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Old September 22, 2012, 07:09 AM   #51
Mike Irwin
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Let's talk about why the British looked to adopt a rifle based on the Mauser design, in large part based on their experiences in the Boer War...

It wasn't because of any major and inherent deficiencies in the rifle... It was because the 7mm Mauser that the Boers were using had better long-range trajectory and ballistics than the Mk. II ball cartridge (215-gr. or so grain blunt round nose, rather short and lacking in ballistic coefficient).

The British response was, over time, and based on developments in France and Germany, to adopt the Mk VII bullet in 1910, a 174-gr. flat base that showed, excellent long-range accuracy and ballistics.

At the same time, though, Britain was working on a "solution" to the pesky Boer long range problem -- the .276 Enfield and the Pattern 1913 rifle.

The .276 cartridge specifically built for long-range aimed, and accurate, fire. It had a wonderfully profiled bullet that gave it excellent long-range ballistics.

Couple of problems with that concept, though...

1. The cartridge as it ended up had a 165-gr. bullet and ballistics that put it damned close to the 7mm Remington Magnum. Recoil was pretty stout and troops were not happy, especially cavalry troops who were sometimes required to fire from horseback. In fact, earlier versions of the cartridge used bullets up to 190-gr., making recoil really objectionable.

2. Muzzle blast was also substantial and was noted as a potential issue during troop testing. I bet the horses were even less thrilled...

3. The heavy charge of cordite (nearly 50 grains, or something like 20 grains more than the comparable .303) heated the barrel quickly and excessively, leading to major issues with wear and excessive pressures.

4. Long range accuracy was considered to be very good. Why have I listed that as a problem? Because this, combined with the sheer power and long-range ballistics of the round, indicate very clearly that British small arms thinking was ONLY on long-range battles in the desert, or similar relatively flat terrain when already there was more than ample indication that combat was not a long-range affair between superbly trained marksmen... It was close up, which the trench warfare of World War I proved in spades.

You may be wondering just why the British decided to go with the Mauser-style action instead of the Lee-Enfield when looking to adopt the .276...

There were a number of issues, some of which I've noted above, primarily a "we need to buy a bill of goods," and "MOMMMMMM! Everyone else has Mausers, and I want a Mauser too!"

First was the Lee's rear locking action. While more than adequate for the .303 and capable of excellent accuracy, when combined with the extreme ballistics of the .276, it wouldn't have given the desired accuracy and it probably would have given long-term durability issues.

Additionally, due to the extreme nature of the .276's loading, it's likely that the Lee-Enfield action would have had to have been significantly redesigned, including being lengthened (which would have exacerbated the "whippiness" of the bolt).

Realistically, it simply wouldn't have been suitable for a cartridge developing those power levels.

In that sense yes, the Mauser-style action is superior. But was it a superiority that the British truly needed?

No. The .276 was a cartridge that was designed to address a problem that, when World War I came, didn't exist, and which in any event had been largely mitigated by the adoption of the Mk VII bullet in 1910.
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Old September 22, 2012, 07:27 AM   #52
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Scorch - so which is it then Pershing held them back or the Anglo-French made them dig ditches?

The Americans were not in noncombat positions because the Anglo-French wanted them there, but because the decision of their leader required it. You make it sounds like the Allies did everything to stop the plucky Americans from getting into the thick of it, until the Doughboys finally begged borrowed or stole rifles and immediately beat the Germans into submission.

Respectfully, you are wrong on the Boer War. There were distinct phases to that conflict, the initial phase where there were minimal British troops available and the Afrikaaners were on the offensive, the middle phase where British troops arrived and pitched battles were fought, and the final phase of guerilla warfare which was finally ended by counter-guerilla tactics involving mobile flying columns and the tragic policy of internment of the civil population.

The middle phase saw the British Army repeatedly launch frontal attacks against strongly held Boer positions, usually on hills or ridge lines, only to be decimated by an army of good riflemen who were equipped with both machine guns and artillery. The British had more artillery (borrowed from the Navy) but no particular advantage in machine guns. Battles like Colenso, Spion Kop and Magersfontein. The Boer Army operated in large formations during that phase, not as guerillas. Irregulars they certainly were, but they only resorted to guerilla war when it was forced upon them by massively superior forces.

As for the Enfield having to be fed with 5 round chargers (as Mike points out, not until after the Boer War), so what? Yup, this is less good than if all 10 could be loaded at once but for my money it is still better than the 5 everyone else had.

