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Old September 12, 2012, 08:16 PM   #1
Amsdorf
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VIDEO: Finest Bolt Action Battle Rifle in History?

The Lee-Enfield, a remarkable battle rifle with one of the longest service histories in the world, even today being used on active duty. The bolt operation is so fast that during World War I there were times when the Germans thought they were under attack by British machine guns, no bolt action rifle was able to be fired as quickly and with as much accuracy at high speed than the Lee-Enfield.

Do you own one? Would love to hear from others about their Lee-Enfields. Here is mine with a bit of background on the rifle's history:


LINK TO VIDEO HERE.
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Old September 12, 2012, 08:27 PM   #2
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I have a no1 mk III as do many other Aussies. The mk3 isn't very accurate but they're great fun to shoot. I'd be interested to see how others load them because unless I manually load each round with the rim of the following round in front of the previous, the rims get stuck on each other and that's the end of any rapid fire capability.

Loading from a stripper clip puts one rim behind the other which is strange. Wonder if its just mine

I'm waiting for a good deal on a no4 mk 1 now, but before that I have to buy another safe!
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Old September 13, 2012, 11:45 AM   #3
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;)

LOL

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Old September 13, 2012, 11:56 AM   #4
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The bolt operation is so fast that during World War I there were times when the Germans thought they were under attack by British machine guns, no bolt action rifle was able to be fired as quickly and with as much accuracy at high speed than the Lee-Enfield.
It wasn't the rifle, it was the shooters. Capt Edward C. Crossman talks about this in his book "Military and Sporting Rifle Shooting.

During WWI we were totally un prepared for war, we lacked the guns and we lacked the training.

After the incident you refereed to, a team of British NCOs were brought to the Infantry School at Benning to instruct in the use of Bolt Action Rifles.

IT was the technique, not the rifle. Crossman also covers that technique.

The Enfield is a fine rifle, but if you shoot them side by side, you'll find it no match or our US Springfield's.

In the CMP GSM Clinics and matches I run, I see several military bolt guns shooting side by side, none can compete with the Springfield. One of the reasons the Springfield was given its own catagory.
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Old September 13, 2012, 12:11 PM   #5
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"It wasn't the rifle, it was the shooters. Capt Edward C. Crossman talks about this in his book "Military and Sporting Rifle Shooting."

It was both.

It was at the Battle of Mons where that happened.

The British Expeditionary Force at that time was composed of some of the world's best trained riflemen firing, at that time, the world's fastest operating rifle.

Those same troops couldn't have given the same impression with either the Mauser or the Springfield - the bolt action on those rifles is appreciably slower than that of an Enfield.

There's a very appropriate saying that came out of World War I:

The Germans had the best hunting rifle

The Americans had the best target rifle

The British had the best battle rifle.
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Old September 13, 2012, 12:46 PM   #6
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The problem with the Lee Enfield, (and our M1917) in regards to speed of rapid fire is that it cocks on closing as opposed to cocking on opening as the Springfield, and most sporting bolt action rifles.

In rapid bolt fire, the rifle should never be taken from the shoulder while working the bolt.

Put both rifles to your shoulder and see which is easier, cocking while lifting the bolt or by pushing the bolt home.

In operating the bolt many people teach doing it by the numbers. 1, lifting the bolt, 2 bringing it to the rear, 3, pushing it forward, 4 pushing the bolt handle down into locked position.

Crossman (and COL. Macnab) taught to forget "by the numbers" it should be one smooth motion.

A better method would be similar to the game we played as kids. One kid would extend his hands palms up, the second kid would place his hand palms down just above the first kids.

To slap the second kids hands, the first rolls his hands getting them face or palm down slapping the back of the hands of the second kid.

Working the bolt is the same, Palm up slapping the bolt open, as you roll your hand (to get the palm down) you push the bolt back, as you continue the roll the had pushes the bolt home. Just ONE smooth rolling motion as you would roll and slap the hand above yours.

After a bit of practice you can work the bolt rather quickly without disturbing the sight alignment.

This procedure is near impossible with a rifle that cocks on clothing. The original slap of the bottom of the palm cocks the rifle.
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Old September 13, 2012, 01:30 PM   #7
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The rifle should never be taken from the shoulder while working the bolt.

