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Condition of Oswald's Rifle


Mark Wengler
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Is there any documents talking about what condition the rifle was in when it was found?

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About the only source regarding the condition of the rifle (C2766) would be the WC testimony of FBI SA Robert A. Frazier.

Was there anything in particular you were wondering about?

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About the only source regarding the condition of the rifle (C2766) would be the WC testimony of FBI SA Robert A. Frazier.

Was there anything in particular you were wondering about?

Hi Bob,

I personally would like to know whether or not the FBI or Secret Service were ever asked whether or not they had checked the rifle on 11/22/63 to see if it had been fired that day or very shortly before?

Didn't Frazier or somebody testify that there was some rust (I'm not talking pitting, here) in the barrel?

Thanks,

--Tommy :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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Frazier's WC testimony, regarding the condition of the interior of the barrel of C2766, is likely the most misunderstood piece of evidence in this entire case. Certain overly zealous researchers, in their haste to prove C2766 was never fired on 22/11/63 or any recent period preceding that date, have latched onto Frazier's testimony and twisted his words completely out of proportion.

http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/testimony/frazr1.htm

Here is a portion of that WC testimony:

"Mr. McCLOY - When you examined the rifle the first time, you said that it showed signs of some corrosion and wear?

Mr. FRAZIER - Yes, sir.
Mr. McCLOY - Was it what you would call pitted, were the lands in good shape?
Mr. FRAZIER - No, sir; the lands and the grooves were worn, the corners were worn, and the interior of the surface was roughened from corrosion or wear.
Mr. McCLOY - Was there metal fouling in the barrel?
Mr. FRAZIER - I did not examine it for that.
Mr. McCLOY - Could you say roughly how many rounds you think had been fired since it left the factory, with the condition of the barrel as you found it?
Mr. FRAZIER - No, sir; I could not, because the number of rounds is not an indication of the condition of the barrel, since if a barrel is allowed to rust, one round will remove that rust and wear the barrel to the same extent as 10 or 15 or 50 rounds just fired through a clean barrel.
Mr. McCLOY - Thank you."

This is the testimony that got everyone excited, and that has been used to "prove" the interior of C2766's barrel was rusted on 22/11/63 and that a bullet could not have passed through it on that day.

However, a careful examination of Frazier's testimony, and the consideration of the following points, will show clearly that Frazier said no such thing.

1. A worn and corroded barrel is not necessarily a rusty barrel. I have seen severely corroded and worn barrel interiors that are as shiny as the day the rifle was made, simply because someone has taken the time to clean the barrel.

2. As Frazier correctly points out, it is impossible to look at the interior of a barrel and determine if worn riflings are from wear due to a great number of shots fired through that barrel, or corrosion from improper storage and lack of cleaning and oiling.

3. Frazier's only reference to a rusty barrel is a hypothetical situation he puts forth to demonstrate how rust can wear a barrel as much as bullets fired through it. He merely points out that one bullet fired through a barrel will remove any accumulated rust.

As much as I have found errors in a lot of Frazier's other testimony, I agree completely with him on this matter. And, what he told McCloy has been grossly misinterpreted by certain JFK researchers.

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Frazier's WC testimony, regarding the condition of the interior of the barrel of C2766, is likely the most misunderstood piece of evidence in this entire case. Certain overly zealous researchers, in their haste to prove C2766 was never fired on 22/11/63 or any recent period preceding that date, have latched onto Frazier's testimony and twisted his words completely out of proportion.

http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/testimony/frazr1.htm

Here is a portion of that WC testimony:

"Mr. McCLOY - When you examined the rifle the first time, you said that it showed signs of some corrosion and wear?

Mr. FRAZIER - Yes, sir.

Mr. McCLOY - Was it what you would call pitted, were the lands in good shape?

Mr. FRAZIER - No, sir; the lands and the grooves were worn, the corners were worn, and the interior of the surface was roughened from corrosion or wear.

Mr. McCLOY - Was there metal fouling in the barrel?

Mr. FRAZIER - I did not examine it for that.

Mr. McCLOY - Could you say roughly how many rounds you think had been fired since it left the factory, with the condition of the barrel as you found it?

Mr. FRAZIER - No, sir; I could not, because the number of rounds is not an indication of the condition of the barrel, since if a barrel is allowed to rust, one round will remove that rust and wear the barrel to the same extent as 10 or 15 or 50 rounds just fired through a clean barrel.

Mr. McCLOY - Thank you."

This is the testimony that got everyone excited, and that has been used to "prove" the interior of C2766's barrel was rusted on 22/11/63 and that a bullet could not have passed through it on that day.

