Category Archive 'Arms and Armor'
04 Jul 2016

SAS Sergeant Kills Three Jihadis With Gurkha Knife

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Daily Star:

AN SAS soldier killed three Islamic State fighters with a Gurkha knife with the elite trooper decapitating one with a single swipe of the kukri after he was caught in an ambush in Iraq.

The sergeant, with 15 years’ combat experience, killed a further two gunmen and injured at least three others.

The attack occurred when Iraqi troops launched a massive assault on the besieged city of Fallujah, a key IS stronghold.

The SAS were acting as military advisors and leading small groups of Iraqi special forces.

During one attack, an SAS and Iraqi team entered a bombed-out factory hunting a sniper. But the troops were ambushed by IS gunmen and several Iraqi soldiers were killed and four seriously wounded.

The SAS soldier returned fi re as he dragged injured troops to safety before he was pinned down by enemy gun-fire.

When he ran out of ammo the IS gunmen attempted to capture him alive but instead the 27-year-old sergeant began lashing out with kukri, given to him by a British Gurkha soldier.

A senior defence source said: “As soon as his ammunition was expended, the IS gunmen tried to storm him.

“As they went to grab him he unsheathed his kukri and began slashing away.

“He decapitated the first gunman, slit the throat of second and killed another with a third blow. He then sliced away at three others.

“The IS gunmen fled in panic allowing the SAS soldier to carry the injured men to safety.

“He expected to be killed but thought he’d take as many of the enemy with him.

“When he was reunited with Iraqi troops they thought the he was seriously wounded because he was covered in blood but he explained that the blood wasn’t his.

“He cleaned his knife, grabbed some more ammo and then led another Iraqi special forces team into battle.”

The sergeant is now expected to receive a gallantry award from the Iraqi Army.

The Daily Star Sunday understands that the SAS man had taken his kukri on combat missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya but this was the first time that it had been used in battle.

He was given the knife by a Gurkha before he joined the SAS and was told that once unsheathed the knife must draw blood.

Full story.

01 Apr 2016

A Pair of Boutet Pistols Given to Simon Bolivar by Lafayette

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Christies, New York, 13 April 2016, Sale 11898, Lot 36:


With blued and gilt swamped octagonal barrels each cut with multi-groove rifling and decorated with gold-inlaid bands and finely engraved panels of foliage and Empire-style ornament, engraved and gilt breeches each struck with three maker’s marks, engraved and gilt tangs decorated en suite, silver fore-sights, blued flat bevelled locks each with roller, gold-lined rainproof priming-pan and fine gold-encrusted ornament involving foliage, a dragon and a wolf, the lower edge of each lock respectively signed ‘N.N. BOUTET A VERSAILLES’ and ‘MANUFACTURE ROYALE A VERSAILLES’ in gold, each with set trigger mounted on an engraved iron trigger-plate, exquisite silver mounts cast and chased with Classical ornament against a stippled gilt ground, comprising trigger-guards each with trophy of arms finial and winged deity with laurel wreath, rear ramrod pipes each with Medusa mask, pommels each with Hercules mask, and side-plates each depicting the mythical fight between the Centaurs and Lapiths at the wedding feast of Peirithous, original silver-mounted ramrods, and each with gold escutcheon mounted behind the barrel tang bearing the name ‘BOLIVAR’, in silver-bound close-fitted veneered case lined in green velvet, the lid with tooled and gilt red Morocco lining signed ‘MANUFACTURE ROYALE / à / VERSAILLES / 1825 / N.N. BOUTET / Le Dépôt de La a Paris. Rue Des Filles St. Thomas No.23’, the exterior with silver escutcheon signed ‘N.N. BOUTET A VERSAILLES’ with accessories including silver-gilt-mounted powder-flask with sprung nozzle and case-hardened bullet-mould, Paris silver marks for circa 1809-1818


Gifted by General Gilbert Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, to Simón Bolívar, El Libertador, in 1825