Fixed it for ya.

I see no advantage to taking it off the shoulder. Maybe you don't always need the speed, but if you are ready for the next shot in a second, and have 2 or 5 or 1/2 an hour, what is lost?

Quote:
Put both rifles to your shoulder and see which is easier, cocking while lifting the bolt or by pushing the bolt home.
The fastest bolt gun I have is a 93 Mauser .... cocks on closing.

There is no need to even roll your hand, or let go of the bolt handle in the Brittish method: trigger is pulled with the middle finger.

As for the WWI era '03 Springfield being a better battle rifle- the original target style sight was atrocious for practical use. The '03A3 fixed that, but it was not around in WWI.
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Old September 13, 2012, 02:30 PM   #8
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"The problem with the Lee Enfield, (and our M1917) in regards to speed of rapid fire is that it cocks on closing as opposed to cocking on opening as the Springfield, and most sporting bolt action rifles.

In rapid bolt fire, the rifle should never be taken from the shoulder while working the bolt."

For rapid fire, cock on closing is FAR preferable. The light bolt handle lift on opening also does far less to disturb the aim than the much heavier Mauser-style cock on opening.

By cocking on closing, there's virtually no rotational torque that can disturb sight alighment. Upon closing, the cocking cycle benefits not only from the forward momentum of the closing bolt/hand pushing it, but also the fact that that force is in a straight line with the rifle and is thus MUCH easier to control.

And, I'm not sure how you're shooting your Enfields, but I find it to be very easy to cycle the bolt on my No. 1 Mk III without breaking cheek weld.

I can also fire my No. 1 FAR more rapidly than I can my 1903A3, and I've had the 1903 far longer, and shot it far more.


"Working the bolt is the same, Palm up slapping the bolt open, as you roll your hand (to get the palm down) you push the bolt back, as you continue the roll the had pushes the bolt home. Just ONE smooth rolling motion as you would roll and slap the hand above yours."

I'm more than familiar with that method of cycling the Springfield's bolt. You do it that way because you really HAVE to do it that way, otherwise you can't get sufficient leverage to overcome the cocking resistance. And, you do realize that every time you change the position of your hand in that maneuver you slow down your total cycle time dramatically?

With the Lee Enfield you don't need to change the position of your hand in relation to the bolt handle at all.

It can be easily manipulated with the thumb, index, and middle fingers, with the trigger being pulled with the pinky finger.

The arm only moves, really, at the elbow. None of the flailing of the hand and arm required by the Mauser or Sprinfield.

There's a good reason why the best of the British Army could fire as many as 30 aimed shots in a minute, something that is impossible to do with the Sprinfield.

Even if you strip away the Enfield's 10 round magazine advantage and fire it 5 rounds load fire 5 load, etc., it still handily beats the Mauser and Springfield.

The Springfield and Mauser are fine rifles, but they are not fast rifles when compared to a Lee Enfield.
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Last edited by Mike Irwin; September 13, 2012 at 02:42 PM.
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Old September 13, 2012, 08:08 PM   #9
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I don't think the 1903A3 sight's are too great either.
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Old September 13, 2012, 08:43 PM   #10
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Actually they are pretty good. Decent peep that is durable and easy to adjust.
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Old September 14, 2012, 12:04 PM   #11
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;)

This is the first year I have had some trouble with 03 sights at 300 yards.



The thin front sight just dissipates into the bull at longer ranges.
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Old September 15, 2012, 07:58 PM   #12
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Kraigwy - as I understood it, the official method for working the bolt on the Enfield was to grip the end of the bolt handle between the bent forefinger and the thumb. If done properly it is just as quick as slapping with the palm and actually results in less wasted momentum - you still have the efficient single motion with that flick of the wrist, just greater control and without the chance of your sweaty palm slipping off the bolt handle and gouging it on the magazine cut-off or something.

This was told to me by a gent who collects and studies Lee Enfields who I met at Bisley while researching my dissertation on The Battle Of Mons, which has been mentioned. I always pictured beforehand, people working bolt actions with the palm, like you said. However personally, I found the thumb and bent forefinger method most natural - it only came up when I fired a string like that and he commented that most people palm the bolt unless told otherwise.

That said, your experience with rifles is vastly greater than my own, just thought I would mention it.

