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Discussion Starter #1
Not as bad as it sounds. In the 1984 XM9 trials at Aberdeen, the entrant pistols were dropped from a height of 1.2 meters on a hard surface
(drop attitude and surface were unspecified, and I don't know what they were); the test was passed if there was no accidental firing, or degradation of function or safety. Damage to or movement of sights was permissible.

The Walther failed because the rear sight popped out. This was hardly a surprise, given Walther's past history with the P.38 and misguided propensity for putting elegant (and delicate) target components on guns expected to see hard service. The loss of the sight itself was not the problem; with the sight gone, the firing pin retainer and associated parts also took flight, rendering the gun unserviceable.

This could easily have been solved, but a more serious problem was uncovered by the Army. After 7,000 rounds, the pistols (probably two) selected for the endurance test were found to have cracked their frames across the top of both rails, perpendicular to the bore line and in front of the locking insert. Though the Army report concluded that the frame "lacked sufficient strength to withstand firing 7,000 rounds", in fairness to Walther it takes more than a failure of this kind to establish a serious design defect. It should be remembered that this trial was the first to specify NATO-spec ammunition, which is the commercial equivalent of +P or better, and most of the pistols entered by the various manufacturers were originally developed for lighter loads. In factory tests the P88 had far exceeded 7,000 rounds without failure, but the earlier JASSAP trials at Eglin were bitterly criticized for using commercial ammo procured from IVI in Canada, and the Army was determined not to make THAT mistake again.

In any event, the frame cracking was a harbinger of woes to come. The original cracking with NATO ammo could probably have been cured simply by a minor beefing up or a change of material, but after the Army's rejection of Walther's XM9 (these all had 88-prefix s/ns), Walther just could not leave the gun alone for commercial introduction. In rapid succession Ulm made unannounced design and cosmetic changes, some of them inexplicable, most for the worse. First a curved backstrap, then a scalloped slide, and on and on. One could never be sure what the next P88 arriving from the factory would look like--which was death on advertising-- and at around $1,200 per copy, sales were understandably slow.

It was a shame; the gun deserved better. Had it been left in its original XM9 configuration, which had a grip shape reminiscent of the Browning High Power, and an all-business gray parkerized finish, it would have held great promise for that market segment that appreciates classy, functional, expensive things. It was by far the most comfortable and pleasant gun to shoot in its class, which contributed greatly to its fine accuracy. Some engineering attention was needed for a few details, principally the durability of its delicate lockwork, but I really liked the XM9 version. However, nobody at Ulm ever looked back...

It got worse, but it's late, and the rest of that sad story I'll leave for another time.

M
 

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Mike: I had heard pieces of that story, but never in the detail that you provided here; thanks for that. I'm sure that many others on the forum would love to hear the rest of the tale as well.

What is most interesting to me in the whole sordid affair of the Army's testing of the P88 is that what was left behind as a result -- despite all the tinkering -- is still a magnificent firearm ... a true engineering marvel. I wouldn't trade my P88c for much of anything on the market, regardless of price or perceived value.

And to think that at one time, it was even better. It boggles the brain and saddens the heart.
 

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I want to add here that not only Walther failed....
at least they had a pistol that held the requiered minimum of 10 rounds.....
HK submitted the P7... but in order to do so they had to weld mags together and add a extension to the frame. Do not get me wrong I love my HK's (3 p7's) but it just goes to show how a company can go wrong when in a hurry to get a pistol ready for trials like these
look at the grips... they are even XM9 marked
 

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Discussion Starter #4
That is very true. There is an old Greek proverb that "He who runs, stumbles."

