The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Breechloading Sharps "History and Performance

I am still on vacation and am still using my baby laptop, internet is spotty and using this laptop is problematic until my new laptop gets here so my posting will be spotty.  

 I remember reading about the "Sharps" rifles as a kid but never really "Saw" one until I was living in the barracks in Germany and we were buying Westerns on VHS, I had bought a bunch of John Wayne Movies that way.  Something about the Duke, I also had my old VHS machine that could bootleg any VHS tape in existence, it was an old JCPenny machine that was made before they put the chip in that scrambled the tape when you would try to record a store bought tape, y'all older people know what I am talking about. Well Anyway I saw this new movie for "Quigley Down Under" with Tom Selleck and I knew him as the "Magnum P.I." guy and he was branching out into movies.  Well I "rented" the movie with the intent of "burning me a copy"...hey hate all you want, the hate keeps me warm....I laugh at the warnings at the beginnings of the Movies ...HAH, Well anyway, the old machine finally died several years later and I wound up pitching the VHS tapes because I could buy the DVD's soo much cheaper and far less space and with better picture quality.  


     Well this was the first time I actually saw a "Sharps" rifle being used and I was impressed, and it tied in with what I remembered from my reading all the Buffalo Bill" and the other Hunters of the Buffalo's of my youth.   Plus there was this line..

And here is a video of the actual rifle used in the movie

                                               The "Quigley Rifle"

I shamelessly clipped this off "American Rifleman".

 By Rick Hacker

It was an internationally renowned rifle whose inventor never got rich. And although it was publicly praised by respected frontiersmen such as John C. Fremont, Buffalo Bill Cody and Theodore Roosevelt, the company went bankrupt just as the American West was booming. Yet, the Sharps rifle amassed so much glory in its 32 years of existence that its legacy has continued into the 21st century.

The history of the single-shot that tamed the West began on September 12, 1848, when Christian Sharps patented a unique breech-loading rifle that utilized a lever-operated sliding breechblock. Pressure from the ignited powder charge helped seal the chamber, making the gun safer, more powerful and more accurate than previous breech-loading designs.

right side sharps carbine wood stock gun metal steel blue finish shine

This was still the era of the muzzleloader and the Sharps breechloader had an enticing military appeal, as soldiers could reload without having to stand and expose themselves to enemy fire. Unfortunately for the young inventor, the U.S. was at peace in 1848 and there was little interest in his new breechloader. A subsequent lack of funding forced Sharps to sub-contract the manufacture of his rifle; the first 700 guns weren’t even stamped with his name.

Things began looking up when Robbins & Lawrence agreed to manufacture Sharps’ Improved Model of 1851. A factory was built in Hartford, Conn., and the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company was born. But personality clashes soon caused Christian Sharps to leave the firm, although he continued to receive royalties on every rifle sold.  It was Richard S. Lawrence, chief armorer of the company, who kept the rifle alive, improving on the original patent.

Subsequent models, including the slant-breech Model of 1852, the extremely rare Model 1855 (of which only 800 were produced), and the more efficient vertical breechblock of the New Model 1859, eventually brought the Sharps rifle to the attention of the U.S. government. By using pre-rolled paper “cartridges,” a breech-loading Sharps could be fired five times faster than the standard-issue Springfield rifle-musket. The carbine was especially favored by mounted dragoons.

left side rifle carbine wood steel silver antique lever-action rifle gun

The War Between The States brought orders and much-needed Yankee dollars into the fledgling Sharps company. The rifles’ reputation became so great that Colonel Berdan’s 2nd Regiment of Sharpshooters threatened mutiny when it was shipped 2,000 Colt’s revolving rifles instead of the Sharps rifles it had been promised. They got their Sharps. By the end of hostilities in 1865, a total of 80,512 carbines and 9,141 full-stocked military rifles had been shipped to Union troops, with the Model of 1863 being the last percussion Sharps made. Interestingly, after the war, approximately 5,000 additional carbines were produced with 1865 stampings. However, aside from the barrel stampings, these guns are virtually identical to the Model 1863.

In 1874—shortly after the deaths of Richard Lawrence and Christian Sharps—the company decided to close up shop, right on the eve of America’s great western expansion! Fortunately, a group of investors reorganized the firm as the Sharps Rifle Company. Their new venture was launched with the Model 1874, a cartridge rifle they stamped “Old Reliable.” A variety of options were offered for both target and sporting versions, including special sights, extra-length barrels and engraving. The Sharps was truly a custom rifle, a labor-intensive dedication to perfection. While Winchester’s breech-loading repeaters were selling for as little as $10, a single-shot Sharps listed for $33. Firepower and price tags aside, savvy frontiersmen opted for the more expensive Sharps, because it could do something the weaker toggle-linked Winchester 73s and 76s could not: The Sharps could fire hefty, bone-crushing bullets capable of taking down any animal on the North American continent. With specialized cartridges such as the .44-77 bottleneck, .45-100 and .50-100, the 1874 Sharps became the big-game rifle.

left side carbine lever-action classic antique metal wood steel silver

But it was in the hands of buffalo hunters that Sharps validated its Old Reliable moniker. From 1871 until 1883, an estimated 20,000 “buffalo runners” scoured the Great Plains. In order to harvest the huge, tenacious bison, a hard-hitting, long-range rifle was needed. As a result, the majority of market hunters carried one or more Sharps rifles, switching guns when the barrels became too hot after firing volley after volley at ranges often exceeding 400 yds.

