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Thoughts from owners/shooters of WWII mil-surplus rifles

Discussion in 'Small Arms and Edged Weapons' started by 1911Colt, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. 1911Colt

    1911Colt Member

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    I'm sure this may have already been discussed, but i could not find a thread so i thought i'd start one.

    Fortunately we (Americans) do live in a country that allows us to keep & bear arms. Being able to buy the weapons used by not only our fathers/grandfathers, but our allies as well as their adversaries is a privelage. Over the years i've owned a number of these & have enjoyed shooting most of them in the process.

    My initial intention of this thread was to get feedback from those who have done the same, esp. regarding the bolt action variety.

    The best, i.m.o., & i may be biased was the 1903 Springfield. It is of course based on the Mauser, which i find to be a very close second. The action on the 03 feels more fluid than a 98k, but of course this all depends on the quality of the individuals rifle. The ballistics on the 2 are close with the 8mm edging the 30.06 a little bit. The sights on the Mauser 98k are better to see through & has an edge in that dept. As for carrying, they both feel equal as far as weight & distribution are concerned.

    The other two, the Enfield Mk4 & the Mosin Nagant 91/30 are not as enjoyable i feel. Both are heavier & the Mosin is so much more cumbersome in length. The British rifle is far superior as for action comparison, while the Soviet weapon's right angle bolt is very stiff to operate no matter how many times you've shot & cleaned it. Same can be said for the other Mosin variants as well. I will say though the MN (91/30 model) is a tack driver on a bench as far as mil-surplus weapons go & i can see why in the proper hands it was extremely effective.

    As for enjoyment, they're all fun to shoot at the range & in most cases are economical (for the time being) to feed as well. There are other rifles to compare, but i think these are the most common that are out there that most people can get their hands on & shoot regularly.
     
  2. Lippert

    Lippert Member

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    As much as I am a fan of the Springfield, I'd have to say I've enjoyed two weapons in particular. The Ma Deuce is without a doubt one of the coolest weapons to fire - it's just amazing. I'd have to second it with the Arisaka my great uncle brought back from Okinawa - my dad and I actually used it to hunt while I was a boy before I knew what it really was and it made for a fine hunting rifle!

    Pistol-wise, the Luger is always a treat, but I find myself still leaning towards the heavy hitting power of the 1911.
     
  3. papabyrd

    papabyrd Member

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    If you realy want a tack driver get a M39 Finnish Mosin Nagant .It is a little heavy but will shoot rings around a Mosin Nagant 91/30.
     
  4. 1911Colt

    1911Colt Member

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    Never fired an Arisaka, Lippert. But i have pumped a couple .45 ACP's through John Brownings masterpiece once or twice. :D Best firearm ever made i.m.o.

    I've got an M44 papabyrd, which i believe is similar to the M39. Only difference that i'm aware of is the obvious swing-out bayonet. I like the gun for size, but the toad sticker on the side is a little annoying. That & the stock on mine is crap which means it rarely ever see's the light of day.
     
  5. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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  6. 1911Colt

    1911Colt Member

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    Thank you sir. I guess i didn't search hard enough.
     
  7. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    I knew about them mainly because I have posted in them LOL.
     
  8. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    I do quite a bit of shooting and have several buddies who are also gun buffs. Collectively we own, or have owned, just about every military surplus firearm commonly available on the civilian market, and some that most people have never seen. I won't mention everything I've had an opportunity to fire, just those which are special favorites and those I didn't like.

    In my opinion, the top bolt action rifles are the Springfield '03 and '03A1, and the Mauser K98 variations (though some of the K98's tend to be a bit awkward to use). I also like the Enfield 1917; it is the strongest of all bolt actions (though some claim that for the Arisaka which is nonsense in my opinion), Unfortunately, the Enfield is way too heavy for anything but range shooting. Some people claim the Enfield Mk III or Mk IV has the smoothest bolt, but I prefer the Springfield '03 bolt which, with a little work, is far smoother and a little faster than the Enfield. But my absolute favorite among war surplus bolt rifles is the Swedish Mauser M94 Carbine in 6.5 MM. I own a very nice example and love shooting it; the bolt is smooth to operate, the weapon is short and light (about the size of an M-1 Carbine), recoil is relatively mild, the trigger is very smooth and crisp, and accuracy is excellent. The sights were originally very crude, but I managed to find a set of Swedish Mauser target sights which greatly improved the performance of the gun. Ammo is difficult to find and expensive, so I load my own.

