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Old September 13, 2009, 01:26 PM   #1
muddinman_04
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World War One Rifle Question

Hey everybody,
I have recently become interested in the last ditch rifles made by Axis forces during the end of the Second World War.
Does anyone know of last ditch rifles made by enemy forces during the First World War? I have tried a few different Google searches and checked in a few of my books, but can't find anything.

Thanks!
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Old September 13, 2009, 01:42 PM   #2
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The only way to really know what you're looking at will be to educate yourself on common manufacturers of the types, and nationalities you are interested in, and their serial number indicators. At the time of the first world war, the last ditch production you are interested in will likely look the same as any other weapon of the period and type, but with noticeably rough fit and finish. At the point of near failure, military arms are produced faster, and cheaper, but generally on the same machinery. You may be looking at some weapons with serious enough quality control issues to make them unsafe. This would make an interesting collection, but not much of a shootable group of guns, just fun to look at how bad things can get. Just think of the poor soldier being sent to the front lines with the knowledge that he cannot win, and armed with a piece of garbage machined so badly it feels like it's full of sand. A little on the depressing side as a combat vet.
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Old September 13, 2009, 01:43 PM   #3
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I'm not aware of any "Last Ditch" rifles along the lines of the crude late-war Arisakas or VolksGewehr rifles, since no nation in WWI was as thoroughly crushed as were the Axis powers in WWII. (The November Armistice at Compi├Ęgne took place when German troops were still entrenched in France.)

However, one can see the exigencies of wartime production when one compares a 1917-vintage BSA or Spandau to a prewar Enfield or Obernsdorf.
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Old September 13, 2009, 01:48 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply!
Shootability would not be a concern of mine. Just was interested in maybe finding something built so poorly that it just makes you think about (like you stated) the shear desperation of the loosing force at hand.
I have seen a few Arisakas that are machined and assembled so poorly that they probably caused more casualties to their users than to the opposing force.
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Old September 13, 2009, 02:11 PM   #5
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I have seen a few Arisakas that are machined and assembled so poorly that they probably caused more casualties to their users than to the opposing force.
That myth about last ditch Arisakas has been around for awhile and is probably due to people attempting to fire live ammo through Japanese training rifles.Last ditch Arisakas are just as safe as the early war rifles.The only ones I would not shoot are the emergency use only t99s which are very rare anyway and arent seen very often.
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Old September 13, 2009, 02:36 PM   #6
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tater,
You feel free to shoot them. I rather like my face intact.
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Old September 13, 2009, 03:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by muddinman_04
tater,
You feel free to shoot them. I rather like my face intact.
Sorry, muddinman_04, but he's right.

The myth of the Last Ditch Arisaka has been caused by people confusing drill or practice rifles (which were designed to fire blanks or wooden bullets) with late-war, crudely-finished combat weapons.

An actual late-war "Last Ditch" Arisaka should be plenty safe to fire, provided it headspaces okay. It may be ugly, but it will shoot alright.

The training rifles are usually smoothbored, and have no locking lugs save the bolt-handle. They are not safe to fire.

Have a good gunsmith check it out first, of course, as with any old rifle. Steel does a lot of things when it passes its 50th birthday, and "get stronger" isn't one of them.
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Old September 13, 2009, 03:27 PM   #8
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even so, I will stick to collecting them. Too many errors could be made to say "they shoot just fine".
My thinking says they were crudely and hurriedly made in bombed out factories with B-29s flying over head dropping megatons of explosives. The smallest imperfection is all it would take.


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Old September 13, 2009, 06:39 PM   #9
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Guy at work last year showed me a "Japanese rifle" that he was wanting information on. Something someone brought home. It was a trainer, terribly crude. Painted black over bare metal, the original finish. Functional bolt, etc but it had a smooth bore and basically looked like a cast metal toy rifle from the 20th century era. I advised him that it was not to be fired. I also once had a last ditch or late type rifle, it had the crude features of the type but was a totally shootable gun, in excellent condition for the type. I did however, not attempt to fire it. I have an early 99 that is good enough for shooting anyway.
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Old September 13, 2009, 07:18 PM   #10
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Consider that by 1917, the Russians had quit and Germany now had all of the troops and armaments which once needed to be devoted to that front available to the western front. There would have been little need to quickly ramp up production and let quality be damned.

Also, in WWII German industry was tightly controlled by the ministry of Armaments. That is what enabled massive, rapid changes in production quotas and delivery schedules (and permitted the lowering of acceptance standards). There was no such organization in WWI capable of orchestrating and implementing these dramatic production changes in the very limited time between the failed German offensive of 1918 and the end of the war - and there would have been no impetus on Germany's part to ramp up mobilizations or armaments production prior to that offensive's failure.
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Old September 13, 2009, 08:07 PM   #11
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Considering that WWI was not fought on German soil, and Germany wasn't being bombed into a mud hole by bombers, German rifle production kept up the standards right to the end of the war.