A notable chapter in Sharps history occurred in 1874, during the Battle of Adobe Walls. A war party of more than 700 Kiowa and Comanche Indians had 28 buffalo hunters pinned down. Seeing one of the chieftains on a distant rise, a young hunter named Billy Dixon borrowed a “Big .50” Sharps, took aim, and toppled the warrior from his horse.

left side wood stock rifle metal steel gun carbine classic vintage old gun

Unnerved by the rifle’s far-reaching accuracy, the Indians hastily departed. Later, an Army surveyor officially recorded the distance at 1,538 yds. (seven-eigths of a mile). Years afterward, Dixon admitted it was a lucky shot, but that didn’t matter; the Sharps’ long-range reputation had achieved legendary status.

The Sharps excelled on target ranges as well. During one memorable match at Creedmore in 1877, British marksmen were soundly defeated by Americans shooting long-range Sharps and Remington Rolling Block rifles. Later, an incredulous member of the British team visited the Sharps factory, where he shot 16 consecutive bullseyes at 1,000 yds., using an 1877 Long Range Express Rifle. Thus, another convert was made. In spite of its success, economic woes plagued the Sharps Rifle Company. The guns were expensive and time-consuming to produce, and the company was finally forced to cease operations when a large British order was canceled. The last rifle was shipped in 1881. And yet, the gun had become immortal; it could not die.

metal stamp black steel closeup gun parts barrel action rifle

Today, not only are originals highly collectable, but replicas are eagerly sought by reenactors, competition shooters and hunters. They are popular for the same reasons now as the originals were back in the 19th century: reliability, ease of cleaning and accuracy. Of course, today we have the added aura of nostalgia. But unlike the originals, not all replicas are created equal. There are two distinct categories of modern-day Sharps: custom guns manufactured in America, and mass-produced replicas made in Italy.

The custom market is dominated by Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company and C. Sharps Arms, both within shouting distance of each other in Big Timber, Mont. The rifles of these two companies are so close to the originals that parts will interchange, and they are hand assembled with the same care and precision as the old Sharps. Neither company makes the pre-cartridge 1863 any longer, but just as in 1874, both Shiloh and C. Sharps Arms offer a wide variety of options, including round, octagonal and half-round barrels of various lengths, Hartford pewter or Bridgeport schnabel fore-ends, single or double-set triggers, crescent or military buttplates, special sights, fancy walnut stocks, and engraving. In short, if you’re willing to wait and you have the budget, you can get the Sharps of your dreams.

gun in hands carbine sharps rifle ammo ejection stop motion outdoors arms metal wood rifle

So what differentiates Shiloh from C. Sharps? Actually, very little, in appearance and shootability. In fact, at one time Shiloh was actually C. Sharps Arms, but like the original company, a personality dispute split the firm into two entities. However, Shiloh only makes the 1874 Sharps, while C. Sharps Arms offers the 1874 as well as the 1877 and the never-originally-produced 1875 models. Shiloh’s receivers are investment cast in their factory, where they also make their own button-rifled and burnished barrels; C. Sharps receivers are machined in-house from solid stock and fitted with cut-rifled Badger barrels. Both firms specialize in traditional Sharps calibers as well as the .38-55 and .40-65 Win. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two firms is the two-and-a-half year wait for Shiloh rifles whereas C. Sharps Arms can ship guns within two to eight months. They also stock some completed models for immediate delivery.

The Italian replicas are notably less expensive and offer a wider variation of models. For blackpowder shooters there is the .54-cal. 1859 and 1863 carbine, rifle and military muskets, as well as numerous versions of the Model 1874, including the Hawken-stocked Gemmer and a Schuetzen target model. Calibers range from .40-65 to .45-120, with a .45-110 scheduled later this year. Note: If you want a Sharps “Big .50,” you’ll have to go to a custom gun.

right side rifle wood metal steel classic carbine long range shooting gun
The above 1874 Davide Pedersoli reproduction gun is optimized for today's long-range shooting with an included Lothar Walther bull barrel, improved stock design and tapped for optics.

Virtually every replica is made by either Davide Pedersoli or Armi Sport. Importers include Taylors & Co.Navy ArmsCabela’s and Cimarron Arms; some of the largest selections are available from Flintlocks, Etc. and Dixie Gun Works. The Pedersoli guns are slightly more expensive, and its well-grained stocks have a satin polish. Armi Sport uses an oiled, matte finish for its wood and its receivers are very close to the originals in dimension. However, the one common failing of nearly every replica is the slight “perch belly bulge” of the fore-end. Why these fore-ends can’t be profiled like the originals is beyond me.

