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Top 5 Best Military Bolt Action Rifles


– [Voiceover] Hello, this
is Alex C. with TFB TV. Today I’ll be covering my
picks for the five best military bolt action service rifles. All of these rifles served
as the mainstays of their nation’s militaries for a period of time, and that was the criteria. I excluded specialty rifles,
such as sniper rifles, or anti-materiel rifles. So let’s get started. First I chose an unusual entry. This is a Krag–Jørgensen rifle, specifically a United States Krag, that’s chambered in .30-40 Krag. This is important because it was America’s first bolt action, and first
rifle to use smokeless powder. The Krag was adopted
after a number of trials that deemed its loading
gate, where you can top the magazine off with single rounds to be a desirable feature, which ironically led to its demise. This specific example is an 1892 model, and it came from the
Evergreen Flight Museum. As I mentioned, the loading
gate is a neat feature, and you can see it here in operation. The protruding bit allows you
to use your fingers or thumb to pop open the gate, and
then load rounds individually, up to five at a time. You can see the follower right here that swivels closed to
spring load the rounds, to enable them to feed. This is a unique feature,
and it does make the Krag look a bit different and unique. You can see here a magazine
cut-off switch is in place, as was typical of rifles at the time. The safety is also a standard flag type, but it lacks the middle
position that is common on rifles like a Gewehr 98. All in all the Krag’s features
are somewhat familiar, aside from the loading gate. So next I’ll showcase how
to load the Krag rifle. To do this, you open the loading gate, place your rounds in individually,
so as to not get rim-lock which is not present on
the Norwegian models. With the magazine cut-off
disabled, rounds will feed, allowing the soldier to
engage in rapid fire. With the switch down, it
shuts of the magazine, and the soldier must
individually load rounds. Again, disabling the
cutoff allows the soldier to go back to rapid fire. One last feature of the Krag that I find specifically endearing is a
feature of the rear sight. By pivoting up the rear
section of the sight, it provides the shooter with a very small, unique aperture suitable for precision, or long-distance shooting. While the aperture is very
small, it is very effective, and it is a nice touch, making the Krag one of my picks for the best
military service rifles. So next up we have a
rifle that, quite frankly, if it was omitted would make this list completely irrelevant. This is a Lee–Enfield, specifically an Australian Lithgow production Enfield, and this one was bought from another TFB member in un-issued condition. Usually these rifles look
like they’ve been through hell and back because, quite honestly, most of them have. Soldiers of Empire carried them on almost every continent that I’m aware of, and they served many
nations in the Commonwealth for years and years. As of the recording of this video they still are in limited
service with the Canadian Rangers although a replacement
rifle is being implemented. However the SMLE is serving hobbyists and sportsmen very well, as
it is a fantastic shooter, and an interesting rifle. Seen here is how the Enfield functions. You can see the receiver
is not quite fully bridged aside from the stripper clip guide, which doesn’t quite count, but
it is a cock-on-closed design which does allow the shooter
to fire more rapidly. You can see I do wrestle with the bolt to get it to close all the way, and the firing pin does
protrude from the rear as it is cocked. When you lift the handle,
it does spring-load back as a result of it being under tension. And I lift the bolt handle again here, and you can see it does not cock the rifle until you pull the bolt
back and push forward. The sights on the Enfield
are pretty standard for a rifle at the time. They’re a typical notch
and post sight arrangement. All in all not bad for what
you get, but not exceptional, nothing like the peep sights on a Garand, or a Springfield 1903A3. So next up we have
something I need to address about the Enfield and
that’s that these rifles are not particularly strong. They do lock at the rear
with two locking lugs, one that runs the length
of the bolt almost, and a small one below as you can see on the bottom of the bolt. This does lead to issues
with headspacing eventually as the two-piece bolt design
with a swiveling bolt head can take the rifle out of headspace and require a new bolt head. As you can see here, the
bolt head does swivel. It does make disassembly
of the bolt quite easy however, but over time, with
metal fatigue and other factors that bit there shrinks,
and will cause the rifle to go out of headspace and
require either a replacement bolt head or something else
to remedy the situation. However, it doesn’t
mean the Enfield is not arguably the finest bolt action rifle to ever serve in combat. But let’s see what’s up next shall we? Of course next I’ve chosen the Swiss K31. K31’s are very well known
for their reliability and above all, their accuracy. The Swiss are very well known
for their craftsmanship, albeit with a high cost,
as the cost of labor on most of their firearms
results in a very high price, even for their modern commercial arms. However their surplus rifles
are reasonably priced, and I would recommend that you pick one up should you see one available
at your local store. The receivers are brilliantly machined and everything about these
rifles screams quality. Sometimes the stocks are a little beat up, but you can always remedy
