Best Battle Rifle of World War II

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, May 18, 2007.

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Best Battle Rifle of World War II

  1. U.S. M-1 Garand

    109 vote(s)
    80.7%
  2. German Model 98

    7 vote(s)
    5.2%
  3. British SMLE

    16 vote(s)
    11.9%
  4. Russian Model 38, 44, or 91/30

    3 vote(s)
    2.2%
  1. Taking all factors into account--expense and complexity of manufacture as well as accuracy and hitting power included--what's your choice for the best battle rifle of the Second World War?

    My choice goes to the M-1 Garand, even thought the damn thing bites your thumb if you're not careful. ;)
  2. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

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    The "Garand Thumb" is a symptom of not paying attention........ :)

    This basically a no brainer, given the parameters, although toward the end of the war the Germans developed the Sturmgehwer, a nifty assault rifle that meets or exceeds the abilities of the Garand for most applications.

    Another "coulda been a contender" was the Johnson. Only saw service for a short while in the PTO with the Marines. Nifty concept of the same basic platform being a rifle and a SAW. One Johnson development rifle, a selective fire carbine, saw service in Korea I'm led to believe. >MW
  3. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    This is a "no brainer"......the M1 Rifle, hands down! No other WWII rifle even comes close.

    Though, as a proud member of the "M1 Thumb" Club (twice), I've gotta admit that 11 pounds of rifle hangin' off your right thumb gets your attention........fast! :D

    Granted, it was more expensive and complex manufacture than a bolt rifle.....but as the richest country during WWII, we could well afford it and with our industrial capacity we had no difficulty manufacturing them in the millions.

    And, granted, it was more complex than a bolt rifle, but it functioned well in sand, mud, rain, snow, arctic cold and jungle heat.....from Guadalcanal* to the Chosin Reservoir, the M1 "took a lickin' and kept on tickin'".


    *Yeah, yeah, I know, the 1st Marines were armed with the M1903, but when the Army's 164th Infantry landed later in the battle, they were armed with M1s. Parenthetically, when the 1st Marines were finally relieved, many of them left carrying M1s.....the Jarheads stole those poor Doggies blind! :D

    "The M1 rifle is the finest battle implement ever devised"....Gen. George S. Patton
  4. kjlkkba

    kjlkkba New Member

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    Patton was right about the M1 and about Russia--we should have done just what he wanted--while we were already there and ready we could have gone all the way to Moscow and avoided a hell of alot of the problems that we have since had.
  5. Huffmanite

    Huffmanite Member

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    Sorry Guys, even though it is heavier, think I'd want a BAR, the Browning Automatic Rifle.
  6. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Hi Huffmanite......welcome to TFF....and especially the M&H Forum! :D

    Here at M&H we're seldom unanimous about anything, so we're glad popped in with your dissenting opinion. :)

    And in that spirit.....I disagree about the BAR.

    First....while it was called the Browning Automatic Rifle, it was classified as a "Squad Automatic Weapon"....a Light Machine Gun.

    Secondly....the M1918A2 at 19.4 lbs. was just too heavy, and was a bear to try to fire from the shoulder. Also, it used up ammo (in auto mode) so fast that the BAR man couldn't carry enough ammunition for the weapon, and other members of the squad had to carry ammo and magazines for it.
  7. I agree, X. The BAR was indeed a powerful light machine gun, and served us well in many cases, but you're right, it was awfully heavy and an ammo bearer was really needed to keep the clips coming. They only held 20 rds if memory serves me. With two men needed anyway, you may as well have an air-cooled Browning MG with belted ammo.
  8. Huffmanite

    Huffmanite Member

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    Sorry Guys, Up until WWII, the BAR had selective fire between semi-auto and full automatic. Version made during WWII was only full automatic. I was suggesting the BAR which had selective fire. I admit it is heavy with weights anywhere between 16 to 19 lbs, depending on having a bipod and etc. But to not further any discussion on this, I certainly agree the Garand is a most excellent choice as the best, but I'd still prefer a magazine fed rifle like the BAR with selective fire.
  9. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Now that you brought up the BAR.....;)


    The Garand was absolutely the BEST choice in the poll, a no brainer comparing a great Semi-auto to Great (OK, I know we're stretching it to include the Mauser as "great," but what the heck...:cool: ) Bolt Action Battle rifles....


    BUT....it IS pretty amazing how the rifle and whatever passed for the SAW so complemented and defined what we think of various country's weaponry....


    For example....Did the Firepower of the Garand cover the deficiencies of the BAR as a true Squad automatic?

    The BAR was beloved by US troops, but the ONLY purpose a SAW has is SUSTAINED auto fire providing a base of fire...which because of only the 20 round mag, and worse, no quick change barrel, it just could not do...

    BUT, with that many other guys in the squad pumping out M1 and M2 ball so fast as well, the total firepower of the squad was pretty impressive, especially after they finally listened to Patton and quit trying to AIM, but use what he called "walking fire" with the Garands....



