The G3 – one of the few Cold War battle rifles still in widespread usage due to its overall simplicity and ruggedness. While the FAL armed many nations, the G3 armed almost as many and still does. You can often find them in Africa right alongside the various AK pattern arms in common usage. Ironically enough, the G3 only became a thing because West Germany couldn’t get a license to produce the FAL from FN in the late '50s. Producers of the G3 include Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Sweden, Norway, and Luxembourg.
The G3 was far more influential than its Spanish parent, the CETME, and went on to spawn the iconic MP5 subguns in the '60s. Fun fact: the later collapsing G3 stocks have been referred to as the “meat tenderizer,” given that the shape of the stock is about the same as having a small peg slam into one’s shoulder.
It was also used as the basis for the less-successful 5.56 HK33 and stillborn HK41. For a while, almost all of H&K’s rifles were designed on the roller-delayed blowback principle. Because of the violent, yet positive, extraction, G3s are probably the most reliable battle rifle of the Cold War. This also means that it takes considerable effort to charge the rifle, as the handle’s unlocking motion serves as leverage to unlock the bolt from the rollers while the user has to pull back with considerable effort against the operating spring! Further, the empty cases are often sent out with such force that they’re usually never seen again – all the craters on the moon are supposedly from G3 empties having been sent there.
If one does find a G3-used case, it often has a prominent ding on the base of the cartridge, a crushed case mouth, and fouling marks from the fluted chamber. Coupled with the velocity and direction of the ejected case, the Germans apparently wanted to get 65% more bullet per bullet when they designed the G3.
Prior to 1969, G3s were also made by Rheinmetall; these can be distinguished by the unique “circle and diamond” stamp as opposed to the generic “HK” mark on H&K built G3s.
“But that’s an AK-47!” you might say. Well, yes, it is. Inside the world of Avtomat Kalashnikova derived small arms are a diverse and varied set of rifles, subguns, automatic rifles, and machine guns. The original Avtomat Kalashnikova (“Kalashnikov’s Automatic Rifle” – or literally “Automatic Kalashnikov”) was accepted into service in 1947. The “47” is typically dropped in Russian/Soviet nomenclature. From the outset, the rifle had been designed to use stamped sheet metal where possible, in order to make production quicker. However, due to issues with the early stamped receiver as well as production of it, a milled receiver was substituted until the AKM was introduced in 1959 (Avtomat Kalashnikova Modernizirovanniy, “Kalashnikov’s Automatic Rifle Modernized”). The vast majority of the “AK-47s” in the world are actually derivatives of the AKM, not the original AK.
The AMM is the Hungarian version of the AKM. Hungary did produce copies of the original milled receiver Type 2 AK under the designation AK-55, which was augmented by the AMD-65 in the 1960s. The AMM was introduced because the AMD-65 was too expensive to produce and a more direct copy of the AKM was requested. The AMM does have some minor changes in comparison to the AKM: the barrel is of a heavier profile under the handguards; the pistol grip is a unique “I” shape; the wood is solid, not laminate; the handguard wood is thicker and heavier, without the distinctive palm swells; the bolt and bolt carrier are heavier, lacking the same lightening cuts introduced on the AKM; and other minor distinctive changes.
Two variants of the AMM were made: the base AMM (AK-63) with fixed stock and the AMMS (AK-63D) with the underfolder stock. Currently, the Hungarian military operates modernized versions of the AMM.
No, the vast majority are built on the stamped receiver AKM. The original came in three versions: AK Type 1 with early stamped receiver, AK Type 2 with first version milled receiver, and AK Type 3 with final milled receiver. The AKM introduced a refined, simplified, and better stamped receiver.
Now for something a little unusual: The Swiss K31.
The K31 functions like a bolt action rifle, except that one only pulls the handle back and pushes it forward to cycle the weapon. The action design dates back to 1889 and was continually modified and upgraded until it culminated with the K31, which served until the adoption of the StG57. The K31 is an exceptional carbine and the Swiss pedigree readily shows on even the worst example. The 7.5x55mm GP11 round is incredibly accurate and roughly the equivalent to the 7.62NATO/.308 cartridge introduced many years later. It is one of the few mass produced rounds that can stand on its own against hand loaded offerings.
