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Ross MkII: Sorry, We’ll Get it Right This Time


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian McCollum, and today we’re gonna tackle a really pretty thorny labyrinth of a question. That question being the Ross Mark II, or Model 1905
rifle. Now this is complicated for a couple of reasons. The first of which is that there are no
fewer than six separate varieties of them, we have everything from the Mark II
through the Mark II ***** (five star). Following in the British Imperial nomenclature, major patterns
of the rifle are designated by marks, Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, minor variations are indicated by stars, the
equivalent of an American A1, A2, that sort of thing. So we have in fact here at the front
we have a stock standard Ross Mark II. And then over the course of this video we’re going to
look at the 1 star, 2 star, 3, 4 and 5 star iterations of it. Now what makes this more complicated is that
at some point this developmental branch split because we have the regular 1, 3, 4 & 5 stars that
are short barrel, 28 inch barrel, versions like this. And then we have the Mark II** which has a
number of different mechanical features to it. It has a stripper clip guide, it has a different
style of safety, it has a longer 30.5 inch barrel. It’s here, it is the last one of them
developed, and yet it is the 2 star. So why on earth … did they mess
up this number? Well, we don’t know. This is a question that has not been …
(I mean it’s a really weird, convoluted subject), but it’s something that hasn’t been adequately
answered yet. Best hypothesis that I’m aware of is Charles Ross during this development process decided
to break the rifle into two separate development branches. One of them following on what the
military was currently contracted to buy, and one of them maybe tweaked to a
design that he thought was a little better, that he thought eventually he would be able
to convince the military to take. At any rate, before we even start it’s key to understand that
the 2 star version is the last one that happened, and is fundamentally mechanically
different from all of the others. So let’s start by looking at what
we’ll call kind of the standard patterns. So in the very first place the origin of the Mark II Ross
comes from curing some of the shortcomings of the Mark I. So before we look up close at this guy,
we’re going to look at a couple of Ross parts. We will start with receivers. What I have here is a
Mark I receiver, a short Mark II and a long Mark II receiver. So, just starting with this guy, the
difference from Mark I to Mark II. You can see clearly how much material has
been added up here for the Mark II receiver, made it substantially stronger. You can see that the
receiver wall has been thickened, this compared to that. The rear tang on the Mark II has been
shortened, so this is the improved version. There’s not as much hanging out the back, the lugs
for the trigger attachment have been beefed up. You can very much see the added
material on the underside here as well. One of the other problems with the Mark I
was that it didn’t have any primary extraction. So with the Mark II they kept the
same style of bolt, but they cut a … cammed angle at the front … on
the bolt lugs so that as you start to retract the bolt you actually get a little
bit of primary extraction from the bolt lugs. That was done by screwing in
an extra piece into the receiver. You can see that right here. That’s the part that’s
going to force the bolt lug back as it begins to rotate. And there is no equivalent in our Mark I receiver. In conjunction with that of course there had to
be a couple changes made to the bolts as well. So this is a Mark I bolt, this is a Mark II bolt. You can clearly see the angled cut
on the edge of the bolt lug there for that primary extraction on
our Mark II, which is this guy. And to help further, on the Mark I
bolt we have just two cam tracks here, … for the bolt body here to cause the
bolt head to rotate. With the Mark II gun first off, the cam tracks have been cut with gear teeth,
and you can see there are two extra short sections added at the back, so that when you start to open the bolt
you’re pushing on four sets of these tracks instead of just two. Now we can go through and
look at the different patterns. So this is a 1 star rifle, and it has the
same sort of rollercoaster rear sight, or Lange Visier copied from the Germans,
as the Mark I Ross. That was the initial pattern. There are some other mechanical changes that were made.
For example, the safety here has been substantially improved. It’s bigger, it’s beefier, stronger, … it’s of the
same style, it still pushes in to make the rifle safe. But that is an improvement to the Mark II. The bolt stop here, which is used to remove the bolt
from the rifle, this has been enlarged and strengthened, so that the bolt no longer will fall out of the gun during parade
drill. … That’s a good thing, you don’t want that happening. If we take a look at the stock of the rifle, this is where on the Ross rifles you can
find a lot of good information about the gun. We have the Quebec roundel here. This one’s
pretty well worn. We have Mark II and a star above it. We then have a serial number. It’ll be a three
digit serial number (or up to three digits), 259 S. … Each letter block was 1,000 guns. They started at “A”. The first 10,000 or so were Mark Is,