The reason for "last ditch" arms in WWII was because the Allies were bombing German arms plants day and night, and we were fire bombing Japan to a cinder.
The bombing disrupted everything from suppling raw materials and steel to destroying the plants, to killing the production personnel.
They had no choice but to lower standards as far as possible, then to LESS than possible.

In WWI the German arms industry was carrying on in safety far from the war with good supplies of materials.
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Old September 14, 2009, 10:33 AM   #12
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You might be able to find some "French Last Ditch" WWI guns...
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Old September 14, 2009, 11:32 AM   #13
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http://www.odcmp.com/forms/m1917.pdf

I do not know about a 'LAST DITCH' during WW1, I believe the British allowed us to to have an option, we chose to build the M1917 Enfield so I guess it could be said we had a 'FIRST DITCH', we ditched the 03 for the M1917, Browning/Winchester found nickel in 1895, Springfield found nickel in 1926.


http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:...&ct=clnk&gl=us


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Old September 14, 2009, 12:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
I do not know about a 'LAST DITCH' during WW1, I believe the British allowed us to to have an option, we chose to build the M1917 Enfield so I guess it could be said we had a 'FIRST DITCH', we ditched the 03 for the M1917, Browning/Winchester found nickel in 1895, Springfield found nickel in 1926.
I don't agree with that characterization. The U.S. armed services didn't "ditch" the 1903 Springfield for the U.S. M1917 - production continued at the armories producing 03's throughout the war. It's just that neither Springfield nor Rock River could produce enough rifles to outfit all of the new soldiers, and Remington had extra capacity to manufacture the M1917 based on the Enfield P14 pattern, so contracted for BOTH rifles to be manufactured and issued simultaneously. Definitely not any sort of "last ditch" effort, nor a replacement of the 1903 by the 1917, just an augmentation.
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Old September 14, 2009, 03:32 PM   #15
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If either the Model 1917 or the Model 1903 was "last ditch", that was a pretty good ditch.

The fact is that those Japanese Type 99 "last ditch" rifles (tacked on buttplate, cylindrical bolt knob, uncheckered safety, single range peep sight) are safe to fire. The receivers are forged and the barrels are good. I have one that has fired close to MOA with Norma ammunition, hardly the "junk" people usually call them.

I also have three Japanese training rifles, reasonably well made and perfect for training. I am even a bit skeptical about those blowing up if fired with live ammo. First, they were made only for the 6.5, not the 7.7. And the bore is much larger than the bullet, so pressure would be nearly non-existent. I still strongly advise never to fire one with a bulleted round, but I would like to hear from someone who has actually SEEN one that blew up. (No, I don't mean what someone said that someone told your friend's cousin's brother-in-law's sister's aunt. I mean actually SEEING a training rifle that blew up.)

And no, for the reasons stated, there were no real "last ditch" rifles in WWI.

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Old September 14, 2009, 05:38 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jim Keenan
I also have three Japanese training rifles, reasonably well made and perfect for training. I am even a bit skeptical about those blowing up if fired with live ammo. First, they were made only for the 6.5, not the 7.7. And the bore is much larger than the bullet, so pressure would be nearly non-existent. I still strongly advise never to fire one with a bulleted round, but I would like to hear from someone who has actually SEEN one that blew up.
True story; if I'm lyin', I'm dyin':

When I was still working at Randy's Guns & Knives, these three dudes come strolling in with what looks to be, from a distance, a regular old wartime Arisaka and start perusing the ammo shelves. I asked if I could help them; they asked if I had any Arisaka ammo. (This was before Graf's was loading it again and Norma was the sole source.)

I was out of both kinds, and so I just answered "Nope," before enquiring as to the variety they needed. They didn't know. "We just shot the three rounds that we had for it from his pawpaw..." (I think it was three rounds; it may have been two. It's been a few years.)

"Well, let me see it, and I'll try and order the right kind."

They brought it over to the gunsmith who was standing next to me and, sure enough, it was a trainer, without a locking lug to its name; like a Gras or a Gew.71, the only thing between Cletus and a bolt through his grape was the bolt handle nestling in the receiver wall cutout. The gunsmith warned them that it probably wasn't at all safe to shoot anymore, explained to them what it was, and sent them on their way, muttering "There go the three luckiest guys in Tennessee..."
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Old September 14, 2009, 07:01 PM   #17
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And if my 30 years experience is any indication, they figured the gunsmith was full of crap and continued shooting the thing.

