In the mid to late 1950's Charles Colle operated a military surplus business from a small warehouse (approx. 6000-7000 sq. feet) behind his home in Millville, New Jersey.
According to family members, Charlie sold the surplus material or used it to construct various weapons, which he would then sell. One family member recalled
playing in the warehouse as a child and seeing various machine guns, ammunition, weapons, and at one time even a half track vehicle.
Several family members recalled the M1 carbines built by Charlie. Initially Charlie purchased demilled M1 carbine receivers and arranged for the receivers to be welded together and made whole. It is believed these first carbines did not have the name or initials of Millville Ordnance. They retained their GI markings.
Cuba: Broken Promises, Broken Dreams
In fairness to Charlie Colle, and to accurately portray the reality of the time period, I believe it is necessary to provide a little background before describing what happened to
him and his business.
The Cuban Revolution started in 1953 and ended on December 31, 1958, when General Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba after his defeat by Fidel Castro. Initially the American government supported Batista. In 1958 America dropped it's support for Batista and started arming various rebel organizations, including Fidel Castro and his organization [PBS Documentary: American Experience, Fidel Castro (2004)]. At one point, America armed Castro and his people direct from American reserve depots in Louisiana. Exactly who and which organization was armed by America and when, changed on a regular basis. Some of the revolutionary movements fought Batista, some fought Castro, and some fought each other. One day's allies were the next days foes, were the next days allies.
As the situation in Cuba changed, so did the support and/or approval of the American government for privately owned companies who provided supplies, equipment, and weapons to the various groups involved. In March 1958 the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on the shipment of weapons to Cuba, yet the U.S. government itself continued to supply weapons to various organizations through covert operations. Some of these covert operations obtained their weapons direct from American business owners.
Enter Charles Colle and Millville Ordnance. Various sources indicate Batista fled Cuba after the revolution, but omit the fact that pro-Batista forces had planned a counter-attack on Castro.
In early 1959 Charlie Colle and members of his family were visited at his warehouse and home in Millville by Batista, who was accompanied by two bodyguards. They departed the next day. Family members were told that Batista had negotiated the purchase of 7,000-8,000 M1 carbines and additional weapons for his forces in the Dominican Republic, who intended on retaking Cuba. One family member recalled Charlie had made a number of trips to the Dominican Republic. Charlie arranged for the transportation of the weapons by aircraft via Florida. Family members were told the aircraft and weapons were seized by American authorities in Florida and never made it to their final destination. The carbines are believed to have been GI receivers, not the commercial MOCO carbines.
On May 5, 1959 the FBI in Miami notified their headquarters and the State Department that they believed an invasion of Cuba by pro-Batista forces was imminent. Generalissimo Trujillo, leader of the Dominican Republic, believed Castro would attack his country if Trujillo did not attack Castro first. Rather than conduct the invasion himself, Trujillo supported the pro-Batista forces, allowing them to assemble and prepare for their invasion of Cuba from the Dominican Republic. The FBI's primary source for this information was Batista's own commanding general of the invasion, who was preparing for the event inside the Dominican Republic. [Reference: RIF 124-10294-10051, FBI record 2-1423-9TH NR 36]
Why Batista's commanding general would communicate his invasion plans to the FBI is conspicuously absent in the above document that describes the information he provided. He was not the only source within the command of Batista's forces that provided information to America. These sources were loyal to Batista for years after these events. Their reasons for trusting the FBI with this information, I leave to you to form your own opinions. As a result of the information provided to the FBI, what followed next was not expected by Batista or his commanding general.
NEW YORK TIMES
MIAMI, Fla., June 5 (AP) -The Dominican Consul, a Miami policeman, a Tampa flier and four others were indicted by the Federal Government today for conspiracy to smuggle arms to the Dominican Republic. Prosecutors said they hoped to arraign all next Friday.
The charges stemmed from the seizure May 22 at Miami International Airport of a plane laden with guns and ammunition reportedly destined to help Gen. Fulgencio Batista dislodge Premier Fidel Castro of Cuba. General Batista, living in exile in the Dominican Republic, has denied planning such a coup.
Indicted were five persons arrested when the plane was seized and two men not previously named. The latter are Charles Colle, alias Larry Lamarca of Union, N. J., and Sidney Neubauer, New York lawyer.
The others indicted were Augusto Ferrando, the Dominican Republic's Consul at Miami; Joseph Liquori, Miami policeman; Leonard Trento of Newark, N. J.; Dominic E. Bartone, for whom the District Attorney's office listed addresses in Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio; and Samuel E. Poole Jr. of Tampa. Bartone was identified as the plane's agent and Poole as its pilot.
