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Destroying the WC Lies --- The Rifle, Part VII

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Normally, an investigator examining a weapon to determine if it has been fired, will look first at the outside of the weapon. A visual examination of the condition of the weapon, including an examination of the condition of the firing pin. Next, he examines the inside of the weapon, checking the inside of the barrel and examining the inside of the operating mechanism, the bolt and its parts.

In his testimony, FBI firearms expert Robert Frazier testified that he observed that the inside of the barrel of the Depository rifle was "roughened from corrosion", then connected the "corrosion" to rust with his comment that "if a barrel is allowed to rust, one round will remove that rust."
So how could the barrel have surface rust after THREE rounds had been fired through it ?

The Rusted Barrel

Mr. FRAZIER. The stock is worn, scratched. The bolt is relatively smooth, as if it had been operated several times. I cannot actually say how much use the weapon has had. The barrel is--was not, when we first got it, in excellent condition. It was, I would say, in fair condition. In other words, it showed the effects of wear and corrosion.
( 3 H 394 )

Frazier was then asked to be more specific on the condition of the rifle barrel when he first got it for inspection.

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. 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.
( 3 H 395 )

Frazier KNEW when he visually inspected the rifle that rust in the barrel meant that the rifle had not been fired, because just one round fired through it would have removed all rust. The fact that he visually saw rust in the barrel made it clear to him that there was no need to conduct a "swab test" to test for metal shavings and fouling in the barrel.

Mr. McCLOY. Was there metal fouling in the barrel?
Mr. FRAZIER. I did not examine it for that.
( ibid. )

Had Frazier visually examined the barrel and found no rust, it would have been standard procedure to next do the "swab test" to determine if there was no rust because the barrel was clean or because a bullet had passed through it. The "swab test" would have detected any metal shavings from the bullet's jacket and gunpowder residue ( fouling ). A clean swab from a barrel with no rust would have proven the rifle had not been fired, while a swab with residue would have proven that it had.

The ONLY thing that would have prevented Frazier from doing the swab test would have been if his visual inspection had revealed that the inside of the barrel was rusted and thus that no bullet had passed through the barrel in the last 24 hours.

If there is any question as to whether or not the inside of the barrel was susceptible to rust, that question was answered by the Firearms Panel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the 1970's. The Panel examined the C2766 rifle before it did any test firing and reported the rifle's condition:

"A visual examination of the rifle revealed pitting, rust and copper oxidation to test-firing, which the panel believed should be removed prior to test-firing. Accordingly, a dry cloth patch was pushed through the bore.
( 7 HSCA 365 )

So the inside of the barrel ( "the bore" ) showed "pitting, rust and copper oxidation" as a result of the rifle having not been fired since the last "test-firing", some 13 years previously. This is what happened to this barrel from non-use --- it rusted. But it wasn't the only part of the rifle which contained rust.

The Rusted Bolt

Not only was there rust on the inside of the barrel, rust that should not have been there if the rifle had been fired ONCE ( never mind THREE times ), Ronald Simmons' testimony indicates that the bolt was also rusted:

Mr. EISENBERG. Did they make any comments concerning the weapon?
Mr. SIMMONS. Yes; there were several comments made particularly with respect to the amount of effort required to open the bolt. As a matter of fact, Mr. Staley had, difficulty in opening the bolt in his first firing exercise. He thought it was completely up and it was not, and he had to retrace his steps as he attempted to open the bolt after the first round.
( 3 H 447 )

The obvious way of "getting the rust out", is by operating the bolt in a "dry run ". They unloaded the weapon and each shooter "worked" the bolt back and forth in a "practice exercise" for 2-3 minutes each BEFORE he began firing.

That's a total of 6-9 minutes to free it from its rust. The bolt was so rusted that operating it tended to move the rifle off target. Of course, the more you use the bolt, the freer it becomes and the faster the elapsed times are for the shooters.

Mr. SIMMONS. .....the pressure to open the bolt was so great that we tended to move the rifle off the target, whereas with greater proficiency this might not have occurred.
Mr. EISENBERG. Could this experience in operating the bolt be achieved in dry practice, Mr. Simmons?
Mr. SIMMONS. Yes; it could be, if sufficient practice were used. There is some indication of the magnitude of change with one of our shooters who in his second attempt fired three-tenths of a second less time than he did in the first.

( 3 H 449 )

The rusted firing pin

The firing pin was rusted so badly, that they were afraid it might break.