Gifted (before 1830) by Simón Bolívar to Jose Ignacio Paris (d. 1848)
Enriqué Paris, son, by descent
By whom sold to Enriqué Grice (d. 1860), 7 July 1851
The collection of William Goodwin Renwick (1886-1971)
Sold Sotheby’s London, Highly Important Firearms from the collection of the late William Goodwin Renwick (European, Part III), 19 March 1973, lot 21
The collection of Clay P. Bedford (1903-1991)
A private Latin American collection
A private American collection

Estimate $1,500,000 – $2,500,000

18 Feb 2016

WWII Randall Zacharias Fighter

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Mitchell Harrison on Facebook recently

The Zacharias Fighter is arguably the most iconic knife Randall ever made. It was the original DNA for the Model #1 All Purpose Fighting Knife and the military models that followed. Bo Randall’s WW2 fighting knives are what started the legend.

Bob Gaddis writes in his book that Army Lt. James H. Zacharias came to Bo in mid 1942 requesting a combat knife. Bo and the Lt. penciled out a knife designed to slash and thrust, yet be tough enough to open cans, ammo boxes and handle any other field duty required.

According to Gaddis on June 15, 1942, Bo logged his order book with “1 special made Jap sticker”, then in November 1942 and January 1943 he logged a total of 3 more for Lt. Zacharias (a total of 4). There is a picture of a Zacharias style fighter on page 67. No one knows if the pictured knife is one of the original 4, but it’s obviously a very early knife. There is a lot more detail in Bob’s book and I encourage you to get it. Well worth the money. …

[The original Zacharias Randall has these features:]

-It is a double pinned stag handle
-The finger grips are on the top for an edge up fighting grip
-The choil is a double step, very similar to the pre-war hunters
-The sheath is a Clarence Moore, but it has had additional lacing added to the edges
-The blade is “fullered” (some called it a blood groove)
-The hilt is asymmetrical with a teardrop shaped lower quillon
-Lt. Zacharias’ initials are carved in the butt and filled with some sort of red material


Based on the people I have asked, this is the only known example of the original 4 knives…… Until now. …

This knife turned up in an obscure gun auction. All I know at this point is the man recently passed and the family auctioned his guns and this knife. The auction house would not give me his name, but did verify that he was a Marine and his Initials were J.R.C. I am fairly certain he was the original owner of the knife. The auction company has forwarded my contact info to the family, so there may be more forthcoming.

Things to note:

-It is a double pinned stag handle
-The finger grips are on the top for an edge up fighting grip
-The choil is a double step, very similar to the pre-war hunters
-The sheath is a Clarence Moore which was obviously custom made to match the hilt
-The hilt is asymmetrical with a teardrop shaped lower quillon
-Initials are carved in the butt and filled with some sort of red material

I can’t prove it, but I am convinced that this is one of the first 4 knives based on the matching initials in the butts. Could these [both] knives have been together in WW2 when two servicemen personalized them with identical red block initials? Perhaps I will hear from the family and be able to tie the owner’s record with that of Lt. Zacharias. We’ll see.

Obviously I am very proud and excited to add this knife to my collection.

30 Jan 2016

The Harriet Dean Sword

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This 600-year-old Italian broadsword (Oakeshott Type XVIIIC) came out of the armory at Alexandria, having been made as a diplomatic gift from the king of Cyprus to the Mamluke Sultan of Egypt in 1419. It became part of the collection of the renowned arms historian Bashford Dean (1867-1928) and was left by him to his sister Harriet Martine Dean. Harriet died in 1943 and the sword was sold into an unknown private collection from which it recently emerged.

Nerdlist article

The sword sold last December 17 for 386,500 pounds (529,923 Euros — roughly $550,310).

Christie’s Howard Dixon discusses the sword’s consignment and identification.

08 Jan 2016

Using the Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Knife

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The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife is a stiletto with an overall length of 11.5 inches and a double-edged blade of 7 inches. There are a number of variations which include such differences as minor changes in the length of the blade, the design and shape of the pommel, manufacturer’s stamps, and handles that have different grip patterns and materials (metal, wood, and compressed leather washers).

