Military rifle primer


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cosine
November 8, 2006, 05:50 PM
I'm ramping up the intensity of what I'm trying to learn about military style rifles, and instead of trying to sift through the mountains of information looking for the basics (my searching ability isn't great) I thought I'd come right out and ask for a basic primer about different military style rifles, such as the AR-15, Ar-10, AK-47, FAL, M1A, M14, G3, G33, Mosin-Nagent, Enfield, SKS, Garands, etc. I'm looking for information about all types of military rifles for the last 100 or so years, including the cheap $100 mil-surps I hear people talk about.

Just about the only thing I know about those rifles is the difference in caliber (and I don't even know that for some of the rifles I listed), so I'm looking for other information such as the advantages/disadvantages of each, differences in function/systems/actions, a basic history of their background, which forces around the world used which rifles, what your own personal experience was with those rifles, what you like/don't like, what rifles you'd recommend to get first in the different calibers like .223/5.56 and .308/7.62, approximately what the market value on those rifles is right now, etc.

I know it's a big order, and so many thanks for any advice you can provide.

P.S. On the side, what's the difference between the 7.62x39 round and the 7.62x51 round?



Edit: Please feel free to mention anything you think is important which I didn't mention or didn't ask about because I probably don't know anything about it. (the reason I ended both sets of questions with etc.)

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Froggy
November 8, 2006, 06:13 PM
Here is a good place to start:

http://world.guns.ru/main-e.htm

Sample page on the venerable SKS is here. (http://world.guns.ru/rifle/rfl01-e.htm) Just navigate around using the menu on the left of the page to find the guns in which you are interested.

P.S. On the side, what's the difference between the 7.62x39 round and the 7.62x51 round? Do you mean how they are different aside from their length? (Just in case, the number following the "x" is the length of the cartridge.) The 7.62mm x 39mm round is the M43 cartridge used in SKS, AK-47, etc. The 7.62mm x 51mm is the .308 Winchester, aka NATO standard 7.62.

Technosavant
November 8, 2006, 06:13 PM
Try www.surplusrifle.com for specific firearm info. You've got lots of reading in your future.

As for 7.62x39 vs. 7.62x51: (this is a little simplistic)
The first number, 7.62, specified the diameter of the round in mm (note that the measurements are lightly different- European and US created bullets measure slightly differently, even if the numbers are the same- one measures the bullet, the other the bore). The second number is the length of the cartridge in mm.

7.62x39 is an Eastern-bloc caliber, used in the SKS and the AK. It is an intermediate caliber- more powerful than a handgun, but less powerful than "full power" rifle calibers.

7.62x51 shares much with the .308 Winchester (but is not completely identical), and is considered a "full power" rifle cartridge, and is more powerful at longer ranges than the 7.62x39.

miko
November 8, 2006, 06:20 PM
cosine,

What's the purpose of yoru inquiry? Knowing that would greatly help in offering you the relevant data.

Are you considering a rifle(s) for yourself? If so, what purpose do you envision, how many ones do you plan to have, how many roles each one must play, etc.
Are you interested in collecting and target shooting or possible defencive use?
Do you need a specifically military rifle or a knock-off of one or would you go for a similar capability in a civilian one? Etc. etc.

miko

cosine
November 8, 2006, 06:21 PM
I don't mind reading, thanks for the links. I had no idea those sort of resources were on the 'Net.

cosine
November 8, 2006, 06:30 PM
cosine,

What's the purpose of yoru inquiry? Knowing that would greatly help in offering you the relevant data.

Are you considering a rifle(s) for yourself? If so, what purpose do you envision, how many ones do you plan to have, how many roles each one must play, etc.
Are you interested in collecting and target shooting or possible defencive use?
Do you need a specifically military rifle or a knock-off of one or would you go for a similar capability in a civilian one? Etc. etc.

miko

The purpose of looking for this information is firstly just to gain a general knowledge of these types of rifles, but I also am considering several rifles for myself. I'm just envisioning general use, such as a longer-range powerful rifle, probably a shorter range intermediate powered rifle, etc.

The most I'll probably do with such rifles is plinking, but I am slightly interested in collecting (and not only for the history, a lot of mil-surps appear to be fairly cheap) and definitely am interested in defensive use, both short range and longer-range SHTF defensive use if something like that would (regretfully) ever come to pass.

