Old Milsurps on Modern Battlefields


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Golden_006
March 26, 2010, 12:36 PM
Researching Mausers on wikipedia, I read they are still involved in present day armed conflicts, but does anyone know if they in fact held their own against an industrialized nation's army recently, or are we talking about a civil war in the Congo?

I got to wondering this partly from the Garand thread that I started recently where I threw out a "just curious" question and asked how I would fare in a modern battlefield with a Garand. I do realize that training has a lot to do with it so I guess if you know what kind of training said milsurp soldiers are using/or what kind of training would be required that should also be included in your answer too.

My guess is most of this Mauser/old milsurp activity is going on the mid-east? I figure most insurgents have AKs and OK training, while a few volunteers are fighting with whatever and however? Anyone know?

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John Parker
March 26, 2010, 12:58 PM
I read a few IIRs in Iraq where guys armed with Mausers, firing un-jacketed lead rounds, have purposefully aimed at the tail-rotors of helicopters. Suppossedly, a hit with the unjacketed round will cause the tail rotor to come out of balance and down the bird.
In Afghanistan, weapons cache reports often still list Lee-Enfields and Mosin-Nagants. I debriefed a group of troops that fought a half-mile rolling ambush and their platoon sergeant swore he saw an Afghan with a Mosin. They'll still kill you, but generally the insurgents will drop them and get something better as soon as they're able.

peyton
March 26, 2010, 01:05 PM
I saw many Mausers and Mosins in the Brigade Headquarters that were displayed on the walls. I am sure the BAD GUYS use whatever is available.

Robert
March 26, 2010, 01:12 PM
I have seen pics of piles or arms in Afghanistan that included Mo1 MkIIIs and others. I talked to an Army intell Capt and he was telling me that in raids in Iraq they always found Lewis Guns, old Enfield rifles to include some rather nice No1 Mk I and others. So yes old military rifles are being used on the modern battlefield but not very successfully.

Golden_006
March 26, 2010, 01:56 PM
What do you mean not successfully? And how much of that is training?

Robert
March 26, 2010, 04:56 PM
Not successfully, meaning that even a well trained person using a bolt action rifle will never be able to lay down the volume of fire that a well trained soldier will be able to with an M4 or M16. Even a squad sized element can lay down a volume of fire that is, to say the least, impressive. Then take into account that an normal infantry platoon has 4 M240B and a few SAWs as well as Grenadiers and Riflemen and even a well trained enemy force armed with bolt action rifles will not fair well. Does this mean that one would not be able to make accurate hits with a bolt action rifle? No. But your chances of doing so go down dramatically. Most shooters I have seen can not make a 300 yard iron sighted shot on a sunny day at the range, let alone when infantry unit has turned its wrath in your direction. All those bolt actions ended up in that captured weapons pile for a reason. The men behind them are poorly trained and are using rifles that are approaching 70 years old. Maybe older.

Cosmoline
March 26, 2010, 04:59 PM
meaning that even a well trained person using a bolt action rifle will never be able to lay down the volume of fire that a well trained soldier will be able to with an M4 or M16.

Sure, but why would they need to? They grab an old Mosin, snipe someone, drop the rifle and vanish. Suppressive fire isn't needed if your goal is simply to hit and run. They don't need to go toe-to-toe with our guys. If they kill or wound one or two of our side and cause us to expend a million bucks in fuel ordinance and ammo to fire at the position they just fled, they've essentially won the engagement. It's classic T.E. Lawrence insurgency tactics. And since we care a lot more about our guys than they care about their guys, a ten to one loss ratio is fine with them. All they have to do is keep up the snipes and the IED's for long enough to exhaust our ability to continue. In that warfare a cheap old surplus bolt gun is perfectly fine for them.

wombat13
March 26, 2010, 05:04 PM
What do you mean not successfully? And how much of that is training?
I would guess that training has much more to do with it than the vintage of weapon. Let's try a little thought experiment. Take a group of insurgents and give them M16s. Take a Marine unit, arm them with Garands and have them train extensively with the Garands. Which side would come out on top? Untrained insurgents with modern weapons or highly trained Marines with Garands?

