Monday, February 4, 2008

Baryshev AB-762 and AVB-762 assault rifles (Russia)

Baryshev AB-7,62 prototype assault rifle, chambered for 7,62x39 ammunition

Czech-made LCZ B20 (AVB-7,62) prototype automatic rifle, chambered for 7,62x51 NATO ammunition

Diagram from original patent, issued to Baryshev for his delayed-blowback action

AB-7,62 / LCZ B10 AVB-7,62 / LCZ B20
Caliber 7,62x39 M43 7,62x54R or 7,62x51 NATO
Overall length (stock open / folded) 960 / 710 mm 1000/ 750 mm
Barrel length 415 mm 455 mm
Weight, empty 3,6 kg 3,9 kg
Rate of fire 750 rounds per minute 750 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity 30 rounds 10 or 20 rounds

Anatoly F. Baryshev designed its original delayed-blowback action in early 1960s. His design was very unusual for the time, mostly in the fact that it was a private effort - a thing, rarely encountered in Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Baryshev managed to find some support in the higher ranks of Soviet Army. Several prototypes were built and tested. New action showed its major advance - a significant decrease in felt recoil, but otherwise it proved to be unreliable under harsh conditions and inaccurate in single shots. Army rejected the design, but Baryshev and his supporters had been trying to promote this design till late nineties. During early 1990s Baryshev also cooperated with Czech company LCZ Group, which manufactured several prototype rifles in calibers such as 7,62x39 and 7,62x51. These rifles were displayed on several military exhibitions, but found no buyers, and apparently were dropped by late 1990s. In the mean time, Baryshev designed an unique large handheld caliber weapon, which fired 12,7x108mm heavy machine gun of 30x25B grenade ammunition (change of caliber required change of barrel, magazine and bolt). Because of Baryshev recoil-reducing action, this weapon can be fired from the shoulder, but it still had all drawbacks of all other Baryshev weapons - that is, insufficient reliability and insufficient accuracy in single shots, and accurate burst fire was also all but impossible from such large-caliber but lightweight gun with limited magazine capacity. It must be noted that Baryshev system allowed to build lightweight fully automatic weapons in powerful "rifle" calibers such as 7,62x54R or 7,62x51, which were controllable in full automatic fire; but this was the only significant advantage of the system over other, more conventional systems.

Baryshev action is a delayed-blowback system which is fired from open bolt only. Bolt group consists of four parts - bolt with tilting head, inertia piece and locking lever. When gun is fired, bolt group is released and goes forward at once, stripping a fresh cartridge from magazine. At the end of loading cycle, bolt with its head was stopped at the breech, while inertia piece still moved forward, rotating the locking lever and bolt head. The pivoting locking lever struck the firing pin, and fired the cartridge. Recoil of the shot tried to pivot the bolt head, but this movement was resisted by the mass and velocity of the inertia piece. Once the inertia piece was stopped and its movement reversed by the blowback action of the cartridge, it turned the locking lever to disengage the bolt from receiver. Once bolt is released, entire bolt group is moved back under residual pressure in the chamber. This sounds complicated as is, and the system never impressed anyone other than few high-ranking officers in Soviet army.

Walther P99 pistol (Germany)

Walther P99 pistol (1st generation)

Walther P99 AS (Anti-Stress) pistol, 2nd generation

Walther P99 QA pistol

Walther P99 Compact DAO pistol, 2nd generation (note extended slide release lever, which is also duplicated on right side of the gun)

Type: Double Action
Caliber:9x19mm Para, .40SW
Length overall: 180mm
Weight: 720g unloaded
Barrel length : 102mm
Capacity: 16 rounds (9mm), 12 rounds (.40SW)