Cimarron Arms actually fills a gap between custom rifles and mass-produced replicas, as special after-market finishing and customized engraving are offered. In addition, Cimarron was responsible for the Italian-made copy of the famous Quigley Model. The original Quigley was made by Shiloh for the 1990 Tom Selleck movie, “Quigley Down Under.”  However, it was Mike Harvey of Cimarron Arms who talked Pierangelo Pedersoli into producing a more affordable replica. Today, it is catalogued by practically every importer and has become one of the most popular of all Sharps replicas. It should be noted that the Quigley Sharps is simply an 1874 Hartford-stocked No. 3 Sporting Rifle with an 1863 patchbox. Unlike many of the Italian replicas, Shiloh’s original movie version had no provision for a saddle ring. Interestingly, my Dixie Quigley has a saddle bar but no ring. Some importers outfit this 13-lb. rifle with a vernier tang sight, enabling it to live up to its motion picture reputation as a long-range bucket buster.

gun sight metal round aperature parts steel old

In reality, every Italian Sharps is capable of better accuracy than its factory sights permit. Personally, I don’t know how anyone can shoot a respectable group with the clunky open sights that come on most of these otherwise excellent rifles. The first thing I did on my Dixie No. 3 Sporter was to equip it with the more practical flip-up buckhorn sight from C. Sharps Arms (a similar sight is available from Dixie). And when I took my Pedersoli Quigley .45-70 Govt. out to the range the second time, it was wearing a Long Range Creedmore tang sight and Spirit-Level Front Globe Sight from Cabela’s. My 100-yd. group from the previous week immediately shrank from 4 “ to a less-embarrassing 3/4” using factory ammo. Speaking of sights, the widest selection of accessories are stocked by Cabela’s and Dixie Gun Works. Be sure to check out the cross sticks for long-range shooting and Dixie’s numerous Sharps bullet molds.

All of which brings us to the actual performance of these guns in the field. Without bragging, I can honestly state I own twice as many Sharps rifles as John C. Fremont (he had two). Although I had hunted with an old .50-70 carbine back in my growing-up days in Arizona, finger-pressing a .490 round ball into a brass case filled with FFG blackpowder never quite brought out the full potential of the gun. Years later I bought a C. Sharps Arms 1863 Gemmer (no longer made). Although the .54 military action holds 60-grs. of blackpowder, I had the factory ream the chamber to accommodate 90 grs. This proved to be better suited for big game, as the elk over my fireplace mantle can attest. Rather than load loose powder in the field, I rolled 90-gr. tubes out of potassium-soaked paper wrapped around a wooden dowel. I sealed one end, removed the dowel, filled the tube with FFG blackpowder, and then folded over and glued the other end. I inserted these powder-filled paper “cartridges” into the chamber after I had seated it with a greased conical bullet. You can do the same thing today with Dixie’s Combustible Cartridge Kit. Closing the breech cuts off the end of the “cartridge,” exposing the powder to the flash from the musket cap.

hunter with animal outdoors gun rifle cowboy buffalo sandy blue sky

In the early 1980s I decided to “go modern,” and I acquired an 1874 C. Sharps Arms No. 1 Deluxe Sporter, with double-set triggers, premium wood and chambered in .45-70. I hunted a variety of big game with this rifle throughout the American West and Africa. Most of my shots were taken at 100 yds. or less, but the more I hunted with that Sharps, the more intrigued I became with its long-range reputation. After reading about Theodore Roosevelt’s exploits with a No. 3 Sporter chambered for the .40-90 bottleneck cartridge, I ordered a similar 12-lb. rifle.

The original .40-90 packed 100 grs. of FFG, which produced 2,097 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy. With the advent of smokeless powder, duplex loads became popular, as the smokeless powder burned the blackpowder fouling that clogged the shallow Sharps rifling. Consequently, I settled on a duplex load of eight grs. of MP 5744 beneath 85 grs. of FFG and a paper-patched 385-gr. soft lead bullet. Taking a tip from the old-timers, the paper patching reduced leading and, in conjunction with the duplex loads, improved accuracy. This gave me 2,130 ft.-lbs. of energy and sent the bullets out at 1575 f.p.s.

It was with this combination of cartridge and rifle that I have been able to verify some of the “tall tales” of the old-timers. For example, it is possible to kill a 2,000-lb. buffalo with a single shot from a Sharps. I have done it, stalking a free-roaming Montana herd and firing at the lead bull at a range of 125 yds. On another occasion, using my tang sight and firing offhand, I dropped an antelope at 285 yds. I would never put this in print if I hadn’t had a witness; John Schoffstall, owner of C. Sharps Arms, was with me and saw the shot. We both were equally amazed—I now know how Billy Dixon felt.

Yes, the Sharps lives up to its reputation. But as with anything, you get what you pay for. So study the catalogs, examine the guns if possible, compare prices, and decide whether you want a rugged hunting rifle, a tack-driver, or a collectable heirloom. But whether you end up taking your Sharps to the target range or the open range, you’ll soon realize why they called it “Old Reliable.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The International Harvester Garand, The Rifle for the Nuclear Age

I am on vacation and I am using my baby laptop and blogging on this laptop is better than using my phone...but not by much, the curser will "wander" and if I am not paying attention, it will move and I will find myself putting my writings in the middle of the prior paragraph.   And yes it happened several times on this blog post. 

