  Seems a fitting end.