and then they moved on to the Mark II. The date on the bottom is the date of manufacture.
So this is actually a pretty early one, 1906. … The Mark II started production in 1905,
and ultimately would run until about 1912. Now this one has been marked DP, drill
purpose. I believe the CC here is Cadet Corps. You’ll find a bunch of other unit markings on these guns. Now here we have … another slight variation from
the established rules. This is a Mark II gun, no stars. “AP”, so this one came later
than the one we just looked at (after they got to 999 Z, they started over
at number 1 AA, and then AB, AC, AD etc.), This is a 1908 production gun, despite the fact
that … this is after the one star, this is a no star. And this is the pattern described
as a Mark II with a Mark III rear sight. Which is the name for this, this is basically the same
rollercoaster style sight, but with a flat sheet metal top. So to adjust this we actually lift
this up and then we can push that up You can see here we’ve got the same sort of curved track
as on the earlier sight, but this is just a different pattern. Presumably one that was a bit less
prone to damage or disturbance. This would be like the main place where all of these subsequent
versions of the Ross changed, in the style of the rear sight. This was due partly to some of the sights
being deemed too expensive or too fragile. It was also partly due to supply issues trying to get rear sights.
A lot of these parts on the Ross were made in the United States, they couldn’t always supply them
as quickly as Ross would have liked. Next up we have a Mark II*** (three star). So at this point they stopped stamping extra stars, and they stamped a digit in there so it’s digit 3 and then a star, this is another
1908 production rifle, “AN” serial number block. And this is the 3 star pattern of sight, now this
is probably the one that you’re most likely to see. If for no other reason than the fact that this is the model that
the United States purchased for its own training rifles. So what we have here is an open notch sight on the top, and an aperture in the back, so that you can flip
this whole thing up and use it for precision shooting. This adjusts out to 2,200 yards, there
is a 2,200 yard open notch at the top. It can be adjusted for windage using
this knob. This knob adjusts for elevation. It is a quite complex, very precise but
perhaps a bit finicky and fragile rear sight. Note that as we’re going through
these, as the rear sights change so do the handguards to accommodate, you know,
… just the geometry, the shape of the rear sight. So this one has a nice single piece … Well, it has a two-piece handguard, but
the front piece comes all the way back to match where previous patterns had left
an open section for the base of the rear sight. Now a bunch of these rifles would be
purchased by the United States for training use. And the ones that were are marked “US” on the
bottom of the stock just behind the trigger guard. So, when you find a 3 star there’s a decent chance
it will be a US rifle, and it’s easy to identify those. Now here we have a 4 star. You’ll notice Mark II, 4*,
1910 production. We’re up to the BP serial number prefix. However, this has been re-stamped 3*, and that’s
because this was supplied to the United States. There you have that US marking
on the bottom of the wrist. And we have a 3 star style of rear sight. Now, … unfortunately I don’t have a model
… of the 4* rear sight to show you because, when the US made this purchase, they wanted
uniform rifles and they bought 20,000 of them. And so the Canadian government took all the … 3 stars
that it had and then it also took 4 stars, re-marked them, and retrofitted them to the
3 star pattern to supply to the US. So really kind of an odd thing to do, but
I suppose in context that makes sense. So what comes after 4 star? Well 5 star
naturally, there’s our “5*” marking. This is a CB serial number block,
so we are getting close to the end. 1911 production, this one’s also been marked DP.
This … mark indicates that it was sold out of service. These are all units that used the rifle,
and then handed it off to other units. These were used as training guns, and so
they went through a lot of different hands. At any rate, the 5 star rear sight here is actually fairly similar
to the previous 3 star pattern, but not identical. This is just a matter of finding a sight that
did the same thing but was easier to get. You’ll also notice these are both open notches,
this no longer has an aperture aspect to it. Still have windage adjustment,
still have elevation adjustment. This is a pretty fine adjust sort of thread. So that is the 5 star, and that brings us to the … real
enigma of the Mark II Ross, which is this Mark II** rifle. These came after all of the other iterations. The very first production actually was like 1909,
but the major batch of them was 1910 / 11 / 12. So first off, these 2 star guns have longer
barrels, right about 2.5 inches longer here. And then you might notice that they have extra rear sights on
them, like, it’s got this rear sight, but it’s also got this rear sight. The reason for this is that the military
was getting concerned about loading, and they wanted to use stripper
clips with the Mark II Ross. So Ross added a basically a screw
on, or bolt on, stripper clip bridge. Where the previous Mark IIs had nothing up here, the Mark II**
adds this bolt-on stripper clip guide bridge over the receiver. And of course if you’re going to have a bridge back
