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Bolt Actions for a Modern Army

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Mauserguy, Jul 4, 2006.

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  1. Mauserguy

    Mauserguy Member

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    I am a collector of military surplus arms. I like the Mausers and Mosin-Nagants. They are fun to collect, and gather samples of the different makes and marks. I was wondering, though, how would a bolt action rifle fare in the modern military as a general issue arm?

    Let’s say that the US Army of today was to take away all of the M16s and issue M1903 Springfields, how much of a disadvantage would that be? I’m guessing that it would not be much of a hindrance, since the military relies so heavily on machine guns, rockets and artillery. Rifles are of secondary importance these days. Could the military use bolt action arms today?
    Mauserguy
     
  2. Eleven Mike

    Eleven Mike Member

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    Well, this thread should be a hoot. It's been done before of course.
     
  3. Phantom Warrior

    Phantom Warrior Member

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    I guess I'll restrain myself to this. Would you want to clear a building (something the U.S. military does now and then) with a nice long, bolt action .30-06?
     
  4. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    re:

    >>Would you want to clear a building (something the U.S. military does now and then) with a nice long, bolt action .30-06?<<
    *****************

    That's sorta what the 1911 pistol and Thompson submachineguns were designed for...and grenade launchers...and flame throwers. Of course, in those days, our politicians weren't as concerned with collateral damage as they were with winning and keeping as many American soliders and Marines in the field and out of Graves Registration. Taking fire from a building? Easy one. Call up a tank and knock it down. No tank available? Frag it and fire up the Zippo. German sniper in a church bell tower? "I need a fire mission on these coordinates."
     
  5. Pax Jordana

    Pax Jordana Member

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    Pardon me if I'm being ignorant..

    Didn't this happen in WWII, when the Germans had bolt-actions and we had the M1?


    And then the M16 fires semi and 3rd burst for most regular land forces, right? So, same tactics, slower reload.

    I'd much rather they left the 'obsolete' military arms to the CMP for redistribution :rolleyes:
     
  6. Rosstradamus

    Rosstradamus Member

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    Yes, they ran that experiment already.
     
  7. MrTwigg

    MrTwigg Member

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    Advantage to M-16 for rate of fire. Ever fire a Mosin M44?

    The muzzle flash would blind anybody in an enclosed space, not to mention the concussion. :what:

    Not to mention being able to shoot through a building or three with the Mosin.:D
     
  8. Mauserguy

    Mauserguy Member

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    As I recal, the Germans of WWII used machine guns as the center of their infantry tactics. Riflemen were merely there to support the machine gun and it's movement, so bolt action rifles worked just fine for them. They lost the war for reasons well beyond basic infantry tactics.
    Mauserguy
     
  9. kjeff50cal

    kjeff50cal Member

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    Yep and the nazis fielded the Gew 43, fortunately too late:evil:
     
  10. Don't Tread On Me

    Don't Tread On Me Member

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    It is one thing to love your milsurps, and it is another to fancy them as having some potential use on a modern battlefield.

    We all know bolt actions are used primarily as specialized tools for snipers only. We've done well with them in the West. The Soviets didn't even use bolt actions, they went with semi-auto sniper systems. It is hard to say which doctrine would prevail as helping the war effort the most without actually being tested in a wide scale mass war between large powerful states (WW2 style). What is better? Surgical strike or wider use on the battle field?

    Given that, it isn't even certain that bolt actions are worth it from an overall perspective.

    We can see that even our forces are now using M14's with scopes to fill that longer range aimed fire role. They are semi-auto.


    The Assault Rifle is the child of 3rd generation warfare. Manuver warfare. Also known as mechanized warfare. A truck, plane, APC, something gets the boots very close to the action. (within a couple hundred yards) They need massive overwhelming firepower - full autos, to do the job. Prior to mechanized warfare, Armies did long marches to various engagements. This meant the "time to close" with the enemy was pretty long. The longer the time to close, the further away you could begin to engage. Thus, the 1,000 yard bolt action rifles were a good idea. An army could volley a lot of fire from 1,300 yards or so into an enemy position. Imagine an Army equipped with M16's having to do a long march over the course of a couple of weeks and having to march up to closing distance with an enemy that has Mauser rifles? They'd be taking fire from many hundreds of yards before they could close to any sort of effective range.

    This is much different than today where a chopper, APC or whatever drops you in 200 yards from the enemy and all hell breaks loose.

    It is both a full auto vs. bolt action question as well as caliber. They are both related.

    As others have said, WW2 was the ulimate test. At medium to long range - the M1 Garand clearly outgunned all of our bolt action equipped enemies. Now, the Germans didn't rely on riflemen as much as we did, their riflemen were a support structure for machinegun placements, which, in their doctrine, was the critical component tactically. Nevertheless, the M1 still triumphed. It was better to have a platoon of semi-autos (we still had machine guns too as well as the BAR), than a platoon of bolt actions defending a machinegun.

