After participating in a manually operated military rifle match to recognize the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, I have new respect for the designers, soldiers, and craftsmen who created and used these magnificent arms in battle.
It’s amazing to witness the fine shooting performances turned in by rifle which are nearly 100 years old. The quality of materials and high standard of manufacture is evident in how well these rifles shoot today. Granted, in their service configuration with battle sights, none of these rifles will strike fear into the hearts of any Camp Perry. But, they are still accurate and effective nearly 100 years later. Many of the rifles used were not pristine collector grade examples either. Many had seen untold years of service before being sold off surplus.
Mosin Nagant 1891
Over the years many of the rifles had parts switched or replaced and most languished in the hands of colonial and reserve troops for decades or were roughly handles by raw recruits during initial military training. Yet these survivors soldier on in the hands of rifle enthusiasts as the symbols of the conflicts they were used in.
1873 "Trapdoor" Springfield
Mausers, Enfields, Springfields, and Mosin Nagants among many others were the tools which shaped the 20th century. These rifles have endured, and in a few cases still see use in isolated and forgotten corners of the globe. Every once in a while, the rifles are seen in fleeting glimpses on cable news shows.
Compared to today’s modern military assault rifles, the bolt action rifles of the early 20th century seem to be quaint antiques. In reality, they still deliver power accuracy and reliability unmatched even in today’s weapons.