Military Firearms: What Should Have Been


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cordex
July 25, 2003, 05:48 PM
What small arms were never adopted into major military service but in your mind should have been?

What rifle/pistol/shotgun/subgun/gpmg/etc was the dog's nightshirt of its time, but never made it into the arsenals of any major player?

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seeker_two
July 25, 2003, 05:58 PM
Armalite AR-10 .308.

If it had been adopted, we'd never have seen the M-16...:cool:

4v50 Gary
July 25, 2003, 06:13 PM
The Spencer Lever Action repeater should have been retained after the Civil War. Custer might have lived to write his own memoirs. :p (BTW, I've no love for Custer)

The Ferguson rifle should have been adopted by the British Army. While it cost twice the amount to produce (and was susceptible to stock failure), it would have given the British the edge over every other nation during the World War we know as the American Revolution.

The M-1 Garand with a 20 round detachable BAR magazine. Just don't ask it to be full-auto and it'll do just fine.

T.Stahl
July 25, 2003, 06:28 PM
HK G11 and LMG11.

Marko Kloos
July 25, 2003, 07:09 PM
HK G11 and LMG11.

You got that right. :D

I consider my brief experience with the G11 back in 1989 one of the high points of my military time. The G36 is so-so, but I'd have traded my G3 for a G11 in a heartbeat.

Ol' Badger
July 25, 2003, 07:18 PM
How about the UZI in .45?

BowStreetRunner
July 25, 2003, 07:18 PM
I second the ferguson rifle vote
accuracy beyond the norm, the ability to load laying down.....
even in the hands of just grenadier companies or light infantry companies it would have been a huge tactical boost
BSR

George Hill
July 25, 2003, 07:19 PM
M-14A2

Jeff Timm
July 25, 2003, 07:25 PM
I second the ferguson rifle vote

The Ferguson was much over rated. Black power would foul the mechanism after 10-15 rounds. Then again, deploying the riflemen as skirmishers and cavalry, and avoiding pitched battles they would have been very effective.

Hummm....which is pretty much how Ferguson deployed his troops.

Geoff
Who suspects the man knew the limitations of his weapon.

Cosmoline
July 25, 2003, 07:29 PM
The Brits had all the patents and diagrams needed to build the FN-49 from Belgian engineers who escaped the Nazis. They toyed with the rifles, but never mass-produced them.

Can you imagine elite squads of British paratroops armed with SAFN's, or British troops advancing through France with SAFN's? They would have put the Garand to shame. Esp. if the Brits had improved them a bit and allowed for a detatchable magazine, which would have allowed 20 rounders.

MicroBalrog
July 25, 2003, 07:34 PM
First true assault rifle... Developed in Russia in 1916. Need I say more?

jhisaac1
July 25, 2003, 11:18 PM
The M-1 Garand with a 20 round detachable BAR magazine. Just don't ask it to be full-auto and it'll do just fine.

You mean the M-14?

I'm not an M-14 (or Garand) expert, but isn't that pretty much what it is?

jhisaac1

Preacherman
July 25, 2003, 11:19 PM
The Garand, in its original caliber (.276 IIRC). Would have made the gun over a pound and a half lighter, whilst still offering great ballistics and terminal effect. If this round had succeeded, maybe we would never have had the 5.56mm. foisted upon us... :(

4v50 Gary
July 25, 2003, 11:54 PM
Trick w/the Ferguson rifle is to either pour water down it to clear the threads or to coat it heavily with beeswax. I'll use water first. But let's say they were good for only 15 rounds. That's plenty when you consider they're aimed shots as opposed to volley fired shots.

The real issue is the lack of suitable tactics for riflemen. Ferguson knew enough to train them to seek cover, load while on the ground, and use open order for skirmishing, but I don't think he ever studied the German Jager tactics. The Germans were very advanced in the deployment of Jagers and some were equipped with smoothbores to support the rifle troops (these were actually light infantry). Furthermore, some jagers were horse mounted - something done on a very limited scale by the Queen's Rangers under Lt. Col. Simcoe. Rifle tactics were finally adopted by the British in 1797 when Lt. Col. Francis von Rottenburg wrote a manual on it that was adopted for the 5/60 and used by Stewart & Manningham in training the 95th. Even if said tactics were known and used back in 1777, brigade commanders had to know how to use rifle troops and most of them were pretty clueless.