that should you so desire. As I spoke about the
receiver craftsmanship, it’s simply unparalleled
within surplus arms. You have what’s known as the, “Beer keg,” as the bolt handle. Instead of having to rotate a bolt, you simply pull back and push
forward to cycle the action. This results in an
unusually fast follow up, and a fantastic action to
just play with and cycle. The ring on the back
also acts as a safety. The trigger is also spectacular, and is the two-staged
trigger from the factory. Something unusual to note about the K31s is the quality or lack
thereof of their equivalent of a stripper clip which
would be more appropriately called a charger. These fiberboard chargers
are filled with six rounds and orient to be disposable
so they’re quite rare to find in good condition. However they do do the job, and top off your magazine with six rounds
of 7.5 Swiss ammunition which is available and
priced very reasonably. All in all the K31’s a fantastic rifle, and if I were shooting a match, I would probably take that over
all the rifles in this list. So up next we have an unusual entry that many people might
not be familiar with. This is a French MAS-36 rifle. Some people refer to it as
the ugliest surplus rifle on the market, but I think
it’s a little endearing. It actually doesn’t look too bad I think. It’s very utilitarian,
and the full length wood is kind of unusual in a military rifle in that it is quite bulky with
a very squared-off receiver. What divides a lot of people is the placement of the bolt handle. It’s located very rearward,
but it’s swept forward to enable the user to cycle
the action appropriately. Another nuance about this rifle
is it does lock at the rear which some people deride,
however there is some debate about if this really affects the strength of the action or not. I personally do not believe it does, and I’ve consulted some
other, well, experts, which I am not, and they
would argue that the action is stronger than previously believed. Another feature of the
MAS-36 that I really like is the way the bayonet functions. It’s a spike bayonet that’s
hidden within the rifle, and the Germans even copied this design in their FG 42 paratrooper rifle. The problem with bayonets is
that they’re always loaded, and I’m exponentially more afraid of them than I am firearms, so handling
them always puts me on edge, although the design of the
MAS-36 makes it well concealed within the gun, and
therefore I’m not as worried as I normally would be. The Achilles Heel of this
gun to me is the sights. While the rear aperture is quite nice, instead of having a sight
located on the middle of the gun, in front of the receiver ring, there is one very gaping problem. The way you adjust for
windage is you actually go to the armorer after shooting a group, and get a new rear sight leaf. Elevation is adjustable here as seen, just pretty typical of any
other rifle of the period, but up next you can see a sight leaf. I noticed one day at the
range that I was shooting on a paper and it was grouping very low, so I had to purchase an
additional leaf to replace. The one I’m holding here on
the left is the factory one, the one on the rifle is the
leaf meant to accommodate for the windage. All in all the MAS-36 is a great rifle. If it had a windage
adjustment, I would place it probably nearer to the top, as the penultimate, or ultimate
bolt action military rifle. Unfortunately it doesn’t, but it still earned a place on the list. Up next is the king of bolt action rifles. This is of course a Mauser 98, specifically a K98k variant. All Gewehr 98 variants, including the Karabiner
98a’s, the b’s and so-on and so-forth are fantastic, however many people regard
the K98k to be the highest evolution for one reason or another. The Mauser 98 simply is the
perfect bolt action rifle. It reigns supreme for a number of reasons, and the action is legendary. Nearly every bolt action
rifle today copies this action or at least mini-elements
of it, to produce a sporting rifle or, well,
whatever the purpose or intent may be. You can see here the
action has a full bridge. It’s machined very well. The bolt has two frontal locking lugs, including a massive large extractor claw that almost never fails and
results in controlled feed. There’s also a rear safety lug
should both front lugs fail, that will prevent the gun,
or excuse me, the bolt, from ejecting into the shooters face. It has that famous Mauser
three position safety. In the middle it will not
fire, but it will allow the user to empty the
magazine or cycle the bolt. Pushing the flag all the way to the right locks the action shut and
disables the firing mechanism. All the way to the left makes
the rifle ready to fire, and the user can engage. This action is simply perfect,
and I really can’t nitpick it too much and it’s still
soldiering on today in many designs. Of course safety was a big part. These two holes are to vent
gases away from the shooter in the event of a rupture. The sights are pretty standard
for rifles of the time, they’re a simple notch and post, and there’s not really much I can say, negative or positive, as they do the job, but the front does have a
nice cover to reduce glare and aid in target acquisition. All in all the Mauser 98 is
the king of bolt action rifles, it’s strong, robust, and
they’re still making rifles with this action today. In fact, the Mauser
company has just entered serial production of the 98 Magnum. So that’s it for TFB TV today. If you liked it, please subscribe. Also check out our sponsors, Grizzly Target and Ventura Munitions. Thanks again for watching guys, this is Alex C., I hope
to see you next time.

