History

Stories of the past.

  • The Gatling Gun

    The Gatling Gun, invented by a young man from North Carolina for the Union Army brought about the beginnings of modern warfare and still haunts the battlefield today. Modern warfare is defined by the advent of the higher-level killing machines, such as the machine gun. The father of the machine gun (not withstanding Hiram Maxim) was Dr Richard Gatling. Gatling was the son of a North Carolina farmer. In his twenties he invented a steamship prop and a planting device known as a wheat drill....
  • Lyudmila Pavlichenko Deadliest Female Sniper

    During the dark years of the First World War, in the market city of Bila Tserkva (White Church) near Kiev in the Russian Ukraine, a young girl was born. This young girl, Lyudmila Mikhailivna Pavlichenko, would become the most dangerous women of the twentieth century. Into her crosshairs walked thousands of German invaders during the great campaigns of the Second World War's Eastern Front. Of those thousands, no less than 309 Axis soldiers met their end from a 7.62x54mm sniper's bullet from...
  • Heavy Metal with the M777 155mm Howitzer

    If you are a US Solider or Marine hunkered down in some remote forward base and the perimeter is crawling with what are politely called, 'unfriendly', the sweetest call that can be made is for a fire mission. Since 2005, this type of call has increasingly gone to a new, effective, and hard-hitting howitzer-- the Triple 7. Why the need During World War 1 (1914-1918), large caliber heavy artillery became the all-encompassing Mother Medusa of the modern battlefield. The United States entered...
  • A High Tech Technical

    Have a surplus Soviet Bloc machinegun and no way to use it to shoot down government helicopters coming to strafe your band of freedom fighters? Well, here is a lesson in battlefield ingenuity. Yes, the Syrian rebels are at it again and CJ Chivers of the New York Times details a surplus 14.5mm heavy machine gun used on a rebel Technical (commercial pickup truck used as a combat vehicle, more on those below.) What is a Technical? The first technical started came about in world war two....
  • Laying Down the LAW

    The tank changed warfare for good in the tail end of World War One. Since then, man has devised tank killers to help rid the battlefield of these up-armored war engines. First came anti-tank rifles like the .55 Boys, followed by the Bazooka of WWII. By the 1960s, these were both obsolete and the US Army was looking for something new. They laid down the LAW What is the LAW? Officially, the weapon is known as the M72; however, its nickname comes from the project to create a Light Anti-tank...
  1. The Grenada Weapons Stockpile

    When the US military kicked in the door on the small Caribbean island nation of Grenada in 1983, it was to rescue endangered American medical students. What they found was a stockpile of weapons large enough to outfit one a communist-trained military force that would be capable of taking control of the entire region if needed. Here is a historical look at what was found. An overview of the invasion The former British colony of Grenada had a non-violent past. That was until 1979 when a...
  2. The Drexel Shooting Team of 1925

    Today women are standing tall in the realm of the shooting sports, but nearly a hundred years ago they were rarely seen. This remarkable photo shows us that there were then as now those who were enamored with the sport and willing to give it a shot (pun intended) Above we see the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry Female Rifle Team of 1925. The image comes from Shorpy Historical Picture Archive. Known since 1970 simply as Drexel University, the school was originally founded in...
  3. The Men behind Modern Military Auto Pistols

    Here at Firearms Talk we are continually on the quest to expand our knowledge of all things gun. One of the most important categories of gun in the past 150-years had been in the realm of military auto-loading pistols. You know the guns we speak of: the Colt 1911, the Browning Hi-Power, the German P08 Luger, the SIG P-series, et al. These guns have done the heavy lifting as military and police sidearms, as well as civilian target, hunting and defense pieces for the entire period that you...
  4. Heavy Metal with the M777 155mm Howitzer

    If you are a US Solider or Marine hunkered down in some remote forward base and the perimeter is crawling with what are politely called, 'unfriendly', the sweetest call that can be made is for a fire mission. Since 2005, this type of call has increasingly gone to a new, effective, and hard-hitting howitzer-- the Triple 7. Why the need During World War 1 (1914-1918), large caliber heavy artillery became the all-encompassing Mother Medusa of the modern battlefield. The United States entered...
  5. The 1946 Battle of Athens

    When ill-informed people speak of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, they speak only of how hunting is a noble right and sports shooting is a valid hobby. What is often left unsaid is that the Founding Fathers had intended this inherent right as a protection against tyranny of all sorts. An unarmed society is a society waiting to be enslaved. A legally armed one is a functioning republic. There is no better modern example of this than in the 1946 Battle of Athens. Corrupt Local...
  6. The British Martini Henry Rifle

