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Decisive Weapons

It has been very interesting to catch up with the BBC’s series Decisive Weapons. Series 1 is now available on BBC iPlayer. Episode 4 is about the bayonet

We were told that the bayonet was first produced in Bayonne in France (now the home of the elite French unit the 1er RPIMa) – luckily it wasn’t invented in Lille.

Photo source: where you can find a wealth of information about bayonet types and history

The story of the use of this weapon is a fascinating tale. As well as looking at the weapon’s early days in the Napoleonic era, this episode featured interviews with bayonet users from WWII through to the Falklands War. The original idea was a ‘plug bayonet’ so called because weapon was fixed by inserting into the barrel. This had obvious drawbacks in that it was not possible to load/fire the weapon until the plug was removed. This idea, however, was soon refined and replaced by the ring bayonet which leaves the barrel clear for use.

Ultimately apart from this early and fundamental design change, the conclusion was that the attitude of the individual user has proven far more important than either the detail of the design or the tactical theory devised for its use.

Footage of soldiers marching across no-man’s land (with bayonets fixed) through a hail of machine gun fire during WWI made for depressing viewing. Yet stories of soldiers from more recent battles showed that when deployed appropriately the bayonet still remains a potentially battle-changing device.

Not mentioned in the programme was another use for the bayonet which is reported by those involved in peacekeeping duties. The cold steel blade when fixed to weapons carried by a military peacekeeping force is very intimidating and acts as a strong deterrent for individuals thinking of causing trouble in crowd situations. It also enables a solider to maintain a comfortable distance from civilians without making an overt threat.

It will not surprise readers to know that FWS has specifically designed components for storage of bayonets allowing them to be stored in groups, fixed or alongside each weapon. Please contact us for more details.

A Novel Use for Old Weapons

If you visit the British Museum – it is worth a quick look at Cristovao Canhavato’s Throne of Weapons sculpture. The Throne is the result of the a project which offered former civil war combatants agricultural and other tools in exchange for their assault rifles and sub-machine guns following the end of the Civil War in Mozambique in 1992. Unsurprisingly, the AK47 forms the main content of the Throne, but there is a Russian AKM in there and some other unidentifiable bits.

It is a thought-provoking sight and it is impossible not to reflect on the individual fighters who used these weapons during the civil war. It is strange to see the familiar shapes of the weapons’ component parts chopped up and welded together to make the Throne of Weapons.

The sculpture was brought to the UK by Christian Aid – the symbol of recycling guns obviously representing the theme of ‘swords into ploughshares’. Yet, the British Museum also points out that chairs are often representative of power in African societies, so given the name of the sculpture there is clearly another deeper meaning.

For this visitor the Throne does have a strangely sinister feel to it.

It is such a contrast to the daily scene of order and neat lines of carefully stored and maintained weapons seen every day in police and military armouries.

Its rough construction helps to make it a powerful piece which evokes the anarchy and brutality during the chaos of the civil war.

A Quick Look at the Heckler & Koch G36

One of the most common weapons we are asked to provide storage for is the H&K G36. The G36 followed a very interesting effort by H&K in tandem with others to produce a rifle using caseless ammunition (the G11). Dynamit Nobel designed some solid propellant which was heat resistant enough to overcome many of the traditional objections to this idea. In the end though, the cost of the G11 was high and so the project was scrapped and a replaced with a more conventional design.

After the initial order from the Bundeswehr it is interesting that the first wide scale deployment of the weapon was for the Spanish armed forces.

Of course, these days the weapon is now widely in use by both military and police in many countries around the world.

The G36 also formed the basis for the (eventually ill-fated) modular XM8 rifle which was developed as a result of an initiative by the US Army to replace the M16 and M4.

FWS weapon racking, of course, easily stores the G11, G36 and XM8 weapons! It actually demonstrates the future-proof nature of our racking that 3 design phases of a weapon spanning 30 years will all fit into 2 standard components that we produce.

Machine Guns/Assault Rifles – new extrusion available for storage components

FWS has procured tooling for a new protective rubber extrusion for weapon storage components. It has been specially made for extruding a rubber section in a new temperature resistant compound for use with machine guns and assault rifles that will be stored in racks shortly after use.

The rubber section acts as a barrier on the steel storage components to prevent damage to firearms.

Weapon barrel temperatures soar during continuous fire which means that they would melt the standard rubber extrusion when weapons are stored hot – for example for racks in mobile applications.

The new rubber extrusion, however, can withstand the high barrel temperatures experienced on machine guns/assault rifles following extended continuous fire. This means that weapon barrels will not be damaged by contact with steel storage components and importantly there is no risk of fire or fumes from rubber catching alight.

Just out of interest, there are obviously many influences on barrel temperature, rate of fire and ammunition type clearly being most important. This You Tube video shows what happens after 1500 rounds of tracer are continuously fired by an M60 machine gun. Click here to view the video