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The Beretta M9 Pistol

by Leroy Thompson Johnny Shumate

In 1990 the Beretta M9 replaced the venerable Colt 1911 as the main pistol of choice for the US Army. At the time the decision was controversial particularly because it was perceived that a smaller caliber weapon such as the Beretta would lack the necessary stopping power and range in comparison to the .45 caliber Colt. The situation was not helped by the rumour that the adoption of this Italian designed pistol was in exchange for the creation of US missile bases within Italy. Nonetheless, the Beretta, although not a perfect pistol, has since proved many of its distractors wrong with widespread use in Iraq and Afghanistan. Written by a leading pistol expert who currently trains US Special Forces in the use of this weapon, this book is an honest appraisal of the successes and failings of the Beretta design. The volume traces the Beretta designs, which preceded the M9 as well as its use on the battlefield, including the impact it has had on close combat training due to the larger magazine capacity. It also details the adoption of the Beretta by US law enforcement agencies and the impact this has had. This is a fascinating history of a classic pistol and its future use.From the Trade Paperback edition.

The Colt 1911 Pistol

by Peter Dennis Leroy Thompson

First used in combat during the Punitive Expedition into Mexico and then extensively during both World War 1 and World War 2, the Colt Government Model (1911) pistol remained the standard issue handgun in the US armed forces for nearly 80 years and has continued in service with some units to this day. In fact, the M1911 has seen a resurgence among US Special Operations units, as US Marine MARSOC and MEUSOC personnel are issued current generation 1911-type pistols. In addition, the pistol has seen service with famous law enforcement agencies such as the Shanghai Municipal Police, LAPD Swat and Texas Rangers. Nearly a century after its introduction, the M1911 Pistol remains a popular design and is now produced by virtually every major firearms manufacturer doing business in the USA.In this new volume, handgun expert Leroy Thompson sheds new light on the development, history and use of this revolutionary handgun, complete with specially-commissioned artwork depicting the firing process and cutaway profile of the gun, as well as its use in various theaters of war.From the Trade Paperback edition.

Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Dagger

by Howard Gerrard Leroy Thompson

The Fairbairn-Sykes Commando dagger has become iconic as the most widely recognized fighting knife in the world. The origins of the dagger can be traced to Shanghai in the 1930s where W. E. Fairbairn and US Marine officers including Sam Yeaton carried out experiments in developing what they considered the perfect knife for close combat. When Fairbairn and Sykes became instructors for the Commandos, they refined the design which would evolve into the classic Fairbairn-Sykes dagger. The dagger was first used during early Commando raids into occupied Europe but saw action in every theatre of World War II (1939-1945). US Rangers and Marines who had trained with the Commandos took their Fairbairn-Sykes daggers home which also influenced the development of American Special Forces daggers. The Fairbairn-Sykes remained in use with many units after the war, and has become a symbol of commando and special forces units throughout the world.From the Trade Paperback edition.

Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Dagger

by Leroy Thompson

The Fairbairn-Sykes Commando dagger has become iconic as the most widely recognized fighting knife in the world. The origins of the dagger can be traced to Shanghai in the 1930s where W. E. Fairbairn and US Marine officers including Sam Yeaton carried out experiments in developing what they considered the perfect knife for close combat. When Fairbairn and Sykes became instructors for the Commandos, they refined the design which would evolve into the classic Fairbairn-Sykes dagger. The dagger was first used during early Commando raids into occupied Europe but saw action in every theatre of World War II. US Rangers and Marines who had trained with the Commandos took their Fairbairn-Sykes daggers home which also influenced the development of American Special Forces daggers. The Fairbairn-Sykes remained in use with many units after the war, and has become a symbol of commando and special forces units throughout the world.

The M1 Carbine

by Peter Dennis Leroy Thompson

The M1 Carbine was produced in more numbers than any other US small arm in World War II (1939-1945). In 1938 the US Chief of Infantry requested that the Ordnance Department develop a carbine or light rifle to be used by service and support troops, artillerymen, machinegun crews, tankers, mortar crews and other troops not needing the power of the M1 Garand rifle. The development of this new weapon was given an added impetus by Germany's successful use of airborne and glider troops early on in World War II. This caused a fear amongst US officers that troops normally considered "behind the lines" personnel might have to fight elite German troops and would therefore require a more effective weapon than their standard pistols. The resulting M1 Carbine was a not a shortened version of the standard service rifle but instead a brand-new design chambering a new cartridge. This new weapon would see service in every theater and with all US service arms as well as American and Allied special units including the OSS, Merrill's Marauders, the SAS and the SBS. Eventually numerous manufacturers would combine to produce over six million M1 Carbines before the end of the war. This new title provides an in-depth analysis on this crucial, trailblazing weapon.From the Trade Paperback edition.

