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Slickest clip-loading rifle system?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by cluttonfred, May 3, 2013.

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  1. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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    OK, while my earlier thread -- 50-state legal home defense carbine - a concept -- sparked some controversy, it also got me thinking about the pros and cons of various clip loading systems.

    By clip loading I mean mechanisms in which a magazine is fixed (literally, or not ordinarily removed) and reloaded in the rifle with more than one round at a time. I would include both box and rotary magazines and both stripper clips and en bloc clips. Therea are many, many examples of rifles with box magazines and stripper clips: Springfield, Mauser, Mosin-Nagant, Lee-Enfield, SKS, etc. There are also a few more distinctive ones like the M1 Garand with it's self-ejecting en bloc clip and the Johnson rifle with its side-loading rotary magazine which can be topped up bolt open or closed. Lastly, there are several battle rifles with removable magazines that were sometimes, and even often, reloaded with stripper clips in the field. The M14 is one example as well as, I think, the FN-FAL.

    PLEASE let's not turn this into a debate on gun regulations. I would just like to know which clip loading systems people have used, how they liked them, and which they prefer?
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2013
  2. dogmush

    dogmush Member

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    I like the Garand's system as long as you're quick enough to get out of the way. It's almost a magazine.

    In general my experience has been that loading from clips was a stop-gap measure until mags were perfected. None of them work well when compared to the follow on tech. But it's better than a bunch of loose rounds.
     
  3. Ian

    Ian Member

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    The Mannlicher packet-loading (aka clip loading) system was really pretty well done, and a dominant technology for a while. It was used in the Austrian Mannlicher straight-pull rifles, the German Gewehr 88, the Carcano, the Berthier, the Dutch Mannlicher, the M1 Garand, and others. IMO, the Gewehr 88 and 5-round Berthier clips are fast and easy to load, requiring less force than the M1 and a lot less hassle than Mauser-type stripper clips.
     
  4. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    The Garand's system is excellent, of course!

    But for a traditional non-en bloc style, you absolutely cannot beat the Swiss K-31 system.

    Makes no sense -- a waxed cardboard stripper clip with very thin steel edges -- should be worthless, right?

    But they are AWESOME. I've never reloaded any stripper-fed gun half as fast and smoothly as those. And they're reusable many times, seem completely waterproof, just fantastic.
     
  5. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Member

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    Krag Jorgensen is still the best.

    You flip open the door on the side and drop in as many cartridges by the handful as required and close the door. You don't even need to be neat about it... just sort of throw them into the hopper. This is done with the bolt closed and the rifle able to be shot while topping up. It's the cleanest system ever built. The next time you see one hanging in a gun store or at a show, pick it up and see.


    Willie

    .
     
  6. Fishbed77

    Fishbed77 Member

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    It's hard to beat the Garand's en-bloc clip system.

    With a little practice, it can be reloaded as quickly as a magazine, since it both ejects the spent clip and automatically charges the firearm.

    The only significant downsides versus a magazine are the limited capacity (still as much or more than most clip-fed systems) and the fact that you have to un-shoulder the rifle to reload.
     
  7. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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    My grandfather had an authentic U.S.-issue Krag carbine when I was a kid and I always loved that gun. It would definitely be my choice for "slickest repeater loaded with loose rounds!" For some reason the magazine cut-off also tickled me, though of course other guns had those too. A Krag-type magazine might actually be quite handy for a hunting rifle--very easy and quick to unload completely and then relaod.
     
  8. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Member

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    ^^ which is why my go-to deer rifle is a custom lightweight Krag sporter carbine, full length Mannlicher stock, with ghost ring rear sight and three flush Pachmayer sling swivels so I can use a "Ching Sling". It was built back when Colonel Cooper was mooting a Krag type action as a Scout Rifle action as one of the study-rifles for the Scout Rifle Conference. Cooper smiled when he saw it, and smiled more after he shot it.

    The Krag rifle itself suffers from a locking system that only makes it suitable for cartridges of .30-40 pressures, but the magazine system would be adaptable to a stronger action without problem. The .30-40, BTW, is an excellent deer cartridge and was our first martial smokelss-only cartridge. Like the .30-30 the description is the caliber (.30) and the grains equal of a black powder loading. It was, however, never loaded with black powder.