My money is on the Marines.

Robert
March 26, 2010, 05:12 PM
Cosmoline,
You are correct, a fire and forget shooter is next to impossible to stop let alone kill. From what I have been reading and what I have gathered from taking to folks that have done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan the engagements there are larger force on force type and less one lone guy with a Mosin. But having never been there I can only pass along what I have been told.
wombat,
Correct again. Like General Yeager said "It is the man, not the machine." A well trained unit or individual with an older rifle will be able to survive longer, in theory, than a poorly trained person with a new rifle. But a better tool can make the job easier. I guess that is what I have been trying to say in all these words. There is nothing wrong with the old tools, but newer better tools have been introduced that make the job that much easier. And I hope ya'll don't think I am against old rifles. My favorite rifle is my 1941 Lithgow No1 MkIII*... and my FAL.

leadcounsel
March 26, 2010, 05:14 PM
I saw many Mausers and Mosins in the Brigade Headquarters that were displayed on the walls. I am sure the BAD GUYS use whatever is available.

Yep - I met Peyton in Iraq when he came over to my AO. I gave him a tour of our HQ.

We capture literally thousands of Mosins, Enfields, and Mausers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our HQ was decorated with some very sweet C&R rifles (along with some sweet modern firepower). Oh how I wish I could have brought back just ONE of them...

Not successfully, meaning that even a well trained person using a bolt action rifle will never be able to lay down the volume of fire that a well trained soldier will be able to with an M4 or M16.

It's not about laying down suppressive fire. Without divulging information that isn't commonly known, we're not fighting a stand up army obviously. It's a war of attrition. As we learned in Vietnam and is continually reinforced, 1 KIA in our ranks on a regular basis alters the course of our commitment. An any MN or Mauser is plenty good enough for a snipe shot for 1 KIA. It's guerilla warfare that Americans engaged the Brits in hundreds of years ago. Now the tables are turned and we're the ones standing around in redcoats... (metaphorically speaking of course, not a dig against US forces which I happen to be a proud member of).

My money is on the Marines. If they are allowed to operate to WIN, then yes. However US forces are hamstrung by playing by RULES that insurgents won't/don't follow. How long can the insurgents drag this out? Can they access media to show US forces making a mistake (or appear to make a mistake) and kill innocents due to bad intel or frustration or mistake, thus waning public/world support? How many body bags will the US populace think is too many to finish the job?

The goal of an insurgency isn't to win a stand up fight. It's to draw it out until the will of the enemy is broken and no longer able to fight and withdraw. It's what ultimately happened in Vietnam. And our relative success at war (Gulf war, quick victory, few American losses) and our precision technology is our own worst enemy because it's become expected. No longer are civilian or US casualties tolerated (for better or worse) and too many = withdraw of forces.

Getting back on track, insurgents are well aware that casualties = loss of troop morale and US public support and it's reiterated on CNN every day.

Killermonkey21
March 26, 2010, 05:38 PM
Just my .02 cents, but my fellow soldiers were shot at from 260 meters the other day, and we can only guess what exactly he was using, but it was definitely a bolt action, and he was a very bad shot. They are still seen and used fairly often from what I hear. Not all "insurgents" have AK's.

ol' scratch
March 26, 2010, 05:54 PM
Just recently read an article in a magazine about M1's. In the center of the page is a picture of a US soldier who found an M1 Garand in Iraq. It was found in a suspected insurgent's home.

DMK
March 27, 2010, 11:23 AM
Researching Mausers on wikipedia, I read they are still involved in present day armed conflicts, but does anyone know if they in fact held their own against an industrialized nation's army recentlyIt seems to me that this discussion is talking mostly about sniping with old Mausers, Enfields and Mosins, not straight up running gun battles against a force using assault rifles.

Keep in mind that our own military snipers still use bolt action rifles that are basically accurized versions of the old Mausers. A sniper does not generally need a high capacity full automatic weapon.

