Saturday, 19 September 2015

Artificer's Almanac Episode 6: Gunslinger Girl

Following on with the themes of the last few episodes, today we are going to be looking at another Anime; Gunslinger Girl.

Gunslinger Girl is an anime series following the tale of cybernetic girls trained by the Italian government to kill, apprehend, or stop plots by the right-wing separatist movement Five Republics Faction ( nickname: Padania), a terrorist group to the eyes of the Italian government. The show consists of five main girls, Henrietta, Rico, Triela, Angelica, and Claes; each has their own history of being there.

A lot of the characters can utilise five or six weapons so for this blog I will focus on their sidearm and primary weapon that you see them use in the majority of the episodes.

Most of the girls carry two weapons, a side arm and a main weapon. Throughout the series, Henrietta users a two-tone SIG-Sauer P239 chambered in 9x19mm.

The SIG-Sauer range of pistols are Austrian in make and very popular with American Law Enforcement, they have been the service pistol for the Secret Service for well over 30 years. The P329 is known as a sub-compact pistol measuring only 168mm in length and 132mm in height making it larger enough for bigger hands to hold in a comfortable manner but small enough to be used with concealed carry. The P239 comes in three calibres: 9x19mm, .357 SIG and .40 S&W.

Henrietta as mentioned earlier carries the 9mm variant and thus has a carrying capacity of eight rounds, seven in the magazine and one in the chamber. It also appears that Henrietta’s P239 is a Double Action.

A single-action (SA) trigger performs the single action of releasing the hammer or striker to discharge the firearm each time the trigger is pulled, a double-action, also known as double-action only (DAO) to prevent confusion with DA/SA designs, is similar to a DA revolver trigger mechanism. The trigger both cocks and releases the hammer or striker. However, there is no single-action function. A double-action/single-action (DA/SA) firearm combines the features of both mechanisms. Often called traditional double-action, these terms apply almost exclusively to semi-automatic handguns. The function of this trigger mechanism is identical to a DA revolver. However, the firing mechanism automatically cocks the hammer or striker after the gun is fired. This mechanism will cock and release the hammer when the hammer is in the down position, but, on each subsequent shot, the trigger will function as a single-action.

SIG actually released their own variation of the double action only pistol called the DAK (Double Action Kellerman {coming from the designer}).  When firing the pistol the first trigger pull is 6.5 lbs (compared to 10 pounds for the standard DAO). After the pistol fires and the trigger is released forward, the trigger has an intermediate reset point that is approximately halfway to the trigger at rest position. The trigger pull from this intermediate reset point is 8.5 lbs (38 N). If the trigger is released all the way forward, this will engage the primary trigger reset and have a trigger pull of 6.5 lbs.

Henrietta’s Main Weapon is a FN P90 which is classed as a personal defence weapon, (think a mix between a sub-machine gun and a carbine). She carries it around in a violin case when in public so not to arouse suspicion.

The P90 is Belgian in origin and was created in response to NATO requests for 9x19mm firearms (even though 9x19mm firearms are still in use). The P90 was developed in conjunction in Five-Seven and for the FN 5.7x28mm ammunition.
Featuring a compact bullpup design with an integrated reflex sight and fully ambidextrous controls, the P90 is an unconventional weapon with a futuristic appearance. Its design incorporates several innovations such as a unique top-mounted magazine and FN's small-calibre, high-velocity 5.7×28mm ammunition.

The 5.7x28mm cartridge was designed to have greater range, accuracy, terminal performance than the 9x19mm and also have the capability to penetrate body armour.
The P90 is currently in service with military and police forces in over 40 nations, such as Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, India, Malaysia, Poland, and the United States. In the United States, the P90 is in use with over 200 law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service.
This weapon has a blistering fire rate at 900 rounds a minute and an average muzzle velocity of 715 m/s.

The unusual shape is based on extensive ergonomic research, as you can see from the photo the weapon is grasped via the thumbhole which acts as a pistol grip, the trigger guard is oversized so it can act as a foregrip for the support hand of the user. The P90 fires from a closed bolt for maximum accuracy and the fact the frame and a lot of the ancillary parts, makes the weapon light and relatively cheap. It weighs 3kg while loaded (holding fifty rounds when loaded).

The P90 has three odd features, the first being the unique and small calibre of ammunition, the second being the fact that the weapon is fully ambidextrous. A lot of ambidextrous guns require some slight modifcations such as moving the charging handle, however with the P90 the charging handle, the magazine release and iron sights are equally distributed on both sides of the weapon while the fire selector is located in the trigger card and can be operated from both sides.

