How come all the major WW1 rifles were bolt action?

How come all the major WW1 rifles were bolt action?

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The main disadvantage of bolt action is that one has to remove the right hand from the trigger which leads to slower rate of fire. Neither lever nor pump have this problem. Rate of fire was viewed as an important military issue which lead to development of repeating rifles in the first place. Nevertheless, all major WW1 rifles (Mauser, Lee-Enfield, Mosin-Nagant, Springfield, tube(!) magazine Lebel) were bolt action. WHY?

The lever action mechanism does look "flimsy" (not "military-grade strong") when opened, this, I guess, might be the reason not to use it (although the Russians used Winchester Model 1895 - but they were generally starved for weapons).

When firing from a trench (with the rifle lying on the breastwork), the advantage of pump action obviously disappears (and could even be a liability due to dirt getting under the slider) - but no army planned to fight from trenches before the WW1.

The bolt action rifles were using more powerful center-fire cartridges (in box magazines) than the rim-fire cartridges (in tubular magazines) usually used with lever- and pump-action guns. This does not sound like a good reason - I don't see why the slider in pump action gun cannot operate the same magazine as the bolt-action.

So, how come all the major WW1 rifles were bolt action?

Why didn't they try to make a pump action rifle with a powerful long-range cartridge? (it's not impossible, e.g., Remington Model 7600)

Most of the rifles used in WWI were designed, adopted and procured 10-20 years prior during a period of great upheaval in military rifle technology. In the decades leading up to WWI there was a great change in ammunition which most lever designs could not accommodate. Militaries were rapidly adopting rounds with better ballistics in addition to larger and more powerful ammunition. The US Army went from the .45-70-405 in 1873 to the .30-40 Krag in 1892, then the .30-03 in 1903 and finally the very powerful .30-06 in 1906 with a Spitzer bullet (the classic pointed round).

The increased muzzle velocities and pressures of the newer rounds strained the reliability of existing designs, and levers would have it worse. Spitzer bullets were a problem in tubular magazines (see below). Changing a rifle to use a different and more powerful round is not trivial and would have caused problems with existing designs. Lever designs had the additional disadvantages of using a tubular magazine, more complicated mechanism and generally used lighter rounds. When WWI broke out, most armies were concerned with procuring existing, reliable designs. For example, the Lee-Enfield was supposed to be rechambered with a smaller around but was aborted by the outbreak of WWI.

There are disadvantages with the tubular magazines normally associated with lever actions versus box magazines associated with bolt action rifles. They hold less ammunition than a box magazine, and the pointed center-fire rounds used by militaries could go off in the tube.

Bolt action rifles are easier to fire prone, which was how you were often expected to be fighting. Trench warfare was not planned, and shooting standing up from firing blocks was not expected.

Since bolt actions have less moving parts which require less fine machining, they're cheaper, more durable, easier to field strip and clean, and can use a more powerful round. This is very important when you're talking about buying and maintaining a million rifles.

Not all lever actions had these disadvantages. The Winchester Model 1895 used a box magazine and were very sturdy. It could handle the 7.62x54mm used by the Russians. They bought 300,000 and was used extensively by front line troops. Here's a great shot of it in use and here's Forgotten Weapons speaking about and shooting the rifle, another about the Russian Winchester in more detail, and finally a very successful mud test demonstrating its viability in the trenches of WWI. At the end of that video, Ian McCollum discusses why lever actions were not adopted…

… for a long time the lever actions available were basically in pistol caliber cartridges. Until you got to the Winchester 1886 you had fairly weak lever action designs that were only capable of .44-40 and earlier even wimpier rim fire cartridges like the .44 Henry. Military forces didn't want light powered cartridges like those, they wanted heavy military rifle cartridges which wasn't an option in early lever action rifles. By the time it became an option, like this rifle [the Winchester 1895], first off, for a long time you still had - well, for like 10 years - you were still limited to tube magazines which might be fine for something like a flat nosed .45-70 but the military wanted pointed bullets and a tube magazine just isn't really effectively compatible… By the time you got to a rifle like this which is both capable of using a full power rifle cartridge and has a box magazine, so that you don't have the issue of bullet tips hitting primers, at this point everyone's got bolt actions, they're easier to work prone, they're generally considered stronger, and they were generally favored by military forces. So, really, the reason military forces didn't use rifles like this is this came along too late and is just didn't have the opportunity to be given a fair shake.

To quote from Field and Stream (1909):

All sportsmen are familiar with the bolt action military rifle and the lever-action sporting rifle. Each has advantages over the other according to how and where it is to be used. The strength, durability and ease of repair of the military bolt type appeals lo the sportsman going out for big game in the wilderness, away from civilization and a repair shop; while the man who is going to hunt near home for his game, is often attracted by the appearance, weight, balance and speed of fire of the lever action rifle.

My addition to this assessment would be to note that in the field, range is king. If your unit has rifles with an effective range of 600 yards (typical bolt action carbine) and the enemy's rifles have a range of 150 yards (Winchester repeater) you will have a big advantage. In that scenario the greater rate of fire of the repeater is relatively unimportant.

One reason might be that infantry doctrine prior to and during most of WWI still considered the bayonet charge a valid tactic. Indeed giving the enemy a 'taste of cold steel' had an almost mythical effectiveness and was seen as the ultimate goal of the infantryman.

As a result an infantry rifle had to be rugged enough to be used as a spear. A pump action tube magazine is probably not ideal to fit a bayonet lug around, but more significantly the slide would be a serious inconvenience for a bayonet thrust. It's also probably much more prone to damage being used in such a way than a closed bolt action.

Underbarrel magazines have many shortcomings:

  • displacement of the center of mass during shooting
  • placement of rounds one after another makes the rifle sensitive to shocks
  • the feed mechanism is more complicated and less reliable
  • and reloading this magazine is not as fast as with a box magazine (with en-bloc clip or stripper clip).

A bolt action is much simpler and more rugged than a lever action or pump action. The rate of fire on a battlefield is also subject to the weapon becoming inoperable.

The bolt action isn't as adversely affected by dirt and mud, and battlefields tend to have a lot of dirt and mud. Most of the bolt action's workings are external and tend to be self clearing, and the bolt can be removed quickly by flipping a lock tab that lets the bolt be pulled out if quick service was needed. No small parts to get lost in the process, too, the bolt remains one piece when removed.

Both lever and pump actions have fairly complex workings internally, that would be fouled by accumulated dirt getting inside the rifle's frame and staying there, and require a lot of time to disassemble the action to clear that dirt, assuming one didn't lose any of the internal parts while trying to clear them.

Rifles with tubular magazines face a number of problems on the battlefield, on top of the complex inner workings and vulnerability to dirt. The tube can become damaged, unless it is made with very thick metal (as the early Henry lever action rifles were), increasing the weight of the rifle.

And then there is the matter of the bullets. A powerful rifle round like the 8mm Mauser or 30.06 also has a pointed (Spitzer) bullet to extend the range even further. Put those rounds in in a tubular magazine, and that pointed bullet will be resting on the next round's primer. The recoil of the rifle can cause that pointed bullet to impact the next round's primer and set it off in the tube, something that did happen regularly when the Spitzer style bullets were first tried out in tubular magazines. Most lever action rounds tend to have blunt bullets, to prevent that from happening.

Theoretically, a rugged gas operated rifle like the Garand could have been developed in WW1, it was well within 1914 machining techniques. But, the Garand wasn't developed until the 1930's. Since machine guns in general were fairly new in WW1, the idea of a semi-automatic rifle for infantry use was beyond most military strategists to visualize. In fact, the Garand was the only semi-automatic rifle that saw widespread use in WW2… the other standard infantry rifles were the Mauser 98 (Germany), SMLE (UK), Arisaka (Japan), Moisin-Nagant (USSR), all bolt action.

Actually, several weapon systems were developed during WW1 that were not bolt action. The Pedersen Device mated to the existing M1903 Springfield rifle, the RSC Model 1917, and the ever popular Browning Automatic Rifle to name a few. I understand that the BAR was not intended to be a standard service rifle, but it does deserve a mention because of its impact on subsequent assault rifle development.

Some like the Pedersen and RSC were developed to take advantage of existing service rifles by simple conversion. Unfortunately, many others were rejected due to mechanical unreliability, late development or just the simple cost of rearming units with the newer weapons.

The 1907 Mondragon and the M1916 Mauser self-loading rifles both saw service, but only for a short time and, in the case of the Mauser, in restricted use. I have also heard, though I have not been able to verify it, the some Schmidt Rubin 1911 straight-pull bolt rifles somehow made their way into the war by way of Bavaria.

Bolt action rifles were quicker and easier to produce, were generally more reliable and could handle the pressures of the larger cartridges favored by most general staffs throughout the world. Still, designers and engineers saw the potential that self-loading rifles would have for future conflict. Consider this, that even though assault rifles are now as ubiquitous on the battlefield as the bolt action rifles were in WW1, the Schmidt Rubin K31 remained in service with the Swiss until the late 1950s!

Hope I helped.

There's a safety reason; namely, should the round explode in the barrel, the bolt will flip up but should remain in place forcing the blast forward and protecting the shooter. Since (as WW2 showed) almost no infantry ever even fired their weapon, a bolt action rifle was more than sufficient. As an added bonus, with a bolt action you can alwasy check to see if you've chambered a round. With a Winchester you might forget and eject a very valuable piece of ammo. You are also noisier with a lever action too.

A bolt action is deadly quiet with a round chambered… heavy, but deadly accurate. The sniper battles of WW1 were really amazing… 1000+ yard kills were not uncommon at all on the Western Front.

Mirrors, snap shots, quick reloads, excellent barrel life… that Springfield is still deadly even today.

Early German Bolt-Action Sporters Set a Standard

Haenel-Mannlicher, circa 1909, fitted with a Lyman Model 36 receiver sight and Lawrence sling. The sight appears to have been fitted at the factory, but it is impossible to say for certain.

In the years before 1914 one could find, tucked away in a corner of the Sears, Roebuck catalog, a listing for a bolt-action sporting rifle from Germany. Variously listed as a Mannlicher, or a Haenel-Mannlicher, or sometimes just a C.G. Haenel (pronounced HY-nul), these rifles were the first steps in a trend that became a deluge: Bolt-action sporting rifles based on military actions.

Generally now known as Haenel-Mannlichers, these German bolt-action rifles were not cheap. In the 1902 Sears catalog, the price was $24.50. By comparison, a Winchester Model 95 listed at only $17.50. What made the German import worth 50 percent more than this state-of-the-art lever rifle? And why, when Model 95s are prized by collectors, are Haenel-Mannlichers all but forgotten except for a few devotees of early custom rifles?

There are two answers to that question, and relative quality has nothing to do with it. They are both finely made rifles, and some of the Haenels especially so.

For most gun collectors, the era of sporting bolt rifles began with the Mauser 98.

Everything good and modern occurred after that, they believe, and nothing much before. But such was not the case. In the frenzy of rifle development in Europe between the arrival of smokeless powder in 1886 and the ultimate Mauser in 1898, several good military bolt rifles made their debut. For sporting purposes, the most significant by far was the German Commission rifle of 1888.

For military collectors, the Gewehr ’88 is almost a cult object, and while it has been widely written about, it is also widely misunderstood. It is sometimes described as a Mauser with Mannlicher features, and sometimes the reverse. In reality, however, the Commission rifle was neither Mauser nor Mannlicher, but that rarest of creatures: A mechanical device designed by committee that was highly successful.