Kevin5098
March 27, 2010, 11:36 AM
Just recently read an article in a magazine about M1's. In the center of the page is a picture of a US soldier who found an M1 Garand in Iraq. It was found in a suspected insurgent's home.

Being an M1 owner I couldn't help wondering what his ammo source is and if the CMP could tap into it. Sorry, just an uncontrollable thought.

Kevin

Mandolin
March 27, 2010, 11:37 AM
I've sen a picture of some captured weapon in Iraqu, there were some bolt guns, a lever-action(?) and a grab bag of assorted AK variants from the far corners of the globe.

yokel
March 27, 2010, 11:40 AM
I do realize that training has a lot to do with it so I guess if you know what kind of training said milsurp soldiers are using/or what kind of training would be required that should also be included in your answer too.

Proficiency with a bolt-action repeater rifle with telescopic sight that can engage and destroy your target past 300 yards, well past most troops marksmanship training and well past the effective range of fully automatic assault rifle fire. You have the small arms advantage, so keep your enemy beyond your battle sight zero.

Golden_006
March 27, 2010, 11:54 AM
Nope not sure about just sniping. I would think some are even using them in urban warfare; although not exactly out of choice obviously

John Parker
March 27, 2010, 12:16 PM
although not exactly out of choice obviously

Bingo. Almost every Muj during the Soviet era kicked up his heels in glee when suddenly a bunch of Egyptian and Chinese AKs began to show up in the bazaars of Peshawar. Same holds true today. They fight with what they can get their hands on, and when they can get something better, they do, passing their old rifle on to someone else.

yokel
March 27, 2010, 12:23 PM
Beyond sniping, the only other plausible scenario that I can envision would be to lay down effective volley fire, which would naturally require the effort of the Rifle Group as a whole.

Ky Larry
March 27, 2010, 12:40 PM
Thankfully, I have never been involved in combat, so I can only offer opinions.The same situation occured during the American Civil War. Confederate soldiers armed with single shot muzzle loaders faced Union soldiers armed with repeating Henry's and Sharp's rifles. The Confederates did well due to discipline, training, and unbeleiveable courage (which the Union forces also displayed).Germans in WW I often thought they were facing British machine guns due to the amount of fire coming from the bolt action Enfields. I beleive the soldier, not the weapon, is what makes a deadly enemy. Just my unedcated, inexperienced $0.02 worth.

4v50 Gary
March 27, 2010, 04:09 PM
Gus makes a good point about volume of fire. You can't compete against a modern infantry squad. However, remember what panzer general Heinz Guderian said. Weapons affects tactics. So, with an older bolt action rifle or even the M-1 Garand, you don't fight the modern infantry squad on their terms. You must select the terms and condition of battle. Use the longer range of your gun to your advantage and engage them at distances which are not "normal" for modern assault rifle cartridges. You must also have your escape and evasion plan ready before the battle. One should not plan for a lengthy engagement as the weight of firepower will be in their favor (unless your side heavily outnumbers theirs and they are isolated - so jam their radio and cell phones). Basically, it's back to the old Indian tactics of ambush and scoot and lure into bigger ambushes.

offthepaper
March 27, 2010, 07:16 PM
I think Cosmo and Leadcounsel hit the nail on the head.

Cosmo:
Sure, but why would they need to? They grab an old Mosin, snipe someone, drop the rifle and vanish. Suppressive fire isn't needed if your goal is simply to hit and run.

Which is exactly the type of battle they want to fight. They take a few shots and get out of Dodge. They don't seem to relish the idea of a protracted fire fight aginst superior forces. Yet they remain an effective enemy using such tactics and weapons.

Leadcounse:
It's guerilla warfare that Americans engaged the Brits in hundreds of years ago. Now the tables are turned and we're the ones standing around in redcoats...

However US forces are hamstrung by playing by RULES that insurgents won't/don't follow.