    I always had a fascination with the Garand, and I have had Blogged about the Garand and had adventures with the rifle, ...until my lamented kayak accident *Sniff, Sniff*

My Son Shooting my Winchester Garand before the tragic Kayak Accident *sniff*sniff*

I had  wondered about the fuss about the IH Garand, but I never asked "why".  After reading the article from "American Rifleman" I now understand the reasoning and the fascination

.At the conclusion of World War II, the M1 Garand had garnered a well-deserved reputation as the best standardized service rifle of the conflict. Large numbers of Garands were in inventory after Victory over Japan Day, and it was assumed they were sufficient to meet the needs of our armed forces for the foreseeable future. Five years later, though, this illusion was shattered when hostilities commenced on the Korean Peninsula.

Many of the M1 rifles left over from World War II were taken from storage and refurbished for issue to troops departing overseas. To augment the supply of existing rifles, the U.S. Ordnance Dept. elected to put the M1 rifle back into production. Springfield Armory ramped up its Garand production line as quickly as possible, but additional sources were needed. As was often the case in previous wars, the government turned to civilian firms for production of all manner of military items, including firearms.

On June 15, 1951, the Ordnance Dept. granted a contract for 100,000 M1 rifles to the International Harvester Co (IHC). The rifles were to be manufactured at the firm’s Evansville, Ind., plant with deliveries scheduled to begin in December 1952. The Evansville facility was built during World War II by the Republic Aviation Corp. for production of the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter.

In 1945, International Harvester bought the former aircraft factory and converted it for manufacture of farm implements and refrigeration and air conditioning units. The selection of International Harvester was, to say the least, a rather interesting choice. Although the company manufactured vehicles—including half-tracks, trucks and tractors—during World War II, the firm had never made firearms, either civilian or military.

One of the major reasons behind the government’s seemingly unusual selection of International Harvester to produce M1 rifles was the plant’s geographic location. All of the more than 4 million M1 rifles that had been previously made by Springfield Armory and Winchester were manufactured within a radius of about 60 miles (the distance between Springfield, Mass., and New Haven, Conn.).

This may not have seemed important in the late 1930s or early 1940s, but the dawn of the Atomic Age put it in an entirely different perspective. Since most of the established armsmakers were in the New England area, a nuclear attack on the Eastern Seaboard could conceivably cripple the manufacture of military small arms in the United States.

The Department of Defense established a policy of geographic dispersion of vital defense production to mitigate vulnerability to a nuclear strike. The fact that Evansville, Ind., and Springfield, Mass., are more than 800 miles apart was seen as an important reason for selecting International Harvester to supplement Springfield Armory’s M1 rifle production.

Actually, the selection of a commercial enterprise that had never previously manufactured firearms for the military was not without precedent. During World War II, nine of the 10 prime contractors that manufactured the M1 carbine had never produced firearms before the war (the sole exception was Winchester). As was the case with the carbine manufacturers, plans were formulated for IHC to utilize a number of subcontractors to assist its Garand production program.

There are three known variations of International Harvester hammer drawing numbers. The earliest were “C-5546008 IHC.” Mid-production were “IHC C5546008”, while the final were “5546008 IHC” along with a single letter-code marking.

The serial number ranges assigned to IHC for M1 rifle production were: 4,400,000–4,660,000 and 5,000,501–5,278,245. In order to augment Springfield Armory’s and International Harvester’s M1 rifle production, a contract was also granted to the Harrington & Richardson Arms Co. on April 3, 1952, for the manufacture of 100,000 Garand rifles with additional contracts to follow. 

As International Harvester began to gear up for M1 manufacture, the firm was immediately faced with a number of daunting challenges, exacerbated by the fact the company had no prior firearm-making experience. Since the company had expertise in making complex machinery, such as trucks and tractors, it assumed making rifles wouldn’t be any different.

It is reported that IHC’s management planned to make the Garand rifles using standard machine tools already on hand rather than acquire specialized firearm-making machinery and to begin delivering rifles by Christmas 1952. The firm soon found this was impractical. A large number of unexpected problems arose, which caused a lot of consternation and resulted in a significant delay in starting rifle production.

Other than the receiver, one of the most challenging M1 components to manufacture was the barrel, and production was subcontracted to the Line Material Corp. The Milwaukee-based firm was an established maker of various equipment used in the transmission of electrical and telephone lines and had a well-regarded engineering and manufacturing team. In addition to making barrels for use by International Harvester, Line Material also supplied a large number of M1 rifle barrels to various ordnance depots for use in rebuilding Garands.

Receiver heel markings on IHC-produced M1 Garand rifles varied in the format of their stamped lettering, ranging from (l. to r.): the “Arrowhead” style, to the “Postage Stamp” style, to the “Gap Letter” style, in the latter case an earlier example.

It was soon widely acknowledged that the company’s barrels were of the highest quality. Line Material increased its capacity by adding a second shift to meet the demand for barrels for rebuilds and to supply IHC’s fledging Garand production program. It is reported that Line Material sent some barrels directly to ordnance units in Korea for use in overhauling M1 rifles in theater. 

The barrels were marked “LMR” on the right side and were stamped with the drawing number (“D653448”), month and year of production, heat lot identification, “P” (proof) and “M” (magnetic particle inspection). Except for very early examples, the barrels made under subcontract for International Harvester can be identified by a punch mark between the “LMR” and the drawing number.