Mike Irwin
July 25, 2003, 11:58 PM
"The Spencer Lever Action repeater should have been retained after the Civil War. Custer might have lived to write his own memoirs."

Gary, I've often thought that the Spencer should have been redesigned so that it could use either the .45 Colt or the .45 S&W round.

That would have knocked out the military's main objection in that they wanted a standard rifle round for issue to both cavalry and infantry.

And then they screwed that up by adopting the carbine .45-55 round for use by the horse troopers!

Using the standard pistol round would have given them commonality and reduced the burden on the supply train.

Telperion
July 26, 2003, 12:04 AM
I'll second the G11 as well. Caseless ammunition is one of the last remaining revolutionary ideas left in small arms design.

4v50 Gary
July 26, 2003, 12:22 AM
Mike, the new "recreated" Spencers take a modern bullet, but since it's out of my league (I'm sticking w/muzzleloaders and my Perdesoil Sharps is as modern as I'm getting for ACW), I don't know what caliber.

Spencer was too good and as the US wanted to dump its guns to pay for the war, he put himself out of bizness. Along with the Henry, it was one of those "Damned Yankee guns you load on Sunday and shoot all week."

0007
July 26, 2003, 05:15 AM
Can you say "Stoner System"? With a little work on that one, the M-16 and all its follow-on various "improvements" would have been DOA.

VG
July 26, 2003, 06:21 AM
should have been taken at the Savage auto pistol in .45ACP.

telomerase
July 26, 2003, 12:40 PM
The backpack ADM, the Davy Crockett, and the Crockett's warhead on the FOG.

Zeke Menuar
July 26, 2003, 01:38 PM
An interesting project would have been an AR-180 type rifle chambered in 250 Savage or equivalent. More power than the 5.56mm and almost as light.

ZM

4v50 Gary
July 26, 2003, 02:04 PM
BTW, I did mean the 30-06 Garand with a detachable BAR magazine. The M-14 is actually a superior design and it's not just the detachable magazine. The shortened op-rod is less likely to get tweaked and besides that, it's also lighter.

Sylvilagus Aquaticus
July 27, 2003, 01:39 AM
yeah, the Davy Crockett was a real piece of work. Basically a nuclear hand grenade. Didja know that the yield could be adjusted up or down, depending on the needed range? Fired off a little 155 fixture...my main concern with it was that its' nuclear yield blast radius was generally about the same (or more at max yield) than the maximum range. I suppose if you were trying to keep Russkies out of the Fulda Gap or North Koreans and ChiComs from crossing over the DMZ it wouldn't matter to truly dedicated soldiers. Being overrun has its' own disadvantages; it's better to take as many with you as you can. My dad had training and a little experience with the Davy Crockett; I've heard a few stories.


http://www.guntruck.com/DavyCrockett.html

Regards,
Rabbit.

Glock Glockler
July 30, 2003, 11:22 PM
HK CAWS, looks cool as hell and that it wuld be absoutely viscous for CQB, anyone have any idea why the muppets in the Pentagon rejected it?

Dr.Rob
July 30, 2003, 11:44 PM
I'm still scratching my head as to why the US Army never formally adopted Winchester & or Marlin lever guns. I know Henrys served in the Civil war, but in small numbers. We had multiple shot, reliable rifles long before the Krag. Was it the advent of smokeless powder or??? Imagine San Juan Hill fought not Krag vs Mauser, but Marlin vs. Mauser. ("Then sighting the Spanishgunner to raise his head above the armor plate of the machine gun I raised the rear sight of my Marlin 45-70 and...")

Also sad that Colt dropped the ASP in development, otherwise Colt might be supplying the US military today with 9mm pistols.

Some ideas I'm glad we dropped: Reisning SMG (fragile), Johnson rifle (long load time), though both saw use in WW2.

