Allied WW2 rifles: Pros and Cons?


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10 Ringer'
April 4, 2004, 11:01 PM
These days when I make it to the regional gunshows and at that with an ever tightening budget, I seem to go now more to see and interact with the more rare stuff that watching WW2 movies and listening to old war stories makes you want to go out and see up close. Of course having a history degree does kind of lend itself to being a fan of the old school and well proven firearms design work.

Anyway, I know everybody has their favorites, but without getting too much into personal preferences, I wanted to know the pros and cons of the M1 Garands, Lee-Enfields, and Mosin-Nagants that so many soldiers/sailors/Marines went off to war with 60 odd years ago now. The good, the bad, the ugly, just what made these three such enduring classic designs for their country's armed forces? And why do today's numerous "plastic fantastic" and metal alloy smaller caliber/hi cap wonders not seem to hold the same respect that grandad's M1, Enfield, or Mosin demanded of our former enemies who once found themselves on the wrong end of the barrel?

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DMK
April 4, 2004, 11:25 PM
And why do today's numerous "plastic fantastic" and metal alloy smaller caliber/hi cap wonders not seem to hold the same respect that grandad's M1, Enfield, or Mosin demanded of our former enemies who once found themselves on the wrong end of the barrel?I think it has to do mostly with the war in which they fought rather than the weapons themselves. It's more about romanticism than any actual capability of the weapon (although shooting a full power 30 cal. can be more gratifying than a little 5.56). These are the tools that our fathers and grandfathers used to defeat two great evil empires that dared to attempt total domination or Europe and Asia. It was an incredibly difficult war of immense scale and we handed their butts to them. These tools represent that for us.

Also, I think part of it is that when you hold an Enfield, Mosin, '03 Springfield, IBM Carbine or Garand, there is a good chance that weapon in your hands was actually in WWII, Korea, or maybe both. The best you can do with more modern weapons is own a less functional imitation.

Now if you want to compare these weapons to each other: The Garand had the most firepower, the Enfield had the slickest action, the M1 carbine was the lightest and handiest, the Mosin was the crudest, the Mauser was the most copied, and the Tommie Gun was the coolest gun ever fielded by any army! :)

Sippenhaft
April 4, 2004, 11:47 PM
The only thing I can say about my M/N 91-30 is that its heavy. And is nearly as tall as I am with the bayonet.

But yeah, I own it because its a great, well-preserved piece of history, not because its particularly practical. And the weight, solidity of the gun- it just feels mean, and that gets respect.

shoobe01
April 4, 2004, 11:48 PM
I've had a few Enfields, of the SMLE variety mostly. Enfields are fast. Low bolt lift, good position. Cock on close freaks out many people, but there is a school of thought that it is /good/: you use your strength on lift to extract the case only, and on close you just shove a bit to feed and cock. Easy.

Two piece stocks. The look makes a lot of US classic-gun lovers unhappy. its just a look. I can be made to believe it throws a little more recoil at your shoulder.

The standard "Enfield" to me (SMLE III*) has a buckhorn. I have grown to love the peep (or ghost ring, on my fantastically plastic guns) so that's a point for shooting. OTOH, there are the americanified Enfields, the P.14 (http://www.wwiitech.net/main/britain/weapons/pattern14/) and P.17 (http://www.wwiitech.net/main/britain/weapons/pattern14/#variants). Those are collectible (and shootable), and I think add a nice flavor to any collection of even american guns. You just smirk knowingly at your pals and go "Remember, Alvin York had a P.17, not an '03 Springfield like Gary Cooper had."

Want something collectable? Try to find one of these (http://members.optushome.com.au/lee-enfield/P14T.html).

Mulliga
April 5, 2004, 12:47 AM
Basically, the only major war we fought the M16 with was Vietnam. Everything else, especially the recent two Iraq wars, has been a pushover in military terms. In Vietnam, we lost thousands of soldiers - in Iraq, we have yet to lose even a single thousand. Not to mention these wars were simply not as popular as WWII was (or, at least, has become).

The Garand had more firepower, obviously. Though some troops complained that it weighed too much and kicked too hard, there was no denying the speed and convenience of not having to work the bolt. Keep in mind the Springfield was also used a lot in WWII, and it was, from what I've read, startlingly accurate for a military weapon.

The Enfield is tough as nails and reliable as all hell. Again, from what I've read (especially John Ross' praise in UC), it was more reliable than even the lauded Mauser. The ability to take ten rounds must have been an advantage.

The Mosins were fine rifles that still see service even today (in Afghanistan, for example). Some were extremely accurate and the weapon would probably have a better reputation were it not for the wholesale slaughter of the Russians in many parts of WWII.

Beetle Bailey
April 5, 2004, 01:05 AM
I'm not in the military and I also have never been in a gunfight, so take everything I say as a "For what it's worth."