The P99 pistol was a rather radical step forward for the Walther company, made under new management. The development of a new pistol started in 1994 and the first production pistols were shown to public in 1997. The earliest pistols were made in 9mm, and a .40 S&W version appeared in 1999. By 2004, the Carl Walther company presented the second generation of the P99 pistols. These new guns had even better ergonomics, and new model designations – the old P99 was renamed (and slightly redesigned) to P99AS (Anti-Stress), the double-action only P990 turned into the P99DAO, and only the P99QA (Quick Action) retained its name. The second generation also included the P99 Compact pistols, apparently made with input from American company Smith & Wesson, as the basically similar SW99 Compact pistol appeared on the US market a little earlier. Smith & Wesson makes a close copy of the P99 as the SW99, using Walther-made polymer frames and its own slides and barrels of slightly different shape. S&W also makes a .45-calibre version of this pistol. 9mm P99 pistols also are manufactured under Walther’s licence in Poland, and are standard police sidearms there.

The Walther P99 is short-recoil operated, locked-breech pistol. It uses a modified Browning locking system, with the barrel engaging the slide with a single large lug entering the ejection window. The frame is made from polymer and has interchangeable grip backstraps. Three backstraps of different shape are included with each pistol, so users can adjust the grip to their own preferences. The trigger is striker-fired, with an automated firing pin block safety, and varies with the model. The standard P99 is double / single action with a decocking button. Earlier P990s and current production P99DAOs are double action only, and the P99DAO also features a slightly different automated safety built into the trigger. The third variation of the P99 family is the P99QA, which features a partially pre-cocked trigger for a constant trigger pull from the first to the last shot. One feature, unique to the P99 series pistol triggers, is that despite being striker-fired, these pistols do not require the user to press the trigger during disassembly to disconnect the sear from the firing pin. This is done by using the decocking button, built into the top of the slide. This button is relatively large on the standard P99, as it is routinely used to decock the striker, and much smaller on the P99QA, as it is used only during disassembly to disconnect the firing pin from the sear. The P99DAO does not have such button, as its firing pin is always disconnected from the sear and at rest, except for the time the trigger is being pressed. The most recent Anti-Stress feature is, in fact, a modification to the trigger system which makes the trigger pull for the first shot in Single Action mode much longer than for subsequent shots. The Anti-Stress feature is activated each time the pistol is reloaded. Another safety feature is a striker cocking indicator, made in the form of a small pin, which protrudes from the back of the slide when the striker is cocked. First generation pistols had a slide release only at the left side of the frame, second generation guns may have optional ambidextrous slide stop release levers which, combined with ambidextrous magazine release levers built into the base of the trigger-guard, make these pistols truly left-hand friendly. All variations of the P99 use adjustable rear sights with white inserts. Magazines are of double-stack design.

How to field-strip (disassemble) Walther P99: 1) remove the magazine by pressing the magazine release button; 2) check that the chamber is empty; 3) on P99, P99AS and P99QA, press the decocking button; 4) press down and hold the disassembly sliders, located at either side of the frame, above the trigger; 5) push the slide forward and out of the frame; 6) remove the return spring assembly from below the barrel; 7) remove the barrel from the slide.
Reassemble in reverse order.

Walther P38, P1 and P4 pistol (Germany)

Walther "Armee pistole" or AP in short, a direct predecessor to the P38. Note that it has concealed hammer

Walther "Heeres Pistole" or HP in short, an early commercial version, produced before its official adoption as P38

Walther P38, produced in 1944 for Hitler's army

Walther P1, a post-war military version of P38 with aluminum frame

Walther P4, a post-war police version of P38 with aluminum frame, shortened barrel and modified safety system

Walther P38K, a short-barreled version of P4 produced for KSK during early 1980s

Walther P38 partially disassembled

Walther P38, P1 Walther P4
Type Double action semiautomatic
Caliber 9x19 Luger / Parabellum
Weight empty 840 g (steel frame)
770 g (aluminum frame)
740 g
Length 216 mm 197 mm
Barrel length 125 mm 104 mm
Magazine capacity 8 rounds

