Centrifugal Machine Guns

What the hell is a centrifugal machine gun? In the plainest of terms, it’s a gun that requires no propellant powder and a system which has sparked the imaginations of inventors and gun designers for over 200 years.

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The Home Team Advantage: Ammunition, Compatibility, and Why Change Is Bad

If we can make a round that is significantly better than the existing 5.56mm or 7.62mm ammunition, shouldn’t the military just bite the bullet and switch, to the benefit of the servicemen and women in harm’s way? What’s stopping the powers that be from making the incremental improvements that everyone knows are possible?

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Kalashnikov vs. Schmeisser: Myths, Legends, and Misconceptions [GUEST POST]

The following is an article that was originally written in Russian by TFB contributor Maxim Popenker, and Andrey Ulanov, and translated to English by Peter Samsonov. With their permission, I have replicated the text here, and edited it, for the enrichment of you, our readers!

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Preference-Driven vs. Process-Driven Design in the Field of Small Arms Ammunition: Discussion

In yesterday’s article, we took a look at examples of two different methods of design, which I called “preference-driven” and “process-driven”. For these examples, I supposed two engineers from two different cultures – called “Romulan” and “Vulcan” after the aliens from the Star Trek universe.* In the “Romulan” example, we explored preference-driven design, where a final product is outlined by amalgamating preferred characteristics from previous works to create a desired whole. For the “Vulcan” example, we examined the more elaborate method of developing processes that can be fed data to procedurally generate characteristics as an example of process-driven design.

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Romulan, or Vulcan? Preference-Driven vs. Process-Driven Design in the Field of Small Arms Ammunition

If you were designing the next small arms round, how would you do it? What methods would you use to determine its physical characteristics and performance attributes? How would you know what was too large or too small, too powerful or too weak? Perhaps more critically, how do different methods for answering these questions compare to one another? Could some methods be better or worse than others?

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Computer Flow Simulation of a Firearm Compensator: See How They Function in 1/10,000 of a Second

Today I stumbled across a handful of the most underrated videos on YouTube. Published in 2013, the video below (and five others like it) showcase a CAD simulation of the volume of escaping gasses, and the amount of force enacted on the individual baffles, on a muzzle brake in ten-thousandths of a second.

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6 Reasons the AK-47 Is the Most Reliable Rifle in the World: A Guide to Kalashnikov's Magic for Aspiring Gun Designers, Part II

Yesterday, we took a close look at the AK’s operating group, to enumerate the details that make this pattern such a dependable design. Today, we’re going to be looking at some of the other elements of the AK that make it so reliable, but first I want to clear up some confusion that arose in the comments section of the previous article, regarding what the term “anti-preengagement” refers to. Hopefully the video below will help:

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6 Reasons the AK-47 Is the Most Reliable Rifle in the World: A Guide to Kalashnikov's Magic for Aspiring Gun Designers, Part I

Today we know the Kalashnikov family of rifles as one of the most successful and reliable weapon families ever designed. Even as the rifle’s legend has begun to be peeled back, the weapon’s reputation for reliability is still largely unquestioned, and many consider it to be the most reliable individual automatic weapon ever made.

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What Is a Caliber System, and How Does It Affect Ammunition Design?

In a previous post about the sometimes ambiguous meaning of the word “caliber”, we discussed how the word had mutated through the centuries, picking up different definitions and connotations along the way. In that article, I wrote:

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Cracking the Machine Pistol's Code: Is a Useful Fully Automatic Handgun Possible?

In a previous article on TFB, we compared a Mauser 712 Schnellfeuer to a Glock 17 with an auto sear, and along the way discussed how very limited the usefulness of the modern machine pistol is. Fully automatic pistol-sized weapons have been around for over a hundred years, but they’ve only ever seen limited use in specialist roles, with their adoption and then subsequent abandonment coming seemingly in waves as departments and forces pick up the concept and then discard it upon learning how impractical the weapons are in actual use. The history of machine pistols is fascinating, and those who are interested can follow the link to a podcast I participated in on the subject to learn more.

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Operating Systems 301: What Is Underlug?

Note: In this article, I call this mechanical feature “underlug”. However, this is an error. Several friends of mine and I have been discussing the mechanics of firearms operation for close to a decade now, and we misremembered the term “underslide” from a book by Brassey’s as “underlug”. More details on the error are available in the comments. Regardless, “underslide” is the proper term for this principle, not “underlug”.

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Taking a Closer Look at the Cycle: Firing (Operating Systems 201)

In the first post of the 101 level series on firearms operating systems, we briefly described what the word cycle means in terms of the operation of automatic firearms. However, there’s a lot more to the cycle of an automatic firearm than just the completion of one round of firing, so let’s take the time to explore the concept a little more deeply.

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Operating Systems 301: Introduction to Advanced Concepts

So far we’ve looked at the most basic concepts in firearms operating mechanisms as part of the 101 series of posts, and some more advanced concepts like locking and bolt configuration in the 201 level entries. However, there is a whole lot more depth to the subject, so much that the advanced 301 level discussions will really only be able to scratch the surface. Before we start talking about these subjects though, be forewarned: So far I have avoided including any serious math in the 101 and 201 level posts, but we will have to tackle some math as we delve deeper into how these weapons really work.

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Ballistics 101: What Is Rifling?

Previously in our introductory series on ballistics, we’ve discussed the concept of caliber, as well as ballistic coefficient and its close relative form factor. Today, we’re going to look at the concept of rifling, and how it relates to bullet stability.

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Operating Systems 201: Ljungmann vs. Stoner Direct Impingement

In this 201-level post on the devices and mechanisms that automatic firearms use to do their work, we’ll be discussing a distinction between two very similar types of gas systems. These are what’s commonly known as the “Ljungmann-type” gas system (called so after a Swede, even though in reality a Frenchman invented it decades earlier) and “Stoner-type” gas system. Both are forms of what’s called “direct impingement”, a term which has two different meanings, one of which we’ll discuss today

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