Spent cartridges are ejected downwards from a chute located behind the grip, the idea being to keep the spent cartridges out of the line of sight of the shooter.
The third odd feature is the magazine of the P90, it is a top loaded magazine which is pretty uncommon. It is a detachable box magazine which is mounted parallel to the barrel, fitting flush with the frame. As mentioned earlier the magazine holds fifty rounds, which lie in two rows (similar to a double stacked magazine with the bullets facing at ninety degrees to the left. As the cartridges are pushed by the spring and arrive at the top of the magazine, they enter a spiral feed ramp and are rotated by ninety degrees aligning them with the chamber, like the firearm the magazine is polymer and is translucent so the user can identify how much ammunition is remaining.

Triela, like Henrietta uses a SIG-Sauer Sidearm. This being a P230SL.
The P230SL was designed as a simple fixed barrel, straight blow-back configuration. It has a strong reputation as a well-built firearm and completes with the small Walther PPK, its narrow frame and slide (30mm) makes it an amazing concealed carry weapon.

The weapon is available in both blued and stainless finishes (Triela sports a stainless finish) and for a small firearm it has a rather larger trigger pull on 5.5lb in single action and has the capability to be used in single action and double action. Pulling the slide backwards will cock the hammer, readying the firearm for single action for a crisp trigger setting. The double action pull is longer and much more stiff but still allows for a smooth pull. The P230SL has no external safety mechanism but it does have a de-cocking lever located just above the shooters hand on the right side (so not particularly helpful for lefties (which Triela appears to be). The idea of a de-cocking level is that the lever causes the hammer to fall forwards but is then retained off the firing pin (in a half cock) position.

The P230SL comes in .32 ACP and .380 Auto, it is unknown what calibre Triela prefers and each calibre has the following ammunition capacities: eight round magazine for .32 ACP and seven round magazine for the .380 Auto.

Triela’s main firearm is something that matchers her personality, she is a touch brash and sarcastic so a shotgun would suit her perfectly, and not any shotgun one of the first commercially available Military shotguns the Winchester 1897 Trench Gun (also she uses the M1987 Bayonet with it).

Now the 1897 was made by the Winchester Rifle company and was an evolution of the 1983 designed by John Browning. If you have an interest in firearms, John Browning’s name will appear quite a lot.

The 1897 was a pump action shotgun with a tube magazine chambered primarily in 12 and 16 bore (remember with shotguns, normally the bigger the bore number the smaller the size). The Model 1897 was first listed for sale in the November 1897 Winchester catalogue as a 12 bore solid frame. However, the 12 bore takedown was added in October 1898, and the 16 bore takedown in February 1900.
This shotgun came in a variety of styles:

•    Standard
•    Trap
•    Pigeon
•    Tournament
•    Brush
•    Brush Takedown
•    Riot
•    Trench

We are going to focus on the trench variety in a little more detail.

As you can gather the 1897 was extremely popular for its durability and its reasonable pricing, but after World War I broke out, the sales for this model picked up at an alarming rate. Thus was due to the Winchester Company being selected to be the main provider of shotguns to the US military. Also one factor was reports from front line troops indicating the brutality of trench warfare and the need for a large amount of close range firepower,

The Model 1897 Trench grade was an evolution of this idea. The pre-existing Winchester Model 1897 was modified by adding a perforated steel heat shield over the barrel which protected the hand of the user from the barrel when it became over-heated, and an adapter with bayonet lug for affixing an M1917 bayonet.
Buckshot Ammo was issued as standard (buckshot means that each cartridge contains nine lead balls at .33 calibre (8.38mm wide), this increased the firepower of the weapon.

Unlike most modern pump-action shotguns, the Winchester Model 1897 (versions of which were type classified as the Model 97 or M97 for short) fired each time the action closed with the trigger depressed (that is, it lacks a trigger disconnector and is capable of slamfire). Coupled with its six-shot capacity made it effective for close combat, such that troops referred to it as a "trench sweeper". The slamfire allowed troops to empty the whole magazine tube into enemies with great speed. The Model 1897 was so effective, and feared, that the German government protested (in vain) to have it outlawed in combat.

Rico’s side arm is a CZ75 a Czechoslovakian pistol. It features a staged double column magazine and is hammer forged. It was, and still is one of the most popular pistols in Czechoslovakia. This pistol is much revered in the area as it helped stabilise the economy during the 40s and 50’s as it was one of the country’s main exports as well as the BREN gun.

