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Military bolt-action rifles: they're still out there.

Can you identify these rifles? Match the rifles with the descriptions on the following page.


Bolt action rifles have served the world's armies since the mid-19th century, and even today they are to be found in the hands of insurgents anywhere that shots are being fired. While they no longer represent the majority of any forces' weapons, they are nevertheless often favored for their accuracy, ease of maintenance, and the power of their ammunition. The latter is significant: the German 7.92mm (commonly referred to as the 8mm) Model 98 Mauser of both World Wars fired a service bullet of 154 grains--later replaced by a heavier 196-grain boat tail bullet--at a muzzle velocity of over 2,800 feet per second, surpassing even the performance of our own .30 caliber service cartridge. Note: the official German designation of the cartridge is the 7.92x57mm, with the first number denoting the diameter of the bullet (approximately .31 caliber) and the second number indicating the length of the unfired cartridge case. Both numbers are expressed in millimeters. Under this system the familiar 7.62 NATO rifle and machine gun cartridge is the 7.62x51.

Following World War II, Soviet forces had captured so many Mausers and their ammunition that they found it worthwhile to clean and recondition them and place them in storage against the day when they would be needed to support Communist insurgencies around the world. Many of these were later captured in Vietnam during the early 1970's, when their flat trajectory made them ideal for shooting across the broad expanses of rice paddies and their heavy boat tail bullets -not easily deflected by vegetation--made them something to be reckoned with in densely forested terrain. Much of the Mauser ammunition captured in Vietnam bore German World War II headstamps, although today ammunition made in countries as varied as Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, and Austria can still be found. And the supply of 7.92mm ammunition is not likely to run low anytime soon. Production within the Eastern European Soviet surrogates continued with good quality, reliable military-specification cartridges--still available today at low cost--being manufactured in Romania and Yugoslavia up until at least the 1980's. Infantry magazine has tested brass-cased Czech 7.92mm ammunition loaded in 1938, and found it to be reliable and accurate, a tribute to the stability of the Berdan primers and nitrocellulose smokeless powders used nearly seven decades ago.

Match the Rifles Shown with the Descriptions Below

-- A) The U.S. Model 1903 A1 caliber .30 Springfield rifle incorporated many elements of the Model 98 Mauser but also had improved features such as windage-adjustable rear sight, a magazine cut off which permitted firing single shots while keeping the 5-round magazine in reserve, and a rear sight mounted close to the receiver ring for a greater sight radius and hence better accuracy.

-- B) The Soviet M44 7.62x54R carbine was based on the earlier Mosin-Nagant M1891 infantry rifle of both World Wars and its offspring, the M38 carbine of World War II. Both the M38 and the M44 saw service in World War II and all three rifles were used by North Korean and Chinese forces during the Korean War. This rifle also saw service with Viet Cong regional forces and some North Vietnamese Army units before it was replaced by the Kalashnikov assault rifle. The M44 is readily identified by its overall length of approximately 40" and its folding bayonet.

-- C) The German 7.92mm Kar. 98 was the most common Mauser rifle in Wehrmacht service during World War II. It is identifiable by the steel disassembly grommet and sling hole in the stock, the cutout recess beneath the bent-down bolt handle, and the upper handguard which ends in front of the rear sight. The Kar. 98 shown here was captured from Thuan Hoa district Viet Cong forces following a firefight in the fall of 1968.

-- D) The 6.5x55mm M38 Swedish infantry carbine is characterized by its vertical L-shaped cocking piece, a brass data plate on the right side of the buttstock, the straight bolt handle, a finger-grooved foreend, and an upper handguard that extends past the rear sight to the receiver ring.

-- E) The 7.92mm M48 Yugoslav Mauser is a close variant of the Kar. 98, and was produced in postwar production according to original German specifications. It can be distinguished by its distinctively bent bolt handle, the absence of both a bolt cutout and disassembly grommet in the stock, by the cup-type steel buttplate, the upper handguard extending all the way to the receiver ring, and by the overall high quality workmanship not found in most late-World War II Mauser variants.

-- F) The 7.92mm Czech VZ24 was copied from German improvements of 1924, and was widely sold throughout the world during the years when the treaty ending World War I prohibited Germany from manufacturing military small arms. This is clearly one of the best Mausers ever made, and is identifiable by its sling swivels below the stock, the straight bolt handle, the reinforcing bolt in the pistol grip, the short finger groove under the rear sight, and the distinctive butterfly-type front sight guard.

-- G) The .30 caliber Model 1903A3 Springfield rifle differs from the M1903A1 in its heavy use of stamped vs. milled parts, a measure to speed up rifle production in the early years of World War II, when the United States arsenals were still unable to produce the M1 Garand in sufficient numbers. Features that distinguish the 03A3 include stamped sling swivels, trigger guard assembly, and buttplate; an upper handguard extending to the receiver ring, a simpler stamped rear sight mounted on the rear receiver bridge, a straight-grip stock without finger grooves, and a stamped magazine follower.

Answer Key

1) E 2) F 3) B 4) C 5) D 6) G 7) A
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Title Annotation:Weapons Corner
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Date:May 1, 2006
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