January 28, 2008, 11:51 PM
You guys have probably heard this question before, but here it goes. I've wanted to get a military bolt action for years. I've been reading a great book by john culbertson called "13 cent killers" about the 5th marine snipers. It's lit a fire under me to seek out my warfighter. I've narrowed down to a SMLE, '03A3, or a 98k. Three rifles i've always admired. Any comparison experience out there? I also would appreciate any constructive advice. Pictures of custom jobs are cool too. If you got 'em.
January 29, 2008, 12:52 AM
January 29, 2008, 12:53 AM
Find yourself a nice unissued Lithgow No. 1 Mk. III* and load up on .303. You're ready to fight for king and country.
Or a clean 98 carbine and one of those art deco bayonets. The Western front awaits.
Then there's the 03A3 from the CMP, which also sells .30-06 surplus. Grab an M1907 sling and you're ready for distance iron sight shooting along with Sergeant York (yes, I know he would have used an Enfield or a 1903).
You're right, I'm not much help. :P
January 29, 2008, 01:32 AM
Dunno if you've heard this saying before: "The Germans went to war with a hunting rifle; the Americans went to war with a target rifle; the British went to war with a battle rifle."
98K - strongest and probably most durable of your three choices. Surplus 8mm ammo is the cheapest of the three(although it's no longer dirt-cheap, like it used to be). Issue iron sights not so great, probably the worst of the three. I actually prefer my full-length Turkish-contract Czech 98/22 for shooting, the extra weight and longer sight radius make it a more pleasant and more accurate shooter than my Yugo 24/47 "98K clone."
1903A3 - best iron sights of the three, greatest available variety of commercial .30-06 ammo, surplus M2 ball ammo also available. Like Artigas said, get yourself a Turner M1907 sling, a shooting jacket and a mat, and you're ready to try your hand at High Power rifle competition. IMO the smoothest action, best workmanship, and greatest pride of ownership of the three.
SMLE - highest capacity and fastest to operate of your three choices. .303 surplus ammo is mostly all gone, now - and if you decide to reload your own ammo, make sure to only neck-size your cases or else you'll over-work the brass and it'll crack, split or separate after only a few loadings. Also make sure you load with .310-.311-diameter bullets, instead of .308 - the Brits measure caliber land-to-land, not groove-to-groove like Yanks do. .308 bullets are too small for SMLE bores. Sights are OK, better than the 98K but not as precise as the 1903A3 aperture; if you get the No. 4, it's rear aperture sight is almost as nice as the 1903A3's. Also consider the Indian 2A/2A1 rifles chambered for 7.62NATO, they'll usually be less expensive to buy and to shoot, and most are in better condition than most surviving SMLE's on the used market.
Now, I'm gonna give you a few more choices to confuse yourself with: ;)
Swedish M96 Mauser - possibly the highest build quality/fit/finish of all mil-surp bolt-guns, 6.5X55 is a very pleasant and very accurate caliber.
Mosin-Nagant M91/30 - least expensive to buy and to shoot, most all have been arsenal refurbished prior to importation into the US. Sights are IMO better than the 98K, almost as good as the SMLE. You can even get a M91/30 "sniper" rifle with a reproduction WWII-era sniper scope, not as good as modern rifle scopes but very high nostalgia and coolness points - the repro-sniper-rifles should actually cost slightly less than you'd pay retail for a nice 1903A3.
US M1917 - actually a stronger, more durable rifle than the M1903A3, with sights almost as good(rear sight is not click-adjustable for windage, which only matters if you're doping for wind at a High Power match). Holds one more round of .30-06 than the M1903A3.
Good luck - you're gonna need it to keep yourself from buying ALL of these rifles, once you get a taste of mil-surp collecting...;)
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