The operation of this pistol is rather interesting it uses a cam system developed by John Browning which is commonly found in the Browning Hi-Power, the way that this cam functions is that it locks the barrel and the slide are locked together on firing, this occurs due to milled locking nugs on the barrel engaging into milled recesses on the slide. After the first few millimetres of the recoil stroke, the barrel is cammed downwards at the rear, enabling the slide to continue the recoil stroke and eject the spent cartridge.
Most models have the capability of being fired in both single and double-action modes.

This pistol was one of the first 9mm semi-automatic pistols to not only have a relatively high capacity magazine they could be carried with a round in the chamber and the safety engaged, meaning that the firer only needs to disengage the safety to make the gun ready to fire, this method of carry is known as ‘Cocked and Locked’ or ‘Condition 1’ for the more tactically minded.

Rico’s main weapon is a Sniper Rifle of Russian Origin, the Dragunov SVD. This is a semi-automatic gas operated rotating bolt rifle that has a magazine capacity of 10 rounds and fires the 7.62 x 54R round. After discharging the last cartridge from the magazine, the bolt carrier and bolt are held back on a bolt catch that is released by pulling the cocking handle to the rear.

The Dragunov is iconic for many reasons, it has featured in many wars, many confrontations, many games and many movies. It is also iconic for its rather novel design. Most sniper rifles are designed for highly specialised teams. For example a lot of western militaries will have a dedicated platoon in each regiment that is trained to be long range combatants. However the Dragunov was designed for any marksman in the group, in the Russian Military, marksman were estimated to have fifty percent chance at hitting a; standing, man sized target at 800m and a eighty percent chance of hits the same target at 500m.

So thus as a lot of Russian troops could attain that accuracy many rifles were made and thus they were made to be relatively light but well balanced, thus making it easy to use in dynamic battle situations, also where it is semi-automatic it allows for harassing fire as well as precise targeting.

It has a relatively light barrel profile; its precision is good, but not exceptional. Like an assault rifle, the rifle has mounts on the barrel to fix a bayonet. The standard AKM bayonet can even be used to cut electrified barbed wire. Lastly, the rifle was meant to be a relatively cheap mass-produced firearm.

This ability to harass targets became part of the original Russian Doctrine. . A relatively small number of marksmen could assist conventional troops by combating or harassing valuable targets and assets such as: key enemy personnel like officers, non-commissioned officers and radio operators, exposed tank commanders, designated marksmen and snipers, machinegun teams, anti-tank warfare teams, and the like. If however there are 
none of these targets available the marksman can assist the main body of troops.

Angelica users the Beretta Cheetah or the ‘Series 80’.
These pistols were a line of compact, blowback, semi-automatic made by Beretta of Italy. These pistols have been around for a long time as they were introduced in 1976 and a lot of the models came in a variety of calibres. Beretta discontinued the Cheetah in the United States in 2013 but thet are still available in Europe.
Angelica actually uses the Series 84 version of the Cheetah which was the largest of the series, it features a double stacked magazine holding 13 rounds and was chambered for .380 ACP (9mm Short).

Angelica’s main weapon is the Steyr AUG, which is an Austrian Bullpup Rifle chambered in 5.56x45mm. It was designed in the 1960’s by the Steyr Mannlicher company. AUG stands for Armee-Universal-Gewher, or universal Army Rifle and was adopted in 1978.

The rifle has a progressive trigger, meaning that depressing it halfway will actuate semi-automatic fire while a full depression is automatic fire. There is a cross bolt button safety located immediately above the hand grip. The Rifle is fed from double column magazines that have a 30 round capacity and an unloaded magazine weighs 130g. The original AUG had an integrated 1.5x telescopic sight mounted onto the receiver, this optic was also made by a Swiss company (Swaroski Optik’s), it contains a single black reticle with a basic 300m range finder, it has no capability for distance adjustment, but it can be adjusted for elevation and windage. The AUG that Angelica uses is the A2 variant, this means that the integrated sight is replaced with a standard picatinny rail allowing for the addition of a variety of optics, sights or other accessories.
The rifle comes standard with four magazines, a muzzle cap, spare bolt for left-handed shooters, blank-firing adaptor, cleaning kit, sling and either an American M7 or German KCB-77 M1 bayonet.

