I have a Swede M96, and a Turk, each of which has a barrel of 29". Why did the old Mausers all have such long barrels, especially when troops used to do so much walking? A shorter barrel is handier and lighter! Thoughts?
I have two guesses/ reasons.
1. May need the longer BBL to fully burn the powder?
2. The longer your rifle is the easier it is to use it as a spear(with bayonet attached)
Don't know if ether guess is right. -UR.
Your second guess is the correct one. Bayonets were originally developed to give the infantry something to defend themselves with after firing the one shot available in their flintlock while being charged and something to fight with while attacking after they had fired their one shot. Since it took less time for an attacking force to charge than it did for the defending force to reload bayonets were developed to turn the muzzleloaders in makeshift pikes and the muskets were fired with the bayonets mounted. Given the tactics of the time a phalanx of pikemen,either attacking or defending, was perhaps the most difficult of formations to break. The Mauser is only about 100 years removed from the Brown Bess and the military tactics in use when it was developed were much closer to those used during the time of the Brown Bess than those of today. Mass bayonet charges were still common as recently as the Korean War. Since then as the use of the bayonet as a weapon became less common both the bayonets and the rifles they are mounted on became shorter. Bottom line is that the longer the barrel is the farther the reach of the person wielding the bayonet. Didn't mean to write a book.
Thanks for that info. I had wondered for some time about the long barrels. Given the repeating capability of the Mausers, however, I would have suspected that the barrels would have been shortened a few decades prior to the time they actually did get shorter. Interesting stuff!
Another reason for long barrels that goes back to flintlock rifle days is that with the crude sights on Kentucky and Pennsylvania long rifles, a long sight radius afforded more precision. Still does. Those old rifles are quite impessive when one considers that they allowed a skilled riflemen to engage targets at 300 meters. The Alamo defenders with their Kentucky rifles were able to keep Mexican artillery crews from operating their pieces within range of the mission, which allowed the standoff to last 13 days...
Yup, and 13 days was plenty of time for Fannin to arrive with the relief forces and supplies that Travis had sent. Unfortunately Fannin was a coward and totally incompetent. He should have been court martialed and relieved of command at that point. But because he came from a wealthy and powerful family, he wasn't. Of course, a few weeks later he got his troops massacred at Goliad after he surrendered to an inferior force. After the war, his family did a bunch of PR to try to make him look like a hero, and as a result, some early history books contain misinformation about Fannin's involvement with the Alamo and Goliad massacres. To this day, most Texas cities and towns still have streets named in honor of him.
AND NOW YOU KNOW ...
THE REST OF THE STORY.
Hmmm... I was taught that Bonham had returned to the Alamo with the awful news that Fanin's force had been captured and executed at Goliad. You make it sound like the massacre happened after the battle had already taken place. Somehow I doubt that Fanin could have fought his way through a few thousand Mexican troops even if he had reached the Alamo. In the end, it was not so much that the defenders were outnumbered, but that they were trying to defend too large a perimeter, and were simply overwhelmed. They still achieved a kill ratio of better than 8/1. Imagine if they had had K98 Mausers!
Your information is not quite correct. The Alamo fell 6 March, 1836. The battle of Coleto started on 19 March, with Fannin surrendering on the 20th, after light casualties. Here is a link to a site with in depth info : http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/goliadframe.htm
Yet another reason for the long barrels: As mentioned above, the European military traditions dating from the days of the Brown Bess and earlier. The old muskets were muzzleloaders, made to be loaded by standing soldiers. Long barrreled muzzleloaders are at a convenient height to load while standing erect. I suspect a lot of the reason for continuing to make 'em that way was that "that's the way we've always done it." In WWI the long rifles were found to be awkward in trench warfare. Short rifles became all the rage after WWI. If it weren't for trenches, increasing use of motorized troop transport would've encouraged shortening of rifles. As for bayonets, most countries with long rifles started shortening their bayonets in the 20th century. Shorter rifles could be given longer bayonets to equalize their reach. The Czechs are a good example, with a relatively short bayonet for the 98/22, and a considerably longer one for the Vz.24 giving a similar overall length with the bayonet fixed.
A general trend is that the greater the rate of fire of the gun, the shorter it ended up being, as a tradeoff against its viability with a bayonet. Yes they had carbines, but note the trend from 28" barreled 5 shot bolt actions to the 24" barreled 8 shot semi-auto garand - a shorter rifle with a curved grip. Go to the M14 and you find a shorter barrel length and a larger magazine. Go yet further to the assault rifles and you'll find less strength to support hand to hand use. Go further to submachineguns and bayonets were hardly ever even considered for them, and their size was much smaller, also due to the ammo they fired, but then again the ammo power also affects the rate of fire.
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