The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife was designed by William Ewart Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes, and was based on the Shanghai Fighting Knife they designed while serving as constables in the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP), the multinational police force of Shanghai’s international community. Prior to World War II, Shanghai had the reputation of being the most dangerous city in the world.

Christopher Lee evidently used one during WWII. The Week:

Long before he embarked on his illustrious acting career, Christopher Lee… was a member of the British Special Forces in World War II, a unit that engaged in acts of espionage and subterfuge against the Third Reich, including blowing up bridges, disrupting supply lines, and, yes, killing Nazis.

It turns out his experiences in warfare came in handy in the filming of The Lord of the Rings, when his character Saruman was stabbed in the back by Grima Wormtongue in a scene that was not included in the theatrical release. As director Peter Jackson explained in the movie’s DVD commentary, he tried to get Lee to scream as he was stabbed, only to be corrected. “Have you any idea what kind of noise happens when somebody’s stabbed in the back?” Lee said he asked Jackson. “Because I do. [I]t’s more of a gasp because the breath is driven out of your body.”

Trooper Stan W Scott, No. 3 Army Commando, demonstrates how to use the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife.

06 Jan 2016

Powder Horn Used at the Battle of Concord, April 19, 1775

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By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

At James D. Julia’s Winter Fine Arts, Asia, Antiques Auction, February 3,4, & 5, 2016, Lot 2026:


In untouched, original condition and inscribed “Oliver Buttrick, OCT. 1774”, this important powder horn was carried at the first battle of the American Revolution. Early in April, 1775 word was passed on to the British command that rebel colonists had amassed arms and powder now hidden in Concord, MA. Lt. Col. Francis Smith was commander of about 700 British army regulars in Boston and on the morning of April 19th an expedition would march from Boston to Concord to capture and destroy these arms. Word of this action was discovered by the colonists and immediately spread to local militias. One of those individuals responsible for the alarm was Paul Revere who was immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”. The British arrived at Lexington first, however the minuteman militia had not had ample time to assemble in force and fell back. The British regulars then moved on to Concord. Concord however, was a different story. Enough time had passed so that a large contingent of minutemen had been alerted and a formidable force held the North Bridge in Concord defying the British regulars. The confrontation eventually erupted into gun fire which became known as “the shot heard round the world”. This historic battle is known as the first true major military engagement of defiance from the colonists with the British Empire. As such some consider it the most important military engagement in the annals of the evolution of the United States. Young Oliver Buttrick was one of seven Buttrick family members to join with other minutemen in this historic conflict. Oliver’s uncle, Major John Buttrick led the advance at the Old North Bridge that day. As referenced in his detailed pension application of 1834, Oliver was in David Brown’s Company and served alongside his brother William, who was killed three weeks later at Bunker Hill. Fellow Minutemen that day included Abiel Buttrick, Daniel Buttrick, Tilly Buttrick, Willard Buttrick and John Buttrick, Jr. (the 14-year old fifer). …

Oliver Buttrick fought in such celebrated arenas as Point Shirley, Bennington, Ticonderoga, Fishkills, and Soldiers Fortune (near West Point). He also performed guard duty on a prison ship in Boston Harbor. The date on the horn is significant. Unrest among the Patriots started years before this first skirmish. In the summer and fall of 1774, rebellion was at fever pitch. In fact, on October 4, 1774, the recently formed Massachusetts Provincial Congress issued what amounted to its own declaration of independence and on October 24, 1774, that same angry and determined Congress authorized the procurement or armaments. 18th Century American soldiers and militiamen identified their horns with their name and often the date it was made. The use of inked vellum under glass lens was a rare form of decoration and seen on only a few other 18th Century examples. This powder horn is among the few existing objects that can be directly associated with the first Battle for American Independence and to our knowledge this powder horn is the only Colonial horn used at this historic confrontation to ever be offered for sale. In fact, to our knowledge, nothing used by a minuteman at the Concord engagement has been sold at auction in many years. …

