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  • Worst bolt action of WWII

    I own MBRs from all the major combatants from the 20th century, and shoot them all. What do you think was the worst rifle of WWII? Here, by my count, are the candidates:

    1) Gew98- China, Reich, Poland, others
    -Large ring Mauser was great. It was used by both sides and ws the basis for the 1903 Arisaka, and P14/M1917. It is still the standard which all bolt actions are measured against.

    2 ) 1903A3- USA
    -Nothing wrong with this rifle other than it not being cock on closing. I think the A3 is a better rifle than the original 1903, despite the cost savings that went into making it.
    [b]

    3) Type 38 and type 99 (mauser copies)- Japan
    - Both great rifles with good rounds. Arisakas are often derided as being the worst, but testing revealed that they are exceptionally strong, and even the last ditch rifles performed well.

    4) MAS 36- France
    -good rifle with some good features, but it was made too late without anything really innovative. It's greatest improvement was the caliber.

    5) No1MkIII*, No4 mk I, and No5 MK II Lee Enfields- Australia, UK, Canada, and the rest of the commonwealth
    - good performing rifle with great capacity and speed of operation. It is a somewhat weak action, the rear locking lugs have issues, and the .303 was an artifact before WW1, but the Brits were too broke to replace it. They are no where near the bottom, but they don't deserve the accolades that they are generally given by Anglophiles.


    6) Mosin Nagant (all varients)- USSR, Finland, Baltic states
    - same criticism for the ammunition as with the Enfield and M95, plus bad ergonomics and poor quality finish, but the loose tolerances were turned into an advantage because it reduced the chances of the gun freezing up in the cold weather.

    7) M95 and its variants- Various countries were already obsolete at the beginning of WWII, but they continued to serve. The trench conditions that played such havoc with it in WWI weren't widespread in WWII, and they were generally reserved for reserve and garrison soldiers only. Because they are sensitive to operating dirty and have an en bloc clip (rejected by every post 1891 design), the M95 is definitely in the running. The fact it wasn't used often by combat soldiers and has a rate of fire advantage keeps it from the bottom slot.

    8 ) Carcano- Italy, Finland
    - en bloc clips, round nose bullet, less strong action. The only countries other than Italy who ever used them did so out of desperation. In Finland, they were despised and quickly withdrawn from issue. Italy should have just modernized the bullet they loaded their ammunition with, and switched to an mauser/Arisaka type magazine instead of messing around with the switch to 7.35. If they had done that, they would have ended up with a fine rifle like the Swedish Mauser or type 38 Arisaka. The practice of shortening longer gain twist barrels to carbine length resulted in many carbines with extremely poor accuracy.

    M1888- China, Reich
    -The 88 was used more than most people realize, especially in China, and performed well, but Mannlicher clips, a weak action, and the barrel shroud make the M1888 the worst bolt action, although the fact that they weren't primary weapons makes me leave it un numbered.

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

    I did a study for CAS3 for the best bolt action for WW2 (WW2 issued firearms not WW1 carryovers) and based on my criteria, the Enfield No4Mk1 with quick bolt, ergonomic features, and 10 round magazine came out on top. I liked the 7.35 Carcano, it was a handy carbine which fired a smaller round in a six round en bloc clip. I would say the M1903A3 would be the worst WW2 issued firearm, not the M95, or the others developed for WW1. The Springfield was graded lower due to weight and slightly lost out due to five round capacity, cock on opening IIRC.

    I failed the MAS 36 for not having a safety, a required feature.

    If cost and manufacturability is rated higher, the M91/30 or M1938 scores higher but still does not win over the Enfield using my criteria.
    I have a Right to my Life; I have a Right to the Fruits of my Labor. If you concede the principle of the Income Tax, you concede the principle that the government owns ALL your income and permits you to keep a certain percentage of it.
    ─Ron Paul, interview by Time on Sep 17, 2009.

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    • #3
      Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

      I must agree. I put the Lee Enfield No.4 in my number one slot. The Canadian Long Branch manufacturer having the best grade of metals. Enfields are also the most proofed of all WWI and WWII battle rifles giving them high marks in quality control. The 303 Brit as a cartridge was decades ahead of its time. At 400 meters it is the ballistic equivalent of the 30-06 same entry wound in soft targets while yielding massive ten inch plus exit wounds. The 303 was designed to tumble on impact in a very similar fasion to our beloved 5.56. Additionally it should be noted that the Enfield No.4 is the ONLY battle rifle still on active duty with a modern army. The Canadians employ them with their elite Arctic patrol.

      Number two: the Mauser. The Mauser is art. The 98s are the preferred build for most any custom rifle. The Arisaka and Springfield '03 are Mauser designs as are the original Winchester Model 70 and Remington 700. Often imitated never duplicated. Note: the Turkish Mauser is made of an incredibly soft steel and is an epic fail.

      Number three: the Mosin-Nagant family: 91/30, M-38, M-44 Just something about them. The Russians loved them, the Finns and Sweeds loved them, the Chineese copied them, partisans made them into "Obrez" and we sporterize the crap out of them. They are like the energizer bunny of surplus rifles. It just keeps going and going and going.

      Lastly: the MAS and M-95 were a complete fail. Shoot it once and meh ok. Not something I'd want to be dependent on or lug across Europe.