Recently on another site we attempted to convince a new poster that the German gas capsule revolver he had that was marked as a "Colt Magnum Carry .32 Magnum, Made Under Colt License" with a Zamac frame and a pinned in barrel was NOT a real Colt OR a real gun.
He was insisting it was an aluminum frame and a real gun that he was going to get back in shooting shape.

I suspect he went out anyway and tried to buy a cylinder and other parts to try to get it to work.

The stories most any gunsmith can tell.
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Old September 16, 2009, 07:21 AM   #18
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1913-217802-234830

1914-PRODUCTION TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED

1915-PRODUCTION TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED

1916-PRODUCTION TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED

First Ditch? Production was suspended, temporarily was added, Springfield did not have a clue or there was something wrong with the rifle, Canada was gearing up, England was gearing up, we were shutting down, there were no Boy Scouts at Springfield, 2/3 of the rifles manufactured at Rock Island were low numbers, 23 years after John Browning added nickel to the 1894 30/30 Winchester, Rock Island discovered it. Think about it, if it was not for Springfield working with WWHUA there would have been a need for Hatcher.

http://www.google.com/search?q=p14+r...itle&resnum=16

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Old September 16, 2009, 07:23 AM   #19
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would not have been a need,

forgive,

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Old September 16, 2009, 01:07 PM   #20
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Quote:
Does anyone know of last ditch rifles made by enemy forces during the First World War?
WWI was waged in a different manner than WWII, and did not involve the heavy bombing that devastated industrial and commercial areas, nor did it involve the tactic of mass invasion of the enemy's homeland. WWI was fought from trenches, mostly at a relativley safely removed distance from civilian population areas, WWII was fought in the cities, streets, fields, forests and mountains of the world. WWI ended by armistice when the enemy could no longer support the war effort on a manpower and financial basis, WWII ended when the enemy was bombed 24 hrs/day for several years, pounded into submission, invaded, and overrun. So, in answer to your initial question, there were no "last ditch" weapons made for WWI because there was no "last ditch" battle fought.
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Old September 17, 2009, 03:00 PM   #21
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Most people don't realize that WWI didn't end due to a total military defeat per se but due to revolutions. Both Germany and Austria were in the grip of major socialist-style uprisings, and part of the reason for the armistice was to get "loyal" troops home to suppress the socialist movements. This backfired, and the resulting chaos was the main reason for Germany having to accept the Versailles treaty; it's military forces had basically melted away.
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Old September 17, 2009, 04:48 PM   #22
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In 1918, Germany was in a bad way. They had not planned for a long war, and the British blockade was taking its toll on civilian goods. With the massive burden of supporting a huge army, the German people were starving. There was a very real threat of Communist revolution, with Soviet agents promoting "peace at any price" and touting a communist takeover as the only means of attaining that peace.

Even after the armistice, the blockade continued and of course there was still the army to feed even though it was now doing nothing. The allies deliberately prolonged the "negotiations" to get better terms from Germany. The suffering in Germany was great, and it was the memory of that period that Hitler used to promote his program and to build hatred of the Jews, who were widely believed to have sent money to England (untrue, but many Germans believed it). The allies, naturally, felt that Germany started the war, which it did, and deserved what it got.

In any case, World War, Part II, got underway in 1939.

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Old September 18, 2009, 06:47 AM   #23
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Quote:
WWI ended by armistice when the enemy could no longer support the war effort on a manpower and financial basis
So you would think that there would be some late war rifles that would be made with less quality control. This is sort of what I had in mind.
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Old September 18, 2009, 07:57 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by muddinman04
So you would think that there would be some late war rifles that would be made with less quality control. This is sort of what I had in mind.
Yes, that's what I said above; comparing the "hurry-up" rifles of '17-'18 to the almost lavish prewar guns will show the difference. But it's nothing like the crude "last ditch" WWII rifles to which you refer.

Mostly, a late war Mauser from one of the military arsenals like Spandau is just ugly in terms of fit and finish.
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Old September 19, 2009, 06:43 AM   #25
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I have a few german Gewehr 98's from 1915 to 1917, compared to my pre-war export mauser 1908 (brasil) there is a difference in fit of parts, as example the safety level locks nice and tight and does not move at all in ''shoot'' position. The Gewehr 98 1917 ''Spandau'' as example has a very loose safety lever, there is als a noticeable difference in locking the bolt - the 1908's bolt will glide whereas the Spandau Gewehr 98's bolt will rumble a bit. Both are extremely accurate.

To me the differences between a pre-war G98 and a late-war G98 is not worth mentioning it.

This is my brasil 1908 G98 but re-bored to 8x57


Last edited by Moloch; September 19, 2009 at 06:56 AM.
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