EDIT - I see Mike Irwin has already mentioned the thumb and forefinger method, my bad, didn't read properly apparently!
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Old September 15, 2012, 09:20 PM   #13
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What caliber is the dog?
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Old September 15, 2012, 10:34 PM   #14
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There is a lot of myth surrounding around the Mk1. Ditto the M16 (if there is a gun with worse ergonomics I don't know what it is but people who train on it swear by it). It just means you can train around any deficiency.

Mk1 is has pretty poor accuracy so its disingenuous to say it’s the fastest most accurate bolt action rifle. That might go to the M1917.

The 303 is not a great cartridge either. Pretty much an clunker that the US gave up with the Kraig as did almost all other armies (some like the Russians never got out of the mud of the trenches as it were). Lots of striked against the Mk1 but if you had to use it and your life depended on it you would find it virtuous.

British believed in volley fire and trained for it (and had sights on the guns for it). Ergo the techniques and worked fine when you did not loose lots of troops.

Long time trained and drilled British army solder could shoot rapidly with ok accuracy against a mass, but they also perished at a high rate in WWI (as well as the Boor War) so that left you?

I doubt the average Brit was any better than the average American with his rifle (be it M1917 or the 1903).

I had one guy claim the Mk1 could outshoot an M1. Hmmm. Right.

Respect the iron men who used it, but reality has its own cold bath of water. 1903 was not the most used arm by the US in WWI either, it was the M1917 by a lot. Pretty fair adaptation of the platform to a useful form the Brits would have been better off keeping.
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Old September 16, 2012, 05:57 AM   #15
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RC20 - I am not sure about the MKI (the rifle at the time of WWI was the MKIII) having "pretty poor accuracy" . . . I mean, sure it isn't a popular choice as a match rifle, but it isn't one, it is a battle rifle. Obviously that is easy to say and could be used to excuse very poor accuracy, but the Enfield is not an inaccurate rifle.

For a lot of years world long range records were shot with .303 at Bisley, so it is not an inherently inaccurate cartridge, though not as accurate as some. The Enfield might not be as accurate as the Springfield, might develop headspacing issues with heavy use that the Mauser will not which effect accuracy - but I feel we are talking about small fractions here, not something that are going to materially affect its capacity to do its job. All common, full size, versions of the Enfield served with distinction as snipers weapons at one point or another and there were never great complaints about inadequate accuracy.

As for the .303, it does have inferior ballistics to most of its competitors, particularly 30.06 and 7.92x57. Still, more than adequate for its job. The MKVII cartridge in particular, the standard rifle ammo for Commonwealth forces, had a documented tendency to yaw violently upon penetration because of its far back centre of gravity, giving it terminal effects beyond what you would expect on paper. The .303 in the Lee Enfield has a poor reputation for accuracy these days because ammo companies, for reasons best known to themselves, load undersized bullets in them (.309 rather than .311 - I think I have that right, anyway).

The British Army did not base its doctrine around volley fire. Troops were trained for individual fire, mostly at 300yards. There were "volley sights" on the rifles, and doctrine for them was platoon or company fire at area targets in the distance (still not volley fire, just massed fire). At normal battlefield ranges, soldiers fired individually and were trained to aim at individuals within the enemy ranks. Not volley fire against a mass.

The rules changed after the Boer War when the British infantry were shot to pieces by a population of country men who spent their lives in the saddle with a Mauser at their side. That was what prompted the reforms that produced the BEF of 1914.

Fastforward to 1914, after the Haldane Reforms had reshaped the army and you have a completely different force. The Expeditionary Force was composed of men who had been trained almost obsessively in musketry. All the stuff about 30 aimed rounds a minute is not myth (obviously most men couldn't do that, but man for man, the British infantry shot faster and at least as accurately as other armies). The armies of every combatant nation perished in huge numbers once deployed to the Western Front. From August 1914, the British Army had the best infantry riflemen in the war and punched way above their weight. By early 1915, this small number had been decimated and until 1918 the Germans and Canadians were the most effective armies on the Western Front, the British were not.

