Again, you can say a company armed with the M1 can sustain a greater rate of fire - for sure, I think we would all agree with you, but we are not talking about semi autos.
It doesn't matter if we are talking about the SMLE being a tiny weeny bit better or light years ahead of the pack (remember bolt action battle rifles) - this is a theoretical debate about which is the best.
I happen to think the SMLE is better than the Mauser by a fair amount and am convinced that in the last 5 pages of posts, strong, rational arguments have been put forward supporting that position - with very few strong, rational arguments offered in rebuttal. The fact that far more countries used the Mauser was a good sounding one for a while - until several posters explained authoritatively why that is misleading in this debate. Other than that, pretty much nothing based on the technical abilities of the Mauser/1903/Arisaka etc.
No one has said the Mauser is a bad rifles - indeed there is a reason most civilian sporting bolt guns are derived from that action. Does not make it the best battle rifle.
None of the examples from WWII you suggest are really relevant to this debate. Lets have a look at them:
In Malaya the British lost because of a complete lack of understanding of jungle warfare and underestimating the Japanese. The British were consistently out manoeuvred and often out fought by the Japanese in this period. This largely continued until the British learned that they could operate in the jungle just like the Japanese, once that happened they began pushing the Japanese out of Burma after stopping them at Imphal and Kohima. In Malaya the Japanese fought by launching daring attacks across difficult terrain, outflanking and out manoeuvring the road bound British forces, isolating units, sowing confusion etc. The Japanese troops were at home in the jungle - until the British and Commonwealth troops became comfortable fighting there too, the Japanese generally won. Of course by that point, Malaya and Singapore had already long since fallen. Far more to it that who had the better rifle.
In Africa it was not an infantryman's or artilleryman's war, it was a tankers war. The much vaunted (and proven effective) combination of MG42 and Mauser really doesn't matter when you are fighting a war of rapid movement across great distances, often in relatively featureless terrain, nor does the rapid fire of the SMLE. Even at El Alamein, the battle was not won by infantry (though they had to assault a strongly held Axis line) it was won by massive artillery support and armoured breakthrough after the poor infantry had cleared minefields under fire. Also, the British and Commonwealth numerical superiority over the Axis forces was nowhere near 5 to 1 - nor even 2 to 1, it is not like the Italians were not there. Likewise, this total air superiority you mention came late in the campaign. The Axis did not lose in N Africa because the SMLE is better than the Mauser, they lost because the Afrika Korps could not break through the British lines in Egypt before they were so logistically strangled that they could not stop the counter attack that rolled them all the way back to Libya.
Montgomery was not a bad general at all, as you say. He was hardly one of history's great tacticians and was hamstrung by an excess of caution. Really nothing to do with the rifle his infantry carried.
Again - there is far more to all this than the rifle carried by either army. Having better weapons for the battlefield does not mean one side will win. Germany was ultimately defeated by the USSR - despite having better individual infantry weapons and despite have better tanks pound for pound (based on individual use, not the fact that the T34 was mass produced).
I maintain that these examples have limited bearing on the debate at hand. The WWII context is way beyond the heyday of the bolt action rifle, tactics and technology had moved on. Air power, vastly improved artillery, armoured forces all changed the face of war to render the bolt action battle rifle a wee bit obsolete. The Germans adapted to the new realities by aggressive infantry training and basing a whole tactical doctrine around the MG42. The British issued as many Bren LMGs as could be produced. The Americans issued the M1 Garand. Even after these solutions, some of them stop gaps, were found the issue of what the infantry carried really didn't decide much in the grand scheme in WWII. The war was ultimately won on the battlefield by a nation that issued the Mosin Nagant - by your logic that should make the MN the best bolt action battle rifle.
Whether by a tiny bit or a huge amount, the SMLE was better than other bolt action battle rifles as an infantry weapon. There has still been nothing said that refutes the logical arguments over the last 5 pages and 120 posts.
EDIT - Krinko - you too have awesome rifles. I have never shot a No 5, they feel so handy though.
Last edited by Scouse; September 29, 2012 at 02:52 AM.