Toughest Battle Rifle


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amprecon
October 12, 2005, 11:30 AM
I understand that all man-made machines will break no matter how "fool-proof" they may have been designed to be. I also understand that even equipment that has a track-record of being totally reliable under most conditions always encounters that "one" condition that made it fail that baffle it's designers.
My question is leading to this, regarding semi-modern "Battle Rifles" in .308, in their civilian semi-automatic or mil-spec forms, to include CETME, FAL, M-14, M1, HK91, and others that I may have overlooked, which one if left neglected or even used and abused without care for extended periods of time or use has the best track-record for reliability?
I know militaries want the be-all-end-all in their small arms, but that just doesn't seem practical, to be accurate, seems like some other attribute is weakened and vice versa. I guess in the short of it, what I'm asking is which of these rifles is most resistant to malfunctions under adverse usage and care?

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Father Knows Best
October 12, 2005, 12:24 PM
There is no way to know which one is "best." We can argue 'til we're blue in the face, but the only way to answer that question would be a controlled study testing all of the listed designs in similar conditions. To my knowledge, that hasn't happened.

It is true that all of the designs you mentioned have admirable records for reliability under difficult conditions. They never would have been widely adopted as military rifles, or lasted for long in that role, if they weren't.

Headless Thompson Gunner
October 12, 2005, 12:35 PM
Of those listed, I have experience with FALs and M14s. I recently acquired a Garand, but I haven't had it long enough to form any opinions about its longterm durability.

The FAL is built like a tank. Any conditions that would destroy my FAL would long since have killed me. The FAL belongs near the top of the list in terms of robustness.

The M1A belongs at the other end, IMO. They're fine rifles, but I've seen too many of them lose little bits during highpower matches. They just seem to shoot themselves apart. You can't negelect ANY rifle and still expect it to work, but the M1A seems to be worse in this regard than my FAL.

My opinions are founded entirely on anecdotal evidence, and may not be entirely reliable.

Ian
October 12, 2005, 12:38 PM
The quality of the manufacturer probably makes more of a difference than the design, among military rifles.

That said, I would add the M1 Garand to your list. From everything I've read, it had a very good reputation among soliders in a wide variety of operating environments.

rbernie
October 12, 2005, 01:17 PM
Probably the Saiga or any other AK-derived 308.

Dain Bramage
October 12, 2005, 02:03 PM
Let's just say it's not the SA80/L85. :evil:

Dain Bramage
October 12, 2005, 02:06 PM
Sorry, didn't see the ".308" qualifier. Wouldn't win toughest assault rifle either.

Sunray
October 12, 2005, 02:13 PM
The M1A isn't a battle rifle. It's a commercial copy of one.
The AK and FAL would be right on top of any list of battle rifles. The AK was designed for illiterate conscripts given scant training. The FAL was desgined from the beginning as a battle rifle for troopies of any level of training. Both have seen extensive use in the Third World's brushfire wars.

jefnvk
October 12, 2005, 02:54 PM
They're fine rifles, but I've seen too many of them lose little bits during highpower matches.

I'd point out that high-power tuned guns probably aren't built the same as the real thing.

Bart Noir
October 12, 2005, 03:06 PM
I let the bolt go forward under full spring power, without magazine or cartridge being anywhere near the weapon. A piece fell off into the snow, I think it was the extractor but not sure since we never saw it again. Sarge looked irritated, and one of the instructors swapped bolts with me. Since we were firing blanks I guess no headspace checks were necessary.

Bart Noir

trbon8r
October 12, 2005, 07:20 PM
I've shot plenty of highpower matches and have never seen M14 type rifles ASSEMBLED WITH GI parts spilling their guts all over the firing line or dissasembling themselves in any way. Note I said rifles made with GI parts, not SA Inc. out of spec cast junk.

I'm getting tired of the bad rap that the M14 series is getting because of SA Inc.'s crappy quality control. Get some good quality forged GI parts in the rifle that are made to government specs and you will have a hard shooting rifle that will last a long time. Do parts break? Sure they can, as they can on a FAL or anything else that is shot 3 to 5 thousand rounds a year like serious highpower shooters do with their Garands, M1As, and ARs. I've got over 10,000 rounds through my competition M1A and the only thing I've replaced was the barrel. Same goes for my match Garand.

It's the same story with 1911 pistols; take a battle proven pistol design, add zero quality control, out of spec parts, and let some apes assemble it. The buyer purchases said piece of crap and when it pukes the first time out, he gets on the net and tells everyone how "unreliable" 1911s are.

