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  1. #1
    Always against the grain Booletsnotreactwell's Avatar
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    Best rifle action design, Mosin vs Enfield vs Mauser?

    There's three main types of bolt action rifle "actions". The Enfield style as used on the Lee-Enfield SMLE, the Mosin-Nagant action as used on the the rifle of the same name and finally the Mauser action as first used on the Gewehr 98.

    What are your thoughts on the respective advantages/disadvantages of each design? I'm not talking about the classically overdone WWII comparison of a Mosin-Nagant vs Lee-Enfield vs K98k, I'm strictly talking about the actions themselves independent of the rifles.

    The Mauser action would seem like the only design that really stood the test of time, still used to this day in a number of rifles along with being used in the simplified incarnation of the Rem 700 action.

    The front locking lug design makes it the most adept at handling powerful cartridges and keeping an extremely tight and repeatable lockup which is conducive to precision.

    Yet it's often stated by historians that back in WWII out of all the bolt actions, the Lee-Enfield was the best "fighting" rifle. The rear locking lug design of the Lee-Enfield action is more reliable and the action itself allows for a much smoother, shorter and faster bolt throw which leads to an increase in rate of fire capability.

    Forget about the increased capacity of the actual Lee-Enfield SMLE, this is strictly looking at the mechanical design of the action. Imagine we re-made all three rifles today in a modern stock with a detachable magazine, the only difference being the rifles action, which would be best?

    The increase in rate of fire does seem like a pretty significant advantage of the Enfield action over a Mauser style action. Firing an old Lee-Enfield I can achieve a rate of fire not possible with a Mauser style action, worse yet a modern 700 style action as featured on most budget bolt rifles/hunting rifles doesn't seem at all setup for use as a "fighting" rifle, I've encountered many instances of 700 actions binding up or jamming when trying to do extremely fast combat bolt action style firing, it seems that the Mauser and similar front locking lug Rem 700 style aren't very well suited to this.

    Yet despite this advantage, the Enfield action is almost but extinct and never used in any modern production bolt action rifles...

    At the same time it should be noted that the Enfield style action was never really succesfull in being employed in high precision applications. For example the British issued sniper rifle of WWI, the Pattern 1914 Enfield was actually a modified front locking lug Mauser style action design.

    In practice the Lee-Enfield SMLE was a poor choice to "sniperize". I am unsure if it is due to the inherent "slop" and lack of precision in the bolt mechanisms actual design or the flimsy receiver arrangement of the Lee-Enfield rifle itself over the robust construction of a Mauser action.


    Could this only be by chance that bolt actions are no longer considered "duty rifles" since the advent of semi-automatics and have been reserved to single shot engagements (hunting) or high precision applications where extreme reliability and rate of fire aren't a concern that the Mauser/Rem 700 style actions reign supreme?

    If semi-auto's didn't exist do you think that we would see different actions in use? Would the Mauser/Remington 700 still be top dog?

    Lastly is the Mosin-Nagant style action. It suffered much the same fate as the Lee-Enfield, never really used outside it's own proprietary rifle. While the Enfield design had notably a speed advantage and some reliability advantages due to the rear locking lug arrangement, the apparent king in the reliability department was the Mosin-Nagant style action. Historians have indicated that this rifle had the upper hand in terms of absolute reliability under harsh winter warfare conditions as experienced in WWII.

    Unlike the Lee-Enfield though certain modern precision rifles have been made using the Mosin-Nagant style action. The Russian SV98 bolt is based off it and this rifle is capable of just as high levels of precision as other modern Mauser or Rem 700 style bolt guns. Various DIY'ers have taken surplus Mosin-Nagant actions and accurized them into a chassis system with an aftermarket barrel. Yet despite this ability for precision with the added advantage of increased reliability this rifle action is still all but extinct in the modern bolt action rifle world.


    Are there some hidden advantages of the Mauser/Remington 700 style actions I don't know about? Are the advantages of the Mosin/Enfield actions not relevant today? Are there disadvantages to the Enfield/Mosin actions I don't know about?