    In WW2, urban warfare between the Germans and the Soviets proved that smaller caliber fully automatic rifles were superior.


    Folks have a very romantic view of the bolt action rifle. It is completely and totally obsolete on the battlefield as a main issue rifle since the 1940's.
     
  11. carebear

    carebear Member

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    The Germans had the superior infantry doctrine in WWII. We didn't win it with rifles of any stripe nor with our tactics. We won it first and foremost, as has been said, with firepower from supporting arms.

    Our top-down driven infantry doctrine, per the manual, was obsolete in WWI. German infiltration tactics developed in 1917 are still better than what we use today. "I'm up, he sees me, I'm down" rushes to close the last 50 yards against automatic weapons for heck's sake?

    Maybe the guys on the ground over in Iraq are relearning the right ways now but, in general, it appears we still pretty much move to contact, stop, and call for fire.

    That isn't what light infantry are supposed to be doing.
     
  12. ProficientRifleman

    ProficientRifleman Member

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    The Germans had a far superior GPMG (the MG-42) in service by the time U.S. forces went in against them. It is still in service (now the MG-3) with several countries in Europe. This made up a great deal for the infantryman using a bold action.

    An improvement would be to issue semi-auto rifles to our infantry. No full-auto and no burst capability is necessary for the average infantryman. We have two MG's with each platoon. We have two SAW's with each squad, plus two Grenade launchers. Thats a lot of scunion to put on anyone stupid enough to fire on a well disciplined "rifle squad"

    Carebear:

    "I'm up. He sees me. I'm down..." applies after your fire team is laying down a base of fire to suppress the enemie's. Then the basic maneuver is to have another fire team flank the enemy and roll him up. Find, fix and eliminate... if you know a better method of fire and maneuver on an opposing force, Id like to hear about it.
     
  13. Limeyfellow

    Limeyfellow Member

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    You occasionally see bolt actions such as Mausers, Mosins, Lee Enfields and Mannlichers in use in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan by enemy forces due to their reliability and range and that they usually have to use older military surplus that they were able to buy up. They do have a use in really sandy environments that make automatic and semi automatic weapons tend to gum up but with proper logistics, support its really not needed by most nowadays and is usually a secondary weapon.

    The only western power still using them with any regularlity that I know of is the Canadians for the Rangers patrolling the wilderness that are armed with Lee Enfield No4 Mk1*s. We also rarely see them being used in the Chechen conflict with the Mosin Nagant. Of course this doesn't take into account sniper rifles.
     
  14. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    IIRC, Cooper's mentioned that the Springfield '03 would still serve well as a front line rifle. I'll try to find the mag that was in.

    Certainly, if it's a matter of seeing a guy and shooting him, a bolt will work just as well or better than an assault rifle. It can certainly hit a lot harder. But it can't do suppressive fire very well, or clear a weed patch effectively.
     
  15. LAK

    LAK Member

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    It needs to be remembered that the military bolt-action was supported by other weapons even before WW1. By WW2 the SMG was the weapon of choice close up - while the bolt-action was well suited to the longer ranges of the battlefield.

    Just how effective the Mauser type bolt-action has been on the battlefield has been well witnessed and is well documented. One of the best reads on the subject IMO (as well as the war itself) is The Great Boer War by A. Conan Doyle. I have a couple of editions of this book, but it is available to read online at a few websites (see below). It is well worth the read.

    Here is a quote from the battle of Colenso where the British Colonel Long made the error - with severe consequences - in placing some artillery within a thousand yards of the Boer infantry lines....
    http://www.readprint.com/chapter-3731/Arthur-Conan-Doyle

    Read the whole book at:

    http://www.readprint.com/work-631/Arthur-Conan-Doyle

    Or ...

    http://www.underthesun.cc/Classics/Doyle/GreatBoerWar/

    Nothing has changed; only "war planning". The potential for a large scale war has never gone away. Today the typical AR is still supported on the battlefield by weapons with greater effective range.

    ------------------------------------------------

    http://ussliberty.org
    http://ssunitedstates.org
     
  16. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Bolted

    Take note that in the early days of the clash between the Russians and the Afghan Mujahideen, that a modern army was held at bay by peasants armed with bolt-action rifles. Later on, the Afghans were armed with Kalashnikovs, mainly because that was what they could steal from the dead and captured Russians...but for a while, bolt rifles...mostly Lee Enfields...were all they had, and the Russians were well aware of how fearfully effective those rifles were.