CONDITION: Very good with original surface, minor cracking and chipping near lip. Wood bezel has two chips which are well patinated as can be seen in photos and glass cover lens has a vertical crack. Original bailing wire loops are still present with smooth iron patina. 49789-5 (20,000-50,000)


21 Dec 2015

Medieval Poleaxe with Chemical Weapon

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From Fiore Furlano de’i Liberi’s (c. 1340s-1420s) The Flower of Battle, Axe in Armor, 16:

MS Ludwig XV 13 (Getty)

Questa mia azza era piena de polvere e si è la ditta azza busada intorno intorno et è questa polvere sì forte corrosiva che subito come ella tocha l’ochio, l’omo per nissun modo nol pò avrire e fuorse may non vederà più.

E azza son ponderosa crudele e mortale, mazori colpi fazo che altra arma manuale. E se io falisco lo primo colpo che vegno a fare la azza m’è di danno e niente più non vale. E se io fiero lo primo colpo ch’io fazzo tutte le altre arme manuale io cavo d’impazo. E se son cum bone arme ben acompagnada per mia deffesa piglio le guardie pulsative de spada. Signore nobilissimo Signor mio Marchese assay chose sono in questo libro che voy tale malicie non le fareste. Ma per più savere, piazavi di vederle.

This poleaxe of mine is full of powder and the said poleaxe has holes around. And this powder is so strong and corrosive that immediately as it touches the eye, the man cannot open it in any way, and maybe will not be able to see anymore.

And it is a heavy, cruel and mortal poleaxe, better blows it makes than other manual weapons. And if it fails the first strike that it comes to do, the poleaxe will still do damage and the opponent will be no more of any use. And if you fiercely make the first blow, you will avoid trouble from all the other manual weapons. And if accompanied with good armor for defense it will stand up to the hammer blows of swords. Very noble Lord, my Lord Marchese, there are many things in this book, featuring such malicious things as you would not do yourself. But to understand them better, please read of them.

MS Ludwig XV 13 (Getty)

Questa è la polvere che va in l’azza penta qui sopra. Piglia lo latte delo titimallo, e seccalo al sole overo in forno caldo e fane polvere, e piglia di questa polvere uno V e una onza de polvere d’fior d’preda, e mescola insembre, e questa polvere si de’ metter in la azza qui de sopra, ben che se pò far cum ogni rutorio che sia fino, che ben ne troverà di fini in questo libro.

This is the powder that goes into the poleaxe drawn above. Take the milk of the titimallo [some member of the spurge family of plants (genus Euphorbia)], and dry it over a warm oven and make it powdery, and take two ounces of this powder and one ounce of powder of the fior di preda, and mix them together. And put this powder in the axe which is above, as you can do it well with any ?rutorio? that is sharp, because you can find sharp things well in this book.

22 Nov 2015

Grutte Pier’s Sword


The zweihänder sword that belonged to Grutte Pier (1480-1520), Friesian pirate and warlord.


[A] great sword that is said to have belonged to Pier is on display at the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden. It measures 2.15 metres (7 ft) in length and weighs about 6.6 kilograms (14.6 lb). Some sources put his height at 7 ft.[20] Pier was alleged to be so strong that he could bend coins using just his thumb, index and middle finger. A huge helmet said to be Grutte Pier’s is kept in the town hall of Sneek. …

    Thee I’ll follow, noble Peter,
    Thou wert nobler far and greater,
    Than the noblest, home-kept lord,
    Battling like an ancient Roman,
    For his country with her foeman,
    Whom he chased with fire and sword.
18 Nov 2015

Flintlock Lantern Pistol

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Czernys International Auction House, Auction 55- Fine and Scarce Antique Arms & Armour, Saturday, December 12, 2015, Lot 252:

Circa 1800 provenance: Italy Smooth, round, 17 mm (.669) cal. barrel; flintlock (the screw of the hammer is missing), wooden stock with iron ramrod. On top of the lock is the grip, laced perpendicularly on the weapon, provided with iron guard and trigger; in front of the grip is an iron lamp with candle holder and lens, with opening screen and double cover. dimensions: length 30.5 cm (12″).

