No one has yet replaced the WHB Smith epic Small Arms of the World but, in its field, this new book comes very close. The WHB Smith covered small arms from the earliest weapons to the latest in both military and civilian use with detailed notes on operation and field stripping. This book has a narrower remit but covers the latest development and in-service infantry small arms. – Most Highly Recommended.
NAME: Infantry Small Arms of the 21st Century, Guns of the World's Armies FILE: R3095 AUTHOR: Leigh Neville PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PRICE: £30.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Pistols, sub-machineguns, rifles, sniper rifles, self-loading rifles, assault rifles, self-loading pistols, machine-pistols, machine-carbines, grenade launchers, combat shotguns
PAGES: 264 IMAGE: B3095.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/rt2ovef DESCRIPTION: No one has yet replaced the WHB Smith epic Small Arms of the World but, in its field, this new book comes very close. The WHB Smith covered small arms from the earliest weapons to the latest in both military and civilian use with detailed notes on operation and field stripping. This book has a narrower remit but covers the latest development and in-service infantry small arms. – Most Highly Recommended. The standard military weapons for millennia required strength and constant practice. With the exception of the dagger, weapons were too large to easily conceal and archers were unable to maintain a drawn bow for long. A further exception was the crossbow that could be cocked, ready to fire, and the pocket crossbow was considered revolutionary that a Pope banned it, using language now used to describe nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction. Gunpowder changed all of that because it offered a weapon that was available in several sizes and which did not require the strength or hours of practice that earlier weapons had demanded. From the Medieval Period to the mid 19th Century, black powder guns did have draw-backs. The powder had to be kept dry, the gun had to be handled with care once fully loaded, and the loading of the most common single barrel weapons was relatively slow. Multi-barrel and multi-round weapons were difficult to manufacture for reliable use. The first to become successful were the Colt and Remington cap and ball revolvers of the mid 19th Century. However, the answer was to be the metal cased cartridge that could be carried ready to load and where a revolver could be loaded with a full cylinder with five or six cartridges. The cap and ball Remington revolver was also modified to fire metal cartridges and its method of changing the cylinder allowed a user to load the revolver and also a number of spare cylinders, for rapid change as soon as the previous cylinder was empty, almost as rapidly as changing box magazines would later become. As cartridge loaded small arms became numerous, designers were able to make the next major step of magazines, belts and self loading actions which made it possible to produce pistols, rifles and machine guns that were reliable and effective. Those design basics still apply in the 21st Century but the first new weapons are slowly appearing. The H&K G11 has been one of the rifles to use caseless ammunition. This has not been without difficulties, mainly in achieving ammunition that leaves no residue in the chamber to jam later rounds. Dispensing with the metal case offers two advantages. The weight of ammunition is reduced, allowing a soldier to carry more rounds at a time, and the lack of a case means there is nothing to eject during firing. The latter might not seem significant, but it avoids a metal casing making a noise as it hits the ground or some other object, often the enduring problem for a sniper who can modify the sound of firing but still be betrayed by the noise of ejecting shell cases, if issued with a semi-automatic or automatic rifle. It also means that there is no need for an ejection port, reducing the opportunity for dirt to enter the action. The other new area of development is in energy weapons or laser rifles. We may be some way away from the science fiction ray gun, but the first laser rifles are now being tested and promise a new small arms revolution. However, the bulk of 21st Century infantry small arms show improvements in design and materials, new manufacturing techniques, but essentially providing weapons that follow the principles of the last 70 years. The author has provided very good descriptive coverage of modern infantry weapons with full colour photographs in illustration through the body of text. The casual reader may be surprised to find so many types of pistol in the age of the assault rifle, but the infantry soldier requires a range of weapons, personal and squad support weapons, making the pistol a very useful back-up weapon and for some purposes the primary weapon. Assault and sniper rifles have continued to be refined. The modern infantry soldier also requires specialist personal weapons in the form of combat shotguns for close quarter fighting and grenade launchers. These weapons in turn require support weapons for continuous fire and sub-machinegun and carbines for high fire rate personal use.