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Your Ten Worst Infantry weapons

Discussion in 'Small Arms and Edged Weapons' started by OhneGewehr, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    I am always leery of these best/worst equipment lists. Every weapon design--tank, firearm, aircraft, warship--is a balance of different characteristics. No weapon can do everything equally well, and you can't have everything in the same design. When evaluating a weapon you always have to bear in mind the tactical function it was designed to fulfill, as well as the military situation at the time and the needs of the given nation's armed forces. SMGs are a good example of this. First generation guns like the Thompson and Lanchester were well-built, pretty reliable, and had a lot of inessential but nonetheless useful features: selective fire, compensator, bayonet lug, etc. This was all right in the conditions of the 1930s, but by 1941-42 the British and US armies needed masses of inexpensive guns which could be produced cheaply and quickly and mastered easily by conscripted civilians. The resulting weapons (Sten, M3) were frailer than first generation guns and perhaps less accurate because of the lower weight, but they were simple, compact, light, fast-firing, inexpensive, and so available in large numbers when they were most needed. Within the different generations of SMGs some were of course more effective than others; I'd take an M3 over a Sten any day.
     
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  2. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    Breda seemed to be a reliable source for useless garbage, the Breda Ba.88 "Lince" is widely known as a total failure and Italy hadn't the industrial capacity to develop and produce a proper tactical bomber instead.

    The idea behind this "Flop 10" was to name firearms with significant mistakes. The Grease Gun for example was intended to supply the american troops with a cheap fully automatic weapon as early as possible. In contrast to the Red Army and the Wehrmacht they continued to produce the M1 Garand instead of a simpler bolt action rifle and then needed a cheap addition, but it took too long to erase its faults.
     
  3. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    I do not follow the logic here. Could you explain further?
     
  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Terry D. makes an excellent point in post 21.

    If you want a good best/worst list you should compare apples to apples. In effect, best/worst battle rifle, best/worst LMG, best/worst submachine gun. Without that, the thread tends to get chaotic.

    Even within a narrower list, there are many subjective issues. For example, if one actually shoots a Mosin, a Mauser and an SMLE, you may find a "tie" in actual accuracy, yet the Mosin has a clunkier bolt movement. Do you count that?
    What about the ergonomics and balance? A rifle without those good qualities has less accuracy in the field when shooting offhand, and some are better than others. Most military weapons are "good enough" and when comparing the qualities, there is a lot of subjectivity in various opinions.
     
  5. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    One thing we have to remember is that some of these weapons were probably developed at a time when nations needs were stretched and armies needed to get their soldiers armed ASAP, so it only seems natural that some of these weapons were full of faults and these had to be found out on the field of battle rather on long field trials on the firing range, because this was a time when some countries had their backs to the wall.
     
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Dunno about the Lanchester, but the Sten was notorious for firing a round or two if dropped as the safety catch would not always prevent the bolt from moving,. The problem was sufficiently bad that standing orders for 1 BR Corps were that Sten guns were to be un-loaded unless actually in combat, on patrol or on sentry duty. There are frequent references in unit war diaries to wounds and deaths from sten gun accidents, a significant cause of casualties for non infantry units.
     
  7. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    I am aware of the problem with the Sten and I know that it happened often enough to be serious. I was inquiring about the Lanchester, which I had always understood to have a reputation as a good weapon.
     
  8. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    Why was it "good"? A copy of an obsolete german design, expensive to produce.

    "It proved notoriously susceptible to accidental discharge if the weapon were dropped."
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanchester_submachine_gun
     
  9. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Any open bolt gun has a propensity to accidentally discharge when bumped with enough longitudinal force. The Sten, MP40, etc, etc. There is nothing special about the Lanchester in this regard. The only exception MAY be that the Lanchester was heavier, and as such would hit the ground with more force if it fell. I personally know several people who were with a fellow who shot himself in the head with a Sterling SMG while on exercises -- jumped from the truck and hit the ground with the butt, which was enough to unjar the bolt with enough force such that it "slammed home" and fired.

    That being said, many people take this propensity for accidental discharge way too far. Unless there is a gross mechanical failure, an open-bolt gun will at most accidentally discharge one round if subjected to a longitudinal force significant enough to jar the bolt. The oft-repeated story is of crafty Brits throwing a Sten through a window, and when it hits the floor it'll fire uncontrollably until the magazine is empty. This is just ridiculous. If there is documented proof of such thing happening I'd like to see it - as well as how it was mechanically possible.
     
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    About the Carcano there must have been some reason for the Italians attempting to switch rounds to the 7.35 lust before the war, the move was aborted due to war start (similar issue to the SVT) to avoid disruption but would probably have happened had the war started a couple of years later.
    I believe the issue was the cartridge was decent for a rifle but was too light for machine guns that might be called on to provide suppression fire at up to 2000m and that resulted in them fielding the Breda 37 in 8mm as a MMG with the obvious logistical issues (BTW the Breda 37 is another good candidate if squad weapons count, it had the same issues as the 30 (required oil) except for the bullet and possibly the tripod mount that made the vulnerability to dirt less bad) . In Italy the Carcano, usually called moschetto 91, has a spotty reputation though, due to local laws, real small arms experts outside the military are less common than "military critics" that will criticise anything without any hands on expertise.