It has been nailed above: the attempt to adopt the P13/14 was the people who made the decisions getting it wrong, misdiagnosing the causes of failure and being blinded by hype and marketing.

The rifles the Boers used were 1888 models, an action entirely inferior to the Enfield (NOT the 98 action that is the ancestor of most bolt rifles in the world today - which are sporting rifles, not battle rifles).

As for the rest of your last paragraph, you seem to have some personal dislike of the British, or at least some desire to make barbed remarks based on your own, er, interesting version of history. Thats fine, I am sure as a nation the British will get over it, but I won't bother engaging with you on it.
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Old September 22, 2012, 07:30 AM   #53
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Re. Americans in WWI.

There is a reason the United States Marines earned the name "Devil Dogs" ....

Here's an interesting summary:

As the Marines dug in, a French officer suggested that they withdrawal. To this Captain Lloyd Williams of the 5th Marines famously replied, "Retreat? Hell, we just got here." Two days later elements of the German 347th Division from Army Group Crown Prince occupied the forest. With their attack at Chateau-Thierry stalling, the Germans launched a major assault on June 4. Supported by machine guns and artillery, the Marines were able to hold, effectively ending the German offensive in Aisne.
Marines Move Forward:

The following day, the commander of the French XXI Corps ordered Brigadier General James Harbord's 4th Marine Brigade to retake Belleau Wood. On the morning of June 6, the Marines advanced, capturing Hill 142 to the west of the wood. Twelve hours later, they frontally assaulted the forest itself. To do so, the Marines had to cross a wheat field under heavy German machine gun fire. With his men pinned down, Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly called "Come on ya sons-of-bitches, ya want to live forever?" and got them on the move again. When night fell, only a small section of forest had been captured.

In addition to Hill 142 and the assault on the woods, the Marines attacked into Bouresches to the east. After taking most of the village, the Marines were forced to dig in against German counterattacks. All reinforcements trying to reach Bouresches had to cross a large open area and were subjected to heavy German fire. When night fell, the Marines had suffered 1,087 casualties making it the bloodiest day in the Corps' history to date.
Clearing the Forest:

On June 11, following a heavy artillery bombardment, the Marines pressed hard into Belleau Wood, capturing the southern two-thirds. Two days later, the Germans assaulted Bouresches after a massive gas attack and almost retook the village. With the Marines stretched thin, the US 23rd Infantry extended its line and took over the defense of Bouresches. On the 16th, citing exhaustion, Harbord requested that some of the Marines be relieved. His request was granted and three battalions of the US 7th Infantry moved into the forest. After five days of fruitless fighting, the Marines retook their position in the line.

On June 23, the Marines launched a major attack into the forest, but were unable to gain ground. Suffering staggering losses, they required over two hundred ambulances to carry the wounded. Two days later, Belleau Wood was subjected to a fourteen hour bombardment by French artillery. Attacking in the wake of the artillery, US forces were finally able to completely clear the forest. On June 26, after defeating some early morning German counterattacks, Major Maurice Shearer was finally able to send the signal, "Woods now entirely -US Marine Corps."
Aftermath:

In the fighting around Belleau Wood, American forces suffered 1,811 killed and 7,966 wounded and missing. German casualties are unknown though 1,600 were captured. The Battle of Belleau Wood and the Battle of Chateau Thierry showed the United States' allies that it was fully committed fighting the war and was willing to do whatever was required to achieve victory. In recognition of their tenacious fighting and victory, the French awarded citations to those units that participated in the battle and renamed Belleau Wood "Bois de la Brigade Marine."

Belleau Wood also showed the Marine Corps flare for publicity. While the fighting was still going on, the Marines routinely circumvented the American Expeditionary Force's publicity offices to have their story told, while those of Army units engaged were ignored. Following the Battle of Belleau Wood, Marines began being referred to as "Devil Dogs." While many believed that this term was coined by the Germans, its actual origins are unclear. It is known that the Germans highly respected the Marines fighting ability and classified them as elite "storm troopers."
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Old September 22, 2012, 07:43 AM   #54
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Sounds about right, the US Marines made an international reputation at Belleau Wood.
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Old September 22, 2012, 09:21 AM   #55
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The Boers were armed with a wide variety of firearms.

Many Boers armed themselves with their own rifles and, often, shotguns, while the governments of the Boer Republics contracted with European nations to supply small arms and heavy weapons.