Also find it suprising that there was NO further US development of the .45cal submachinegun past the M-3. (And the SW76 is a Karl Gustav copy, right?) I recall going to armed forces day and seeing each tank/afv/mobile arty pice had racks or compartments to store M-3's. I guess those were all de-commed along with the .45 cal pistol. Then again at $3 ea. the M-3 was a pretty good deal. Wonder where they all went?

Ideas the Germans are happy didn't make it into production: Simonov.

Ideas the Russians are happy didn't make it to the field in greater numbers: STG-44.

Mike Irwin
July 31, 2003, 01:44 AM
"I'm still scratching my head as to why the US Army never formally adopted Winchester & or Marlin lever guns."

Official reason was always "prone shooting."

Henrys served mainly as personal firearms. I believe that the only lever action actually officially issued in any numbers by the Army was the Spencer.

As for lever-action use by military arms...

The Russians bought a couple hundred thousand Winchester 95s, but I don't think they used many, if any, in WW I.

I believe the only large-scale and telling usage of lever-action rifles was by the Turks against the Russians (Henrys, or possibly 1873s), at the Battle of Plevna.

blades67
July 31, 2003, 02:01 AM
Another vote for the HK G11. A great concept with much merit.

erikm
July 31, 2003, 03:20 AM
I agree with the (M)G-11 and the Stoner system. Both were weapons ahead of their times.

Since heavier weapons have already been mentioned, I'd like to add one. One firm designed and built something called the ASP-30. It was an autocannon firing 30mm DEFA rounds (like the Apache does) from a belt. It was light enough to partially replace the M2HB and could be mounted on the same mounts and tripods.

Cheers,
ErikM :evil:

MicroBalrog
July 31, 2003, 07:47 AM
One firm designed and built something called the ASP-30. It was an autocannon firing 30mm DEFA rounds (like the Apache does) from a belt. It was light enough to partially replace the M2HB and could be mounted on the same mounts and tripods.


Can I get one?:evil:

Nightcrawler
July 31, 2003, 08:30 AM
The G11 was a neat concept, but suffered greatly, in my opinion, due to the tiny four point something millimeter bullet it fired. Come ON. We're already using .22s.

Caseless ammunition is, by nature, lighter and more compact than standard rounds.

Thus, a caseless rifle would allow for major-caliber ballistics with less weight and bulk. Caseless .30 caliber rounds would possibly weigh the same as standard 5.56mm ammo does.

So, they need to take the G11 and scale it up to a caseless 7mm or larger round.

THEN they'll have something. :)

Glock Glockler
July 31, 2003, 10:33 AM
Dr. Rob,

Got any info on that Colt ASP, it sounds interesting.

Thanks

AJ Dual
July 31, 2003, 10:39 AM
IIRC while the G11 caseless ammo was only 4.73mm, it was a very long bullet and was actually somewhere in the 50-68 grain range, which puts it back in the .223 category as far as actual bullet weight and foot pounds delivered. It had good sectional density because of it's profile, and I think had good terminal effects because long bullets tend to be very unstable in impact medium. (i.e. the enemy's body)

So while the 4.73mm caliber made the G11 ammo sound puny, it wasn't the whole story.

Sean Smith
July 31, 2003, 10:58 AM
The biggest military firearms goof-up I can think of was the failure to adopt repeating rifles sooner in the Civil War. They were delayed substantially simply because the head of Army Ordinance was an imbecille.

The Thompson and BAR could have been given higher priority and been made available in wider numbers to U.S. troops in 1918. Instead of seeing them as good weapons in World War II, we would have had them as cutting-edge weapons in World War I.

Tamara
July 31, 2003, 11:08 AM
Henrys served mainly as personal firearms. I believe that the only lever action actually officially issued in any numbers by the Army was the Spencer.

Wasn't there a small order of '94s that went to signal corps units in the Pacific Northwest during one of the great unpleasantnesses of the last century?

I seem to recall reading an article a year or two ago on the elusive Signal Corps Winchester '94s. You're a veritable fount of trivia, man, help me out here.

Mike Irwin
July 31, 2003, 11:51 AM
Tams,

Uh.... Hum.... Uh...

