Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Polish wz.48 training rifle, sheer .22 goodness

Gobbling up the ammo!
Armies the world over have all had the same problem since the first one picked up a bang stick that could shoot accurately.  That is... training unwashed grunts in the manly skill of actually hitting the target.  The less shooting heritage the nation has, the harder the militaries job is going to be.

Different militaries, different ways.  Some simply bull through and teach the troops using their regular issue weapons and ammunition.  Some use regular weapons and scaled back low recoil ammunition (Which is an entire fun category of it's own!).  Some, and by some I mean a great many, begin the process using dedicated training rifles firing low recoil, low noise, LOW COST rimfire ammunition. Yup, .22 rimfire training rifles, and they are a hoot!

What we have here is one countries answer to that chore.  A Polish wz.48 rimfire training rifle, built to closely resemble the Model 38 Mosin battle rifle of the 50's.  

It's a single shot, as many training rifles are.  Wouldn't do to have the wee little baby soldiers spraying a whole five rounds down range, would it?  Nope.... one at a time is best to keep the enthusiasm in check as they learn the basics of rifleman skills. 
An odd split chamber design

The action is supposedly a Mauser design of prewar vintage, but I haven't been able to confirm that.  Perhaps the learned readers here may have some notions?  With it's large '11' in a circle, it leaves no doubt to having been made at the military arms factory in Radom, Poland.  That was the sov-bloc factory code assigned by their masters in the Kremlin.

A bit unusual to my eye, the extractor, huge bar that it is, also forms part of the chamber.  Riding under the bolt in a slot, and worked by the bolt when it's opened, the extractor makes up the rear underside of the chamber almost 1/4" deep.  On a .22 short, that's half the case length!

This design could be problematic, giving issues like case swelling and blow-out an opening to happen.   That being the situation, the Old Fat Man's first round from this rifle was with it held at arms length away from my face, action pointed towards the horizon.   Examining the fired case revealed no real problems.  Yes, it was a bit swelled, but nothing to be concerned about.  Certainly not enough to risk the integrity of the case.

Once that fear was put to bed, much shooting happened, with many wide smiles!

The rest of the rifle, well designed to mimic a Mosin rifle of the time, led to those smiles.  The 8.5 pound rifle sucks up rimfire recoil and makes it vanish.  The trigger is.... phenomenal... for a Soviet bloc rifle.  Right around 2 pounds at let-off, smoooooth, and predictable.  It feels better than most any modern hunting rifle, and puts every Mosin ever made to shame.
Excellent military sights

The sights are pure military, with a welcome twist.  The front sight could probably swap with that of a Model 38 any day.  The rear, a sliding bar with a notch, is crisp and clear to the eye. The very cool part are the graduations, going from 25 to 100 meters with stops along the way.  Designed for the .22 rimfire, I found they were dead on the money at back yard distances.   I'm very much looking forward to getting this puppy out on a known distance range and trying that 100 Meter setting with some high-power targets.

Going over the many markings, which most military rifles will have, one vanishingly tiny line of text was discovered on the left rear of the reciever.  To be read, it was photographed and the image expanded.   It came up to be 'Gibbs, Martburg WVa.  This is the importers mark, naming the Gibbs Rifle company as the culprit for bringing this bit of joy into the country.  Since they were only formed up in 1991, it places this rifle as a relatively new import. Several retailers sold the rifle, with Bud's letting them go for $198.00 when they carried them.  Today, the Wz.48 commands about $400 when one comes up for sale.

As best I can discover, they were made from 1954 (Edit: 1950)up to about 1958 or 1959, and used by the Polish military til the 70's as their standard training rifle.

The example I have managed to acquire here, found at a dealer's shop in Arizona, appears almost as-new.  There is no wear, few dings, and the bore is mirror bright and sharp.  A few ropes through the bore, a half dozen Q-tips, and a wipe with a Tough-Cloth.... and it could have come from Radom yesterday.

As for shooting it....  Good Golly Gosh Darn!  This thing is FUN personified.  Everyone on the patio had a go, and much rimfire happiness was had.  This rifle is the single best reason I've ever seen to drag out that ammo-can of stray .22 ammo collected over the years.  All those partial boxes of target ammo, subsonic, .22 shorts, Hyper velocity, oddball euro-pews, steel cased Rooskie stuff, you name it.... the Polish Trainer gobbled them up and made holes in the target with them.
TINY, tiny, import marking........

The little .22 shorts were a bit fiddly to get in the chamber, but once there they shot beautifully.  In fact, everything we fed this wee beastie shot well.   Discovering it's favorite ammunition is going to be a blast of a journey!

Next on this trainers agenda?  Well..... there's this little girl about to turn 11, who's been pesting to learn how to shoot.....and......

The Polish Trainer shoots well, and easily pushes one to try harder.

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