Its stint as the official infantry rifle of the German Army was short-lived – only 10 years – but it went on to a successful career in every corner of the globe as both military rifle and, in its converted form, a hunting rifle. So good was the Commission action that Steyr, in Austria, which manufactured the ’88 under contract for Berlin, modified it into a hunting rifle. The result was the famous Mannlicher-Schönauer Model 1903, a design that set the standard for quality hunting rifles for the next 70 years.

Steyr was not the only company to appreciate the virtues of the Commission rifle. C.G. Haenel, a prominent German gunmaking company in Suhl, also made Commission rifles under contract. Founded by Carl Gottlieb Haenel in 1840, C.G. Haenel & Co. quickly became a force in German gunmaking and, like most German firms, produced sporting weapons when it was not filling military contracts.

Haenel’s civilian rifles on the Commission action followed the German hunting rifle style that existed since the advent of centerfire cartridges. Most had half-octagon barrels with full or partial matted ribs, matted receiver ring, folding leaf sights, schnabel fore-ends and elegant turned-down bolt handles. There was usually a stock-bolt in the fore-end, and sometimes they were fitted with receiver sights. Most had double-set triggers. While the majority were chambered for the standard military 8吵 cartridge (usually the original .318” bullet, rather than the later .323”) they were also offered in pure hunting cartridges like the 9吵.

The conversion to a Mauser-style box magazine with hinged floorplate is one of the most beautifully executed floorplate-release mechanisms ever made – far superior to almost any modern rifle, including some ultra-high-dollar custom rifles. It is crisp, positive and unfailing. This rifle also has an excellent double-set trigger.

The first importer of Haenel-Mannlichers was Oscar Hesse of New Jersey, who began bringing them into the U.S. in 1894. There was a strong connection between German shooting clubs in the U.S., German immigrant gunmakers and the German companies, so more and more importers got into the act, and each, it seemed, stipulated little changes to the overall design. As a result, the number of minor variations seems endless.

This brings us back to the two major reasons there is only minor collector interest in these rifles. The first, of course, is the lack of a famous name such as Winchester. The second is the impossibility of classifying rifles by model and year. Model classification and certifiable originality are the backbone of gun collecting, and with Haenel-Mannlichers and other civilian rifles based on the Commission action, this is almost impossible. There were too many importers at this end, too many small gunmakers at the other end, and far too many variations in between.

For the modern rifle lover though, Haenels in their many guises offer an opportunity to own a rifle of stellar quality for not much money. The materials, workmanship and finishing are comparable to fine, modern, custom rifles. On the negative side, they are chambered for cartridges like the 8吵 and 9吵 that by today’s standards are relatively low velocity and suitable only for short-range hunting.

Collecting Haenel-Mannlichers may never make you any money, but it can lead into exploration of a fascinating byway in the history of the sporting rifle. You will find early Mannlichers from Steyr as well as German and Austrian custom makers, and you will find custom-ordered takedown rifles and modified Gewehr ’88s.

There was life before the Mauser 98 and the evidence lies — as with so much of American life — in the pages of the old Sears, Roebuck wish book.

Why were bolt action rifles used instead of lever action rifles in WWI?

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Small arms used in WW1 were for the most part the result of doctrinal inertia and decisions made in the decades leading up to the war. While there existed rifles in 1914 that were roughly on par with the bolt-action service rifles of the day (like the Winchester 1895 and Savage 1895), technology and doctrine prior to the war led to the widespread adoption of bolt-actions.

Going all the way back to the earliest available lever-actions, the problem was a reluctance to adopt magazine rifles in general. At a time when supply was a major issue for even armies relying on slow-firing muzzle loading rifles, magazine rifles faced resistance from leadership that feared undisciplined soldiers would fire off ammunition in a panic and exacerbate already poor supply situations. Thus, armies across the world moved towards single-shot breech-loading systems instead of magazine rifles like breech-loaders. During this period, bolt-actions became popular, although outliers like the Trapdoor Springfield, Martini-Henry, and Werndl stand out. Gradually armies became less averse to magazine rifles and began experimenting with such, but the available magazine rifles at that point generally drew heavily from existing systems, and, in the case of the Gewehr 71/84, were modifications of existing service rifles.

By the time armies had started considering magazine rifles, lever-actions had failed to gain widespread adoption for another critical failing. While service rifles of the time were expected to have an effective range of several hundred yards, lever-action rifles of the time were chambered in weaker cartridges that had significantly shorter effective ranges. Instances exist dating back to the Civil War of piecemeal adoption of lever-actions with great effect, but the short effective range of these weapons was generally noted in those instances. It wouldn't be until the development of the Winchester 1886 that there existed a widely-available lever-action rifle chambered in a standard military rifle caliber of the time (.45-70), but that very same year, smokeless gunpowder caused another radical change in rifle development.

The shift to smokeless powder would lead to the development and adoption of the rifles used in WW1, and with it came a new generation of significantly more powerful cartridges. The added power of smokeless powder cartridges would force the development of entirely new weapons, as existing black-powder rifles weren't capable of handing the kinds of pressures produced by the new ammunition. Here was the first real opportunity for a lever-action rifle to be adopted as a standard service weapon. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar enough to speak in detail about the major powers, but the end result was widespread adoption of more bolt-action rifles. The French hastily reworked the Kropatschek into their 1886 Lebel, the Austrians adapted an update of the 1886 Mannlicher (Steyr 1888), the Germans developed the 1888 commission rifle that was a mix of several different designs. Most other powers adopted something that was either a development of a Mauser or Mannlicher system. The real outliers were the British and Americans, but as far as I know the British were the only power to consider anything resembling a lever-action rifle for their magazine rifle.

When World War 1 broke out, every power went in with either a variant of their original smokeless powder rifle or a similar bolt-action system. The extreme demands of the war would cause a surge in rifle production, but production concentrated on what was already in service. The only instances of lever-action rifles that were adopted in frontline use were several hundred thousand Winchester 1895s purchased by the Russians owing to extreme rifle shortages. In secondary roles, we see some older Winchester models adopted by the French and British, and a small order of Savage Model 1895s purchased by Quebec to free up standard weapons for the front. One thing to note is that the Winchester 1895 did perform reasonably well and would see extensive service as late as the Spanish Civil War.

More can always be said but /u/Meesus covers the topic here.

While the answers so far have been great, one thing to add is that one nation did use lever action rifles in the first world war. That nation being Imperial Russia, who in addition to their Mosin Nagant rifles used Winchester M1895's chambered in 7.62×54mmR (R denoting rimmed). Which used stripper clip fed, fixed box magazines rather than tube magazines. Which when coupled with a new locking system allowed for the use of spitzer cartridges (such as 7.62×54mmR). In total the Russias ordered 300,000 of these rifles which were used both on the eastern front against the Germans and also during the following Russian civil war.

In theory a lever action rifle might seem to be just the thing for combat in the early 20th century, since the large size of the magazine (more than a dozen rounds often) would be a huge advantage. While such rifles were used in WWI, they weren't ever adopted as the main service rifle for any major power. When you look at the tradeoffs in industrialized massed warfare a lot of the seeming advantages of a lever action rifle don't hold up.

Lever action rifles use tubular magazines, while bolt action rifles use vertically stacked magazines. One of the concerns with tubular magazines is proper feeding with rounds that have pointed projectiles, it's potentially easy for the point of a round to get pushed to the side in a tubular magazine, where it might get wedged beside the next round. Also, any jam in a tubular magazine is harder to clear compared to a box style vertically stacked magazine.

Most turn of the 20th century lever action rifles use ammunition that for the time was impressive but became less so as rifle technology advanced. Most such rounds are basically upscaled pistol ammunition, with lead "ball" projectiles (a classic example being the .44-40 Winchester round). This was great in 1870, but by the 1880s bolt action rifles were using ammunition with twice the muzzle velocity and copper jacketed aerodynamic bullets (FMJ, spitzer, or expanding projectiles). Twice the muzzle velocity translates to 4x the muzzle energy. Better aerodynamics and higher speeds means much better accuracy and much longer ranges with superior terminal ballistics. These rounds have much longer overall lengths than those old lever action rounds, so if you wanted to build a lever action rifle that shot them youɽ get correspondingly less magazine capacity (since the capacity is more or less equal to the functional magazine length divided by the individual round length). Which meant that you had to take some major compromises if you wanted to use lever action rifles instead of bolt action rifles. You had to accept using lower powered bullets with shorter effective ranges, less accuracy, and weaker terminal ballistics, or you had to accept lower magazine capacity.

Most of the militaries of WWI weren't willing to compromise on bullet range and accuracy, which is a major reason why bolt action rifles were so ubiquitous. Additionally, many armies used machine guns that fired the same rounds as the service bolt action rifles. For example, the Chauchat and the Berthier/Lebel, the Mauser and the MG 08/15, the Lewis Gun and the Lee-Enfield. Using common ammunition for service rifles and machine guns is a huge logistical advantage because you don't need to split up manufacturing capacity, have separate sets of tooling, etc.

An even more important factor here is reloading. If you're in a firefight that lasts 2 minutes a Winchester lever action is fantastic, 15 rounds is a tremendous amount of ammunition in small engagements, and you will likely not need to reload. However, if you're in a battle lasting hours or even days, with massed forces on both sides, reloading is going to be a much bigger factor. And here the lever action shows its great weakness. A typical lever action must be reloaded one round at a time through the loading gate. A typical WWI-era bolt action rifle (such as the Berthier, Mauser, or Springfield) could be reloaded from a clip (5-rounds being common). With a bolt action rifle you do have a shorter amount of firing time and you have to reload more often, but being able to reload 5-rounds at a time quickly means that there is less downtime and the time averaged sustained rate of fire is higher. Which, in the context of shooting as part of a multi-person fire team or squad means that the overall volume of fire is higher and the windows of vulnerability during reloading are shorter and less likely to overlap between individuals. Also, it requires less manual dexterity to push a clip into a magazine than to individually load 5 rounds through a loading gate, this is important in battlefield conditions.

Edit: I can't believe I forgot to mention one of the most important factors: shooting prone. When shooting prone or shooting from a rest (such as a berm or the side of a trench) with a bolt action rifle you don't necessarily even break your sight picture, and you can keep your overall body position. When shooting prone with a lever action rifle you have to raise the gun or turn it sideways, break your sight picture, break your body position, etc. All of which is undesirable if you're trying to place well-aimed shots at long distance.

Why did it take so long for militaries to evolve from using single-shot rifles to repeating firearms?

Muskets, single shot rifles and muzzle loaded weapons were often used in many wars, including the Zulu wars, American Civil War, etc. But why did it take so long to move on from those rifles to weapons like bolt action rifles and lever-action rifles?

Throughout the period when at first cartridge firearms, and then especially repeating firearms were introduced and became popular there were a great many earlier, experimental iterations that were at best unreliable, and were more often prone to exploding in the user's hands or face rather than firing a bullet downrange.

Such fiddly, experimental, unreliable, and often also incredibly expensive weapons were not suitable for adoption by a military that would require thousands or tens of thousands of the firearms to equip their troops.

Even once the technologies had proven themselves, and manufacturing techniques allowed for the weapons to be built more economically, most armies had already invested in huge numbers of often very well built, reliable single-shot weapons. It was hard to justify the expense of throwing away those perfectly good guns to replace them with new-fangled, largely unproven weapons without a lot of testing, and (unfortunately) a lot of encounters with hostile forces armed with those repeating firearms that showed just how much of a disadvantage the single-shot weapons were.

