Monday, September 28, 2020

How Certain Gun Models Got Their Name

Ever wonder how or why certain guns got their name? I do.
Using my "google-fu" I found out some guns have some interesting stories in how they got their names. Here is what I found:

A tradition which I believe started with the militaries of the world, was to name a weapon after the year it was adopted.

This was the case with guns like the Mauser kar98k. The gun was adopted by the German Wermacht Republic in why the 98? The rifle was a redesign of a rifle adopted in 1898 as the Gewehr 98 (gewehr is the German word for "gun"). The "kar" is short for karabiner, the German word for Carbine and the "k" is short for kurtz the German word for short. Why the redundancy? 

The original 98 had already been shortened once, called the Kar 98, then when they redesigned it and shortened it again, it became the "shorter carbine". The ironic thing is that today we would not call a rifle with a 23 1/2" barrel a carbine, usually that term is reserved for a rifle with a barrel of 20" or less, but that is another story.

The Mauser kar98k

This naming convention was also used on many American sporting guns, for instance the Marlin model 60, was introduced guessed it 1960

The irony here is that the model 60 was an improved and less expensive version of the Marlin model 99.

The Model 99 was developed one year earlier, in how did this rifle come to be called the model 99? No one knows, maybe Marlin was running out of model numbers and did not want to go to a three digit model number? BTW the model 60 was a re-used model number as Marlin had previously built a shotgun with that name....How the shotgun got its name is anyone's guess....

The AK-47 got its name from the year of adoption by the Red Army (1947) and the name of the designer: Kalashnikov, the A stands for "Automatic" (avtomat in Russian) the name became Automatic Kalashnikov - 47 or AK-47.

The most popular rifle in America, what we refer to as the AR-15 became famous as the U.S. Army M-16. The civilian version (semi-auto) got its name from the company that designed the rifle: Armalite, the word "Rifle" and the number of the was the 15th design, thus it became the Armalite Rifle-15 or AR-15.

the M-16:

In the first 40+ years of Winchester's existence all of their guns were given the year introduction as their model name. Thus the lever action rifle we all know as the model 94 was introduced in 1894. It was originally called the model of 1894, but it 1919 Winchester decided to change all of their model numbers to two digits....

After 1919 Winchester began assigning model numbers to rifles in sequential order beginning with the model 51. That only lasted until the start of WWII in 1939. After the war they began assigning numbers randomly. Some examples below:

Model 47, introduced in 1949 (designed in 1944)
Model 74, introduced in 1939
Model 77, introduced in 1955
Model 88, introduced in 1955

Another example is the model 12 shotgun, originally called the model of 1912, in 1919 it became the model 12.

When it was replaced in 1964, the replacement was named the model 1200

We could really go down the rabbit hole with Winchester's naming conventions, so let's move on....

The Ruger 10/22 rifle's name is pretty straight forward. The gun is a .22 caliber and the rotary magazine holds 10 rounds.

but the story doesn't end there, at least not in this article.....there was another gun that wore the 10-22 moniker. That gun would be the Browning designed FN 10-22.

John Moses Browning originally designed the gun in 1910, Colt was not interested and so he patented it in Europe and sold the rights to Fabrique National. The design was modified in 1922 and was given the nickname 10-22 for the two years of introduction.

BTW the gun above was of a fixed barrel design which was the inspiration for other pistols...most famous of them is the Walther PPK. The PPK is known for being the trusty side arm of Agent 007. So where did the PPK get it's name? The PPK's larger brother the PP, is short for Police Pistol (Polizeipistole in German).

When Walther decided to make a smaller version of the PP, they added a K to the end of the name: PPK. The K could be short for kurz, the German word for short, but it actually is short for Kriminalmodel, which is the German term for investigator or detective, just like in the US, German detectives wore plain clothes and needed to conceal their sidearms. I think some of the confusion could have come from the .380 models which have the name 9mm Kurz on their slides which is the European nomenclature for the .380 ACP cartridge.

A similar story to the FN 10-22 above is the Mosin-Nagant 91/30. It was originally adopted by the Imperial Russian Army in 1891 as the 3-Line Rifle M1891, BTW a "line" is 2.54mm or roughly 1/10 of an inch, thus 3 line is .30 caliber or 7.62mm (2.54 x 3). The rifle that was adopted in 1891 was a combination of designs by Sergei Ivanovich Mosin and Leon Nagant. The rifle was redesigned in 1930 and has been called the 91/30 Mosin-Nagant ever since.

The Colt Python was named after the constricting snake, but it was not the first Colt to be named after a was the second. The first was the Colt Cobra, introduced in 1950. The Cobra was just a aluminum framed Detective Special, but the folks at Colt wanted to give it a special name. Cobra was chosen and it led to 6 other models with names of snakes including: Python, Diamond Back, Viper, Boa, King Cobra and Anaconda.

The Savage model 110 was introduced in 1958....why the model 110? Well the rifle was in competition with the a rifle of similar design in the Remington 721, which was selling for $115 +/-, so Savage decided the introductory price should be below that and chose a price of $110.
Perhaps due to a lack of better ideas, the company decided that 110 should also be the model #.

When Smith & Wesson introduced a compact revolver in 1950, designed to compete with the Colt Detective Special, they wanted to give it a special name. The gun was later given a model number, the model 36
So they unveiled the gun at the Convention for the International Association of Chiefs of Police where a vote was held to name the revolver.....and take a wild guess what they named it....yep The Chief's Special. Perhaps they thought this would absolve them of any accusations of copying the Colt's name.