    One of the most iconic rifles of the late 19th century was the Martini-Henry. While it didn't have anything to do with the drink, this very British design (with American undertones) was revolutionary for its time and is still an affordable collectable today. The Design of the Martini To understand where the Martini rifle started at, one needs to look at the 1862-era rolling block rifle of Henry O. Peabody from Boston, Massachusetts. Good old Henry O tried to get his rifle worked out for...
  7. The Improvised Smith Gun of WWII

    In the first part of World War 2, things did not go too well for Great Britain. The island country found itself, for a long period, alone and isolated, with the armies of Hitler just a channel away from their shores. To further complicate the matter, the Germans had tanks and the Brits had few tank-killing guns. This case of military heartburn led to the invention of the Smith Gun. Why the need? Britain entered World War 2 in 1939 with a list of allies that included Poland and France....
  8. Muff Pistols

    In the colonial era, there was known to be the occasional ruffian and bad apple that walked around in public. Middle class tradesmen and merchants, as well as upper class landowners and gentry often found themselves traveling in strange areas. This was in the days before large municipal, county, and state police forces and if you wanted personal protection, you really had to take it into your own hands. It was the days of the muff pistol. What is a muff pistol? A popular clothing item from...
  9. The 1895 Russian Nagant Revolver

    In 1895, the new Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, approved an innovative revolver for his enormous army. At the time Imperial Russia was the only country in the world who mustered a military of more than a million men in peacetime. Once war was declared, the Tsar could count on another 14 million reservists to answer his call. They needed arms, and the Nagant M1895 revolver was their standard sidearm. The Design An enterprising pair of Belgian firearms inventors, Emil and Leon Nagant, has...
  10. The Russian OSA

    Here on this side of the pond, less than lethal weapons normally mean Tasers, pepper spray, and alarm devices. Well in Russia, things get a little more real. Why? Even under the repressive rule of the Tsars, private ownership of handguns, rifles, and shotguns was legal and even encouraged through the sale of surplus military weapons. In Soviet Russia, this changed as communists made it illegal to own handguns. Today these laws are still on the books in Vladimir Putin's Russia. You can own...
  11. Laying Down the LAW

    The tank changed warfare for good in the tail end of World War One. Since then, man has devised tank killers to help rid the battlefield of these up-armored war engines. First came anti-tank rifles like the .55 Boys, followed by the Bazooka of WWII. By the 1960s, these were both obsolete and the US Army was looking for something new. They laid down the LAW What is the LAW? Officially, the weapon is known as the M72; however, its nickname comes from the project to create a Light Anti-tank...
  12. A High Tech Technical

    Have a surplus Soviet Bloc machinegun and no way to use it to shoot down government helicopters coming to strafe your band of freedom fighters? Well, here is a lesson in battlefield ingenuity. Yes, the Syrian rebels are at it again and CJ Chivers of the New York Times details a surplus 14.5mm heavy machine gun used on a rebel Technical (commercial pickup truck used as a combat vehicle, more on those below.) What is a Technical? The first technical started came about in world war two....
  13. The Avenger 30mm Cannon

    Here at Firearms Talk we generally talk about small arms, and small arms accessories. However let’s take a break and check out some extremely heavy firepower-- the GAU-8 Avenger cannon. Since the US Army took an experimental Lewis machinegun up on a canvas and bamboo biplane in 1912, there has been a move to arm aircraft. After those tests in which an officer asked, "Why would anyone want to put a gun on an airplane?" ordnance has gotten bigger and more effective. The Fulda Gap The US...
  14. The M16 Cartoon Field Manual

    Field manuals have been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans. One General (Baron) Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben wrote the very first American Army field manual. The good baron was George Washington's Inspector General, and helped train the Continental Army in 1779. Since then the US Army has published thousands of these often very dry books dealing on everything from Mountain Warfare Operations to the ever-popular Field Sanitation. Many lonely soldiers has sat...
  15. Lyudmila Pavlichenko Deadliest Female Sniper

    During the dark years of the First World War, in the market city of Bila Tserkva (White Church) near Kiev in the Russian Ukraine, a young girl was born. This young girl, Lyudmila Mikhailivna Pavlichenko, would become the most dangerous women of the twentieth century. Into her crosshairs walked thousands of German invaders during the great campaigns of the Second World War's Eastern Front. Of those thousands, no less than 309 Axis soldiers met their end from a 7.62x54mm sniper's bullet from...
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