Wow. I simply don't know.

I'm not sure what the unpleasantness would have been. By 1894, when the rifle was first introduced, the Indian wars were pretty much completely over.

I can't think of any situation in which a Winchester Model 94 would have been more appropriate than say a Krag cavalry carbine for Signal Corps use...



"The biggest military firearms goof-up I can think of was the failure to adopt repeating rifles sooner in the Civil War. They were delayed substantially simply because the head of Army Ordinance was an imbecille."

That's been claimed a lot over the years since the Civil War, but I don't believe it to be the case at all.

When you consider the needs of the Army, the logistical problems it was facing, and the technology, you get a better understanding for what General Ripley was facing.

First, no matter what, there simply weren't enough firearms to go around in the early days of the war. That would seem to make the issue of lever actions a no brainer, but WHAT lever action was available in 1862 in the numbers needed by an army that's growing expodentially? The short answer is none of them.

Christopher Spencer's rifle was the only one to come close, but even if it had been adopted in 1861, at the outbreak of the war, it would have taken about as long as it did to get any meaningful production out of his plant. Spencer did expand his manufacturing capabilities of his own volition, while attempting to get the Army interested, and it was only this fact that allowed the rifles that were made to get into service.

As for the Government making them, a nice idea, but WHERE? As it was the Government was contracting with every supplier it could in the United States to piece make 1861 and 1863 rifled muskets.

Still, that wasn't enough, so the United States sent agents overseas to purchase as many firearms as possible. Austrian, Belgian, French, British, Prussian, and possibly even Russian, firearms were purchased, and used, by US forces during the war.

That leads us to the next problem...

Ammunition compatibility.

By 1864, the Quartermaster's Corps was supplying nearly TWO HUNDRED different types of ammunition to troops! That's right, 200. It was a logistical nightmare, and it's really surprising that it worked as well as it did. Just tracking what units were where must have been horrific.

Gen. Ripley was understandably nervous about putting more stress on the supply corps, especially for firearms that would be entering in relatively small numbers.

Then, also, there's the concept of the lever action being new and unproven technology. Not to mention that the cartridge it used was also new and unproven technology.

Given the pressures of war time, which is more preferable? Arm your troops with firearms you KNOW to be workable and effective, or arm them with new and relatively unproven and untested technology that could very well show up with fatal flaws in the heat of battle?

In retrospect, given the pressures that were being faced by the Ordnance Department and the Quartermaster's Corps, I've taken a MUCH softer stance on General Ripley's foot dragging on the issue of repeating firearms.

Skunkabilly
July 31, 2003, 12:19 PM
http://www.skunkabilly.com/images/asia/mortar1.jpg

http://www.skunkabilly.com/images/asia/mrls1.jpg

:D

Uhh...I dunno, an M-16A4 in .243 with the G36 gas system? :confused:

Tamara
July 31, 2003, 12:39 PM
I'm pretty sure it was during WWI, when stocks of Springfields and M1917's were in high demand for fighting units.

If'n I bemember rightly, the Ordnance Dep't bought a bunch of '94s in .30-30 to issue to scattered Signal Corps troops guarding telegraph installations and suchlike in the Pacific Northwet. My Standard Catalog Of Military Firearms only makes passing reference to a government purchase of "Winchester 1894 carbines" during WWI, and I'll be danged if I can even remember what magazine the article was in (American Rifleman? Guns 'N' Blammo?) much less where to find it in my house... :uhoh:

Mike Irwin
July 31, 2003, 12:44 PM
OK, that would make a lot more sense, Tams.

I wasn't thinking that late.

full-auto
July 31, 2003, 01:04 PM
Yeah, the G11 was great alright. My favorite aspect was the AK like simplicity displayed in its internal components:

http://www.hkpro.com/image/g11open.jpg

I'm sure it had previsions for routing sand, mud and other debris from this incredibly simple and robust mechanism. :D

Tim

Tamara
July 31, 2003, 01:11 PM
You could ask member Marko Kloos, as his unit actually participated in some of the limited field trials the weapon underwent.