    What do you think is the best rifle action strictly in a mechanical sense irrespective of the rifle platform they're setup on? What do you think of the supposed advantages/disadvantage of each type?
    Last edited by Booletsnotreactwell; 09-02-2017 at 01:49 AM.

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    Swampdonkey (09-02-2017)

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    Canadian ForcesOgre Haywire1's Avatar
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    Just off the top of my head, the enfield is prone to having its headspace grow with use, thats why you see boltfaces ranging from 0-5 floating around, harder to convert to other calibers, even 308 was only done on no4 actions that had been checked for strength prior to converting. Flexy action, rear lug not as strong as a front lug design. Sure its the fastest to operate, but if we are leaving the capacity out of it, speed is a moot point.

    The mosin is reliable, however its even weaker than the enfield as far as strength. Awkward safety, long throw, its only real advantage is there were like a billion of them made.

    The mauser, while not as fast as an enfield, is fine for basically whatever you want to chamber it in. With controlled feed design, its the most reliable feeding of the three, the giant extractor has the most positive extraction of stuck cartidges, and the x57 cartridge is the grandfather to most of the .473 boltface, non rimmed catridges out there, meaning the vast majority of calibre changes dont require boltface or magazine futzing like the other 2 would.
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    Moderator kennymo's Avatar
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    Rear locking is the Achille's heel of the Enfield. It was designed around a black powder cartridge and once the .303 was converted to a smokeless round it was approaching it's limits, though it has been made to work with 7.62 NATO. Nothing seems to run as smooth as a broken in SMLE. I'm quite sure I can fire more aimed shots per minute with mine than the K31 or 1895 Steyr straight pulls.
    The Mosin Nagant action is a tank, but clunky compared to the Mauser and Enfield. It did give us the floating bolthead that we still see making Savage rifles economical and accurate, but the exposed cocking knob and difficult safety made it fade away. Though I did see new Mosin based hunting rifles offered up by one of the Russian makers....slightly more modern commercial stocks, bent bolt handles, drilled and tapped, etc....
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  5. #4
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    I will speak form owning a Lee Enfield, mosin, and a Winchester model 70 (mauser action)

    I absolutely love the Enfield action. Its fast smooth and simple. I actually like the rear locking lug because its easier to see into the chamber. You don't have that locking space just outside the chamber. I also really like the cock on close better. Its simpler, smoother and I prefer where the location of spring resistance. When working an enfield the up, back motion is basically no resistance. Then forward no resistance till the very end but you have momentum and it feel natural to push resistance away. I realize these things cut down on accuracy but for me its good enough. The angle of the bolt is fantastic. I love that it starts low and comes up a little past 90 degrees, perfect layout. Since its shorter with rear locking you can easily keep you face on the stock and cycle the bolt. The enfield is a battle rifle after all.

    The mosin works. I don't like the construction of the bolt. I find it to be complicated. I say this because if you have ever taken one apart there are a lot of parts. It also does not come apart naturally. It always takes a small fight to get it back together. I am just not impressed. The handle location is not ideal either. It sticks straight out the side and must go straight vertical to move back. Its just not that ergonomic. But like I said earlier it does work well. The mosin is a battle rifle for sure.

    I won't say too much on the mauser just because my experience is modern remakes of it. Cock on open works but the you get resistance right away on the open. I don't like it because your are trying to pull up on something that is small and in an un natural way. then its all smooth till the end when you push the extractor over rim. You get two sets of resistance compared to one with the enfield's one. Bolt is simple but not as simple as the Enfield. The mauser is a tough hunting rifle to me.

    I think if the world never switched the semi and kept bolt action the forums would be debating enfield vs mauser actions instead of AR vs AK. Pros and cons to both but at the end of the day both do the job just as well just one better than the other in a few select points.

    the talents of the mosin and enfield that are not relevant today is the ability to re-cock it with out working the bolt. You can simply pull back the cocking piece and restrike the primer. I am yet to come across a scenario where this saved the day but its there.