05 Nov 2015

Roman Cavalry Helmet


Roman Phrygian Type Bronze Cavalry Helmet, 100-250 AD. The helmet, terminating into the head of an eagle, has images of winged Victory. Warriors adorn the cheekpieces. Musee d’Art Classique de Mougins.

30 Oct 2015

Henry V’s Sword Displayed

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Henry V’s sword. Analysis


King Henry V’s sword was carried through London’s Westminster Abbey on Thursday as England celebrated the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, one of its greatest-ever victories in war.

A service was held in the royal church where the king is buried, six centuries on from the day when news of the victory arrived in London, triggering joyous celebrations.

The battle on October 25, 1415 saw a heavily-outnumbered and exhausted English army inflict a catastrophic defeat on the French that altered the course of the Hundred Years’ War.

King Henry was 28 and two years into his nine-year reign. His longbow archers routed the French nobility.

Westminster Abbey holds king Henry’s “funerary achievements” — the personal items carried at his funeral, namely his sword, shield, saddle and helmet.

His sword was carried through the church once again and placed on the altar next to his helmet.

Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, joined around 2,200 people at the service, many of whom were history buffs who snapped up the tickets.

The choir sang “The Agincourt Carol” in its original 15th-century English.

It begins: “Owre kynge went forth to Normandy / With grace and myght of chyvalry / There God for hym wrought mervelusly / Wherefore Englonde may calle and cry / Deo gratias!”


27 Oct 2015

US Military Small Arms Need Replacing

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Jim Schatz, in National Defense, makes an irrefutable case for replacing US primary-issue small arms. US forces need a more reliable rifle and both new rifles and new pistols firing more potent rounds.

Since the end of World War II, only 10 U.S tank crew members have been killed in warfare. This is an amazing testament to fighting vehicle technology and the money spent to develop and sustain that tactical edge over our enemies.

In that same period, the United States has lost some 60,000 soldiers in small arms engagements, an approximate one for one exchange.

Few foes on the planet could hope to dominate America in a tank, air or naval battle. Yet every bad actor with an AK-47 takes on U.S. and NATO ground forces in a small arms fight. We are no longer suitably armed to prevent it.

This happens because the current U.S. Army small arms development and acquisition system is dysfunctional and virtually unworkable, even for those within the system. It has not brought troops substantial evolutionary small arms and ammunition capabilities in years, or even decades, and too often not at all, and almost never on or under budget. Lives are often lost as a result. …

Small arms are the most deployed weapon systems in our arsenal, yet the age of America’s eight most numerous conventional military small arms are on average more than 35 years old. While we have replaced uniforms, helmets, body armor, radios, rations and footwear countless times in three decades, the weapons and ammunition we use in 2015 are little more than variants of Vietnam-era technology possessing the antiquated capabilities of a bygone era.

The Army continues to procure weapons with old performance specifications that have been repeatedly eclipsed by superior commercial small arms used by our allies, our top-tier special operations forces and sometimes by our enemies. Elite units — with a few exceptions — do not use the standard-issue U.S. Army small arms or ammunition. Why? Because they are inferior to the more advanced weapons selected by these units. There is a fundamental difference between their acquisition process and that of the “Big Army,” where there are hundreds of decisions makers and countless agencies and offices involved.

Read the whole thing.

Schatz doesn’t get into it, but I think the root of the problem is cultural. America has become, in recent decades, much more a nation of metrosexuals than a nation of riflemen. The shooting sports are completely alien to the largest urbanized sector of American society.

We now have to look to Germany & Italy to buy military-quality small arms. Colt is in bankruptcy. The Winchester factory in New Haven closed years ago, and Winchester today is just a revived trade name building its products in Japan. The American chattering classes are not concerned in the slightest with feminization of American men or the decline of our domestic arms industry. They’d like to confiscate and destroy all our guns.

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