Quantcast

Why have guns been so slow, historically speaking?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by The Exile, Nov 25, 2020.

  1. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2005
    Messages:
    2,945
    Location:
    Colorado Front Range
    Full-auto fire from individual weapons is usually not a foot soldiers best friend from a logistics supply and weight management scenario. However, there are specific times where it is mission critical, and should be available as needed.
     
    theotherwaldo, Bfh_auto and entropy like this.
  2. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    Messages:
    9,296
    Location:
    DFW (formerly Brazos County), Texas
    That was a mix of things. It was what the Soviets could mass produce quickly. It was going to be widely issued to moderately trained soldaty for the sole purposes of providing suppressing fires in either advance or in retreat.
    The "PapaShah" would empty its (very hard to load) drum in only a couple of seconds. The stick magazines vanished even faster. PPSH were meant to be issue with two factory-fitted drum mags, which were serialized to the weapon. The drums did not transfer well between firearms. (Drums are a pain to carry, too.)
    The Soviets replaced the PPSH-41 with the PPS-43 as quickly as they could, too.

    The Germans were committed to the idea of a Universal MG, that could be used across the entire Wehrmacht. Which is a tall order. Aviation use is very different than ground use. The target presentation is much, much shorter in aviation combat. You need ridiculous rates of fire to get any rounds on target. That brevity also allows some balance in holding to a limited number of rounds carried as well.
    While the idea of a UMP is intriguing, even the Luftwaffe adopted other weapons.

    Now, there is a fascinating War College monograph on how the Germans may have selected the ridiculously high rate of fire for the MG-42 as a result of massed infantry attacks by the Soviets. The Soviet infantry tactics are complicated, especially during the Great Patriotic War. They did not respond to the measured, calculated tactics of the Reichs Heer, and an answer was required.

    Yes. It was a pig. Circa eight pounds is too light for full auto 7.62nato fire, unless the intended desire is a conical effect. The FAL is only slightly better, for having a slightly better in-line design.

    But, functionally, trying to make every rifleman a Squad Automatic Gunner is less than tactically sound in the first place--barring some extremely specialty units. (The jury is still out on the USMC use of IIAR as a Squad weapon.)

    Rates of fire have very specific uses in battle. While similar in defense as in offense, but they remain specific. The ranges used are also significant; if less apparent at face value.
    Riflemen operate in Fire Teams (which can be an ad hoc or deliberate grouping). And typically operate at Rifle ranges (400-600m).
    Fire Teams make up a Squad. Squads will have organic support out to just at the limits of rifle ranges.
    Squads make up Platoons. Platoons will have a support Squad, which will give them the ability to reach out to right at double rifle range (1200-1800m). Individual aimed fire at such distance is generally not an option, so, indirect, automatic fire is appropriate (when not using mortars or direct-fire rockets).
    Platoons make up Companies. The Company will have a Weapons Platoon for support of all the Company assets, which will range out to 2-3km or so, depending upon need.
    Companies make up Battalions. Which can have all kinds of support elements attached.
    Battalions are used to make up Regiments. Regimental attachments can be armor, arty, aviation, and the like.
    Regiments then create Brigades; Brigades make up Divisions; Divisions make up Corps; from Corps to Army, and Army to Theater.

    It's all too common to lose sight of the larger and focus on the smaller. All that organization exists because individual troopies are heard pressed to hump 40 or more kilos every step of every day. And because threats exist beyond rifle range. It can be very convenient to be able to call Brigade and get them to put some 155mm on target 8-10km down range.
     
    12Bravo20 and theotherwaldo like this.
  3. luzyfuerza

    luzyfuerza Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2005
    Messages:
    818
    Location:
    RKBA-Friendly Utah
    I don't know about the M-14, but my shooting mentor carried a BAR in Korea. He told me that the Chinese hated the things, and would start raining mortars any time they figured out where a BAR team was located.

    As a result, he very seldom fired it in full auto.

    One tactic that did use full auto, though, was that from time to time he would put eight rounds downrange semi-auto, and after the last round, his ammo carrier would ping an empty Garand clip off his helmet. Then, when the Chinese would use this instant to scurry to new positions, he would hose them in full-auto.

    My friend was sure to immediately find a new home after doing this.

    Somehow, I doubt that the results of this tactic would be at all sensitive to rate of fire. A 20 round mag doesn't last long be it at 600 or 1000 rpm.

    I sure miss Ken.
     
    theotherwaldo likes this.
  4. Mr. Zorg

    Mr. Zorg Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2019
    Messages:
    1,170
    City fighting, house to house, was especially engaged in on the Eastern Front in WWII and especially during, and after, Stalingrad. The SMG, handgun, and hand grenade are said to have been the most effective in those roles, and the USSR, with the non-aggression pact with Japan being observed by both sides until after VE Day, had lots of available manpower for the Eastern Front. Later, WARPAC tactics remained similar from a high level view but with tank and armored mechanized infantry forces in high numbers to take much of the brunt of initial fighting with Soviet forces in reserve and support positions.