An additional potential "reason" was the continued use of black powder in rifle cartridges-- Until the advent of smokeless powder, most nations used black powder. Black powder is very "dirty", and will gum up precisely machined guns very rapidly, thus turning them into expensive pieces of junk until they can be cleaned. Once smokeless powder was developed and being used in ammunition, repeaters were much more practical.

Lever actions were never widely adopted by militaries.

You don't really mention breech-loading weapons, which is odd because they were cutting-edge in the period of the Anglo-Zulu War and the ACW.

Just prior to the adoption of breech-loaders, the main innovation was the minie ball, which allowed for rifled muskets firing accurate high-velocity bullets.

The very first "bolt-action" rifle in wide adoption was the Dreyse gun, adopted in 1842. This early adoption came with trade-offs however, as it had troubled production, lower range and accuracy, and an awkward projectile arc. It used a conventional bullet rather than a minie ball.

In general, militaries have the need to supply arms and ammunition to very large amounts of people, so new weapons can be different to adopt. More technologically advanced weapons also tend to be more complicated, and setting up the production line for a new type of weapon or ammunition can be unacceptable, especially if a war is actively happening. This is what happened for the ACW, expanding production or making small improvements of pre-existing muskets and minie balls was the only way to arm the 100,000s of soldiers.

Actually it didnt take them that long at all. The move from singe shot bore and breach loading rifles to magazine fed repeaters like winchester lever actions and krag and mauser bolt actions took maybe 30 years, and by the time of ww1 many nations were already experimenting and even fielding semi automatic rifles, or as the called them back then “auto loading” rifles.

By ww1, bolt action technology had a bit of time to refine into extremely reliable rifles that were very hard to jam or become disabled by damage or dirt. There were lots of prototype auto loading semi automatic rifles by ww1, but the issue was that they were very finicky and jammed easily in the harsh conditions of combat. Dirt and sand, carbon build up from the early gas systems made them become dirty very fast, so a lot of militaries by then chose to pass on them. Rifles are useless if they jam up all the time. Germany, italy, and russia were among a few off hand that tried to field experimental semi autos in ww1, but the rifles were mainly confined to cleaner spaces like on airships and in urban environments, they did not see much effectiveness on the field in the trenches in the mud and muck.

The us was the first nation to full scale adopt a semi automatic rifle for standard issue, the m1 garand, in the 1930s. Even by the time of ww2, most nations around the world were still using bolt action rifles as their standard issue rifles, with exception to german and russian stg44, g43, and svt40. Even those rifles were not standard issue, they would have been issued to specialized troops or the most accurate soldiers in each unit.

Al together, we went from using a muzzle loading rifle in the 1860s, by the 1890s we had phased in bolt actions, and by the 1930s we have phased in semi automatics. Thats a pretty short time considering that muzzle loading rifles had been standard for over 2 centuries by that point.

Edit: i misread your post and thought you were questioning about auto loading rifles rather than repeating rifles, my apologies.


The 22-caliber rimfire bolt-action rifle owns a warm sport in the heart of many shooters because they were often the first rifle that many of us fired. Many pleasant hours are spent with such a rifle. The experience unites shooters across a spectrum of lifestyles. But in the present, the bolt rimfire can also be an economical, accurate, and reliable firearm for plinking, small-game hunting, and informal target practice. The bolt action rifle has a reputation for superior accuracy over the self-loader, and, overall, our testing proves this out. In this report, we test a quartet of entry-level and higher-end rifles to see what it takes to get our money's worth, however that is defined. Our test guns this round included the Savage Mark II F 26700, $231 the CZ-USA CZ 455 American 02110, $400 the Marlin XT 22RZ 70763, $220 and the Savage Mark II BTV 28750, $390.

Accuracy testing was conducted with three loads. Winchester's M22 loading came from ($75/1000) supplied the CCI Velocitor ($7.40/50) and Fiocchi's HV rounds ($6.50/50) originated from We also conducted side tests with low-velocity subsonic loads, including the CCI Segmented load. For offhand shooting, we used Winchester M22 rounds to gauge the rifles' smoothness and handling in firing at targets at known and unknown ranges.

There were no defects that made any rifle less desirable, when the price points were considered. The two inexpensive rifles gave a credible performance. For small-game hunting at treetop height and out to 25 yards, there would be little reason to spend a lot. In fact, you'd have to go out to 50 yards to see the Savage BTV was the most accurate rifle.

Rimfire Field-Rifle Shoot-out: Marlin, Mossberg, and Ruger

In this installment, we test three rimfire rifles from three makers. The genre is the very popular and flexible field-gun description. The 22 LR rifle is an excellent trainer, a favorite recreational shooter, and a great small-game rifle. The rimfire is the one rifle every rifleman must have. The field gun is by definition, and the definition is liberal, a versatile go-anywhere get-anything shooter. Informal practice and small-game shooting are great pastimes. And while we are not focusing on personal defense, we should note that a good quality 22-caliber self-loader is a formidable firearm in skilled hands. Is a 22 LR a self-defense chambering we'd recommend? No. Have untold numbers of bad guys been deterred by being hit with a 22 LR round fired from a pistol or rifle? Yes. So reliability is important as well.

The rifle we are looking for should be light but not too light. It should be light enough for carrying for a day in the field, but it should have sufficient heft for good offhand shooting. While we carefully measure accuracy by firing from a solid bench rest, we also want a rifle that retains a good portion of its accuracy in offhand fire. Thus, a good balance of weight and a decent trigger action are desirable traits.

Historically, probably more 22 LR rifles have been set up as bolt actions, but because of their light recoil and shot-to-shot speed, self-loading rifles are the biggest sellers today. To keep prices in check, we selected a mix of readily available used and new firearms as well as optics for greater coverage of the best choices. As noted above, reliability is always important, but in this test, we allowed that if the firearm occasionally ties up and we lose a squirrel, we were more willing to give a gun a pass than if we were testing personal-defense firearms. It is almost a given that a 22 self-loading rifle malfunctions from time to time, and the fault is more often due to the construction of the 22 rimfire cartridge than any other single variable. We searched for ideal rifles and found some good picks. All had good points. Here's how they performed on a gun-by-gun basis.

We Take a Close Look at a Rare Springfield M2 22 LR Bolt Gun

The great Springfield Model of 1903 saw service in the first World War, and was upgraded along the way to many types and model variations. Around 1918 or 󈥳 it was first made in 22 caliber, when Springfield brought out the predecessor to the Model 1922. That first effort apparently was not a great job. Then along came Julian Hatcher and some other designers, who modified the early efforts into what became known as the Model 1922 Springfield. This was a five-shot, magazine-fed 22 LR with a stock that did not have an upper hand guard. In 1937 the rifle was again redone and renamed the Springfield M2, 22LR. These were manufactured until 1942. If you're interested in adding a collectible to your armory that has plenty of history, but which can still shoot, here's what you need to know before you begin searching for one.

Historic Bolt-Action 22 Rifles: Remington Versus Winchester

For this test of vintage bolt-action 22 rifles, we had the loan of two old-timers, a Remington Nylon 12 and a Winchester Model 69A. We tested with three types of ammo, Wolf, CCI Velocitor, and Blazer, all in Long Rifle persuasion. Both rifles were supposed to handle Shorts and Longs too, so we also tried a few of them. Both rifles fed Long Rifles, Longs, Shorts and also CB caps perfectly. The Winchester's longer barrel made lots less noise with Shorts and especially the CB caps than the Remington. The report of CB's out of the long-barreled Winchester was just a click. Are these old rifles worth looking into? Let's see what we found.

Firelapping an Ancient Marlin

22 LR Takedowns: Browning, Ruger, Marlin Go Head to Head

We recently had the pleasure of testing one of the first copies of Ruger's just-announced new 10/22 Takedown, $389, and as is usual in this magazine, we wanted to test it against other takedown rifles. To that end we organized the simultaneous testing of the age-old but still in production semi-auto Browning SA-22, $700, and the even older lever-action design by Marlin, the 39A, $702. All of these rifles come apart easily for storage or transportation. Other than that feature, the rifles were miles apart in design and also in overall weight. However, considerations of not only weight but also shortness, ease of disassembly, and retained accuracy when reassembled, have major effects on the choices of one or the other of these for boat, off-road, or light-aircraft use. We kept that in mind as we examined each one. We tested with Federal AutoMatch, Eley Match EPS, CCI MiniMag solids, and Winchester Power Point HPs. Here's what we found.

Military Replica Rimfire Rifles: Mossberg, Citadel, and ISSC

One reason to produce rimfire replicas of military weapons is to help familiarize the shooter with how each gun operates at a fraction of the price of buying and feeding the corresponding centerfire model. If this isn't fun enough, then consider the history and the innovation that each rifle offers the shooter ahead of simpler rimfire designs. We last tested military-replica semiautomatic rimfire rifles in the February 2010 issue ("Tactical-Style 22 LR Carbines: Ruger, S&W, Legacy Duke It Out"), with the majority of the roster being taken up by the AR-15 design. In this test we will evaluate only one such rifle, Mossberg's $276 715T Tactical 22. Our second replica rifle represents a bygone era and the third a modern design. Our old-timer was the $399 Citadel M-1 22 Carbine made in Italy by Chiappa. The $609 German-made ISSC MK22 Desert Tan rifle with folding stock was a replica of the SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle). Both the MK22 and the M-1 Carbine are imported by Legacy Sports International of Reno, Nevada.

For accuracy tests, we fired from the 50-yard line with support from the Caldwell Tack Driver sandbag rest. Test ammunition was the same 40-grain assortment we used the April 2012 test of more traditional semi-automatic rifles. Two rounds featured copper-plated bullets. They were CCI's Mini Mag and CCI's AR Tactical 22 ammunition. We also fired Federal's Auto Match rounds, which launched a lead solid bullet. We also tried a variety of hollowpoint ammunition to assess versatility, but elected to fire shots of record with our roundnosed selections so we could compare results directly with our earlier tests.

Each one of our test guns arrived with open sights. In fact, the MK22/SCAR offered two aiming solutions in one set of fold-down sights. We wanted to know how well all of these sight packages worked. In addition, each rifle offered a way to mount a scope. We wanted to know how efficiently this option could be accomplished and its effect on accuracy. We began our accuracy tests using only the supplied open sights. Then, we mounted the same variable power 1-4X power scopes used in last month's rimfire rifle tests. Firing only the most accurate round per each gun, we then recorded additional 5-shot groups from the 50-yard bench. All three rifles fired at least 300 rounds over three days of testing with no more maintenance than an occasional spray of Rem Oil into the chamber and on the bolt. Let's see how they scored.

Semi-automatic Rifles: We Test CZ, Remington, Savage Rimfires

As centerfire-rifle ammunition prices jump up and down, many shooters get more interested in accurate rimfire rifles that shoot affordable, available 22 Long Rifle cartridges. We recently tested three semi-automatic rifles chambered for 22 LR that showed promise of being more than just plinkers: The $325 Savage Arms model 64 TR SR V Savage, CZ-USA's $465 model 512, and the $595 Remington 597 TVP. Each gun fired from a detachable magazine, but offered different profile stocks. The Savage resembled a precision rifle that might be used for tactical applications or benchrest competition. The Remington stock was a thumb-through design fully relieved to offer a full pistol grip to the shooter. The CZ offered the most traditional outline with a somewhat rectangular receiver mated to a fine wood stock. All three rifles came with scope mounts in place, and only the CZ rifle was equipped with sights.