    I might mention that one of the features required for the Scout Rifle, as defined at the Scout ifle Conferences, was the ability to quickly reload "from the top", without interferance by a telescopic sight. The two branches of the tree were use of a forward mounted scope ahead of the action, and stripper clips or single cartridge loading, or a side-loader like the Krag where a normal scope could be used. We never considered the Krag ACTION to be suitable, but much study was made of the magazine. Bear in mind that at time suitable scopes for mid position mounting were only available from Burris, and in only one model, so we looked very carefully at an action that would allow conventional scope positioning while retaining fast "top up" loading. Nothing was as good as the Krags system. In the end is was easier to get scopes built than a new rifle action, and that's one reason the Scout Rifle looks like it looks today. I should write a long post about the development of the Scout Rifle, from Krag to Remington 660, to CZ, to Remington Model 7, to Steyr, the .308 v/s .350 Rem Mag concept, and "Why the Ruger Scout Rifle is not a Scout Rifle". Maybe when I get bored I will. In any event the design studies for that concept fits neatly with this concept.


    Study the magazine system if you are serious about the design of a perfect tactical "zero-feature" carbine. Stripper clips allow you to rapidly load an EMPTY rifle. Krag style loading allows you to "shoot one, top up one, shoot two, top off two" as tactical reloads while maintaining the rifle closed and able to be employed immediately even when being reloaded. Think about this: You essentially need to shoot a Garand empty before reloading, or manually open it and eject a partially loaded clip "into thin air" and then replace that with a fresh clip in order to continue. Not exactly the best tactical reload. Stripper and en-bloc clips are inferior to the Krag in this important regard. You can "top up" a Krag while keeping it at your shoulder if you know how.


    Willie


    .
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2013
  9. morcey2

    morcey2 Member

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    With a little practice, both the Mauser and Mosin strippers load very easily. If you have good quality clips, that is. The reproduction mosin clips that are out there don't work well at all, but the clips that came on the 40's surplus light ball available last year work great. As for mausers, I have a stack of brass turk clips that work pretty well and also a bunch of steel Swede clips that I fill with 30-06 for my 1903.

    I don't own anything that takes an en-bloc clip yet, but hope to soon. Garand, Mannlicher M95, carcano, etc. are hopefully in my future.

    Matt
     
  10. 303tom

    303tom member

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  11. firesky101

    firesky101 Member

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    My vote has to go the the M1, or the SKS. Neither of those are 50 state legal though (or at least not loaded to their full capacity) due to the NY mag restrictions.
     
  12. Ash

    Ash Member

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    Garand clips are superb, but box magazines had been reliable for more than a generation when Garand went Mannlicher on us. Lee's box magazine in the Enfield was fully modern in the 1880's. After all, there is no fundamental difference between the Enfield magazine and a current AR magazine.
     
  13. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I agree with Willie Sutton. For pre-magazine systems the Krag is the most underappreciated and one of the very best.
     
  14. BruceB

    BruceB Member

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    Yep.... I have a Krag "NRA Sporter" which is surely among my favorite rifles. It should be noted , though, that one of the reasons for the Krag's early demise from US service was the LACK of a charger-loading capability.

    There's a lovely commercial Mannlicher-Schoenauer 24" rifle on my rack, too. It's from around 1920, chambered for the 6.5x54, and it has a charger guide on the receiver. Probably the chargers used in Greek-issue Mannlichers would fit this rifle, but I've never bothered to try finding any.

    There are many Garands in my back history and I have NEVER owned one that slammed shut on loading. They all required a slap on the op-rod to close on the first round. I'm VERY mindful, though, that the first time I get careless, the rifle will administer a painful lesson!
     
  15. Vaarok

    Vaarok Member

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    Ross 1905. Better than the Krag. Press the button, drop the rounds in, let off the button, rack the bolt.
     
  16. Texan Scott

    Texan Scott Member

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    Can't beat the Garand ... but for a carbine, 3006 might be too much. Make a tanker Garand with a 16.5" bbl and 10-rnd .300 BLK en bloc clip... two eb clips in a canvas sling on the stock, with eight more on a belt; mount od green nylon slings on 'em and have one in every third home in America.
     
  17. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    I was going to say the exact same thing.
     
  18. Gunner11

    Gunner11 Member

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    My vote must go to the enfield
     
  19. barnbwt

    barnbwt Member

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    Another vote for the K31--I particularly like the 6-round loading, which is probably as many rounds as can be easily push-loaded reliably in one motion. Perhaps they work so well because they are less like stripper clips, and more like box magazines in how they guide rounds.

    The Steyr M95 is also extremely fast to reload, partially due to the auto-ejection of the Mannlicher clip, and the lack of a loose clip to discard after loading. Combined with the straight-pull actions of both rifles, it is possible to lay down a rate of fire limited only by sight-acquisition, and recoil tolerance.