One upside to the G11 was that there really weren't all that many places for stuff to get into the rifle.

But, yeah, their internals were hardly a paean to the glories of simplicity...

Correia
July 31, 2003, 01:55 PM
full-auto, as a wannabe gun inventor myself, I dream about that picture and wake up screaming. :D

I'm going to have to second the SAFN in the hands of the British.

Also the US should have adopted the Lewis gun during WWI.

.276 BAR and Garand would have been impressive as well.

One thing I'm glad didn't happen, what if the Germans had had been able to field enough STG 44s or FG 42s to replace their Mausers at the front? Not a pleasant thought.

Nightcrawler
July 31, 2003, 02:29 PM
IIRC while the G11 caseless ammo was only 4.73mm, it was a very long bullet and was actually somewhere in the 50-68 grain range, which puts it back in the .223 category as far as actual bullet weight and foot pounds delivered. It had good sectional density because of it's profile, and I think had good terminal effects because long bullets tend to be very unstable in impact medium. (i.e. the enemy's body)

There's a reason the US Military switched to SS109, which doesn't have the fragmentation that supposedly makes 5.56mm so lethal. It's a detriment on the battlefield.

Instability in impact media translates to an inability of the round to penetrate light cover, such as trees, sandbags, and modern body armors.

5.56mm is adequate for anti-personnel use at short to medium ranges. The reasons it's favored over the 7.62mm round is because it's lighter and smaller and the troops can carry more of it. This is it's ONLY real advantage over a larger caliber, as it's ballistically inferior for everything but groundhog hunting.

However, with caseless ammunition, the weight advantage is theoretically gone, so there's no reason to continue to use a small bore projectile. Ballistically, a heavy bullet will have better penetration of cover and armor than a light one will, and this is very important on the battlefield; so much that it outweighs any benefits one might get from fragmentation or tumbling bullets. You NEED penetration; fragmentation is of no benefit if it happens in the badguy's armor vest instead of his chest cavity. (Of course, it's a benefit to HIM...)

If the 1200 foot-pounds .223 delivers is good, then the 2400 that .308 delivers is better.

Keep in mind, a major caliber caseless rifle round needn't replicate the ballistics of .308 exactly, just as long as it's in the same performance class. I'd actually like to play with an 8mm caseless round, using 170-250 grain bullets at various velocities...

(On the other hand, nobody asked me, either, and I don't get to decide these things.)

Sean Smith
July 31, 2003, 02:52 PM
The innards of the G11 are just scary... I had no idea. :eek:

Mike, sorry but I don't buy your point of view about Ripley. He was not merely a military conservative, but an actively obstructionist ???. Your points are good as far as they go, but most of them would apply just as well in 1865, when the repeaters had already demonstrated their battlefield superiority. You are basically arguing that the Ordinance Department's incompetence in procurement and supply excuses their technological backwardness, too. One wrong doesn't make the other wrong right, it merely shows that the Ordinance Department circa 1862 was bad at alot of things. :D

Mike Irwin
July 31, 2003, 03:19 PM
As I noted, Sean, Ripley was obstructionist for a PURPOSE, not simply to be obstructionist (his successor was more of an obstructionst based on traditionalist values than was Ripley).

I believe that to be an incorrect and largely wrong-headed view that's come down through history, largely developed by the arm-chair warriors, tacticians, and quartermasters.

The situation in 1865 wasn't a lot different than it was in 1863, either, regarding procurement of military firearms. The United States was still bringing more men under arms than could be produced.

I'm not sure why you consider the Ordnance Department to have been incompetent in producrement and supply.

Remember, at the start of the Civil War, 2 of the 4 American arsenals making shoulder weapons were denied to the United States -- Harpers Ferry and Palmetto.

Immediately you start the war with LESS than half your pre-war firearms production capabilities, so if you're intending to field and army, you have to look elsewhere.

And because you're looking elsewhere, the chances are slim that the weapons that you acquire (remember, you need the NOW, not later), are going to be in calibers other than what you already use.

After those arms are issued, you have to make arrangements to make the ammunition, often setting up those production facilities from scratch, which is no mean feat.

