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20ga rifled slug fired into gelatin

Smoothbore Surprises

Conventional wisdom of defensive shotgunning says that larger projectiles penetrate more. So loading birdshot guarantees absence of overpentration, while slugs will sail through the foe and possibly hit bystanders. But shotguns are sometimes unpredictable, and this theory only holds “all other things being equal” which they seldom do.

Shooting from a squat

Almost a Piece of History

STG44, the original “assault rifle” (Sturmgewehr) was the first widely issued intermediate caliber infantry weapon. Chambered in 7.92×33, it filled much the same niche as the AK-47. Because it was fielded on the losing side, STG44 ended up getting phased out of army service in both Germanies and much of the 400,000+ weapons ended up in the Third World. About 5,000 were found in Syria earlier this month. Quite a few ended up with the French Foreign Legion, a few with the East German border guards. Despite the relatively high production numbers, these rifles are not common in the US. Being select-fire, they are heavily regulated. Being chambered for 7.92×33, they are difficult to feed. And being made largely of low-grade steel stampings, they are heavy and tend to heat up uncomfortably at the forend. The few (under 200) semi-auto STG44s recently imported did not make much of a difference, being expensive and apparently not very durable.

PMR30 and FN5-7 side by side

PMR-30 vs FN5-7

The argument about the relative merits of these two pistols has gone on for years. Let’s take a look at the technical parameters and then compare the intangibles. The guns are roughly similar in size, with PMR30 just a little shorter and slimmer. Both have manual thumb safety. FN5-7 magazines are easier to load. PMR30 has less felt recoil and crisper trigger.

Puma PPS50 drum byBlack Dog Machine keeps each cartirdge separate and not under pressure.

On Reliability of Drum Magazines

Drum magazines have long had a bad reputation. “We found many Angolan and Cuban soldiers dead, with jammed RPK drums in their rifles” said a South African veteran. “PPSh drums had to be down-loaded by a few rounds, usually had to be fitted to individual submachine guns, and jammed more often than box magazines” wrote Soviet veterans of WW2. And yet drums persist in weapons large and small — have you ever wondered why?

The beefed up SU16 still weighs just a shade over five pounds.

Incremental Improvements of SU16.

Most popular rifles have evolved throughout their service life. Lee-Metford action of 1888 lasted into the 1950s, changing in that time its stock shape, its sights, the method of loading, the safety, the trigger mechanism and even the type of rifling. AK47 evolved from a 7.62mm milled rifle into a 5.45mm stamped AK12 with hundred of minor changes and improvements.

Sniper prepares to fire on a hostage taker.

Why Such an Emphasis on Accuracy?

According to the surveys I’ve read, the average distance for police sniper shots in the US is just under 60 yards, and median is closer to 35 yards. At 60 yards, even a ratty AK47 with surplus ball will produce a group not much greater than two inches. A two inch group means dispersion of only one inch from the point of aim at fifty yards. So why is everyone obsessing about sub-MOA accuracy in sniper rifles?

Arguing Semantics

When talking with staunch anti-gunners, it’s worth inquiring whether they object to firearms or to weapons. Contrary to their initial impression, the two are not the same. This Anschutz target rifle is a firearm. While it can be used as a weapon, it’s designed for an entirely peaceful purpose. That didn’t stop California from temporarily banning Olympic .22Short pistols as “assualt weapons” because of the forward location of their 5-shot magazines.