The rifle itself is handy and once one adjusts to the operation of the bolt, becomes incredibly rapid as well as incredibly accurate. Few mass produced rifles can match a bone stock K31 when it comes to handling and accuracy, especially considering that it uses traditional notch and post sights. Scope mounts are rare for the rifle and command a premium when they do show up (the K31’s receiver design does not readily allow for simplified scope mounting, as the ejection port is quite large, with little room to properly place a scope). Like most rifles of its era, it comes in at a hefty 8-9 pounds, though it offers a 6 round magazine as opposed to the typical 5 round seen in Mauser derivatives.
If you remember some of the cop flicks of the 1960s and 1970s, chances are you remember seeing just about everyone with a revolver, good or bad, for a weapon. There’s several reasons for this: reliable automatics were extremely limited in availability at the time, especially in the USA. The choices were either the Browning (FN) Hi-Power or the Colt 1911, both of which required significant tuning and maintenance to stay running. They were also finiky about ammunition, given that they were designed to use military ball and nothing else. Side note: other designs like the Smith & Wesson Model 39 hadn’t caught on primarily because they were too “revolutionary” for the time, coupled with poor ammunition choices and availability for the caliber (9x19m).
Revolvers, by contrast, didn’t have complicated feed mechanics powered by recoil, but mechanical works to rotate the cylinder and fire. The double action trigger was the standard that everyone worked by, well known and understood, despite the relative complications. There were typically no safeties aside from the heavy double action pull, so it was very much a point and shoot affair.
The Colt Trooper came onto the scene in the 1950s as Colt’s attempt to try and get some of the law enforcement market back from Smith & Wesson, which had been dominating the revolver market for some time. Colt’s high end offerings like the Python and the Anaconda were designed for enthusiasts, while the Trooper was intended as a duty arm. .357 Magnum was steadily becoming the go-to cartridge for many agencies that wanted more power than .38 Special, especially as time went on into the late 1960s and 1970s with rising periods of civil unrest and heavily-armed criminal gangs. The Trooper went through a redesign in this period, resulting in the Mk III variation. The Mk III had a redesigned frame, corrosion resistant coil springs, and new sintered parts to reduce cost in both labor and materials. Many Colt enthusiasts consider this a bad thing, as the day’s standards were high in terms of workmanship and materials compared to today.
Keeping with handguns again, next subject: The Beretta 84, also known as the Beretta Cheetah.
These have a closer lineage to classic Beretta firearms due to being chambered in traditional European cartridges like .32 and .380, further using a simple blowback operation rather than any locking mechanic. The 80 series was designed to shoot .22 Long Rifle, .32ACP, and .380ACP/9mm Kurz, and they do so rather elegantly. The .32 and .380 models come in either single stack or double stack magazines, though the size of a double stack in such calibers tends to encourage one to find a slightly larger pistol in a more potent caliber if one needs that much firepower. However, in the 1970s and 1980s, there weren’t many compact options for 9x19mm and other larger calibers, so the 80 series found a home for those looking for compact, lighter pistols as opposed to the heavier ones of the day.
This particular version is a Beretta 84BB, which has a smooth trigger guard and a firing pin safety. It is one of many that were surplused out from Israeli service, who were big users of these pistols.
My first wife had that pistol in .380 and it was beautiful. I had to hide all of the mags and ammo one night as our relationship was winding down, but that’s another story that probably shouldn’t be digitally immortalized. Best relayed over a beer with friends. Miss the pistol though. Her, not so much.
A couple of years back I caught up with a buddy who I hadn’t seen in years. Over a couple of beers we got to talking about our significant others…
He asked me "Is your wife a shooter?"
I said "No. not really, she is not much for shooting sports."
He said "That’s not what I mean - I call a shooter a girl who, if there is a gun in the house, she will use it."
I responded slowly "okaay. yea my wife not so much…"
He said "My girlfriends a shooter."
And after a pause he added:
“Keeps you on your toes.”