here, you might as well put an aperture rear sight on it. You can get a lot more sight radius out of this,
and so they went ahead and added this as a unit. But a great many of these were built on rifles that
had already been built with regular rear sights. Now there was a contract that was negotiated at one point … for
another company in Quebec to go through and remove these rear sights. The contract was never actually put into play, because I guess
someone probably realised like this doesn’t cause any problems, why should we pay good money to
take it off if it’s not causing issues? So you get this very interesting result of a
military rifle that has a front sight and two significantly complex rear sights. Now in addition, the safety has been
changed to a flag style of safety. So, in the fire position you can read the
word “Ready” right there on the flag, and when flipped around into
the safe position it reads “Safe”. One other minor mechanical change that was
made was the addition of a third screw here. This is just a keeper, it’s a very short little
screw. And you’ll notice it cuts into these two. It’s just there to prevent these two
screws from coming unscrewed over time. And there’s one other change that was made
that’s more significant mechanically, and kind of an interesting mystery that maybe helps us
understand why this 2 star is a 2 star that came last. Well, the 2 star has kind of traditional, regular barrel threading. All of the other earlier rifles have this very coarse
(almost like a Lewis gun barrel thread), threading. And they have this set screw in there
(this is also, by the way, left hand threaded), this was designed (and this is all of the early rifles), these were designed to … have their barrels changed very
easily. All you have to do is of course pull the stock off, unscrew this so it doesn’t lock the barrel any longer, and
then it just takes like half a turn to pop the barrel out of this very coarse threading,
and then you can easily change it. Now, British .303 ammunition at this point was
loaded with cordite. It was quite hot burning, it was … a significant cause of throat erosion
on the rifles, which was a problem for barrel life. Hypothetically Ross might have included this
as a selling point for the British to make it easy to replace worn barrels. … There isn’t any good documentation,
but that seems like a pretty decent hypothesis. If that’s the case, why did his later guns get rid of it?
Well the best answer that we can come up with, and this isn’t proven, I don’t have any
documentation to show this, but the idea is Ross throughout the whole course of his rifle
development, he led the way with sporting guns. He did commercial sporters first, and then
incorporated those design changes into military guns. And it makes sense that you wouldn’t need
a quick-change barrel on a sporter that’s not going to see the sort of volume of fire as a military rifle. So … this suggests that the 2 star gun
may very well have been Ross kind of developing a side branch of his own rifle
development specifically for sporters. That could explain the longer barrel … you know, a long
barrel for higher power commercial hunting cartridges. And it seems like this was something that he was developing
separately from the standard track of military rifles. And he got to a certain point and decided that
his own track was the better one at this point, and switched from the short pattern to the long pattern.
This actually did take the Canadian military a bit by surprise, they weren’t expecting longer rifles. And for the artillery troops who actually
were issued and carried these long Mark IIs, they ran into some issues with things
like the buckets, the scabbard for the rifles on artillery carriages being a little bit too short. Had to be modified to fit these slightly longer rifles. Anyway, that is the best hypothetical answer that we can
come up with as to why is the 2 star kind of this odd outlier. Ultimately in total the standard, if we’re going
to call it that, the short model 1905 Ross rifles, there were a 124,000 manufactured. So quite a lot. This
comprises about a third of total Ross production overall. 20,000 of those, the three star
pattern, went to the United States. They were purchased as trainers late in World
War One. You’ll find them still in the United States, you’ll also find some of them having come back to Canada. Up in Canada you will also find the
other iterations of the short Mark II Ross. So these are the fairly common ones. The long
pattern, only about 13,700 were manufactured. Finding these in original intact military
configuration is really quite rare today. These, the long Mark IIs, did actually see service in World
War One, they were used by the Canadian Artillery Corps. And so a lot of them were in fact lost in
combat, left in Europe, that sort of thing. That contributes to them being quite
a bit scarcer than the short patterns. Anyway, we are going to go on and have a separate
video talking about the Mark III, or Model of 1910 Ross, which is the one that comprised
the majority of overall production. And the one that was the standard issue rifle
for Canadian infantry early in World War One. So, stick around for that video later on. Hopefully this one has shed at least a little bit of
light on the weird eccentricities of the Mark II Ross. Thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “Ross MkII: Sorry, We’ll Get it Right This Time