After 1915, I would agree with you that it is unrealistic to claim the British Armies riflemanship was any better than that of any other country, by then the army was made up of reservists, later volunteers and conscripts. From the Battle of Mons to First Ypres however, there was a small corps of highly trained men, who repeatedly held positions with minimal support against overwhelming odds solely by virtue of their capacity to shoot men fast at battlefield ranges. The Lee Enfield MKIII and the training of the troops who used them were both vital parts, without either the same effect would not have been achieved.
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Old September 16, 2012, 06:30 AM   #16
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"Mk1 is has pretty poor accuracy so its disingenuous to say it’s the fastest most accurate bolt action rifle."

As far as I can tell, you're the only one who has mentioned that in this thread...

And, as with anything, "poor accuracy" is a relative term.

If I'm careful with my No. 1 I can cut 1.5 to 3" groups at 100 yards using surplus South African military ammo.

My 1903A3 isn't much better than that. Of course, with hand loads I'm sure that I could shrink them both quite a bit, especially the 1903.

But, the Lee Enfield design was more than accurate enough as a military rifle, and the design was also accurate enough to compete favorably in a number of early Palma matches, and win at least one.

"British believed in volley fire and trained for it..."

Uhm... The British believed in individual marksmanship ability and trained for that. Not sure where you got he concept that the British only did volley fire...

The annual empire "Rattle Battle" wasn't won with volley fire, nor were the many, many military shooting matches held around the world.

"The 303 is not a great cartridge either. Pretty much an clunker that the US gave up with the Kraig as did almost all other armies (some like the Russians never got out of the mud of the trenches as it were). Lots of striked against the Mk1 but if you had to use it and your life depended on it you would find it virtuous."

The Kraig? You mean the Krag, as in Krag-Jorgenson.

Uhm... Yeah, it was such a clunker that it was used as Britiain's primary military cartridge for nearly 75 years, and is still used in military applications in numerous nations around the world.

It was a rimmed cartridge. When it was adopted, there were a lot of rimmed cartridges in service. That doesn't make it a clunker.

The fact that it also wasn't replaced with a rimless cartridge doesn't make it a clunker, either.

What that indicates is that, when paired with properly designed weapons, it provided the British with a very capable cartridge that saw them through to the victorious side of two world wars and countless lesser military excursions around the world.

Ballistically, the British military cartridge was VERY similar to the ballistics fielded by the .30-06, the 8mm Lebel, the 8mm Mauser, and the 7.62x54R.

In fact, I believe that the 175-gr. Mark VII ball cartridge had trajectory ballistics superior to the 150-gr. Ball M2 cartridge used by the United States in World War II.

In any event, not sure how you've arrived at the conclusion that the .303 cartridge was a "clunker."

"Long time trained and drilled British army solder could shoot rapidly with ok accuracy against a mass, but they also perished at a high rate in WWI (as well as the Boor War) so that left you?"

Everyone, from all sides, perished. That's what happens when you pit 19th century tactics against the 20th century reality of massed machine guns and artillery.

But, what it left you is a less well trained military that was still armed with the fastest operating bolt action rifle fielded by any power..

AND it left a core contingent of non commissioned officers from the old standing army who passed those handling skills on to soldiers heading for the trenches, where they perfected the techniques needed to operate the action rapidly. If they weren't killed by artillery or a machine gun in a pointless "Over the top."

"reality has its own cold bath of water." Well, it does.... but only if you're addressing the correct reality.

The 1917 was, generally, faster than the Springfield or the Mauser, but it still wasn't as quick as the Lee-Enfield.

The dog leg bolt is a true pain in the ass to manipulate rapidly through the upstroke, and bolt chatter can be a serious issue with it, which really slows the cyclic rate.

On the plus side, the 1917 has a very good apeture battle sight. I turned in some great groups with one once.
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Old September 16, 2012, 08:05 AM   #17
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Quote:
I doubt the average Brit was any better than the average American with his rifle (be it M1917 or the 1903).
Um, I have to disagree with that. Frankly after the Spanish American War, we, the Americans (soliders) sucked when it came to marksmanship. At the turn of the century we had little interest in military preparedness.

I believe it was McBrides "A Rifleman Goes to War" where McBride reports that the NCO's in Europe would often "charge" the privates a fee to show them how to work their rifles This was in the trenches. (I may have my books mixed up).

