Found on Guns.com: ATI GSG MP-40

The MP-40 is a classic military weapon developed by the Nazis and throughout the war served as a trophy for U.S. servicemen. They were only produced for a short period of time, from 1940-1945 but it’s estimated that over 1 million Mascinenpistole 40 were produced.

These days it’s extremely rare and expensive to own an authentic MP-40. You’ll likely have to pay $20,000 to $30,000 to get one authentic. In addition, you’ll also need the tax stamp and all the paperwork that goes with it. That’s why we’re ditching the authentic version to show you the ATI GSG MP-40.

German Sport Guns

Made in Germany by German Sport Guns (Photo: Don Summers)

German Sport Guns manufacturers the guns in Oesterweg so you still have some authentic Deutchland connection. ATI imports the MP-40 clones for sale stateside, but at a fraction of the cost of the real thing. It weighs in at 7.4 pounds unloaded, but just like the real thing this only aids in the accuracy.

SEE AT GUNS.COM FROM $440

Just like the real thing this gun is chambered in 9mm and comes with one 25-round magazine. The one big notable difference between the two designs is that the ATI version lacks a stock, making it a pistol. Of course, you’re not going to get the famous full-auto either but at least you’ll save money on ammo. Speaking of, thank you to Aguila for providing ammo for this display.

All in all, this gun shot great and ate through all the Aguila we could feed it. It’s a fun gun, something to take to the range with your buddies and shoot all day. It’s an accurate gun and with the 9mm chambering it’s affordable to shoot as well.

ATI MP40

A classic look at a fraction of the original price (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)

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Bushmaster BA50: The Tale of a Chunky .50 Cal BMG Carbine

A rarely-seen carbine version of the Bushmaster BA50, with a factory 22-inch barrel, currently rests in the Guns.com Vault.

A rarely-seen carbine version of the Bushmaster BA50, with a factory 22-inch barrel, currently rests in the Guns.com Vault— and is looking for a good home.

SEE THIS BA50 AT GUNS.COM FROM $3450!

With roots in Kennesaw, Georgia, the Bushmaster BA50 has an interesting backstory that provides familiar AR-15 styling in a .50-caliber BMG rifle.

In early 2003, Georgia-based Cobb Manufacturing teased the market with a rifle, dubbed the Model 50A1, that used an AR-15 type gas operating system to shoot the 50 BMG round.  By that Fall, the gun had morphed to a bolt-action as the Cobb FA50(T) that kept many AR-style features.

Put into limited production, the final version of the gun produced by Cobb was the $7,000 BA50 which, as noted by the company in early 2007, was on the cover of tactical mags and in service with both law enforcement customers and “U.S. allies overseas.”

In August 2007, Bushmaster purchased Cobb and moved the company’s plant from Georgia to Maine and two years later the company put the upgraded BA50 into their catalog in both a rifle and carbine variant.

Bushmaster BA50 rifle Eger

The standard BA50, shown here at SHOT Show earlier this year with an AAC Cyclops suppressor, uses a 30-inch barrel. Contrast it with the carbine version at the top. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Using a Lothar Walther free-floating barrel with 1-in-15-inch rifling, the standard Bushmaster BA50 rifle carried a 30-inch example while the shorter carbine went just 22-inches. This 8-inch difference in barrel length trimmed 3-pounds from the 30-pound rifle when in the carbine configuration. Both models used an M1913 Picatinny top rail for optics and came standard with a 10-round magazine and bipod. The bolt is left-handed in operation but ejected to the right, allowing the user to keep their right hand on the pistol grip during the cycling process.

Like the AR-15, the BA-50 features an upper and lower receiver that opens on a forward pivot pin and includes a modified bolt carrier group while using a familiar AR-style safety with a manual thumb lever on the left side. The easy takedown also allowed the gun to be carried in two smaller components.

Bushmaster BA50 Carbine

There is a certain AR-15ish resemblance there, only on steroids.