    For me the better one depends on what you are using it for. If you are hunting or sniping then the mauser action makes more sense because its accurate, smooth and simple. Probably why 99% of bolt rifles are copies of it. If I was going to war I would want the enfield for the simpler, faster and smoother action. How does that saying go? The Germans brought a hunting rifle, the Americans a sporting rifle and the Brits brought a battle rifle.
    Last edited by Gnome7500; 09-02-2017 at 08:06 AM.

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    Senior Member Plinker 777's Avatar
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    The Lee Enfield action is hands down the fastest, smoothest action of the three. Putting round holes in square heads for over 100 years, my vote go toward the Enfield...cause this is a poll right? (psst, should be a poll)
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  9. #6
    Always against the grain Booletsnotreactwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plinker 777 View Post
    my vote go toward the Enfield...cause this is a poll right? (psst, should be a poll)
    Yea I was gonna do that but I didn't want it to turn into the usual this vs that brand favoritism match.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnome7500 View Post
    How does that saying go? The Germans brought a hunting rifle, the Americans a sporting rifle and the Brits brought a battle rifle.
    Yea I've heard that, sort of what inspired me to really think into this. Arugably some would say the American Springfield 1903 was an improvement over the Mauser in either Gewehr 98 or K98k, especially the latter versions like the 1903A3/A4, peep sights, adjustment knobs, etc. Then there's always the Garand which is a sort of "drop the mic" on the whole vs thing.


    What do you think would make for a better all around cheap bush rifle today for predator protection and potentially even hunting while using the iron sights.

    I currently have a Mosin-Nagant and an RC K98k for a Mauser action rifle, I'd like a 1903 but those are way too expensive and it's not enough of an improvement to the K98 that justifies the price I'd have to pay.

    Back on the topic of the best rifle action. Could modern manufacturing not offset some of the disadvantages of the Lee-Enfield design? I'm sure we could make it strong enough today and offset the issue about constant headspacing required.



    I also find it odd that one would consider the Mosin action more complicated and less reliable, actually looking at it I could see it but numerous historical accounts seems to contradict that in claiming that the Mosin was the superior rifle in terms of reliability.

  10. #7
    Señor Member Dewey Cox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnome7500 View Post
    How does that saying go? The Germans brought a hunting rifle, the Americans a sporting rifle and the Brits brought a battle rifle.
    The Germans brought a hunting rifle, the Americans brought a target rifle, the British brought a battle rifle, and the Russians just brought a rifle.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Booletsnotreactwell View Post
    Yea I was gonna do that but I didn't want it to turn into the usual this vs that brand favoritism match.



    Yea I've heard that, sort of what inspired me to really think into this. Arugably some would say the American Springfield 1903 was an improvement over the Mauser in either Gewehr 98 or K98k, especially the latter versions like the 1903A3/A4, peep sights, adjustment knobs, etc. Then there's always the Garand which is a sort of "drop the mic" on the whole vs thing.


    What do you think would make for a better all around cheap bush rifle today for predator protection and potentially even hunting while using the iron sights.

    I currently have a Mosin-Nagant and an RC K98k for a Mauser action rifle, I'd like a 1903 but those are way too expensive and it's not enough of an improvement to the K98 that justifies the price I'd have to pay.

    Back on the topic of the best rifle action. Could modern manufacturing not offset some of the disadvantages of the Lee-Enfield design? I'm sure we could make it strong enough today and offset the issue about constant headspacing required.



    I also find it odd that one would consider the Mosin action more complicated and less reliable, actually looking at it I could see it but numerous historical accounts seems to contradict that in claiming that the Mosin was the superior rifle in terms of reliability.
    The 1903 is straight up a mauser clone. I don't remember the battle/war (pre WW1) the US got involved in but they got their a$$es handed to them by mauser so they wanted them too. The garand is over rated in my opinion. Yes at the time they were the rifle because its a semi auto 30-06. Once the m14 came around it was outdated. An m14 is just an updated garand to me. I say the m14 was outdated right away because the ak47 existed at the same time

    I would keep your mosin 98k for range use because of the historical value. the 1903s are way too expensive, you are paying for rarity and American history. Not worth it to me either.