RTFM
October 12, 2005, 07:50 PM
What ever bolt action rifles we have now would be more hearty than a gas gun.

kahr404life
October 12, 2005, 07:55 PM
Enfield Mk-4 in .303. It is a kick-ace battle rifle that will take a beating. I hope we don't overlook the pike as well it is very reliable :D .

osteodoc08
October 12, 2005, 07:58 PM
The 1914 Eddystone my father has seems really well made and shoots MOA to boot.

Dienekes
October 13, 2005, 01:55 AM
Point well taken about commercial copies of military rifles. I have had very good luck with my M1A but would be happier with the M14 I had for a while. My M1s are the real deal and must have been the inspiration for Maytag and Timex ads. Read Hatcher's "Book of the Garand" to see what they learned after making 4 1/2 million in WWII.

Headless Thompson Gunner
October 13, 2005, 02:32 AM
The bolt guns make a lot of sense. If extreme durability is your primary requirement, a milsurp bolt action would probably serve you better. Simplicity is king. Keep a cleaning rod, a spare extractor, and a spare firing pin in the buttstock and you'll always have a working rifle.

Stinkyshoe
October 13, 2005, 03:28 AM
HTG
That is a very good point. Semi auto is only useful to a point. A bolt gun is more reliable and accurate. Ideally, a BR is versatile. In a situation you'd likely have one BR and it would need to do everything well. I'd say a good FAL would fit that description.

Onmilo
October 13, 2005, 08:52 AM
German G-3 hands down.
That's an HK-91 when you remove the selector,,,,,
Saiga's, Veprs, etc. don't even compare.
M14 with a fiberglass stock is pretty close in durability but it won't shoot as accurate in sustained fire.
FN/FAL, maybe but they were never really used in a "WAR".
The ones that get used in African conflicts didn't, and don't, fair near as well as the G-3 rifles.
The Australians had fairly good luck with their FN-FAL varient in the Viet Nam but there was really not very many Australian troops stationed in Viet Nam and many, if not most, were seasoned Special Operation troops who knew how to take care of their personal weapons.
That leaves the SiG PE-57/550 series, they stand up pretty well in Chile, there are some in Nigeria but there just aren't enough numbers in actual conflict to say, 'yeah, this rifle is the best.'

Ash
October 13, 2005, 09:01 AM
Sunray, none of the rifles on the list are available and all are commercial copies. The M1 Garand, the French MAS 49/56, the Hakim and Ljungman, the SVT-40, and the German semi-autos from WWII would all qualify as true military battle rifles, but not the AK's or FAL's (or L1A1's) (which are just as neutered as the M1A).

The AK isn't a battle rifle in any case. But, including it in the discussion, no select fire weapon is available to the general public (pre 86 weapons aside).

In any case, I would argue the FAL would be more rugged than the M1a. I would also argue the MAS 49/56 would be as rugged as the FAL, along with the Hakim (while unwieldy, it is very simple).

Ash

Father Knows Best
October 13, 2005, 09:58 AM
Onmilo said:German G-3 hands down.
That's an HK-91 when you remove the selector,,,,,

As I said way up front, there is no way to really answer this question with certainty. We have no good data on the subject. That said, my guess would be the same as Onmilo's, for the simple reason that the G-3 (and the almost identical Spanish CETME) are the only rifles being discussed that operate via recoil instead of gas. Blowback systems are inherently less sensitive to variances in ammo, weapon condition, etc. The FAL has a nifty adjustable gas port, for instance, which is an improvement over non-adjustable designs. The G-3/CETME, however, simply don't need one. When it comes to reliability, simpler is almost always better.

Consider that the latest autoloading shotgun designs, such as Benelli's "Interia Driven" system, are recoil operated instead of gas. They are touted as being able to shoot any load under any condition, and work reliably every time. Gas guns can't do that.

rick_reno
October 13, 2005, 10:11 AM
Fal.

CentralTexas
October 13, 2005, 10:19 AM
with hard use in over 70+ countries I would find it damn hard to break one (and I've tried!).

english kanigit
October 13, 2005, 01:15 PM
Heh, y'alls are gonna hate me...

The Mosin Nagant!! :neener:

Oh, wait, you said semi-auto. :rolleyes:

Tokugawa
October 13, 2005, 01:31 PM
An AK isn't a "battle rifle"? There are only about 40 jillion of them being used in combat, all over the world ,in every extreme of conditions, by highly trained soldiers and bush war guerrillas alike. I don't know what else could be more of a battle rifle. Arbitrary ,useless and irrelelevant caliber distinctions aside.

itgoesboom
October 13, 2005, 01:59 PM
Tokugawa,

The AK-47/AK-74/AKM design is considered an "assault rifle". That being a intermediate carteridge rifle with select fire capability. M-16s, AUGs, Galils, etc are other examples.