    I remember troops being armed with a mixture of FAL's & Stirlings stationed in Ireland during The Troubles when I was younger, for urban environment combat. If armed only with FAL's they got the worst of building to building and room to room combat. If armed only with Stirlings they got on the bad end of sniping without effective targeted anti-sniper fire in an environment full of non-combatants.

    For squad automatic weapons the Axis used the Czech ZB series of magazine fed LMG's and the UK forces used Bren guns, same basic design originating in Czechoslovakia chambered for two different cartridges. Plus UK forces used Czech Besa MG's in AFV's leaving the cartridge chambering in 7.92X57mm. The UK's SMG's at the start of the war were the Lanchester, a copy of the German MP28II, and the US Thompson. They were one of the least prepared for incorporating SMG's into their units & tactics.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020
  5. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,881
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Why low cyclic rates? So you can hit what you are aiming for . . .



    There are two schools of thought on the matter, 1) have such a high rate of fire the gun just doesn't have time to move a lot during a 5 to 10 round burst, (e.g., MG-42 or MG-3), and 2) have such a low rate of fire you can recover from the recoil and re-lay the weapon on target, e.g., the M1918A3 on low rate, or the M3 SMG.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020
    theotherwaldo likes this.
  6. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    20,145
    Location:
    Deep in the Ozarks
    Amen!!

    As I used to tell my troops, firepower is measured at the target, not at the muzzle. Way back when, I was a BAR man, and I loved the slow rate of fire -- more hits, more bursts from a magazine.

    Now a bit of history -- one of the first repeating rifles in combat was the Civil War Spencer, a 7-shot lever action. Almost as soon as we got them in action, we learned the repeating rifle's dirty little secret -- at the worst possible time, it will turn itself into a single shot. You empty your magazine in the opening moments, and when the enemy charges, CLICK! All you can do is throw a round in the breech and hope that gains you enough time to do it again. All sorts of devices were developed to overcome that problem, including Blakeslee's Cartridge Box, which allowed you to reload a full magazine from a tube.

    Later on, the Russians and the Turks were at war. At the Siege of Plevna, the Turks were armed with Peabody-Martinis (almost identical to the British Martini-Henry.) Each Turk was issued two rifles -- an 1866 Winchester in addition to his Peabody-Martini. They were trained to use the single-shot Peabody-Martini at long range, but when the Russians charged, to grab the 1866 Winchester and fire into the brown of them. That worked like gangbusters -- single shot at long range, repeater at short range.

    That example colored the thinking of many nations when they adopted repeating rifles as their primary arm. Both the British and Americans adopted rifles with magazine cutoffs. At long range the rifle was to be used as a single shot for deliberate shooting. At short range, the magazine was switched on and the solider had a full magazine to deal with a charge.

    The Krag-Jorgensen (adopted in 1892) had a magazine cutoff, as did the M1903 Springfield. The Springfield design was quite ingenious, serving as both magazine cutoff and bolt stop. When the Springfield was simplified for fast, low-cost manufacturing in WWII, the M1903A3 retained the magazine cutoff because it cost nothing and doubled as the bolt stop.
     
    theotherwaldo likes this.
  7. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Messages:
    1,774
    How many full-auto guns have you fired? What were they?
     
  8. The Exile

    The Exile Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2015
    Messages:
    226
    Location:
    Minnesota
    None, all my research knowledge on the subject comes from second hand accounts and arm chair forum experts.
     
  9. entropy

    entropy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    11,607
    Location:
    G_d's Country, WI
    Many of the respondents to your thread have, though my memory seems to be faulty concerning the MP5, but probably because it was so easy to control, it was much more accurate than others I've fired that have lower cyclic rates. I think fxvr5 asked out of curiosity and or establishing level of familiarity.

    If you'd like to fire some of them, Bill's Gun Shop has locations all over Minnesota, and one in Hudson, WI. That's where I finally got to fire an Uzi after many years of wanting to. Prior to going into the service, I also fired a Thompson M1A1, and an Ingram M10 in .45 ACP. While in the service I got to fire most of what we had in 1986, plus most of what the 'expected enemy' had then.
     