Then, finally, you have to lay in place a system for disbursement of that ammunition.

Here's where your characterization of the Ordnance Dept. and the QM corps is DEAD wrong. The amazing fact of the matter is that even though they were faced with procuring and delivering nearly 200 types of ammunition, by and large that ammunition got to where it was needed WHEN it was needed.

There are very few accounts of troops in the Civil War being issued the wrong ammunition for the weapons they were carrying.

Also, once again, you don't answer the question of where these repeating rifles in great numbers were to come from. The government arsenals were busy producing 1861 and 1863 Springfield rifles.

Spencer, at his factory, produced about 100,000 of them for use in the Civil War.

Most went to cavalry units, where such a rifle is more logical and more effective.

Effectiveness is another reason why wholesale adoption of the repeating rifle wasn't undertaken during the Civil War.

The Spencer has, because of its heavy bullet and low power round, an effective range of about 150 meters, and an absolute effective range of about 500 meters.

The Springfield, on the other hand, had effective and absolute effective ranges of over double that.

Dr.Rob
July 31, 2003, 03:19 PM
Glocker,

As I recall, the ASP was a 9mm project gun based on the short stroke double action later revived for the Double Eagle, basically a refinement of the then factory custom Seecamp lowerthe ASP was to hold 12-15 rounds if memory serves.

The fact is Colt has never had great success with a DA/SA pistol, even when they bought a design outright from someone else (All American).

At the time Colt was developing the ASP for military trials, SW was already making huge inroads in the 9mm law enforcement market (this is pre Glock).

Colts next attempt was to buy a 40 cal CZ and stamp it with a Colt logo. Maybe internal development of new products just got too costly, even in the mid-70's.

full-auto
July 31, 2003, 04:17 PM
5.56mm is adequate for anti-personnel use at short to medium ranges. The reasons it's favored over the 7.62mm round is because it's lighter and smaller and the troops can carry more of it. This is it's ONLY real advantage over a larger caliber, as it's ballistically inferior for everything but groundhog hunting.
Well, that's only one advantage to using the smaller round in combat.

You forget that the entire purpose of an "assault rifle" is its ability to provide controllable full-auto fire to the soldier. A full-auto M14 or even FAL isn't nearly as useful as a full-auto M16 to its user.

The M14's over heated and were wildly uncontrollable by the average soldier. While the FALs design was superior to that of the M14 for full-auto fire, it too was for the most part uncontrollable to the average soldier and were therefore issued in semi-auto only by many nations.

The G11 had a progressive recoil system that allowed it to get off 3 shots in rapid succession before the recoil impulse would upset the aim of the shooter. The whole upper assembly moved rearward during firing (burst mode) allowing the portion being held by the shooter to remain rigid. Attempting to do this with a 7.62x51 chambered weapon would be nearly impossible as the size and weight of the rifle would be prohibitive.

To assist in controlled bursts, the G11 had several things going for it;

1) The 4.73mm bullet was small, light and fast. The smaller the bullet, the less recoil generated.
2) The 'bolt' (I use the term loosely) reciprocated in a circular motion thereby absorbing much of the recoil energy through simple mechanics.
3) A high cyclic rate, 3 round in about 60 milliseconds.
4) A unique recoil absorption system which allowed all 3 shots to be fired before the recoil impulse would be transferred to the shooter.

Here's a shot of the rotating chamber:
http://www.hkpro.com/image/g11bolt.jpg

Again, not exactly a simple design. It's been compared (rightfully so I might add) to a 'Swiss watch' as it has countless tiny and intricate parts that need to be in exact alignment for it to properly function. It was going to be extremely expensive to mass produce, and this was one of the reasons the project was dropped.

It was a 1st generation attempt at a very good idea. Caseless ammo weapons make perfect sense for a number of reasons, but here are two primary reasons;

1) Caseless ammo reduces the cost of ownership and usage since brass (or steel) is no longer needed.
2) Since no brass (or steel) is ejected, the 'left hand' vs. 'right hand' shooter is no longer an issue - especially with a 'bull-pup' design.