    View attachment 2877

    Accuracy among war surplus military rifles is difficult to assess because there is a wide range of manufacturing quality among rifles and individuals rifles may have been repaired with parts of indifferent quality during their careers. generally, the Springfields are very accurate, the K98's a bit less so. The British Enfields are just average, and the various Russian, and Japanese rifles are all over the place in terms of accuracy. It should be noted that ammunition quality has a great deal to do with accuracy in military rifles and thus the more exotic or unusual examples usually suffer.

    With regard to military pistols, my hands down favorite is the Colt 1911A1 in .45 ACP. It is simply the finest pistol ever designed for military service and though some modern ones come close, none surpass it. I own three, including the one my dad carried throughout the Pacific war. I also enjoy shooting the "Broomhandle" Mauser, and the Browning M1935. The Luger is a beautiful example of the gun maker's art, but way too fragile and prone to jamming for a military weapon. Lugers are becoming so valuable these days that none of my friends who own them still shoot them. The P-38 is rugged, and fun to shoot, but not well designed from an ergonomic standpoint. Another "military" pistol I really like is the Mauser HSC, not because it is particularly effective, but I like the compact design and the way it handles.

    Other military arms I really enjoy are the M-! Garand, the M-1 Carbine, and the M-14 (M1A1 in civilian guise). I shoot the Carbine more than any other weapon and that necessitates hand loading the ammo. With care, a pretty potent load can be developed which approaches the 5.56 NATO round in potency and effectiveness, so it makes a great all around hunting and self defense weapon. The Garand is a classic design, but I really enjoy shooting my shorty M-14 much more.
     

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  9. papabyrd

    papabyrd Member

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    After WW2 the Army tried to blow up a model 38 Arisaka. They took a shell and filled it as full as they could with powder then compressed the bullet back in and fired the gun.It did not blow up and worked ok for the next shot. Then they took a mauser and 03A3 and did them the same way.They both came apart like glass.The Arisaka may look ugly but at the start of the war it was the strong one.
     
  10. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Hardly a scientific test. I'd like to see some documentation in any case, because it's possible to load both the .30-'06 and the 7.92 cartridge with compressed powder loads without damaging the '03 or Mauser actions, IF a rifle type powder is used. The cartridge case is also important in this kind of "test" because, depending on the manufacturer, internal volume will vary greatly even with cartridges of the same caliber. I still believe the Arisaka action is no better than most other Mauser actions, and in some cases somewhat deficient.

    At any rate the Enfield 1917 action is much stronger than the best of the Arisaka actions. 1917 Enfield actions have been used to build very high powered hunting rifles, many in the African game class. I doubt anyone would want to do the same with an Arisaka action if only because of potential quality control problems with the later actions.
     
  11. 1911Colt

    1911Colt Member

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    Great personal summary DA. We seem to have the same taste in weaponry.
    I didn't even touch on auto loaders, thought i'd save it for another time but your review almost mirrors my feelings as well there too. Difference being i like the Garand over the M-1. If i had to lug one around though, the carbine would win hands down.

    I have an old co-worker who has his fathers service 1911's torn down & stored in sealed coffee containers. They've been there for years & judging by the way he keeps the guns i questioned his appreciation & offered to buy them. Unfortunately he declined.

    It's great you have your dads Colt. An heirloom to cherish for generations.
     