It's not true that all organized Boers units were armed with Mauser rifles.

They also had cast offs like the Portugese Guedes single shot rifle as well as Krag Jorgenson rifles.

Also, there were numerous model Mauser rifles in use, not just 1888 Commission rifles. The Boers also had Model 1893s and 1897s.

Given that the Second Boer War happened from 1899 to 1902, it's also possible that they had K98s at some point, as well.

And, here's a very interesting tidbit...

Boers also had Martin-Henry single shot rifles that had been manufactured in Belgium by Westley Richards for supply to the Boer Republics at a time when Britain and the Boer Republics were still amicable.

The one big problem that the British ran into was artillery. British artillery was still black powder at the time, making sighting their guns very easy.

The Boers, on the other hand, were armed with Krupp rapid firing (1 lb Pom Pom) guns which used smokeless powder, making them very difficult to spot and neutralize.

One favored Boer tactic was to fire slow ranging shots, walking them onto target.

Once they were on target, they would use the Pom Pom's automatic mode to drop an entire belt into the British guns to devastating effect.

The Boer Pom Pom was so effective that the British and commonwealth forces took them into service when they captured them.
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Old September 22, 2012, 09:41 AM   #56
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Chris B,
The dog doesn't have a caliber, silly. That's MJ1.
lol
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Old September 22, 2012, 10:15 AM   #57
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No no no...

The dog is OBVIOUSLY a .30-Arf-6.

Geezsh!
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Old September 22, 2012, 10:23 AM   #58
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Quote:
tahunua001 brought up a good point regarding service rifles, that being parts interchangeable, that is a critical aspect when you have to deal with logistics during war time.

Americans always see to insist on parts interchangeability, some times causing production delays, such with trying to standardize the M1917 while also trying to produce enough for the troops who were on the ships heading to Europe.

Some times that creates sloppy but reliable guns which also can still be quite accurate as in the case of the M1911, M1917, 1903s and on to our present M9 and M16 series.
Hmm, you might want to read the history of RR and the Chevy Turbomatic 400 Transmission. They licensed it initially, decided those silly America sloppy Americans and tightened it up.
After a miserable failure they went on to have GM supply them with the Turbo 400 (and yes it is true, at least in the 80s the RR used the GM trany)

The point being that you don't want needless tight tolerances in some sitautions and some things simply do not work when you do
Combat weapons are a case in point as they have to work in the muck, dirt, dust and fouled chambers in combat.
Was testing some 9mm rounds in my gauge that would not gauge up right. I was curious as they had been running fine inthe Sig. Pulled the barel and they seated very nicely in the Sigs chamber.
Now Sig does not make a sloppy junky gun, but where it counts for a semiu auto, tight is not necesarily good. The gauge is at the tight end and the chamber for the Sig is at the loose end for reliablity reasons. It shoots very accuarely.
Accuracy is not accidneal, its part of desing. We didn't accidentally wind up with sloppy but accurate guns.

The 1903 barel was too well made for what it needed to do but it sure made it a fine shooter when you needed it.

As the average American like the average Brit infantryman was not a stellar shot (unless in the case of the US he was from the country (and many did not shoot at all or badly) . Once the veterans were thinned out the follow on troops were never as good.

And any infantryman worth his salt is not going to stand out firing in the open when he (or she now) should be hiding behind cover.

Pretty rare case where you had a nice trench, just the right height where you could stand with cover and rapid fire to your hearts content.

And there really is no such thing as long distance accurate fire. It works for machine gusn because they can land a lot of rounds in the area and hit by pure scatter or walk them in (granted a single shot 50 cal di make an amazing shot in Vietnam but how many times had he tried before? ).

Throw enough stuff into an area and you will hit someting. Even excclent marksmen have a tough time hitting a human at 1000 yards let alone 2500+
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Old September 22, 2012, 04:23 PM   #59
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No no no...

The dog is OBVIOUSLY a .30-Arf-6.

Geezsh!
Oh, Mike, that's bad. You might as well have said the dog's name was Woofchester!
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Old September 22, 2012, 06:26 PM   #60
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Quite right about the Boer artillery - more speaking in terms of numbers and weight. The British could rely upon more consistent artillery support through the heavy naval detachments and horse artillery, though the Boer Nordenfeldts were very effective from defensive positions. I am interested to hear that the British put captured models into service - not that surprising I suppose given that a British equivalent was adopted in short order.