M1 Garand Well, for starters, it's a semi-auto battlerifle that works. Nice sights make it fun for people like me to shoot at paper and steel targets. 8-shot clips filled with 30-06 means good firepower vs. most of its German and Japanese competition. Semi-auto means you don't have to break cheekweld to provide covering fire a la Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan. I've never taken advantage of the higher rate of fire of the M1 :o , but I've seen vintage footage of soldiers shouldering the weapon and firing fairly quickly (and it looks to me like they are in control of the weapon, too). Reloading, the EN-Bloc clips are fast to reload with, even though I always take my sweet old time doing it ;) . That's partly why I don't buy the old "The Garand tells your enemy when your weapon is empty by ejecting the clip with a loud 'ping' noise." That, and also, is your enemy going to bet his life on the assumption that you are alone?

Disadvantages of the M1 are that there is a finite amount of surplus ammo available for it and that compared to modern detachable magazine rifles, the capacity is lower. I mainly like the M1 for its place in history and its unique design (and 'cuz it's American ;) ).

Enfield I really like the No.4 Enfields (just picked up a 1944 Maltby No.4 MkI a few weeks back). I like the nice balance, excellent peepsights, fast bolt-action, and good looks. I think it was love at first sight the first time I shot a No. 4 :rolleyes: , so this is gonna be a one-sided review ;) . The ten-round magazine is also a nice feature for the guys who actually had to use the weapon in combat and although I am slow with the Enfield stripper clips, reportedly the soldiers could use them quite quickly. I suppose it's debatable which is better, Mauser or Enfield? I personally like the Enfield better (but Mausers are nice, too).

Disadvantage of the Enfield is they didn't make enough of them. I've heard one of the complaints of the Enfield is that with a two-piece stock, it might break if you buttstroke someone with it. I think the fact that Afghans were still using them in the 1980s is a testament to their durability and usefulness and besides, if you have to get into the usefulness of buttstroking to find something bad to say about the rifle. . .:neener: Errr. . .if you are that worried, use a bayonet.

Mosin Nagant I guess for WWII the definative Soviet model is the 91/30. It's been called clunky and unrefined (and even ugly :rolleyes: ) and also simple and robust. While the original design dates back to czarist (tarist?) Russia, it fits in with the Soviet demand for a simple reliable weapon that can be used in all environments. Also, old Mosin Nagants can have a lot of markings that reflect the chaos of Russian/Soviet history.

Disadvantage of the Mosin Nagant are a heavy trigger and average sights compared to Enfield and Garand. Personally, I would get the Finnish M39 Mosin Nagant over any of the Russian ones, even though they cost a bit more. The M39 has a nice trigger and very good sights (and it's good looking ;) ).

Comparing vintage military rifles with modern stuff is a bit of a touchy subject. Obviously, the WWII stuff has its place in history but the modern stuff is probably better suited for the kind of fighting modern militaries train for. I think AR-15s are pretty cool and the fact that you can turn it into so many different things is kinda nice. Customizing stuff to suit your tastes is part of the American way, after all. However, with the surplus stuff, there is a certain pride of ownership with these pieces of history, conjuring up images of highly dedicated artisans who wear aprons milling receivers or crafting stocks. Some people don't like modern commerical rifles because, while the technology is better, the QC and workmanship of average run-of-the-mill rifles aren't as good as comparatively priced (or lower priced) milsurp rifles. "Why should I buy a Remington 710 when for the same price I can have an unissued still in cosmoline No.4 MkII?" One of the local gunshop owners showed me his 1898 or 1899 (I forget) Swedish Mauser M96. It was still beautiful with nice blueing. He said with a sigh, "How many rifles made today are gonna be around in 100 years?"

Devonai
April 5, 2004, 01:21 AM
I'll comment on those that I own.

M1 Garand:

Advantages:

Good accuracy to 600 yards, low recoil, clips are plentiful and cheap, excellent adjustable sights, built like a tank, and the fastest reload in the world.

Disadvantages:

.30'06 isn't cheap these days, the weapon can be heavy for some, the clip system can't be topped off (although a partially depleted clip can be ejected at any time), can be precocious to keep running well, and your other rifles will be jealous of it.

M1 Carbine:

Advantages:

Lightweight, nearly no recoil, magazines are very inexpensive, ammo is also relatively inexpensive (compared to other pistol calibers), and is reliable when well-maintained.

Disadvantages:

Maximum effective range of 300 yards, underpowered when compared to other RIFLE calibers, and will not stand up to neglect for very long.

Enfield #4 mk1:

Advantages:

They tell me the action is the best of the bolts and I see no reason to doubt them, the weapon itself is inexpensive, great long-range sights (on rifles with leaf sights), low recoil, and is easy to maintain.

Disadvantages:

.303 Brit is not cheap by any measure (except for corrosive ammo), the clips can be a PITA to get to work due to the rimmed cartridges, and magazines are not interchangable with the #1 mk III (and therefore harder to find and easier for the supplier to mess up).

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