Sunday, June 16, 2019

Interesting Firearm Photos XXX

The .458 Ham'r, created with Wilson Combat to deliver 3,000 fts lbs of energy from an AR platform.

1925 Girls Rifle Team, Drexel Institute

Key West, 1962
Los Angeles 1992, Rodney King Riots

Pre-drill stretch & flex??

Colt Army Special Revolver with shoulder stock

One of the first ads for the Colt Python, circa 1955

an a salt rifle...

 A Smith & Wesson model 10 with a "baton attachment". The idea was that once the ammo in the cylinder was spent, the gun then could be used as a club. Obviously it didn't catch on. 

The pictures above were found freely on the world wide web and are used for education and entertainment under the guidelines of the Fair Use Doctrine per Title 17 of the U.S. Code. If you own the copyright to any of these images and wish to have them credited or removed, please contact me immediately.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Featured Gun: Ruger P85 Pistol

The story of Ruger's first centerfire pistol starts with the Colt M1911. One could even say that the Ruger pistols owe their existence to the Colt.
The Colt M1911 was adopted in 1911 and served with distinction through both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam, but by the late 1960's things started to go downhill and the U.S. Military Command was looking for a possible replacement.
In 1962 the U.S. Air Force switched back to a revolver, the Smith & Wesson Model 15 (38 Special) and the other branches were experiencing issues with cracked frames, poor quality replacement parts and then there was the issue of NATO compliance. All of the other NATO members had switched to the 9mm Parabellum as their standard side arm chambering, the U.S. was the only hold-out.

The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard agreed to commission a trial to find a new "Joint Service Pistol". Other U.S. Government "alphabet" agencies were also interested in the outcome of the trial.

The program was named "XM9" and had 85 requirements, 72 of which were mandatory. These included a 13 round minimum capacity in a detachable magazine, a double action/single action trigger and of course chambered in 9mm.

As soon as the program was announced, arms makers begin designing or modifying their pistols for the tests. It goes without saying (although I will state it anyway) that a government contract is highly coveted by arms makers. Beyond the revenue and increased production (which helps spread out fixed costs) there is the bragging rights and marketing that can help with civilian sales. Then there is of course the exports, the militaries of other countries were watching and could possible adopt the same pistol as the U.S. Military, saving time and money over hosting their own trials.

Over at Sturm, Ruger & Company, the plan was laid out to build a pistol that would meet the rigorous standards and be a sold competitor for the contract.
Bill Ruger himself gave the marching orders to Roy Melcher and Larry Larson. Roy would design the mechanicals and Larry would design the ergonomics. Ruger gave them no budget, they were free to spend what was needed to create the best, strongest, most affordable 9mm pistol ever.
While the design was being worked out in Southport, Connecticut Bill order the construction of a new factory in Prescott, Arizona. 
He was spending his winters there and thought it would be a great place for a new factory for the pistol's production.
The basis of the design was the Browning High Power. A short recoil, locked breech pistol using the tilting barrel of the M1911. The pistol was dubbed the "P85", P for pistol and 85 for the year it was designed (or at least started).
The frame was made of aluminum, using Ruger's investment casting process. The internal parts were stainless and the slide was made of 4130 chrome-molybdenum alloy steel.  The grips used a special plastic from GE called "Xenoy".
The frame mounted safety was also a de-cocker (another requirement from the gun trials). Ruger also made us of coil springs, something he favored in nearly all his guns.

Note the lanyard loop at the bottom of the grip frame

pictures courtesy of Bill Ruger & His Guns

The P85 consists of 55 parts

Although Ruger was not able to get their pistol perfected in time for the initial trials, they did get a chance in 1987 when a second round of trials were announced. On August 17, 1988 Ruger submitted 30 pistols, 360 magazines and assorted spare parts for the retrial.

The Ruger passed every test given it by the testers, but in the end the decision makers decided to stick with the Beretta M9. 
The P85 did get adopted by the Wisconsin State Patrol and the San Diego Police Department. Internationally it was adopted by the Turkish National Police and was ordered by governments around the globe including the Israeli Military.

When introduced in 1987, the gun had a retail price just under $300. That same year Glock 17s were selling for nearly $100 more. Ruger stuck with one of his founding principles he used to start the company 38 years earlier....give the customer a great product and an even better price.

Marketing materials hailed the pistol as "The Police and Military Semi-Automatic".

In 1990 the P85 was also offered in a Stainless version

he P85 was recalled due to an issue with the de-cocker. The revision was named the P85 MkII. When a P85 was repaired by Ruger the de-cocker was stamped "MKIIR"

The P85 MkII was replaced by the P89 in 1990.

Action: Breech locked, short recoil semi-automatic
Chambering: 9mm Parabellum
Length: 7.75"
Weight: 38 oz
Barrel Length: 4.5"
Rifling: 6 grooves, RH, 1 in 10" twist
Mag Capacity: 15 rounds
Years Produced: 1987-1990
Number Produced: 700,000+ (includes the P85, P85MkII & P89)

The design lived on in other models including:
  • P90 (45ACP)
  • P91 (.40S&W)
  • P93 (compact P89)
  • P94 (P93 w/ longer barrel)
  • P95 (P93 w/ polymer frame)
  • P97 (P90 w/polymer frame)
  • P345 (45 ACP, transition model)


Wikipedia - Ruger P series Pistols

Wikipedia Joint Service Small Arms Program

Shooting Times

Wilson, R.L. (2007), Ruger & His Guns, New York, NY: Chartwell Books, Inc.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Another S&W model 19 Refinishing Project Part 2

If you missed part one, see it here

I needed a break from the monotony of sanding the frame and decided to work the cylinder over. I used the wire wheel on my grinder to burnish the flutes and cylinder stop notches.

