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milpas 12-02-2007 07:48 AM

Small Caliber Rifle Trials
Does anyone know what rifles were examined in the early 60s small caliber rifle trials besides the AR15 & the Winchester LMR.

PT-The Italian Commie 12-02-2007 12:51 PM

You can find almost everything you need to know about it HERE. Most important to know is, the adoption of the M-16 came without it being trialed/compared with any other competitor, because... there were none! The AR-15 (that's the way it was called back then) was only compared with the AK-47 and the M-14 to see if it was more suitable in combat situations (Vietnam). However, if you need a list of all the "small-caliber" military rifles that were launched on the market almost immediately after the introduction of the .5'56x45mm round, well, these are the FN CAL, the Stoner 63/63A, and the Armalite AR-18.

milpas 12-02-2007 02:04 PM

Re: Small Caliber Rifle Trials
Thanks for the information.

I've been looking at the various rifle trials and of course I have more questions than answers.

In the 1878 magazine rifle trials Fuller lists a Sharps rifle. Did Sharps every make a magazine rifle?

Also, the technology of the lever action rifles seem to be far ahead of the other rifles of the time. Why were they ignored by the militaries (except for some state militias). I know the Russians in WWI bought some Winchester 1995s, but they were so desperate they were buying anything.

PT-The Italian Commie 12-03-2007 10:03 AM

Sincerely, I could find no trace of a magazine Sharps rifle; it was possibly a prototype specifically made for those trials that never passed into production once it was rejected...

As for why lever-action repeating rifles (holding more than 1 round) were never adopted by any military, I couldn't tell why... my guesses can be:

#1: Being them originally conceived for uses other than military, for saddle carry, to be fired while riding a horse, etc., their dimensions were contained by using cartridges that were simply not powerful enough to guarantee range, accuracy and stopping power required by the Military. Only exception was the Winchester Model 1895, which by the way was significantly longer and heavier than other lever-action models and de facto nulled all the major advantages of the lever-action carbines.

#2: As can be deduced from above, a lever-action rifle chambered for a military caliber looses most of its advantages as a practical, light, handy rifle, as its working system is most of times mated to a tubular magazine, which makes the gun significantly long and bulky if it has to fit Military cartridges. Again, the Winchester Model 1895 is an exception, using a standard internal magazine patterned after the one of most of the bolt-action military rifles of the era (compared to whom, it was also significantly faster to operate). But again, due to the resistance and robustness required to handle such heavy cartridges, it offered almost no advantage in lenght and weight, nor in ammunition capacity (the Winchester Model 1895 holds only 5 rounds of ammunition, is over 1 Meter long and weights around 4 Kilograms UNLOADED). Furthermore, the Winchester Modek 1895 rifle was more sensitive to fouling and dirt than rifles like the Mosin-Nagant M-91 or the Mauser 98G, and the lever action was less comfortable to operate when firing from prone position, so typical for early 20th Century warfare, and it was also long to reload: while the Russian contract Model 1895s used Mosin-Nagant 5-rds stripper clips, the other variants were reloaded by single cartridges, round by round.

UZI4U 12-03-2007 01:08 PM

Re: Small Caliber Rifle Trials
#1: Lever action rifles were adopted by the military. The Union Army used large numbers of Spencer rifles.

#2: The main disadvantage of a lever-action rifle is range.

#3: The reason the United States Army did not use more lever action during the era of western expansion is simple; money. Those suckers cost a lot.

milpas 12-03-2007 03:48 PM

Re: Small Caliber Rifle Trials
I'm thinking about the 1878 trials and beyond.

The Winchester M1876s were chambered in the 45/70 which was the caliber of most of the other rifles in the trial. I dont have a M1876, but does it weigh that much more than my Hotchkiss, the rifle that came out on top in the trials. I'm also not sure how their costs compared at the time.

Come to think about it, the Mexican army bought a lot of the Winchester 94s. Maybe it was only our military that didnt like the lever actions.

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