    I have mixed feelings about the FG42 after seeing the huge, though possibly more cosmetic than real, diffrerences between early and late production models, looks more a work in progress that something that could be widely distributed, though the paras were probably very happy to have them.
     
  11. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    How many were built? After the StG 44 was introduced, the Fg-42 wasn't needed badly anymore even if there were airborne german attacks any more. I guess it was seen more as a propaganda weapon from 1944 onwards.

    The finnish soldiers exchanged their Carcanos immediatly for captured Mosin-Nagants and I guess they know exactly why. You don't do this just for fun when your life depends on the weapon you got. Maybe it has issues in extrem cold conditions, the weak cartridge didn't help either. What about the fixed sights?
     
  12. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    How do you rate the Bergmann (MP35), I know that German army dropped them in favour of the MP40, but the SS still kept them, albeit in small numbers, but they look like solid reliable weapons.
    I think they are related to the Lanchester in some way.
     
  13. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    As I asked before, how often did this happen? John Weeks, who knows a thing or two, rated both the MP28 and the Lanchester as pretty reliable weapons. I have read an account by a para officer in the Suez expedition who was jealous of police back in Cyprus who had the Lanchester, which he thought far better than the Stens his unit had to use against the Egyptians. I have also heard that the Lanchester was pretty accurate for an SMG, and I've seen film of it being fired which would tend to confirm this.
     
  14. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    How about the ZK-383 which was used as a squad support weapon in the same way as the BAR, it fired 9x19mm round and had a bi-pod too, but was really just a sub-machine gun.

    I think the Czech designed weapons get over looked because VZ 26 ended up as the Bren and the VZ 37 could fire up to 800 rpm which was excellent for an air cooled weapon.
     
  15. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    And the Besa that was used by British tanks was also a Czech design though it retained the original 7.92 Mauser ammo.

    Didn't know about the ZK-383, "squad support weapons" using pistol ammo date back to the original Villar Perosa that shares with the Bergman the claim for the first SMG, when it was discovered that an SMG could be used by one man effectively most armies abandoned the concept as pistol ammo is useless beyond short range so a really bad fit for a support weapon. i believe there were other SMGs with bipods (but not with a quick change barrel like the ZK-383) , that made a little more sense than LMGs with bayonets but not much.

    The Finns dropping the Carcano may well be due to just logistics and not the rifle itself, I suspect the supplies of 7.35 ammo were limited and with little prospects of getting more, so standardising on the 7.92 Mauser and Soviet 7.62 made a lot of sense, and if the captured weapon is an early SVT, that were used by the Soviets during the winter war, rather than a Mosin Nagant,, it is one generation ahead of the Carcano.

    The issue with the MP28, Lanchester, Thompson and Italian MAB is cost, if you manage to get one it will serve you just as well as an MP40, STEN or Grease Gun (possibly better in the case of the early STEN and M3) the real problem is you are unlikely to get enough of them with the required manufacturing costs.
     
  16. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    The Mosin-Nagants from 1939 or earlier were usually of good quality and accurate.
    The Red Army sent almost 1 million soldiers to Finnland, are you really sure they had a lot of SVTs? The Mosin-Nagant was shortened and improved in 1930 to keep it up to date and i guess there were still a lot of them around.
     
  17. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    As GP notes above in Post 29, any open bolt weapon is liable to accidental discharge when dropped. Some are better than others, but essentially you have this heavy spring against the bolt, the bolt is open with the weight of that spring behind it. Picture a semi-auto pistol with slide held open only by the slide lock - bang that around enough, drop it a few times, and your slide will eventually get released and slam shut. Not a problem with a pistol because you still have to pull the trigger, but on a subgun the fixed firing pin is locked forward or loose. If that bolt is released it goes forward, picks up a round and fires it. Period. Modern subguns (the MP5) are closed bolt and thus not prone to this. A closed bolt weapon is more mechanically complex (thus more expensive to produce), but even so, over the last 40 or 50 years almost all subguns in police and military service have moved to a closed bolt design.

    The accuracy of any submachine gun is very much a secondary issue. It's a short range weapon, so "accuracy" is more about ergonomics. Can the shooter hold the weapon on target against the tendency of the weapon to climb as rounds are fired?
     
  18. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Yes TOD, the 7.92mm Besa tank machine gun is the VZ 37 or to give it another name, ZB-53.
    The MP28 was also used by the KNIL forces in the far-east.
    There are a few sub-machine guns which go under the radar and the Romanian Orlita and the Hungarian Danuvia are two which go unnoticed.
     
  19. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Since the title of this thread is "...infantry weapons" it seems to me we can consider more things than just firearms. I nominate the Japanese type 91/97 hand grenade. It had an unreliable fuse and poor fragmentation effect.
     
  20. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    If the film clip I saw is any guide, then a shooter can definitely hold a Lanchester on target. No doubt the weight helps with that.
     

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