Schwarzlose Followup – and the More Things Change…

When we went to the range to do our video on the Schwarzlose 1908 that you saw yesterday, we didn’t have our slow-motion-capable camera along. I knew it would be great to get some slow footage of that action, so we took it back out with the other camera to rectify the problem. This footage is at 1/4 speed, and things are still moving really fast – the rifle actions we film are downright lethargic by comparison. The last clip is slowed down to about 1/12th speed, and it gives the best view of the workings:

On another subject, have you considered just how few new developments there are in the world of gun design? I know I’ve talked about this before, but it jumped back out at me again on my most recent trip to the range. I had the Schwarzlose 1908 to do the above footage, and I also had along a Boberg XR9-L. The Boberg is a mechanically really neat new pistol that uses a rotating barrel and a feed system that pulls rounds backwards out of the mag. A lot of development went into getting that feed system working right, and all so that the barrel could be a little bit longer than in a conventional design (since the cartridges are pulled backwards and then lifted up to the bore, the barrel can extend back over the magazine).

Ultimately, it’s enough to get a 4″ barrel in a 6″ OAL pistol – not bad. But the goal of maximizing barrel length relative to overall length is not a new one to designers: Schwarzlose used his blow-forward action to the very same end. In fact, back in 1908 he managed a 4″ barrel in a 5.6″ OAL. Hopefully Boberg can take consolation from the fact that their pistol is in 9×19, while the Schwarzlose is in the smaller .32 ACP.

Boberg XR9-L and Schwarzlose 1908
Boberg XR9-L and Schwarzlose 1908: almost identical barrel lengths

The system used by the Boberg is conceptually pretty similar to the Mars, which dates back to 1898. The Mars wasn’t trying to be a concealable piece, but the loading system is the same basic idea, and the Mars also boasts a long barrel compared to its OAL.

Short of new developments in materials science and the true utilization of electronic fire control systems (which is seriously handicapped by BATF full-auto conversion rules), I think we have pretty much found all the mechanisms that can be used to make a self-loading firearm. All we have left to do (indeed, all we have done for a while now) is recycle them in new combinations and squeeze the last few percentage points of efficiency out of them.