Boys Anti-Tank Rifle: Prior to WWII, the British thought this gun could stop tanks. The Boys Anti-Tank Rifle is, as the name suggests, an oversized rifle, but it wasn’t all that effective against German panzers. Because the weapon was originally chambered in .55 caliber, which is not legal for general ownership, the example at the show had been converted to .50 caliber. It was offered for sale for around $5,000.
Browning M1917: A semi-automatic version of the iconic water-cooled Browning .30-caliber machine gun was offered for sale for around $4,000. In semi-auto, there probably wouldn’t be a need for the water jacket to actually be filled, but it does have that cool retro look!
Granatenwerfer 16: First produced at the end of 1915, the Granatenwerfer 16 was a spigot-type mortar. French soldiers nicknamed them “pigeons” because of the unique warbling sound made by the grenade as it descended.
Granatwerfer 34: This German medium mortar was noted for its accuracy and rapid rate of fire. One of these massive weapons was being offered for sale at the show for around $6,500.
Japanese Type 99: The Type 99 was the standard light machine gun used by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Only some 53,000 were actually built, and sadly only dozens are known to have survived. This deactivated example sold to a collector at the Show of Shows for around $4,500.
Johnson M1941: Just seeing an original Johnson M1941, the American semi-automatic rifle that competed unsuccessfully with the M1 Garand, is impressive. The example at the show is even rarer, as it is one of the few remaining 7x57mm examples that were specifically produced for the Chilean Mounted Special Forces. While only 1,000 were produced in 7x57mm, most of those were later converted to .30-06 Springfield.
MAS-38: The French military expected World War II to be a replay of the trenches, and it shows in how it designed a submachine gun for the task. The MAS-38 was only entering large-scale production when the French army was defeated in 1940. Re-designated as the “MP7ss(f)” by the Germans, it was used by rear-echelon German troops but also remained the main submachine gun of the Vichy French. Also, it should be known that a MAS-38 was used to shoot Benito Mussolini in 1945. This deactivated example was sold at the SOS for $850.
MG08: The Maschinengewehr 08, or MG08, was the German army’s standard machine gun of World War I. It was based on Hiram Maxim’s 1884 machine gun and was often mounted on a sled mount (schlittenlafette) that allowed it to be ferried between locations by its gun crew.
Panzerfaust 60: The one-time-use Panzerfaust has been reproduced a lot in recent years, but few compare to the real deal like this Panzerfaust 60. A deactivated sample at the show with much of its original paint was offered for $1,300.
ZB-53/vz. 37: The Czechoslovakian arms industry produced a number of impressive firearms in the interwar period, including the versatile ZB-53/vz. 37. It was developed in the 1930s, but vast quantities were captured by the Germans and re-designated the MG37 following the Munich Agreement.
When you name your annual military collectibles event “The Show of Shows,” or SOS, you are setting the bar rather high. Yet for 25 years, the Ohio Valley Military Society (OVMS) has ensured that the show has lived up to its name. Held every year at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, the OVMS Show of Shows has become the largest military collectibles and small arms show under one roof anywhere in the world.
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For its 25th anniversary event in 2017, the OVMS delivered once again. The SOS featured nearly 2,000 tables with some 750 dealers offering items rarely seen even in some of the world’s best museums.
The OVMS, one of the oldest militaria collecting clubs in the United States, has more than 2,000 active members from 49 states and 25 countries. It may have been originally founded in the Ohio Valley, but it is an international organization that draws in dealers from across Europe and Asia, and collectors from around the world.
In the gallery above, check out 10 of the best small arms that were offered for sale at the 25th annual OVMS Show of Shows.
For more information about the OVMS Show of Shows, visit sosovms.com.
This article was originally published in “Tactical Weapons” November/December 2017. To order a copy and subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
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