The goal of an insurgency isn't to win a stand up fight. It's to draw it out until the will of the enemy is broken and no longer able to fight and withdraw. It's what ultimately happened in Vietnam. And our relative success at war (Gulf war, quick victory, few American losses) and our precision technology is our own worst enemy because it's become expected. No longer are civilian or US casualties tolerated (for better or worse) and too many = withdraw of forces.


Couldn't agree more.
When the colonist decide to take on the world superpower of the time (England), they collected and used whatever was at hand that could drop a British regular in his tracks. They scavanged whatever they could from their dead enemies as well. They knew from the outset that they stood no chance of engaging the Brits in a face to face, man for man, fought by the "civilized" rules of war of the day; where large forces marching in formation on the battlefield complete with drum corps during live fire would simply hold their position as opposing sides took turns exchanging volleys of fire. They adopted the "uncivilized" tactics of the indians who were very savy in adopting tactics to the terrain and also understood how effective gorrilla tactics can be against a larger force. Nor did they give a rats butt about what the rest of the civilized world thought of them.
The goal of a gorrilla war is never to have a total defeat across the board of an enemies military, but to outlast and be such a thorn in their side, that they finally decide the cost of continuing is unacceptably high, from a political, economic or social standpoint. the opposing force decides to fold up their tent, make some type of half-hearted statment that their mission is done and give the responsibility to someone else.
Sound familar?
I do agree that because of our much reported success with smart weapons during Gulf One, that the expectation that only bad guys get killed in war has kind of come back to haunt us and seems to be the standard that we will hold ourselves to in future conflicts.
Hard to defeat an enemy that has no respect for life whether it be the enemy, their own combatants, or innocent civilians including women and children.

SaxonPig
March 27, 2010, 08:40 PM
ANYTHING is likely to turn up in a war zone. Particularly in unconventional conflicts like civil wars and such where folks use what they got or can find. I saw a photo in the paper in the 1990s taken during a street battle in Bosnia and one of the militiamen was banging away with a K98.

Tenn870
March 27, 2010, 09:00 PM
I think you all are underestimating the insurgents, now in Iraq I don't know, but in Afghanistan some of those little bas***ds do ALOT of intense training that can match what our boys do. Also, keep in mind those mujahideen have been fighting for hundreds, maybe thousands of years against the English, Indian, Russian, among others. They are well trained, aggressive, and motivated and that can be a dangerous combination, no matter what firearm they're using. They also don't have to worry about bleeding heart liberals who want to hang any soldier who kills the enemy of his country.

Joe Demko
March 27, 2010, 09:48 PM
You have the small arms advantage, so keep your enemy beyond your battle sight zero.

Cool, when you're the one choosing the time and place of the battle. Not so cool when you haven't that luxury.

Averageman
March 28, 2010, 12:09 AM
PPSh-41 hanging on the Wall in the manitainance office. Not your bolt gun, but quiet handy in an urban enviroment.
BTW the thing was cut down to a pistol grip and it looked very formidable. Kind of the Middle East version of C/C.

elmerfudd
March 28, 2010, 03:28 AM
I think this idea of a well trained soldier with a vintage bolt action is somewhat silly. If you're using a Mauser or a Mosin Nagant on a modern battlefield it's because you're part of a third rate militia or something similar.

It costs a lot of money to properly train soldiers. No government or organization is going to spend that kind of money and then squander their investment by giving their soldiers completely obsolete weapons, at least not when the weapon in question is a rifle. Big ticket items like ships and planes are different.

I suspect that most well trained soldiers would be extremely reluctant to go into combat with one as well. Nothing screams, "pointless last stand", louder than giving your soldiers a rifle that was obsolete in their grandfathers day.

C-grunt
March 28, 2010, 06:00 AM
When I was in Baghdad in 2003 my squad was ambushed one night while out on patrol. The two guys shot at us with an Enfield and a Smith and Wesson (pretty sure) revolver. They fired and then ran around a corner. Our return fire, which was pretty immediate just shot up their car and a store front behind them.

In my 2005 tour we found several Enfields and Mausers.

