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7x57mm Mauser Cartridge

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by mrh477, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. mrh477

    mrh477 Member

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    Good evening folks,
    Military history time! Not so much a question about rifles but about this particular cartridge. Being a history enthusiast I've developed a fondness for Mauser rifles and, after shooting one, the 7x57 cartridge in particular. I can't say enough good things about it but beyond my own preference, I would think it a superior cartridge for military rifles than a number of other cartridges that turned out to have a much longer operational history. It has excellent ballistics and plenty of energy but a lot less recoil and weight than the 7.92x57, 7.62x54, .30-06, etc. On top of that, it was developed and used in combat (to good effect, as far as I understand) years before some of these other cartridges.

    So...why did the 7x57's use as a military rifle cartridge taper off so much sooner than all those others? Why wasn't it more widely adopted before some of these other cartridges were developed?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. boom boom

    boom boom Member

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    Most of the users of 7mms were in central and south America. Post WWII, US provided cheap arms and ammo to most of the west. My guess is both budget and also us training missions to these countries led to their dropping the 7mm. Spain likewise sought to join nato which required following nato std ammo.
     
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  3. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Add a step in there. Spain was in cahoots with Germany and went from 7mm to 8mm in there for a while.
    The other good early Mauser was the 7.65x53.5 deployed by Belgium, Argentina, and Turkey.
     
  4. stoky

    stoky Member

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    the .275 Rigby rocks :D
     
  5. Blacksmoke

    Blacksmoke Member

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    Why did the Germans decide to go from 7mm to 8mm (7.92)?

    Good question.
     
  6. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    ?
    The Germans started out in 8mm in 1888 and stayed there until NATO.
    There were some developmental 7mm assault rifles but stayed with 8mm barrel and bullet for issue late WWII.
     
  7. RPRNY

    RPRNY Member

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    7x57 is a great round but, as noted above, it was the province largely of Spain and its former dependencies. If Teddy Roosevelt had had his way, rather than the Department of the Army, it would have been the US military round in the Springfield Rifle. The French introduced the first smokeless cartridge and bolt action rifle with the 8mm Lebel (8x51)in 1886. Despite our current views of French military power, in 1886, France was a major military power and Germany's arch rival (the Franco- Prussian War was fought in 1870) with modern Germany only becoming a nation state in 1871. For the Germans, 8mm was a logical caliber since it was in use by its arch rival and the 8x57 was clearer a better 8mm. The 6mm Lee, the 6.5 mm Swede/Norwegian, the 6.5 mm Carcano were all contemporaneous, more or less, and chosen with lower recoil in mind. Why 7x57 didn't catch on elsewhere in Europe is difficult to understand, but it certainly has "Not Invented Here" stamped all over it.

    The adoption of the 30 U.S., a little later in the game than the others, is interesting. It is remarkably similar to the 303 Enfield in many respects. In fact, it can readily be described as the 303 +, with just slightly more case capacity and velocity, and a slightly sharper shoulder than the contemporaneous British loading. Interestingly, the other slightly late to the game major cartridge, the Russian 7.62x54R (and the only one still in regular use by a major military) also appears to be a "303, but mine is better". Pure speculation suggests that the US developed a cartridge based on that of a major military power with which it was both familiar and, at that time, still envisaged possible conflict. For the Russians, this was the height of the Russian Empire - British Empire Cold War and Age of the Great Game on the borders of the Subcontinent, so a "mine is better than yours" cartridge makes sense.

    Nobody - except Teddy Roosevelt who had faced the 7x57 in combat and thought very highly of it - seemed to think of Spain and its former colonies as a threat at the dawn of the smokeless era. Anyway, it's a theory.
     
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  8. mrh477

    mrh477 Member

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    That's about the best theory I've heard so far. I was unaware that Teddy Roosevelt had anything to say about the cartridge. I have read in a few books/articles that the "bigger is better" mentality was dominant in those days so perhaps that's the reason in a nutshell.

    As for the German military's development of the 7.92x57 (8mm Mauser), my sources (books) say that it was adopted by the German military in 1905. That's more than 10 years after Paul Mauser (a German) developed the 7x57mm. It was developed for the Spanish, sure, but it was developed BY a German!

    Given some of the other prominent military ideas of that era it could be entirely safe to assume that the reasons were arbitrary and illogical.
     
  9. RPRNY

    RPRNY Member

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    The 7.92x57 with the .323" diameter bullet was indeed introduced in 1903 (and revised again in 1905) but the case is the same as the 1888 Patrone 88 (Cartridge of '88), albeit then using a .318 diameter bullet. The same case has been used in the 5.56x57 6.5x57, the 8x57, the 9x57, the 257 Bob, and a number of other cartridges and wildcats. Interestingly, for many years, the 8x57 was loaded to paltry. anemic levels in the US because of fears that .318 bore Mausers would be loaded with the later 8x57 rounds, which is why the designation 8x57 JS or IS is used to designate the .323" diameter bulleted version loaded to CIP Spec 56,500 psi. Someone will be along to explain the JS/IS designation.

    Roosevelt faced the 7x57 in Cuba and, like most US military there, did not enjoy the experience. Some US troops were still carrying the 1873 Trap Door and many of the Cuban troops (as opposed to the Spanish regulars) were equipped with black powder Spanish 43 cal Rolling Blocks, so it was a real transitional period encounter.