To test for baseline accuracy we fired each rifle from the 50-yard line utilizing benchrest support. For optics, we chose low-power variable power scopes with circle-X reticles for rapid target acquisition. Test ammunition consisted of three high-velocity rounds topped with 40-grain bullets. Both our CCI Mini Mag and AR Tactical rounds were copper plated. Federal's new Auto Match fired a solid lead slug with a smooth gleaming finish.

What we found were three very good rifles. Each one deserved an A rating, in our view, with downgrades that may or may not apply, according to the individual. By the end of our range days, the only job left was to accurately describe each gun in print so that our readers could choose which rifle would best meet their needs or suits one's tastes.

Smallbore Accuracy Shootout: CZ, Browning, Anschtz Duel

Smallbore Accuracy Shootout: CZ, Browning, Anschtz Duel

Rim-Tac Rifles, Round II: The SIG 522 Edges Umarexs M4

In February 2010, we began evaluating tactical or military-style carbines chambered for the 22 LR round, and we continue to find new guns in what we call the "rim-tac" category. Previously, we looked at one AR-15 derivative, one tac-styled 10/22, and another carbine that more closely resembled a 1941 Russian machine gun. Our test guns were the Ruger SR-22R No. 1226 22 LR, $625 Smith & Wesson's M&P 15-22 No. 811030 22 LR, $569 and the Legacy Sports Puma Wildcat PPS2250S 22 LR, $550. In that test, we narrowly liked the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 the best, giving it an A grade compared to the Ruger's A- tally and the Wildcat's Bgrade.

Along the way, we had a heckuva lot of fun with the rifles without breaking the ammo bank. So, we gathered up two more rimfire samples from Umarex and Sig Sauer and wheelbarrowed bricks of 22 fodder to the range and had at it. Our test guns this round were the very different Colt M4 Carbine No. 2245050 22 LR, $576 and the Sig Sauer Sig522 Classic No. SIG522001 22 LR, $572.

The Colt has a complicated background. Carl Walther Germany entered into a licensing agreement with New Colt Holding Corporation, in which Carl Walther will produce these 22 rifles in Germany under the Colt brand. Umarex USA is responsible for importation, sales, marketing and service for the Colt tactical replicas.

Two tactical styles are being offered, each modeled after a Colt original—the M4 and M16 rifles—and both are available in two variations with 30-round 22 LR magazines along with a variety of accessories. The M4 version that we tested is a blowback semiauto with a barrel length of 16.2 inches (412 mm), overall length of 31.1 to 34.4 inches depending on the adjustable stock length, and iron sights, with the rear set into a detachable carry handle on a metal flat-top receiver.

Likewise, the Sig522 has lineage worth noting. According to Sig Sauer, the 522 has the "…look and feel of the Classic SIG556. Featuring SIG556 parts, including a Swiss-type folding stock and polymer forend on a durable metal receiver with integral Picatinny rail." We evaluated a 556 in the March 2010 issue, grading the 5.56mm rifle highly with an A-, but dinging it for its weight and cost.

Those aren't such factors with the 522, whose price tag is a few dollars below the M4 rimfire and whose weight is 6.4 pounds empty. Its overall length is 35.1 inches with the stock fully extended, 33.6 inches with the stock collapsed, and 26.1 inches with the stock folded.

Rim-Tac Rifles, Round II: The SIG 522 Edges Umarexs M4

In February 2010, we began evaluating tactical or military-style carbines chambered for the 22 LR round, and we continue to find new guns in what we call the "rim-tac" category. Previously, we looked at one AR-15 derivative, one tac-styled 10/22, and another carbine that more closely resembled a 1941 Russian machine gun. Our test guns were the Ruger SR-22R No. 1226 22 LR, $625 Smith & Wesson's M&P 15-22 No. 811030 22 LR, $569 and the Legacy Sports Puma Wildcat PPS2250S 22 LR, $550. In that test, we narrowly liked the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 the best, giving it an A grade compared to the Ruger's A- tally and the Wildcat's Bgrade.

Along the way, we had a heckuva lot of fun with the rifles without breaking the ammo bank. So, we gathered up two more rimfire samples from Umarex and Sig Sauer and wheelbarrowed bricks of 22 fodder to the range and had at it. Our test guns this round were the very different Colt M4 Carbine No. 2245050 22 LR, $576 and the Sig Sauer Sig522 Classic No. SIG522001 22 LR, $572.

The Colt has a complicated background. Carl Walther Germany entered into a licensing agreement with New Colt Holding Corporation, in which Carl Walther will produce these 22 rifles in Germany under the Colt brand. Umarex USA is responsible for importation, sales, marketing and service for the Colt tactical replicas.

Two tactical styles are being offered, each modeled after a Colt original—the M4 and M16 rifles—and both are available in two variations with 30-round 22 LR magazines along with a variety of accessories. The M4 version that we tested is a blowback semiauto with a barrel length of 16.2 inches (412 mm), overall length of 31.1 to 34.4 inches depending on the adjustable stock length, and iron sights, with the rear set into a detachable carry handle on a metal flat-top receiver.

Likewise, the Sig522 has lineage worth noting. According to Sig Sauer, the 522 has the "…look and feel of the Classic SIG556. Featuring SIG556 parts, including a Swiss-type folding stock and polymer forend on a durable metal receiver with integral Picatinny rail." We evaluated a 556 in the March 2010 issue, grading the 5.56mm rifle highly with an A-, but dinging it for its weight and cost.

Those aren't such factors with the 522, whose price tag is a few dollars below the M4 rimfire and whose weight is 6.4 pounds empty. Its overall length is 35.1 inches with the stock fully extended, 33.6 inches with the stock collapsed, and 26.1 inches with the stock folded.

Weapons of War - Rifles

Despite advances in machine gun, mortar and grenade technology, all remained relatively unwieldy and cumbersome in comparison to the rifle, which remained the most crucial, ever-present infantry weapon throughout World War One.

The Number One Infantry Weapon

The difficulty with these former weapons were their unwieldiness. While the infantry moved forward during a raid or attack the machine gun invariably proved impractical, both in terms of managing the machine gun itself but as much for the weight of the rounds of ammunition required to keep it serviceable.

As for the mortar, the fact that it was a one-shot weapon reduced its effectiveness. Grenades certainly had their role during a raid, but carrying buckets of supplies quickly proved tiring, and supplies generally ran out quite quickly.

Which left the pistol and the rifle, both key weapons on the battlefield, although the former was used less as an offensive weapon than the rifle, and were generally issued to officers rather than regular soldiery.

Late 19th Century Development

The single-shot, bigger-bore rifle was the subject of extensive research and development in the latter portion of the nineteenth century, with the result that the major powers introduced new models that were small-bore, bolt-action weapons capable of firing multiple rounds from a spring-loaded clip inserted into a rifle magazine.

Curiously, despite the intense interest in enhancing rifle capabilities in the years immediately preceding World War One no real developments were introduced during the actual war years - when ordinarily the reverse would be expected to be the case.

Rather, the key armies were chiefly concerned with ensuring that manufacturing of existing (adequate) models was kept at a high pitch. Research and development tended to be dedicated to other areas such as artillery, mortars, grenades and poison gases.

Rifle Performance

Although magazine design was clearly a factor in determining rifle performance, a greater impact was dependent upon the training and skill of the rifle operator himself. (Note that the advent of automatic and semiautomatic weapons waited until the last year of the war and beyond.)

Much has been made of the 15 rounds per minute achieved at Mons by riflemen of the British Expeditionary Force. However these were highly trained soldiers of what was then (August 1914) a professional army.

The flood of entrants to the New Armies - of all nations - could not hope to achieve such a sustained accurate rate of fire. The norm was perhaps eight to twelve rounds per minute.

In terms of range, the average during the war was around 1,400 metres, although accuracy could only be guaranteed at around 600 metres.

Sniper's Friend

The infantry aside, the rifle was a crucial element of the sniper's armoury: along with a human observer, that is.

Sniping as a military practice had proved its worth through the ages, but it was given an added importance in conditions of trench warfare.

Working day and night, trained marksmen would function essentially as assassins, often targeting any moving object behind enemy lines, even if they were engaged in peaceable tasks (which meant that if a sniper was taken prisoner he could expect no mercy, on either side).

Snipers were by no means specific to the Western Front their talents were employed on all fronts, including Gallipoli, Italy and Africa.

Although the overall number of casualties claimed by snipers were small (although many snipers kept count of their number of 'kills', often reaching triple figures), they played an important role in sapping enemy morale.

Soldiers knew that they could not walk about freely along exposed trenches anyone unwise enough to peep above the front line parapet could expect a well-aimed bullet in the head - as often happened.

The types of rifles used by snipers varied, and included the Lee-Enfield on the British side and, on the German, wide usage of the Mauser rifle, whose fitted optical sight rendered it ideal for the purpose.

Rifle Models

Given the relentlessly high demand for any and all forms of offensive weaponry during the war - particularly during its earliest days when armament production was only beginning to accelerate - many different types of rifle were pressed into service, including a fair number of ancient models.

However for the most part a core set of models were relied upon by the key belligerent armies.

German Mauser

The standard weapon in the German army, the 7.92 mm Mauser Gewehr 98 was designed (as its name suggests) in 1898 by Peter Paul Mauser (1838-1914). Somewhat superior in design to the majority of its contemporaries, it incorporated the clip and magazine into a single detachable mechanism, saving valuable loading time.

It suffered however from the disadvantage of being unsuited to rapid fire (on account of its bolt arrangement), and was limited by a five-cartridge magazine.

Nevertheless it was a thoroughly dependable, well tested and accurate weapon, and with its fitted optical sight, ideal for use in sniping.

British Lee-Enfield

Rivalling the Mauser both in terms of use and reputation was the British Lee-Enfield 0.303-inch rifle, which was issued to virtually all British soldiers on the Western Front (and many elsewhere). First produced in 1907 and officially titled the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) Mark III, the name was derived from its designer (James Lee, an American) and its manufacturer (the Royal Small Arms Factory based in Enfield, London).

Unlike the Mauser the Lee-Enfield, with its ten-cartridge magazine, was well suited to rapid fire a suitably trained soldier could expect to fire twelve well-aimed shots a minute.

The Lee-Enfield proved so sturdy and reliable that its use continued into World War Two. Its design was also incorporated into both U.S. and Canadian models.

French Lebel

Just as the Germans adopted the Mauser and the British the Lee-Enfield, so the French opted for the Lebel 8 mm weapon (officially titled the Fusil modele, produced in 1886, and which unusually fired smokeless cartridges) as their rifle of choice during the war years.

Despite its wide use it suffered from a marked practical design flaw. Its eight rounds were loaded, nose to tail fashion, in a tubular magazine placed under the barrel of the rifle. This resulted in slow loading since the operator had to be wary of one round hitting the primer of the cartridge in front, thereby causing a most unwelcome explosion.

Although a better French model, the Berthier (see below), was available from 1916, the Lebel - despite its flaws - continued to be standard issue.

French Berthier

As indicated above, the French discovered a serious practical defect in their standard issue Lebel rifle. Thus, two years into the war, the Berthier was issued as an improvement. Officially titled the Fusil d'Infanterie Modele 1907, Transforme 1915, the replacement rifle was, like the Lee-Enfield, clip loaded. The differences with the Lebel did not stop there however. The rifle's sights were different as was its bolt mechanism.

A fine weapon, the original Berthier (designed in 1907) nevertheless suffered, like its predecessor, from a design flaw - its magazine held only three rounds. A modified version, produced in 1915, increased this to five rounds. The result was the Fusil modele 1916, loaded from a six-round clip or charger.

Immediately popular demand was such that certain supplies of the model were produced in the U.S. by the Remington company.