The overall length of the Bushmaster BA50 rifle is 58-inches, while the carbine is a downright compact 50-inches. The perfect squirrel gun at just 27-pounds! This gun is available in the Guns.com Vault complete with a Pelican hard case and two 10-round magazines.

The overall length of the Bushmaster BA50 rifle is 58-inches, while the carbine is a downright compact 50-inches. The perfect squirrel gun at just 27-pounds! This gun is available in the Guns.com Vault complete with a Pelican hard case and two 10-round magazines.

With its Magpul PRS adjustable buttstock, multi-chamber muzzle brake, ErgoGrip pistol grip, and LimbSavr recoil pad, Bushmaster says felt the recoil of the BA50 is on par with a 12 gauge shotgun.

With its Magpul PRS adjustable buttstock, multi-chamber muzzle brake, ErgoGrip pistol grip, and LimbSavr recoil pad, Bushmaster says felt the recoil of the BA50 is on par with a 12 gauge shotgun.

While Bushmaster still makes the BA50 rifle, the carbine version was only produced for three years, going out of production in 2011. That makes the shorter BMG-chambered example shown above something of a collector’s item for less than a third of what a Barrett M107 semi-auto .50 will set you back.

SEE THIS BA50 AT GUNS.COM FROM $3450!

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Building an AK-47 with Lee Armory

Though I am admittedly a pistol girl through and through, I have dabbled in AR-15s like most gun owners. Like adult Legos, these guns piece together quickly and easily. When the opportunity to try my hand at building my own AK-47 arose, thanks to Lee Armory, I jumped on the chance to add to my repertoire of guns. What I didn’t realize, though, was exactly how different the AK building process would prove to be.

Lee Armory, located in Phoenix, Arizona, are AK specialists — building home-grown AKs for Kalashnikov fans. The company also happens to offer an AK Building Course for AK enthusiasts who want to take their fandom and love to the next level by piecing together their very own rifle. Helmed by Josh Leighton of Lee Armory, the class is an intense look into how the storied Soviet rifles are made. With an invitation and some trepidation, I jumped in on a Lee Armory build class to see how an AK compares to building an AR.

Lee Armory had all the pieces of what soon would be an AK laid out waiting to meet the tools that would smash rivets and pound pieces into place. Under Leighton’s guidance, I moved from station to station slowly putting together the AK-47.  The steps were involved and as someone who isn’t familiar with tools beyond the basics, it felt a little daunting using all the machinery. Each step presented its own challenges, some of which I turned to Leighton to help me complete.

AK-47

The parts of what would soon become a fully built AK-47. (Photo: Jacki Billings)

After a few hours of work, though, the job was complete. I slid the last few pieces of the AK into place and marveled at the firearm I had just built now resting in my hands. There was something so cool and fun about watching the rudimentary shapes of metal come together in the form of the famous AK-47. I didn’t have much time to marvel because the true test was upon us. After all that time and work I put into building the rifle, would it even fire?

Leighton directed me over to the test firing barrel nestled in the corner of Lee Armory’s factory. I placed the muzzle into the large hole of the blue barrel and pulled the trigger. Thankfully, it fired just as planned. After a few test shots to ensure it was truly functional we loaded up and headed to the range for a full test and evaluation.

AK-47

Leighton testing out the AK. (Photo: Jacki Billings)

We spent the first part of our range time sighting the AK-47 in at 100-yards and once that was complete it was all fun from there. Slinging rounds of 7.62 downrange at steel targets, I was met with that satisfying ding signaling my bullets landing on target. I was ecstatic! I sat plinking with the AK I had built myself and it actually worked! The experience was intense —much different from the AR-15 I built several years ago.

I was hit with a realization of exactly why this AK build class is truly beneficial for those that want to build their own AK. Having Leighton there every step of the way to guide me and help me was essential in ensuring I built a functional and safe rifle free of frustration. Walking away from the hot Arizona range, I was really thankful that Lee Armory offers such a service and allowed me to be one of its students.