    Roosevelt wanted the Mauser in 7x57. In the end he got his way partially. The US adopted a Mauser in 30-03/06. ;-)
     
  10. desidog

    desidog Member

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    IIRC, TR's Rough Riders had two Colt 1895 "Potato Diggers" at San Juan Hill which were chambered in 7mm; and they needed more ammunition than they brought along, a problem that was solved by using captured ammo.
     
  11. Big7

    Big7 Member

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    However you clean and fry it, the 7X57 is STILL one of the most accurate and versatile
    ever.
     
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  12. barnbwt

    barnbwt Member

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    The other round coming on line around the same was the 7.5 Swiss, which clearly impressed that nation's business partners (almost everyone had a 30cal of similar performance by the start of WWII). Very, very, very similar to a more squat 30-06, or up-scaled 7mm. I think the likely explanation is coincidence, with several independent designers optimizing new technology around the same goal ("kill a horse at the very edge of visual range")

    The Swiss round's success was not so much due to the caliber or power which were similar to others, so much as the VLD spitzer bullets introduced around the same time as decent smokeless powders. Given most brass' lack of aerodynamics knowledge, I could see many thinking the heavier bullet & larger caliber was the reason for range/acccuracy in wind.

    [​IMG]
    As you can see, the 7x57 on the left essentially perfected what we know as the modern bottle-neck case right out of the gate*, the simultaneous 8x51 Lebel was the first to use modern pointed bullets (but from a highly tapered/rimmed case ill-suited for magazine-fed repeating or self-loading firearms), but the 7.5 Swiss was among the first to combine the two to create an essentially "future-proof" cartridge that served into the 80's across a slew of weapon systems. Supposedly the Swiss spitzer bullet tech was the inspiration for both 8mm Mauser and 30-06 (and obviously all the others), but of course there was so much cross-pollination going on between designers in Europe and the US that I imagine it's hard to pin down exactly who of the cutting-edge shops was actually at the front (particularly the Swiss/German ones)

    Like I said, there was something of a scientific revolution going on all over Europe and the US as alloy steel metallurgy, nitration chemistry, aerodynamics were being explored and applied under the scientific method (i.e. the birth of engineering), and between the cross-communication of the figures involved and the nature of engineering optimization, many different places arrived at similar conclusions simultaneously...and immediately set out to test them.**

    TCB

    *The case head & rim dimensions of the Mausers are suspiciously identical to 30-06, so I feel it could be argued that the 308 NATO we use to this day is essentially its progeny
    **It's probably hard for us today to truly appreciate the mind-blowing advances occurring during this time in everything from guns to machinery to industry to agriculture to medicine. The people of the major powers involved in WWI probably did feel these developments made them unstoppable, and morally superior to opposing forces who could not be assumed to be matching such a rapid pace of development. As we know, the generals and heads of state were even more delusional about their prospects.

    In the end, all sides involved in the war learned that industrial capacity had far outpaced human capacity to survive in conflict, and that more refined and focused tactics were needed if anyone was to ever win a war again. WWI saw thousands of howitzers firing millions of shells day after day with nothing to show for it but freshly-plowed No Man's Land, WWII saw mere thousands of bombs dropped on cities & industrial facilities cripple entire nations, Vietnam saw carpet bombing directed primarily toward actively hostile forces to support ground troops near by, then smart bombs & eventually today's combination of targeted airstrikes & real-time intelligence gathering/dissemination. Each subsequent world conflict has seen a similar refinement and reduction of actual combat operations, to the point of being a double-edged sword; while the horrors and sacrifice of warfare are shielded from the vast majority of our society, we are at the same time losing our fear of it as well as the capacity to participate should it ever become necessary.

    "It is good that war is so terrible, lest we should become too fond of it" --R E Lee
    No wonder the survivors of The Great War were convinced it was the last that would ever be fought.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
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  13. boom boom

    boom boom Member

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    Chronology indicates that the French invented the spire bullet for rifles in 1898 in smokeless military rounds, the Germans popularized it (1904), Americans 1906, Russia 1908, and the British 1910 soon followed, and the Swiss waited until 1911 but beat Spain (1913). The previous swiss round, the Swiss GP 90/03 did not use spire point bullets.
     
  14. barnbwt

    barnbwt Member

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    Like I said, a lot of cross-polination and prototyping going on between ~1900 and WWI, not all of it adopted formally. I'd imagine research efforts were more or less in sync between Germany and Switzerland, though (see: period after WWI where they were on such good terms as to essentially become Germany's R&D house) and every one of these nations was showing off its latest tech to everyone else in search of export contracts.
     
  15. Archie

    Archie Member

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    Someone mentioned the .275 Rigby. That's a 7mm Mauser chambered rifle made by a Brit who didn't like the metric system.

    "Karamoja" Bell killed a huge quantity of elephant with a .275 Rigby/7x57mm Mauser. Yes, elephant, them big, gray, peanut eating critters.
     
  16. Dog Soldier
    • Contributing Member

    Dog Soldier Member

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    Well it did not fade away over night. The 7X57 was chambered for many civilian hunting rifles. But that extended for over a Century. The legendary Mdl. 70 Winchester was chambered in 7X57. The Winchester .270 may have slowed their sales in the 1920s. It fathered the demand for all of the modern .284/7MM rounds.
    Winchester stll offers limited runs of the 7X57.

    https://www.cheaperthandirt.com/pro...stock-blued-finish-g535109285-048702003417.do
     

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