A carbine (i.e. short-barrelled) version of the Berthier was produced in 1916, titled the Mousqueton modele 1916. Carbines were generally preferred by all armies as being somewhat less unwieldy than longer barrelled rifles.

Indeed, the move towards carbine development was perhaps the only notable advance to rifle technology during the war, although other modifications for trench conditions were undertaken, including the fitting of periscopes and tripods.

U.S. Springfield

The Springfield, manufactured in the U.S. (at Springfield, Massachusetts), was the standard wartime rifle of the U.S. army. It was reliable and produced in a short-barrelled version for issue to the American Expeditionary Force. In short supply however around half of U.S. soldiers in the field were issued with the M1917 'American Enfield'.

The performance of the U.S. rifle was comparable to the British Lee-Enfield, and was also produced in a Mk1 automatic version. The Springfield utilised a licensed Mauser action. Derivatives of the Springfield remained in use until the Korean War.

Austro-Hungarian Steyr-Mannlicher

Produced in Budapest and Steyr (in Austria), and known as the Repetier Gewehr M95, the standard issue rifle of the Austro-Hungarian army was first produced in 1895.

Considered a strong design, the Repetier Gewehr M95 withstood a so-called torture test of firing 50,000 rounds through a single rifle without lubrication of any kind. It was consequently produced in huge quantities during the war.

At one stage during the war the Austro-Hungarian army gave consideration to using the German Mauser rifle in preference to the Steyr-Mannlicher, before concluding that it was inferior in design to their own weapon.

This model was also subsequently used in large quantities by the Italian army (as World War One reparations).

Click here to read an article on the Canadian Ross rifle.

Photograph of SMLE courtesy of GreatWarAZ.

Saturday, 22 August, 2009 Michael Duffy

A "creeping barrage" is an artillery bombardment in which a 'curtain' of artillery fire moves toward the enemy ahead of the advancing troops and at the same speed as the troops.

- Did you know?

How practical were bolt action rifles in WWII?

Title. How practical were bolt actions in an era of submachineguns and machineguns including semi-auto rifles? I know bolt actions were very accurate and had good range so in 100-200 meter engagements they were superb over a subgun, however the enemy may not always be visible at those distances and in a rush can overwhelm you. For example the Soviets often fielded entire untis of PPSH-41 opponents. In the stress of combat, I can image very fatiguing always having to pull that bolt, a good aim, and then doing it again all in a mobile battlefield. Although a submachinegun isn't all that accurate, I don't imagine it being somewhat effective lets say 100 meters to get well aimed shots on semi auto or controlled burst fire.

Are there any good stories of German soldiers being in shock and awe by the M1 Garand?


Residential Zealous Evolved Nano Organism

Advantages of a bolt action.

(Assuming most rifles are based on WW1 design) Easier logistics.

Ultimately, only the US could afford to stop bolt action production, and start making new weapons.

Other semi autos were not as good as the M1 Garand/Carbine, and only the germans came up with the rather good Mp44.



Residential Zealous Evolved Nano Organism

But the MP44 proved that an intermediate cartridge is the best of both worlds, stopping power to kill someone behind light cover/armour, and range enough to hit with iron sights.

Only downside is you can't snipe as well with it.

Bolt actions were also used as snipers due to bolts being quieter than a semi auto.


Eternal machine gun champion

Title. How practical were bolt actions in an era of submachineguns and machineguns including semi-auto rifles? I know bolt actions were very accurate and had good range so in 100-200 meter engagements they were superb over a subgun, however the enemy may not always be visible at those distances and in a rush can overwhelm you. For example the Soviets often fielded entire untis of PPSH-41 opponents. In the stress of combat, I can image very fatiguing always having to pull that bolt, a good aim, and then doing it again all in a mobile battlefield. Although a submachinegun isn't all that accurate, I don't imagine it being somewhat effective lets say 100 meters to get well aimed shots on semi auto or controlled burst fire.

Are there any good stories of German soldiers being in shock and awe by the M1 Garand?


Residential Zealous Evolved Nano Organism


Advantages of a bolt action.

This is, surprisingly, untrue. Both submachineguns and assault rifles (with the exception of StG44, it was ridiculously overcomplicated) were generally cheaper to mass-produce than bolt action rifles. This is because the higher pressures of a full-power cartridge mean that parts need to be built to a higher standard and of better materials.

The only small arms that are generally more expensive than bolt-action rifles are semi-auto rifles firing the same cartridges, and full-powered machine guns.


Residential Zealous Evolved Nano Organism

This is, surprisingly, untrue. Both submachineguns and assault rifles (with the exception of StG44, it was ridiculously overcomplicated) were generally cheaper to mass-produce than bolt action rifles. This is because the higher pressures of a full-power cartridge mean that parts need to be built to a higher standard and of better materials.

The only small arms that are generally more expensive than bolt-action rifles are semi-auto rifles firing the same cartridges, and full-powered machine guns.


Thor is on a Lion: your argument is invalid

From what I've read/heard, a lot came down to the troops firing them: there are accounts of German forces thinking they where up against a machine-gun nest when in reality they were being fired at by a rifle squad.

The Lee Enfield also had the advantage of the bolt being set off-centre, so it could be worked without taking your eye off the target. German rifles had a centrally located bolt that meant you had to take your eye off the target after every shot unless you liked getting hit in the face when you pulled the bolt back. This has been demonstrated to me by someone who collects deactivated WW2 rifles.



Like tears in the rain


Residential Zealous Evolved Nano Organism

And 'millions' of Mosin Nagants were made in WW2.

Russia never reached US proportions of semi auto rifles.



Like tears in the rain

And 'millions' of Mosin Nagants were made in WW2.

Russia never reached US proportions of semi auto rifles.


Residential Zealous Evolved Nano Organism


Advantages of a bolt action.
Ultimately, only the US could afford to stop bolt action production, and start making new weapons.

Other semi autos were not as good as the M1 Garand/Carbine.

The Germans had some ZH-29's, so did the Chinese, YMMV as to which is 'better' (the M1 was at least cheaper to produce).


M1 Garand serial production numbers, Dec 1941: 429,811 (edit, should add the Winchester numbers lower down the page to the Springfield numbers, + 137,960 for a total of 575,771. Same diff).

re: previous link, the Soviets produced over 1 million SVT-40's in 1941.

One nation sat between the Atlantic & Pacific. The other in the middle of Eurasia.


Looking for Dinsdale



This was 5.9KG & popular with Paramarines & SF at least.


Looking for Dinsdale


Submachineguns were pretty much useless beyond 50-100 yards or so. Great in close-quarters battle, ambushes, and such. Not so great when you're pinned down in a Normandy hedgerow with 100 yards or more of distance to cover with an MG-42 backed by Kar 98's sending hot lead your way. The Russians did have entire units of "tank desant" troops armed with just burp guns. But the tactics there were "ride on a tank until you're close enough to jump right into the enemy's face to open up with a fusilade of automatic fire".

Everyone wanted self-loading battle rifles. But the Depression killed most new procurement of small arms outside of the US. The continental powers had to prioritize on what new weapons to develop. The individual trooper's weapon wasn't decisive compared to artillery, aircraft, and other stuff that did most of the killing. When you have ten billion bolt actions in storage, going with them was "good enough for the job".

Mossberg Bolt Action Shotguns: Weird never felt so good (VIDEO)

It looks like a rifle large enough to part a meteor, sink a battleship, or down a MIG with one shot. The reason is, it&rsquos actually a shotgun, which explains the huge barrel but not the action. Yes, it has a bolt-action, and Mossberg has been the master of these oddball guns for decades.

Why a bolt-action shotgun?

Untold thousands of Gew 98 German Mausers were re-purposed after WWI. Many were converted into early bolt action shotguns.

In the 19th Century, most shotguns were break action single or double barrel type jobs. Towards the end that century the first pump and lever-action, repeaters came on the market but the newest rifle designs of the early 1900s were bolt-action rifles with detachable box magazines.

After World War 1, several Model Gew 98 German Mausers were converted to fire shotgun shells and these became seen as a very modern idea for a very modern age. Oscar Mossberg, a shrewd engineer and businessman, decided to jump on this concept with both feet and introduce a new shotgun designed from the ground-up as a bolt-action.

The bolt action Mossbergs were all quite simple in design&hellip not unlike any bolt action long gun.

Exploded parts list on early model Mossberg bolt action shotgun.

Starting in the early 1930s, he came up with his prototype bolt action shotguns. The gun, fundamentally just a large chambered smoothbore rifle with a turn bolt action set into a one-piece stock, was very simple. In all it contained just over 40 parts and could be made cheaply since the steel of the barrel could be soft due to the low pressures of shotgun shells. Unlike many early pump-action guns that could bind up, the bolt provided almost no chance of failure to feed or eject.

Overall, the new design could be a solid challenger during the Great Depression against the more expensive Winchester Model 12 and the Remington 31 pump guns.

Early models

Mossberg&rsquos original 1930s advertisement announcing the first bolt action shotguns.

The first bolt action Mossberg to hit the market was the 1933-era .410 Model G Bolt Action Repeater. This four shot rabbit and squirrel gun weighed but 5.5-pounds and used a 26-inch barrel that worked with pretty swag chrome plated bolt lever and trigger.

This gun spawned the Model 70 (no relation to Winchester&rsquos rifle of the same designation), a handy little 4.75-pound takedown single shot that could be broken down into two short pieces, each about two feet long, for transport.

By 1939 the same design had been produced in 20-gauge as the Model 75. By the start of World War Two in 1941, there were nearly a dozen models and subvariants of the .410 and 20-gauge bolt gun in Mossberg&rsquos catalog. Wartime production of military weapons halted the line and killed the concept for the rest of the decade.

Mossberg Model 75 advertisement.

Mossberg Model 75 20-gauge bolt action shotgun.

Post-war rebirth

A 1960s Model 390 advertisement detailing C-Lect-Choke.

After World War 2, thousands of military surplus Winchester, Remington, Ithaca and Stevens pump-action shotguns were glutting the civilian market.

These guns, shed by a shrinking military that did not need them to fight Germans, Japanese, or Italians, swamped the gun shelves for a generation.

Trying to reenter the fray of peacetime scatterguns for the hunting market, Mossberg redesigned their whole line of bolt-action guns, going from double digit model numbers (e.g. 73, 65, 85) to triple digit numbers (173, 183). These could be considered the 2nd Gen of OFM&rsquos bolt-action shotguns.

Many of the 300 series OFM bolt guns used the C-LECT-CHOKE. This choke was attached to the barrel and could be adjusted from modified to full.

For a time Mossberg tried to move away from their legacy designs and get into the competition for pump action guns. In fact, their Model 200 slide action, introduced in 1955, was the company&rsquos first venture into a scattergun that wasn&rsquot a bolt action.

The thing is, people still remembered the pre-war bolt guns, which had a good reputation among hunters, and asked the company for more. This kept their Model .410-gauge Model 183s and 20-gauge Model 185s in production throughout the Fifties and Sixties.

To further expand the line and take advantage of the popularity of the 16-gauge (which was the most popular shotgun caliber in the country for about 30 years), they introduced the Model 190 in 16-gauge and then the Model 195 in 12 at the same time.

Mossberg Model 190 bolt action shotgun in 16-gauge.

Mossberg Model 190, close up of bolt.

Overall, these Mossberg bolt guns were country simple, priced right, and effective. Other &lsquovalue&rsquo makers such as Marlin Firearms even jumped on the bolt shotgun bandwagon in the 1950s with their Model 55 series.