The M1 Garand

by Peter Dennis Leroy Thompson

The M1 Garand gave US infantrymen a marked edge during World War II. It shot faster and further than enemy infantry rifles and hit harder. No less an authority on killing the enemy than General George S. Patton called the Garand, "The greatest battle implement ever devised." At a time when opposing forces were armed with bolt action rifles, US troops had a highly reliable self-loader. It was the US Army's principal infantry weapon in World War II, beloved of troops for its ability to withstand hard use and be ready when needed. In most battles the Garands speed of fire combined with the powerful .30-06 cartridge gave US troops a distinct advantage. The eight-round clips which were used to load the M1 Garand were, however, viewed with mixed emotions by the troops on the ground. Eight rounds was not much magazine capacity for a self-loading rifle, thus requiring frequent reloading in combat. Some Army and Marine Corps troops allegedly felt that the distinctive "twang" as the Garand's clip was ejected when empty alerted the enemy that the soldiers were reloading and resulted in an attack. But this problem may have been overstated as experienced troops did not all empty their weapons at the same time. It was also a particularly heavy weapon in contrast to the much lighter M1 Carbine. But the Garand became the defining mankiller of the war, despite its weight and magazine problems, and many US combat veterans consider it one of the key reasons they survived the war, as one veteran succinctly commented, "I let my Garand do the talking."

The M14 Battle Rifle

by Leroy Thompson Johnny Shumate

Featuring specially commissioned full-color artwork and archive and close-up photographs, this engaging study tells the story of the M14, the long-lived battle rifle that remains in front-line service with US forces more than 50 years after its first adoption.The 7.62×51mm M14 select-fire automatic rifle was the primary US service rifle for only a decade from 1957 before being supplanted by the 5.56×45mm M16, yet many familiar with the M14 consider it the best rifle ever to see US service. Based on the well-proven M1 Garand rifle, the M14 addressed the perceived "deficiencies" of the Garand based on the latter's service in World War II and Korea. The M14 incorporated a detachable box magazine and select-fire capability, and used a shortened version of the .30-06 cartridge - the 7.62×51mm NATO round - better suited to a "battle rifle."Though primarily designed for a war in Europe, where it would take its place alongside the other 7.62×51mm battle rifles (FAL, G3, etc.) in the hands of NATO allies, probably the first combat use of the M14 was with the 82nd Airborne Division in the Dominican Republic in 1965-66. The M14 also saw action during the early days of the escalating US involvement in the Vietnam War, though it proved rather too heavy and lengthy for jungle usage and was supplanted in that theater by the M16 in 1966-67. Even so, some Army engineer units continued to use the M14 as did US Marines, who often retained one or two in each squad. Even after the adoption of the M16, US troops in Europe retained the M14 until 1970 for compatibility with other NATO armies.Although the M14 was intended to replace four weapons, namely the .30-06 M1 Garand, the .30 M1 Carbine, the .45 M3 submachine gun (SMG), and - in its M15 and M14A1 models - the .30-06 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), this proved to be an overly optimistic goal. The new weapon was deemed virtually uncontrollable on full-automatic in the SMG role, but its 7.62×51mm round proved too light for the BAR's squad automatic weapon role.Even so, the M14 has remained a Phoenix among US infantry weapons, rising again and again when a more powerful battle rifle has been needed. Its accuracy and reliability led to its modification and adoption in 1975 as a semi-automatic sniping weapon - the M21 - which remained the Army's primary sniper rifle until 1988, although seeing widespread service in Iraq well after that date. Since 2001 the M14 has seen a resurgence as a Designated Marksman Rifle, being employed by all branches of the US military, especially in Afghanistan where the open terrain makes longer-range engagements common. It has remained a viable limited-use US infantry weapon for over five decades, and appears likely to see action wherever US forces require a longer-range, accurate battle rifle for some years to come.

