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Old June 11, 2014, 01:14 PM   #78
James K
Senior Member
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,383
Hi, Mike,

Good points, but in the 1898-1902 time frame, when the M1903 was being designed, few (too few) military officers understood the machine gun or its role in future battles; the primary infantry weapon, the most costly and the one which underwent the most scrutiny by the Army and the public, was still the soldier's rifle.

Actually, the Civil War had a major influence on European military tactics, mainly in two areas, the use of railroads, and the use of metallic cartridges and repeating rifles. In that era, there was a surprising interchange of ideas between the European military establishments and the American Army and Navy. Each studied the other carefully, and military and naval attaches spent a lot of time cultivating their counterparts in other countries.

So, it is possible that American thinking influenced the Danish Krag (a modified version of which was adopted as the U.S. Krag, and its cutoff was carried over to the M1903), but the idea was "in the air" and I doubt the Danes used it just because some American Civil War officer said so.

But the thinking behind the cutoff was not only "keeping the magazine in reserve" for an emergency. It was to allow, and encourage, individual aimed fire at other times, the reverse of your idea that individual firing was not allowed. And that concept was foreign to the Germans; their tactics involved waiting for the right moment, as determined by an officer, then using mass fire to suppress the threat. Chance dictated when a soldier's rifle was empty, but that was not important; most of the other soldiers would have loaded magazines.

Jim K
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