100 thoughts on “Top 5 Best Military Bolt Action Rifles

  1. yeah the Mauser is nice but the m1903 was literally just a perfected version of the Mauser if anything the m1903 is better because it worked on flaws that the Mauser had

  2. While working the M98 bolt, the bolt handle gets in the way nearly missing hitting you on the face, while the sight picture gets completely blocked requiring re-aiming from scratch for every single shot. Some design.

  3. The mosin is not that great to be brutally honest. It's like a stick, if you try to beat someone to death with it, you'll have some trouble doing it when compared to using an electric baton or a hammar, but it's dirt cheap and you can get the job done

  4. Personally I think the mosin 91/30 is the best bolt service rifle of all time,because of its accuracy,durability,and reliability,and also has been used for 107 years by the Russians

  5. Never buy a lee Enfield if the person you buy it from says “I fixed the headspace!” With British ammo there’s no actual issue with headspace. Check out Bloke on the Range for reference

  6. The Krag's most "desirable" feature isn't necessary, and due to the individual loading of rounds, it would be irrelevant in stressful combat situations.

  7. I’m pretty sure MAS36 was solely on the list because it’s interesting looking.. not because it’s actually s good rifle compared to those unlisted.

  8. I'm not an expert on old rifles but is there any way of knowing the history of the exact rifle I have? Proof it went through the world wars particularly. Before i got my M1903 my only firearm was a M1911 so I'm trying to learn more about them from guys like you who are better than google lol

  9. No such a thing as best military rifles. Sorry for bad news unless you like to be the one enjoying to be on receiving end of best of them? Or you prefer bad ones?

  10. My first deer rifle was an original (except for a sporterized, shortened front handguard) U.S. Model of 1917 Enfield. Excellent rifle. It was the Winchester made 26 inch barreled sniper version. Bought it in about 1978 -79 for $65.

  11. Everyone love the Springfield in multiplayer but zombies you cant pay me, okay you might be able to pay me to use this worse version of the garbage rod.

  12. I can attest to the accuracy of the K-31 Swiss. I bought a "select" version from Classic Firearms along with its premium ammo. At the range from 100 yards with open sights I consistently shot 1 & 1/2 inch groups, the worst being a 3 1/4 inch grouping. A little more powerful than a .308 the kick of the rifle is substantial. After shooting 40 rounds the shoulder can't take much more. In a fire fight I'm not sure how it would do as my whole arm was shaking after 40 rounds. As a hunting rifle though this beautiful beast meets every expectation. I would go anywhere with it.

  13. Ну блять я непоспорю MAS-36 явно лучше "Мосинки", даже больше , MAS-36 это оружие победы , а "Мосинка" это дермо используемое тупыми ивашками . "Мосинка" это дешманское говно для необученной Совковой армии . А винтовка MAS-36 и прочие это совершенное оружие, великой европейской оружейной школы .

  14. The Kräg was a great rifle. I am currently bidding on one that will come with two bayonets. Smoothest action out there. It does only have a single locking point which limits its use with higher calibers than the 30-40. But as has been proven by the weaker 30-30 the 30-40 s are stronger than needed.

  15. Lithgow is not pronounced phonetically, it is pronounced Lithgo. I have two Lee Enfield .303 rifles on BSA manufacturing date 1909 and another made by Lithgow arms broken down into a sporting rifle. The Lithgow shoots a great patern. But the BSA is quite worn but it must have seen a lot of service.

  16. Well, at least you pointed out that this is an opinion piece. Personally, I would've placed the M1903 on this list.

  17. 11:31 is important too. When the magazine plate comes up and blocks the bolt it physically prevents the shooter in the confusion of combat from loading and reloading an empty gun. A genius little touch that probably saved lives.

  18. So that feed dor vs 5rd stripper clip. That why the US got their butts kicked in the Spanish American war was it?

  19. Smle is the best "combat bolt action" ever!!! EVER! Don't belive me, then why is it still used today! Why did so many countrys use it. Why is it the fastest bolt action. Why is it used as a sniper riffle. It holds more rounds then others. Its very accurate. It's like the spitfire of bolt actions! It went through two world wars and is still used today!

  20. Nope you put a freaking Krag and a mas36 but no M1917 which is the best bolt action of WW1 or2 but ok

  21. Always been curious about the Krag,never fired one. And I've always wanted to run some rounds through the Swiss.

  22. The kerg was a good rifle but not a military rifle the k98 was a good rifle but short on rounds. The lee enfield had 10 rounds smooth action an the 303 was a level shooting round the k98 was a great rifle but the 5 rd mag hekd it back

  23. Yeah, the .30 Army Krag was so good that it was dumped in short order for a Mauser variant after the Spanish American War.

  24. a : mosin nagant is the best bolt action rifle !!!
    b : huh, those garbage isnt even match with muh glorious german overenginering the mauser 98 !!!

    me : lets those fanboy fight , because the lee enfield is my favorite bolt action rifle …

  25. I knew Mauser would be on this list. You'd be hard-pressed to find an Alex video without him giving the Mauser its rightful adulation.

  26. So, the first rifle discussed…
    Is from a museum…
    And, you…
    Treat it with the care and attention…
    That warrants lying it…
    On a concrete floor???

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