The high quality of the LMR barrels and their availability were among the few things to go smoothly with International Harvester’s M1 rifle production program. As IHC’s production problems became apparent, Springfield Armory dispatched John Garand’s chief tool and die maker, John Stimson, to Indiana to assist the company in setting up its production line. Once production was underway, a plethora of functioning glitches arose, including a serious jamming problem that completely shut down the assembly line for three months until the cause could be discovered and a remedy devised.

The drawing numbers of major parts on International-produced Garands typically include the “IHC” denotation. Examples include (r., top to bottom): the operating rod, bolt and receiver. Harrington & Richardson made M1 Garand receivers of its own (upper l.) as well as supplying them to IHC (lower l.).

The company received assistance from both Springfield Armory and H&R (which was concurrently manufacturing M1 rifles by that time). Harrington & Richardson engineers eventually determined that the jamming problem was due to incorrect specifications for spring-tension settings. Other problems cropped up and were solved one by one, but IHC was never able to meet its contractual production schedule.

In order to help International Harvester get into Garand production as expeditiously as possible, a number of parts were procured from other sources. Interestingly, one of those parts was the most basic component of the rifle—the receiver. In addition to receivers actually made in house by IHC, the company utilized receivers made by Springfield Armory and H&R. There were four distinct variations of M1 receivers manufactured by Springfield for International Harvester.  

The first receivers made by Springfield Armory for International Harvester were in the approximate 4,440,000-4,441,100 serial number range and, for the most part, were consecutively numbered. Although marked “International Harvester,” the logo markings on the receiver were applied by Springfield Armory, and serial numbers were stamped at the IHC plant.

Most of these receivers were fitted with LMR barrels, although a few were fitted with Springfield Armory-made barrels. Collectors have dubbed this variant SA/IHC receiver as the “Arrowhead” due to the layout of the nomenclature markings which, with a bit of imagination, resemble an arrowhead with a broken tip. 

Soon after rifles with the SA/IHC “Arrowhead” receivers started to be assembled, the previously mentioned problem with function-firing difficulties surfaced. Once the problem was identified and solved, IHC began using unfinished Springfield Armory receivers that were on hand. Rather than stamping the receiver logo markings with “arrowhead” format, IHC chose to stamp them with a format consisting of four even lines.

This variant is known as the “Postage Stamp” SA/IHC receiver. Like the “Arrowhead” receivers, these were stamped
 with the Springfield Armory drawing number (“D 652891”), revision numbers (“42” or “43”), and heat lot numbers indicating production by Springfield. Most of the rifles were assembled with LMR barrels (typically dated late 1952 or early 1953), but it is believed some Springfield Armory barrels (dated early 1953) were utilized as well.

The next variation of M1 rifle receiver supplied to International Harvester by Springfield was the so-called “Gap Letter” type in recognition of the noticeable space between the centers of the first two lines of the nomenclature logo. The reason for this change in the format of the nomenclature is not known.

The final variant of receiver made by Springfield Armory and supplied to International Harvester was the “Gap Letter” variety serially numbered in the assigned range 5,198,034 to 5,213,034, representing about 15,000 numbers. These receivers were acquired from SA by IHC to complete its production commitments. 

To its credit, Harrington & Richardson did a great deal to assist International Harvester throughout the latter entity’s M1 production program. As IHC was winding down rifle manufacture, the company needed additional receivers to complete its production commitments. To this end, a relatively small quantity of M1 receivers (approximately 4,000) was supplied to IHC by H&R.

Those receivers fall into the approximate 5,213,034 to 5,217,065 serial number range. Interestingly, the logo nomenclature on them was apparently stamped by International Harvester (“Postage Stamp” profile) while the serial number and the drawing number on the receiver leg were applied by HRA. 

Following is a summary of the type and quantity of M1 receivers manufactured for International Harvester by Springfield Armory and Harrington & Richardson:

SA/IHC “Arrowhead” 4,440,000–4,441,100...................1,100

SA/IHC “Postage Stamp” 4,441,000–4,445,600...800–900

SA/IHC “Gap Letter” 4.6 M 4,638,000–4,660,000...22,000

SA/IHC “Gap Letter” 5M 5,198,034–5,211,600..........13,243

HRA/IHC 5,213,034–5,217,065...........................................4,000

Although Springfield and H&R supplied International Harvester with a number of receivers, the vast majority of the company’s M1 receivers were made by IHC. All of those were of the “Postage Stamp” variety. The receiver drawing number marked on the right side of the receiver leg was initially “IHC D6528291,” which was later changed to “D6528291” (no “IHC” prefix). 

The majority of barrels used by International Harvester were made by Line Material (“LMR” marked), although some Springfield barrels were used, mainly very early and, again, near the end of the company’s M1 rifle production program.

IHC contracted with other manufacturers to complete its rifles. Examples include the “LMR”-marked barrel made by Line Material Corp (top) along with other components such as the “DRC”-marked windage knob and “NHC”-marked gas plug (above)

The major components such as the bolt, operating rod, trigger housing, hammer, gas cylinder lock screw and rear sight windage and elevation knobs were generally marked “IHC” along with the appropriate drawing number and/or subcontractor initials. Although unmarked, IHC M1 front sights were typically characterized by the noticeably wider space between the two flared protective “ears,” approximately 0.875" across, wider than any other manufacturer.