However, a careful examination of Frazier's testimony, and the consideration of the following points, will show clearly that Frazier said no such thing.

1. A worn and corroded barrel is not necessarily a rusty barrel. I have seen severely corroded and worn barrel interiors that are as shiny as the day the rifle was made, simply because someone has taken the time to clean the barrel.

2. As Frazier correctly points out, it is impossible to look at the interior of a barrel and determine if worn riflings are from wear due to a great number of shots fired through that barrel, or corrosion from improper storage and lack of cleaning and oiling.

3. Frazier's only reference to a rusty barrel is a hypothetical situation he puts forth to demonstrate how rust can wear a barrel as much as bullets fired through it. He merely points out that one bullet fired through a barrel will remove any accumulated rust.

As much as I have found errors in a lot of Frazier's other testimony, I agree completely with him on this matter. And, what he told McCloy has been grossly misinterpreted by certain JFK researchers.

Hi Bob,

Although I do know the difference between deep pitting and surface rust in a rifle's barrel, I'm confused now, of course, so let me just ask you this:

Based on your interpretation of Frazier's testimony, do you think the rifle was fired on, or shortly before, 11/22/63?

Or is it impossible to say?

Thanks,

--Tommy :sun

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Frazier's WC testimony, regarding the condition of the interior of the barrel of C2766, is likely the most misunderstood piece of evidence in this entire case. Certain overly zealous researchers, in their haste to prove C2766 was never fired on 22/11/63 or any recent period preceding that date, have latched onto Frazier's testimony and twisted his words completely out of proportion.

http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/testimony/frazr1.htm

Here is a portion of that WC testimony:

"Mr. McCLOY - When you examined the rifle the first time, you said that it showed signs of some corrosion and wear?

Mr. FRAZIER - Yes, sir.

Mr. McCLOY - Was it what you would call pitted, were the lands in good shape?

Mr. FRAZIER - No, sir; the lands and the grooves were worn, the corners were worn, and the interior of the surface was roughened from corrosion or wear.

Mr. McCLOY - Was there metal fouling in the barrel?

Mr. FRAZIER - I did not examine it for that.

Mr. McCLOY - Could you say roughly how many rounds you think had been fired since it left the factory, with the condition of the barrel as you found it?

Mr. FRAZIER - No, sir; I could not, because the number of rounds is not an indication of the condition of the barrel, since if a barrel is allowed to rust, one round will remove that rust and wear the barrel to the same extent as 10 or 15 or 50 rounds just fired through a clean barrel.

Mr. McCLOY - Thank you."

This is the testimony that got everyone excited, and that has been used to "prove" the interior of C2766's barrel was rusted on 22/11/63 and that a bullet could not have passed through it on that day.

However, a careful examination of Frazier's testimony, and the consideration of the following points, will show clearly that Frazier said no such thing.

1. A worn and corroded barrel is not necessarily a rusty barrel. I have seen severely corroded and worn barrel interiors that are as shiny as the day the rifle was made, simply because someone has taken the time to clean the barrel.

2. As Frazier correctly points out, it is impossible to look at the interior of a barrel and determine if worn riflings are from wear due to a great number of shots fired through that barrel, or corrosion from improper storage and lack of cleaning and oiling.

3. Frazier's only reference to a rusty barrel is a hypothetical situation he puts forth to demonstrate how rust can wear a barrel as much as bullets fired through it. He merely points out that one bullet fired through a barrel will remove any accumulated rust.

As much as I have found errors in a lot of Frazier's other testimony, I agree completely with him on this matter. And, what he told McCloy has been grossly misinterpreted by certain JFK researchers.

Hi Bob,

Although I do know the difference between deep pitting and surface rust in a rifle's barrel, I'm confused now, of course, so let me just ask you this:

Based on your interpretation of Frazier's testimony, do you think the rifle was fired on, or shortly before, 11/22/63?

Or is it impossible to say?

Thanks,

--Tommy :sun

I think it is impossible to say. Frazier was in possession of C2766 early on and, I believe, the only person to examine the interior of the barrel after the assassination. If the interior of the barrel had been rusty when he received the rifle, indicating it had not been fired for an extended period of time, all he had to do was either clean the barrel or fire a couple of bullets through it to remove this rust, and no one would know it had been rusty.

Remember this, as well. A rifle can have a severely eroded barrel interior, due either to corrosion from rusting, many bullets being fired through it or a combination of the two, such as a military rifle used extensively and under harsh climatic conditions, and still appear shiny if recently fired or cleaned. However, this same rifle can be left uncleaned in a damp location, and continue to corrode due to rust and to deposit a layer of rust on the inside (and outside) of the barrel. The rusting is enhanced because 1) there is no protective gun oil on the interior surface, as a responsible gun owner will apply after cleaning and 2) there is now a coating of burnt gunpowder residue on the interior of the barrel. While modern gunpowder does not create a corrosive residue when burned, it does leave a porous layer on the interior of the barrel that will attract and hold moisture.

