Longest serving military firearm?


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Cosmoline
October 5, 2004, 08:55 PM
I was reading a book about Mosin-Nagant's (Lapin's) and was interested to discover that the Finns continued to use 19th century M-91 receivers for both the late-production M-39's of the late '60's but for the M-85 sniper rifle. To my knowledge these rifles are still in use by reserve units, which would make those rifles (or their receivers, anyway) the oldest continuously operating rifles in any military force. Possibly the oldest contiuously operating weapons of any military force. It's the eqivalent of using a Krag rifle for a modern sniper in the US forces.

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Derek Zeanah
October 5, 2004, 09:17 PM
Longer than Ma Deuce?

Or is that not considered a rifle. ;)

Cosmoline
October 5, 2004, 09:29 PM
The M-2 only goes back to the late teens, and I doubt you'll find any existing M-2 with a receiver going back that far. But that's about the oldest one in the US military, I suspect.

Kaylee
October 5, 2004, 09:34 PM
Brown Bess? Didn't she serve over a couple centuries?

Or do you mean (relatively) modern firearm?

rbernie
October 5, 2004, 09:42 PM
I would wonder if the SMLE doesn't come close to that longevity....

goon
October 5, 2004, 10:05 PM
The SMLE was adopted in 1903.

I am thinking that nothing matches the Mosin Nagant as far as relatively modern weapons go.

I also agree with the Brown Bess. IIRC, they were used in one form or another from the late 1600's to the early 1800's. I read somewhere that they are the most common surviving weapon made before 1899. One in decent shape with a sharp flint would still work just as well today as they did during the Revolution.

MrMurphy
October 5, 2004, 11:42 PM
Of modern weapons still serving:


M2 .50 1921-till now.

There are still M1919A4 .30 cal's in service, I've seen pics of some still in use in Israel and South Africa.

Riflewise, there are still some rebarreled WW2 Mausers in Israel as sniping rifles, the Russians still use Mosin-Nagants for some long range rifle shooting I believe.

The basic Lee action rifles served from 1895 or so till the mid 1950s. Lee-Metford, then Lee-Enfield.


The K frame .38s served from 1899 to the 1970s in one form or another in countries around the world, including the US.

Destructo6
October 6, 2004, 01:03 AM
I'm seeing claims that the "Brown Bess" served from about 1720 to about 1820 in a couple of different configurations. The first was the Long Land Service Musket, developed in the 1720s, followed by the Short Land Service Musket (new Pattern) [brown stock] in the 1760s, if I'm reading things right.

fistful
October 6, 2004, 01:24 AM
During their war with Russia in 1904, the Japanese converted thousands of percussion rifles to bolt-actions, and used them with smokeless-powder cartridges. These percussion guns were originally match-locks made in Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries. That could mean three hundred years of military service, except for a two-hundred year period where guns were entirely abandoned.

Gleaned from Giving Up the Gun by Noel Perrin
Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, Colorado 1980

Gewehr98
October 6, 2004, 08:26 AM
I'd have to say that, at least for the United States, it's the M1911 .45 Automatic. :D

Al Thompson
October 6, 2004, 09:22 AM
Darn Gewehr98 beat me to it. :D

Considering that the USMC is using some 1911s that never left the inventory, that would seem to make it the longest serving firearm for the US. The Army (SOF) may have the same claim (still using 1911s), but I'm not aware of the details.

Checkman
October 6, 2004, 11:00 AM
According to Ian Hogg author of Military Small Arms of the World The British began issuing the Lee-Metford rifle in the 1880's. It later became the Lee-Enfield when they changed the rifling, went to smokeless powder went to the the SMLE pattern etc. But it was still esssentially the same weapon. Afterall the 1903, M-1 and the M-16 have all had design changes.

The sniper version of the Lee Enfield in .308 (sorry can't remember what is's official nomenclature was) entered service in the fifties and was still being used into the late 1980's. I've come across information in the past that says there is a possibility the sniper Lee's were used in Desert Storm by the SAS, the SBS (Special Boat Service), the Royal Marine Commandos etc. That would put the Lee - Enfield at the century mark. Can't verify thi, but I like the idea of the old warhorse being used in Iraq. Call me sentimental.

It should be mentioned that I'm very fond of the Lee - Enfield. I own two and I intend to get another one.

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