    One man who is motivated...knows his rifle, and how to shoot...stays hidden...uses cover and concealment skillfully...keeps his distance...and understands never firing more than one round from one place...can be a serious problem for an entire company of infantry. Two operating as a team
    can keep them buttoned down for days on end, even taking out the fire teams that are sent to neutralize the team. Infra-red systems make operations like this more difficult, but even that technology can be thwarted
    with a little understanding and planning.

    Underestimating a powerful accurate rifle and a really good rifleman can be a fatal mistake.
     
  17. OldSchooler

    OldSchooler Member

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    I’m guessing that it would not be much of a hindrance, since the military relies so heavily on machine guns, rockets and artillery. Rifles are of secondary importance these days. Could the military use bolt action arms today?
    I have one phrase for you: Tactical Weight of Fire. I'm guessing that you may have not BEEN in the Foot Army, facing down the Persians or Goths. The weight of fire that a well disciplined shooter can bring to bear with an auto fire, mag-fed rifle is a decisive factor, both tactically and psychologically. Now, give that shooter a ranging grenade launcher and perhaps an MPRPG - ALONG WITH his auto rifle - and there is little contest.

    You'd need five men to replace the one outlined. Probably more. It's why bolties died out and fast fire, small caliber rounds came into fashion with the mobile forces now employed.

    Bolties have their place: entrenched positions, with wide fields of fire and long range targets. Essentially, sniper territory. I think every squad oughta have one, whether they need it or not. But, if it were me facing the auto armed enemy, give me an AK or Colt, a full bandolier and a TAC-Vest. We'll pin him down and you can go find a position of cover to pick him off from. By the way, keep your radio ON.
     
  18. OldSchooler

    OldSchooler Member

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    The Germans had a far superior GPMG (the MG-42) in service by the time U.S. forces went in against them. It is still in service (now the MG-3) with several countries in Europe. This made up a great deal for the infantryman using a bold action.
    There is little doubt that a well disciplined rifleman can do some damage. From the arrayed archer to Roger's Rangers and the mujaheedin, well hidden troops with good rifles have proven their worth.
    However, they are destined to do little more than prick and harass, by and large.
    The Germans were pioneers in another sort of warfare, which has become the norm. That is the the use of self-supporting MG squads, what we would today call "Tac Teams." Did you see the movie, "Saving Private Ryan?" If you did, you recall the man-portable MG's and 20MM cannon which the Germans seemed to magically produce during the final battle in the film. I still remember my wife sayin', "Where did they get all THAT stuff from?" Most of Germany's enemies in WWII said the same thing.

    The much vaunted Mauser, a wonderfully made rifle, was not intended to stand alone in WWII. Each Mauser totin' foot slogger was there in support of/supported by multi-tiered, coordinated MG/SMG teams. Together, they worked in unison to lay down horrific, mobile fields of fire hitherto unheard of. They overwhelmed the forces against them for a very long time, until their opponents learned the same rules and attrition began to take it's toll.
    Such superior tactics were one of the reasons the undermanned and overwhelmed Wehrmacht lasted as long as they did. Such tactics are still employed to this day. There is a place for the lone rifleman: behind cover and dug in.
     
  19. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Weights

    Quote:

    >I have one phrase for you: Tactical Weight of Fire. I'm guessing that you may have not BEEN in the Foot Army, facing down the Persians or Goths. The weight of fire that a well disciplined shooter can bring to bear with an auto fire, mag-fed rifle is a decisive factor, both tactically and psychologically.
    **************

    Howdy David, and welcome aboard. Your points are well-taken and true...to a point. Don't underestimate the antiquated old bolt-rifle, though. She's still a deadly old girl.

    While weight of fire would be devastating against a Roman Phalanx walking across open field, a fire team equipped with WW1 technology, who are spread out, know the terrain and operating from concealment...who understand the concept of "Shoot'n'Scoot...are gonna be tough to pin down.

    Recall the devastation that the overage Bavarian riflemen handed the British
    Blue Devils when the crack paratroop unit was dropped on top of them just beyond the Rhine. The Blue Devils were wrecked...one shot at a time.

    Recall the awful casualties that the Minutemen heaped onto the well-disciplined British Regulars by firing squirrel rifles from behind trees and fences...and constantly changing positions. "These rebels are savages. Her Majesty's officers can't even take to the field on horseback for fear of being murdered outright." --Exerpt from a letter written by an unknown British officer after a clash with the militia during their retreat from Lexington and Concord--

    Recall the tale of Able Seaman Brown, who kept the disabled German warship Ziethen stalled in a channel by firing one round at a time from different points on the beach...and stopping all exterior repair work on her.

    Recall the numbers of times that the Afghan tribesmen kept Russian tank commanders from poking their heads out of the turrets because the Russians knew that to expose themselves for 5 seconds could plunge them into the abyss.

    Yes...These are irregular tactics employed largely by irregular fighters...but such irregulars have changed the course of battles and even wars...maybe even history.