To this day, building my very own AK is one of the coolest experiences I’ve had and a memory I will surely treasure for years to come.

AK-47

The author with the AK-47 she built. (Photo: Jacki Billings)

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The Humble yet Increasingly Collectible SKS Rifle: A History

Russian SKS-45

With its origin in WWII and Cold War production history, the SKS can be a thing of beauty. (Photo: Guns.com)

SEE SKS RIFLES NOW FOR SALE AT GUNS.COM!

A common question posed is, “Who made the SKS?” The answer to that question is curious and contains some unexpected twists and turns. When it comes to Soviet small arms used in World War II, the quick and common answers are typically 7.62x54R-caliber rifles like the iconic Mosin-Nagant M91/30 and SVT-40, alongside the ever-present PPSh-41 and PPS-43 submachine guns chambered in pistol-caliber 7.62x25mm. This is understandable as wartime figures say that the Motherland was able to pony up a staggering 18 million of those weapons alone during the conflict. However other arguably man-portable weapons also appeared in the hands of Stalin’s “frontoviks” to include the PTRS-41 anti-tank gun.

PTRS_rifle_at_Great_Patriotic_War_museum_in_Smolensk Vitaly V. Kuzmin

This thing. (Photo: Vitaly V. Kuzmin/Wiki Commons)

The outsized elephant gun sprang from the mind of one Sergei Simonov and the rifle’s designation, in typical Russian fashion, includes his name (Protivo Tankovoye Ruzh’yo Simonova= Simonov’s Anti-Tank Gun) in its title. The downright chunky five-shot semi-automatic was chambered in 14.5x114mm — a round a good bit larger than John Browning’s vaunted .50-caliber BMG. Weighing in at 46-pounds, the PTRS-41 was used to snipe at German tanks and vehicles on the Eastern Front during WWII and has been kept in low-key service around the globe ever since then for use as an anti-material rifle, predating the invention of the Barrett M82 by nearly 50 years.

Why all this talk of anti-tank guns? Well, when the Soviet military moved to adopt the 7.62x39mm M43 round in 1943 and sought carbine designs to use the forward-thinking new intermediate cartridge, Simonov stepped forward with what was essentially a down-sized PTRS-41 chambered for the new flavor. The resulting 8.5-pound semi-automatic carbine he submitted used a wood stock, like the previous Mosin and SVT-series rifles, but was fed via a top-loaded 10-round magazine that could be topped off rapidly using stripper clips.

Trialed in combat in 1944 by Ivans who no doubt were unaware they were beta-testers, the handy carbine, with its reliable gas piston action, was a success and it was adopted in 1945 becoming known as the Samozaryadnyi Karabin Simonova or Self-loading Carbine Simonov: the SKS-45.

Russian SKS

A Soviet-made SKS-45 series rifle up for grabs in the Guns.com Vault with its standard folding short knife-style bayonet and distinctive dark wood stock. (Photo: Guns.com)

Put into production while the AK47 was simultaneously being developed and fielded, Soviet SKS rifles were only made for about six years, from 1949 to 1955, at the Tula and Izhevsk factories in what is now Russia. As the AK was more compact, select-fire, and ultimately easier to produce, the SKS soon fell out of favor with Moscow and its line was cut short.

This resulted in the guns and the know-how to manufacture them soon being exported to fellow Communist countries such as Red China, where they were put into production in 1956 as the Type 56 rifle. Rumania soon followed where the SKS became the M56. Yugoslavia got on Team Simonov where it became known as the M59. East Germany, in keeping with their Teutonic traditions, termed their locally made SKSs as the Karabiner-S. Other countries to make the gun, who later got the secret recipe from China, included North Korea and Albania.