I assume I'll end up with two or three different rifles at least to cover initial broad gaps (like a 5.56 caliber carbine for out to distances such as 150 yds, an 5.56 rifle for longer distances such as out to 300-500 yds, and a 7.62 caliber rifle for more punch, with a desired range of probably 250-350 yds), and I'm not opposed to slowly accumulating several more to fill in smaller gaps here and there.

I don't specifically need a military rifle, both knock-offs and/or civilian versions would be fine, I just used the term "military" to basically exclude "sporting" type bolt actions and lever actions from this thread. (I didn't mean full-auto when I mentioned military. I intended to mean common civilian semi-auto versions.)

Clipper
November 8, 2006, 07:55 PM
Search eBay for a copy of 'Small Arms of the World'. They're not hard to find, and catalog military arms into the late '60s, with short biographies of the real giants like Browning, Maxim, and the Mausers, as well as some of the more obscure makers & designers.

mkh100
November 8, 2006, 07:57 PM
+1 on Surplusrifles.com

here is a little piece I wrote on the PTR 91 ..... thats a US made G3 clone

http://www.alpharubicon.com/leo/jldptr91.htm

Good luck !

Mike

Froggy
November 8, 2006, 08:24 PM
I don't specifically need a military rifle, both knock-offs and/or civilian versions would be fine, I just used the term "military" to basically exclude "sporting" type bolt actions and lever actions from this thread.

Not to be a wise guy, but a good bolt action rifle is just the ticket for this....

...an 5.56 rifle for longer distances such as out to 300-500 yds...

Dienekes
November 8, 2006, 08:27 PM
Second "Small Arms Of The World". That and other good books are so cheap and available that there is really no excuse for not building up a library. Lots of secondhand books around--Amazon.com and others.

cosine
November 9, 2006, 12:25 AM
I'm going to start looking for second hand books too of these different types of rifles. Thanks for the suggestions so far.

Froggy,
A good bolt action is on my list too, I just want to get the EBRs first. ;)






So based on some of the preliminary reading I've done (thanks again for the great links), my initial hunch that I wanted an AR-15 and some sort of AK-47 is growing a bit.


AR-15 newbie questions:

What is the performance difference between the different barrel lengths such as 16", 20" and 24"? If you could only have one (initially), which length would you chose? What are the pro/cons of the different lengths?

Regarding barrel twist: what is the performance difference between the different ratios (I believe they are 1/7, 1/8, 1/9?). What are the pro/cons of the different barrel twist ratios?

Finally, I think I'm interested in an A3 top, which if I'm not mistaken is the one with the rail for optics, carry handle, or iron sights.

Oh, and I've also noticed that there are several different brands of AR-15s, which ones are good and which ones are mediocre? (I know I could search for answers to these questions, however, the search function has been ornery for me today, so thanks much for your patience in answering them once again.)

miko
November 9, 2006, 12:16 PM
The purpose of looking for this information is firstly just to gain a general knowledge of these types of rifles, but I also am considering several rifles for myself. I'm just envisioning general use, such as a longer-range powerful rifle, probably a shorter range intermediate powered rifle, etc.

You would certainly benefit from reading Boston T. Party’s “Boston’s Gun Bible”.

The most I'll probably do with such rifles is plinking, …and definitely am interested in defensive use, both short range and longer-range SHTF defensive use…

I believe I have faced a similar choice and have done quite a lot of research and trial. My choice for the “universal” SHTF rifle is Remington 7600 Pump in .243 with 10-rd magazine and 2-7 scope on quick-detach rings. I might add a ghost-ring receiver sight later. Here are the considerations:

- Cost less than $400 (at Wal-Mart). The difference buys you a good reloading set and plenty of supplies for target practice.
- Weights little – 7.5 pounds, IIRC. Quite a difference in some situations.
- Reliable as heck – same action as the Remy shotguns.
- Any expertise with a pump shotgun is directly transferable
- The variety of stocks are available, with pistol grips, etc. Stock is removable/replaceable in minutes, which might help for transporting it unobtrusively. As New Orleans demonstrated, the government tends to confiscate the guns it sees in case of emergency and apologize later.
- Can use a widest variety of ammo – from mildest target reloads to full power, without cycling problems.
You can practice with cheap, mild lead re-loads that would allow you to use brass indefinitely.
- Not being a semi-auto, it is not banned in some municipalities.
- Not being “evil”, it is less likely to attract unwelcome attention.

