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Old September 14, 2020, 01:09 AM   #1
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Rifles that had magazine cutoff?

I knew a few years ago that the French Lebel rifle had a mag cutoff and I thought that was a pretty interesting feature in allowing a rifle to be fired while the magazine remained fully loaded. Then when watching a Krag-Jorganson video I saw that rifle also had a magazine cutoff.

Besides those two, what other manually operated rifles had a magazine cutoff? Was it ever really utilized to good effect? It seems after WW1 the concept lost steam.
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Old September 14, 2020, 01:20 AM   #2
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Springfield 1903, 1903A, 1903A3. I don't know how practical the cutoff was, I understand the concept but it seems kinda useless to me.
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Old September 14, 2020, 04:22 AM   #3
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I don't know about foreign rifles but the US Krag and 1903 Springfields had them. Like some other pre-WW I ideas after that war they fell out of favor, being an additional cost/complexity to the rifle will little real world usefulness.

The base idea was that soldiers would load single rounds and take aimed shots at individual enemy soldiers, while keeping the loaded magazine "in reserve" for when more fire volume was needed, such as when defending a position from assault.

Mind you, this came about in the era before machine guns were common and organic to infantry units at low level.

Like long range volley fire, the magazine cutoff was abandoned during and after WW I as not practical. Springfields during WWII still had the cutoff, but that was because it was part of the rifle and also functioned as the bolt release, so changing it wasn't worth the cost. IIRC, 1917 Enfields don't have one.

what was kept was the Mauser style magazine follower that locks the action open when empty.

the Springfield cutoff does override this feature when the magazine is "cutoff". Not of any use in action, but does allow the empty rifle's bolt to be worked in practice.
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Old September 14, 2020, 09:33 AM   #4
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Actually--the majority of military repeaters before WWI had it. It was a "feature"
to keep soldiers from wasting ammunition.
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Old September 14, 2020, 09:40 AM   #5
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Up to the Lee Enfield no1mk3, the British rifles had a magazine cut off. It was abandoned in later mk3s built during the war.
Seems like a lot of nations used them before WW1, then found they were of no tactical value.
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Old September 14, 2020, 10:59 AM   #6
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Magazine cutoff

The magazine cutoff was devised to allow the normal procedure of single loading and have a full magazine in case of the need for defensive firepower. It proved rather impractical, with the 1903 and 1903A3 being the last military rifles so equipped.
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Old September 14, 2020, 11:45 AM   #7
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I had a Styer scout (really miss that rifle). On that gun you could insert a full mag to the first notch and single load rounds into the ejection port without feeding rounds from the mag. Push the mag in all the way and it would then feed from the mag.

Pretty cool feature and accomplished just by making the mag with 2 detents. No complicated mechanism built into the rifle itself.
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Old September 14, 2020, 12:58 PM   #8
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In the shotgun world Browning A5 had it, really useful if you were crossing a fence, cut off the magazine and open the action locking it back.
It would be nice on any semi-auto hunting rifle for the same reason although I've never seen any that had it.
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Old September 14, 2020, 02:41 PM   #9
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I had a Styer scout (really miss that rifle). On that gun you could insert a full mag to the first notch and single load rounds into the ejection port without feeding rounds from the mag. Push the mag in all the way and it would then feed from the mag.

Pretty cool feature and accomplished just by making the mag with 2 detents. No complicated mechanism built into the rifle itself.
Cool and simple way to cut off a magazine, but those rifles cost a lot and lack the history that the rifles of the late 19th Century have.
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Old September 14, 2020, 03:28 PM   #10
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use/useless

At the turn of the century when mag cutoffs were initially incorporated into repeating bolt rifles, the practice of volley fire as controlled by an officer (by example, the Zulu Wars were just 20-25 years prior) and rate of fire and expenditure of ammo was certainly a concern. Resupply was not a simple matter if abroad, horse/wagon still dominated transportation. Emphasis was on accuracy and not volume of fire.

Given those constraints, the mag cutoff was seen as a positive feature. WWI and the Maxim/Spandau/Vickers gun changed all that.
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Old September 14, 2020, 03:55 PM   #11
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In the shotgun world Browning A5 had it, really useful if you were crossing a fence, cut off the magazine and open the action locking it back.
The other, and more advertised feature of the A5's cutoff was the ability to easily change the round in the chamber.