Norinco SKS

A Chinese Norinco SKS available in the Guns.com Vault, sans bayonet which was often removed during the 1994 to 2004 federal “assault weapon” ban to make them compliant. Note the “orange” wood stock. (Photo: Guns.com)

Norinco SKS Bayonet with gun ban tag

These Chinese-made 12.5-inch spike-style bayonets were often removed from the rifles and sold during the ban as curios, with the caveat that they could not be re-installed on SKS’s as they would instantly become assault-y. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Yugo SKS

A Yugoslav-made Zastava-produced M59/66 SKS clone up for grabs in the Guns.com Vault. These guns are easily identified by their buttplate, Russian-style bayonet, and distinctive muzzle device and corresponding ladder sight made for launching rifle grenades. Later versions of this rifle included a flip-up forward night sight as well. (Photo: Guns.com)

Coming to America

Like the AK47, the SKS remained something of a mystery in the West for an extended period. The CIA reported on the gun’s existence in 1955 while the first real-live versions were only captured in 1956 by French troops during the Suez Crisis operating in Egypt.

SKS CIA 1955

The CIA’s first impression of the SKS, in 1955. (Photo: CIA)

By the Vietnam conflict in the 1960s, the SKS became increasingly familiar to U.S. troops who often encountered the then-second-tier infantry rifle in large numbers, given by Moscow and Beijing to North Vietnam freely as military aid.

SKS Vietnam NARA photos

Left: “A Viet Cong soldier crouches in a bunker with an SKS rifle, 1968.” Photographed by SPC4 Dennis J. Kurpuis. U.S. Army. Photograph in the National Archives. Right: “Captain Edward F. Riley, 9th Marine Regiment, examines one of over 600 North Vietnamese Army SKS rifles captured by men of his company during Operation Dewey Canyon, 1969.” USMC Photo.

Due to their semi-auto nature, GI-captured SKS rifles from Southeast Asia became a popular war trophy for returning American Vietnam Vets returning home and were the first such rifles to come into the U.S. By the early 1980s, Chinese-made examples produced for the commercial market began to be imported to the U.S. through companies like Navy Arms, Century, K-Sports, Poly Tech, KBI and B-West. This trickle turned into a flood and the days of the “$99” SKS were born about the same time that New Coke and MTV hit the scene. At the time Simonov, who lived until 1986, likely found that curious.

This golden era of the SKS ended when Chinese rifle exports were halted, only to be replaced by a silver era that followed the Cold War in which Russian and Yugo-made guns were brought in by the crate.

The easy availability of these guns led to several wholly Red, White and Blue modifications to the SKS which included aftermarket SVD-style stocks, often cranky extended magazines, and other enhancements. It could be argued that the SKS and its availability at every gun show, pawnshop, and LGS in the 1980s and 90s gave rise to companies like TAPCO.

A TAPCO display at SHOT Show– still offering aftermarket SKS furniture today. (Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Yugo SKS SG Works stock

This SKS in the Guns.com Vault came to us with a bullpup stock kit from SG Works, bipod and extended mag. (Photo: Guns.com)

Sadly, the vast boatloads of surplus SKS rifles headed to the U.S. have slowed to a trickle, which has combined with SKSs of both Russian and Chinese origin now being forbidden from import, to turn the once common 7.62x39mm semi-auto into more of a collectible than a hard-serving camp rifle or “truck gun.”

These days, if you can grab one for a good price, it’s likely to be a worth wild investment as the days of the $99 SKS are likely never to return.

SEE SKS RIFLES NOW FOR SALE AT GUNS.COM!

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Vintage M14 Rifles Still Chugging Along Overseas

Lithuania M14 L1 with Meopta scope Sadlak mounts designated marksman rifle 2019 via Lithuanian ministry of defense 3

Lithuania received some 40,000 M14s in the 1990s and is upgrading some for use as DMRs (Photo: Lithuanian Armed Forces)

A NATO ally is busy upgrading their classic M14 battle rifles to keep them in service for future generations.

