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rosehips
06-03-2013, 03:40 AM
Hi all,
My setting is based on the 1920s and 1930s era, although I take a lot of liberties because it is a fantasy setting, not on earth.

Still, I like to try to remain true at least in spirit to the technology of the time. I've been reading a lot about many things like airplanes and cars and such, and now it's rifles.

My mc will fire a rifle several times in the scene I'm working on. I've been reading about bolt action rifles with box magazines, and I'm not entirely sure that those are what I need, especially since the dates associated to what I've been reading are all around the 1880s. What kind of rifle should I be reading about?

I don't want her using a machine gun. I've got more of a sniper feel going with this scene. I've got her using a telescopic sight, for instance.

From what I read, in WWI some rifles you had to load each round manually because people thought soldiers would waste ammunition otherwise, but then that got discontinued.

What I need to know is, if she fired seven times, would she be moving the bolt?

Would she have to reload? I picked the number seven because I read that the repeating rifle in the American Civil War could fire seven shots.

What would the process of firing those rounds realistically look like?

Any and all responses very much appreciated!

Dave Hardy
06-03-2013, 04:16 AM
You can google "bolt action" and find tons of information. They are still made today in fact, I own a Remington .22. I'd really recommend reading up on this stuff, it's not all that obscure and pictures can tell you a lot. Also you can look up the technical words. Really it's easy to find.

Basically the bolt is a mechanical device that opens the breech of a rifle so a new bullet can be inserted manually (single shot) or mechanically from a box magazine, a part on the rifle that holds a set of bullets. You lift the handle on the bolt up, pull back, the spent shell ejects. Then you either put in the new round or one feeds from the magazine, then slide the bolt forward and push the handle down. Or slap it, I fired a Russian Mosin-Nagant and you need to slam that thing in place.

Military rifles such as the Lee-Enfield often had a cut out slide that closed off the box. That did allow for hand feeding the rounds to slow the shooter down, prevent wastage, etc. Obviously this was not desirable when I high rate of sustained fire was required.

Some typical military rifles of the era were the aforementioned Mosin-Nagant (Russia/USSR), Lee-Enfield (UK), Mauser (Germany and many other countries), Springfield (USA), Mannlicher (Austria), and Arisaka (Japan). Many of these were in service up through WWII. They are highly accurate and quite powerful (Arirsakas not so much). They could often be fitted with scopes and issued to snipers as is, though some quality assurance testing might be done.

Off hand a ten round box was standard, but there was some variation. You fill the box from a stripper clip, a metal strip with leaf springs that holds the rounds in place. You slide the clip in and push the bullets so they slide off into the box.

Civilian hunting weapons were often single shot or small capacity bolt actions, that's to say the "deer rifle" type. The Winchester Model 70 and Remington Model 30 had mags of 3 to 5 shots. For big game civilian versions of the Mannlicher and Mauser 98 were popular.

Now by the '20s there were in fact semi-automatic rifles such as the Remington Model 8 or Winchester Model 1903. The Model 1903 had a certain popularity with law enforcement in the era. These you got one shot from one pull of the trigger and the next round fed in.

ETA: There were also tube-fed rifles (the bullets are stacked up in a tube) instead of box magazine. Also lever-action, a handle below the trigger ejects the spent shell and feeds a new one. The classic lever-action, tube-fed rifle was the Winchester '73 (an awesome movie with Jimmy Stewart!). They were passe by the '20s, though still in civilian hands.

ETA2: I guess 5 round clips were more typical.

slhuang
06-03-2013, 04:32 AM
You need to decide what kind of rifle you are using before we can give you a lot of detail about the experience of shooting it. All rifles will be slightly different. Can you tell us more about who your character is (background, resources, etc.) and the scene she's involved in? That may help us give you suggestions as to what rifle to choose.

Bolt action rifles are excellent, accurate firearms and are still very much in use today. They have quite a few advantages over semiautomatics; semiautomatics in no way made them obsolete. This post (http://www.slhuang.com/blog/2012/09/14/gun-basics-for-writers-types-of-firearms-basic-civilian-small-arms-part-2-of-2-long-guns/) from my Gun Basics for Writers series is on modern firearms, but it should give you an idea of how bolt action rifles work. :) Yes, she would have to work the bolt between each round, but if she's experienced, she will be able to do this very fast. Bang-chachunk-bang-chachunk-bang. We can help you get a bit more specific about the loading/firing experience once you decide on exactly which rifle you want. :)

Drachen Jager
06-03-2013, 05:37 AM
1880s if you wanted rapid-fire, a lever-action was a good bet.