    I would say all around bush rifle is a sporter enfield. Since it has already been molested few people will get upset if dropped or roughed up a bit. Enfield sporters are constantly 200 ish on CGN EE.
    The SKS is also an option if you are cool with semi auto and smaller bullet. SKS is some times cheap. some people think they are 400 dollars but they can still be found for 225

    I would not call the mosin unreliable just a complicated bolt compared to the enfield

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    "...simplified incarnation of the Rem 700 action..." The Win M70 was derived from the Mauser, but not the 700. The 700 uses some features of the K98, but it's not a simplified incarnation.
    You'll note that nobody has copied either the Enfield action or the Mosin action for hunting rifles. Biggest downside to the Lee-Enfield is the narrow butt stock.
    "...the battle/war (pre WW1) the US got involved in..." Spanish-American War of 1898. U.S. was still using single shot Trap Doors and bolt action Krags and BP in the TD's.

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    Super Moderator Rory McCanuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dewey Cox View Post
    The Germans brought a hunting rifle, the Americans brought a target rifle, the British brought a battle rifle, and the Russians brought a pike that could shoot bullets.


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    They all have their good points and bad, I think a lot of it is subjective/emotional.
    The Lee action is the oldest and the springiest, but if you're just pushing a 174RN bullet at 2300fps, it'll last a gazillion rounds.
    I grew up (as I'm sure a lot of us did) shooting the Lee Enfield, and I'm sure the emotion part plays a big part, but the Lee Enfield just feels right.
    The bolt handle is in exactly the right spot, you can cycle it still shouldered, and I'm with Gnome, I prefer cock-on-close, it just feels more natural. Again, maybe that's because that's what I grew up with?

    The Mosin I think is an absolutely brilliant design, make a rifle and remove absolutely everything that isn't needed.
    The floating bolthead is the only part that really needs any precision, and while it takes a bit of figuring out, the bolt is easy enough to tear down and reassemble. How often does it ever really need to be taken apart anyways?
    The interrupter to prevent rim-lock was a stroke of genius, dead simple, fool-proof, and it works.
    The bolt and bolt handle are less than delicate, but it makes sense once you understand it.
    We tend to want to lift the handle and pull the bolt back, that's not what they were designed for.
    They were designed to be slapped up with the palm, and the handle hooked back with the palm, then slapped forward and slapped down.
    Yes, you have to move your face out of the way and you can't keep it anywhere close to on target, but you can do it in snowmobile mitts, or with a 2x4.

    The Mauser is typically German, more complicated than it needs to be and an excuse to show off their machining capabilities.
    Strong as all get out, that's what all the truly big power bolt actions are made from, but the bolts always seem to flop around.
    Yet, the Germans had every bit as much difficulty with them in the mud as the Ross, they were just too tight.
    The early Mausers also had the bolt sticking straight out to the side, maybe for the same reasons as the Mosin, but I guess they realised they didn't need brute force to operate it.

    Honourable mention: The P-14, a modified Mauser.
    Brutally strong, heavy, rigid, and cock-on-close.
    I have one in 7mm (close to what they were originally designed to run, the 276 Enfield) and the thing is accurate and easy to shoot well.
    It really needs to come with a native porter to carry the damn thing though, loaded with scope it's over 11 pounds

    Yet despite this advantage, the Enfield action is almost but extinct and never used in any modern production bolt action rifles...
    The Remington 788 went with rear locking lugs also.
    It had quite the reputation for accuracy, but I don't think it was offered in anything real powerful, 308 was about as far as they went.
    Didn't one of the Savage bolt action 30-30s have rear lugs too?

    Anyways, a good discussion.
    They all have their strong suits, and I think a lot of the percieved advantages or faults are more hair-splitting than life altering.
    Don't blame me, I didn't vote for that clown. Oct 20, '15

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