It makes sense that the Boers, as an irregular army put together for the war at hand, did not have common equipment. I thought that the point was worth making that the majority of Boer riflemen were likely armed with the 1888 Mauser (alongside many others like those you name) - as opposed to the 1898 which was unlikely to have gotten through in anything other than small numbers, so the war was not fought with ''Mauser actions'' in the sense many people today will think of them.

I would think it pretty unlikely many 98's made it through to the Boers, given their isolated and landlocked country. Perfectly possible some arrived from German South West Africa and some beforehand along with the other materiel the Afrikaaners received, though. Be interesting to know how if many actually saw action.
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Old September 22, 2012, 06:37 PM   #61
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I've seen accounts that state that the most common Boer rifle was the 1893 Mauser, which had been purchased in numbers by the independent republics.

It was those rifles that gave the British a very hard time at..... damn ruhr name eludes me... Gerfontain?
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Old September 22, 2012, 07:03 PM   #62
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Lots of Somethingfonteins in that part of the world . . .

Fair enough, I always thought the most common was the 1888 - but I haven't the faintest idea where I got that from to be honest. I know Boer generals purchased rifles in bulk from Germany, so I guess it might make more sense for them to purchase something more up to date than the 1888, particularly when other patterns were in constant production for other customers around the world.
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Old September 22, 2012, 07:13 PM   #63
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Speaking of the Boer War:

My last year in HS I read a Fiction book about the war. It was about a kid that ran away from home and joined a Comando.

An old sargent took the kid under his wing and provided him a lot of advise.

A lot of that Advice I took with me to Vientam that next year and can't help but believe it got me through.

I'd sure like to read that book again but I have no ideal the name or aurthor.

Anyone have any idea of the book?
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Old September 22, 2012, 07:13 PM   #64
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These guys are rocking it on an Enfield

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x3lOZ4yX6Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&fe...&v=rFYZHLuxXZ8
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Old September 22, 2012, 08:17 PM   #65
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The big one that I was thinking of was the battle of Magersfontein. British units were shot to pieces by entrenched Boers.

My next door neighbor was South African who was descended from Boers who fought the British.
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Old September 22, 2012, 08:46 PM   #66
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The guy in the second video was shouting blanks I think. I wish the guy in the first video was shooting standing, but he does show how rock solid the aim could be.

Those videos are a pretty good indication of the speed that could be achieved with the Enfield.

I'm sorry, but a Mauser or Springfield can't come close to that.
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Last edited by Mike Irwin; September 23, 2012 at 06:41 AM.
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Old September 23, 2012, 05:51 AM   #67
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Yes, that second one looks like it might be an Ishapore in 7.62x51mm too.

Rifle in the first video was manufactured at ROF Fazakerley about 8 miles away from where I am sitting :-)

Mike - my great grand father was a cavalry trooper in the Boer War.

In about 15mins I am leaving to go to a football match (soccer), and the main home stand in the stadium is named ''The Kop'', for its steep, cliff like appearance being reminiscent of ''Spion Kop'' where a regiment largely composed of men from this region (what was then South Lancashire) was shot to pieces by the Boer Riflemen. They stopped their night advance on a false summit, only for the sun to come up to reveal they were under the guns of the men on the actual summit. It was named as a memorial.
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Old September 23, 2012, 07:56 AM   #68
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I breezed through the posts and it would seem that most posts were caused by one or two experiences. You can get good ones and bad ones. I picked up a lot that were cut down to "Deer rifles" and kept them to sell to kids that could not afford much else. I noticed that when most of the forearm and other junk was removed, the rifles started to shoot rather well most of the time. Occasionally you would get a bad shooter, but that is pretty much with any surplus rifle. As far as the greatest bolt action battle rifle ever designed, you have to be kidding. All I can say about rapid fire is they must have dug through boxes of magazines to find enough to feed rapid fire. Somebody else mentioned that the British don't take change well and they are correct. I worked with the Brits and they certainly don't want to spend money on their over all army.
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Old September 23, 2012, 09:00 AM   #69
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Well, plummer, pony up. Give us your opinion.

Tell us what YOU think the best bolt-action battle rifle is. And remember, you have to adequately explain your case with facts, historic examples, and hands-on experience, not just "well I say so, so it is!"

I've got fairly extensive hands on experience with all of the rifles being talked about, including quite a few of the different Marks of Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield as well as various models of Mausers, Springfieds, M1917 Enfields, P1914 Enfields, Lebels, Betheriers, Moisin-Nagants, MAS 36s... the list goes on.