Most repeaters in those days had an under-the-barrel tube mag. Henry was one of the big manufacturers of lever action rifles, back in those days. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_rifle

Siri Kirpal
06-03-2013, 06:37 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

There's a Firearms thread somewhere in here. You might hunt for it.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

ClareGreen
06-03-2013, 11:13 AM
My mc will fire a rifle several times in the scene I'm working on. I've been reading about bolt action rifles with box magazines, and I'm not entirely sure that those are what I need, especially since the dates associated to what I've been reading are all around the 1880s. What kind of rifle should I be reading about?

(...)

What I need to know is, if she fired seven times, would she be moving the bolt?

Would she have to reload? I picked the number seven because I read that the repeating rifle in the American Civil War could fire seven shots.

What would the process of firing those rounds realistically look like?

Any and all responses very much appreciated!

From experience with .22 single shot bolt action rifles and having handled a (British) Lee Enfield...

She would be moving the bolt on a bolt-action rifle. You can't fire more than one shot - one already loaded - without.

She might not have to reload. 5-round magazines were most common, but 10-round magazines did exist.

The action of firing, if the first round is already loaded, would be:

Lift bolt handle.
Pull back.
(Spent case ejects.)
Push forwards.
Push bolt handle down to side of weapon.
Pull trigger.
Repeat.

Because of the way the bolt works, the action feels like it's on rails. When you've done it a couple of times it becomes second nature, partly because those are the only ways the bolt is willing to move - it almost tells you how to operate it.

Trebor1415
06-05-2013, 09:18 AM
Who is your character and how does she have access to firearms? That helps determine what specific types of firearms she'd use and then we can provide details.

In any case, semi-auto rifles, also called "self loading" rifles because they automatically loaded the next round as the previous round was fired, were less common for both military and civilians.

By the 1920's - 1930's bolt-action rifles were THE standard military rifle world wide. The German Mauser '98 set the standard in 1898 with a five shot internal magazine. The U.S. Springfield '03 also held five rounds. The British Enfield had a detachable 10 round magazine, but still was bolt action.

If she has access to military weapons, and you don't want her to have a submachine gun (like a Thompson aka "Tommy gun") those bolt action rifles would be most likely. The bolt action replace the lever-action in military use because it was stronger and could fire more powerful ammunition.

If she's a civilian, and doesn't have access to military weapons, or doesn't feel the need for the absolutely most modern tech, she could have a lever action rifle. These date back to the 1860's. They used tubular magazines (mostly) and most also fired "pistol caliber" ammunition. (i.e., the same ammo that was fired through revolvers). This type of ammo is smaller and less powerful than the type used in military bolt-action rifles of the time. The offset was the lever-actions held more rounds. The exact number depends on the gun you pick. The Civil War Spencer held 7. Later Winchester rifles could hold 10, or 13 or more, depending on the rifle and caliber.

waylander
06-05-2013, 01:25 PM
I've fired a bolt-action Lee Enfield with a 10 round magazine. They were the standard British infantry weapon of WW1. Trained troops could sustain 30 aimed rounds a minute and carried several pre-loaded magazines. Had quite a kick and left you with your ears ringing.

Trebor1415
06-05-2013, 05:34 PM
I've fired a bolt-action Lee Enfield with a 10 round magazine. They were the standard British infantry weapon of WW1. Trained troops could sustain 30 aimed rounds a minute and carried several pre-loaded magazines. Had quite a kick and left you with your ears ringing.

Actually although both the WWI and WWII versions of the Lee Enfield had removeable magazines, the standard practice was to ALWAYS leave the magazine in the rifle and reload with pre-loaded "chargers" (also called "stripper clips" although that's not technically accurate).

You opened the action and pushed the charger in through the top. Each charger held five rounds and by loading two you'd have a full magazine. Whenever possible you "topped off" by loading one charger full of ammo after firing your first five rounds.

In general, there were only two magazines issued for each Enfield rifle and the second magazine was only kept as a spare if the first was damaged. Both mags were serial number marked to the rifle as well.

Dave Hardy
06-05-2013, 06:14 PM
One thing about the durability and success of these types of rifles is the longevity of the technology. The first really successful bolt action was the Dreyse needle gun from the 1840s, though it is a very different thing from say a Mauser. The classic magazine-fed bolt-actions such as the Mauser and the Lee-Enfield appear in the 1880s-90s.