Edited by Robert Prudhomme
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Bob, I have mentioned this before, and I think that it was Lt. Day of the DPD said that one could not tell if a rifle had been fired today, last week, or a month ago. What I have always argued is that by the time the rifle was found, fresh gunpowder would still have allowed for a "smell test". What are your thoughts on this?

Edited by Terry Adams
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Did someone mention being able to smell cordite (or whatever it is following a gunshot) in the 6th floor? I may have made that up from a poor memory though...then again, was it Yarborough or someone saying they could smell it in DP?

Edited by Ian Lloyd
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I tend to agree with Bob here.

I wonder if the wax cast that was made of the inside of the barrel has been checked for loose flakes of rust? Obviously, that assumes that the barrel hadn't been cleaned prior to the cast being made...

Hi Ian

I don't think I've ever heard or read about anyone ever gaining access to the sulphur cast made from the interior of C2766's barrel by the FBI. I would certainly like to see it myself, up close, for reasons that have nothing to do with whether the barrel was rusty or not.

However, it would have been quite a clumsy act on Frazier's part to have made a sulphur cast of a rusty barrel, and seal into evidence for all time the fact that C2766 was never fired on 22/11/63. Besides, when making a sulphur cast, one always oils the barrel lightly by placing gun oil onto a cleaning patch, and running this patch through the barrel with a cleaning rod. It simply goes against the nature of a gun owner to do this without cleaning the barrel first.

Edited by Robert Prudhomme
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So, it appears that what we have here is a rifle that may or may not have been fired on 11/22/63. Thanks to the lousy questioning of Frazier and Day, and their possible decision to not volunteer any information about it's not being fired. Or not.

The fact that neither of them were asked if the rifle had been fired on that day or right before it suggests to me that the lawyers didn't want Frazier or Day to "spill the beans."

What a kettle of fish.

--Tommy :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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Bob, I have mentioned this before, and I think that it was Lt. Day of the DPD said that one could not tell if a rifle had been fired today, last week, or a month ago. What I have always argued is that by the time the rifle was found, fresh gunpowder would still have allowed for a "smell test". What are your thoughts on this?

Hi Terry

While I wouldn't call it the most accurate way of telling when the last time a rifle was shot, I certainly agree that the old "sniff test" can tell a person with a good nose (typically a non-smoker) if a rifle has been shot recently, or if a person has shot a rifle recently.

The smell of burnt gunpowder will not only linger in the barrel of a rifle, it will also permeate the clothing of the person shooting a rifle. Sometimes, hunters here will return from hunting, and when they walk into the coffee shop, you will get a definite whiff of gunpowder. As a quick glance at their vehicle often reveals no deer, some joker inevitably asks, "Target practicing or just missed?"

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So, it appears that what we have here is a rifle that may or may not have been fired on 11/22/63. Thanks to the lousy questioning of Frazier and Day, and their possible decision to not volunteer any information about it's not being fired. Or not.

The fact that neither of them were asked if the rifle had been fired on that day or right before it suggests to me that the lawyers didn't want Frazier or Day to "spill the beans."

What a kettle of fish.

--Tommy :sun

Hi Thomas

Yes, they covered their tracks well. Even if someone on the DPD had examined the barrel, and found its interior to be rusty (indicating a long unfired rifle), I'm sure this bit of evidence would have been altered or "mislaid" somewhere.

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One important point I should make is that the amount of time it takes steel to oxidize and form a light coating of rust will vary with the climate (humidity) and the presence of corrosive agents, such as salt. Where I grew up on the Prairies, a shovel could be left outside for a long time, in dry weather, before it accumulated a coating of rust. However, I live on the West Coast now, in what is technically known as a temperate rain forest (rains all the time) and have seen a brand new shovel laid on the sand for half an hour, while clam digging, accumulate a fine coat of rust.

The military ammunition made in Italy for the 6.5mm Carcano was made with primers that had a corrosive substance in them that led to many misfires and hangfires, and this likely contributed greatly to the Carcano's reputation as an unreliable rifle. Whether this corrosive substance also left a corrosive residue in the barrel, I do not know. I do know that the cartridge casings found on the 6th floor were made by the Western Cartridge Co. of the USA, and did not have the corrosive primers found in Italian milsurp ammo.

Edited by Robert Prudhomme
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I remember reading somewhere that the rifle needed some work before they even tested it. That what i am looking for.

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