The Walther P38 pistol was developed as a military pistol for the German army (Wehrmacht) during the late 1930s. It first appeared in 1938, and small numbers of the original HP (Heeres Pistole – army pistol) were bought by Sweden before the Wehrmacht adopted it as the Pistole 38 and took over all production guns. During the war, P38 pistols were made by a number of factories, including the Walther itself. After the war, most of the ex-Walther machinery ended up in France as war reparations, and many of the post-war P38 pistols were actually built in France, by the Manurhin factory.
In 1957 the newly formed Bundeswehr adopted a slightly modified P38 pistol with a lighter aluminum frame as the Pistole 1, or P1 in short. Commercial pistols were still manufactured under the original P38 designation. Most of the post-war P38 pistols were made with aluminum frames, only handful of commercial pistols were made with steel frames. There were a couple of modifications of the P38, intended for police use, which appeared during the 1970s. The first was the P4, the first pistol to conform to new German requirements for police sidearms. Actually, the P4 was the P38 (or P1) with barrel cut back by 25mm (1 inch), fitted with an automated firing pin safety and decock-only lever. Early P4 pistols were actually made using P38 components, including slides, and thus were marked “P38 IV” instead of more common “P4”.
Another, less well-known variation was the P38K (Kurz, for Short in German), made for some special users such as the KSK – an elite counter-terror unit. This was a P4 (rather than original P38) with the barrel cut down at the front of the slide, and it was intended for concealed carry. The front sight was mounted on the slide, unlike the full-size model. It must be noted that a similar model was produced in small numbers during WW2 for the Gestapo and other such organizations. Wartime Kurz P38’s differed from post-war version by having a slightly longer barrel with the front sight mounted on the barrel. However, the service life of police derivatives of the P38 was much shorter than of the military P1 – most P4 pistols were declared obsolete and sold as surplus during the 1980s, while the P1 served until 1995. The last commercial P38 pistol was manufactured in 2000.
While P38 pistols were in some aspects revolutionary in design and concept, their post-war P1 versions were less than popular in the Bundeswehr, deserving the unofficial description of “eight warning shots plus one aimed throw”. Also, these pistols showed a typical German obsession for unnecessary over-complication of design – for example, the P38 pistol had eleven springs (mostly of very small size) – about twice that of the older P08 Luger pistol it replaced in service. It also had plenty of small parts and pins that were easy to lose during full disassembly, and a firing pin of intricate shape that easily broke.

The Walther P38 is short-recoil operated, locked-breech pistol. The barrel is locked to the slide using a wedge-shaped locking piece, which can tilt up and down below the barrel, while following the inclined surfaces on the frame. When the barrel and slide are in battery, the locking piece is in its upper position, and its lugs securely lock the slide to the barrel. Upon recoil, the locking piece drops down and out of the engagement with the slide, unlocking it and allowing it to recoil and complete the reloading cycle. Because of the short slide, the P38 has two captive return springs, located on either side of the frame and inside the slide. With time it was found that the aluminum frame developed cracks in the most highly stressed area, where the locking piece and barrel were slamming against it on recoil, so the frames of late production pistols were reinforced with the addition of a hexagonal cross-pin, made from steel. The trigger is double-action, with an exposed hammer and trigger bar (the link between the trigger and sear) unusually located outside of the frame at the right side. The standard safety also acted as a decocker, and was located at the left side of the slide. On the P4 pistol, the slide lever retained only the decock function and, once pressed and released, automatically returned to the fire position. P4 pistols were also fitted with a firing pin block safety. Magazines were single-stack, with the magazine release located at the heel of the grip. The sights were fixed. P38 pistols were also fitted with a loaded chamber indicator in the form of a small pin that projected from the rear of the slide, above the hammer, when a cartridge was loaded in the chamber.

How to field-strip (disassemble) Walther P38: 1) remove the magazine by pressing the magazine release button; 2) check that the chamber is empty; 3) pull the slide all the way back and lock it there with slide stop lever; 4) turn the disassembly lever down and forwards (located at the front of the frame, on left side); 5) while holding the slide, release the slide stop lever and carefully ease the slide into battery, then push it forward and out of the frame; 6) turn the slide upside down, and push forward the small pin at the base of the barrel, this will unlock the barrel from the slide; 7) pull the barrel out of the slide.
Reassemble in reverse order.