The Lithuanian military recently announced they have taken possession of 400 modified M14s for use by the country’s Army and National Defense Volunteer Forces, the latter roughly equal to the U.S. Army National Guard. The improved guns are built to what the Baltic country describes as the M14 L1 standard for use as a designated marksman rifle.

(Photo: Lithuanian Armed Forces)

This includes Czech-made Meoptia ZD 1-4x22mm RD optics and M1A mounts provided by Sadlak Manufacturing in the U.S.

According to local media, the initiative has been in the works since 2016 and the first batch of reworked rifles will go to arm one marksman per squad in the Aukstaitija light infantry brigade, a new reserve unit formed in 2017. A further 500 rifles will go to the NDVF.

The guns will be used by designated marksmen at the squad-level in selected reserve units. (Photo: Lithuanian Armed Forces)

The country received upwards of 40,000 surplus M14s in 1999 from the U.S. as military aid and has since utilized the Vietnam-era 7.62x51mm NATO-caliber rifle for both ceremonial purposes and as a DMR, with President Dalia Grybauskaitė even showcased firing one at the range in 2009.

Introduced in 1959 to replace the WWII-era M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle and M3 Grease Gun, the M14 was designed by Springfield Armory and narrowly beat out the FN FAL to become the standard U.S. infantry weapon. Its reign was short-lived, however, and the M14 was in turn soon put to pasture in the late 1960s as the lighter 5.56mm M16 gained favor during the Vietnam conflict. While thousands have been given away as aid, such as to Lithuania, and thousands more melted down over the years, the Pentagon still utilizes the country’s final wooden-stocked rifle for training, as a line-thrower in the Navy, in ceremonial use, and in a limited DMR role.

The only regular U.S. Army unit to still use the M14 every day is the Old Guard of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, whose Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknowns still carry the gun with reverence, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

However, the last U.S. service member to know their way around an M14 is still far into the future. This week at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Class of 2023 just wrapped up their Cadet Basic Training prior to the start of their freshman year– carrying immaculate M14s.

#USMA2023 officially joined the Corps of Cadets during the Acceptance Day parade. The 1,187 members of the class…

Posted by West Point – The U.S. Military Academy on Saturday, August 17, 2019

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A Pilot’s Best Friend: WWII Remington Rand M1911A1

Remington Rand M1911A1 (9)

This 1943 Remington Rand M1911A1 is striking. (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)

SEE MORE ON THIS M1911A1 IN THE VAULT

One of the more interesting guns that have come through the Guns.com Vault in recent months is a World War II-era Remington Rand M1911A1. The gun came to us from the family of a man who was reportedly a B-17 bomber pilot during the conflict. While the golden rule in used firearms is “buy the gun, not the story,” this Government Issue .45 certainly has a lot to say just by looking at it.

Remington Rand, not to be confused with Remington Arms, was a business machine company formed in a merger between the Remington Typewriter Company and Rand Kardex Corporation during the Roaring Twenties. However, as with other gadget and widget makers, during WWII they retooled to help crank out the Arsenal of Democracy and win the war.

For Remington Rand, this meant making M1911A1 pistols, the standard U.S. military handgun since 1926. The company received drawings, gauges and tooling from the Army’s Springfield Armory, which had been previously used to manufacture M1911s and converted their “C” Division typewriter plant and warehouse in 1942 to war production.  While Colt, Ithaca, railway equipment maker U.S. Switch & Signal, and even the Singer Sewing Machine company would produce over 1.8 million of these iconic handguns during the conflict, it was Remington Rand that delivered the most to Uncle Sam.

With a serial number that dates to 1943, the Remington Rand in the Guns.com Vault has what collectors consider Type 3 slide markings, a very crisp “FJA” Ordnance inspector’s mark of Col. Frank J. Atwood, an Ordnance Department wheel, and U.S. Property marks.

