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January 28, 2004

New gun p0rn.

Next up for your viewing pleasure is Friedrich Langenhan’s masterpiece*, the “Langenhan Army Model.”

This is a simple blowback-operated semi-auto chambered for the 7.65mm Auto pistol cartridge. It has a four inch barrel and a magazine capacity of 8 rounds. As you can see from the photos (behind the curtain, in the extended post), the barrel is not where we are used to seeing it. The recoil spring lays above the barrel, opposite most semi-auto pistols with which we are familiar. This layout is driven by the way Langenhan handled the breech of his weapon. I don’t know if he used this approach to avoid patent issues, or to simplify some aspects of production (though certainly not the overall complexity).

The white block is a piece of wood I used to hold the slide back.

The pistol has a separate breechblock that is held in place by a screw. And therein lies it’s great weakness, as you have to be able to remove this screw in order to clean the pistol, so you can’t peen it in place so that it won’t move. Nor, apparently, did it occur to Fred to put a cut-out, a slot, or anything that you could use a pin to hold the screw in place. Granted, that just would have added to complexity – but the user might not have minded. Why am I going on about this? Simple. If you screw/unscrew a screw often enough, you wear the thread, either of the opening, or of the screw. When a screw is loose, and you then add vibration, such as the back-and-forth action of the slide when firing – what happens? The screw can back out.

On this pistol, when that happens, the breech block retainer can pitch up. When that happens, the slide and block are no longer restrained in their backwards movement.

If you are shooting from the hip, not such a big deal – except that your weapon just failed in a firefight. That sucks. If you are actually aiming – the slide comes off the frame, hits you in the face, and now you’ve been hit in the face by your pistol which has just failed in the midst of a firefight. That sucks even worse, though in both cases, it may not suck for very long, depending on how that firefight was going and how many buddies you had with you. Regardless, annoying.

The pistol was only produced during WWI and was never (gee, surprise!) offered for commercial sale. I’ve never shot it. If I did decide to do so, no big deal, you can check the screw while shooting, or put a little dab of rubber cement on the screw before you go out to blaze away. But if you have one of these little jobs, be careful!

*(irony mode ON)