As with many of the other components, the manufacture of stocks by International Harvester did not proceed as smoothly as originally envisioned. Initial plans were for IHC to make the stocks and fore-ends rather than using subcontractors—as was done for a number of other components. As events transpired, though, most of IHC’s stocks were manufactured by subcontractors, chiefly the S.E. Overton Co. A hallmark of IHC M1 stocks is the presence of numbers stamped in the “barrel channel.”

Although three-digit numbers have been reported, the overwhelming majority are four digits, sometimes with a letter prefix or suffix. These numbers are believed to represent a variation of the Julian dating system. International Harvester was the only manufacturer to utilize stocks stamped with such numbers. The profile of the stock behind the receiver heel on the IHC Garand was noticeably narrower than found on the contemporary H&R M1 stocks.

IHC front sights, although unmarked, measure wider across their protective ears than do those of other makers’ rifles.

Although three-digit numbers have been reported, the overwhelming majority are four digits, sometimes with a letter prefix or suffix. These numbers are believed to represent a variation of the Julian dating system. International Harvester was the only manufacturer to utilize stocks stamped with such numbers. The profile of the stock behind the receiver heel on the IHC Garand was noticeably narrower than found on the contemporary H&R M1 stocks.

Early production IHC stocks were stamped with an Ordnance escutcheon emblem (“crossed cannons”) on the right side of the stock and a small—and often indistinct—“P” proof firing mark stamped on the bottom of the pistol grip. This was the only known case of a final inspection stamp on a post-war M1 rifle being applied to the right side of the stock.

Slightly later examples typically had the more commonly seen “circled P” proofmark (sans serif) applied to the face of the grip but still had the “crossed cannons” escutcheon stamped on either the left or right side. Circa October 1953, in the approximate 4.45 million serial number range, the “crossed cannons” stamp was replaced by a 1/2" Defense Acceptance Stamp on the left side of the stock. 

The 1/2”-tall Defense Acceptance Stamp (top) replaced the “crossed cannons” in October 1953. Overton was the chief supplier of IHC stocks. It also, uncharacteristically, stamped the barrel channels with a three- or four-digit number (below).

International Harvester eventually accepted additional M1 production contracts totaling 418,443 rifles. Despite numerous setbacks and glitches experienced throughout the production program, the company worked diligently to overcome every obstacle put in its path, self-inflicted and otherwise. Just when it appeared that the company was going to successfully complete its M1 rifle production commitments, another complication arose.

In September 1955, IHC’s parent company negotiated a sale of the Evansville facility to the Whirlpool Corp. To add insult to injury, the sales contract mandated that Whirlpool take possession of the plant in January 1956. Since IHC had completed just over 300,000 rifles to date, it would have been impossible to finish the remaining 100,000 or so rifles called for in the contract in just two months’ time. This resulted in IHC having to negotiate an early “buyout” of the final contract. The following represents the total of rifles production from fiscal years 1953-1956:

Fiscal Year       Quantity Delivered
1953                     6,804
1954                     82,897
1955                     175,736
1956                     72,186
Total                  337,623

International Harvester’s M1 production program was obviously a source of consternation and almost continual headaches for the company. In hindsight, senior management (and likely stockholders as well) probably questioned the wisdom of getting involved in making military rifles. It was undoubtedly one of those, “It seemed like a good idea at the time” situations. Even though the company had to negotiate an early termination of its contract, it nontheless persevered and eventually made more than 337,000 M1 rifles by the time production ceased in December 1955.

The IHC people may not have been very proficient at making Garands but they can’t be accused of being quitters. 
Despite the numerous problems experienced by the company, an International Harvester M1 Garand is every bit as serviceable as those made by any other manufacturer. The International Harvester M1 has become one of the more popular examples of the genre among many collectors today due to the number of receiver variations and their relative scarcity as compared to Springfield Armory-made Garands of the same era. 

Prior to the late 1970s, IHC M1s were rather hard to find on the domestic civilian market as compared to those made by other manufacturers. In the late 1950s and into the 1960s, many late-production Garands—especially Springfields and International Harvesters—were shipped to various countries under military foreign-aid programs. This accounts for the prior relative scarcity of the IHC rifles as well as Springfields in the very high number serial number range of 5.9 to 6.0 million.

While a few H&R Garands were also shipped to some allied nations, for some reason during this period, the bulk of these rifles seemed to be from International Harvester. Once the rifles were supplied to foreign governments, they could not be “re-imported” back into the United States for sale on the civilian market. Circa 1977-1978, a clause in the regulations permitted some of these former military rifles to be brought back to the United States, but sales were restricted to full-time law enforcement officers.

Quite a few rifles changed hands in this manner and, in the span of a couple of years, IHC M1s went from being quite scarce to being not particularly uncommon. The regulations were eventually tightened up to prohibit such sales, and the spigot was soon closed on the re-importation of IHC Garands. Not too many years later, the Director of Civilian Marksmanship and its successor, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), acquired significant numbers of Garands—including some IHCs—from overseas, and they were openly sold on to qualified buyers. As of this writing, the CMP periodically has IHC Garands available for sale. 