The Lee-Enfield was still in use by frontline British troops in the Korean War (1950-52). The M1903 Springfield was still used by US snipers in Vietnam. It was replaced (for the Marines) by a military version of a Remington bolt-action hunting rifle. And of course there was Lee Harvey Oswald with a bolt-action Italian Carcano. In the 1980s many Afghan mujahedin were using locally made copies of Lee-Enfields even though AK-47s were widely available. Bolt actions are still hugely popular with civilian hunters. My Remington .22 is older than me.

Compare the longevity of the SMLE, the Springfield, or the Mauser with your cell phone. Interesting how durable some things are.

Trebor1415
06-05-2013, 07:28 PM
Compare the longevity of the SMLE, the Springfield, or the Mauser with your cell phone. Interesting how durable some things are.

Yep, firearms are the very definition of "durable goods." It's very hard to actually wear them out with normal use and, if maintained, you can keep shooting them for 100 years or so, as long as you can find ammo.

My oldest rifle is a Martini Henry Mk II in .455 - 570. It was made in 1871. I shoot it last year. Although metallurgy wasn't as good back then, as long as you use black powder loads similiar to the original load, it's perfectly safe to shoot.

Rifles made after around 1910 - 1920 or so benefit from improvements in metallurgy made around that time and are still safe to fire with modern smokeless propellents today.

My Model 96 Swedish Mauser was manufactred in 1920 and is still as safe to shoot, and as accurate, as when it was made.

Dave Hardy
06-05-2013, 08:00 PM
Yep, firearms are the very definition of "durable goods." It's very hard to actually wear them out with normal use and, if maintained, you can keep shooting them for 100 years or so, as long as you can find ammo.

My oldest rifle is a Martini Henry Mk II in .455 - 570. It was made in 1871. I shoot it last year. Although metallurgy wasn't as good back then, as long as you use black powder loads similiar to the original load, it's perfectly safe to shoot.

Rifles made after around 1910 - 1920 or so benefit from improvements in metallurgy made around that time and are still safe to fire with modern smokeless propellents today.

My Model 96 Swedish Mauser was manufactred in 1920 and is still as safe to shoot, and as accurate, as when it was made.

Until recently you could get M1903 Springfields through the Civilian Shooting Program (http://www.odcmp.com/). They finally ran out a few years back. I think they still have M1 Garands for sale (for our less gun-obsessed friends, that's the semi-auto rifle that replaced the Springfield in the 1940s).

rosehips
06-06-2013, 08:57 AM
Thank you all so much for these great responses.

In answer to your questions, my character is somewhat experienced with firearms in general, having been in the middle of a revolution for a while. She was never a soldier or anything, but did do some fighting during the revolution, in order to protect herself, mainly. She was never formally trained. She gets recruited to be a sharp shooter by a rebel leader who gives her a fairly high quality rifle. Nothing extremely impressive or anything, but definitely a quality firearm.

I'll be creating the firearm based on one or more existing models, since it's a fantasy setting. I'd like it to be semi-automatic, if that's realistic under the circumstances, just to keep the scene moving smoothly.

She's using the rifle to shoot fighters who oppose the rebels who recruited her, in essence. It's more complicated than that, but that's the gist. She's in a ruined city.

WeaselFire
06-06-2013, 07:18 PM
What kind of rifle should I be reading about?
1903 Springfield, Moisin Nagant 91, 1914 Enfield, Mauser Gewehr 98, Enfield model 1 Mark III.

Google and YouTube will find you plenty of info on all, all were sniper rifles of the era and all are in the hands of sport shooters, hunters and collectors today.

There are only a billion historical sites for these, military collector sites and likely an enthusiast in your town that could help. By the way, there is (used to be?) a Mt. Shasta Long Rifle Club that had some members that likely could help.

Jeff

Trebor1415
06-06-2013, 08:17 PM
For your story purposes I'd have her armed with a bolt action rifle. Early semi-auto rifles were not as relialbe as bolt actions, and definitely not as accurate. All those moving parts were an issue compared to a simplier bolt action.

A bolt action is especially appropriate if he wants her to be a sniper or even a marksman. In that role rate of fire (how fast you shoot) isn't as important as accuracy. And a bolt-action would be more accurate.