  1. It's also possible that he was experimenting with 280 Ross or its predecessors at this time and found that extremely coarse thread to be a major stress point that wasn't holding up under the higher loads. The fine threads should be both stronger and less of a crack propagation point. Without a doubt a lot of the features in Ross's rifles come from his sporting rifles/experiments and it would not be terribly surprising to see yet another carryover added into the already large pile.

  2. Great video. I suggest u do a video on Ross Sporter Rifles especially the 1905 and 1910 model and their different chambering

  3. Ian comes out with Ross Rifle week…

    Canada temporarily sets aside it's post election threats of tearing itself apart, to argue about The Great Canadian Great War Rifle Controversy from 100+ years ago.

  4. So that's what those holes in the back of the receiver are for! I have a sporterized MkII, I assumed the holes were for an aftermarket peep sight.

  5. Ian would the development of the Ross rifle be in some way comparable to the development of the AR and AK series of rifles? Took about ten years to get it all right for all them.

  6. Well, OK, so it still had a few small remaining issues. But Ross surely got it perfect with the MkIII then, right? 😉

  7. Definition of a Camel? A horse designed by a Military Board. Probably stopped adding Stars as the stock wasn't long enough. Another way to know the US model, the tear stains on the woodwork from the poor sods issued with them.

  8. The AR-15 pattern and the Ross are both of note for being military and civilian patterns. The Ross was a civvie rifle adapted for military service and so has all the shortfalls of a civvie rifle. The AR-15 was developed as part of a military-focused development, the civvie adaptations come with all the military benefits.
    It's a common theme that civvie rifles don't make great military rifles (obviously there are exceptions) but military rifles are effective when turned to civvie weapons.

  9. We had a few Ross rifles in our school CCF armoury in the 1960’s. They had not been used for years but the armourer who came over from the Redford barracks in Edinburgh once a month to do any work needed, was very happy to re-commission one for me. It was a Mk.2 but I cannot recall, if I ever knew, how many stars. It shot as well as our rather worn SMLE No.4 rifles. I became rather taken with straight pull rifles and later bought my own Mannlicher M1895 carbine in 8 x 56R – not a very wise buy, as sporting ammunition was very hard to come by.

  10. Flags Censorship Video: Nazi symbols are banned in Germany, that's good! 👍 But for educational purposes and in the artistic presentation, they may be allowed! That's good too! You therefore have to show these symbols to explain what is forbidden! 😑 YouTube should handle the similar and rate the icons in relation to the content! 😑

  11. Hey everyone watching this make sure you are still subscribed to this channel. YouTube’s doing some screwy stuff again and my account was unsubbed for some reason. So just spread some word that people might be getting unsubbed by the algorithm.

  12. You should get a mini dolly for all the shots of the gun you're filming. It is one more thing to pack, but it would make the video look a lot better.

  13. Ian, At 10:50, you say that the "Broad Arrow" in the C means it has been sold out of the service. I thought that the C broad arrow, was the equivalent of the British broad arrow and indicated it was government property.

  14. If it works, you’ll have to use it to defend yourself from Sir Ross, since he’s been confirmed to be out of his grave and stomping across the countryside towards you.

  15. G'day,

    Yay Team !

    Regards the Warrior-Gun with the double Rear Appertutre Sights…

    In "Men & Machines of the Australian Flying Corps" (1971), in the chapter on 4-Squadron, which flew Sopwith Camels in France…; there's a photograph of a Camel which not only has the standard Aldis Optical Tube-Sight between the two Vickers Guns…, and the standard "Ring & Bead" Sights on each Gun – with the Spiderweb Rings at the Muzzle ends of both Guns (so that Pilots could choose either/or, in realtime…) ; but the one machine featured also had another set of Spiderweb-Rings fitted to the Breech-ends of both his Guns, as well.