    Don't be too quick to place the old bolt-rifle onto the heap of obsolete weaponry. They can still walk the walk if the riflemen understand how to use'em.
     
  20. crazed_ss

    crazed_ss Member

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    It's obvious that a bolt-action rifle can still be extremely deadly, but I bet any insurgent or guerilla fighter out there who has an old milsurp bolt action rifle would probably jump at the oppurtunity to get his hands on an AK-47 or M-16. Bolt-Action rifles arent obselete. Marine and Army snipers are proving this daily... However, their place as the main battle rifle of a modern infantry is faaaaaaar past.

    Also.. I'd hate to have to clear a room with a Springfield '03.. lol :)
     
  21. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Member

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    some of the questions these days.......................... oh my
     
  22. Apple a Day

    Apple a Day Member

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    And now for something completely irrelevant:
    The British had a bolt-action rifle supposedly issued through the 1990's IIRC. If I'm not then someone will, I'm sure, correct me. It sort of reminded me of a bolt action M1 carbine. It was called the Milcam(?) and had a shorter version called the Comcam(?). It was described as a .223 calibre bolt action with a quick throw for 'situations where an automatic is neither required nor desirable'. I can't for the life of me think of when that would be but I always thought if I saw one being sold milsurp I'd snatch it up in a heartbeat.
     
  23. PAshooter

    PAshooter Member

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    Interesting question - made more interesting to me as I have just finished reading "One Shot One Kill" - a brief history of American combat sniping. One theme running throughout the book is the steady decline in the level of American marksmanship throughout the last century. Please don't read this as a criticism of our valient men and women in uniform - nothing could be further from the truth, but I found these statistics from the book to be fascinating:

    In WWI American soldiers expended 7,000 rounds for each enemy casualty. In WWII that figure rose to 25,000 rounds (enter the semi-automatic Garand). In Korea the number was 50,000 rounds. By the time of Vietnam estimates are that number was between 200,000 and 400,000 rounds. Now every war is different, and Vietnam was a totally different ballgame than, say WWII, but it also saw the widespread use of fully automatic weapons in the hands of most infantry (the M16). As the rate of fire available to the average soldier has increased over the years, it seems the expenditure of ammo has increased along with it, while the efficiency of said expenditure has dropped. Makes sense if you think about it. In contrast to these numbers, consider that trained snipers - using primarily bolt action rifles - throughout this period expended, on average, 1.3 rounds per enemy casualty.

    Training doctrine is responsible for some of this decline. In 1956 (and again, I'm quoting from the book - not personal knowlege) the Army introduced the Trainfire system of marksmanship. Basic marksmanship training took a back seat to simulated combat. Trainfire stressed cover and concealment, and students were trained to snap shoot at pop-up targets at various ranges - never having been taught to use aimed fire at known-distance targets. In the 1960's, when the full-auto M16 came into use, the Army adopted the Quick Kill training policy, which essentially was a doctrine of massed volume fire in the direction of the enemy. Kind of sounds like a return to the volley fire doctrine of the 18th century.

    These are pretty broad generalizations, I know, and not every infantryman (or woman) has what it takes to become a trained sniper. Nor would it be practical to field an entire army consisting solely of lone-wolf sniper teams. But it does provide food for thought. With a re-emphasis on skill in marksmanship and a shift in training/tactics, would an army armed with accurate bolt-rifles and truly skilled in their use really be at a disadvantage in the types of conflicts we see around the workd today. You gotta wonder ;)

    P.S. - my apologies again if I appear to be stepping on any toes here... and for quoting from a book rather than contributing my own original thoughts (which can be few and far between). Just throwing this out for consideration.

    Makes me want to head out to the range with my '03A3, M14, and K31 and hone my own slow-fire long distance skills...
     
  24. foghornl

    foghornl Member

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    I would very much like to see our guys 'n' gals in uniform get a lot more trigger time before being sent to the "Eastern Front".

    Some of the decline is shooting skills (In my humble 1/50th of $1) has to do with more city & less country living. Not nearly as many recruits come from the farms and fields, while growing up, they had to bring in some game for the table with each round expended.


    Hmmmm maybe we need to start kids shooting again with the old break-open shotguns, and bolt-action .22's....And a Ruger Single-Six or Bearcat for pistol-craft teachings. . . . .
     
  25. crazed_ss

    crazed_ss Member

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    I cant speak for the Army, but the Marines still focuses on marksmanship.

    500yds.. iron sights.. no benches, no sandbags, no bipods. Your only support is your sling and a good position.

    In 5 years, I only got to use the "burst" function on my M-16 once.. and that's because we had SAWs that had broken down and we had to get rid of a bunch of linked ammo as quick as possible.

    BTW, the burst function on the M16 sucks. I think you can send more rounds downrange by just pulling the trigger really fast on semi.
     
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