The CZ-75 pistol gets its name not from its country of origin: the Czech Republic (formally Czechoslovakia), but from the name of the company who manufactures the pistol: Ceska Zbrojovka and the year it was introduced: 1975. As a side note the gun was designed specifically for export to other countries, not as a military arm.

In 1964 when Winchester messed with the design of their model 70 bolt action rifle (due to manufacturing costs), many sportsmen where upset. Bill Ruger saw an opportunity in using his investment casting and innovations in manufacturing to build an affordable copy of the pre-'64 model 70. The gun's two biggest competitors would be the Winchester model 70 and the Remington 700, so naturally he named it the model 77.

This is one many of you may have never heard of: The Velo Dog revolver. At first when hearing the name I assumed Velo was short for "Velocity", but no it is short for "Velocipede", which is an early name for the bicycle.
When bicycles first came into fashion, riders immediately noticed that dogs liked to chase and bite the riders. This led to many injuries and even a few deaths.
Thus Frenchman Rene Galand designed a small pocket revolver to dispatch the hounds. The diminutive (5.75mm) guns were often loaded with pepper, cork, wood or wax so as to only injure or scare the offending pooch. (BTW it had a folding trigger...)

What we have here is a full on Machine gun. In the 1930's the Brits were warming up for another World War and were working on designs for light machine guns. They opted to build a licensed copy of the Czech ZGB machine gun. The guns were built at the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield. The gun was given the name BREN which is a portmanteau of Brno (the name of the city in Czechoslovakia where the ZGB was first designed) and Enfield.

Another British Machine gun, well sub-machine gun anyway, the STEN also built at the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield gets the last part of its name from the factory, but the first part comes from the two inventors: Reginald Shepard and Harold Turpin.

When America entered the Second World War, we were not prepared. We needed to manufacture lots of products and fast. This led to innovations in manufacturing items faster and cheaper.
Many of the polymers we have to day were invented during the war and because of it we are cursed by having almost everything made from a plastic of some sort. 
Long before the Glock came along, Remington built a .22 rifle with a plastic stock. They called it the Nylon 66. It was not introduced in 1966, nor was it named for the famous highway, it was actually introduced in 1959. The 66 referred to the formula of nylon used to manufacture the stocks.

The Israeli Tavor rifle gets its name from a famous mountain in Israel. Mt Tabor was the sight of a famous battle, I am not sure how the name went from Tabor to Tavor....

The Iver Johnson Safety Automatic sounds like the name for a semi-auto pistol....when in reality it was a double action revolver.
The Safety part comes from the patented transfer bar safety system, now used on virtually all revolvers. The Automatic part comes from the automatic ejection of the spent shells when the revolver's frame is opened up.

The Ruger Blackhawk got its name from the Stutz Blackhawk automobile. You see ol' Bill Ruger was a huge fan of old touring automobiles, so much so that in 1970 he commissioned one of his own design.

The Stutz Blackhawk.

It was just a coincidence that the Ruger company logo featured a black, winged bird.
That winged bird logo was created by Alexander Sturm, it was a result of his study of heraldry and he felt it an appropriate logo for a gun company.
In addition the bird logo was originally red, but Ruger changed it to black, after Sturm died suddenly in 1951, to signify the morning of his dead partner.

Similarly Ruger's smallest revolver, the Bearcat was named for another Stutz touring automobile.

Ruger took inspiration for the midget revolver from the Remington model of 1858 New Police revolver, but this gun was for plinking, not police work.

When Ruger created a fixed sight version of their Blackhawk revolver, they wanted to give it a name that would be reminiscent of Cowboys or the old west. Giving it the name Cowboy may have been too obvious, so they chose one of the Spanish words for a Cowboy which is Vaquero. It comes from the Spanish word for a cow which is "vaca".

The FN FAL has a simple reason for its name. FN stands for Fabrique Nationale, the company who designed and produced it. The FAL part stands for Fusil Automatique Leger, which means "light automatic rifle in English.

The Ruger Mini-14 also has an easy explanation for its name. The gun is a smaller version of the US Military M-14, thus it is the Mini-14. When Ruger made a 7.62 x 39 version, they simply called it the Mini-30 due to its .30 cal bore which is the same as the original M-14 (the M-14 fires a 7.62 x 51mm cartridge while the Mini-30 fires the smaller 7.62 x 39mm cartridge).

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Theme Guns XIV


We'll kick this post off with some Star Wars themed guns....

HD Custom Finish did the first one here, giving it a distressed look

Whiskey Tango is responsible for the Sig pistol below, you can find them in Sarasota Florida, website link here

I never understood the Hello Kitty thing.....but here are a couple girly pistols dedicated to the Japanese Cat

A few WWII fighter/bomber inspired guns, this first one uses the Sharps Bros Hellbreaker receiver, it is from the folks at KO Customs

This Sharps Bros Hellbreaker based AR is from Gears of Guns

The comic book themed ones haven't gone out of fashion yet either.

The Tiffany theme seems to remain popular with the are a few more

Some more sport themed guns...

A couple of money themed guns..

The images above are used for entertainment purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine of U.S. Code Title 17. Where possible the photos have been credited by direct link or web addresses in the photos. If you own the rights to any of the photos above and would like them credited or removed, contact me via the blog.