Nathaniel Fitch and Arthur Wilderson with Cody curator Ashley Hlebinsky. Arthur writes:
“We took this picture in one of the basement vaults-within-a-vault at the Buffalo Bill Museum of the West in Cody, WY. Nathaniel managed to get us in with a few phone calls. The lady in front is Ashley Hlebinsky, the curator of the firearms wing of the museum.
The museum has the entire original Winchester-Olin collection, plus quite a bit more that it has acquired or that has been donated to it over time.
The rifle I have is a later model of EM-2, a British rifle design from the early 1950s intended to replace the old SMLE. This design was unsuccessful, and the British ultimately adopted the Belgian FAL design (which was called the SLR in British service). Early EM-2s were made in a .280 caliber, but this later one is in .308 Win/7.62x51mm NATO. The design was innovative, but in my opinion too fragile and very poorly suited to mass production. As a British design, I am not quite sure how this particular example ended up at the museum.
Nathaniel is holding a Winchester SPIW prototype. The Special Purpose Individual Weapon program was an attempt to replace the M14 with an extremely ambitious combined rifle and grenade launcher. It was initially championed by Robert McNamara. In addition, the rifle was to fire flechettes, little fin-stabilized darts, instead of conventional bullets. In the meantime, the AR-15/M16 was acquired (by rather complicated, torturous path) as a stop-gap. McNamara greatly disliked the M14, which had been suffering quite a few budget and production problems of its own. In the end, SPIW failed to materialize and the US military kept the M16.
Ashley is holding the Winchester Liberator shotgun. This was an idea for a derringer-type multi barrel shotgun that could be given to insurgent forces. The reasoning was that someone with no firearms training whatsoever was more likely to inflict damage with a fast-firing shotgun than with a pistol or submachine gun. In addition the design was fabulously cheap to make, and great loads of them could be made without serial numbers and delivered to, say, Hmongs or something. Without any manufacturers markings it would be difficult to prove that these primitive weapons had come from the USA. By the time the design was perfected, however, the Vietnam War had really heated up and there was no point trying to hide the delivery of weapons to US allies.”
They always find SOMETHING original..
With my inability to type getting to the point where I have to hire a stenographer to do my next two books, don’t expect blogging to be too regular or too long.
Nevertheless, I still keep getting good books from my friends and friendly publishers and I must notice them. This is especially true when they are among the best books that their writer has ever written, or the only one of their kind.
Tommy McIntyre’s August in Africa is such a book. I’m confident when I say it is his best book. Despite my love for that little Asian gem, A Snow Leopard’s Tale, it is one of the two or three best books written about Africa by an American. Maybe in time, its autumnal tone will make it the best. If you have any interest in Africa at all, try this book and read his prologue. If you don’t like that, I’ll give you your money back.
John Barsness and Eileen Clarke, are our foremost practical hunting and writing team, and they write well too. That John was a poet before he was a professional shooting writer, and Eileen was a vegetarian grad student from New York, may or may not be relevant. For thirty-odd years, they have not only made a good living from outdoor writing, they’ve eaten virtually nothing but game. John’s most recent book is The Big Book of Gun Gack: The Hunter’s Guide to Handloading Smokeless Rifle Cartridges. Suffice it to say that my local friend John Besse, the best gunsmith that I know and a lifelong handloader, told it me it was the only readable book on handloading he had ever read in his life.
Eileen’s is Tenderize the Wild: Marinades, Brines, and Rubs for Wild Game. Eileen’s books are the only absoilutely essential wild cookbooks I know. She is still the only person that puts enough fat in game sausage. I love Hank Shaw and the west coast foodie hunting writers,but there is something a little nuevo about them. I recently referred to rare, wild duck as “Russell Chatham duck” in honor of Russell’s famous “The Great Duck Misunderstanding.” Hank said “You mean “Hank Shaw Duck”. Turns out he had never heard of Russell, never mind the story. Back then, Eileen was already acting out her crawl after pronghorn, complete with toughing out cactus spines crawling across our living room floor. I’ve only had this book a week and have already used it. Both are available from their site “Rifles and Recipes”.
Also, check out Brave and Loyal, Cat Urbigkit’s book about flock protection dogs. I’ve written about it here, but it’s a good one to visit again.
And don’t expect photos for a while. My camera was stolen.