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      • #4
        Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

        I didn't mention the Krag-Jorgenson, because Norway didn't really fight with them. Same thing with the Dutch, Denmark, and the handful of Baltic countries.

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        • #5
          Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

          From a systems engineering perspective, the Carcano M1938 carbine is the best choice. It was realized by WW2 that modern combat was 300 meters or less. A full power cartridge like the 303 Br, 30-06, 8mm Mauser was way overkill. Small carbines for < 300 meters, machine guns for over. You do not need dialed in sights for < 300 meters but something better than the Mauser sighting system. I liked the obvious thumb operated safety of the Carcano. Finally, it had the best round for under 300 meters, the 7.35 Carcano. Although not ideal, it was more suited for < 300 meters than its peers.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.35%C3%9751mm_Carcano

          A disadvantage is that you needed a clip to make it bolt action semi automatic, otherwise it was a single shot.

          This is not to say in execution that the M1938 Carcano did great, there were supply problems and the 7.35 round was not accuracy made.
          I have a Right to my Life; I have a Right to the Fruits of my Labor. If you concede the principle of the Income Tax, you concede the principle that the government owns ALL your income and permits you to keep a certain percentage of it.
          ─Ron Paul, interview by Time on Sep 17, 2009.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

            The older WW ll marines claimed the the Japanese rifles were rotten.
            (That of course IS hear say on my part,,but they were there and have first hand experience.)
            Karl

            [url]http://grrrscave.blogspot.com/[/url]

            Keep those e-mails and calls to your Congress people coming.

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            • #7
              Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

              The 7.35 round never really got used much. Italy primarily fought WWII with the 6.5x51. The Italians that went to Russia were armed with the 7.35 Carcanos, but they all got swapped out to 6.5s and the 7.35s ended up mostly in Finland which didn't like them. The 7.35x51 was an improvement over the 6.5, but lik I said, they easily could have gone with a Spitzer 6.5 bullet and done the same thing with an "S" bore that Germany did.

              That isn't a problem for the reloader though, and we can use a spitzer bullet. A calvary carbine with 6.5 spitzer bullets, adjustable rear sight, and mauser/Arisaka magazine would have been one of the better weapons of WWII if it had existed.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

                I like the Enfield best. While it may have some theory craft errors, the criticism of it is not backed by statistics from two world wars....


                In terms of the worst, toss a coin in the air, put Italy on one side and Japan on the other.

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                • #9
                  Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

                  I complain about the Carcano, but I have several in my safe, and tomorrow I'm going to buy another Calvary Carbine with folding spike. This one has the more intricate rear sight, my old one has the fixed rear notch.

                  I have the dies for 6.5 and some brass. If I was more , not me, I'd work up a 6.5 Carcano load as well as a 6.5 Arisaka load. I have both guns in my collection, I'd like to have ammo for them. I don't think they use the same diameter 6.5mm bullets.

                  That's part of the reason I've stayed away from Swedish Mausers. They're 6.5 too, and that's just too much to keep track of. It's irrelevant anyhow, because Sweden was neutral in the war for the most part, and the focus of my collection is issued weapons or facsimiles of The rifles from the wars of the 20th century.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

                    The M96 Sweed is arguably one of the sweetest bolts I've ever fired. Having owned over a dozen I dare say you are missing out!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

                      Other than very limited issue to the Finns, I don't think the Swede Mausers ever fired a shot in anger. That eliminates it as the best/worst WWII bolt gun for the same reason the K31 can't be considered.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

                        I've got examples of at least some of the rifles used on every side during the Second World War, including an Arisaka (Which isn't a bad rifle, actually.) and way more other ones than I want to get off into listing.

                        The only one I've never owned is a MAS-36. I did shoot one a couple of times, and while I was not terribly impressed, they did work right, and I could hit somewhere in the general vicinity of what I was aiming at with them.

                        I've got two Carcanos, and I still wonder why anyone would issue one of those to their troops. Those things just ain't right, even with fresh ammo I reloaded myself.

                        The spooky part is that the two that really didn't get used, (The 6.5 Swede and the 7.5 Swiss) are better than anything else going at the time, barring the Garand or the Enfields. I might include the Finn Mosins as superior, or at least as good, but that's the ball game.

                        The Mausers are acceptably capable, but other than a few of my Turks, I've never been impressed. The GEW-98 is a lot better than the K98k, IMO.

                        Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

                          I have heard lots of people praise that 6.5 Swede. Can't say that I have ever seen one though.
                          Guido

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                          • #14
                            Re: Worst bolt action of WWII

                            Originally posted by Cuznguido View Post
                            I have heard lots of people praise that 6.5 Swede. Can't say that I have ever seen one though.
                            Were I doing an either/or with them or the 7.5 Swiss, I'll take the K-31 Swiss every time, but it's close.

                            Just to note, the Garand or a good Enfield are pretty much just as good, if you get a decent one (Easy with a CMP Garand, and a bit spottier with the Enfield), but I've never had a bad K-31, and you don't want to know how many of them I have, and I ain't telling. More than two is all I'm saying.



                            I've only got one 6.5 Swede, but am in the market for another, when I run onto what I want, which will happen sooner or later on Gunbroker, if nowhere else.
                            Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.

                            Comment

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