Were I going into battle, there's no question as to which one I'd choose if a bolt action is all that was available to me.


" All I can say about rapid fire is they must have dug through boxes of magazines to find enough to feed rapid fire."

Beg pardon?

You obviously don't really know much about the Lee-Enfield series of rifles, do you?

Of the many LE rifles I've fired over the years, ranging from 110+ year old Lee Metfords with the original magazine to basically new in the wrapper No. 4 Mk 2s, NONE have ever had magazine issues.
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Old September 23, 2012, 09:56 AM   #70
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I agree with Mike on the mags, though my experience is not so extensive yet(only a few hundred rounds spread throughout a hand full of rifles) but of the several magazines I've seen used I have never once seen one prone to fail and it has been common practice in my family to bring 3 mags with you in the woods, one loaded with 123gr SSTs for varmints, one with surplus ball ammo and one with 180gr remington corelokts(only because that's what we have on hand currently for 303 hunting ammo).

none of those have any trouble feeding and the enfield wasn't even designed with two of those options in mind.
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Old September 23, 2012, 02:02 PM   #71
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I went and checked just to make certain, and my No. 1 Mk III magazine is correctly serial numbered to the gun.

Mine is a 1949 Ishapore, probably one of the last of the guns made under British dominion.
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Old September 23, 2012, 02:24 PM   #72
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;) LOL

The dog is a good sport and supervises the photography,,LOL.



Cheers
..MJ..
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Old September 23, 2012, 06:36 PM   #73
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I have had enough bad experiences with British bolt action magazines to call it a problem. I would be willing to bet the story about "Rapid fire" did not star pristine rifles and brand new magazines. As far as the best bolt military rifle, let the world decide. It is Mauser with no dispute. I actually like Arisakas better, but there is no argument. Very few foreign countries WANTED to buy or produce British bolt actions. The list of foreign countries that bought Mauser type bolt actions with no real affiliation to the original Mauser producing countries is quite large.
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Old September 23, 2012, 10:28 PM   #74
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gun plummer, I would hardly call a bunch of rifles that have been sitting in storage and collectiong dust and rust for 7 decades are what you would call pristine. my own Savage MK1* is the most heavily pitted rifle I've ever seen and it's previous owner(my brother in law) deemed it nessessary to test fire it from 100 feet away behind cover due to the amount of rust and yet it and it's magazine run perfectly.

it has also already been brought up that the enfield was a product of the british royal armory, not a openly traded company. how many countries went to springfield armory looking to buy a 1903? oh wait, now I remember, springfield was the national armory and did not sell arms to other nations.

mauser was not however. not only that but this whole argument becomes rather vague, there are 3 distinct versions of the enfield rifle, the NO1, NO4 and NO5 carbine while on the other hand it seems like a new Mauser was released every 2 years like clock work since they opened up shop.

which mauser is the greatest without contest? everybody had mausers because every time a nation bought the latest and greatest mauser product they sold off the cheaper ones to poorer nations that couldn't afford the latest and greatest but were happy enough to buy last years cutting edge.

that is like saying that Glock is without contest, the greatest handgun of the 20th century because it is the most prolifically used handgun in the world by police and military or the AK47 is the greatest assault rifle ever built because more than 2 thirds of third world countries, rebellions and don't forget the now defunct USSR, all use/d them. mausers may have been heavily fielded around the world and they were not bad rifles by any stretch but greatest without contest? I don't think so.
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Old September 24, 2012, 08:38 AM   #75
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What nonsense. I was in Germany watching a British crew switch out a main gun on a tank. They had to pull the tube out through the back of the turret. More than a days work there. The lead man actually said to me "We are the only ones to have that set up". He was actually proud of it. I just answered " I'll bet." A U.S. 60 series tank tube change takes 1/2 an hour. An experienced crew, 15 minutes. It takes the British a couple wars to improve on a rifle? It is just a mind set they have. Who tried to copy them? Some Afgahns using old re-rod and railroad spikes. I seem to remember the '03 having some royalty problems with Paul Mauser. The Arisaka has some definite Mauser qualities. The MAS 36 leans toward the SMLE, but is so bizarre I would rate it as a distinctive design. I would rate the MAS 36 way stronger than a British bolt action anyway.
I can only think that the people up set over down grading the British bolt action are hardcore collectors and shooters, not to be swayed by facts or logic.
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