Remington Rand M1911A1 markings

Lt. Col. Frank J. Atwood was the U.S. Army Ordnance officer in charge of war production in the Rochester district of New York from 1942 to 1946 and both the Remington Rand and Ithaca factories were under his control. M1911A1s accepted during that time from those makers will have his FJA mark. (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)

Remington Rand M1911A1 markings

Remington Rand’s M1911A1 factory was located on Dickerson Street in Syracuse, New York, which is now a parking lot. (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)

Remington Rand M1911A1 markings

While the M1911 was adopted before WWI, the “A1” series became standard in 1926. (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)

Remington Rand M1911A1 markings

Note the U.S. Property marks (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)

Remington Rand M1911A1 markings

U.S. Army Ordnance Corps wheel is one of the oldest insignia designs used by the U.S. Army. (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)

Remington Rand M1911A1 markings

Note the condition of the grips and parkerized finish as well as the “P” proof mark by the magazine release and lanyard ring. (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)

When it comes to the barrel, this M1911A1 has one produced by High Standard as denoted by the “HS” mark on the lug. This is correct for late model Remington Rands as the typewriter and adding machine maker did not produce their own pistol barrels. High Standard, on the other hand, produced 5-inch M1911 barrels during the war for not only Remington Rand but also for Ithaca and US&S.

Remington Rand M1911A1 (10)

(Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)

As for why the gun looks so minty, the story is that the gun was issued to said B-17 bomber pilot who only shot it to familiarize himself with it and returned home with the gun after the war, where it spent the rest of its life largely in storage.

Why would a pilot have a gun?

U.S. Army Air Force B-17 bombers flying through flak on their way to a target in Europe. At 25,000 feet, the temperature could drop below -60 degrees Fahrenheit but the Germans had their own way to keep things hot for American aircrews. (Photo: U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. Army Air Force B-17 bombers flying through flak on their way to a target in Europe. At 25,000 feet, the temperature could drop below -60 degrees Fahrenheit but the Germans had their own way to keep things very hot for American aircrews. (Photo: U.S. Air Force photo)

This week marks the 77th anniversary of Mission #1, the first heavy bomber attack on Nazi-occupied Europe by the U.S. VIII Bomber Command, the England-based unit that was to grow into the mighty 8th Air Force. While that initial raid only fielded 18 B-17 bombers on a strike in occupied France, by Mission # 84, the famed Schweinfurt–Regensburg Raid — which was 76 years ago this week and coincides to the “born on” date of our Remington-Rand — the 8th Air Force sent 376 B-17s deep into Germany itself. By Mission # 817 in February 1945, the 8th Air Force was putting an amazing 1,437 bombers into the air over Berlin.

Over the course of the war, the 8th Air Force alone lost a staggering 4,145 bombers on missions over Europe. While aircrew were limited as to what they could bring along on their high altitude flights — for instance, most liquids were banned due to the likelihood of them freezing in the unpressurized aircraft — they were issued basic survival gear such as a special extreme cold-weather uniform, life vest, parachute and a pistol in case they had to “hit the silk” and try to escape and evade Axis patrols to make it to friendly lines, often with the help of local resistance groups.

While Navy aviators had to make do with various revolvers, Army Air Force aircrew were typically issued standard M1911A1s. The U.S. Air Force Museum has an example of one such gun on display carried by a WWII B-17 gunner that caught a piece of German flak on a mission.

The Remington Rand in the Guns.com Vault came from its owner complete with its 1943-marked Boyt M3 shoulder holster.

The U.S.-marked leather holster is imarked "U.S. Boyt 43" (Photo: Richard Taylor?Guns.com)

The U.S.-marked leather holster that comes with the M1911A1 is marked “Boyt 43” (Photo: Richard Taylor?Guns.com)

The M3, sometimes referred to as the “flyer” holster by militaria collectors to set it apart from later “tanker” holster models, was often issued to USAAF aircrews and occasionally to Army paratrooper officers.