Battle rifles are generally full power rifles. .303 brit, 7.62 nato, .30/06, 7.62x54R, etc.

I.G.B.

Ash
October 13, 2005, 02:02 PM
Tok, the AK is not a Battle Rifle, which is a full-power semi-auto or select fire rifle. The AK is an Assault Rifle, which is a select fire carbine firing an intermediate-power cartridge.

Nobody here will counter the success and durability of the AK. In the world of Assault Rifles, it is probably king, and certainly the majority of all Assault Rifles made by a large margin.

Semantics, perhaps, but an M1 Abrams is not a Heavy Tank, it is a Main Battle Tank. The British Challenger is also an MBT, that is, a tank with the speed and approximate weight of a Medium tank, but mounting a gun equivalent to a Heavy tank. These days, the MBT usually sports better armor than even the Heavy Tanks used to carry. The Conquerer was a Heavy Tank, the Centurion (I believe) was the Medium tank. The MBT, while heavy, can't be considered a Heavy Tank.

The AK is not a Battle Rifle, but an Assualt Rifle. That the M4 Sherman was our main combat tank in WWII does not make it a Main Battle Tank.

Ash

Matthew748
October 13, 2005, 07:19 PM
There is no doubt in my mind that the M1 takes the cake. I don’t have any combat experience with one, but an old friend of mine who is a USMC Korean war vet does. According to him, when everything else broke and froze solid, the M1 kept on going. On the occasions that the action froze due to the extreme cold all you had to do was break away any accumulated ice, operate the action few times by hand, and then you’d be good to go. Again, this is what he told me.

Cpl Punishment
October 13, 2005, 08:01 PM
IMHO, ALL of the real MBRs (i.e. military condition, not commercial sorta-likes) are pretty damn reliable. ALL weapons/mechanisms have failure modes, icluding one's pet [insert pet MBR here]. Some had a few more problems than others (like the SVT 40), but are still very reliable. The bolt-action MBRs are even better.

For that matter most assault rifles (again military config., not "national match" or otherwise commercialized copies) are also very reliable.

ziadel
October 13, 2005, 08:42 PM
I gotta vote for the CETME/G3


there damn near nothing to go wrong.

enfield
October 14, 2005, 11:31 AM
FN/FAL, maybe but they were never really used in a "WAR".

I beg to differ -- mine was dropped during the Falklands war.:neener:

Onmilo
October 14, 2005, 08:11 PM
The Falkland Island debacle wasn't a war, it was a rout,,,,

daniel (australia)
October 14, 2005, 11:04 PM
The Australians had fairly good luck with their FN-FAL varient in the Viet Nam but there was really not very many Australian troops stationed in Viet Nam and many, if not most, were seasoned Special Operation troops who knew how to take care of their personal weapons.

About 50, 000 Australians served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1973, and they included regular troops and concripts, as well as Air Force and Navy. The L1A1 acquitted itself well in their hands, and was still in service in the eighties when I was trained on it. FWIW I certainly found it to be rugged and reliable.

Winnisimmet
October 15, 2005, 02:02 AM
The M1 Garand rifle

Spiphel Rike
October 15, 2005, 02:45 AM
The Australians had fairly good luck with their FN-FAL varient in the Viet Nam but there was really not very many Australian troops stationed in Viet Nam and many, if not most, were seasoned Special Operation troops who knew how to take care of their personal weapons.


You do know that they sent conscripts and nashos (national servicemen) to 'nam right?

Onmilo
October 15, 2005, 08:48 AM
No I didn't, I was a pre-teen in the 60s :)

Double Naught Spy
October 15, 2005, 09:25 AM
Some of y'all are just ridiculous. You don't want to count one type of rifle or another because it doesn't match your view of what a "battle rifle" should be, as if your version of what a battle rifle should be denotes what guns are used as battle rifles. To suggest an AK isn't a battle rifle is preposterous. At least I thought so. So I did some searching...

Apparently from this thread, however, a battle rifle must be a full or high power cartridge, not intermediate or less. In doing some checking, I found that...
http://www.doingfreedom.com/gen/0702/brifle.html
A battle rifle is a potent and versatile tool with a primary purpose of allowing a single rifleman to engage and neutralize multiple human targets at ranges of up to 500 yards, even if they are behind light cover or armor.