In 1914 the British and more so the Americans were ill prepaired for war, which explains the huge losses the British suffered the first few years of the war.

Quote:
1903 was not the most used arm by the US in WWI either, it was the M1917 by a lot. Pretty fair adaptation of the platform to a useful form the Brits would have been better off keeping.
The reason the M1917 was used more in WWI wasn't that it was a better rifle, but it was because we didn't have enough Springfields.

Except for Cuba and the Philippiens we hadn't sent an army overseas and didn't understand that we would have to.

Production of the Springfield stopped after 10 years of production because we assumed we had enough rifles to meet our needs.

At the start of WWI we had 600,000 Springfields and 160,000 Krags (Krags not Kraig, I'm Kraig, the Krag is a rifle) to supply what would end up being 2,084,000 troops eventually sent to France.

The M1917 was already being developed to supply the British ( but production delays caused the British to cancil the contracts since they were able to get their Enfield product up to snuff).

Since we were geared up to produce milions of M1917s it was a simple proceedure to convert these rifle to the 30 Cal ('06) US Round.

Springfield and Rock Island simply couldn't produce the rifles we needed.

As mentioned the Marksmanship Abilities of the American Soldier, during the period was lacking. Seriously lacking.

Gen Pershing understood that and commissioned Col McNab to develope a program of instruction in rifle marksmanship for the Infantry School and in France which greatly enhanced the quality of marksmanship of the troops in France (This was nothing more then the program of instruction of the Small Arms Firing School conducted at Perry and the Eastern and Western Games conducted by the Civilian Marksmanship Program).

Whether the Springfield is more accurate then the M1917 or British Enfield is debatable. Based on our individual experiences.

I have an excellent M1917, and from sand bags and sling position it will shoot as well as my 1903a3. But in a CMP GSM match it wont hold a candle to my 'A3. To me the 1903 is just easier to shoot.

But for a fair aynalsis one needs to look at the scores fired at the CMP's Garand, Springfield, and Vintage Military (GSM) games. When you look down the list of score, (you have to compare the different matchs as the Springfield has a seperate class) The Springfield scores are higher on the average. Even a tad bit higher then the Garand.

The Enfield is classed with the M1917, Mausers, Mosins, Sweeds, Swiss, etc etc. The scores over all in these matches are lower then the scores fired in the Garand and Spingfield matches.

Understanding the GSM matches are not match rifles, but as issued military surplus rifles.

The CMP awards metals for the GSM matches, Gold, Silver and Bronze, based on scores. The Spingfield cut off score is a point or two higher then the Garand. The "other" military rifle cut off is some what lower then both the Springfield and the Garand.

But in reality, its based on personal experience, and the individual rifle we shoot. A Mosin would be a good example of this; One has a Mosin with an excellent barrel and swears it's the most accurate miliary rifle in existance. The next guy gets a poor, pitted, worn out barrel and swears it a kin to throwing rocks.

Thats why I like to choose the results of the CMP GSM Games where 100's of rifles are used. When it comes to Vintage Sniper Rifles, few can compete with the M1903a4s.
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Old September 17, 2012, 08:59 PM   #18
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I certainly stand corrected on a number of issues, also learned a lot!
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Old September 20, 2012, 10:44 AM   #19
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With arsenal ammo, the .303 SMLE's were more accurate at the longer ranges than the M1903, M1917 and M1 rifles. Their makup let them compensate for large spreads in muzzle velocities as their barrel whiped vertically a bit more. They were great in long range full bore competition. Faster bullets left at a lower angle than slower ones. How this happens is well documented in this article dated in 1901:

http://archive.org/details/philtrans05900167

When the Brits shifted to the 7.62 NATO round with less muzzle velocity spread, the SMLE's didn't do so well with that round. Which is why they switches to George Swenson's front locking, 4-lug "Swing" action for long range matches in the 1970's.
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Old September 20, 2012, 12:13 PM   #20
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Ok, our 3 Hurricane force winds have passed through and I can use the main computer with its decent keyboard again (as a side note, Anchorage sees Hurricane force winds and rain two or three times a year, just not one after another)

Back to the ops original statement about the Lee Enfield being the fines fastest most accurate bolt action battle rifle.

The point is that its nonsense. The M1917, the Mauser 98s, the 1903 all were superior quality rifles out of the factory and far better shooters that the Les.