Mr. EISENBERG. How much practice had they had with the weapon, Exhibit 139, before they began firing?
Mr. SIMMONS. They had each attempted the exercise without the use of ammunition, and had worked the bolt as they tried the exercise. They had not pulled the trigger during the exercise, however, because we were a little concerned about breaking the firing pin.
Mr. EISENBERG. Could you give us an estimate of how much time they used in this dry-run practice, each?
Mr. SIMMONS. They used no more than 2 or 3 minutes each.

CE 2974 states that there was rust on the firing pin of the rifle and "This rust would have been disturbed had the firing pin been changed...".

Who said the firing pin had been changed ?

What the FBI was saying is that there was "undisturbed rust" on the firing pin. That rust would have been disturbed had the firing pin been moved in the previous 24 hours.
You had to move it to change it.

Rust could not have formed on the rifle AFTER the assassination. Frazier testified that he examined it on the day after Kennedy was murdered, not enough time for rust to have settled in:

Mr. McCLOY. How soon after the assassination did you examine this rifle?
Mr. FRAZIER. We received the rifle the following morning.
Mr. McCLOY. Received it in Washington?
Mr. FRAZIER. Yes, sir.
Mr. McCLOY. And you immediately made your examination of it then?
Mr. FRAZIER. We made an examination of it at that time, and kept it temporarily in the laboratory.
( 3 H 395 )

Frazier testified that when he examined the rifle the FIRST TIME, on the day after the assassination, he found that the inside of the barrel had been "roughened" by corrosion and wear. Then he referenced the effect of what ONE SHOT would have on a rusted barrel. Why would he do this if the "roughened surface" he saw on the inside of the barrel wasn't rust ? What connection could there be between a rusted barrel and the "roughened" barrel of Oswald's rifle other than that the two were both rusted ?

If the inside of the barrel of the Depository rifle was rusted or had ANY rust in it, then NOT A SINGLE ROUND HAD BEEN FIRED FROM IT IN THE PREVIOUS 24 HOURS.

Meaning that it had not been fired.

Meaning that it wasn't the murder weapon.

Now you know why the FBI never did a "swab test" of the inside of the barrel to determine if the rifle had been fired. A swab test would have detected copper fouling in the barrel. With a rusted barrel and undisturbed rust on the firing pin, there was no need to check to see if the rifle had been fired recently.

Robert Frazier's testimony suggests that the rifle he saw on November 23rd had rust in the barrel. When he saw that there was rust in the barrel and rust on the firing pin and spring, he knew that the rifle had not been fired. So he had no reason to check the barrel for metal fouling.

They knew that this weapon had not been fired, so they sent it back to the Dallas Police.

Ronald Simmons' testimony is even more compelling regarding the issue of rust, this time, with the bolt. Simmons testified that the bolt was so difficult to operate that the shooters had to take 2 or 3 minutes EACH before shooting to work the bolt back and forth in a "dry-run exercise", exactly like one would use to loosen a rusted part.

The ease of operation of the bolt was essential in their attempts to obtain the elapsed time required for one gunman to have performed the killing. There is no way that one gunman, whether it was Oswald or anyone else, could have fired three shots from that rifle in the required time with the bolt in the condition as Simmons described it.

It all adds up to this: The condition of the rifle that the Dallas Police sent to the FBI on the night of the assassination was such that it was not capable of performing the assassination of President Kennedy and the wounding of Governor Connally. The FBI knew this and sent it back to the Dallas Police.


Edited by Gil Jesus
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An interesting factoid in the Firearms Panel report is that the toolmarks on test firings performed in 1977 did not match the toolmarks on the 1964 hulls. The explanation was:  "The panel was unable to identify its test-fired bullets with the CE 399 bullet. The panel attributed this to changes in the bore caused by repeated of the rifle by the FBI and the Infantry Weapons Evaluation Branch of the U.S. Army, as well as to deterioration of the surfaces because the rife had bot been properly cleaned, lubricated and maintained. For the same reasons, the panel's test-fired bullets also could not be identified with those of the FBI.   [Vol. VII, page 369] .

The rifle was fired approximately 100 times by the FBI and others in 1964. Cliff Spiegelman testified at the 2017 Mock Trial that such few firings would not result in changing the characteristics of the bore. He testified that machine guns that fired thousands of bullets did not exhibit any significant changes.

Note that a sulphur cast of the rifle was taken by Frazier. The picture of the case shows the rifle was dirty. [see WC CE 540]      

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