Strangely, the folks at Military.com think a battle rifle can be in .223, such as the XM8. http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,Gear_051104_XM8,00.html

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_rifle
Battle rifle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A battle rifle or main battle rifle is a military longarm firing a full sized rifle cartridge. It may be manually operated, self loading (semi-automatic) or capable of selective fire. It is designed to effectively engage targets at ranges in excess of 500 meters with individually aimed fire.

These rifles can be classifiend in three "phases" (this classification possibly originates from Jeff Cooper): a Phase 1 rifle is a military bolt action, such as the Mauser or Lee Enfield rifles; a Phase 2 rifle would be a semi-automatic military rifle, like the Garand or SVT-40; and finally the Phase 3 rifle, a select fire rifle in a full sized rifle cartridge, almost always 7.62x51mm, like the FN FAL from 1951 or the Heckler & Koch G3 from 1958. In practice use of the fully automatic mode of fire was discouraged or disabled in most militaries, due to excessive recoil. The battle rifle has been replaced in common use by the shorter ranged assault rifle firing cartridges of less power.

Examples of cartridges used in battle rifles are the .303 British, 8x57mm 7.62x54mm and 7.62x51mm.

Aside from the part about relying on Cooper's opinion, at least this description is well thought and fairly clear in details and examples. The only thing is I have to wonder if the original poster was this specific in asking about toughest battle rifles.

-----
I also find it amusing that some of y'all are more concerned about the reputations of the guns, probably because you own them, then the guns themselves.

I'm getting tired of the bad rap that the M14 series is getting because of SA Inc.'s crappy quality control.

What does it matter if folks don't think a gun is bad or not? It doesn't matter what folks think. What matters is how yours works for you.

JShirley
October 15, 2005, 12:40 PM
anyone can contribute to wikepedia, regardless of qualifications, so using it as a
source does not inject any true documentation into the discussion.

John

Headless Thompson Gunner
October 15, 2005, 01:53 PM
Nobody said there was anything wrong with the AK.

The original question asked about battle rifles. Those who use that term generally know what it means, and mean what they say. So the guy asking probably wanted the discussion limited to battle rifles.

There is a significant difference between a battle rifle and an assault rifle. That difference is the ability to make meaningful hits at long distances. 500 yards and more isn't a problem for a true battle rifle (.308, .30-06, etc), whereas the AK (7.62x39) has trouble at even 300 yards.

Nothing wrong with the AK within its limitations. If the original question had been about carbines or assault rifles then I'm sure the AK would have been heavily recommended. But calling it a true battle rifle is about like calling a family sadan a convertible. Both will get you where you want to go, but those who really want a convertible will know the difference.

Cpl Punishment
October 15, 2005, 06:49 PM
IIRC it was the US army that differentiated between battle rifles and assault rifles, labeling an assault rifle as a rifle chambered in an intermediate power cartridge and is selectfire.

From that, the AK is an assault rifle, not a battle rifle.

If you want to broaden the original question to the most reliable FIGHTING rifles, then by all means you have to include the AK and AR (and AUG, and SA-80, and. . .and. . .) in the discussion.

trbon8r
October 16, 2005, 01:15 PM
What does it matter if folks don't think a gun is bad or not? It doesn't matter what folks think. What matters is how yours works for you.

It makes a difference to me because I hate to see a poorly made copy of a good weapon give the original a bad reputation.

I could easily ask you the same question regarding your defensiveness of the AK being a "battle rifle". As long as you think the AK fits the criteria; why get so bent out of shape if others don't feel it falls within the battle rifle category?

Since other people's opinions don't matter and we all know what works best for us, I guess we should just shut the message board down since there is nothing left for debate?

Commissar Gribb
October 17, 2005, 07:06 AM
Would anyone consider an FPK/PSL/ROMAK3 equipped with iron sights to be a battle rifle?

Onmilo
October 17, 2005, 08:59 AM
I would consider the Romanian rifle to be a poor attempt to turn the AK into a battle rifle.
The Kalashnikov inspired Saiga .308/9.3X54 caliber rifles are a bit better.
The Dragunov is the best of the three but with a ten shot magazine and a design that favors optics over iron sights it really is in a more specialized class than the true battle rifles.

Consider the Dragunov as the father of the "Interdiction rifle".