If, for example, you had #6 in the mag and chamber and a shot came up where you wanted #2 shot, cut off the mag, open the bolt (ejecting the chambered round, slip in the new one and close the bolt. Something you could do in a few seconds, which other guns couldn't do.

As to the cutoff keeping troops from "wasting" ammo, and the difficulties of resupply, those were valid points, to a point. The same mindset resisted military repeaters for some time, the argument was if the troops had more than a single shot, they would waste ammo, and ammo cost money.

This mindset also kept ammo supplies under virtual and actual lock and key, only to be issued in the amount specified by regulation, and only under the direction of the responsible officer(s).

Some believe that adherence to this policy contributed to the British defeat at Isandlwana, while disregard for the "established procedure" of ammunition issuance contributed significantly to the successful defense of Rorke's Drift.

WWI and the Maxim gun's performance on the battlefield (on both sides) led the militaries of many nations to rethink their tactics, equipment and policies.
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Old September 14, 2020, 04:24 PM   #12
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The other, and more advertised feature of the A5's cutoff was the ability to easily change the round in the chamber.
My Benelli M1 allows this as well. Run the bolt, it ejects the chambered round and allows you drop one into the action without kicking one out of the mag tube. Handy for “select slug” drills.
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Old September 14, 2020, 05:36 PM   #13
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The other, and more advertised feature of the A5's cutoff was the ability to easily change the round in the chamber.

If, for example, you had #6 in the mag and chamber and a shot came up where you wanted #2 shot, cut off the mag, open the bolt (ejecting the chambered round, slip in the new one and close the bolt. Something you could do in a few seconds, which other guns couldn't do.

As to the cutoff keeping troops from "wasting" ammo, and the difficulties of resupply, those were valid points, to a point. The same mindset resisted military repeaters for some time, the argument was if the troops had more than a single shot, they would waste ammo, and ammo cost money.

This mindset also kept ammo supplies under virtual and actual lock and key, only to be issued in the amount specified by regulation, and only under the direction of the responsible officer(s).

Some believe that adherence to this policy contributed to the British defeat at Isandlwana, while disregard for the "established procedure" of ammunition issuance contributed significantly to the successful defense of Rorke's Drift.

WWI and the Maxim gun's performance on the battlefield (on both sides) led the militaries of many nations to rethink their tactics, equipment and policies.
The other issue with ammunition in the 19th Century cartridge rifles was that .45-70, .577/.450, and others were massive in size and weight. Transporting thousands of rounds of that ammunition over many miles on land was not easy. By WW1 near all nations were using .30 caliber smokeless ammo that weighed a lot less and motorized vehicles were commonplace.

So, I can see the reason repeating rifles that came after single shots like the Martini-Henry and Chassepot and Springfield had cutoffs, but by the 1910's the feature was dropped.
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Old September 14, 2020, 10:48 PM   #14
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Another to add to the list Swiss SR 1889.
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Old September 15, 2020, 10:56 AM   #15
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Pre-WWII rifles. And especially WWI and prior.
The majority had magazine cutoffs.
Some did carry into WWII and beyond, though.

A notable exception is the G98/K98 family. None of them had magazine cutoffs.

Quote:
At the turn of the century when mag cutoffs were initially incorporated into repeating bolt rifles...
Many rifles had magazine cutoffs prior to 1900.
The 1891 Mosin Nagant, for example, is a bit odd, as it does *not* have a magazine cutoff. But you know what does? ... The 1886 Lebel action that it was based on.

The Kropatschek 1878 also had a magazine cutoff.
The Gewehr 71/84 had a magazine cutoff. (Which was derived from a design first trialed in 1874.)
The (Danish) 1886 Krag had a magazine cutoff.
And the list goes on, and on.
1880 isn't really "turn of the century" to me.