"England. The crew of the 91st Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, relax beside the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Klette's Wild Hares. They have just returned from a bombing attack on enemy territory." Note the M1911 pistol and holster of the crewmember to the far right. (Photo: U.S Army Air Corps via National Archives)

“England. A crew of the 91st Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, relax beside the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Klette’s Wild Hares. They have just returned from a bombing attack on enemy territory.” Note the M1911 pistol and holster of the crewmember to the far right. (Photo: U.S Army Air Corps via National Archives)

In the end, while you can easily pick up any variety of 1911 clones, few are the real thing carried by the members of the Greatest Generation. Even when you do, military surplus 1911s are often “mixmasters,” with their parts swapped out over the years by military armorers and arsenals, leaving such pistols with a lot of character but little in the way of being all-matching. Meanwhile, this Remington Rand has escaped relatively unscathed and intact.

If only guns could talk.

Remington Rand M1911A1 (4)

History is just a clock away. (Photo: Guns.com)

SEE MORE ON THIS M1911A1 IN THE VAULT

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Cap & Ball Revolver Redux: Remington New Army v. Ruger Old Army

The top revolver is a circa 1865 martially-marked Remington New Army while the "identical cousin" below it is a 1999-produced Ruger Old Army. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

The top revolver is a circa 1865 martially-marked Remington New Army while the “identical cousin” below it is a 1999-produced Ruger Old Army. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

SEE RUGER OLD ARMY AT GUNS.COM FROM $650

While some argue that Sturm, Ruger’s Old Army cap-and-ball revolver is a modernization of the Civil War-era Remington New Army, they aren’t totally wrong.

The Original “New” Army

In all, the Federal government contracted for no less than 18 different revolver types during the Civil War with the two most numerous being the six-shot Colt Army .44 (129,730 purchased) followed by Remington’s New Army (125,314) in the same caliber. This impressive number doesn’t take into account the thousands of handguns purchased by private soldiers and officers. The iconic Remington wheel gun had an 8-inch barrel and, unlike the Colt, a solid top strap, making it one of the most powerful and rugged performers of its day.

An unidentified cavalry soldier in Union frock coat with Remington New Model Army revolver. Please excuse the poor trigger discipline. (Photo: Library of Congress)

An unidentified cavalry soldier in Union frock coat with Remington New Model Army revolver. Please excuse the poor trigger discipline. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Firing a 260-grain projectile over a 30-grain black powder charge, it remained popular on the commercial market well into the mid-1870s when cartridge revolvers became all the rage. Still, other copies were sold to purchasing agents working for the armies of the Tsar, the Mikado of old Japan, the King of England, and the Republic of Mexico.

The Rebooted “Old” Army

Building on the success of his line of single-action cowboy guns, such as the Blackhawk — which in itself was a revamped clone of the Colt 1873, Bill Ruger took the proven Blackhawk action and rolled it into the company’s first black powder revolver. Dubbed the Old Army, the updated hogleg looks a lot like the common Civil War-era .44 smoke wagon but internally is very different. Even looking past the cosmetic similarities between the Old Army and its New Army predecessor, the modern Ruger ditched Remington’s brass trigger guard and wonky mid-19th Century ironwork metallurgy for an all-steel construction. This makes the Ruger perhaps one of the strongest black powder revolvers to ever make it into production.

If you look closely at the Old Army, you will note that it has the flat-top and three-screw arrangement such as the original Ruger Blackhawks. Also, the Ruger uses a rounded barrel with much better sights rather than Remington's octagonal barrel.

