Part 3. Elizalde and the Filipinos improved Armalite for Colt
ISRAELIS (then only 600,000) won their independence against the British and Arabs with Sten guns made in their basements. With only three million people, Israel earns billions exporting UZIs and GALIL assault rifles.
Belgium (population: 10 million) with its Fabrique Nacionale is one of the biggest munitions makers in the world, its FN assault rifle using 7.56 mm bullets now the NATO standard.
Italy with its Beretta 9mm pistol now replacing the Colt .45 as the standard side arm in the US Forces, is also a large manufacturer of arms.
The Soviet Union makes AK-47, undoubtedly one of the best assault rifles in the world, better than the US M16 Armalite, as far as accuracy at long range is concerned.
The USA, by far the biggest user and exporter of arms despite its claim to be peace-loving, is out of touch with the rest of the world, still using the English system of measures when even England is already in the metric system. Its arms are not compatible with the rest -- Garand .30-06, carbine .30 cal., Colt .45, Armalite .223 cal. (5.56 mm.).
As NEC Chairman, I was told by Chief of Staff General Alfredo Santos that the Americans limited our supply of ammunitions to only three days’ use. The idea that the USA controlling our defense capability, outraged me. I was determined to do something about it.
I asked President Macapagal's authorization to secure an ammunitions plant from abroad, and he approved. The JUSMAG laughed in our faces, and every other European nation was pressured by the USA to refuse us. I decided to get it from Japanese Reparations.
The Japanese told me that this is impossible because the provisions renouncing war as an instrument of national policy in their Constitution forbids them to make any weapons. President Macapagal helped by mentioning to the Japanese Prime Minister that I speak with his authority.
Whereupon I told Gaimushu (Foreign Office) in no uncertain terms that I have the ultimate authority to approve every Reparations deal, that unless I get my munitions plant, they might find me uncooperative to the nth degree.
Soon I got my munitions plant as “metal forming equipment,” installed in Limay, Batangas, and capable of producing more than 10 million rounds a year of 5.56 mm bullets for Armalites, .30 cal. for M1 carbine, and .45 cal. for the Colt Pistol and the Thompson machine gun.
For this hush-hush project, I hired retired Col. Manuel Salientes, West Pointer, MIT man and Pangalatok like me -- as my trusted liaison man to pursue the project in Japan. He did his job so well, Marcos later made him Undersecretary of Defense for Munitions. This munitions capability was what Marcos used for plotting a war against the Moros and Malaysia, in what is known as the “Jabidah Affair,” duly exposed by Senator Ninoy Aquino. Our Government Arsenal at Limay, is now headed by General Antonio Rocha.
Even then, there was already a small munitions plant set up by the Tuasons of Squires Bingham, the Arms Corporation (Armscor) in Marikina. Headed by Board Chairman Bololo Tuason and President Carlos “Butch” Tuason, it produces real guns -- .38 caliber police revolvers, .22 caliber revolvers and rifles, and 12 gauge shotguns -- with ammunition to match.
The Elizaldes set up Elitol to manufacture Armalites under contract with Colt Industries.
The skill and genius of the Filipino that made the Danao revolver a legend among Japan’s Yakuza, showed itself early in Elitol’s product which proved much superior to those of the USA.
The US Armalite M16 in full automatic mode can spit 800 rounds a minute, with a bullet grouping within a 4 1/2 inch diameter at 150 yards. Elitol's product consistently did better, achieving a grouping within a 2 1/2 inch diameter at the same range.
How was this done?
First, Elitol eliminated the usual “2 o'clock kick” of the Armalite by designing a muzzle compensator with gas ports that force down the barrel of the gun accurately upon firing.
Second, Elitol added a third mode to the single/automatic selector: a three shot burst that saved a lot of wasted ammunition, and still be effective as an automatic.
The Americans were impressed. They adopted the Elitol innovations in the M16-A2 model, and neither paid nor gave any credit to Elitol.
For that is the way with American patent holders; their technical agreements stipulate that the patent user give any technical improvement he develops free of charge to the patent holder. And then the patent holder may charge more royalty for its use. This is also what happened to H. G. Henares & Sons when it manufactured and improved Parker’s Quink for Parker Pen Co.
This should be borne in mind by those who move to protect the intellectual property of Americans.
Our gun-runners in Congress, military and dissidents, must realize that we have good gunsmiths here, including those who accurize the Colt .45 or any other gun, better than Pachmyr of the USA.
If we have to kill each other, for God's sakes, let's do it with our own weapons.
November 20, 21 and 27, 1989, Philippine Daily Inquirer