The bolt, washers and sleeve are a tool I made up to polish these S&W cylinders

I assemble the tool, then cover the threads with tape to protect them

Then I sand length wise with 150 grit paper, removing the small pits and nicks

I then put the cylinder in my drill press and spin it at high speed while sanding with 150, 220, 280, 320, 400, 600, 1200 then 2000 grit

I did the same with the ejector rod.

Back to the frame, once I had the dings and pits out I sanded the entire gun to 400 grit

After getting it to 600 grit, I then spent some time working over every surface with Crocus cloth.

Then I taped off the polished areas and bead blasted the top.

I was able to get the gun parts blued, here they are fresh from a bath in oil

The only part that didn't turn out well was the cylinder release, I'll have to strip it and blue it again

In the mean time the owner purchased a set of these Altamont walnut service grips

The gun is finished, but I have an issue with the rear sight I still need to fix

Before and after pics

On to the next project!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Firearm Factory of the Month: New England Westinghouse

This is the tale of one company and three factories. It also includes (like so many others) the stories of other gun companies.

New England Westinghouse was a division of the larger Westinghouse Electric Corporation of Pittsburgh famous for bringing electricity to America (and the World). New England Westinghouse was founded in East Springfield, Massachusetts on May 16th, 1915 exclusively to build rifles under contract for the Imperial Russian Army.

The Great War (WWI) started just a year earlier and the Russian Army needed rifles in a bad way.

The contract was for 1.8 Million Mosin-Nagant 91 rifles. New England Westinghouse would be paid $27.50 for each rifle (the equivalent of $667 today, remember what they say about things that seem too good to be true?).

To provide the rifles New England Westinghouse, who had never produced a firearm, had to acquire building and machinery. The easiest way to do that is to buy existing firearms companies, which is what they did.

In June of 1916, New England Westinghouse purchased  the factory and machinery of the Meriden Fire Arms Company in Meriden, CT.
The factory was retooled to make the Mosin-Nagant model of 1891 rifles, although it is unclear how many were actually produced there.

The following month on July 1st 1916 New England Westinghouse purchased the J. Stevens Arms and Tool Company located in Chicopee Falls, MA. The purchase also included the Stevens-Duryea Automobile company whose plant was in East Springfield MA.

The J. Stevens Arms factory was re-tooled to build the Mosin-Nagant rifles, before long they were producing 6000 rifles per week.

Between the time of the retooling and the February Revolution, some 770,000 rifles had been built, but only 225,260 of them were delivered. 

In February 2017 Czar Nicholas II was deposed and the incoming government, which fell into the hands of the Communists, refused to pay for the rifles, claiming they were of poor quality. 
The reality is they were of much better quality than that of the Russian made rifles and are collectors items today, selling for 3 to 10 times that of the Russian made guns.

photo courtesy of

Many of the rifles had not been delivered and were sold on the surplus and "black markets" which led to a government inquiry. Some of the surplus rifles were re-chambered in the American 30-'06 cartridge

The default would have caused most companies to go under. Which it almost did for Remington, the other contractor for the Mosin rifles, but New England Westinghouse switched gears and secured a contract with the U.S. Government to make the Browning M1918 rifle, also known as the Browning Automatic Rifle or B.A.R.. The rifles were built at the Stevens-Duryea plant.

In 1917 the Merdien plant was sold to Colt, who then used it to produce machine guns.

In 1920 the J. Stevens Arms plant, and all its assets and patents were sold to Savage Arms of Utica, NY.

Westinghouse chose to keep the old Stevens-Duryea plant, using it to produce parts for Westinghouse Electric. In 1921 it became the sight of America's first commercial radio station: WBZ AM.

On October 28th, 1926 New England Westinghouse was dissolved.

Savage closed the J. Stevens Chicopee Falls plant in 1960 and all production was moved to Savage Arm's Utica NY plant.

The J. Stevens  Chicopee Falls plant is still there, where Church, Grove and Oak Streets meet, along the banks of the Connecticut River,

The Stevens-Duryea plant was used for other manufacturing (knitting factory and a foundry among others). It eventually fell into disrepair and the 41 acre site was sold to a developer for $16 million.
Here are some pictures before it was demolished. The old radio towers served as a landmark for locals for years

In 2010 the factory buildings were demolished, but the Westinghouse office complex was spared.

The latest images from Google Earth show the complex is now a construction site, with the Westinghouse office building still standing at 655 Page Blvd, in East Springfield, MA

A before and after comparison

The Meriden Fire Arms plant is long gone, there is a new facility at 508 Colony Street, see my write up on that plant here.

Springfield Radio
Stephen R. Jendrysik at MassLive