Perhaps surprisingly, in light of the extensive production problems experienced with the M1 rifles, it has been reported that the Ordnance Dept. later approached International Harvester about the possibility of manufacturing M14 rifles under government contract. Perhaps not surprisingly, that did not come to pass. In hindsight, International Harvester likely wished it had stuck with making tractors instead of rifles. Regardless, an IHC M1 rifle is a sought-after collectible today and is a very interesting, albeit often confusing, part of the story of John Garand’s rifle. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Zimmerman Telegram, And the effect it had

I remember reading about the "Zimmerman" telegram when I was about 10 or 12 I guess, My Dad had a series of books called "Crime and Punishment" and this was mentioned in it.  Somehow the History books at my school didn't mention the Telegram, but the Sinking of the Lusitania that got the Americans into WWI.  I mentioned the Zimmerman telegram to my teacher and she was clueless, so I had to explain to her and the class the impact of the telegram to the Americans and how they inflamed them.  I made the comment, "you know how we were angry about Pearl Harbor?, Well the Telegram had a similar effect, to have another country plan to attack our country and then take several states away from us as "Prizes"  made the Americans really mad".  I got an "A" as I recall.  It also taught me an important lesson that the school information wasn't always encompassing.  I had already spotted mistakes in a science book having to do with science and adhesive and cohesive properties.  This was by a 7th grader if memory serves.   

Photo Credit: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It is believed today that few decoded messages have had the global and historical impact that the Zimmermann Telegram had in 1917. This single telegram gave the U.S. the boost it needed to join the First World War in Europe, leading to the end of the war and the aftermath that would lead the world into the even more destructive Second World War.

The telegram was the culmination of a years-long effort by Germany to start a war between Mexico and the U.S. Germany hoped that with America fighting a war with Mexico, they would have limited capacity to join the war or provide resources to the Allied armies in Europe. At one point, Germany even sent a Mexican military official a sum of well over $10 million dollars to begin a war with the U.S.

Keeping the U.S. and its crucial exports away from Europe was massively important to the Central Powers, as at the time Germany believed they could achieve victory in Europe as long as America was not on the scene.

German U-boat circa 1915.
German U-boat circa 1915.
Earlier in the war, Germany was stopping U.S. exports by attacking merchant shipping in the Atlantic with their terrifying submarine fleet. In 1915, Germany began employing tactics close to unrestricted submarine warfare, attacking any ships that came into a specified area. This limited the imports arriving in the U.K. by sinking them before they could make land, and it affected the number of ships sent, due to fears of their destruction.
This became so brutally effective that the U.S. (who at this point was not actively involved in WWI) demanded that Germany stop. Thankfully, they did, for a while at least. By 1917, Germany planned to begin unrestricted submarine warfare once again in a last-ditch effort to starve the British. This would begin on February 1, 1917.
They knew that an all-out assault on U.S. merchant shipping would bring America into the war, but estimated that if they could delay the U.S.’s involvement, they could beat the starved British and French in Europe before they arrived.
This is what the Zimmermann Telegram was for.
The Zimmermann Telegram was sent on January 17, 1917, by Arthur Zimmermann from the German Foreign Office, to Heinrich von Eckardt, Germany’s ambassador to Mexico. The telegram would inform him that if, after Germany resumed their submarine attacks on Atlantic shipping, America looked poised to enter the war, he would present Mexico with an offer to declare war on the U.S., with German funding.
Zimmermann portrait
Arthur Zimmermann, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs. 

The actual telegram reads:

“We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

“The settlement in detail is left to you. You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States of America is certain, and add the suggestion that he should, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves. Please call the President’s attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace.


Translation of decoded Zimmermann Telegram
Translation of the decoded Zimmermann Telegram.
The Zimmermann Telegram, as it became known, was sent through U.S. communication cables that ran through England, and unknown to the Germans and even the U.S. at the time, every message that passed through was monitored by the British.
The telegram was intercepted by the British and sent to their codebreakers. They managed to decipher the coded message in a short amount of time, thanks to secretly cracking German codes long beforehand.
Once decoded, the British were alarmed at the message. As they had been trying for a long time to bring America into the war, and they knew they had the perfect opportunity to make this happen. However, by announcing the telegram to the American public, Germany would discover their codes had been broken and the U.S. would realize the British were listening to their communications.
To solve this, the British devised a plan where an agent would obtain a copy of the message in Mexico, which would then be shown to the Americans. The message that arrived here was encoded in an older code, one that the British deemed worthy of the Germans finding out they had cracked in exchange for the U.S. joining the war. With both the main problems solved, the British presented the message to the U.S.
The message, combined with Germany restarting unrestricted submarine warfare, enraged the American people, who switched gears from opposing involvement in WWI to actively seeking it. Just three months after the Zimmermann Telegram was first sent from Germany, the U.S. officially joined the war. A little over 18 months later, the war ended with Germany’s defeat. 
While the U.S. response is the most impactful, the Mexican response is perhaps the most ironic. After receiving the message, Mexican President Venustiano Carranza sought the opinions of his military officials on Germany’s offer. They concluded that a German-backed war with the U.S. was not in Mexico’s best interests, thanks to political instability, a vastly inferior army, and wanting to avoid upsetting relations with South American nations.
So, the Zimmermann Telegram was intended as a way to make sure America stayed out of the war and to guarantee a German victory in Europe. Instead, it caused the immediate and nationally supported declaration of war by the U.S., mobilizing troops and reinforcing the Allies in Europe, leading to Germany’s eventual downfall

Monday, May 24, 2021

Monday Music "I Feel Love" By Donna Summer

 I am still using my "old" laptop to do my postings, ahhh the sacrifices we make, LOL

 I am continuing my string of "bugaloo" songs.  This discussion was started in the "Monster Hunter Nation, Hunters Unite", back in November of 2019? it is a Facebook group with enthusiast of the ILOH "International Lord of Hate" A.K.A Larry Correia.  We were talking about what song would we use if we looked out of our window or glanced at our security camera and saw this.....

