Why long range .30 calibers in WWI?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by valnar, Aug 16, 2022.

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  1. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Magazine cut off on the 03 Springfield is proof of the stubbornness of the Ordnance Dept. and concern of soldiers wasting ammunition. Only once have I read of an account where it was useful by a GI in the field. During WW II a 99th Div. M1903A4 armed sniper carried his ammo on 8 round Garand clips. He loaded the magazine with 5, had one in the chamber and kept two in his left hand. Magazine cut off was engaged. He'd fired, loaded from the left hand, fire, loaded from the left hand and then disengage the magazine cut off for the last shots. This at least initially gave him 3 more shots at the start of the firefight.

    Contrast the frugality intended by the Ordnance Dept. by one company commander who planned his attack on a German fortified (field fortification) position in the woods. He had all four platoons open up and the tanks advanced under suppressive infantry fire. The tanks then began opening up and a platoon moved forward and took up a new firing position. Then the next platoon until the last. All this time units not moving and the tanks poured supressive fire onto the Germans. Finally, one platoon flanked the German pillboxes and forced their surrender. The company rolled up the German line but used up all the battalion, then regiment and then division's allotment of ammunition. The supply officer came out to investigate the heavy usage and the company commander told them they were capturing a fortified German position with minimal casualties. Any problem? No. It saved lives and surprised the Germans who tought they would repel or inflict heavy casualties on the attacking Amis. Read that in the book Battle Hardened.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2022
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  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Interesting solution to the loss of stripper clip capability.
     
  3. denton

    denton Member

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    The prevailing military doctrine of the day was based on how much area a soldier could control. Given that, you could calculate how many soldiers you needed to control a large area. Longer range rifle = fewer soldiers to control an area. Or so they thought.

    When the Germans first marched on France in WW2, the French were jubilant because by their calculation, the Germans had only brought half enough soldiers to control the battlefield. As it happened, the Germans had quietly doubled their numbers by adding reserves, and the prevailing military doctrine was hosed anyway.

    Long story short, the belief was that with rifles with more range, fewer soldiers were needed.
     
  4. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    I was not going specific to the 3006 but the 30's in general that everyone but two went into the war as their standard arm....oops I was thinking WWII not 1. We all know about anything that would go bang came out of the woodwork during that deal.

    Issue with the korean war was the west cut defense budgets to the bone after the shooting stopped, they did not think a former ally, and I use that term very loose would be a major threat for the decades to come....they knew it going into korea and that is why it was chosen....almost worked as well. We can thank Truman for giving us two of the greatest "gifts" the current world has, North Korea and communist china, great job there Harry.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2022
  5. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    You also have to remember everything brought to the battle field before WWI came in by foot. There was a very valid reason for "slowing down" the fire of the soldier. Part of it was "old ways", but much more of it was just so hard to move things around.

    Read in The earth is weeping that the average US trooper in the west during the indian wars got 5 rounds per year for practice. That was because getting supplies out there was so difficult......and again there was no money at times.....at times.
     
  6. BLACKHAWKNJ

    BLACKHAWKNJ Member

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    By 1914 most of the major powers had adopted .30 caliber rounds, the Italians and the Japanese adopted 6.5 caliber rounds which they later found out lacked range and punch. A few countries-Spain, Chile, the Boer Republics had adopted the 7MM Mauser.
    Ordnance departments are responsible for not only design and procurement of small arms but their supply and maintenance, the wide variety of breech loading and cartridge firearms in the Civil War was an excellent argument for standardization.
    The long bayonets for infantry rifles in WWI were designed to give the soldier reach to deal with cavalry-cf. the "square" of the Napoleonic Wars. How many cavalry vs.infantry actions were there in that conflict?
     
  7. Mk-211

    Mk-211 Member

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    Yet 100 years later, U.S. soldiers rode horses in Afghanistan. Don't go tossing your bayonet anytime soon! ;)
     
  8. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    The magazine cut off also functions as the bolt release and is cheaper and more durable than the Mauser version.
     
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  9. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Member

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    Even the German DM / designated marksmen in Afghanistan still used modified G3s in 7.62x51 Nato.

    Hopefully he was able to return to "Stefanie".