Ash
October 24, 2005, 01:50 PM
That is really an interesting point. While I consider the Romak more highly than some, as I don't get offended by the SVD comparision (folks never seem to bash the Yugo's and their AK copy DMR, but I digress). The SVD/PSL/NDM/M76 were all DMR's that could become battle rifles if the optics were destroyed. Pull the scope off, and with a bayonet mounted, it becomes a battle rifle as it fits the three criteria, semi-auto, full-size cartridge, intended for front-line use. That is really playing with the grey area, though, because they were not intended for universal issue and are not intended to be used as a battle rifle except in emergencies. I would probably keep it off the list just because.

But that does lend me to ponder about the Galil in 7.62 Nato.

Ash

Essex County
October 24, 2005, 01:57 PM
It's any number of good weapons you can keep protected from mud, sand, freezing rain and sleet............Essex

Ash
October 25, 2005, 09:22 AM
I strongly beg to differ. The FAL has seen some of the most brutal use in southern Africa (South Africa, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, etc) and Central/South America. Also, many were used in India and in Southeast Asia.

Ash

Onmilo
October 25, 2005, 09:37 AM
Ash, the South Africans dumped their Fals for a domestic version of the Galil.
You will see far more AK varients in Zimbabwe today.
G3 rifles and PKM machineguns along with the ubiqutous AK will be found in most all of the northern African countries.
FALs were seen in Africa, one does not often still find them there,,,,,,
I'm sticking with the G3 and I don't care if the French, the British or the Germans made it,Hell, even the Saudis', the Pakistanis' and the Iranians make very passable licensed versions, regardless, it is still the toughest full bore battle rifle yet devised.

daniel (australia)
October 25, 2005, 10:02 AM
compared to say, the M16. We had half a million men in Nam, for several years, and 1/4 of a million there for many years more, and it was a small arms type of war. All the little pissant fights that the FAL has been in don't amount to a hill of beans compared to what the M16 has seen. We had 40,000 men in Nicaraugua for a few years, the Balkans, etc, etc, etc. The FAL has seen very little in the way of real action, despite it being "issued" to many more little nothing countries.

Being widely used doesn't necessarily mean much. After all, the Italians had 5.2 million men serve in WW1, from April 1915 to Armistice Day - significantly more than the US and for significantly longer. Does that make the Carcano a better rifle than the 1903 Springfield?

As to "pissant little fights" the FAL, in L1A1 form, was used in quite a number of them, including Vietnam, as well as Malaya, "Konfrontasi", Aden, Radfan, Oman, Dhofar and the Falklands War. In either L1A1 or FAL form it was was also used in a number of rather unpleasant little disagreements in various parts of Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and South America. I suspect that all of these seemed real enough to those who participated :rolleyes:

The fact is the FAL/L1A1 has been tested in battles of one sort or another, in a very wide range of environments, and found to be effective and reliable.

Smuggs
October 25, 2005, 10:23 AM
Some of y'all are just ridiculous. You don't want to count one type of rifle or another because it doesn't match your view of what a "battle rifle" should be, as if your version of what a battle rifle should be denotes what guns are used as battle rifles. To suggest an AK isn't a battle rifle is preposterous. At least I thought so. So I did some searching...

Regardless of deffinition the OP asked "My question is leading to this, regarding semi-modern "Battle Rifles" in .308, in their civilian semi-automatic or mil-spec forms, to include CETME, FAL, M-14, M1, HK91, and others that I may have overlooked, which one if left neglected or even used and abused without care for extended periods of time or use has the best track-record for reliability?"
Having only shot an FAL and an M-14 (both rented at the range) I can't answer to the OP question but was hoping to see more answers and less arguments.

Stinkyshoe
October 25, 2005, 11:01 AM
It depends who you ask, but a criteria I have for a BR is to be able to reach out 400+ yards with good accuracy from open sights(and be semi auto, ofcourse www.kurtsaxon.com says otherwise). I would say this not really possible from an AK type weapon because of the sight radius, sight picture and the generous tolerances characteristic of the AK. I personally rule out anything but a Garand, M14, FAL as an exceptable rifle system, unless it is a scoped hunting style bolting with a scope. The AK has it's place, but I'd say it's useful for a bit further than handgun distance. Thats just my two cents though...

Ash
October 25, 2005, 11:20 AM
Yeah, but those R1's were utterly worn out, and worn out parts that would have also been worn out on an AK. Apart from the fact that 3rd world nations have a very high turnover rate of firearms suppliers and a general hodge-podge of weapons (plus, 30 years of service with a rifle is a marathon, no matter what kind it is), that still gives a good nod to the FAL design. The Garands of WWII and Korea have almost all been rebuilt more than once. Does that make it a weak design? Hard use wears any weapon out, including the AK. How long before it breaks is what defines a good weapon.

Ash

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