One of the alphabet bois lining up to take down your house...What would be your "Valhalla" song and you would set it up to play as you load up magazines set up the Tannerite Rover, turn on the water irrigation system and fill it with gasoline instead of water and prepare yourself.

 I figured it would scar the alphabet boys if they come busting in and hearing a song about people standing for their beliefs and willing to fight for them no matter the cost, Good Music  unlike that crap they listen to now.  What can I say, My humor is warped....just a bit. Next week will be "You spin me around like a Record" by Dead or Alive...How Appropiate, LOL,  Now that should really cause some psych evals., hehehe, some poor ATF guy trying to explain the attraction to his mother because he is imaging himself as The savior of the American way rather than working for an agency that have the initials of a convenience store.  Now because we ain't gonna answer that door.  They can kick it in and start "the Dance"   I decided to roll with "I feel love" because we are feeling the Love by the alphabet agencies because they don't like people that ain't on the democrat plantation.  Well I kinda like my freedom and stuff and that is anathema to the deep state and their operatives.   

 I was driving home from work and I was listening to the 70's on 7 on my Sirius/XM, I had changed it up from my usual 80's on 8 that I normally listened to.  I guess I wanted to change things up a bit.
     I remember the first time I heard this song, it was the mid to late 70's and the Disco movement was huge, and yes I admit, I do like Disco, I guess that is why I like New Wave in the 80's, something about the synthesizers, and the many ways that you can play something, and you were limited by your creativity.   Well anyway, when I heard this song, it sounded so cool and so futuristic it was on a league by itself. 

"I Feel Love" is a song by Donna Summer, with production by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. It first appeared on Summer's 1977 album I Remember Yesterday. The song became widely popular during the Disco period and is widely credited as "one of the most influential records ever made", originating electronic dance music. In 2011, the Library of Congress added the song to the National Recording Registry, deeming it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important".

Before "I Feel Love", most disco recordings had been backed by acoustic orchestras, although all-electronic music had been produced for decades. Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte's innovative production of this disco-style song, recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track, utilizing a Moog synthesizer, spawned imitators in the disco genre and was influential in the development of new wavesynthpop and later techno. Moroder went to work on the song with Bellotte in his Musicland Studios in Munich. "We wanted to conclude with a futuristic song," he said, "and I decided that it had to be done with a synthesizer.

According to David Bowie, then in the middle of recording of his Berlin Trilogy with Brian Eno, its impact on the genre's direction was recognized early on; "One day in Berlin ... Eno came running in and said, "I have heard the sound of the future." ... he puts on "I Feel Love," by Donna Summer ... He said, "This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years." Which was more or less right."
Music critic Vince Aletti wrote that, "The pace is fierce and utterly gripping with the synthesizer effects particularly aggressive and emotionally charged." He went on to predict that the track "should easily equal if not surpass" the success of "Love to Love You Baby" in the clubs.

In a 2017 feature on the song's 40th anniversary for Pitchfork, music journalist Simon Reynolds reflected that "I Feel Love" had a significant impact on music across all genres for the next decade, including rock-leaning genres such as post-punk and new wave, and subsequent sub-genres of the electronic dance music style the song had pioneered, including Hi-NRGItalo discohousetechno, and trance. Reynolds also posited "If any one song can be pinpointed as where the 1980s began, it’s "I Feel Love."
Mixmag ranked the song number 12 in its 100 Greatest Dance Singles Of All Time list in 1996, adding:

"Whenever, however you hear this tune, it's guaranteed to make you smile, shut your eyes and trance out. The first electronic disco masterpiece, disco diva Donna and Moroder's finest, trippiest moment. Whether it's Derrick May or Carl Craig slipping Patrick Cowley's deliciously psychedelic 1982 remix into their techno sets, or Masters at Work climaxing a four deck set with last years garaged-up remake, or just some bloke in a bow tie playing the original at your brother's wedding, this record is timeless. And priceless."

Slant Magazine ranked the song 1st in its 100 Greatest Dance Songs-list in 2006, adding:

"No longer would synthesizers remain the intellectual property of prog-classical geeks. And, separated from its LP context and taken as a Top 10 single, it didn't just suggest the future, it was the future. Cooing ascending couplets of an almost banal ecstasy, Summer's breathy vocals still dwelled in the stratosphere of her own manufactured sensation."

In 2011, The Guardian's Richard Vine ranked the release of "I Feel Love" as one of 50 key events in the history of dance music, proclaiming it "one of the first to fully utilise the potential of electronics, replacing lush disco orchestration with the hypnotic precision of machines".
Mixmag ranked it #19 in its 2013 '50 Greatest Dance Tracks Of All Time