One of my friends I work with was a private contractor in the Afgan area for a few years and saw lots of old bolt guns. He also said he saw tons of Enfields in use in Nepal by the government authorities.

Wheeler44
March 28, 2010, 11:31 AM
Arithmetic on the Frontier




A great and glorious thing it is
To learn, for seven years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this,
Ere reckoned fit to face the foe --
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."

Three hundred pounds per annum spent
On making brain and body meeter
For all the murderous intent
Comprised in "villanous saltpetre!"
And after -- ask the Yusufzaies
What comes of all our 'ologies.

A scrimmage in a Border Station --
A canter down some dark defile --
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail --
The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,
Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

No proposition Euclid wrote,
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar's downward blow
Strike hard who cares -- shoot straight who can --
The odds are on the cheaper man.

One sword-knot stolen from the camp
Will pay for all the school expenses
Of any Kurrum Valley scamp
Who knows no word of moods and tenses,
But, being blessed with perfect sight,
Picks off our messmates left and right.

With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem,
The troop-ships bring us one by one,
At vast expense of time and steam,
To slay Afridis where they run.
The "captives of our bow and spear"
Are cheap -- alas! as we are dear.

Wheeler44
March 28, 2010, 11:40 AM
Things haven't changed a lot in the last century....174 grains at 2400 fps.still makes a hole.

Folks with nothing fighting against the biggest and the best...Mr. Kipling knew what he was talking about.....

They can field a company for the price of ammo.....It costs us how much? to put a soldier in the field?

In terrain like A-stan I would prefer an old Enfield to an AR in just about every way that I can imagine....I'd rather have an M-1 or M1a..But I wouldn't snub a Mosin, Mauser or Enfield..

DMK
March 28, 2010, 11:50 AM
It costs a lot of money to properly train soldiers. No government or organization is going to spend that kind of money and then squander their investment by giving their soldiers completely obsolete weapons, at least not when the weapon in question is a rifle. Big ticket items like ships and planes are different.

I suspect that most well trained soldiers would be extremely reluctant to go into combat with one as well. Nothing screams, "pointless last stand", louder than giving your soldiers a rifle that was obsolete in their grandfathers day.
I've thought about this considering all the surplus Warsaw pact Mosin Nagants that have been dumped on the C&R market in the last decade or two. Not just Russia, but Hungary, Poland, and Romania too.

The Commies must have had some kind of plan for them. Why did they keep so many millions in storage all these decades? Even in the 60's and 70's these weapons were hopelessly obsolete against NATO's assault rifles in Europe. The only thing I can think of is they planned to just hand them out to any civilian who could shoot and tell them to kill the 1st capitalist pig that came over the hill or around the corner.

jaimeshawn3
March 28, 2010, 02:23 PM
Wheeler, It costs roughly $1million USD/soldier/year. The per capita GDP is less than $1K per person/yr - and much of that is aid. The government is so corrupt, and skims so much of the aid, the median average is maybe a quarter that. That's why buying friends makes so much sense.

John Parker
March 28, 2010, 02:44 PM
That's why buying friends makes so much sense.

You can't buy an Afghan's loyalty. You can only rent it for a while.~~Afghan proverb.

RP88
March 28, 2010, 02:45 PM
old milsurps work on modern battlefields. It just depends on what you're doing. Guerrilla tactics work with pretty much anything that shoots a modern round.

Joe Demko
March 28, 2010, 02:56 PM
"Works on the modern battlefield" and "first choice on the modern battlefield" aren't the same thing. There is a tendency among guys who are fond of the old milsurps (of whom I am one) to want to pretend that they aren't obsolete for the modern soldier. Yes, an irregular could use one to shoot n' run. He could use an H&R handi-rifle for the same purpose. Yes, snipers use rifles that are, in some cases, highly refined versions of the old Mausers etc.
What irregulars do and what highly specialized troops do (with highly specialized weapons) doesn't really reflect what the modern military wants a rifle to do as part of the combined arms model of warfare. If we really put our minds to it, I'm sure we could probably imagine a situation where a Brown Bess musket would (somehow) be the best possible weapon for a modern soldier to have. That wouldn't mean we should re-arm the US military with smoothbore muzzleloaders.
If by "place on the modern battlefield" we mean somewhere, somebody pressed one into service, then all old weapons have a place. If by "place on the battlefield" we mean "used by the ranks of a modern, well-trained, well-funded military," they do not.