And, keep in mind that those model numbers are adoption years, or year of first production. Most designs were patented and/or in trials 3-10 years earlier.
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Old September 16, 2020, 10:53 PM   #16
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By WW1 near all nations were using .30 caliber smokeless ammo that weighed a lot less and motorized vehicles were commonplace.
I don't know if I'd call motor vehicles "commonplace" in WWI. Even in WWII, the majority of European armies transport was horsedrawn. Even some artillery was still horsedrawn, at the end of the war.

The US was the closest to a fully mechanized Army in WWII, overseas. And we had to resort to horses and particularly mules in several campaigns where we were fighting in places motor vehicles just could not go.
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Old September 17, 2020, 01:01 AM   #17
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I don't know if I'd call motor vehicles "commonplace" in WWI. Even in WWII, the majority of European armies transport was horsedrawn. Even some artillery was still horsedrawn, at the end of the war.

The US was the closest to a fully mechanized Army in WWII, overseas. And we had to resort to horses and particularly mules in several campaigns where we were fighting in places motor vehicles just could not go.
Yeah, but it's not like once the ships with the ammo got into port that it was horsedrawn from boat to battlefield. Not too mention that a soldier could carry more .30-06 vs .45-70 on his person.
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Old September 17, 2020, 10:39 PM   #18
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17 replies and not a single mention of aimed "volley" fire.
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Old September 17, 2020, 11:47 PM   #19
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uh..........?

Check post #10.
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Old September 17, 2020, 11:48 PM   #20
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17 replies and not a single mention of aimed "volley" fire.
Try posts #3 and #10.
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Old September 18, 2020, 10:57 AM   #21
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Reflects the tactical doctrine of the times and the countries, the officer and the NCO was expected to keep tighter control of his troops, the soldier was trained to wait for orders. Also the battles were still fought largely in the standup/close order manner. We had Gatling guns in Cuba in 1898 but it was the Russo-Japanese War that really proved their lethality. The older Lee Enfields, the P-14 had the volley sights, I have seen excerpts from manuals demonstrating their use so troops could create a "beaten zone" at long range, say 600 yards or greater.
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Old September 18, 2020, 12:19 PM   #22
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Consider this,

I think it was the stripper clip that eventually doomed the magazine cutoff. The extra parts and labor cost building a magazine cutoff into a rifle simply makes no good sense in an era when stripper clips allow rapid reloading.

Remember the era and the rifles involved, especially the US ones. The Krag had a cutoff, and didn't use stripper clips. It didn't fare so well when up against Mausers reloading with strippers.

The next generation of US rifles was the Springfield, which did use the Mauser type stripper clip. I think the Springfield kept the cutoff, feature because the Krag had it, and, its a small matter, really...

The next generation of US rifles was the Garand. Enbloc clips. No magazine cutoff. (pointless) and none of the later rifles has had one, either.
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Old September 18, 2020, 02:01 PM   #23
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The mag cut off in a Lee-Enfield was there primarily because the Brit generals did not trust their men. And because they were still thinking in terms of Napoleonic warfare. They thought their troopies would waste ammunition without the mag cut off.
At the beginning of W.W. I, Canadian militia officers, were told to send their swords to the Regimental weapons techs(not called that then) to be sharpened.
"...motorized vehicles were commonplace...." Nope. Haig thought right up to 1918 that the PBI would break the line and be followed by cavalry. When the CEF did break the line at Vimy, there was no cavalry ready. The only wide spread use of vehicles was by the CEF's MG troopies in armoured cars. And a few, very few trucks. Nearly all logistics was horse drawn.
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Old September 18, 2020, 08:25 PM   #24
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The mag cut off in a Lee-Enfield was there primarily because the Brit generals did not trust their men. And because they were still thinking in terms of Napoleonic warfare. They thought their troopies would waste ammunition without the mag cut off.
This is true, and why they issued a rifle with a 10-round detachable magazine; but then didn't issue additional magazines, and only allowed 5 rounds to be loaded most of the time.

But we all know the Br*tish have always been retarded and have always had disciplinary issues - stemming from their culture, not just on the military side.
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Old September 18, 2020, 09:03 PM   #25
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The magazine cutoff on the Lebel makes some sense since that tubular magazine was slow to reload and loaded through the top of the action. They did not put one on the Mannlicher-Berthier.
The Brits found it was simpler to leave the magazine in the rifle and have the shooter use stripper clips.
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