There were eight entrants, only three of whom had enough developmental time behind them to be serious contenders--Beretta, SIG/Sauer and the S&W 469. The others, the Steyr GB, FN High Power DA, Colt, H&K, and Walther, never had a realistic chance. Bill Ruger recognized early on (probably from his WWII experience) that his gun--what became the P85, designed principally by Roy Melcher-- was not yet ready, and decided not to waste the money or suffer the adverse publicity that would ensue from a poor showing, and did not enter. Ruger concentrated instead on preparing his gun for commercial introduction without distraction, which proved a very wise decision. Gaston Glock was still struggling to get started in Austria, and his innovative design probably could not have satisfied the specs anyway. Star, which had been stung by its treatment in the earlier Eglin trials, kept its distance but unofficially, to an extent still unclear, had some arrangement with Colt; indeed, the Colt entry bore a remarkable resemblance to the Star M28, which in turn borrowed heavily from the Czech CZ75.

In the end, only Beretta, which had a proven gun and its own on-shore U.S. manufacturing facility up and running, was able to fully satisfy the Army. SIG came close, and indeed thought they had it in the bag through a strategic alliance with Maremont, who already supplied M2 and M60 machine guns to DoD. But last minute lobbying by the Italian government, which called in many diplomatic chits to apply pressure, coupled with an episode at the Pentagon of insufferable arrogance on the part of the Swiss who owned J.P. Sauer, produced a victory for Beretta.

M
 

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That is very true. There is an old Greek proverb that "He who runs, stumbles."

There were eight entrants, only three of whom had enough developmental time behind them to be serious contenders--Beretta, SIG/Sauer and the S&W 469. The others, the Steyr GB, FN High Power DA, Colt, H&K, and Walther, never had a realistic chance. Bill Ruger recognized early on (probably from his WWII experience) that his gun--what became the P85, designed principally by Roy Melcher-- was not yet ready, and decided not to waste the money or suffer the adverse publicity that would ensue from a poor showing, and did not enter. Ruger concentrated instead on preparing his gun for commercial introduction without distraction, which proved a very wise decision. Gaston Glock was still struggling to get started in Austria, and his innovative design probably could not have satisfied the specs anyway. Star, which had been stung by its treatment in the earlier Eglin trials, kept its distance but unofficially, to an extent still unclear, had some arrangement with Colt; indeed, the Colt entry bore a remarkable resemblance to the Star M28, which in turn borrowed heavily from the Czech CZ75.

In the end, only Beretta, which had a proven gun and its own on-shore U.S. manufacturing facility up and running, was able to fully satisfy the Army. SIG came close, and indeed thought they had it in the bag through a strategic alliance with Maremont, who already supplied M2 and M60 machine guns to DoD. But last minute lobbying by the Italian government, which called in many diplomatic chits to apply pressure, coupled with an episode at the Pentagon of insufferable arrogance on the part of the Swiss who owned J.P. Sauer, produced a victory for Beretta.

M
Mike: This is really good stuff. I'd love to know your sources and background for this. Many of us have heard bits and pieces of this, but I for one have never heard it pieced together in this fashion. Thanks for sharing what you know. As they say, keep it coming.
 

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The final insult for Walther was the adoption of the Beretta 92...a pistol that used the falling block action that the P-38 pioneered!!!! :rolleyes:

The reasons and theories for Beretta being adopted are numerous...including a deal made by Uncle Sammie to base missiles in Italy. Plus Beretta undercut the replacement parts costs of the SIG by a few pennies. What is even more amusing is the later M11 adoption. Seems SIG got the last laugh and the Army adopted the SIG 228 (As the M11) as a substitute standard pistol for it's forces. Seems there was a lot of complaining about the big grips of the M9, and the Beretta was having all kinds of reliability problems with magazines and slide detachment from the frame (hence the saying "you ain't a Navy SEAL till you've tasted Italian steel").

