November 2001

Firing Line: 11/01

.32 ACP Cover Photo
I hope I am not the only one who noticed, but the person holding the Beretta on the cover (and on page 10) of the October 2001 issue has her thumbs crossed in the old revolver style hold. Hope she has good health insurance for all the stitching she’ll need on that left thumb when the slide comes racing back. —

-Fred Dahnke
from ix.netcom.com


No, you’re not the only one who noticed, and you’re right. I missed this technical flaw when I photographed the image and in the editing process. Mea culpa.

—Todd Woodard

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.32 ACP Bias
Thanks for the review of the .32 caliber guns. Your disdain of small calibers is so evident, that it belonged in the editorial section, not a gun review. If you’re going to be the “consumer reports” of the gun industry (and you have made a good start), you have to be more professional. Test, evaluate, and report and keep your personal views to yourself. Now, get your butt out there and check out some .25 and .22 pocket guns.

—Ray Zawodniak
@simpsonnorton.com


Sorry, no toasters or refrigerators here. Our style of reportage on guns is much different than Consumer Reports’s treatment of other goods, which they are more than happy to confirm. We gather facts and impressions, then write articles of opinion. In fact, our articles are reviews, and not reports, and we do our best to disclose our biases up front for your consideration. Our opinion, as we clearly stated numerous times in the .32 ACP article, is that the round is a marginal self-defense product, but it’s much better than nothing. We’ll stand by that judgment.

—Todd Woodard

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Shotguns In Combat
Gun Tests is an outstanding resource, probably the most useful and usable gun publication currently available. It is solely in a spirit of constructive criticism that I point out a misstatement in the August 2001 waterfowl pump guns article.

By way of background, I am an active duty JAG (Air Force) major, specializing in international law and operational law — the law of combat operations, and the law of war — Geneva Convention, Hague Convention, etc. I’m currently the international law JAG for Third Air Force at RAF Mildenhall, about 80 miles north of London.

It just isn’t true what you said, that there is a “world-wide prohibition of shotguns and buckshot in warfare, a ruling that American armies continued to ignore….”

Don’t feel bad, because a lot of people think this. The facts that gave rise to this false rumor were summarized in an Army General Counsel opinion (I think around 1995 or 1996) by W. Hays Parks, which I read within the past year while attending the Army JAG School in Charlottesville, Va. W. Hays Parks is the top American expert on the law of war and has been for a number of years. He is the chief of law of war (or LOAC, Law of Armed Conflict, as we usually call it in the military) matters for the office of the Army General Counsel.

Anyway, the German High Command protested the use of American trench guns in the closing days of WWI as a “weapon calculated to cause unnecessary suffering,” prohibited by the Hague Convention. The Germans said that lead buckshot pellets were indiscriminate, designed to spray and wound, and that the lead pellets were tantamount to dum dum bullets, and threatened reprisals against any Yank troops caught with them. The U.S. strongly denied that the trench guns were illegal weapons, and threated U.S. reprisals if there were any German reprisals. This was in the fall of 1918. There was nothing heard further from the Germans, no reprisals, the matter was dropped and the war ended.

That’s it.

There has never, ever been any ruling against the shotgun. The U.S. has maintained, and maintains today, that it is a perfectly legal weapon. Other than the German challenge in 1918, it has not even been questioned, to my knowledge; however, the rumor still apparently remains alive.

The Army opinion I mention discusses at length that modern, hardened lead-antimony buckshot does not deform significantly at shotgun velocities, when fired into the human body, and is not significantly different, certainly not legally different, from FMJ rifle bullets. The opinion was issued in connection with the CAWS project (I am going from memory here, and I’m not sure what CAWS stands for, but I believe it means close assault weapon system), but one type of CAWS had a buckshot capability or may have even been a magazine-fed semi or full-automatic, short-barrel shotgun.

—Grant McLoone
Thetford, England

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Mistake on Caps & Balls
Reader Clyde Prier called us and pointed out that in the October 2001 issue, the Confederate Navy product from Cabela’s was listed as being available in .36 caliber. However, the specifications module was incorrect; the gun was a .44 caliber, as the head and text reflected.

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.45-70 Load
Will the Sharps .45/70 take as heavy a load as will the Ruger? I’m not looking to handload up to a .458 African, but I would like a heavier punch than the standard .45/70 cartridge from the box.

—Dr. Boo
@msn.com


As I understand it, the Shiloh will take about any charge you’d care to load into it. It’s a modern action, not an antique like the trapdoor Springfields, for which most commercial .45-70 loads have been kept very low. In our test of the Shiloh we used Buffalo Bore Ammunition’s very stout loads with nary a complaint from the Shiloh — nor from the other two Sharps copies, for that matter. I doubt you’d want to shoot anything hotter than the Buffalo Bore loads anyway.

—Ray Ordorica

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Surplus Arms
A friend showed me your article on surplus arms. I have a great interest in them and buy them often. Although SOG is a reputable dealer from whom I have purchased a few guns myself, I find that AIM of Ohio (located fairly close to SOG I understand) gives me much better quality and service. Most of the guns carried by both are purchased from Century Arms International, but AIM seems to give you a better quality gun.