- No moving parts during shot, no vent holes and a fully floated barrel give you accuracy comparable to the bolt-action (well, $400 bolt-action). 1MOA quite realistic with the suitable ammo.
- At the same time in emergency you can pump out rounds almost as fast as a semi-auto. I would have trouble believing how fast one can shoot that accurately if I did not see my neighbor shoot his (in hard-kicking 30-06).

I chose the .243 round because the standard load is 100 grain at about 2900-3000 fps and heavier are available (105, 107, even 115). Or you can shoot 80 or 90 grain at 3200 of higher.
Conservative and common 100 grain at 2900fps is way heavier than AR’s 64 grains and carries way more energy than AK’s 7.62x39 125 grains at 2300 fps. The recoil is very mild, the trajectory flat. The bullet ballistics is better than 308. I believe it would be a very capable performer from 0 to 400 yards and not bad close/home defense either.

But you can select a different chambering – from ubiquitous 308 to excellent long-range .270 or moose-felling 30-06. The 30-06 comes in a carbine (18” barrel) and you can shorten the barrel of other models if you want to.


Now, for the negatives.
Some will say that 10 rd magazine is too small.
The magazine is also not as easy/fast to replace as AR or other military rifles.
If you shoot a lot many rounds (dozens dull-power rounds in quick succession), the relatively light barrel will heat up and string your shots.
You need two hands to operate it effectively.

Basically, If I was going on a combat mission, I would take an M1A.
Being a civilian and having to carry a lot of stuff besides weapons, having no intention to engage in prolonged medium-range (150-250 yards) firefights, not knowing if I would need a close-quarters or long-range, defencive or hunting, etc., having to worry about the government attitudes, etc, I believe 7600 Pump is a great compromise.

miko

Lonestar.45
November 9, 2006, 12:32 PM
This site will give you all the info you ever wanted to know about the 5.56 round, barrel length, twist, ammo, etc.:

http://www.ammo-oracle.com/

Before getting an AR15, I would definitely suggest giving it a thorough read, and if you have questions come back and post.

Cosmoline
November 9, 2006, 01:07 PM
There are hundreds of different bolt action war rifles from the 20th century, even excluding the battle rifles and assault rifles. I find the best way to keep them organized is to think of them in historical terms. The modern rifle was born with the invention of Poudre B by the French in the mid 1880's. That invention opened the way for modern high pressure rifle rounds, and enabled relatively small caliber bullets to do the work that had been done by much larger black powder slugs. It was also far cleaner, and allowed for practical semiautomatic and automatic actions. The great age of innovation when most developments were made was between 1886 and 1920. Almost all firearms in existence today trace their roots to this period, or are permutations on innovations made during that period.

In broad terms, 1886 through 1942 or so was the great age of the bolt action war rifle. The technology to make assault rifles and battle rifles existed, but there was great concern about using too much ammunition. Plus, the German squad organization that set the standard for most other nations was based around a proper machine gun. This setup was incredibly effective on the defense and accounted for millions of kills, but its main weapon had to be broken down and could not be fired on the move. After 1942 the battle rifle began to emerge as the dominant military rifle, with the Garand being the first to the field in large numbers. The assault rifle of course came to dominate by the 1960's. Don't make the novice mistake of assuming later firearms are orders of magnitude more effective than older ones. They reflect changing battlefield doctrines, but even today a fully equipped US squad would have a very tough time against a WWI German squad with a Maxim and Mausers.

It's also helpful to think in geographical terms. Mausers were dominant with military forces in Germany, most of the new world and parts of Asia. Lee Enfields were dominant in the British Empire. Mosin-Nagants were dominant in the Russian and Soviet spheres of influence. Etc. Various European nations had their own, often highly unusual, rifle designs.

Most of these used the same basic range of cartridges. Before 1905 most fired long, round nosed bullets in the 6mm to 8mm range at under 2400 fps. The advent of the 8x57JS revolutionized cartridges and almost all nations switched to lighter, faster spitzer bullets by WWI. There was also a trend away from the 6mm and 6.5mm bullets to those in the .30 caliber range.

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