As to the rest...Glock was dead in the water before they even entered. They didn't pass the requirement for a seperate manual safety. Steyr GB is a weird gun to start with. It was actual based on a gun made in Morton Grove, IL by Les Rogak called the Rogak P-18 (which was based on a WW2 design). Steyr eventually took over design and production of the gun (after the P-18 flopped badly), but even Austria, where the gun was made, decided on the Glock instead. Ruger has tried to get his guns accepted for military use previously and has failed each time. The Mini-14 is a prime example. He tried to market it worldwide (France tested it) but has not had much success with it. Accuracy and reliability problems plague it. Some police departments have adopted it, but with the advent of dirt cheap M16 rifles released by Uncle Sammie, Ruger Mini 14 is pretty much a "sporting rifle" now. Ruger may have had more than fear of embarassment that kept him from entering the military trials. Shortly aftet it's introduction, the P-85 had a massive recall of EVERY unit because a broken firing pin caused an AD during decocking. I suspect that would have been the end of the P-85 as far as Uncle Sammie is concerned and would have killed civilian sales too. While the Colt does appear to strongly resemble the Model 28/30 Star, one wonders why Colt would hook up with a gun that has had nothing but problems since it's introduction.



Then again, Colt made some really dumb marketing moves back in those days :D Anyone remember the Colt double action semi-autos (Colt Double Eagle?) A real turd in stainless steel. They even had a Rube Goldberg plastic frame gun (the Colt ALL American 2000) that ranks with the Edsel for dismal failures. Surprisingly, it was designed by Eugene Stoner and Reed Knight.

Dep



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Discussion Starter #9
I thought that the Rogak was a licensed copy of the Steyr GB?
That is correct. And the Steyr people were speechless with rage when they saw what Rogak & Son had done to it.

Long story short: Steyr cancelled and got it back, but no matter, it was too awkward and experimental to be a realistic contender.

For those interesting in seeing what the XM9 Walther P88 looked like, it was featured and on the cover of an Interarms catalog, I believe '88.

M
 

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Discussion Starter #10
... While the Colt does appear to strongly resemble the Model 28/30 Star, one wonders why Colt would hook up with a gun that has had nothing but problems since it's introduction...

Dep
I apologize for drawing this thread OT, as there are more appropriate forums to evaluate the Star Models 28 and 30. So I will just offer this: the Star Model 30 has proved itself to be a stronger and more durable gun than ANY of the original XM9 entries. It always works and it rarely breaks.

For the same kind of reasons that barred the Glock, the Star did not meet the Army's specifications.

M
 

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That is correct. And the Steyr people were speechless with rage when they saw what Rogak & Son had done to it.

Long story short: Steyr cancelled and got it back, but no matter, it was too awkward and experimental to be a realistic contender.

For those interesting in seeing what the XM9 Walther P88 looked like, it was featured and on the cover of an Interarms catalog, I believe '88.

M
Actually, that's incorrect. The Rogak P-18 was produced BEFORE the Steyr version was released. Yes, Rogak got a hold of the blueprints and put it into production in the 1970s. And it was a dismal failure. Steyr modified Rogak's design and began production in 1980. It still didn't sell very well even though Steyr corrected most of the problems in the design.

http://remtek.com/arms/steyr/gb/gb.htm

Star...as wonderful as their pistols may be (cough gag...my Model 28 was a POS), went out of business in 1997.



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Discussion Starter #12
Actually, that's incorrect. The Rogak P-18 was produced BEFORE the Steyr version was released. Yes, Rogak got a hold of the blueprints and put it into production in the 1970s. And it was a dismal failure. Steyr modified Rogak's design and began production in 1980. It still didn't sell very well even though Steyr corrected most of the problems in the design.

http://remtek.com/arms/steyr/gb/gb.htm

Star...as wonderful as their pistols may be (cough gag...my Model 28 was a POS), went out of business in 1997.
Dep, what part of what I wrote was incorrect?

I did not say that the Rogak version did not precede the Steyr GB into serial production. I stated --correctly-- that it was a Steyr design that was licensed to Rogak for U.S. manufacture. Rogak did not "get a hold of the blueprints"; he received them under a license from Steyr in the mid-70s. U.S. production did not commence until about 1978-9, but Rogak made a thorough botch of it. Thereafter the license was either revoked or expired (I don't know the details), but in result Steyr took back the rights to build its gun.

Steyr had begun development of this pistol--then known as the Pi-18-- as a selective-fire law enforcement weapon in the late '60s; the first prototypes appeared about 1970, but Steyr never put it into large-scale production. The principal Steyr designer of the Pi-18 was a young Horst Vesp, who would later go on to design much better guns-- including the Walther P99.