I suspect caseless ammo isn't a dead concept. While there are some problems with current caseless cartridge designs (such as durability), I'm sure the technology will continue to improve over time. Eventually a system may emerge as a viable option for military usage. Unfortunately the G11 wasn't that solution although it was an incredible first step and exceptionally innovative design.

Tim

Andrew Wyatt
July 31, 2003, 04:45 PM
IMHO, caseless guns don't have an advantage in any way, shape or form over "cased" guns in that you still need an ejection port to clear the thing, and the lack of a case means the heat that would be carried out of the gun by the case goes into the internals, which leads to a hotter gun.

BryanP
July 31, 2003, 08:02 PM
Mike Irwin said:
The Russians bought a couple hundred thousand Winchester 95s, but I don't think they used many, if any, in WW I

I only have one book that references these. One B&W photo of one and this article:


Winchester Model 1895
Specification:
Calibre: 7.62 mm (0.3 in)
Length: overall 1.175 m (46.25 in); barrel 0.71 m (28 in)
Weight: 4.2 kg (9.26 lb)
Muzzle velocity: not known
Magazine: 5-round tubular

It may seem rather odd to have a rifle more usually regarded as being part of the plains warfare of the American West included in a study of the rifles of World War I, but the fact remains that the Winchester Model 1895 was for one nation an important part of it's World War I inventory. That nation was Russia, which entered the war with a will in 1914 only to suffer a series of catastrophic defeats of which the Battle of Tannenburg was but one. The basic problem for the Russian military planners was that although they had almost bottomless reserves of men they lacked the industrial base to equip them. The Russian economy before 1914 was indeed getting itself on an industrial footing, but it was as yet insufficient to sustain wartime production. Matters got to the point where soldiers were sent into battle without rifles but were expected to obtain them from among the fallen. Things clearly could not continue for long like that.

The easy way out was to purchase weapons from abroad. The Americans duly obliged and in particular the Winchester Repeating Arms Company of New Haven, Connecticut, took the opportunity to use the assembly line for its well-known range of manually-loaded rifles that used the loading lever beneath the trigger. This was operated by the fingers that gripped the stock; a rapid downwards movement loaded a new round from the tubular magzine under the barrel. By World War I this type of rifle was militarily obsolescent but it suited the Russian requirement and accordingly a 'militarized' version was churned out especially for the Russian army.

This was the Model 1895, which was chambered for the Russians 7.62-mm (0.3-in) cartridge and had sights calibrated in arshins, then the usual method of range measurement used in Russia (1 arshin = 0.71m = 27.95in) The resultant rifle could still be recognized as a descendant of the famous Winchester 75 of plains fame, but overall it was longer, heavier and more rugged. It needed to be, for all that made it to Russia (some were lost as a result of U-boat attacks) were sent straight to the front, and into the hands of rapidly-trained recruits who had little time for maintenance and cleaning. In all 293,816 were actually delivered to Russia and those that survived the rigours of the fighting against German and Austro-Hungarian armies later played their part in the revolutions of 1917 and in the civil war that followed. Moreover, some were captured by the Germans in World War II. It was noticed that some of these 'later' examples had their sights marked in metres, but when this was carried out is uncertain. By any standard the appearance of the Winchester Model 1895 on the Battlefields of World War I was odd, but it happened nevertheless. Few records actually survive of how the Model 1895 fared in action but no doubt it gave a good account of itself. It was almost certainly the only lever-action rifle to be used during World War I and on that score alone it is worth of mention.

full-auto
July 31, 2003, 08:37 PM
IMHO, caseless guns don't have an advantage in any way, shape or form over "cased" guns in that you still need an ejection port to clear the thing, and the lack of a case means the heat that would be carried out of the gun by the case goes into the internals, which leads to a hotter gun.
You're right Andrew, the G11 did suffer from this problem. It also suffered from premature erosion of the surface where the rotating chamber met the barrel. This area became super heated and during prolonged fire it would begin to erode quickly.

