Thursday, June 30, 2011

Historic guns

The American Winchester 1873 was not the first gun bearing the Winchester name, but its popularity earned it the nickname of "The Gun That Won the West" The British Lee-Metford had only a short operational life with the British Army, while the Italian Carcano 91/94 had a long and ultimately notorious history, due to its most famous owner. On 22 November 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald used a Mannlicher-Carcano serial number C2766 with an Ordnance Optics 4x18 scope to kill the US President John R Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.

The Winchester
The first real Winchester was the Model 1866. The major change was the incorporation of a totally round magazine tube. Winchester's plant foreman, Nelson King, designed it to replace the slotted-tube design. There was a marked improvement in the reliability of the rifle since there was no ingress of dirt into the working parts. Frames were initially made of brass and then replaced by iron; this version had the model number 1867. Eventually steel was adopted in 1884. The Winchester was popular because the .44-centrefire ammunition was compatible with some handguns, and a man could carry a Winchester and a revolver and use the same rounds of ammunition for both weapons.
The spring-loaded tube magazine on the Winchester Model 1866 fed rounds backwards when the lever was operated and as it was closed loaded them into the breach. It was a quick, reliable mechanism.

The Lee-Metford
Introduced in 1888, the Lee-Metford rifle, also known as the Magazine Lee-Metford or MLM by British soldiers, was a breech-loading service rifle. It combined James Paris Lee's rear-locking bolt system and ten-round magazine with a seven-groove rifled barrel designed by William Ellis Metford. Although nine years of development followed before it replaced the Martini-Henry rifle, it remained in service for only a short time until replaced by the similar Lee-Enfield.

At a time when most military rifles used smokeless powders, the Lee-Metford used a black powder-loaded rimmed .303in cartridge. It had been intended to fire a smokeless cartridge, but this was not available to the farDepartment when it entered service. The MLM design went through several variations; the main changes were to the magazine (from eight-round single stack to ten-round staggered), sights and safety catch. In 1914 some Territorial Army battalions were still equipped with the MLM.
Soldiers of the Civil Service Rifles, a British Territorial Army formation, armed with Lee-Metford rifles. The bolt action developed by James Lee would be incorporated into the Lee-Enfield rifle that was in service with the Regular Army.

Mannlicher-Carcano rifles
The Italian Carcano 6.5mm Fucile Modello rifle went through many modifications in the 1890s. The 1892 rifle was the first of the Mannlicher-Carcano rifles to be accepted by the Italian Army. The Mannlicher-Carcano system was based on the bolt action of the Mauser Model 1889 with the addition of the Carcano bolt-sleeve mechanism; the Mannlicher six-round clip-loading magazine was retained. The name of General Parravicino is often linked with this rifle; he headed the commission that introduced the rifle to the Italian Army. The Modello 91 was the standard Italian Army rifle during World War I and was still in use in 1940 in large numbers. The Germans took some over in 1943 to arm several of their units in Italy, and these were designated the Gew 214(i). During 1944 some were rebored for the German calibre of 7.92mm/0.31in.

In World War I, Italian soldiers fought Austro-Hungarian forces armed with the Mannlicher Model 1895. Made in Budapest in Hungary as well as Steyr in Austria, the Mannlicher Ml895, also known as the Repetier Gewehr M95, was the principal Austro-Hungarian rifle. After World War I, the Italians received large numbers of Mannlichers as reparations from Austria and used them in large numbers. In World War II it was also used by the Bulgarians, Yugoslavs and to some extent by the Greeks.
The Mannlicher-Carcano Modello 91 was the standard bolt-action rifle used by the Italian Army in World War I. Like the SMLEwitfl the British, it would carry on with the Italian infantry into World War II.

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