    Didn't the typical distances between trench systems in WW1 -- also -- demand at least a ".30 Cal." cartridge in the basic bolt-action rifles?



    XtogaH9v0UYZA22G7iDhxjiVq5ANtQs9jApkln2b3zs.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2022
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  10. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    The magazine cut-off was rarely used by the US with the M1903, due to lack of US involvement in major wars from 1903 to 1916.

    The magazine cut-off was quite often used, and to good effect, by the British with the Magazine, Lee Enfields in the many colonial wars. It allowed for a steady rate of fire while holding the ten round magazine in reserve.
     
  11. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    But it was always used to remove the bolt when cleaning the rifle. And to make it also a magazine cutoff required only a single milling cut.
     
  12. shafter

    shafter Member

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    When you go from 58 caliber muskets and 45-70 Trapdoor carbines, 30 caliber rifles probably did seem intermediate. Technology evolves over time.
     
  13. BLACKHAWKNJ

    BLACKHAWKNJ Member

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    Everybody is always looking for that "do it all/all purpose" round. I recall seeing a picture in American Rifleman years ago of an issued "guard" cartridge for the M1903, had a listed velocity of about 1200 fps, the idea being that a sentry would be better served with something with less kick.
    The "intermediate" rounds-7.92x33 kurz, 7.62 x 39, 5.56/.223 do not perform well at longer ranges, not good for covering fire.
    In WWII the Army used donkeys in Italy, in Burma the British used elephants.
     
  14. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Really, it was down to the MG. Which was being used in both tanks/armored vehicles and aircraft.

    The Brits had fielded the .276enfield about the same time as the .280ross was introduced. This is the "why" of the huge strength of the P1913/P1917 with "ordinary" .303 or .30-06.
    The US had the .276pedersen too.
    All of these were around 7 x 53mm size ammo.
    They all offered a weight and volume reduction over their respective Service rounds.

    But, they were not suitable for MG use out to the expected 2500 to 3000m needed MG ranges. And, this was a huge issue. What would become US Armored Corps was "MG happy" with all of their vehicles. You squeeze 5 MGs in a 5 ton scout vehicle, you want that 3km range.

    The General Staffs were still inculcated (as noted above) in long-range rifle engagements, of using MGs, and rifles, against materiel and logistics. Supply wagons, the horses used, supply dumps, etc. Artillery, particularly mobile artillery obviated that, but the General Staffs did not much notice until 1945 or so. They also finally realized that they had ditched 30 caliber aircraft MGs by '43 or '44.

    This "allowed" adopting the "lightweight" 7.62nato post war.

    Perversely, the US adopted .308 MGs with the M-60 before issuing 7.62nato to riflemen (which was not until 1962). Logistics are what win wars.
     
  15. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    I am not how the magazine cut-off was a negative feature when it's use was optional, and highly appropriate in certain scenarios.
     
  16. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    It isn't a negative feature -- as a bolt stop, it is more robust and less complex than the Mauser bolt stop. To make it a magazine cutoff requires only one milling cut -- which is why it was retained on the M1903A3.
     
  17. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    It also isn't a negative feature as a magazine cut-off.
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Why did they move the safety lug to the right side of the bolt, requiring a big hump and tunnel in the bridge?
    Because that is where the locking lug was on a Krag?
     
  19. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    It varied from spot to spot. Some under 100 yards IIRC. Where they are digging tunnels for the huge bombs they planted under the german lines it was IIRC only a couple hundred yards. They then branched out under the trenches.
     
  20. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    There is also the aspect that having the same round that your medium MG uses as your riflemen, that can be a bit handy at times. The "heavy" MG was a different animal and I want to say the ranges you talk about was in the wheel house of the "heavy" guns. The US had a different outlook on "heavy" guns over the germans. The germans, same gun different mount and a pile of barrels on stand by. One of the reasons they are so quick to change. Americans went with HEAVY and slow....well slow next to german guns.