    The Caption & Text asserts that when a visiting General (or some other VIP, Hugh Trenchard perhaps ?)…) was inspecting the Squadron he noticed the triple-sighted Camel and while mentally considering ordering them to be fitted to all the RAF's Camels (it must've been after 1 April 1918), he interrogated the pilot in question as to how he went about using the additional Sighting Rings when shooting at the Enemy… (?).

    The reply settled the affair, permanently, when the respondant said, or words to the effect,

    "Oh…, well…, to tell the truth Sir, I don't really use any of them. I simply point my nose at the Enemy and hose away while hoping for the best…; I only added the extra Ring-Sights because it looked more 'War-like' to my way of thinking…!"

    and,

    "Harrrumph…!"

    was the gruff reply.

    No other Camels were fitted with the 3rd set of Gunsights.

    Perhaps those double-sighted Ross Rifles should therefore be called "Camels" …; they do certainly call to mind the old story that a Camel is actually a Horse which was designed by a Committee (!) ?

    Have a good one.

    ;-p

    Ciao !

  16. Ross rifles are as complicated as the French berthier carbines, rifles and assorted accessories ie bayonets,mags,sights

  17. How are you supposed to shoot at anything with that 3* peep sight?
    Peep sight only really work when they are as close as possible tonthe shooters eye.
    You put that thing a 1/3 of the length down the rifle and make it by poking a small hole in a comparatively huge piece of metal, you get yourself the perfect recipe for not seeing, let alone shooting a damn thing down range.

  18. I'd be interested to know how many individual rifles Ian's had access to in the making of this video series. I'd be worried about misplacing/mixing up parts by this point…

  19. These rifles seem thoroughly mediocre; they apparently don't do anything better than other rifles, and as Ian showed, could potentially put a hole in your face if assembled incorrectly.

    That just makes Charles Ross's egomania and arrogance more bizarre. If Paul Mauser or John Browning chose to act like rampaging assholes, okay, maybe they earned it (not that either of them were like that, as far as I know). But the guy who invented a sorta-just-okay straight pull rifle (and nothing else) that had no real impact on history or firearms development? He doesn't get a "act like a dick" license, sorry.

  20. As a Ross employed by the Canadian government, I can confirm that we still haven't quite got it right, even after all those years!

  21. Somebody at the Canadian government- how about taking some time to consolidate and get a specific model that works just right?
    Ross- No.

  22. Why would the US buy theses over the 1903 Springfield? Surely they produced those by the hundreds of thousands. You still haven't addressed the issue of the gun blowing up in your face which has so often been commented on.

  23. It actually sounds like Ross used the military contract as a means of developing commercial technology for free when you look at the II**

  24. I can imagine… Ross, foaming and frothing at the mouth, swearing and fuming, as all of this went on! …as he grins at the "bloody frog tower" being used as a butt-stop!

  25. Great video as always. There is any possibility to review 9×39 russian weapons like te OTS-14 or the VSS? I would love to learn more about them. thank you very much for your videos

  26. Ian, I believe that the Broadhead stamp is a British acceptance mark, while the Broadhead with the C is a Canadian acceptance mark.

  27. Greetings Ian, another great video! Seeing as we're looking at straight pulls, see if you can get hold of one of Ron Owen's "Taipan" Mosin Nagant conversions. Built after the Australian gun restrictions came in, it was to be the replacement for the SKS and SKK semi-autos favoured by pest eradication shooters. Straight pulls were considered legal, whereas semi-autos were not. An interesting design if you can find one.

  28. I have a feeling the different receiver and barrel threads are economy. I can cut fine threads way faster than coarse on a manual lathe because of the depth of cut being shallower. The receiver fine threads are also easy to tap vs the acme thread that would be easier to thread mill than tap or single point cut. The coarse barrel threads would probably be milled rather than turned.

  29. Would it be possible, for shits and giggles, to have both rear sights up at the same time to aim down the rear-est sight and aim down the front rear sight for super tactical recon 10-pinpoint precision shooting?
    Am a sneper now!

  30. I've seen guns with backup iron sights for optics before, but having backup iron sights for iron sights is a new one.

  31. I have one of the US purchased rifles. Seems it would mess one up to train with a straight pull then have to use a 1903 or 1917.

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