  12. machine shop tom

    machine shop tom Member

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    If you can, locate the book Bolt Action Rifles by Frank De Haas. In it he describes how he torture-tested an Arisaka Type 99 in 7.7 caliber. The barrel was rechambered for the .30-06 cartridge and purposely cut .010" deeper than normal. 3 loads were fired in it. The first was a case full of 3031 powder and a 180 grain bullet. The second was a case full of 4198 with the same bullet. The third was a case full of 2400 powder with the same bullet (the cases were .30-06 cases). The first two loads did not damage the rifle. The third loa, the barrel, bolt, and receiver were intact. The extractor was gone, the bolt stop was sprung, the follower and floorplate were gone, but the bolt and firing mechanism were in place. The receiver was slightly bulged and the barrel had moved out of the receiver about 1 thread. The particular rifle used in this test was "the worst specimen of this rifle that was carried home by a returning GI".

    In the May, 1959 issue of The American Rifleman an article describes a Type 38 6.5mm rifle that was rechambered to take the .30-06 cartridge leaving the barrel at 6.5mm Neither the barrel nor action were damaged firing .30-06 ammunition through it. It was actually used to hunt with.

    I think the Arisaka rifles are among the strongest of any bolt action rifle.

    tom
     
  13. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    I do not concur. The chamber pressure tests conducted long ago by P. O. Ackly demonstrated that carefully selected pre-war Ariska actions could safely withstand pressures up to and including those generated by some of the most powerful cartridges then in existence. However, subsequent examination of Arisaka actions revealed that those manufactured during the war were frequently subject to very questionable quality controls and thus may, or may not, be as strong as the one tested by Ackly. The problem is very few gunsmiths can identify the suspect actions without a great deal of trouble because the Japanese were notorious for poor record-keeping. So, while the Arisaka action is, technically, a very strong action, it is not one I would want to use in a powerful rifle. If you have ever fired one, you would also understand that they do have deign flaws which most people find annoying; the very stiff and inconvenient safety for example. Currently, if I were seeking an action with which to build a very powerful rifle, my first choice would be a 1917 Enfield.

    As noted in the referenced article, Enfield 1917/P14 actions are the only former military actions mentioned, as suitable for building rifles for the larger African calibers(606 Mammoth, 577 T-Rex, 375 H&H for example). Otherwise, custom commercial rifle actions are specified; no mention is made of Arisaka actions at all.

    "One of the prerequisites for design was to fit on a variety of actions and not require something inordinately expensive. Any of the 1917/P14 actions, CZ 550 series, Brno 602, or Olympic Arms Ultra Mag could be used. Of course one of the CNC machined Magnum Mauser actions now on the market would be ideal if you don’t mind the $2500 price tag."

    See;
    606 Mammoth
     
  14. Lippert

    Lippert Member

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    There is great truth to the Arisaka being a bit limited ergonomically, but putting all strength tests aside, I have been very pleased with how mine has held up over the years. It has been fired a LOT and required no rebuild or maintenance or machining and honestly it surprises me a bit, as I had always assumed that because it was Japanese it was inferior (this thumped into me be the endless stream of John Wayne movies I was subjected to by my old man). When I was fourteen I took the shoulder off a boar at around 300 yards using the Arisaka, which for me was no small feat. I have been very impressed with it and enjoy firing it immensly, not merely from the historical perspective, but because it truly is a good weapon, and perhaps most because it has been an unexpected pleasure. I've fired Mausers and M-1s that were just as accurate, but there's something about how antiquated the design of the Arisaka is that makes it fun to shoot.

    Just think about the AK-47 and it's inferior machining - yet its one of the most reliable weapons in the world because of it.
     
  15. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Nice exchange of views and ideas, guys. I personally haven't fired a bolt action in quite some time but I am familiar with the Springfield, since it was in our university armory. We rarely used them for firing but when we did so, it was always fun.

    As for the M1911A1, as I've said before, it's something a person can fall in love with. It kicks hard when it's fired but you know that what it hits will definitely fall down.

    Lippert, your comparison using the AK47 as a contrast was well said.
     
  16. machine shop tom

    machine shop tom Member

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    Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating the Arisaka as a great rifle to build upon. It, as has been mentioned, has many faults and it's manufacture can be suspect. But the design IS strong, which is my major point.

    The Moisin Nagant M91 is also a design with flaws, some major. But I intend on picking one up soon to see how well I can make it shoot. I already have a Czech 98 Mauser, slightly sporterized. It's my poor man's .30-06.

    tom
     

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