Much later, after the Rogak debacle, Steyr further developed it, changed its name to Steyr GB, and tried to market it, unsuccessfully. The basic concept was just too big and too quirky, and no more than a few thousand were made.

Finally, re the Star. Your mileage obviously differed from other people's. In my safe resides a Star Model 30 that is documented to have fired, at last count, 105,220 rounds. Every so often I take it out and shoot another 50 rounds through it just to give it exercise.

M
 

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MGMike: I guess you didn't bother to read the link:

"Before Steyr built and marketed the GB design under its own auspices, Les Rogak, a Steyr importer, received in the 1970s a set of manufacturing drawings for the new pistol. Whether he got the plans for publicity purposes to announce Steyr's upcoming handgun or actually had permission to build the pistol under his own name (the advantage of that arrangement for Steyr being deniability if the gun should fail) is not clear."

And further:
"Steyr took legal action to halt its manufacture, but even without a lawsuit the gun's reliability problems would very likely have been all the nails its coffin ever needed. P-18 production ceased in the late 1970s or early 1980s after Rogak, Incorporated had made about 2,300 guns. Not surprisingly Steyr has little good to say about Les Rogak."

If the Star design is so spectacular, why was it an early flop in the XM9 tests???? :confused:



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Dep, you're right, I did not read the link. It would not really have changed my post if I had. While I have some regard for Mr. Gargarosa, what may be "unclear" to him is not necessarily unfathomable to everyone else. He does not suggest, as you DID, that it was a Rogak design. And at least he concedes that he doesn't know whether the Steyr was licensed or not; you draw from it some level of certainty that it WASN'T.

My view is just the opposite. The license negotiations between Steyr and Rogak in the mid-1970s were not an industry secret; at the time I knew about them. No one with any practical experience in these matters would imagine for one moment that a set of manufacturing drawings would be released to another party without a binding license agreement in place. The stronger likelihood is that Rogak's derelictions on the manufacturing side prompted Steyr to move to cancel the license, which probably led to litigation. I am not privy to that information, but it's a high probabilty. It is further very probable that the license was exclusive, which would have barred Steyr from producing the gun on its own for the U.S. market unless it first got Rogak out of the way.

There was no Star in the XM9 trials. Prototype Model 28s were submitted to the Eglin tests in 1980. At that time the gun was not yet in serial production, and the test samples obviously were not ready to endure rigorous testing --which proves nothing about a gun's prospect for later success. It merely shows that guns which already have a long developmental history behind them, as the Beretta did, have the clear advantage.

M
 

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For those interesting in seeing what the XM9 Walther P88 looked like, it was featured and on the cover of an Interarms catalog, I believe '88.

M

Nope not '88.... the Star M30 is on 1988's cover
must have been '87.... as I have 85, 86, 88 and 89 and neither has the P88 on the cover
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Uncut: Sorry, I'll have poke into my files when I have some time and fish it out. Memory fails often.

M
 

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An interesting discussion in any event, gentlemen, even if there is some disagreement as to the exact details. The background of these wheelings and dealings behind the scenes shed some fascinating light on what the folks running the gun companies go through -- or don't -- in trying to secure a government contract. It seems that the bar is often stacked at a height that no one can successfully clear ... unless, of course, you happen to know folks in high (or low) places -- and maybe both at once. :)

None of this makes me feel any differently about the P88, however. If I were in a firefight and needed a reliable handgun (handguns only for this flight of fancy) to extricate myself from it, it's the first weapon that I would choose. You may disagree, but what's what makes a horse race. If the rules of engagement allowed me a second choice -- a backup, as it were -- I'd take the P5. Yeah, yeah, I know, but that's what I'd take.

