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  • Just Another Old Gun

    Posted By on December 11, 2016

    A friend of my son brought over a badly rusted .22 rifle and asked if I could fix it. The rifle belonged to his father and had been left in a flooded basement and was inoperable. The action was frozen shut and I said I didn’t know if I could get it running again. It was put away and frankly I forgot all about it.

    At some point I field stripped it and took some photos of it, probably so I could remember how it went back together when I took it apart to fix it.

    Rusty and frozen shut

     

    That was several years ago and I recently uncovered the rifle which at some point I had taken apart and cleaned up. It took me awhile but I finally got it back together. Looking at the model number on the barrel I learned that the rifle, a tube fed semi auto .22  is a Stevens Model 87M.

    Gonna need some TLC to get this one running again.

     

    I was able to find a diagram of it and then found some history.  The Stevens Firearms company which was then recently bought by Savage Arms started making the model 87  in 1938.   Savage made well over a million under various names and other model numbers including the Savage model 6 and Springfield name. They also made them for Sears, Wards and other private label companies.  As the design was updated a letter designation was added starting with A.  The one I worked on was a letter M which was made in 1966 and near the end of production in 1968.

    Not totally rusted. There is hope

     

    An interesting aspect of the 87 and variations is the vents on the side of the receiver. The 87M had two vents on the left side and one on the right. Other variations had as many as 6 vents on either side. I’m not sure of the reason for them but flames shoot out the side when the rifle is fired. Another interesting feature of the 87 is that when fired, the bolt stays open if you hold the trigger back.  It slams forward when you release/reset the trigger. Apparently this gave them the nick name of “old clickity clack” back in the day.  The 87M is marked to shoot longs, long rifles and high speed shorts. The bolt can be locked closed for shooting shorts and operated like a bolt action.  The bolt can also be locked in the open position. Many variations of the 87 had a small safety lever on the right side of the receiver, the M version has a tang mounted sliding button as a safety. Another feature of the M not found on some of the others is a shell deflector just behind the ejection port.

    Up and running again

    While I was able to get this one up and running again, the metal surfaces are badly pitted. I did not refinish the metal but options include rebluing it, cold blueing it or perhaps using a spray on/bake on finish like Duracoat. It will be up to the owner to decide.

    Not pretty but it works

    Barrel and tube are pitted

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    What’s it worth?

    Like everything else something is only worth what someone is willing to pay. This rifle is functional and frankly kind of fun to shoot but not in very good condition. It has sentimental value to it’s owner but no collector value.  As a functional semi auto .22 rifle in this day and age,  it’s probably worth $75.

    Overall I was kind of pleased that I got an old rifle up and running again and learned some new firearm history along the way.

    Deutsches Sportsmodell

    Posted By on December 4, 2016

    German Sports Model training rifles

    When I was growing up my father had a single shot .22 rifle that the family simply referred to as “that German training rifle.”  I  didn’t know much about German rifles and always assumed it was a Mauser of some kind. It was only recently when my dad suffered a stroke and I got his guns for safe keeping that I took a close look at it and did some research and learned about DSM34s.

    My father's DSM34

    DSM 34s are one of the more curious rifles that came out of WWII though didn’t actually serve in the war. It was a rifle used to train German troops prior to the war. The DSM 34 has an interesting if somewhat obscure history.

    In 1933, soon after taking power the NAZIs consolidated all shooting sports and clubs. They soon set up a consortium of arms makers to manufacture small caliber rifles that resembled the Mauser bolt action rifle which was then being developed.  The primary maker was Mauser but included companies like Erma, JGA, Geco, Walther and BSW/Simson as part of the consortium.

      Note the original leather sling

    These small caliber rifles was ostensibly to be used by the various sports clubs around Germany to teach marksmanship to the population.   By 1934 however they were primarily  designed to replicate the feel and look of the Mauser rifle which the German army would be using in the future.  To get around rearmament treaties the rifles were called Deutsche Sportmodell  (German Sport Model) now commonly called the DSM 34 for the date they were introduced.

    Hundreds of thousands of DSM34s were in use by 1935 but the German government wanted an updated and more accurate replica of the Mauser so many of the smaller companies who made them dropped out. By 1937 an updated version called the Klein Kaliber Wehrsportgewehr (roughly translated as “sub caliber sports rifle”) or KKW was adopted and replaced the DSM34,

    My dad’s rifle was made by MENZ which was a small manufacturer who was known for the Lilliput pistol prior to making these rifles.  Unlike the manufacturers listed above, Menz was not a part of the consortium but simply bought a license to manufacture DSM. While Mauser made hundreds of thousands of these trainers,  MENZ only made 5,000 rifles in 1934 & 35.  According to  “experts” on the K98 forum, only a few dozen  MENZ rifles  are thought to have survived the war.

    img_0840  Dad’s rifle is serial number 1000. Caliber 5.4mm AKA as .22 rimfire. This rifle will shoot .22 shorts, longs and long rifle ammo.

    The DSMs are single shot and are a scaled down version of the K98. They came with leather sling and a non functional short metal rod in the fore stock which is used to simulate the look of the cleaning rod found on military rifles.

