Historical Small Arms in Action? Go to a Reenactment!

    Viewers of TFB TV will be especially aware of a number of episodes that I completed with a local reenactor that represents elements of the 82nd Airborne Division all over the Midwest. To date we’ve filmed episodes about the BAR in the First World War, the M1A1 “Paratrooper” Carbine, 1903 Springfield rifle grenades, and even an introduction on blank rounds for various uses. Indeed, if I hadn’t left the Midwest I would most likely be still interested in producing content for TFB TV with his excellent insight.

    But coming at this from a historical researchers perspective, it is very easy to sometimes get lost in the details of the photographs, reports, etc… Enter the field of reenacting or Living History which can help fill that quest for information. It is one thing to read about how much equipment made those who jumped into Normandy on June 5th 1944, but it is completely another to actually see someone suited up in an approximation of what those troopers would have looked like. This was the driving force that led us to try and recreate a squad live fire with M1 Garands and M1A1 Carbines for the channel, but even more importantly talk about what we learned from the event afterward.

    However for the rest of the time where we can’t recreate these squad live fires, we have reenactments, which are very popular in the United States and to a lesser extent in Europe. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that reenactors┬ácan sometimes be one of the odder groups of folks out there, spending a good chunk of their lives to try and recreate scenes from history. But at the end of the day, I believe this service far outweighs any of the odd quirks that they bring along to the field.

    The majority of reenactment displays out there are largely free and if they do have an admission’s cost, it is extremely nominal and probably less than spending a day at a local county fair. The benefits of going are simply too great to ignore if one is an avid student of small arms or military history. Something that even we at TFB might get too zeroed in on at times is that the weapons that soldiers used had to be in conjunction with everything else. Their load bearing gear, the amount of spare ammunition that could be carried, where do you put your Thompson in the front seat of a jeep, etc…

    One downside I will assert about reenacting is the weapons handling. For some reason, when the rounds are blanks and blank adaptors are attached, the weapons safety rules seem to be left with the live rounds at home. I think I’ve seen more unsafer firearms handling with reenactors than with Afghan policemen, and that is cutting holes in the bucket.


    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]