    And a super down vote to SKS strippers in the VZ58 (not the clips' fault; non-Czech clips don't quite fit properly).

    TCB
     
  20. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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    Thanks, all, for the feedback, I am learning a lot. I was not familiar with the Swiss K31 clips, and thanks to your tips I found this video clip which illustrates them nicely.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59EKsxfXEqA

    Much as I love my M1 Garand, I can't see en bloc clips being very satisfactory in a non-military application--no topping up, generally awkward to unload. But something like a modern version of a K31 "box clip" made out of Kydex or the like might be very handy. It might even be possible to design one in which the clip itself provides pressure on the cartridge at the mouth of the clip, so need need for the bendable tabs.

    barnbwt, you said, "I particularly like the 6-round loading, which is probably as many rounds as can be easily push-loaded reliably in one motion." Is that the general consensus? Are the SKS 10-round stripper clips awkward to use? I have no personal experience--all my military rifle shooting is with weapons made before 1945.

    Cheers,

    Matthew
     
  21. rondog

    rondog Member

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    With my arthritic thumbs, none of them are much fun. But I need some K31 clips, I can see that now. Need to order some.
     
  22. hang fire

    hang fire Member

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    IMO, the best I have seen is the Swiss K31 6 round charger. (stripper clip to us) If one has used other stripper clips for rifles, they know how clumsy and difficult they can be.

    It is made out of an impregnated card board like paper, but it feeds so slick with no muss or fuss. Note how smooth the stripper clip works in these videos

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUmn-JvMAos

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQZZDIxO-D0
     
  23. Caliper_Mi

    Caliper_Mi Member

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    Actually, the Garand can be topped off, but requires two hands. With the enbloc in, it becomes very much like the feed lips of an AR magazine. Hold the bolt back and you can push in rounds from the top. If there were an external bolt hold back (think AR) then one could easily push in a few loose rounds.

    Don't see how the Garand is that awkward to unload, only takes one hand to hold the bolt back with the edge of your hand and press the clip release button with your thumb, ejecting all the rounds and the clip into your hand. Since you specified no detachable mags, most every rifle is going to leave you with a handful of loose rounds on unloading.
     
  24. barnbwt

    barnbwt Member

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    I'm sure there's no general consensus on this (or any) gun issue :D. I found my SKS clips really awkward to use in my VZ58. I still use them, because it's faster than loading a separate mag when I burn through my last one, but I have to jimmy the clip quite a bit. I think it's a combination of rough parkerization on the clips, the guides not being quite the right size on the bolt, and the fact that the recoil spring pushes against the clip a bit when it's inserted (has the convenient effect of automatically releasing the bolt when the empty clip is removed, but makes inserting it more difficult).

    I just ordered some 5 round 1903 strippers for my FN49 in 30-06, so I'll have a better idea of how the Mauser style clip works with only 5 rounds. 6 rounds of Swiss seems like a good size though; square in shape and very flat for stacking. With my 10 round SKS clips, I feel like I might as well have extra magazines for the space they take up.

    Mannlicher clips are definitely the most compact and strong way to go. My Steyr clips are very secure, very durable (though the feed lips will eventually bow out if you reuse them enough) and add nearly zero volume to loaded ammunition as far as storage.

    TCB
     
  25. barnbwt

    barnbwt Member

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    The 1903 stripper clips arrived, and they do indeed work in my FN49 :)

    While they greatly speed loading over inserting each round, adding the second clip on top of the first five is much more difficult. About five pounds force is required to seat the first five, about 2-3X that for the last five. Because they are only held and guided at the rear, you must push down as far back on the case as possible, otherwise they will splay out to the sides and bind up. Another kink is if the last round of the first clip manages to slide forward or backward in the magazine, it can prevent the next clip's ammo from sliding down (gun magazine problem, not the clip's fault)

    I still like the K31 system better, and I'll add to that that clips work best when as little force is required to seat the rounds as possible. It's only 2 or 3lbs in the Swiss, which is why it loads so slick. More force, means more friction, and for something as loosely-guided as clip-fed rounds, that leads to binding. A <10 shot carbine fed from a single clip would be very nice indeed.

    Heck, you could probably turn a hicap mag into a Swiss-style clip by removing the spring/follower, cutting a slot down the side, and cutting the mag lips off and replacing them with rubber gasket that can be pushed to the side when force is applied to the top of the stack.

    TCB
     
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