    The origin of this particular rifle is somewhat obscure. During and after the war many rifles were liberated from Germany or sold as surplus.  It is unlikely that many DSM34s were actually used in combat as .22 caliber ammo was not a high priority when larger calibers were needed. It may be that Hitler Youth groups were armed with them or perhaps civilians used them as last ditch weapons. There is no evidence of that happening that I’ve found. Rather it is more likely that these rifles, like most other weapons after the war were simply rounded up and stockpiled.

    Many were taken by GI’s returning home.  Those were sometimes called “duffle bag” guns. “Duffle bag” rifles often are recognizable because in order to fit inside a duffle bag when disassembled the last 11″ of the forearm of the stock had to be cut off. As such the end of the stock, the top wood hand guard and the rod were often missing.   GI’s were interested in them as souvenirs not collectibles.

    Vintage rear but not original peep sight

    Vintage rear but not original peep sight

    Many rifles were simply destroyed and many others were saved and sold as surplus after the war. Surplus rifles were very abundant and cheap well into the 1960s. My dad seems to think that his cousin, who was in the army brought this one home and that he got it from him. Other times he says he may have simply bought it at a hardware store.   He did say the when he got it, it had a rear peep sight on it which he kept (thankfully).  Rear peep sights were not original so this one was likely added after the war. Not good for collecting but certainly good for shooting. These rifles tend to be very accurate and a good peep sight helps.

    So, what’s it worth?

    Vintage peep sight has some value in itself

    Vintage peep sight has some value in itself

    Value can be all over the place with these types of rifles. MENZ was a small manufacturer and only made 5000  with only a couple dozen are thought to have survived. That makes this one more rare than some others and thus desirable to some collectors.

    In addition, the fact that it is intact, has the cleaning rod, top wood hand guard and originalleather sling adds to the value.

    On the other hand, the peep sight necessitated drilling holes in the top of the receiver. Those are not original and are unsightly which detracts from the value.  However, the vintage rear sight itself is collectable in itself.

    I have not had it appraised but I would guess the value to be around $800 give or take a C note.

    The value to me of course is that it belongs to my father and is an interesting part of history. I am unlikely to ever part with it.

    Frankengun I

    Posted By on December 3, 2016

    Frank-en-gun: Noun, a firearm pieced together with parts from various sources in reference to the Frankenstein monster.

    I’ve been in the process of redoing, re-furbishing, updating and upgrading some of the AR15s I built in the 1990s. Those were all pretty much standard rifles and carbines using carry handle receivers in either A1 or A2 configuration. Over the years barrels, upper and lower receivers, stocks and such have been moved around. The quest was to update some of those with more modern components such as new stocks, pistol grips, sights, optics and/or free float railed hand guards. In essence all of these are Frankenguns.

     

    Parts from all these guns were used for my full length rifle. None of them are now as they appear in this photo

     

    When all was said and done I realized I had a bunch of carbines but no full length AR rifle to shoot in CMP Service Rifle Matches. Looking around I then realized I had enough parts to put a rifle together.

    Barrel:   20″ heavy barrel (shown on the top AR in the photo above) taken from an A1 upper I bought during the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban (AWB 1994-2004).  Near the end of the ban people were dumping those post ban configured parts so I gobbled them up for future projects. The barrel had a 1:9 twist and a pinned on muzzle brake (flash hiders were banned). The barrel was very accurate but the muzzle break was obnoxiously loud. I had put it on the flat top upper in the above photo.

    Upper Receiver: The upper receiver I chose to use was from a well used Colt M16 surplus rifle brought back from the Philippines as parts kits. Second AR from top. The guy originally hacksawed the barrel to remove the banned flash hider.  As a result I bought it pretty cheap.  I removed the barrel, had it recrowned and threaded for a flash hider and made a carbine out of it. You might recognize the lower receiver on this as being an original once piece long (stock, pistol grip and receiver) plastic receiver from Cavalry Arms. That stock was sold and replaced with their upgraded shorter model 2 stock.

    Stock: The rifle stock and pistol grip shown on the top AR in the photo was originally on the AR on the bottom. That AR on the bottom was a pre ban Olympic “SGW stop sign” marked lower. That lower with the rifle stock was the first AR I ever built. As you can see I turned it into a carbine but eventually sold the stripped lower to a guy in  the socialist republic of New York who needed it to build a pre ban gun.

    Lower Receiver: The lower was taken from the third AR from the top. It is a Stag Arms lower. I bought 3 stripped receivers in the early 2000s and used them to build various ARs including a pistol. That one was taken from that carbine when I was redoing it into something else.

    Miscellaneous Parts: Internal parts pretty much came from the donor rifles. That includes lower parts kits, hand guards, buffer and spring, front sight base. The pistol grip was a basic A2 from my parts box.

    Barrel donor. Notice the muzzle comp on the end of the barrel.

    Assembly was pretty straight forward with a couple exceptions. The barrel originally had a pinned on muzzle compensator which was removed.  I also had a scope on it at one time. To see through the scope I cut down the front sight base. At the time, low profile gas blocks weren’t available like they are now.  To make it as original as possible I had to get the barrel threaded for a flash hider and replace the front sight base. I have a friend to did the barrel for me at no cost and I took the FSB from the old Colt upper (second AR from top).

    End Result:  Though well worn, a pretty nice full size rifle. The heavy barrel makes it very stable. With AR carbines being so popular, people tend to forget how nice a full size AR feels.

    It's ALIVE! The finished Frankengun

     

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