If you look closely at the Old Army, you will note that it has the flat-top and three-screw arrangement such as the original Ruger Blackhawks. Also, the Ruger uses a rounded barrel with much better sights rather than Remington’s octagonal barrel. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Remington New Army Ruger Old Army compared (1)

Note the difference in thickness between cylinder walls on the Ruger, left. While Ruger recommends that Old Army users start with a 20-grain load of FFFg black powder when firing a pure lead .457-inch diameter ball, others often step that up or down a bit. I prefer to use a 30-grain load over a 143-grain Speer .457 ball. When swapping the black powder cylinder out, aftermarket conversion cylinders by companies such as Kirst Konverter and others allow the more modern wheel gun to fire .45 Long Colt and .45 Schofield black powder “cowboy” cartridges. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Other safety enhancements on the Old Army included the ability to be carried safely with six rounds in the chamber as the Ruger has safety recesses between each chamber for resting the hammer. Further, as the hammer nose is designed to clear the uncapped nipples, it can be dry fired.

Note the stainless steel nipples set deeply into the cylinder on the Ruger Old Army model, left, compared to the nipples on the vintage Remington New Army, right. This helps prevent bits of fired percussion caps from working their way into the mechanism or behind the cylinder and creating a jam.

Note the safety recesses and stainless steel nipples set deeply into the massive cylinder on the Ruger Old Army model, left, compared to the vintage Remington New Army, right. This helps prevent bits of fired percussion caps from working their way into the mechanism or behind the cylinder and creating a jam. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Remington New Army Ruger Old Army compared (10)

The top straps of the Old Army, left, and New Army, right, are very different, with the Ruger having rear sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation. While a fixed sight Old Army model was produced, zeroed at 25 yards, the adjustable sight variant is more common. Both guns are exceedingly accurate, with the Ruger having a distinct advantage when it comes to sights. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Remington New Army Ruger Old Army compared (9)

Note the extra steel present in the frame of the Old Army, right, versus the Civil War-era New Army. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Remington New Army Ruger Old Army compared (8)

While the original Remington cavalry revolver sported an 8-inch barrel, most Ruger Old Armies use a 7.5-inch barrel, with an overall length in both cases pushing well-past the one-foot mark. Some Old Army’s were made with a downright snub-nosed 5.5-inch barrel but they are not as popular. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

The sturdy loading lever/ramrod assembly on the Ruger is much beefier than the setup used by original New Army.

The sturdy loading lever/ramrod assembly on the Ruger is much beefier than the setup used by original New Army. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Remington New Army Ruger Old Army compared (3)

Ruger used the rear frame, sights, coil mainspring, and trigger system of his already proven Blackhawk series single-action revolver, while roughly everything from the cylinder forward was new design drawing inspiration from the classic Remington of yesteryear. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Remington New Army Ruger Old Army compared (6)

Regardless, both models fill the hands and are akin in size to a Ruger Super Redhawk. Weight on the Old Army as shown is 50.5-ounces, while the Remington goes 44.6-ounces even with a marginally longer barrel, a testament to the extra steel used in the Ruger. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

While the author’s Old Army is blued, among the most common models are stainless examples which shrug off the soap-and-water cleanup required by black power guns much better. Odds are, if stainless models would have been made available to Gen. Grant in 1863, he would have chosen them.

Ruger kept the Old Army in steady production from 1972 through 2008, a 36-year run. This makes those big Ruger smoke generators increasingly collectible — another trait shared with the more vintage New Army series.

We currently have a selection of certified used stainless Ruger Old Army models in the Guns.com Vault, all with 7.5-inch barrels and adjustable sights.

This Ruger Old Army dates to 1986 and is in good condition with faux ivory steer head grips.

This Ruger Old Army dates to 1986 and is in good condition with aftermarket faux ivory steer head grips.

This circa 1990 model Old Army has the original rosewood factory panels.

This circa 1990 model Old Army has the original rosewood factory panels.

This 1995 model Old Army also has the standard rosewood grips and comes with the original box.

This 1995 model Old Army also has the standard rosewood grips and comes with the original box.

No matter which Old Army you choose, know that you are getting one of the most superb black powder cap-and-ball revolvers ever made. Also, if you have one to sell, we are always looking.

SEE RUGER OLD ARMY AT GUNS.COM FROM $650

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