The M1903 Springfield Rifle

by Steve Noon Leroy Thompson

Developed to replace the Model 1892 Krag-Jørgensen rifle, the Model 1903 Springfield was a five-shot bolt-action rifle that introduced the .30-06 cartridge - the standard US round until the introduction of the 7.62mm NATO cartridge - and gave the US infantryman a durable, magazine-fed weapon so renowned for its accuracy that it remained in service as a sniping rifle for decades after it was superseded by the M1 Garand in 1937. Extensively used in World War I, the M1903 Springfield saw widespread combat in World War II and Korea. During World War I, US troops developed a formidable reputation for marksmanship aided by the accuracy of the M1903 Springfield. World War II saw the introduction of the M1903A3, which changed the rear sight so that it was closer to that of the M1 Garand, to allow easier training of troops who might be issued either rifle. Illustrated with specially commissioned color artwork and drawing upon veterans' recollections, this is the engaging story of the M1903 Springfield, an iconic rifle prized for its lethal accuracy that equipped US and other troops for much of the 20th century.

The MP5 Submachine Gun

by Leroy Thompson

Since the mid-1960s the Heckler & Koch MP5 has become the most widely used submachine gun in the world, especially among counterterrorist and special-operations units. Lightweight and offering a blistering rate of fire of 900 rounds per minute in some versions, the MP5 quickly earned a reputation for accuracy due to its fixed yet free-floating hammer-forged barrel and close-bolt operating system. Its sights, which consist of a front hooded post and rear rotary drum, aid in accuracy as well; at the time of its introduction the MP5's sights were superior to those of most other SMGs available. The MP5's accuracy is one reason it has seen such success among counterterrorist units, for whom shot placement is absolutely critical.Developed as part of a series of weapons owing design details to the Heckler & Koch (HK) G3 battle rifle, the MP5 employs a roller-delayed blowback action, which can easily handle the 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge. As with other HK weapons, the MP5 employs a fluted chamber which allows gases to bleed rearward thus preventing the case from expanding fully inside the chamber, thus enhancing reliability. Although the MP5 normally comes with a flash suppressor, it is designed so that various others accessories including blank training device, grenade launcher, suppressor, etc. may be mounted. As with other weapons based on the G3, the receiver of the MP5 incorporates notches that allow the mounting of optical sights.The two basic original versions of the MP5 are the MP5A2 with polymer fixed stock and the MP5A3 with collapsible steel stock. These remain two of the most widely used versions today. The popularity of the MP5 with special military and law-enforcement operators has led to the introduction of special versions such as the MP5N adopted by the US Navy SEALs and others. Also, to suit the needs of special operations personnel the MP5SD suppressed version was produced. To meet the needs of close-protection teams, air marshals, and special operators, the compact MP5K was developed. Variants with other features and in other calibers have been introduced as there has been sufficient demand for them among world users. To meet the needs of US agencies which do not use 9x19mm pistols, other calibers of MP5 have been developed. For the FBI, the 10mm MP5 was built, while other agencies that use the .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge in their weapons asked for and got .40 S&W HK MP5s.One of the first well-known users of the MP5 was Germany's GSG 9 counterterrorist unit. When training with GSG 9, Britain's Special Air Service was impressed with the MP5 and adopted it for their Special Projects Team. Its use by these two high-profile units has helped popularize the MP5 with military and police special-operations units across the world. Reportedly, the first UK police adoption was by the London Metropolitan Police's Diplomatic Protection Unit, who adopted the MP5K for use when guarding certain high-profile dignitaries. Versions of the MP5 are widely used among US police agencies with some deploying them in their vehicles. The MP5 has proved so popular with military and police agencies that eventually more than 80 countries have adopted it, from Albania to Zambia.The influence of the MP5 is both technical and tactical. Prior to the development of the MP5, the submachine gun was not normally considered a precision weapon, but the MP5 is. This has allowed the creation of an entire system based on the MP5 for use in hostage rescue or other precise shooting situations. The MP5's influence is also in the weapon designed by HK as its replacement - the Universal Machine Pistol (UMP) - though the MP5 remains in production as well as the UMP.Featuring specially commissioned full-color photographs and expert analysis, this engaging study charts the origins, use, and impact of the MP5, Heckler & Koch's innovative and long-lived submachine gun.