Their rebels, right? That means they'll use weapons from multiple sources. Captured military weapons, sporting weapons, even home made weapons. Anything they can scrounge, really.

I'd give her a hunting rifle, maybe slightly customized, that they acquired somewhere. You don't need to identify the manufacturer, as she might not even now it anyway, just describe the gun.

I'd also have it have a low powered scope. Maybe 2x or 3x. That would be appropriate for some hunting rifles (not all) and totally suitable for her role.

I could see doing something like this:

"I've got something for you," he said, handing her a long object wrapped in a blanket.

She unwrapped it. It was a rifle, blued steel and fancy walnut, bolt action, with a short tubular scope mounted over the action. She looked closer and noted a hunting scene with men and Deer engraved on the receiver. "Obviously not a military weapon," she thought.

"You're a good shot, so I thought you'd get more of that with the scope then anybody else around," he said. "We've only got a couple boxes of ammo for that, so use it well. If you run out we'll find something else for you."

She pulled the bolt back and looked in the empty action. He held out a box of ammo and she pulled out a shiny cartridge as thick as a man's thumb and examined the blunt lead bullet at the end. "Those are hunting solids," he said. "They'll stop a bear, so they should work fine on men."

She thumbed five rounds into the receiver, took the boxes of ammo and put them in her coat, and went out the door.

Bing Z
06-06-2013, 08:54 PM
Trebor, how about she doesn't use a telescope? That would add to the Cinderella effect. Maybe she never has training in using a telescope but has been a sharp shooter hunting with just the iron sight? Simo Hayha allegedly didn't use a scope so it surely is possible.

Trebor1415
06-06-2013, 09:03 PM
Trebor, how about she doesn't use a telescope?hat would add to the Cinderella effect. Maybe she never has training in using a telescope but has been a sharp shooter hunting with just the iron sight? Simo Hayha allegedly didn't use a scope so it surely is possible.

Oh yeah, not having a scope would work story wise as well. And many hunting rifles are iron sights only so there's no problem on that end.

One thing a scope is good for though is making an "average" shooter better. If she's not really trained or really experienced with firearms before she HAD to use them, then all she'd have going for her is just some natural talent and maybe better than average eyesight.

A scope just makes it easier and is especially appropriate for a "sniper" or even "sharpshooter" type rebel, as opposed to a rebel who just points teh gun in the general direction of the enemy and "sprays and prays."

Bufty
06-06-2013, 09:04 PM
I've seen folk with bruised shoulders from the kickback on an improperly held .303 bolt action rifle. These things can pack a real punch in the kickback if not held properly.

Trebor1415
06-06-2013, 09:10 PM
I've seen folk with bruised shoulders from the kickback on an improperly held .303 bolt action rifle. These things can pack a real punch in the kickback if not held properly.

Just FYI, the correct term is "recoil." You will hear people use the term "kick" sometimes, as in, "That thing kicks like a mule," but I've very rarely heard anyone describe it as "kickback"

slhuang
06-06-2013, 09:20 PM
Just FYI, the correct term is "recoil." You will hear people use the term "kick" sometimes, as in, "That thing kicks like a mule," but I've very rarely heard anyone describe it as "kickback"

Might be regional. I've heard "kickback" before, and Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recoil) seems to think all three terms are in use, in addition to "knockback," which I've never heard myself.

Trebor1415
06-06-2013, 09:23 PM
Might be regional. I've heard "kickback" before, and Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recoil) seems to think all three terms are in use, in addition to "knockback," which I've never heard myself.

Hmmmn, could be regional. Or maybe I've just very rarely heard it for some other random reason. I've never heard "knockback" myself either

Bufty
06-06-2013, 10:18 PM
Kickback is in the Oxford English dictionary and defined as 'a sudden forceful recoil'.

JustFYI :poke:


Just FYI, the correct term is "recoil." You will hear people use the term "kick" sometimes, as in, "That thing kicks like a mule," but I've very rarely heard anyone describe it as "kickback"

rosehips
06-08-2013, 06:20 AM
Thanks, everyone. Weasel, thanks for the model names. Trebor, I'd already written the scene (without specifics) and yours is eerily like it. Thank you! I'll be adding your details in. :)

Trebor1415
06-12-2013, 06:51 AM
Thanks, everyone. Weasel, thanks for the model names. Trebor, I'd already written the scene (without specifics) and yours is eerily like it. Thank you! I'll be adding your details in. :)

Now I'm curious... Wanna post the scene?