The rifle is designed to be modular, thus it is fully ambidextrous, it can also be converted from a rifle to light machine gun by changing out the barrel and magazine, to convert to a sub-machine gun requires a small conversion kit but can be done in under 10 minutes.
The AUG is a short stroke gas piston operated firearm that has the system off set to the right of the firearm. It also has two guide rods, where the right rod also acts as the action rod, this transmits the rearward motion of the gas piston to the bolt carrier. The left rod provides retracting handle pressure when connected by the forward assist and can also be used to remove fouling in the gas cylinder by utilising the left-hand guide rod as a reamer. The firearm uses a 3-position gas valve. The first setting, marked with a small dot, is used for normal operation. The second setting, illustrated with a large dot, indicates fouled conditions. The third, "GR" closed position is used to launch rifle grenades (of the non-bullet trap type).

The rotating bolt features 7 radial locking lugs and is unlocked by means of a pin on the bolt body and a recessed camming guide machined into the bolt carrier. The bolt carrier itself is guided by two guide rods brazed to it and these rods run inside steel bearings in the receiver. The guide rods are hollow and contain the return springs. The bolt also contains a claw extractor that forms the eighth locking lug and a spring-loaded "bump"-type casing ejector.
The AUG is also saw the limelight first in1977 where it featured on an episode of The Professionals.

Claes is one of the characters who you see rarely on missions and thus you only see her guns being used occasionally, her main arm is fairly recognisable (as you'll come to see) but her side arm is somewhat of an odd one.

Clae's sidearm is the Heckler & Koch VP70.

The VP or Volkespistol (The Peoples Pistol), is rather interesting as it was the first handgun to have a polymer frame, which pre-dated the Glock Series of pistols, by 12 years as it was made in 1970 (hence VP70).
Another unusual feature of this firearm was that it was one of the few pistols to have a selective burst fire mode. There have not been many successful automatic or burst fire pistols.

Along with its capability of burst fire, the VP70 came with a polymer holster which could then be attached to the rear of the pistol to act as a rudimentary stock allowing the user to make more precise and accurate shots.

The vital statistics of this pistol are as follows, it was chambered for 9x19mm, had an unloaded weight of 820g and an 18 round box magazine with a full capacity of 18+1.

Claes's primary arm is a vary recognisable weapon indeed, she uses a Heckler & Koch MP5K, (Claes appears to have a thing for German guns).
The MP5 (Machine Pistol 5) was developed in 1960 and is one of the most commonly used sub-machine guns in the world with over 100 variants to its name.

The MP5 comes with closed type adjustable Iron Sights which consist of a rotating rear diopter drum and a front post covered with a hooded ring. The rear sight is both adjustable for windage and elevation (with the use of a special tool). The diopter drum provides four apertures allowing the adjustment of light entering the system, this helps with eye relief of the user,

The MP5 has a hammer firing mechanism. The trigger group is housed inside an interchangeable polymer trigger module (with an integrated pistol grip) and equipped with a three-position fire mode selector that serves as the manual safety toggle. The “S” or Sicher position in white denotes weapon safe, “E” or Einzelfeuer in red represents single fire, and “F” or FeuerstoƟ (also marked in red) designates continuous fire. The SEF symbols appear on both sides of the plastic trigger group. The selector lever is actuated with the thumb of the shooting hand and is located only on the left side of the original SEF trigger group or on both sides of the ambidextrous trigger groups. The safety/selector is rotated into the various firing settings or safety position by depressing the tail end of the lever. Tactile clicks (stops) are present at each position to provide a positive stop and prevent inadvertent rotation. The "safe" setting disables the trigger by blocking the hammer release with a solid section of the safety axle located inside the trigger housing.

The MP5 is a roller delayed Blowback weapon, when the weapon is fired the barrel is fixed and does not recoil. As the bolt head is driven rearward, rollers on the sides of the bolt are driven inward against a tapered bolt carrier extension. This forces the bolt carrier rearward at a much greater velocity and delays movement of the bolt head. The primary advantage of roller-delayed blowback is the simplicity of the design compared to gas or recoil operation.

So after a rough history of the MP5 family of submachine guns, I can inform you that Claes, uses the Kurz (Short) variant,  created in 1976. It had a cut-down 4.5-inch barrel, shorter trigger group frame, and a vertical foregrip rather than a handguard. There are no MP5KA2 or MP5KA3 models because it doesn't come with a fixed or retractable stock.

So Campers, once more another anime showcases a large selection of interesting firearms. You know one day I may have to do a blog about that!

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