    Only in pre war do you see things like "mg tanks" like you talk about, with 30 and 50's on the same tank, and it looking like a porcupine. As things went on, and lessons learned from places like spain and africa, having a billion guns on a tank was just not all that useful, but it sure did sound cool.....unless you are inside the thing I guess....can you imagaie the noise? Same with aircraft, only in pre war did you see a mix of 30 and 50 on planes like the P39 (love that plane) After the shooting really started it was found out pretty quick by both sides that 30 machine guns no matter how fast they shoot really is not the best tool for knocking planes out of the sky, and the bigger the plane is the worse that 30 gets. England chose to stick bunches of 30's on the wings, US said well bigger bullets are better, and the germans said what about a fricken cannon.

    I think it is one thing Mac got right and putting the kabosh on the switch over for the US.

    I am drifting again as usual, in WWII they went with 30 because that was the best at the time, Italy knew it before they went in and started to change over carcano to a 30, but italy could not do that in a shooting war. Japan changed to 7.7 as 6.5 was found lacking that is correct. But it was lacking in a great many other reasons as well, japan had not really been being aggressive in the pacific, they are busy in china, and korea, not lots of jungle there. The 6.5 had issues in jungles as well. I think it is a great myth that the japanes are great jungle fighters, they went into that a bit blind and had to learn along the way, and one thing they did learn was 6.5 did not cut it.
     
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  21. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    Not quite. The Enfield and the Ross are high power cartridges, much more stout than the Pedersen. The Pedersen is ballistically the equivalent of the post war British .280/30 (if it had lived up to its advertised performance).

    276 Enfield:
    Case length - 2.35" (60mm)
    Bullet Wt - 165 gr
    Velocity - 2,785 fps

    276 Ross:
    Case length - 2.59" (66mm)
    Bullet Wt - 160 gr
    Velocity - 2,700 fps

    276 Pedersen:
    Case length - 2.02" (51mm)
    Bullet Wt - 125 gr
    Velocity - 2,740 fps
     
  22. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

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    I think they got it right on almost the first attempt with the 7mm Mauser.
     
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  23. MikeInOr

    MikeInOr Member

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    The Swedes knew what they were doing all the way back in 1894 with their 6.5x55 cartridge. I still think it is one of the best infantry rounds that has ever been adopted by any country. It is soft shooting but still packs a heck of a punch... enough to bring down a Swedish moose from what I have been told. It is a pleasure to shoot in my Sweedish Mausers and Ljungman.

    The 1903A3 and 1917 Enfield are heavy guns that took a bit of the sting out of the 30-06 when compared to a hunting rifle. But I agree I think the 30-06 is over powered for general infantry use. I have a Turkish Mauser and Hakim in 8x57 Mauser and to me they have considerably less perceived recoil than my 03A3 and 1917 but it is my understanding that current 8x57 commercial ammo is downloaded significantly due to the age of some of the old military rifles that chamber this round.

    At the end of WWII the Germans started figuring things out with their 7.92x33 intermediate power round and the STG-44: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/stg-44-nazi-germanys-assault-rifle-help-inspire-m4-carbine-32847 which is probably the first true assault rifle and the grand daddy of the genre.

    Sturmgewehr44_noBG (Medium).jpg

    Pistol,_Rifle_and_Intermediate_cartridge_2 (Small).jpg
    9mm, 7.92x33 Kurz and 8x75 Mauser.

    With some of the new 6.5 rounds gaining in popularity it is amazing at how little difference there is between them and the 130 year old Swedish 6.5x55.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2022
  24. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    I like your looking at current 6.5 with the sweede, you can see they got it right there. The 7 gives you just a tick more reach without much more kick. I really enjoy my old Mauser rifles in 7. They are quite fun.

    I agree as well that current offerings are a bit more soft over their WWII or vintage counterparts. I load for most my old girls, and while I make a habit of not loading them to "where they where", mine are VERY soft next to the numbers published in the history books on those rounds....to the point I think, they loaded them that heavy, that had to be a bear.
     
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  25. PzGren

    PzGren Member

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    B.S. The Swedes were not involved in any war for a long time when they adopted the 6.5. Both my grandfather, in WWI, and my father who fought in WWII had positive stories to tell about the knock down power of the 8x57IS and both had extensive combat experience, especially close combat experience
    My grandfather was one of the dedicated marksmen with the donated hunting rifles and he had told me that story, and many others, when I was a wee lad sitting on his knee.

    I still have his iron cross and wounded badge and memories of the stories, his and a few from my father.
     
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