  10. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2013
    Messages:
    5,862
    WWI, when weapons other than bolt actions started being produced and used rate of fire was some weird gold standard. Countries were developing semi automatic rifles, automatic rifles (came later) and machine guns to throw lead at an organized enemy. In addition to artillery, but that is out of scope for here. In WWII, tactics started to catch up to the technology. You had machine gunners lay down suppressing fire while rifleman would flank and maneuver. You do not always need a high RPM as a rifleman to be successful. In the military I served every role inside an infantry platoon, from designated marksman to grenadier to 240 gunner to 249 gunner. By the time I got out, I knew every platoon weapon like the back of my hand. A designated marksman doesn't need to shoot fast, because that isn't their job, so they don't have a weapon with high RPM. 240 and 249 gunners are all about suppression. Those weapons are open bolt design and don't even have a switch to shoot slower, just take your finger off the trigger. Tactics today really aren't so much different than what we used during WWII, we just have better technology now. The technology at the platoon level had to get better. You can't just drop 200 rounds of artillery on a town anymore. And high RPM firearms in a town loaded with civilians won't do too well either.
     
    Mr. Zorg and entropy like this.
  11. DukeConnor

    DukeConnor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2016
    Messages:
    567
    Muzzle rise and weapon overheating is what limits rate of fire.
     
  12. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,114
    Location:
    Missouri
    I was issued and used the M3A1 while I was in the Army. I also got to shoot the HK MP5, M1 Thompson and Uzi sub-guns. I also was issued and used the M60 and M2. I got the chance to shoot many different general purpose machine guns from other NATO countries. Some of the units I was assigned to still had M14's in the arms room but we never shot them full auto except for familiarization or to burn up excess ammo. The M14 was not worth a crap when shot full auto. I also got to shoot plenty of Eastern Bloc AK's. Out of all the AK's, the AK74 was the most controllable on full auto.
     
    Mr. Zorg and entropy like this.
  13. Mosin77

    Mosin77 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2019
    Messages:
    313
    In general, a slower-firing full auto weapon will still fire far faster than a man could pull the trigger, and fast enough to put a few rounds into the target. Anything above ~350rpm is going to do the job fine. And it’s a lot easier to have a controllable burst and not use up all your ammo at once, with a slower cyclic rate.
     
  14. Drail

    Drail Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    6,253
    Barrels tend to have a longer life when they are not glowing red hot and an infantry troop already has too much stuff to hump around.
     
    entropy likes this.
  15. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Messages:
    8,999
    Location:
    Kingsport Tennessee
    The German MG42 infantry machinegun had a rate of fire of 1200 rpm.
    In the Western European theater after D-Day, the German supply line from the ammo factory to the machinegunner was measured in a few hundreds of kilometers involving air and land transport.

    The American M1919 infantry machineguns were regulated at between 400 to 600 rpm (the aircraft versions at 1200 to 1500 rpm).
    The American supply lines to the European and Pacific theaters from the ammo factory to the machinegunner were measured in thousands of miles involving sea, air, and land transport..

    I suspect logistics had a lot to do with selection ot rounds per minute rate of fire.
     
    reddog81 likes this.
  16. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Messages:
    8,999
    Location:
    Kingsport Tennessee
    The adaption of M1919 aircraft machineguns to infantry use was viable for great suppressive fire (1200+ rpm) in short engagements, but as I have read about Gaudalcanal, when the supply of ammo recovered from destroyed aircraft ran out, the aircraft MGs were retired. Histories of the Guadalcanal Campaign mention the supply problems on both sides.

    In WWII my dad was in US Army 6th Inf Div at the battle of Lone Tree Hill in New Guinea and he described firing his BAR and seeing MGs with the barrels glowing dull red in the night.
     
    Mr. Zorg likes this.
  17. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Messages:
    1,715
    the conclusion that more rounds fired equals more hits that became the standard model after WW2.
    That was always real, but the practicality wasn't.
    The invention of legitimate heavy-lift aircraft, and helicopters in the 1960's that could drop literal tons of resupply to groups hundreds of miles behind front lines is what allowed this well known model to work.
     
  18. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2013
    Messages:
    5,862
    Not true. The M1917 is a good example. It was a water cooled machine gun that only fired 450 RPM. The water helped keep it cool and prevented muzzle climb. Also of note, the cyclic rates of machine and sub guns are ignoring muzzle climb, heat, and accuracy. The cyclic tests are just to see how fast they can mechanically fire.
     
  19. Archie

    Archie Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Messages:
    2,779
    Location:
    Hastings, Nebraska - the Heartland!
    One has to consider not all arms are used for the same purpose. Heavy machine guns were initially used as extensions of artillery and for essentially the same use on troops and light vehicles. They were area weapons designed to prevent troop movement and transfer of supplies. Rifles were for more or less individual belligerent troops (theoretically in rapid sequence). Early on, there was no air cover or modern artillery. One notes a question about the high rate of fire of the German machineguns. The rate of fire was so high it was questioned by U. S. intelligence; such a rate of fire was silly to U. S. designers and thinking. The weapon had an incredible rate of fire and a 30 round magazine. The answer was obvious and surprising. The gun was not employed in the same fashion as the U. S. light and heavy machine guns with the idea of 'traverse and elevation'. It was aimed at the center of a group of belligerents in enfilade and then fired until empty (not long). The machine gun was employed as a artillery piece or shotgun might be, not as a fast firing rifle.