Silvanus
March 28, 2010, 03:13 PM
Found these pictures some time ago and thought you might find the interesting ;)

http://i60.servimg.com/u/f60/11/50/35/28/ppsh1i10.jpg (http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=341&u=11503528)

http://i60.servimg.com/u/f60/11/50/35/28/p5010010.jpg (http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=342&u=11503528)

http://i60.servimg.com/u/f60/11/50/35/28/ppshld10.jpg (http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=343&u=11503528)

Mandolin
March 28, 2010, 04:22 PM
And i though rails on an AK was bad! "every time someone puts plastic on a PPsH , God kills a kitten". Still, I'm envious. That looks realy dangerous in an urban area. There's a reason that the Germans and Russians loved the PPsH.

C-grunt
March 28, 2010, 04:31 PM
The PPsH is prety common in Iraq.

I remember when my platoon found one in 05 one of my Sergeants came over to me (being the resident gun nut) and said "we found some sort of crazy Tommy Gun."

murdoc rose
March 28, 2010, 04:47 PM
Id rather have the m1 over the ak a lot easier to sit back and shoot than it is to run up with an ak

sarduy
March 28, 2010, 06:11 PM
just think about it, the ak47 is old and it's still in many armys today... russia, romania, bulgarian, iraq, afgan, cuba, venezuela just to name a few...

cleardiddion
March 28, 2010, 07:56 PM
I remember I was talking to a Lcpl who was in Fallujah.
He said they didn't worry as much about the guy with an AK who would just sprary around a corner blind as they did with one guy who actually knew how to shoot old bolt actions from afar with skill.

Successful?
Depends on it's application I suppose.
I wouldn't say that a modern US element pitted against an insurgent unit equipped with outdated equipment would be in as great danger; but, we're not the only ones out there who know how to shoot.

winchester '97
March 28, 2010, 08:48 PM
I think these old bolt guns would be great if your attacking a convoy or ambushing troops at long range for the same reason a SAW gunner feels inadaquate when his unit comes under fire from a PKM, these guns fire a round better suited to long range combat than the .223 round. However, it is the guys using the old bolt guns that would feel inadaquate in an close range urban combat setting. Like any weapon in a warzone, they have their place.

paintballdude902
March 28, 2010, 10:03 PM
its kinda like vietnam they used a variety of weapons. ive seen pictures of NV's armed with mosins, AKs, sks, m16s, pistols, mausers, french MAS rifles. literally anything they could get

CornCod
March 29, 2010, 01:10 AM
The reasons the Russians/Soviets took so long to get rid of their Mosin-nagants has to do with the fact that in both WWI and WW2 they suffered from terrible shortages of rifles. Heavy production of cheap submachine guns saved the day for them in WW2, but the Czarist Army never really had enough rifles in the Great War. They sent many thousands of unarmed men to the front with instructions to take rifles from the fallen.

RP88
March 29, 2010, 03:40 AM
They sent many thousands of unarmed men to the front with instructions to take rifles from the fallen.

Make sure to differentiate between 'soldier' and 'undesirable'. Despite harsh consequences for anything that could be construed as cowardice, the Soviets did not waste their uniformed soldiers or trained reserves like the opening battle of "Enemy at The Gates" portrays. They did, however, have no problems wasting Cossacks, criminals, deserters, political rivals, uncooperative residents of battlefields, and cowards by using them as ammo-wasters against German tanks and machine guns. A nifty Soviet method of killing two birds with one stone.

CornCod
April 2, 2010, 10:42 PM
They sent many thousands of unarmed men to the front with instructions to take rifles from the fallen.

That was more WWI than WW2. I was perhaps a little unclear.

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