A tight, precise fit was required between the chamber and barrel or the propellant gasses would vent and the velocity would decrease substantially.

http://www.full-auto.com/images/forums/g11_bolt_erode.jpg

Tim

Mike Irwin
July 31, 2003, 08:43 PM
Bryan,

Well, semi-decent writeup that loses a LOT of credibility when you consider the fact that the Winchester Model 95 had a BOX magazine, not a tubular one.

BryanP
July 31, 2003, 09:02 PM
Mike, you are quite correct. The picture in the book shows an integral box mag, not a tubular mag. Someone just wasn't paying attention. The book was written by a couple of Brits, so what do you expect? :)

Nightcrawler
July 31, 2003, 10:24 PM
Personally, I think the 5.56mm, 4.73mm, etc.'s low recoil is a fairly moot point. Full automatic fire is of extremely limited utility on a rifle, and is only useful when facing mulitple targets at close range (and even then, in many cases you're much better off leaving it on semi). In many cases it simply wastes ammunition. Laying down a wall of lead is best left to support weapons, like machine guns.

If I'm not mistaken, the concept behind the super-fast three round burst was so that you could hit each enemy target with two or three bullets. Now, while making two or more holes in the badguy is nice, it kind of negates the advantage of your 45 round magazine and low ammo weight if you shoot every single guy three times.

If low recoil and compact size were really all that was important in a service arm, then our military would be using th FN P90 submachine gun. Every advantage the M4 has over, say, a FAL, the P90 has over the M4. It's smaller, lighter, has less recoil, is more controllable, has higher capacity, etc.

It's just a matter of how small a bullet you're comfortable with.

Besides, it's all a matter of weapon design. Recoil isn't the problem, for controllable automatic fire, it's muzzle rise. A well-designed weapon wont' have much.

Tamara
August 1, 2003, 12:21 AM
IMHO, caseless guns don't have an advantage in any way, shape or form over "cased" guns in that you still need an ejection port to clear the thing,

Unlike a conventional firearm's ejection port, it can be kept sealed unless you are actually in the act of clearing the weapon.

...and the lack of a case means the heat that would be carried out of the gun by the case goes into the internals, which leads to a hotter gun.

While a definite design hurdle, from what I understand, the clever gnomes at H&K had mitigated this problem to a large extent.

Jeff Timm
August 2, 2003, 10:30 AM
Mike, sorry but I don't buy your point of view about Ripley. He was not merely a military conservative, but an actively obstructionist ???. Your points are good as far as they go, but most of them would apply just as well in 1865, when the repeaters had already demonstrated their battlefield superiority. You are basically arguing that the Ordinance Department's incompetence in procurement and supply excuses their technological backwardness, too.
Said Sean Smith

Keep in mind. The US Army (OK Grand Army of the Republic) was inventing large scale logistics as it went along. Railroads, telegraph and standardization were new battlefield realities. So was the concept of a Logistics Train from raw material to troop in the field. At the end of the war the Yankee Army was the most standardized and best supplied on earth. Which, given testimony of the veterans in their letters and memoirs means the rest of the earth was in pretty bad shape.

Geoff Timm
US Army Ordnance Corps 1972-1982, USDoD 1982 - Pending RIF/Contracting Out and the whims of our Congresscretins.

Jeff Timm
August 2, 2003, 10:41 AM
You forget that the entire purpose of an "assault rifle" is its ability to provide controllable full-auto fire to the soldier. A full-auto M14 or even FAL isn't nearly as useful as a full-auto M16 to its user.
Said Full-auto
Not quite. The evolving use of the M-16 has seen considerable tactical change. Back in the 1970's the US Army actually had a little steel unit that blocked the full auto selector. In an emergency you could break off the tab and rock and roll. This lasted about as long as free Hot pizza and beer at a battalion beer bust.
The M-16A2 stepped away from the controlled fire concept and introduced the controlled burst. Accurate semi-auto fire was replaced with machine dictated full auto burst fire.
Now days the tactics seem to be using the M-4 Carbine as a submachine gun with more range.

Comment: I note the Swedish tests of the 1980's where the wounding effect of the 5.56mm round was found to be very similar to the 9mm Swedish SMG round.

Geoff
Who was taught standing, sitting, prone and hasty sling mount in 1972, with the M-16A1.

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