Because of this seizure the counter attack on Castro and his government by Batista's forces never happened.
Millville Ordnance 1960-1962
Shooting Times Magazine
At some point in the late 1950's Colle established a sporting goods store retail outlet in Union, NJ at 2126 Stanley Terrace. In the 1960 Union Township cross directory the business is listed as Millville Weapons. Union County, NJ required businesses to file a "trademark" for their business name with the county clerk. This was not a trademark for the purpose of establishing a U.S. trademark. It was Union County's version of a business license. Millville Ordnance at 2126 Stanley Terrace, Union, NJ, applied for this "trademark" in October 1960.
Shooting Times magazine began publication with their March 1960 issue. Their 1960 and 1961 issues were 11.5" x 15", the size of Shotgun News. Two full pages of each issue from March through August, October, and December 1960 carried Millville Ordnance advertisements headlined "Selling Out to the Bare Walls" "10 Million Parts Must Go!". The advertisements contained military surplus rifle parts for various U.S. military rifles, including the M1 Carbine. The advertisements did not include receivers, barrels, or assembled weapons.
The two page Millville Ordnance advertisement in the December 1960 issue of Shooting Times magazine headlined the arrival of the "The New "Moco" M-1 Carbine Barrel". In the same issue of Shooting Times a second, separate, smaller advertisement (right) offered "new" M1 Carbine receivers for sale. These new receivers were not the Millville Ordnance carbine receivers, later announced for the first time in a two page ad in the March 1961 issue of Shooting Times as "Coming Soon, the Perfect Mate, to the Moco Barrel - The Finest Commercial Carbine Receivers ever offered For Sale - Watch for them Soon".
The new receivers offered advertised my Millville Ordnanve in December 1960 may have been manufactured by AMPCO (Advance Metal Products, Inc) of Miami, FL. AMPCO receivers were first offered in an advertisement in the November 1960 issue of The American Rifleman. AMPCO receivers with the name Global Arms have been found to consistently have barrels with the MOCO name. At this point it is not known if someone else ordered receivers from AMPCO and barrels from Millville Ordnance to construct carbines using the Global Arms name, or if Colle used the Global Arms name for the receivers advertised as new in the December 1960 issue of Shooting Times. This possibility is still under investigation. For further on AMPCO and Global Arms refer to the pages dedicated to these companies elsewhere on this website.
Millville Ordnance advertisements offered .30 caliber M1 Carbine barrels for ten months before they offered the Millville Ordnance M1 Carbines and receivers. By the time the Millville Ordnance carbines were introduced in October 1961 the advertisements included a variety of newly manufactured barrels in various lengths and various calibers, requiring only that the chamber be reamed for whatever caliber someone wished to experiment with in these barrels. Barrels sold by Millville Ordnance were usually, but not always, marked MOCO on the left or right side of the barrel near the gas piston housing.
Some of the Millville Ordnance barrels were made using 1903 barrels and "demilled" (government cut) GI U.S. M1 Carbine barrels. Some were made using commercially available barrel blanks.
The two most difficult surplus military M1 Carbine parts to obtain were the receivers and barrels. In an effort to clear their overwhelming backlog of surplus war material, U.S. Army Ordnance armories and arsenals had been destroying carbine receivers and barrels since about 1958. Many were cut in half, mixed in with tons of other scrap metal and sold for recycling. Commercial barrel manufacturers of .30 Caliber carbine barrels were non-existent in 1961. Most of the commercial carbine manufacturers 1961-1962 manufactured .30 caliber carbine barrels using .30 caliber Springfield 1903 barrels U.S. Army Ordnance and various branches of the military auctioned in the late 1950's and into the 1960's. Millville Ordnance included.
There were a variety of techniques employed by various companies to convert the 1903 barrels for use with the .30 caliber M1 Carbines. Most employed the use of either the rear half of an M1 Carbine barrel that had been cut in half by the government or a commercially cast rear half of the barrel. The rear half was cut just forward of the gas piston housing and bored out to receive a .30 caliber 1903 barrel. The 1903 barrel was cut to the proper length and machined to slide into the rear half of the carbine barrel. The barrel and rear sleeve were often held together using silver solder. The chamber was then reamed for the .30 caliber carbine cartridge.
.30 Caliber carbine barrels made using 1903 barrels can sometimes be identified by the number of lands and grooves, sometimes by examining the breach (end of the barrel inside the receiver), and/or sometimes by the absence of mandated Ordnance markings on the front half of the barrel when there are obvious GI barrel markings on the rear half of the barrel or gas piston housing.
