Monday, April 20, 2009

Military Arms: Forgotten Closet Queens

Shadow, a friend of mine, is fond of saying that when everything goes into the crapper, just keep your head down and don't draw attention to yourself. He tells this to people who don't have a lot of money for modern arms and ammunition, can't afford the latest body armor, but damn well want their country back and are anxious that they will be outgunned.

He tells them to get whatever weapon they can afford, be familiar with it, and be ready to use it if someone or someones decide to invade the sanctuary of their home. He's not real big on the argument on the "best" home defense weapon. He believes the best home defense weapon is whatever you have along with the will, and mindset to use it.

Even if that weapon is a pot of scalding water or a bucket of gasoline and a roadflare.

Shadow believes that after the initial clash, it will be "free shopping day" where you'll be able to walk the areas of conflict and pick up whatever you want.

Slightly used, of course.

Now quite a few people out there have never really had an interest in guns and weaponry. I can understand that, and I don't fault them at all.

If you fit in this catagory, I'm sure the stories of scarce ammunition, and rapid gun sales, and rapidly escalating prices, have probably given you some pause. Perhaps you're beginning to think that you're too late to the party.

Some of you folks have probably inherited things from grandfathers and fathers. War trophies, and things gathered through the years. They're probably hidden away in the attics and basements, away from curious little fingers and even more creative little minds.

If you're one of these folks, you really should dig that heirloom out and really go through it. As much as I hate Walmart, gun cleaning kits and needed materials are available there at a reasonable price. Make sure you pick up a set of gunsmithing screwdrivers. Walmart has a set for about eight bucks. The screws in a firearm are different from the screws you're probably more familiar with and using your more familiar tools may damage the ones in your firearm. Also pick up something like "BreakFree" or "WD-40" because there's a chance that things will be frozen in place after years of neglect.

It is important to be patient if you are dealing with something that is frozen in place. Follow the instructions on the product you are using, and just allow time for it to work.

Don't get all crazy when you disassemble the weapon. Field stripping is usually sufficient for most cleaning jobs. If you start pulling every little spring and screw out, unless you are intimately familiar with the weapon, you'll probably never get it back together again.

If in doubt, take a digital picture of things before you take it apart. I use this trick when I'm working on unfamiliar equipment, and it has helped me get the correct wires back into the correct connectors innumerable times.

At this point I will advise you against taking it to a gun shop or gun smith for evaluation. I'm not saying everyone out there is a snake, but it is better to err on the side of caution. What you have may in fact be extremely valuable, or extremely illegal depending on where you live. It will be best for you to figure out what you have before you have someone look at it to see if it is safe to fire.

Over there on the right in the "File Of The Day" section is a gem of a book I found squirreled away on an FTP site. I've moved it over to a more easily accessible download site.

This gem was published in 1943, by the Military Service Publishing Company. So, as one can guess, this book covers arms manufactured only up to this point. It covers everything from handguns to heavy machineguns, and has photographs of the assembly and disassembly of the weapon.

If you don't see your weapon pictured in this book, look for anything that could give you a clue to a country of manufacture, and a date stamp. You may have to make a trip to a library to do more research on your particular piece. I don't know of an online gun museum, but if someone does have a link to one that has photos, please let us all know.

Once you've figured out what you have, you can determine its approximate value, and whether or not ammunition for it is still available. If at this point, you decide you want to use it as your home defense weapon, please have a qualified gunsmith inspect before you fire it.


HermitJim said...

Very good post, my man! The information is much needed for those that have had minimal or no dealings with a fire arm, and with the folks that deal with them for profit.

You hit the nail on the head with the thought that the best weapon is the one you have available!

Good post!

ErinAndBrad said...

Sorry to say that we should all get weapons while we still can and get to know them! Great post Cat! Say Hi to Fel. for me

Bullseye said...

Great post Catman, I have a British 303 cal that was made in 1942 and will be looking to see if it's in there. I know it like the back of my hand but would still like to have it on paper for when I'm gone and another needs it. It's been a good'n too. I have taken 7 deer with it that I can remember and 1 Turkey, not bad for a gun that is near 70 years old. Good stuff Brother.

Catman said...

Very cool, Bullseye. I have an Ishapur Arsenal Enfield (.308) and I absolutely love it. For those who may not know, the one's made at the Ishapur Arsenal were originally chambered for .308. Sometimes you will see Enfields stamped .308 WIN, and those are often re-bored .303s.

The best $90.00 dollars I ever spent. I couldn't justify the money for a high dollar bolt action, but in my opinion this is just as good.

I bought it when they first became available, and lucked out to get one that had a flawless bore.

Ernie, Felinae waves back at you.

Jim, thanks for the kind words and support. It is much appreciated.

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