    Submachineguns traditionally fire handgun round ammunition. They are designed to provide an arm to a soldier who is expected to be employed at primarily close range. Personal defense in the hands of troops assigned to crew served weapons and officers and NCOs when involved in close quarters. Submachine guns simply do not have the range of a rifle. The WWII Soviet 'tank riders' were issued PPSh-41 submachine guns and not much training. The tanks took them into the fight and the troops were expected to kill all the enemy possible. Survivors would find space on a tank and then continue. The Soviet Army considered them 'expendable' far more than infantrymen. The PPSh 41 submachinegun was cheap and easy to make, the high rate of fire was a result of low technology.

    The U. S. M1 Carbine was effectively between the submachinegun and the rifle. It served with better than expected results, sometimes used in 'close' areas of combat, like heavy jungle or house to house fighting. The U. S. Army and Marine Corps were not able to always equip troops with perfectly suited weapons.

    An individual rifleman is far more accurate with a one shot at a time weapon than a fully automatic weapon. Shown by historical evidence and statistical analysis; not by the opinion of the user. However; the individual 'feels' more confident with fully automatic weapon. Which is why - in part - the M16 was adopted; then (when technology caught up) it was altered to the "three shot burst" mode. The three shot mode turned the 30 round magazine into a ten shot weapon.
     
  20. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Messages:
    12,606
    Location:
    Rocky River, Ohio
    The MP40 was designed to be a HIGH QUALITY smg that could be manufactured more cheaply then previous guns.

    The PPSh was designed to be an SMG able to be produced absolutely as cheaply as possible, by COMPLETELY unskilled labor, with a bare minimum of resources. The PPS43 did it one better.

    The Germans and Soviets had ENTIRELY different industrial and population bases. The Germans wanted something good, cheaper than what they'd been using. The Soviets wanted ANYTHING that would reliably fling a projectile at Germans that could be produced in as great a quantity as possible, with the available resources. By 1945, their situations had reversed... and the Germans could not catch up.
     
    entropy likes this.
  21. Mr. Zorg

    Mr. Zorg Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2019
    Messages:
    1,170
    The USSR got gaga for SMG's especially after getting more than a bloody nose from Finland with their K31 Suomi. You can see similarities with the PPSh-41, and I've read the USSR made 2 (or maybe 3?) PPSh-41 barrels from old turn of the 20th century-ish long rifles chambered for 7.62X54R. I don't know if wood from those long rifle stocks was recycled as well.

    The PPS42 & PPS43 are more analogous to the MP38 & MP40, and after WWII were largely exported with some of the last users being AFV crews as I've read, much like the US M3A1. There's been some written on political reasons for largely exporting the PPS42 & PPS43 due to the Leningrad defense forces leaders being viewed as being a bit "full of themselves" after the siege of Leningrad was broken.

    As for the MG34 & MG42, I'm aware of the round magazines holding 50 rounds on a belt, not 30, with ome mounts allowing two magazines being mounted simultaneously in saddle fashion that had 75 round capacity. But a 250 round belt was also typical.

    https://fjm44.com/articles/mg-3442-50-round-drum-magazine-gurttrommel-34-ddf/

    http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Talk:MG42
     
  22. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,881
    Location:
    North Carolina
    The key is in the name.

    Gurttrommel - belt drum - A drum that held a 50 round belt on the left side of an MG-34 or MG-42.

    Partonentrommel - cartridge drum - aka, the 75 round saddle drum, this only fit on the MG-34 (and the aircraft 7.9mm MGs). Since it replaced the feed cover, it was not compatible with the MG-42.

    The Patronenkasten - cartridge box - it held six, 50 round belts connected together, for a total of 300 rounds.
     
    Mr. Zorg likes this.
  23. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Messages:
    16,361
    In service since 1963.

    This is how fast they can go through over 52 lbs of ammunition.

     
  24. marksman13

    marksman13 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    2,427
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Recoil mitigation systems have changed. Shoot a Kriss Vector in full auto next to a Thompson submachine gun in full auto. The difference is staggering.
     
  25. Roknstevo

    Roknstevo Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2020
    Messages:
    50
    Having served in 60s, the only full auto weapon on your list that I had experience with was the grease gun. It was plenty fast enough to climb all over your ass if you weren’t careful. I also like the BAR, which I never carried, but fired a bit on an occasion or two.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice