Mauser 98 & Lee Enfield

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, Sep 5, 2006.

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  1. Over the years I have read many a piece where the Mauser 98 is praised as a high quality rifle, a tribute to the gun makers art.
    Last month I was listening to a TV program, while being on net and the Yank commentator says the Mauser 98 only had a 5 round magazine and so was not really up to it in a modern war, WW II.
    The Enfield was the main competator to the Mauser and this I know had a 10 round mag.
    First question is why only 5 rounds for the Mauser ? I mean it did WW I and was then still in service for Hitlers War.
    I know both rifles where manufacture around the world in their millions.
    So would the boards experts care to comment on the vices and virture of these two outstanding 'Guns'.
  2. Not only did the Lee-Enfield have a 10 round mag, it also had a much faster bolt action. IIRC, the record for speed firing of a LE was 38 rounds in a minute - including reloading.
    The Mauser bolt was much stronger and the rifle was more accurate but the LE could hit a 6 inch target at 600 yards - further than most soldiers ever fired.
    Coupled with its ability to resist dirt, give me a LE any day.
  3. Most likely reason for the Mauser 98 holding 5 rounds? thats what the Stripper Clip(Charger) held, it can be as simple as that.

    SMLE was faster to work the Bolt since the locking lugs were in the rear. My 1915 BSA No.1 MkIII's only vice is the safety catch sucks, if not put all the way forward, it can move into Fire mode easily. The Mauser safety locks the bolt & can't inadvertantly be switched. By the way, the Buttstock on my rifle is marked RWF would that mean Royal Welsh Fusiliers by any chance?

    The P14 Rifle when adapted to Cal. .30 US held 6 rounds in the magazine, had the Mauser style Bolt, but the Enfield safety catch.
  4. The Mauser and Enfield were both designed in at a time when the previous two or three hundred years' of firearms had been single-shot, so five rounds would have seemed like a lot to an army which was comfortable with single-loading. The British Army, for example, was perfectly happy to stay with the Martini-Henry whilst many European rivals were adopting magazine rifles.

    The first Lee Metford (Boer War vintage) had an 8-rnd magazine that was loaded from the top with single rounds. When charger clips were approved and adopted, it made sense to enlarge the Enfield magazine to 10 rnds.

    Experience in WW1 clearly showed the need for high volumes of rapid fire, so both Enfield and Mauser were tried with experimental 20 rnd magazines. Since neither rifle was designed for "quick change" magazines (the Enfield mag is only removed for cleaning), the 20-rnd mags offered no real advantage over topping up with chargers. In this, the Enfield excelled, as a full charger could be inserted into a mag with 1-5 rnds remaining, thus allowing reloading at an opportune moment. The Mauser, by contrast, has to wait for its ammo to be expended before charger loading is possible: a small difference, but probably crucial in a firefight.

    The Enfield stayed in use until the 1950s by a series of procurement accidents - ie no funds to replace in peacetime, and no time to replace when war loomed - but was fortunately a superb miltary rifle. The Mauser, somewhat over-engineered but with slow bolt action and inadequate magazine, stayed in service for similar reasons.

    As soon as you use an Enfield and a Mauser on a combat-type shoot, say on an ETR range, you immediately appreciate that the Enfield is by far the better battle rifle: much more rapid fire, quicker and more flexible reloading, easy to spot and clear any problems.

    Interestingly, despite all the conventional wisdom that the front-locking Mauser action "must" be inherently better for accuracy, Enfields remained at the forefront of long-range target shooting until the advent of purpose-built target rifles in the 1980s....
  5. The Mauser and Lee Nefield were designed to fight the wars of the 1870s. Long ranged rifle fire into masses of troops in pseudo napoleonic formations -or hordes of Zulus ;)

    By the end of the Great War the relative merits of service rifles was irrelevant. Few men in any army could fire accurately aimed shots, let alone 15-20 a minute. The conscripted armies that fought most of the C20th wars were organised on industrial lines with the majority of riflemen operating as grenade throwers or LMG ammunition numbers.