They had to get in line behind Stevens and Harrington and Richardson who had been following Mossberg&rsquos bolt-action guns with their own since the 30s.

Move into the modern age

Mossberg C-Lect-Chokes for bolt-action shotguns.

Adding factory recoil pads, variable C-Lect-Chokes attached to the muzzle, cross bolt safeties, and sling swivels, Mossberg took their 100-series guns and upgraded the line in the late 1960s to the new Model 385/390/395 designations.

By 1974, the company stopped making 16-gauges, the first victim of yesteryear. I myself owned a 12-gauge M395K as a kid 20 years ago and (stupidly) decided to bang out some Olin 12-gauge rescue flares out of it&mdashwhich didn&rsquot work too well. Needless to say, do not shoot flares out of a regular shotgun. Moreover, do not show my dad this article.

By the 1980s, these morphed into the Models 585/595 with stretched 3-inch chambers and improved bolts.

The Mossberg 695 was the end of the line for their bolt action shotguns.

The last and most modern &lsquo5th Generation&rsquo of Mossberg bolt action was the Model 695. These guns have been around since 1995 but were quietly discontinued in 2003, ending the exactly 70-year run of bolt shotguns for OFM. Instead of inexpensive guns meant for the everyman, these 695s were niche shotguns.

One model was a rifled slug gun with a 22&Prime fully rifled ported barrel, adjustable fiber optic sights, and Weaver scope bases.

The other was a gobbler gun equipped with a camo synthetic stock and a 22&prime Accu-choke barrel with extra-full turkey tube to reach out and make those pinpoint shots on Mr. Tom.

The 695 slugger is still very well regarded among 12-gauge slug hunters.

Owning one

Many Mossberg bolt action shotguns were sold with trap shooting systems. This took the form of a simple clay thrower attached to the barrel.

The thousands of Mossberg bolt-action shotguns produced between 1933-1995 can be bought for a song. Fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be) these older guns, while vintage in many cases, just aren&rsquot that collectable.

Both Peterson and Fjestad list all of the bolt action Mossbergs (except for the newer Model 695) at between $45-$125 depending on condition. Keep in mind that this price is for working models.

While spare parts are around through Numrich and others, be shy of guns without functional magazines as they usually run $40-ish and can seem like a &lsquono-brainer&rsquo purchase.

Still if you come across one that works at a good price and need a swamp gun or boat gun that you aren&rsquot afraid if it gets a little rusty, crusty, or lost, you would be hard pressed not to give it a shot (pun intended).

Mossberg bolt action rifles, shown here in .410, are a common sight throughout the country in a plethora of calibers.

When getting into a more modern 695, be aware that there was a voluntary recall on some of these guns due to a problem with the bolt. The 695s under recall were produced in 1995 and 1996, with serial numbers ranging from M000101 to M015304. Used 695s pop up in the $275 range with both slugsters and Tom callers eagerly seeking them out.

Perhaps bolts were better left on rifles, but don&rsquot tell that to those who own one of these &lsquoold reliables&rsquo. I still have mine. And I know better than to shoot flares out of it now.

F to J

Förster – Foerster
Wilhelm K. Förster in Berlin
Master Gunsmith and Gun Dealer
Hofbüchsenmacher (Gunsmith to the Court)
Hofgewehrfabrik (gun factory to the Court)
Supplier to the Royal Court of Carl of Prussia, a son of King Friedrich William III of Prussia, and also to the Russian Tsars.The Förster business was founded in 1861 and had facilities in these two locations: Berlin W 8, Taubenstr.47 and a branch in Berlin W 30, Mozarstr.61. The company was last mentioned in 1920 as a member of an Association of Gun Makers and Dealers., possibly with a new owner.The Foerster side-by-side hammer shotguns, double rifles and stalking rifles we have seen over the yeas are outstanding in every respect. They are all very slim and nicely shaped. The bolt action rifles were mostly built on Mauser 98 actions, and they are also very slim and elegant look, all with fine engraving.In the early years Foerster most likely made most of his guns in his shops in Berlin, but may have used other small gun makers and engravers who did the work in their own shops. Unfortunately we have no information about them. There is however proof that in later years he had ordered a great variety of guns from various gun makers in Suhl. The next to last guns shown in the photo gallery in our archive is a double rifle made by the Heym Company in Suhl.The guns with the “Clamshell Action” (Muschel Verschluss or Stabil Verschluss) could have been made by several makers, among them Robert Schüler (RS) in Suhl, the inventor, Gebrüder Merkel (GM) in Suhl, Oskar Merkel in Suhl (Merco) and Bernhard Merkel in Suhl (Bemesu). All were of best quality and some had the maker’s mark that is shown above after their name on the underside of the barrels.Foerster guns are now very desirable to gun collectors and bring very high prices when sold by good auctioneers like Julia in Maine.The action shown on the right has a monogram with a crown and a gold inlayed W is on a Foerster double rifle hammer gun. The owner hoped that this double rifle could have been made for Kaiser Wilhelm, but a crown with 9 tines indicates that it was made for a count. The next photo on the right shows an Austrian carbine with a Steyr action and a monogram with a crown above the W that was definitely made for the King or Kaiser Wilhelm. The hammer gun has a cross-over stock for use by a right-hand shooter aiming with the left eye. Since it is known that Kaiser Wilhelm had a crippled left arm, this could have supported the hope that this gun was made for Kaiser Wilhelm, but a cross-over stock was not what he could have used. The surprising similarity of the gold inlaid W on both guns is also remarkable, but it was definitely not for Kaiser Wilhelm.Among his later hunting rifles were bolt action rifles with Mauser 98 actions, and the company also became a representative of the Mauser Company.Foerster also had a hand in the development of these cartidges:10x47R Foerster (DWM # 31A) a black powder cartridge
9 x 74R Foerster (DWM # 474) a forerunner of the 9.3x74R
6 x 58 R Foerster (DWM # 489)
6 x 58 R Foerster (DWM # 489A) both similar to 6mm Lee Navy or 6mm Rem.Since it is said that a photo is worth a thousand words, you can see very good photos of Foerster guns in our Archive (Nr.41-PG ).e

Fruehauf, Hendrik
Hendrik – Master Engraver
Kiesweg 13
D-98553 Breitenbach – Germany
Tel.:+49 (0) 36841 – 43. 582
Mobile: +49 (0)171 – 34. 33. 013
[email protected] learned his trade in Suhl while Germany was located behind the iron curtain. When the wall came down and Germany was re-united, he finally had access to the work of other engravers in England, Italy and the USA and has met some of them. This widened his horizon and it did not take long before his talents were discovered. He is now ranked among the best of German and Austrian engravers. See some of his work in our Archive (Nr. 57-PG).

Funk Gun Makers in Suhl

Christoph Funk Gewehrfabrik
Göthaer Str. 18, SuhlFounded in 1835 by Joseph Christoph Funk.1852 First serial production of percussion-drillinge for US market
1861/62 US Rifle Muskets for the American Civil War
1874 Founder dies. Successors are 2 sons: Albert and Oscar Funk
1901 Launch of “Funk Geschoss” (cartridge)
1904 Patent on safety for drillings
1914 Ernst – son of Oscar Funk – joins the company and becomes sole owner 1920
1933 Funk starts to make actions of Spezial-Einsatz Stahl
1935 Launch of Jubiläums-Drillinge
Launch of “Funk-Gerl-Zwomantel Geschoss” – a super-bullet of the 1930’s.
1936 Patent on combined 2-barrel Mauser-rifle
1945 Company is closed. All machinery is taken to the Soviet-Union
1945-46 Company name is changes to Feinmessgeräte und Gewehrfabrik Funk
Small production of side-by-side guns is carried on by Ernst Funk
1949 The “Bühag” takes over sales and distribution
1959 Gun production endsProduction approx. 38,500 units
Very broad production range in hunting guns.
Speciality: Drillings
Superb craftmanshipAn article about Funk can be found in our Archive .A 182 page book In German and in English with the Funk history, a Funk catalog and many photos was brought out by Peter Ravn Lund in Denmark.For more information and for ordering a book visit

GreifeltGreifelt & Co

Gun Makers and Gun Factory in Suhl

Already in 1752, when a major fire destroyed a major part of Suhl, the gunsmith Baltasar Greifeltwas among those who had lost their house and shop. In 1835 Georg Greifelt is listed as the owner of a hammer work, and also listed are Stephan Greifelt Sr. and Stephan Greifelt Jr. In December of 1867 the master gun maker Georg Greifelt is listed in the town register. In 1880 a residence was built for Friedrich Wilhelm Greifelt and a gun shop in 1885. In 1889 Greifelt & Co. became a partnership between the gun maker

Friedrich Wilhelm Greifelt and the businessman Albert Emil Schlegelmilch. In 1891 the gun making shops were enlarged, and in 1902 Alfred Greifelt and Oskar Jung were in charge of the company. An office building was added in 1903. With the addition of a machine shop in 1917 the company was now among the largest mid-sized companies in Suhl. All this shows that the Greifelt Company evolved over the years into a major gun company that celebrated their 50 year anniversary in 1935, but in 1948, only 13 years later, the company was taken over by the Communist DDR Government in the divided Germany.

The word GREIF combined with the image of a bird became the trademark of the company in 1922.

Before and during World War II the Greifelt Company produced various components for the war efforts but apparently did not produce any complete military guns. Records show that the company made a surprisingly great number of hunting guns for the civilian market during the war. Like other major companies in Suhl, Greifelt employed a considerable number of foreign workers from the eastern occupied countries, including women.

When Russian troops replaced the American troops in 1945 all manufacturing had come to an end and the future looked bleak. Only 38 employees of the Greifelt Company made kitchen utensils and other useful items and others cut firewood in the forests, but by the end of the year the company employed 94 men and in April of 1946 guns were made again in addition to measuring tools. From June 1946 to May 1947 the company was managed by Alfred Greifelt under control of the Russian occupation forces. Many changes in management followed until the company became a Volkseigner Betrieb, a company “owned by the people” under a Communist Government.

Between 1947 and 1948 the company was ordered to produce over 1000 hunting guns, increased in 1949. to 1500, as war reparation to Russia. Greifelt hunting guns were exhibited at the 1949 Leipzig Trade Fair for the first time, opening the way for export to other countries. All this was achieved despite shortages of material and supplies, electricity outages and men ordered to mine Uranium in a nearby mine for use in the Soviet effort to build an atom bomb.
All large and medium size companies were now under the control of the government, and even the small gun shops were united in the government controlled Bühag. Under trying circumstances many good hunting guns were made during this time, Greifelt guns among them and still marked with the Greifelt name. But many of the best craftsmen and business managers left East Germany when the border with West Germany was still porous border, and after the Berlin Wall went up in 1961 by way of the divided and blockaded Berlin and the Luftbrücke, the Airlift by American and British airplanes. During those years 3.5 million East German residents escaped to the West, among them Fritz Greifelt.
In 1989 the Wall came down, driven by a popular uprising, and the Communist Government collapsed. Germany was officially re-united in 1990. The free world and most East Germany citizens rejoiced, but hard times followed because the economy of East Germany collapsed. The export to the eastern countries came to an end and the companies could not compete with those in the west and the free world. All the disowned gun companies in Suhl, as well as most other companies all over East Germany, were now controlled by the Treuhand, a Government Agency that was given the duty to find buyers for all these companies that would prevent their total collapse. This effort stretched over many years with very mixed results. The only bigger company that survived in Suhlwas the Merkel Company, and this company also changed hands several times.