I have bought two British #4’s, a Mark III, an Ishapore Mark III in .303, a Yugo for $129.95, two Yugos for $109.95 (all included accessories) and a Turkish Mauser for $39.95. Except for the Turkish, all were headspaced and shot extremely well after removing the cosmoline.

I took the Turk apart and refinished the stock and used Van’s Instant Gun Blue on the metal. Because the bolt would not close all the way, I took the gun to my local gunshop, Robinsons in Southhampton, Pennsylvania. For $45 he removed some metal from the rear of the front locking lugs on his lathe and he headspaced the bolt. This gun is unbelievably accurate, for just under $100! At 100 yards, with iron sights, I put three rounds of surplus Turkish 8mm ammo just below the center hole of an AOL CD (one of my favorite targets since I found out they were anti-gun).

Two of the Yugos had factory new blueing, one had a brand-new stock! You can check out AIM’s web site at www.aimsurplus.com. All of the Enfields had excellent bores. The Mark III is dated 1917 and yet it has an excellent bore. Both of the No. 4s had the code “FTR,” which indicates they were arsenal refinished.

One is a Canadian from the Long Branch Arsenal.

The 1916 Spanish you wrote about would be a bad choice for another reason than the one you stated. I have read that any rifle made before 1924 should not be trusted with modern loads because of the questionalble metallurgy. That is why I settled on an Israeli Mauser converted to 7.62 Nato, which I purchased from SOG in Ohio.

—Earnest Austen
@earthlink.net

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Grip For Shiloh
I really enjoyed your article on the buffalo guns. I own an Italian from Cape Outfitters and like it very much. I was fortunate enough to find a new Hartford model Shiloh that had just arrived in a shop in Salt Lake City and promptly put it on layaway. Can’t wait. Can you tell me where the add-on pistol grip was found for the straight stock shown in the article?

—Les Staley
@trib.com


The add-on grip is an accessory available from Shiloh. It is not cheap, being hand-carved wood. I don’t have the price, but the folks at Shiloh should be able to help you. The number in Montana is (406) 932-4454. —Ray Ordorica

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Surplus Additions
The surplus rifles article in the August 2001 issue was outstanding, and I enjoyed it very much. The Don’t Buy rating on the Yugoslavia Mauser M48 came about three years too late, however, because I have six M48 rifles and one m48A I would like to add some information on this rifle. First, the M48 was not made from the tooling captured from Germany in WWII. Yugoslavia bought tooling from Belgium, thus, it is a short-action Mauser and the bolt will not interchange with the legendary German Kar98.

Second, 8mm Mauser ammo is not that hard to come by, in fact, it is cheaper than .308 and .303. Century Arms sells Turkish ammo for $5.95 per bandolier of 70 rounds and shipping is free.

Third, you forget to mention in the article that the Yugoslav has a 200-meter sight setting, meaning that it will shoot high at 100 yards. Moreover, the rifle was meant to be used with 198-grain ammo, so the Turk 154-grain ammo will likely shoot high.

I found a reasonable way to improve this rifle is by installing a Mojo sight, which replaces the military rear sight without permanently damaging it. It can adjust both windage and elevation with the turn of allen wrench. The web address is www.mojosights.com, or the company address is Mojo Sighting Systems, P.O. Box 109, Ponderay, ID 83852. The sight costs $39.95 plus $4 shipping. I also replace the front sight with a taller front blade, which I get from Gun Parts Corp. for about $5.

Keep in mind that this rifle is more or less a historic arm, and it’s really not right for target or even hunting, but it is fun and affordable to plink with until all the 8mm ammo dries up.

—Thana Sathirachinda
@aol.com

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Rebarreling Surplus Rifles
In your August 2001 review of surplus military rifles, you reviewed a Spanish Civil Guard Mauser rechambered from 7x57 to .308 Winchester. There was no mention how the .308 bullets squeezed down the 7mm barrel. One of these things was given to me in fairly good condition. I was surprised to find it had the original barrel, or at least the barrel has the original markings on it. I had assumed it would have to have been rebarreled. With some apprehension I tested it and found that it actually shot fairly well. So what is the rest of the story on how these Mausers got from 7mm to .308?

I also landed an Ishipore .308 Enfield. The wood was rough, but the metal was in good shape. The barrel looks like it had not been fired very much at all. The biggest flaw on both of these rifles is that the notch in the barrel-mounted rear sight is so small that it is very hard to pick up quickly. The Mauser has its weight further aft and feels much handier than the Enfield.

—Brian Kross
Yorktown, VA 23606


According to Small Arms of the World by Edward C. Ezell, on page 655 it is noted that the Spanish Model M1916 short rifle was converted to 7.62 NATO probably for issue to reserve forces. It may have been possible to re-bore the barrel for 7.62mm, but I suspect that they just put on a new factory barrel. In any event the conversion was done at the arsenal many years ago.

I agree with your opinion of the notch rear sight on the Ishapore. You can replace the notch rear sight with an aperture rear sight, possibly from Williams Gun Sight Company (800) 530-9028. The rear notch assembly can easily be removed by taking out the flat blade screw on top of the sight elevation ramp that holds it in place. The balancing point on the rifle is just in front of the magazine. If a lead weight is added to the stock through the cleaning kit access hole in the butt plate, the point of balance can be moved to the rear.

— Kevin Winkle