The LE was costly to produce and did not produces superior real world results (despite its amazingly machine gun like firing ability) did not dominate nor secure victory on the battlefield (unless my memory serves me badly it was the US that came in and won WWI and WWII)

Was the LE better quality than the MN. Yea, but oddly the MN did fine. You can make the same argument that it was good enough and would have served the brits equally well (or not changed the lack of success in how they conducted either war) . The French with the Lebel had much the same results. So the rapid fire LE is overrated or it was incompetently utilized. (both would be reality because it takes a hell of a lot of trianign to get a rapid firing bolt action rifleman trained and the replacements are never going to be up tot hat caliber so the vaunted feature is useless)

Maybe if the French had the LE ……..

For all the vaunted rapid firing et all, ultimately you ran people over the top of a trench into machine guns with a bolt action rifle and massive numbers got killed accomplished nothing (and the rapid firing did what there?)

So, it was an ok rifle, the cartridge got a bullet down range fast enough to kill someone if they happened to be in its way and it continued to be manufactured because they did not want to invest in a better rifle (or semi auto weapon).

I love the old iron, I still keep my beat up NRA bought Junker MN, but I have seen the quality of the 1903s, when you buy or acquired a random group of 9 or so and they all shoot really well (worn out bore or two aside) , you know you have a superior gun.

What really counts is did it dominate and win battles? Nah, cause what dominates and wins battles is the combined arms use along with correct tactics and strategy. Germans did phenomenally well with a bolt action rifle and the MG42. Tactics and training.

Montgomery with the same stogy tactics did his best to hose up WWII and the LE was severely outdated by then. Just because it kept serving did not mean it did so because it had any merit.

To quote a previous scumy Secretary of Defense, (not verbatim) you are stuck with what we supply you so live with it. That applies to training, tactics and strategy as well as weaponry. Brits were stuck with the LE and it did not make it superior, just what they had.

We could have been in the same boat in WWII except someone got on the ball and got the M1 out.

At least the M1 produced a high rate of distributed fire power to counter the MG42.
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Old September 20, 2012, 12:43 PM   #21
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I think we are mixing tactics with rifles.

WWI was a different war then what we had in WWII. A good example would be comparing the M1903 with the 1903A3. In WWI you needed to put rounds on enemy trenches that may be 2000 yards away. The M1903 would do that, the M1903A3 wouldn't have been able to (accurately), that's not because the 1903 was more accurate then the 1903a3. It was the sights. The sights for the '03 were good to somewhere between 24-2500 yards (depending on the sight model) where as the 'A3s sights are only good to 800 or so yards.

The German loss of WWI had nothing to do with the accuracy of the M1903 (actually the M1917), it was because everyone was running out of soldiers and equipment, you throw in another 2 mil or so troops on either side, you'll see that side winning.

Tactics and Rifle differences show up quite well in Vietnam. You hear that it took X amount of rounds per EKIA and many blame the M16a1 and the soldiers shooting the rifle. That's not the case. In SE Asia a huge majority of fire fights was one jungle tree line firing at another jungle tree line. We very seldom saw who we were shooting at. It was about fire power, or who could put the most round into the adversary's tree line. Fire power ruled the day, not accuracy of rifles and rifle shooters.

When targets were seen the M16a1 and the shooter of the M16a1 could more then hold their own.

You can't say what rifle is best based on the tactics of a war.
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Old September 20, 2012, 01:28 PM   #22
Mike Irwin
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"With arsenal ammo, the .303 SMLE's were more accurate at the longer ranges than the M1903, M1917 and M1 rifles."

Uhm.... I have to say that is one thing that I actually doubt.
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Old September 20, 2012, 02:46 PM   #23
Scouse
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RC20 - Firstly, I do not believe the OP claimed that the Lee Enfield was the most technically accurate rifle of the war, he appears to be talking about the fact that to fire another rifle as quickly as the SMLE one would almost certainly sacrifice accuracy much more than with the SMLE.

The point is, it has been explained how what you claim did not happen, exactly did happen, repeatedly, in 1914.

