“The Glint of a Sword”
At the beginning of the 20th century, a soldier could not be better armed than with a Mauser bolt action rifle. This was the equivalent of the English longbow and Longsword of legend. The power and extended range these new smokeless (non-blackpowder) weapons were changing the military arms of personal conflict forever. Firearms are a combination of the European Longbow and the Longsword for personal combat, being used for both distance offense/defense and close combat. However, the bolt action rifle was not the end all to be all for the soldier or partisan or civilian. Fast firing Thompson pistol caliber carbines shooting the .45 ACP pistol cartridges were also used in battle and were more effective for personal close-in conflict, shooting bullets faster but having a range limit of about 100 yards. Within this area they would dominate, outside this limited area even minor cover would provide protection due to its low velocity cartridge which even the additional barrel length could not get above the speed of sound.
Machineguns, shooting rifle cartridges were (and are) too unwieldy for a single man to operate as well as carry sufficient ammunition. Several weapons designers have played with the idea of a small rifle/pistol caliber carbine to replace (or as we advocate, augment) the sidearm of the civilian as the Longsword compliments the Dagger, but none of the designs has addressed all the issues of power/range/capability/accuracy/compactness. The first real spark came in the 1800’s on the American Frontier. Even though a rifle was always considered superior to a pistol, the idea of a short carbine and a pistol taking the same, abet low powered, ammo was achieved. It took form of the Winchester ’73 with the .38-40 and the .44-40 cartridges that matched the Colt revolver of the same calibers. Heavier rifle cartridges necessary for large game were not needed on the open frontier, but a fast shooting carbine and pistol combination could save your life as ammo for one weapon was ammo for both weapons.
Note Cowboy using a Winchester rifle in .44-40 and SA Revolvers in same caliber.
It is the Authors firm belief that 99% of civilians do not need the weight or length or range of a full battle rifle and could most effectively defend themselves with a high capacity, high power pistol caliber carbine design paired with their personal pistol.
Past attempts at producing such a pairing for Civilians or Police Departments were simple dead ends, like the Colt Monitor or the Scout Squad M1A paired with the pistol. These are simply cut down full power battle rifles or light machine-guns, using stock magazines and cartridges that were wholly incompatible with a sidearm. Other attempts were halfway steps, like the .30 carbine or the MAC-10, one a handy carbine using a minimal rifle cartridge with about the same energy as the .357 Magnum pistol cartridge but with no sidearm compatible with the ammo; the Mac-10 a nearly uncontrollable and overbuilt machine pistol, deadly at room distance and its cartridge compatible with a sidearm but with defects in mechanical design, sights and ergonomics that made it nearly worthless at any range beyond 30 feet.
Other approaches, moving from the 9mm Parabellum sub-machine gun direction toward an universal carbine are crippled by the cartridge. A effective urban carbine requires a formidable pistol cartridge/small rifle cartridge to get into the design envelope and the 9mm is too far down on the energy level to reach out to 350 yards.
In the 1980’s, Col. Jeff Cooper proposed what he called the “Thumper”, a Pistol Carbine using the .44 AMP (AutoMag Pistol cartridge) pushing a 240gr. bullet at 1600fps with a massive muzzle brake to control recoil, but the idea went nowhere; its pistol a violently recoiling collectors item and the cartridge itself produced by ONE specialty manufacturer for hunters and collectors and no rifle examples ever produced.
As to the popular .44 Magnum Remington, few pistolmen can master the .44 revolver for self-defense work and the few .44 Remington Magnum semi-auto carbines produced are limited by having a short tube magazine (Ruger, Marlin) or a rotary box magazine (Ruger), sharp recoil, reliability problems and notorious parts breakage.
Several firms produce semi-auto carbines in high power pistol cartridges, but are limited by the use of reworked pistol magazines and the robustness of their design.
The pump action copies of the Colt Lightning are interesting and fast, but so far suffer from design defects (reliability problems, most notably failures to feed and a delicate cartridge “lift” mechanism) and would have to be reworked to use rimless cartridges from the centuries old rimmed revolver cartridge designs (.45 Colt Long or the .44-40) for which it is currently designed.
It was early in 2012 that I set about studying all the available designs of small arms based on a request to find a weapon that would combine all of the best features from every known design and combine them into one Weapon to serve alongside the personal sidearm in an Urban setting. Specialty weapons such as .30 caliber rifles for 1000 yard Sniping would remain, but the idea was to leverage as much power as possible out of a carbine barrel without compromise in quality, dependability or ruggedness. As a Pistolsmith, this was the task of a lifetime. Here was a chance to not just muse, but to build a perfect “Urban” carbine without any preconditions other than I had to use an existing cartridge. (No cutdown .384 rifle cartridges like the 6mm BR!) nor was I limited to the frame of the ubiquitous AR-15, a weapon with notorious feeding and jamming problems, defects which get worse as the weapon is shortened or the gas system “customized”.
Starting with a clean sheet of paper, I started by studying all the existing popular and unpopular pistol cartridges and small rifle cartridges to see if there was a winner. The weapon would be built around a cartridge usable for both pistol and carbine so that there would be the option of a single cartridge. Power, sectional density, high pressure, semi-auto designs were the paramount parameters. A rough definition took shape: a very compact carbine with a folding stock, a fixed barrel to receiver design (for accuracy) shooting a high sectional density maximum pressure pistol cartridge compatible with high capacity magazines. Every feature optimized for balance, robustness, simplicity and strength with a maximum range of at least 350 yards, about the limit for iron sights or a low power scope. Sights would be mounted on a Picatinny rail attached to the upper receiver for accuracy purposes. The sight could be Red Dot, magnified Red Dot or Conventional Scope compatible with Night Vision, either a Day/Night Optic or a removable Day optic and a Dedicated Night Scope.
One intriguing design was the P90 and its odd 5.7 x 28mm micro rifle cartridge. I swiftly determined that its lethality was questionable (look at Ft. Hood); it also simply ran out of gas at range. It was another Tommy gun, though slicked up and modernized. The FN Five/Seven pistol very good, but not significantly better in energy than say a Hi-cap 9mm. The carbine design though is excellent, a pity it could not be adapted to a better cartridge due to its unique magazines.
On the traditional side, the heavy .44 magnum did have an existing semi-auto pistol that could take it the pounding, the IMI Desert Eagle, but it was somewhat complex and finicky being gas operated and it is as big as a 1967 Impala. Exotics like the .50GI or the 45 Rowland or the 45 Super based on the 1911 platform were studied and rejected out of hand, for though they had impressive ballistics in the short-range, they bled energy too swiftly due to the huge vacuum the wide bullet hauled right behind it at speed.
In the end, it was such a clear choice I wonder it took me so long to see it. I picked the full power 10mm Auto cartridge, shooting a 135-200 gr. bullet at 1600 to 1300 fps out of a 5 inch barrel pistol (Underwood Ammo) and 2050 to 1500 fps out of a 12 inch SBR or more out a 16 inch barreled Carbine and thus retaining lethal energy out to 350 yards. It is available in several different currently manufactured pistol types, including the nauseating but universal Glock and in several barrel lengths.
Update: As of June 12, 2014 the Washington State Legislator have lifted the ban on short barreled rifles adding to their recent allowance of Suppressors. It is hoped that I can have a completed example by the end of 2015 with a 16 inch non-suppressed upper that I can continue ammunition testing fitted with a fake suppressor so that balance and swing is maintained. This will allow me to NP3 coat the entire weapon, as it will be in its more efficient form right from the beginning.
Next: The 10mm Auto Cartridge
ALL ITEMS DESCRIBED and their sources will be placed on a “Sources” page