    On the OTHER hand the BREN was one HELLUVA true SAW...30 round mag, on the TOP so mag changes prone were easier, and with a quick change barrel....so the Tommies were NOT hampered by being "stuck" with "only" a(even though the BEST) BA rifle....a BRITISH rifle squad put out as MUCH if not MORE than an American one, and perhaps more effective to boot....


    And of course, the arguably very effective but overrated German LMGs provided virtually ALL of the firepower of a German Squad, with rifles only to "support" the LMGs, so it didn't really matter that they had such a crappy battle rifle....:D


    And the ITALIANS, as well as the FRENCH had crappy MGs AND Rifles, no "complement" there, which may have also led to their infantry being considered "substandard" at best....

    And as much as I hate to say it, while the Degarytev was a fine weapon, there was never enough of them so the Mosin Nagant got a bad rep as it was what armed most of the Soviet soldiers who ended up as PRISONERS from early in the war, while when we think of the "massive Soviet Firepower" we usually are referring to later, when virtually every front line soldier had a PpSH....



    SO just for the sake of conjecture, what would it have been like had we DITCHED the BAR and adopted a BREN in .30-06, and the BRITISH converted to the same round and adopted the GARAND?


    I think DEVASTATING....
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2007
  10. 17thfabn

    17thfabn Member

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    Love of th BRen gun

    I've never quite understood why the BREN gun is considered to be so much better than the BAR. I see the Bren as marginaly better.

    I have a stack of books on World War II equipment and weapons at home. The majority of them were written by British authors. I think this is one of the reasons for the Bren guns better press, authors liking their home teams pick.

    The BAR at 19 lbs is lighter than the 23 pound BREn gun.
    The BAR's 30-06 round is slightly more powerful than the 303 projectile of the BREN.

    The BREN has a 30 round mag versus the 20 carried by the BAR. I don't see the quick change barrel being that much of an advantage for a magazine firing squad automatic weapon. I've never heard stories of the BAR's barrel overheating.
  11. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Oh, 17th, I've read PLENTY of accounts about the BARs overheating, (usually Marines and soldiers in 42-43 facing the Banzai charges....) and QUICKLY with anything but 2-3 round bursts at a time...hold down the trigger with it set at the high rpm, and empty a mag in one pull, reload, and do it again and it would probably be OUT OF ACTION, possibly for GOOD when that barrel BENT. Now with only 2-3 (no more than 5!) round bursts, (and some BAR guys bragged they could get single shots out of it even set on "high," but what good is auto fire THEN?) the barrel COULD last "indefinitely" or until the rifling wore away to nothing.

    But it could NOT do "sustained fire" at ALL, which is exactly what an "LMG" is SUPPOSED to do, hence it was an "Automatic Rifle," not really even a SAW in the true sense...because SAWs are technically "lighter, handier" LMGs....capable of sustained fire.

    The BARs were also known as the "most accurate" of the "squad autos," PROBABLY because all BAR gunners were trained, hammered home to them is more like it, to do that "2-3" round, no more than 5" at a time bursts...which extended barrel life. But it was ALSO helped by "only" having a 20 round mag, giving it extra time to cool during more often reloads...so it was limited one more time against "sustained fire" with mag capacity too, but it didn't matter, since you couldn't change the barrel ANYWAY.

    But "accuracy" is NOT what you want with an MG! "Sustained fire" means AREA fire, beaten zones, cones of fire, plunging fire and grazing fire, and all the neat stuff MGs are intended to do...and do so WELL....but not the BAR....the BAR was GOOD at hitting ONE target quickly with "2-3 no more than 5" rounds, which put him DOWN, then switch to another and another and maybe one more then time to reload...but it could NOT lay down a "stream" of fire to stop multiple targets at once, or to let the Banzai charge "walk into it," in a "beaten zone, or supress an opposing sniper or MG with that "cone of fire" over time until your guys got close enough to throw a grenade....

    In fact a LOT of the experienced BAR guys PREFERRED the ones that had their unchangeable barrels shot out, with virtually no rifling left, for that very reason! DISPERSION of the "cone of fire," even with short bursts, making it a better support weapon at shorter ranges....


    The 30 round vs 20 round IS a big deal if you are talking sustained fire...3- 10 round bursts cover a LOT more ground than only 3 or 4 "2-3, no more than 5" bursts do....without even CONSIDERING if you have to empty the full mag, a couple of times, it's a twist of the wrist to take that barrel off to cool AND replace it with a second and keep on firing! Plus the BIGGEST advantage the Bren had with it's mag iis that mag loads from the TOP...which is much easier when firing from the prone position, with a bipod, so much quicker reloads too...


    Most of the successful WWII LMGs that were mag fed (and there is some disagreement about whether a belt fed gun is TRULY an "LMG....") were all fed from the top, not the bottom...the Nambu, the Lewis, the Bren, the Degarytov....


    Now I'm not KNOCKING the BAR, it served well and had its good points too, but I think it would have been replaced a LOT sooner had we NOT adopted the M1....the average American rifle squad put out a lot of firepower as it was with the Garands, WITHOUT any BARs, so a lot of it's shortcomings as a SAW were covered by all that OTHER M1 and M2 Ball "outbound"!:p ;) :D :D :D Which is ANOTHER reason Patton probably called for all that "unaimed" "walking fire" on the assault from the Garands...to cover and suppress AREAS we could not cover with any true LMGs.....