    Hacving said that, I once fired the HAC's Mauser, captured from the Turks in 1917. The minimum sight setting was 500 yards. In order to aiming at a target at 100 metres I had to aiming well below the target. Was this common for this rifle - or just ofr the weapons supplied to the Turks.
  6. LineDoggie - You're probably quite right re. the provenance of your No 1 Mk III. Being slightly pedantic, however, the correct spelling is Royal Welch Fusiliers. (I think the early Anglo-Saxons called them "Welhach" in the 5th century or so.) Cheers.
  7. Sheepshaggers to the rest of us!
  8. As has already been said by 4T, the Mauser & Lee Enfield were both designed in the 19th century for use in the percieved likely wars of the time. Magazine capacity wasn't a big matter for consideration as most rifles were designed with a cut-off, so ammunition could be loaded individually for deliberate fire without depleting the magazine so it could be ready for use in an emergency.

    IIRC, there was a Lee Enfield cavalry carbine produced with a 5 round magazine capacity (so it could smmooth the rifle's profile for ease of withdrawal from the saddle bucket).

    Also bear in mind that the .30-06 M1903 Springfield rifle had a 5 round integral magazine, and its successor in US service (in 1936) the M1 Garand had an 8 round integral magazine. The French MAS36 had a five round integral magazine, and it too was accepted for service in 1936.

    The idea of large capacity magazines for infantry rifles didn't really become an issue until after WW2, and the widespread use of the assault rifle.

    Edited to add that the Lee Enfield was IMHO the best bolt action battle rifle ever produced, not because of mag capacity particularly, but due to its ruggedness, accuracy and reliability.
  9. Yes I second that.

    I've always found that the No.4 had a much quicker cycling rate compared to a Gewehr 98.
  10. I thought the Lee-Enfield only had a 5 round capacity? certainly the DP one's when I was in the cadets were 5 round magazines. As for the K-98 one was on show at the Corps SAAM in April aparently it's still in use by one of the Corps shooting teams (might be REME)
  11. All Lee Enfield models had ten round magazines, with the exception of the Lee Metford, Cavalry/ NZ/ RIC carbines, the .22 trainers and commercial sporters.

    If you had DP No4s or No1s in the cadets, then they would have had ten-round mags. If you are about 80 years old, then you may have been in a cadet force that had DP P14s, which would indeed have had a 5 rnd mag.....!




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  12. Quality pics 4(T), like a beauty parade...
  13. The Mauser has to be perhaps the most overrated service rifle ever, and its success has rather more to do with the Mauser marketing department than anything else.

    In particular, the Second World War era K98k (adopted 1936 iirc) is particularly diabolical, it is inaccurate, the recoil is fierce, the sights are awful,3 or four rounds in rapidfire is enough to cause considerable heat haze which makes your target dance, the bolt is slow and clunky, and the safety catch is difficult to operate.

    Oh, of course the action is stronger, but that is of absolutely zero relevance to the fighting man, since he is not interested in building sporting rifles for big-game cartridges.

    Other points to note -- the 10 round magazine on the Enfield came in well before charger loading, the best of the Enfields, i.e. the No.4, was a 1930s design so has nothing to do with the long-range engagement tactics of the colonial wars of the 19th century
  14. Ah, Enfields!
  15. I read some thing on the net, cant find it again :( .
    It was about the Soviet Afghan wars.
    The Lee Enfield was a popular weapon throughout Asia and the
    middle east, it was used extensivally by the towel heads in
    Afghanistan until of course the AK 47 became the norm.
    The story said that Russian casuality rates went down quite alot,
    after the Afghans began aquiring large quantities of AK.
    It also said that the towel heads used dramatically more ammo.
    So if true the Lee Enfield was a much more effective weapon than
    the Ak :lol: