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Let's talk antique guns!

Just the other day,
Forgotten Weapons put up a story by Peter Rasmussen about the Husqvarna M 40 pistol (sometimes referred to as a Lahti, for its designer Eimo Lathi.) Rasmussen goes into some detail regarding the pistol and its history in Sweden, including the reasons for it eventual demise.

This was particularly interesting to me as I once owned an M 40. I found it at a local gun show, pristine and complete with holster, two magazines, loading tool, and cleaning rod. There had been a fair number of them imported some years earlier, and this was one of those guns.

The fellow who was selling it was surprised that I knew what it was, and I didn't blow that impression by telling him I'd read an article on the gun just a few months earlier. Most people, he told me, picked it up thinking that it was a Luger. With the steep grip angle and exposed barrel, I can imagine that happening - then again, I wonder if people do the same when encountering a Ruger Standard?

That exposed barrel makes the M 40 look like it should be light as a feather. It's not! The pictures in the article don't do justice to the size of the gun; it's quite large, and made from lots of steel. That equals mass, and as a result the M 40 is no lightweight. The consequence of all that heft is relatively mild recoil, though the rearward weight bias leads to more muzzle flip than the recoil impulse might suggest. Accuracy was fairly good given the tiny rear sight aperture, and the trigger was actually darned nice; this seems to be a hit-or-miss condition, as I've handled others which were much worse.

In the end I sold it because of the well-known durability issues. Still, it was a fun gun while it lasted!

Another piece of news from Forgotten Weapons:
Ian's other blog, GunLab, will finally get some new articles. GunLab was intended to be the place where he'd discuss gun design, prototyping and manufacturing, but of late has been a little sparse on content. It's coming back with a very interesting project - the re-creation of a very rare rifle, the Gustoff Volkssturmgewehr (better known as the VG1-5.) This was a last-ditch product of wartime Germany, shooting the 7.92 Kurz cartridge issued for the StG 44. I did not know how valuable they were; the article mentions $35k to $54k!

The series of articles will detail the process of recreating this rare piece as it happens, starting at the design stage. Should be very interesting! I wonder if it will go into limited production and be available for sale?

(Some time ago I said that I wasn’t really a gun nerd. No matter how much I try not to be, it appears I am one after all!)

-=[ Grant ]=-

FRIDAY SURPRISE: The motherlode of all barn finds.

There was a time when automobile dealers were in their business because they loved cars. When I was a kid, for instance, the local Chevy dealer ordered in a new Corvette every year, even though he rarely sold one in our little farm/logging town. He just loved cars, and liked having one in the showroom. (They usually ended up going home with him, which was likely his plan all along.)

Imagine if your town had a dealer like that, only on a larger scale. A dealer who loved his cars, who didn't mind having a bunch of them hanging around -- even if they were brand new and hadn't sold. Imagine that all those cars were squirreled away when he retired, left to gather dust with only a few miles on their odometers. Wouldn't you like to find this cache?

Photo courtesy of

Well, just head up to Pierce, Nebraska on the 28th of next month. There you'll be able to attend the auction of Lambrecht Chevrolet, a dealership that operated from 1946 to 1996. When the Lambrechts retired they simply closed up the shop and left 500 cars behind, many of them brand new models from the 1950s and '60s.

Go read the article over at Messy Nessy. (Then see what airlines fly to Nebraska. You know you want to.)

-=[ Grant ]=-

Video of the Webley-Fosberry automatic revolver!

Ian at Forgotten Weapons recently posted a good video overview of the Webley-Fosberry automatic revolver, showing its operation and some interesting details about its function.

He also has a
good article on the history of the gun, which you can read on his site.

-=[ Grant ]=-

When is a 1911 not a 1911?

Why, when it's an Obregon!

Ian over at Forgotten Weapons has come up with another interesting video: a tear-down and a range test of an Obregon pistol. Made in Mexico (many people forget that Mexico had an inventive and thriving arms industry at one time) it's sort of a John Browning meets
Karl Krnka sort of affair. There are also a few surprises (like how the thumb safety is implemented.)

The gun is quite rare (there were, by most accounts, less than a thousand made circa 1930), and of course Ian not only gets the owner to let him tear it apart but also take it to the range and shoot it!

Check out the full story at Forgotten Weapons.

-=[ Grant ]=-

FRIDAY SURPRISE: A four-wheeled namesake.

Many years ago I visited the now-defunct Harrah's automobile museum - the real, original one, not the neutered National Automobile Museum that currently bears the "Harrah Collection" monicker. It was amazing; I saw
cars from companies that I didn't even know existed. One of the more interesting activities was having my picture taken with the two cars that bore my names: A Grant and a Cunningham. I had no idea those cars existed until I was standing next to them.

Grant company sold what were apparently unremarkable vehicles, and was in business for a scant nine years. Cunningham, on the other hand, was a storied firm with an impressive pedigree.

James Cunningham, Son & Company of Rochester, NY was founded in 1862 as a
carriage manufacturer. In fact, they became one of the largest such firms in the country. They were known for quality above all else, and were usually among the most expensive coaches available. They made the switch to automobile production in 1908, making both gasoline and electric models. They maintained their well-received focus on quality, and their first models sold for a whopping $3,500!

By 1916 they'd developed a 442 cubic inch V-8 engine which would become their trademark. By 1921, their town car model was selling for $8,100 - when a Ford Model T Runabout could be had for $370 and their four door sedan for only $725!

Around 1928 Cunningham's interests changed to aviation, and they dropped auto production entirely in 1931. In 1938 the company was reorganized to build electrical switching apparatus, which they did until the mid-1960s. The
aircraft division, a joint venture between Cunningham and a fellow named Robert Hall, continued in business as an aircraft component maker until being closed in 1948.

Today all Cunningham cars are exceedingly rare and do not come up for sale very often. I've not seen another outside of the Harrah museum. In their heyday, though, driving a Cunningham - whether horse or mechanically powered - was the mark of sophistication and style (and a not-insignificant income!)

Here are a couple of videos of Cunningham autos; this first I included just because I like the word “Phaeton”!

-=[ Grant ]=-

A Gallic Wednesday.

The Forgotten Weapons Blog has a
great video about the two most common French Ordnance revolvers: the Models 1873 and 1892. I know, I know, they're French - but you have to remember that at one time France was a major military power and arms innovator in their own right.

(Never heard of the
Model 1897 75mm cannon, an artillery piece so advanced that they justifiably considered it to be a state secret? Or the first high velocity smokeless powder rifle round, the 8x50mmR, aka "8mm Lebel"? Or how about the first autoloading rifle adopted by any military - the A6 Meunier? Or perhaps the first autoloading rifle to be in general service in any military - the Model 1917 RSC? Yes, all French. The toadying, indolent France of today is nothing like the truculent, innovative France of the early 20th century. Not everything ballistically innovative has come out of Utah or Springfield, and it would do us well to remember that.)

I've held - though never fired - both models, and must say that I was impressed with both the workmanship and design (given the vintage, of course.) I was particularly intrigued by the 1892, as its makers managed to construct a modern double action revolver with a surprisingly small number of very well made parts. The script engraving is, to my eye, quite fetching and makes them almost decorative.

The Model 1892 is fairly common, with nice examples selling for around $250-300. The Model 1873 is much scarcer, with very good specimens fetching north of eight bills. Very neat guns!

-=[ Grant ]=-