The Sten Gun

by Leroy Thompson

The Sten submachine gun - officially the 'Carbine, Machine, Sten' - was developed to fulfil the pressing British need for large quantities of cheaply produced weapons after Dunkirk, when German invasion was a very real possibility. Over four million were built during World War II, and the Sten was widely used by airborne troops, tankers, and others who needed a compact weapon with substantial firepower. It proved especially popular with Resistance fighters as it was easy to conceal, deadly at close range, and could fire captured German ammunition. Using stamped-metal parts that required minimal welding, the Sten's design was so simple that Resistance fighters were able to produce them in bicycle shops.The Sten influenced the development of other inexpensive, easy-to-produce submachine guns, such as the Australian Austen and the US M3 'Grease Gun', while copies of the Sten were produced in Argentina, France, Norway, Denmark, Poland, and even Nazi Germany. In the years after World War II, the Sten was used in Korea and in counterinsurgency campaigns in Malaya and Kenya. During the 1948 Palestine War, locally produced Stens were employed by Israeli forces; in 1984 Indira Gandhi was assassinated by one of her Sikh bodyguards using a Sten.Its postwar successor in British service, the Sterling, owed much to the Sten; early examples saw combat at Arnhem in 1944 and it remained in service as late as 1988. Suppressed versions of the Sterling were used by British, Australian and New Zealand SAS forces, and the weapon even saw action with US Special Forces troops until the early days of the Vietnam War.Featuring vivid first-hand accounts, specially commissioned full-colour artwork and close-up photographs, this is the fascinating story of the mass-produced submachine gun that provided Allied soldiers and Resistance fighters with devastating close-range firepower.

US Combat Shotguns

by Peter Dennis Leroy Thompson

Winchester, Remington, Ithaca Gun Company, Stevens, Savage, Mossberg, Benelli, and other gun manufacturers have produced a range of combat shotguns for US armed forces. When a soldier must face multiple opponents at close quarters, few weapons can match the shotgun. From World War I to the War on Terror, the shotgun has been a devastating weapon in the hands of US troops. For urban combat, prisoner control, and shipboard operations it remains as deadly today as it was a century ago.Early combat shotguns were basically sawed-off versions of the double-barreled shotguns used for sporting purposes. The Winchester Model 97 slide-action shotgun, first used in 20in-barreled "riot gun" form during the Philippine Insurrection, would remain in service in one form or another at least until the Vietnam War. During World War I shotguns were obtained in "riot gun" versions and also in "trench gun" versions (trench guns had a ventilated handguard added that allowed the mounting of a bayonet; riot guns did not have this feature). Joining the Model 97 as trench guns were the Winchester Model 12 and Remington Model 10, while these slide-action weapons plus the Remington Model 11, a semi-automatic, also served as riot-guns. So effective was the trench shotgun that Germans claimed it was inhumane and violated the "Rules of War", threatening to execute troops captured carrying a shotgun.The various Banana Wars saw the use of World War I military shotguns still in the armories. During World War II, Winchester Model 12 and Model 97 trench and riot guns were joined by the Ithaca Model 37, Remington Model 11 and Model 31, Stevens Models 520-30 and 620A, and Savage Model 720. The US Marines found the shotgun useful for the close combat they encountered in the jungles during World War II, in humid conditions that necessitated the development of military brass-case shotgun shells, while OSS agents found single-shot shotguns useful for arming guerillas in Burma, the Philippines, and elsewhere.During the Korean and Vietnam Wars the same types of shotguns deployed during World War II were used, though some additional models were acquired as riot guns, including the Remington Model 870, Savage Model 77E, Winchester Model 1200, and Winchester Model 25. In Vietnam shotguns were used by point men and others on patrol, while members of the US Navy SEALs especially liked shotguns for launching ambushes in the Mekong Delta.During the period since the First Gulf War new combat shotguns have been adopted by the US military, such as the Mossberg 500 series, including one trench-gun model, and the Benelli 1014. More recently during the War on Terror, shotguns have been used to clear cave complexes in Afghanistan and buildings in Iraq, but especially to blow doors open during entries and searches.Featuring specially commissioned full-color artwork, this is the story of the origins, development and use of the combat shotgun in US service, from the trenches of World War I to the cave complexes of Afghanistan.

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