Firstly, regarding Lew’s comments about the so-called “Bay of Pigs” ammunition, not all the rounds were made at Lake City. Those with “AN” headstamp were made at Twin Cities Arsenal, those with “BN” headstamp were made at the St. Louis Ordnance Plant, and those with “CN” headstamps were made by Lake City. These rounds were not ordered specifically for the operation now referred to as the “Bay of Pigs Invasion,” but rather for any clandestine use that presented itself. Lake City production, by the way, was completed by 1953.
Reference: “.30-06” by Chris Punnett.
Regarding Golden State Arms, “Santa Fe” was one of their brand names, but they were not the only ones to make ersatz 03A3 receivers. There receivers are thought to have been made in Yugoslavia, but I cannot confirm that. The main producer was National Ordnance Company, a brand name of Federal Ordnance, of South El Monte, California. Receivers were investment castings, and have a poor reputation. Whether or not that reputation is deserved, I leave up to everyone else. We sold a few in our store, mostly bought by us over the counter as used guns. They were rough to the feel (working the bolt usually felt like you were sliding it over sand paper), but they were functional and we experienced no problems with the ones we sold. We stopped buying them when they developed a bad reputation for safety, again, whether deserved or not. “The Springfield 1903 Rifles,” by Bill Brophy, page 101, indicates that in January 1963, the esteemed H. P. White Laboratory gave the cast receivers “a clean bill of health” and in October 1963, a report from the Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House, of Brimingham, England reported the same. No weakness or flaws were found by “the absive and destructive tests conducted on three sample receivers.”
Unfortunately, there is little else anywhere on these rifles. A shame, since despite their shooting reputation, they are scarce enough that they should be rather collectible. Original manufacturing quality is certainly not a determining factor in what is collectible, or no one would want late-manufacture Japanese arms or German Volksturm weapons, both very much sought after by collectors. There are other fields replete with low quality examples such as “Staurday Night specials,” small auto pistols, etc.
I will not get into the CIA connection, as I know nothing about it.
Regarding the use of Johnson Rifles at the Bay of Pigs fiasco, I could find no information on that subject. The book “Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns” by Bruce Canfield, on page 219, says “A few of the Johnson weapons were reportedly used by the Castro Forces during the Cuban revolt that over-tunred the Batista government.” Unfortunately, he uses the term “weapons” which would have to include the Johnson LMG, so we don’t know if he was taling about rifles at all. It is certainly possible; pictures of the times showed these communist rebels with all manner of commercial and military rifles. Castro himself carried an FN-Mauser sporting rifle, and there are pictures of him with it. It is reported that Indonesia sold many of the Johnson rifles left over from the Dutch East Indies days to communist countries (most of the Johnson military rifles made were actually for the Dutch Colonial Forces in Indonesia, and I, for one, have never seen a Johnson Military Rifle with a rear sight graduated in inch measurements, nor a Johnson rifle bayonet that was not with a dutch scabbard, with its very narrow belt loop that will fit NO standard U.S. military load-carrying gear).
In some tome referred to in Canfield’s books as Maynard Johnson’s “Unpardonable” (the title? I am not familiar with the work), Johnson evidently made the statement, in the epilogue, contained in a broader discussion, "“Though I am utterly silent about the Cuban situation I finally established that Castro got their guns from the Dutch West Indies and several other second to fourth-hand sources.” I wonder if he actually meant “Dutch East Indies,” since there is mention of Indonesia selling off Johnson Rifles? It is certainly possible that he meant the “Dutch West Indies,” as many Johnson rifles were turned over to the “Free Dutch Forces,” in the West Indies and used by the Dutch Navy there.
At any rate, it is likely that Castro’s group used a few Johnson rifles - remember, his original force was only something around 40 insurgents - and perhaps acquired more Johnsons later. It is known that later they had some Johnson LMG’s, and these are often confused with the Johnson rifle.