Greifelt guns made in Suhl are appreciated by the owners of the guns that survived the confiscation of all guns by American, British and Russian troops as soon as they entered a community. Many were destroyed right away, but others were brought home by soldiers who were allowed to keep two guns for their personal use. Many German hunting guns came to America this way and are now increasingly valuable, but many German guns were also exported to America before the two World Wars, and one can never be sure whether a gun was brought home from the war or was imported, among them the guns made by Greifelt.

The catalog pages in our Archive (Nr.74-T) will show you that Greifelt made many different types and models, including over and under and side by side shotguns, double rifles, Drillings, combination guns, stalking rifles and guns with the Heeren Action and the Clamshell Actions. The factory buildings shown on the cover of the Greifelt catalog look bigger than the actual buildings, but Greifelt had impressive facilities, well trained gun makers and a very good reputation.

The photo on the right shows the side of a Greifelt action on a gun that just came to our attention. It is a 410 Ga, over and under shotgun that is without a doubt a very rare gun. The flat surfaces on both sides of the standing breech all had elaborate deep relief engraving, and they can be considered the branding of Greifelt over and under guns.

More photos of Greifelt guns with very fine engraving can be seen in our Archive (Nr.40-PG)

Gründig – Gruendig

Carl Gründig in Dresden (ca.1852-1913)
Gunmaker – Inventor – Gun Dealer

His sons:
Max Gründig – Hugo Gründig

Carl Gründig served an apprenticeship as a gun maker, became a Master Gun Maker in 1876 and opened his own shop shortly thereafter.

He was appointed as Königlich Sächsischer Hofbüchsenmacher to the Royal Saxonian Court by his Majesties Albert (1873-1903), Georg (1902-1904) and Friedrich Augusr III (1904-1918). Thereafter his letterhead only listed the title Hofbüchsenmacher. Carl Gründig passed away in 1913.

Although the titles were purchased with a yearly fee and also depended on the right political connections, it gave him prestige and attracted a prominent clientele. Dresden was the capital and Crown City of Saxonia and had attracted many Gun Makers since the founding of a Gun Makers Guild in 1545, among them gun makers from Suhl. Some of the finest guns made in Suhl were made for the Court in Dresden.

In the early years Gründig bought machined gun components made in Belgium and also in Suhlbecause he did not have the machines to do it himself. He must have also ordered completely finished guns and had his name engraved on them. At the end of the photo gallery we show a gun that has Suhl proof marks used since 1912. It also is stamped with a K that was the mark of a Kelber barrel maker in Suhl.

In 1916 the company became the representative for Saxonia of the Gunmakers Teschner and Collath. After Word War I (1914-18) the two sons continued the business mostly as a retail store and a shop to service the guns they ordered and sold. The business existed until early in February 1945 when Dresden was bombed by British and American planes that resulted in a firestorm that killed over 22,000 people and left the whole city in ruins.

Two articles with photos of fine Gründig guns, additional information and patents of his inventions are in our Archive (Nr.59-PG).

Hagn Rifles and Actions
P.O. Box 444 Station Main
Cranbrook, British Columbia V1C4H9
Tel. 250-489-4861[email protected]Martin Hagn is a German Master Gunsmith who had his own business in Germany but now has his shop in Canada. He builds best quality rifles to order.An article about Martin Hagn and his shop can be found in our Archive.The single shot action shown above was designed by Martin Hagn in cooperation with Hartmann & Weiss who are producing the action, use it for their own rifles but also for Martin Hagn who now has his own gun shop in Cranbrook, British Columbia.An article about Hartmann & Weiss can also be found in our Archive.

Hartmann & Weiss GmbH
Rahlstedter Bahnhofstr. 47
22143 Hamburg Germany
Phone: 49 (40) 677 5585
Fax: 49 (40) 677 5592
[email protected]
www.hartmannandweiss.comThe guns made by these two German Master Gunmakers are made to order and ranked with the Best London Guns. You can see their work at the Safari Club International annual show and at the IWA show in Nuernberg, Germany. An article about them appeared in a Journal of the German Gun Collectors Association, and you find it in our Archive .

Gun Makers in Suhl, Münnerstadt and Gleichamberg

The lists of gun makers in Suhl with the last name Heym is quite long. In 1835 the list shows 16 Heyms that worked on guns, and in 1895 it grew to 25 men, most of them gunsmiths, two stock makers and one “Einsetzer” who hardened the actions.

We only have information about a few of them, among them the maker of a Pinfire Gun, Max Heym who specialized in making rifles with Heeren Actions and the engravers August Heym and Joachim Heym who to this day still engraves guns in Suhl. But the most prominent one was Friedrich Wilhelm Heym

You can see the 1895 list of Heym gun makers and all those who worked on guns and also what little information we have at this time about a few of them in our Archive (Nr.68-T).

The Friedrich Wilhelm Heym Company

was founded in 1865 in Suhl

The Friedrich Wilhelm Heym Company is one of the very few companies that survived the first World War, the great depression, the Hitler years, the second World War and the American and Russian occupation, but not in the original location, but in two new locations under several Heym family members and finally a few new owners. The Heym name is still respected and Heym guns are appreciated to this day

The Friedrich Wilhelm Heym Company began in the building shown on the right in 1865 until itclosed their doors at the end of World War II in April 1945 when American troops occupied Suhl and Russian Troops took over three months later. The founder had set the goal for himself and his company to be among the best gun makers in Suhl.

The founding of this company took place at a very opportune time that was praised as the “Golden Years of Gun Making”. Breech loading guns had completely taken over from the muzzleloaders, percussion caps and back-action locks with outside hammers had also taken over, bringing about the first really practical hunting guns that were used not only by the privileged ruling class but by many ordinary people. Fulminates in percussion caps, in needle fire cartridges and finally in primers that ignited the powder inside brass cartridge cases had been invented, and center fire side by side double guns were now readily available.

Three barrel hammer guns followed and various selector mechanisms that allowed the use of the hammer on the right to fire both the right upper barrel as well as the third barrel below were invented in short order. But the “hammerless” actions, where the hammers were located inside the action or covered by the stock, had still to be invented. Heym was one of the very first companies to make a hammerless Drilling that had three triggers. The front trigger was hinged and could easily be pushed forward to reach the second trigger.

Patent Nr. 60215 for a Drilling with three triggers was issued to Heym on May 24, 1891. You can find an article about this patent and other interesting information in our Archive (Nr.35-PG).

The Heym catalog pages from the early 1920s show the great variety of models the Heym Company made and still shows hammer Drillings and also the first patented hammerless Drilling with three triggers. You will find it in our Archive (Nr.64-T).

Adolf Heym assumed the management of the Heym Company in 1912 and opened up good sales connections in Russia.

August Heym took over the management of the Heym Company in 1920 and began using Anson & Deeley type box lock actions on many of their models. Heym was also making some of the “Prussian Daly Guns” that the gun maker Lindner in Suhl had made up to the beginning of the first World War.

As all major manufacturers in Suhl, Heym must have also made components for the war production but to the best of our knowledge did not make any complete military guns. You will find the story about the arrival of American troops in Suhl in our Archive (Nr.70-T).

A few of the bigger gun makers in Suhl left with the American troops when they pulled out and Russian troops occupied Suhl. The explanation why the Heyms left Suhl after Russian troops took over from the American troops was found in an old article whose author is not known to us, and you can read it in our Archive (Nr.69-T).

August and Rolf Heym started a new Heym factory in Ostheim located in the American zone of the divided Germany. Since the ownership and making of guns was not yet allowed, they made various other products like cuckoo clocks, spinning wheels and slide rules. They then had the opportunity to make a new Mauser-Heym bolt action police carbine, one of the first guns to be permitted by the American and British allies.

By 1952 the revised laws again allowed the ownership and making of certain hunting and sporting guns, and a new factory was built in Münnerstadt, close to the iron curtain that separated the two parts of Germany. Very early on they purchased one of the first available cold hammer forging machines for the making of shotgun and rifle barrels, and they began selling barrels to other gun manufacturers.

The list of gun models that were developed in Münnerstadt and those that were added after the move to Gleichamberg is shown on the right and can be enlarged. Only very few guns that are listed were discontinued or superseded by improved and upgraded models.

Photos of the Heym factory in Münnerstadt and of some of the guns that were made there and others that found their way to the USA and are shown on auction catalog pages can be seen in our Archive (Nr.36-PG)

Rolf Heym took over the management of the Heym Company from 1963 up to his death in 1972. At this time Elisabeth Heym took over the management of the company together with her husband, Hubert Dschulnig. Peter Bang became the plant manager, and it was he who appointed Paul Jaeger, Inc. in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania as the importer of Heym guns in the USA. The Heym SR20Bolt Action Rifle was of interest to left hand shooters because the rifle was available with a true left hand action and the rifles were available with a classic straight comb stock that was at that time still preferred by many.

At the urging of the Jaeger Company and of Tom Turpin, who had a close relationship with Heym when he was stationed in Germany, the Model 88-B Double Rifle and the Model 88-BSS Side-lock rifle became available early in the 1980s, one of the first affordable magnum caliber double rifles for most dangerous game hunters, lower priced than the Chapuis Double Rifles made in France and ahead of the Krieghoff Double Rifles made in Germany.

The story of a Model 88 BSS rifle, the Nr.3 Buffalo Double Rifle made by Heym for the “Safari Club International’s Big Five Rifles” is told in the limited edition book “Safari Club International” by Bill Quimby and in a feature article in German from a German gun magazine. The German article explains the unusual circumstances how the Canadian high bidder lost his rifle that is now in the possession of the “Canadian Mounties.”

Thanks to the kind permission from Safari Club International and from the German hunting magazine Wild und Hund,you can find information about both in Section 15 and the two articles in our Archive (Nr.65-T).

In 1992 a new owner in Switzerland bought the company that was then taken over by a new owner in Munich who took advantage of the unification of Germany and the financial support by the German government to re-vitalize the East German economy. A new factory was built in Gleichamberg, and the Heym Company moved there in 1995. Gleichamberg is a small village that is barely inside the former Russian occupation zone that was the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) under a Communist Government. The factory is located about half way between Münnerstadt and Suhl, where Heym was originally located. The Heym employees could be taken by bus from Münnerstadt to the new location, and Suhl gun makers could also commute to the new factory. Most likely all new Heym guns are now proof tested in the proof house in Suhl.

Photos of Heym guns custom options made in Gleichamberg, including an exquisite side lock double rifle, can be seen in our Archive (Nr.37-PG).

On February 1, 1998 Thomas Wolkmann became the owner of the company who once again opened former markets in Russia and other former Communist countries. Under his leadership the company directed most their efforts to making fine custom built guns with many option, like action types, barrel configuration, fine wood and fine engravings. An interested buyer can visit the factory and discuss all details of a gun he wants to order and even meet the engraver who will do the engraving to his expectations. The company now seems to have found its niche in the world market and seems to be firmly anchored.

Members of the German Gun Collectors Association visited the new factory in Gleichamberg and photos of the visit, giving you a good idea of the modern facilities and machines, are in our Archive (Nr.39-PG).

Jaeger, Franz

Franz Jaeger (Jäger) 1876 – 1957
F. Jäger & Co. used the Trade Mark “Herold”
Master Gunsmith – Manufacturer – Inventor
Friesenstr. 17 (formerly Pfiffergrube).
Suhl – Thuringia – Germany

Franz Jaeger served an apprenticeship in Zella-Mehlis and shortly thereafter went to America. He worked for several companies in New York City, and then opened Bittiner & Jaeger with a partner,a business located on Broadway.He advertised the installation of selective single triggers into existing guns. He got married in New York and his first son Paul was born there. He then returned with his family to Germany and started his own business in Suhl. An Almanac about Franz Jaeger, his company, his inventions and his life is in preparation and will be offered when the time comes.