The technical capabilities of the Lee Enfield, combined with the training of the riflemen were instrumental in allowing the British infantry to hold recently occupied ground, unentrenched or in shallow scrapes, often under artillery fire and against overwhelming odds. In similar situations against the French in 1914, there were plenty of times when the German attack broke through. I am not talking about attacks against prepared positions protected by presighted artillery and machine guns and wire obstacles - thin lines of riflemen with little support turning attacks with what should be decisive numerical advantage, with nothing more than rifle fire.

It is easy to overemphasise this, and it has been romanticised and the SMLE mythologised by some, but the fact remains, a substantially higher rate of fire is possible with the Lee Enfield than any other rifle on the Western Front. That might not matter so much when you have an army largely incapable of utilising its full potential, like the British from 1915 - but when battles are won largely by infantry fire, like many of them in 1914, it matters.

If it was ''incompetently utilised'', as you put it, what does that have to do with the technical capabilities of the rifle? Not much, I would suggest.

None of this would have happened without the obsessive musketry training of the British Army 1906-1914 - but the speed of the Lee Enfield was crucial too, it was instrumental to battlefield success.

On another point, if I were an allied infantryman who had just occupied a piece of German line, now under heavy bombardment preparatory to the customary German counterattack, I would prefer myself and my companions to have ten rounds ready rather than five. The SMLE was best suited to rapid fire which won battles in the opening months of the war, but it was also best suited to small unit trench warfare, which is what characterised most infantry engagements of the war NOT set piece over the top attacks. Not decisive perhaps, but given the choice, which would you take?

Heck, it is even possible, though unverifiable, that the battles in 1914 would have gone as they did regardless of the British Army's rifle, doesn't change the fact that on the basis of its combination of durability, rate of fire and magazine capacity with more than adequate accuracy STILL made the SMLE a superior rifle for the conditions of the WW1 battlefield.

Also, with respect, to claim that the USA "came in and won WW1 and WW2" betrays a distinct lack of understanding of both wars. Not to do down the contribution of US forces in any way, I just feel that statement is a massive oversimplification and exaggeration and reflects the national myths that every nation creates about wars. The British have them too, and they are just as ridiculous.

The Mosin did fine in a different war, a war won by factories and production numbers and 20million dead Soviets - not the adequacy of the Mosin or the fact that a platoon's worth of M1 Garands could compete with the MG42.

Montgomery's tactics were nothing like those of WW1, actually. Montgomery had a reputation for being overly cautious - not something that characterised WW1 British generalship. He might not have been a brilliant general by any means (he has been mythologised by some of my countrymen who fall for the national war myths mentioned earlier), but he was no Haig.

By WW2 the bolt action battle rifle was clearly outdated, its heyday were the couple of generations before. The fact that the M1 Garand is a better battlefield weapon would be pretty obvious to most people. Doesn't change the fact that the Lee Enfield was the best of that outdated bunch.

Like Kraigwy says, arguing about the best battle rifle based on remarks about the tactics common to all combatants in that war makes little sense.
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Old September 20, 2012, 10:41 PM   #24
tahunua001
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Quote:
I don't think the 1903A3 sight's are too great either.
I disagree, having owned both a 1903 and a 1903A3 I will say that the sights on the A3 are night and day differences and would take the apertures any day of the week over V notch tower sights. I love the enfield action, it is the rifle that got me into the VIMBAR world. I prefer it's action to any of the other WWI/WWII era rifles but the huge variances in manufacture leaves the playing field to large for them.

you can grab 100 springfield rifles, remove the stocks, throw the actions in a pile and the stocks in another, you can then proceed to fit almost any one of those actions to any one of those stocks, this is not a feat that can be accomplished with enfields. there are probably more variants of the NO4 enfield than there are of the ford F series pickup trucks. this is probably why other rifles like the K98 or 1903 are held in much higher esteem than the venerable enfield.
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Old September 20, 2012, 11:09 PM   #25
Bart B.
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Mike Irwin, read the link in my post that explains why the SMLE's were so accurate at the longer ranges. Click on the "PDF" link in the "View the Book" window on the page's left side.

Same thing can happen at short ranges; check out the following:

http://www.varmintal.com/apres.htm

The M14NM competition service rifles did this to a lesser degree due to the gas port's location about mid point in the barrel. One of the service teams learned this testing these rifles for accuracy shooting bullets through chronographs.
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