The majority of U.S. Army Ordnance contracted 1903 barrels were manufactured with 4 lands and grooves as were all issued GI U.S. M1 Carbine barrels. Ordnance contracted 1903 barrels with 2 lands and grooves were manufactured by Remington for the 1903A4 rifles (as well as 4 land & groove barrels) and by a number of companies as replacement barrels for U.S. Army Ordnance. Savage Arms produced a very limited number of 6 groove 1903 barrels for Smith Corona. If a carbine barrel is found to have 2 lands and grooves it's highly likely it was manufactured from a 1903 barrel. Other than those made using the 1903 barrels, no issued M1 Carbine barrels government contract or otherwise have been made with 2 lands and grooves.
Examining the end of the barrel at the chamber will sometimes (but not always) reveal if a 1903 insert is inside the outer sleeve that is threaded into the carbine receiver.
A) Barrel skirt normally found on M1 Carbine barrels
B) Bored out rear half of barrel
C) 1903 barrel insert
In 1962 Small Arms Manufacturing Co. in Bridgeville, PA (predecessor of E.R. Shaw) began manufacturing barrel blanks in .30 caliber carbine. Millville Ordnance barrels not manufactured from 1903 barrels were manufactured using barrel blanks obtained from Small Arms Manufacturing Co.
The barrel blanks obtained from Small Arms Manufacturing Co. were absent the gas piston housing necessary for semi-automatic fire. They were also absent any means for attaching the gas piston housing. Barrels made by the use of a 1903 barrel and rear half of a carbine barrel could use the GI gas piston housing if it was present, but Millville Ordnance used the same gas piston housing and method of attaching it to the barrel as was used on their Small Army Manufacturing Co. barrel blanks. The gas piston housing and the manner in which it was attached to the barrel is one characteristic that helps identify which commercial carbine manufacturer used the barrel and usually the time period the barrel was made. Each commercial carbine manufacturer had their own consistent method of attaching the gas piston to the barrel as well as the type of gas piston they used.
The one thing that stands out the most about the barrels used by Millville Ordnance (and later H&S and the first Plainfield carbines) is the manner in which the gas piston was attached to the barrel and where. There are a number of additional things that make these stand out but these are the most obvious. The Millville Ordnance name is also a big clue, but not all of their barrels have the MOCO initials.
|A) Barrel was milled with a slot into which the gas piston housing was brazed in place|
B) Directly adjacent the front end of the channel that guides the slide back and forth is a notch
According to family members, Charlie did not have the ability to manufacture receivers or barrels. These services were contracted out to a machine shop. Charlie's family did not know which machine shop.
Plainfield Machine Company
Sixteen miles southwest of Union, NJ and Millville Ordnance was Plainfield Machine Company in Middlesex, NJ. Plainfield Machine was established as a machine shop in February 1951 by machinists William Haas and William Storck. Between 1951 and 1962 Plainfield Machine was contracted by various different companies for all types of machining.
It is not known when Charles Colle initially contacted or contracted Plainfield Machine for work on M1 Carbine receivers and barrels. It is not known if Plainfield Machine was the company that worked on the demilled GI receivers used by Colle. What is known, thanks to two of the sons of William Haas, is Plainfield Machine Company had not worked on M1 Carbines until they were contracted to by Charles Colle to machine barrels and receivers for Millville Ordnance. What later became Plainfield Machines M1 Carbines were born when Plainfield Machine was contracted to machine the barrels and receivers for Millville Ordnance. More on this follows as the history of Millville Ordnance continues on page 2.
The First MOCO Carbines
After the large two page advertisement in the March 1961 issue of Shooting Times indicating they would be offering M1 Carbine receivers soon, no further advertisements have been found until the October 1961 issue of Shooting Times magazine, when Millville Ordnance ran a full page advertisement for their "new M-1 Carbine" (below).
The small print..."NOW...AT LAST...you can own a brand new, .30 cal. M-1 Carbine...and every part of this superb gun is new and completely American made. The MOCO M-1 Carbine is not a patched-up military. This gun is precision-engineered and produced from the finest gun steels available and built in our own factory...". Like many advertisements the focus of this one was on marketing, as opposed to the truth of what the customer would actually receive. The receiver, barrel, and stock were commercially manufactured. Almost all of the parts were government contracted U.S. M1 Carbine parts sold as surplus.
Shooting Times magazine featured a monthly column called "The Times' Showcase" introducing new products of all types. The review below appears in "The Times' Showcase" section of the same issue containing the advertisement above.
A smaller version of the October 1961 advertisement ran in each issue of Shooting Times magazine from November 1961 through April 1962, adding spare parts for sale, MOCO barrels, MOCO receivers, MOCO barreled receivers, and complete MOCO carbines without the stock.