You will find a good part of the story and more information in our Archive .

Jaeger, Kurt

Kurt Jaeger (Jäger)
Gunsmith – Businessman
Suhl and Mainz, Germany
Wiesbaden Rod & Gun Club

The Kurt Jaeger name is known to American gun collectors, but many think that he was a gun engraver. He was not, but he was from the old school when only the name of the gun business was found on a gun, never the name of the engraver. Kurt Jaeger had engravings done by Emil Willig, his son Claus Willig, both in Schweinfurt, The engraver Schildbach left Zella_Mehlis before the wall went up, worked first for the Wiesbaden Rod and Gun Club of the American Air Force and then at the Jaeger shop in Mainz.

Kurt Jaeger and his family had left Suhl, the former German gun making center, before the wall went up, and opened his own gun business together with Dietrich Apel in Mainz. This was a time when Germans were still not allowed to have guns, and American Servicemen were the only customers in the beginning. Kurt Jaeger also managed the shop of the Wiesbaden Rod & Gun Club for a while. The work consisted mostly of custom built bolt action rifles, scope mounting, repairs and many engravings done by the three engravers. An Almanac about Kurt Jaeger is in preparation, and will offer it in this website when the time comes.

You will find a very interesting article about an AyA shotgun that Kurt Jaeger had engraved by Emil Willig in our Archive (Nr. 118-T).

Jaeger, Paul

Paul Jaeger, Gunsmith, Inventor
Manufacturer Dealer and Importer
Jenkintown, Pa. U.S.A

Paul Jaeger was born in New York City where his father worked as a gunsmith and founded his own company, Bittiner & Jaeger, on Broadway.

With his parents Paul returned to Germany as a baby, and he grew up in Suhl in his fathers house and gun factory. After graduation he served an apprenticeship and went on to an engineering school. When a lost war brought hard times and the German economy had stagnated into a recession, he returned to New York City in 1927. Since he was an American citizen by birth he did not have to wait for a visa. He worked for several gun related companies in New York and moved to Philadelphia a few years later. He had established a gun shop in Jenkintown which borders on Philadelphia. He converted it to a machine shop during World War II and was part of the war production. When World War II ended he right away established a hunting and sporting goods retail store, expanded the gun shop and produced accessories for hunting rifles that became very popular, as well as the Jaeger Sporting rifles in four grades.

Followup: Firearms for Monster Hunting in the Roaring Twenties

Meteor hammer anon again! First off thank you for all the info, it’s deeply appreciated (and yeah, sapient is actually the word I should’ve used haha).

But I feel the need to refine my question a bit, if that’s ok. First, my story is actually going to be drawn web comic style, so the limitations of prose aren’t really an issue for me. Second, I suppose the crux of why I was sending that ask is because I’m having a hard time coming up with useful weapons that small species (like humans) could use agains larger ones, especially in a stealth environment. I thought of the meteor hammer cause it’s easy to hide and can deal a lot of damage – but that’s really it. (I’m not very well versed on weapons ^^’). Guns ARE an option, so long as they are from around the roaring twenties (the character in question is actually already carrying a pistol – a C96 to be exact, though I’m not sure if it’s the best choice). And finally one last comment – it is worth noting that most of my ‘dragons’ are so derived from the original concept the term almost doesn’t apply anymore – the point being that most don’t actually have the hard shells of typical dragons.

Thank you again for all the help you give writers, and I’ll look forward to any response you give me if you decide to! (You guys are awesome!!)

Okay, so, first off, visual media is where the meteor hammer shines. It’s a very visually dynamic weapon. The only hitch is, that this is the weapon of a martial arts master. Your characters can’t just pick them up and roll with it.

So, basing your setting off the 1920s immediately, and dramatically changes your weapon options. If you need to take down something significantly larger than you, firearms are the first solution.

The C96 is a legitimate option, but it might not be the best choice. It was chambered in either .30 Mauser or 9x19mm. There were Chinese manufactured .45 variants, though I’m not sure on the production dates for those. Also, there are C96s chambered in 9x25mm, but those are a rarity. The biggest problem is simply reloading. The C96 loads 10 rounds from a stripper clip. (There were 20 round variants produced before World War 1.) Individual rounds can be loaded at a time. However, the box magazine is not detachable. (There are variants, including ones manufactured by Mauser with detachable box magazines, however most of these date from the 1930s or later. As far as I know, the only ones from the 20s were Spanish bootlegs shipped to China, starting in 1928.) There were also select-fire variants, though the earliest examples I’m aware of date to the mid-30s.

On a similar note, the Luger P08 went into production in 1898. These were chambered in 7.65mm and 9x19mm. They use a more familiar, detachable box magazine loaded into the grip. They have an 8 round capacity, and the top of the slide is articulated strangely (it folds vertically when ejecting rounds, instead of traveling straight back.)

The British Webley Revolver was a break open revolver chambered in .455, and .38. The Mk 4 .455 entered military service in 1915, and the .38 caliber Webleys saw police use in the early 1920s.

While it’s archaic, today, the Colt Single Action Army entered production in the 1870s. These were chambered in .45 Long Colt (though, the gun can be found in an incredibly wide range of calibers today, and it can be a little difficult to determine when a given cartridge first popped up. Even in the 20s, this was a remarkably accurate and reliable revolver. The biggest downsides are that you have to manually load each shell separately, and it is single action, meaning you need to manually recock after each shot. The gun is over 150 years old today, and it still holds up as an excellent sporting pistol, a century ago, it would have been a viable combat weapon.

Also, worth noting that magnum cartridge was developed by Elmer Keith in the 1950s. So, while I’m listing revolvers, and you can get a Colt SAA in .44 magnum today, those would not have existed in the 1920s.

In the spirit of the Magnum, there is one unusual example worth listing off. The Mars Automatic Pistol developed in 1900. Forgotten Weapons did a video on the pistol a few years back.

Finally, the elephant in the room is the Colt 1911. These were adopted by the US Military in 1911, and were revised in 1926 (this would be the M1911A1.) The original 1911s had some reliability issues if they were loaded with anything other than ball ammunition, but this would become one of the most widely adopted handguns in the 20th century.

I’m probably forgetting a lot of revolvers that would be contemporary. The Smith & Wesson Model 30 was in production from 1903 to 1976, for example. This is also not a complete list of handguns, off hand I know the Smith & Wesson 1913 was in production throughout the decade. So, you might be able to find some other more obscure options.

One weapon that I expected would fit, but doesn’t, is the Browning Hi-Power. I remembered these as entering production in the mid-20s, but they didn’t actually hit the market until 1935. In the 20’s FN was still producing the Browning M1903, and M1910/M1922.

For larger weapons, there were bolt action rifles. The Mauser 98 (or Kar98, with Kar being short for Karabiner, meaning Carbine) was the standard Germany infantry rifle in World War I. The M1903 was the American equivalent. While you’d be hard pressed to hide these unless you were wearing an overcoat, both are excellent, accurate rifles. Winchester produced a lever action rifle (the Model 1895), which would have still been commercially available in the 1920s.

The Thompson Sub-Machine Gun entered commercial production in 1921, and would see military adoption in 1928. (These had 20 and 30 rounds “stick” magazines, or the 50 and 100 round drum mags.)

The BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) entered commercial production in 1917, and military use in 1918. This is a fully automatic rifle chambered in .30-06, with a detachable 20 round box mag. It’s heavy (at nearly 16lbs), but it is a lot of portable firepower. There was a lighter, semi-automatic version, called the Colt Monitor which was marketed to police, but also ended up on the commercial market, however that didn’t enter production until 1931.

Thanks in large part to Terminator 2, we’re probably all familiar with the Winchester 1887, it’s a lever action shotgun, though there were iterations, including the Winchester Model 1901. The 1887 is notable for how much you can cut the gun down and still have a functional weapon. The nickname for sawed off 1887s is a “Mare’s Leg.” So let’s look at some shotguns you didn’t expect.

The Winchester Model 12 was an early pump action shotgun. While the pumps you’re used to seeing, like the Winchester 1200, the Mossberg 590, and the Remington 870 would be 40 years away from your setting, the Model 12 was already there, and saw use during World War 1. The Model 12 is, for the most part, the pump action shotgun, you’re familiar with today. The design hasn’t changed that much in over a century. There’s also the Winchester 1897, which is another early pump action shotgun. The 1897 notable for its external hammer spur, which would become unusual in later pump action shotgun designs.

The Browning Automatic 5 was a five round semi automatic shotgun developed by John Browning. Remington produced a variant called the Model 11. The Browning Auto 5 was the first semi-auto shotgun dating back to the final years of the 19th century. This had a 4+1 magazine capacity.

If you absolutely need to take something out silently, the crossbow is probably your best option. Alternately a bow is viable. These are harder to conceal, though I wouldn’t count them out entirely.

The first firearms silencers entered the market in 1909, and regulation wouldn’t catch up until 1934. So, the 1920s were an odd era when you could purchase silencers as mail order items. Of course, silencers do not fully silence a gunshot, but they were commercially available in the 20s, and they can drastically reduce the amount of sound a firearm produces.

As we’ve said before, getting into melee with something considerably larger than yourself is a recipe for disaster. Spears and lances might be effective options, but they don’t exactly qualify as stealthy. Granted, most firearms only fit that definition in the sense of getting into position undetected, and you would need a trench coat to conceal anything larger than a handgun. However it is much safer dealing with a dragon at three hundred yards through the scope of a bolt action rifle, than trying to hit it with a rock while standing in claw distance.

A few things worth remembering:

The M79 Grenade Launcher entered development in the 1950s. Before that the US military relied on either throwing hand grenades or mortar strikes. The Bazooka dates to 1942.

In World War 1, tanks were neutralized using, what we’d now call anti-material rifles. Anti-Tank rifles are in their own category of firearm. They’re not stealthy, they don’t have the accuracy of something like a TAC-50 or M82, but they are period appropriate and would absolutely put down whatever they hit.

World War 1 saw extensive use of chemical weapons on the battlefield, and while this would eventually see the use of such weapons curtailed by the Geneva Protocol in 1925 (this is different from the Geneva Convention, there were a number of distinct international treaties negotiated in Geneva in the 20s regulating warfare.) It’s not hard to imagine a world where these protections wouldn’t extend to “monsters.” (There’s a lot more political history here, I’m not going to get into.)

Additionally, while I can’t find hard data on the first White Phosphorous small arms munitions, white phosphorous grenades first saw battlefield usage in 1915. This is a very vicious weapon that would make a mess out of anything caught in the blast, as white phosphorous burns on contact with open atmosphere (technically, it’s reacting to the moisture in the air), and will continue burning in the victim’s body. Worth noting, phosphorous munitions will leave particulate matter in the air after use, and this can cause injury to anyone moving through the area immediately after bombardment, if they’re not using gas masks and covering their exposed skin.

Production of chemical agents like Phosgene or chlorine gas are depressingly easy, and I’m not going to be going into further details on these, but they’d probably be just as effective.

So, yeah, you have options. There were a wide range of commercial and military firearms on the market in the 1920s. World War 1 had just ended, and depending on where you were in the world, there were a lot of weapons still in circulation. There were also a lot of people who’d been in a military conflict and still had the training to use them. It’s a very complex moment in history, and worth digging into if you’re going to set your story in it.

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