    But in reality, the Bren was very LIGHT for a true and effective LMG, but the BAR at 16 pounds was pretty HEAVY for what really was only a RIFLE, kinda like a Garand with a "3 shot burst" setting...
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2007
  12. 17thfabn

    17thfabn Member

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    For shame Polish, don't you know we are supposed to rever and heap praise on all of Saint John Brownings works?:) :) :)

    My point is NOT that the B.A.R. was a great squad automatic weapon. My point was that the BREN gun was only marginaly better. 30 rounds for the BREN versus 20 for the BAR (really only 28, if you loaded all 30 the gun would jam) is not a phenominal leap in fire power. Either squad was seriously undergunned versus a German squad with a mg 34 or mg 42.

    The U.S. Army tried to develop a lighter handier weapon than the standard light machine gun the M1919A4. They took this weapon, added a butt stock and bipod, and called it the M1919A6. At 32 pounds it was not very light. And unlike the German mg34 and mg42 that could fire from a belt from a box, or a saddle drum for the assault role, it had to fire from a belt, which is not very handy when you are trying to assault the enemy.

    The M1919A6 had much more firepower than the BAR, but was much bulkier, and not as quick to get into action. And barrel changes were not very quick.

    I wonder why the U.S. Army didn't take the B.A.R. develop a quick change barrel for it, and have a larger magazine. They could have had a rotary drum for the B.A.R. that had say a 50 round capacity, and the standard 20 round magazine for the assault role.

    The M249 5.56mm S.A.W. now used by the U.S. Army and Marines has much of it's operating system copied from the B.A.R. This of course makes sense since the :) Saint John Browning :) worked with FN in the development of many weapons, and FN developed the M249.
  13. stetson

    stetson New Member

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    M-1 was awesome rifle!
  14. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    The BAR was a fine design, 17th...for what JMB intended for it...firing from the HIP while walking across no-man's land in WWI...

    And it did WELL in WWII too, but arguably only when other troops around them had M1s putting out more firepower at the same time than any other rifle TOO.....

    No, the Bren's 30 in long bursts/sustained fire that it could handle was a LOT more firepower than the BAR's 20 in the only 3-5 shot bursts at a time it was limited to...it isn't just the capacity, it's what you could DO with that capacity...plus the Bren's mag could be changed a helluva lot faster prone...the Bren had it all over the BAR as a squad LMG....



    But I won't necessarily give you the "superiority" of the MG34 or 42 so easily either...:cool: And as for "Firepower" of opposing units of similar size, it was actually about even....the M1 Garands and Enfields were putting out a HECKUVA lot more fire along with the Brens and BARs, compared to the German K98s.....

    MG34s and 42s were GOOD, and reliable, but they were the OPPOSITE of the BAR and Bren....almost considered inaccurate and uncontrollable unless locked on the tripod with the dial controls, but then isn't it actually a MEDIUM? And they used up ammo AND barrels at PRODIGIOUS rates...1000-1200 rpm vs the 500 or so of the BAR, Bren and M1919 burns up more twice the ammo in the same firefight....and if your read any accounts of German soldiers especially on the Russian front, they ran out of BARRELS as fast as AMMO....I have NEVER yet read of American or British Gunners running out of BARRELS for the Bren or the Brownings....


    The MG34 and 42 were effective mainly because the Germans had so MANY of them, considered them the MAIN firepower for the squad, and the riflemen merely support and ammo humpers....which is why they depended so heavily on MP38/40s for the actual ASSAULT squads which were separate from their regular "rifle" squads, at least early on, because the MG42 would NOT be there at the end of it....probably either out of ammo or barrels.....


    For our doctrine at least in WWII, as well as the Brits to a lesser extent, the rifleman was still the MAIN offensive power of the squad with fire and maneuver, with the BAR or BREN as support of the RIFLEMEN.....but the BAR and the BREN would ALSO be moving and maneuvering, and FIRING in the assault, not like the MG 34/42s....plus we would reinforce our rifle squads where needed with Brownings from an "attached" heavy weapons squad or platoon pretty quickly where needed...actually a more flexible system than the Germans "everything up" doctrine...what you had to start was all you were going to GET....

    Used EXACTLY the same way as the Germans used the MG42s, from a tripod, our Browning M1919s MAY have been BETTER....more controllable at the 550-600rpm, better accuracy, better beaten zones at longer range, less ammo consumption and thus barrels lasting longer before changing....

    For DEFENSIVE use the MG 42s were tremendous at close range, and from a tripod at longer range, and granted, were fearsome because of the distinctive ripping sound of high rate of fire...but they were NOT necessarily "superior..." as LMGs OR MMGs....
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2007
  15. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    I gotta pay my respects to smelly, while i agree the M1 is a much better rifle overall, for what it was and what it was up against, i think the SMLE was just as effective in the hands of a combat hardened soldier as the M1 was, plus it was lighter, and in my opinion, easier to maintain on the battlefield, and fired a cartridge only marginally less effective than that of the M1.
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