But what about the P99, you ask? Truth is, I'd have one of those stashed in an ankle holster on the left side; on the right side would be a P1. The PPK/S would be secured in a shoulder holster. :D
 

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Dep, you're right, I did not read the link. It would not really have changed my post if I had. While I have some regard for Mr. Gargarosa, what may be "unclear" to him is not necessarily unfathomable to everyone else. He does not suggest, as you DID, that it was a Rogak design. And at least he concedes that he doesn't know whether the Steyr was licensed or not; you draw from it some level of certainty that it WASN'T.

My view is just the opposite. The license negotiations between Steyr and Rogak in the mid-1970s were not an industry secret; at the time I knew about them. No one with any practical experience in these matters would imagine for one moment that a set of manufacturing drawings would be released to another party without a binding license agreement in place. The stronger likelihood is that Rogak's derelictions on the manufacturing side prompted Steyr to move to cancel the license, which probably led to litigation. I am not privy to that information, but it's a high probabilty. It is further very probable that the license was exclusive, which would have barred Steyr from producing the gun on its own for the U.S. market unless it first got Rogak out of the way.

There was no Star in the XM9 trials. Prototype Model 28s were submitted to the Eglin tests in 1980. At that time the gun was not yet in serial production, and the test samples obviously were not ready to endure rigorous testing --which proves nothing about a gun's prospect for later success. It merely shows that guns which already have a long developmental history behind them, as the Beretta did, have the clear advantage.

M
Mike: Not trying to split hairs here. And I respect your considerable knowledge. But nowhere in my first post concerning the Rogak did I mention the word DESIGN. What I did say was Rogak was put in PRODUCTION before the Steyr GB. :D One person said he thought the Rogak was a "licensed copy" of the Steyr GB. That was incorrect, or at the very least, not verifiable. Since the Steyr GB wasn't in production, but only in the design stage, it couldn't really be a "copy" of something that only existed on paper.

As to the Star...since the Colt SSP appears to be a Colt/Star joint effort, and it also failed the tests, well...that pretty much ends Star as a viable candidate.

Dep



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An interesting discussion in any event, gentlemen, even if there is some disagreement as to the exact details. The background of these wheelings and dealings behind the scenes shed some fascinating light on what the folks running the gun companies go through -- or don't -- in trying to secure a government contract. It seems that the bar is often stacked at a height that no one can successfully clear ... unless, of course, you happen to know folks in high (or low) places -- and maybe both at once. :)

None of this makes me feel any differently about the P88, however. If I were in a firefight and needed a reliable handgun (handguns only for this flight of fancy) to extricate myself from it, it's the first weapon that I would choose. You may disagree, but what's what makes a horse race. If the rules of engagement allowed me a second choice -- a backup, as it were -- I'd take the P5. Yeah, yeah, I know, but that's what I'd take.

But what about the P99, you ask? Truth is, I'd have one of those stashed in an ankle holster on the left side; on the right side would be a P1. The PPK/S would be secured in a shoulder holster. :D
Good grief Searcher...you sound like a refugee from The Magnificent Seven or The Wild Bunch. You are gonna be so gun-heavy you won't be able to walk!!! :D

If the poo-poo hit the fan I would be 100% confident with one of my 1911A1s or the P-99. And both would have 2 backup mags with me. The .45ACP is a verified killer, and if the 9MM doesn't do it's job after 1 shot, I'll have 44 left to get 'er done ;)



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Discussion Starter #20
But nowhere in my first post concerning the Rogak did I mention the word DESIGN....
Dep
Your earlier quote: "Steyr modified Rogak's design and began production in 1980."

Quote: "Since the Steyr GB wasn't in production, but only in the design stage, it couldn't really be a "copy" of something that only existed on paper."

There are photographs of Steyr Pi-18 prototypes produced in Austria c.1975. A lot of publicity surrounded the Pi18 at that time, as some visitors to the factory, including the late John Amber, were invited to shoot it; they reported on it quite favorably. Those guns obviously were not origami confections.

Dep, I am going to bow out of this thread; it is on the brink of generating more heat than light, and serves no useful purpose. If you want to believe that Rogak designed the Steyr gun, I won't impede you.

M
 
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