Friday, November 13, 2009

Versus



I forget who commented so, but I remember, during one of the unending but entertaining gun discussions over .223 vs. .308, someone piped up at this argument was ever thus through history.

They mentioned folks griped going from .30-06 to .308 and that the .308 would be too underpowered compared to a REAL round like the .30-06.

Conjecture was then made that there was almost certainly those that were wistful for the .45-70 when the Army switched to .30-06 in 1906.

I don’t know about that…

There were certainly serving soldiers in the Army that had fired the .45-70 in battle, but I don’t know if they’d be wistful for its return.

First of all, the .30-06 was a step UP from the issued .30 caliber Army, aka .30-40. The issue rifle was the Krag, and it chambered this cartridge. The consensus of contemporary reports (at least in the History books I read) was that the .30-40 and Krag weren’t as good as the Mausers fielded by the enemy in the Spanish American war. And Mauser envy by the Army led to Mauser ‘stealing’ by Army Ordinance, getting US forces a more powerful .30-03 and then .30-06 3 years later on the new rifle platform. Old Timers would think that a step back in the right direction, but as good as the .45-70?

Again, I say yes. The Krag was an improvement in it’s day because of the new-fangled smokeless powder. Old Timers that fired the .45-70 could see that utility, I bet.

Plus the trajectory for the .45-70 was parabolic at range. You could hit a lot further out with the .30-06 with it’s flatter trajectory. The wallop a .45-70 might dish out was beside the point if you couldn’t hit the enemy easily because you had to hold over on your aim by 6 feet and your second shot was obscured by smoke anyway, all while the enemy was shooting back, and hitting, from further away that you thought practical.

No. If the blogosphere was around in 1910, we wouldn’t have the contention of .45-70 vs .30-06 like we do with the .223 vs .308.

At least that’s what I think. And I’m sticking to it.

14 comments:

Tam said...

There were complaints about the Krag's performance in the Philippines vis a vis the floptops still fielded by some state units.

Much like the .223 controversy today, a lot of it was caused by city-bred soldiers who'd never seen a game animal shot and didn't realize that a rifle wasn't a death ray.

Jim said...

As a psy war matter, the .45-70 is your basic hands-down winner.

You mail an unfired round to each squad of the opposing army with a big smiley-face on the cover note and this sentence: "This is what we will shoot at you."

They sue for peace and we catch a bus home and go fishing.

Caleb said...

Rifles aren't a death ray?

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

No Caleb. They aren't.

Shotguns loaded with birdshot so they won't go through the dry wall are.

No. Wait a minnit... That's not right either.

Sken said...

A rifle should only be used to fight your way to your death ray.

Jay G said...

Personally, I prefer the BFG9000...

docjim505 said...

My understanding of the problems with the 30-40 is that it wasn't the round itself, which was decent by the standards of the day (and has been used in the century since by hunters to take many a deer), but rather in the basic design of the Krag rifle.

The first flaw, though not critical given the modest pressure generated by the Government cartridge, is that the bolt had only one locking lug. The trade-off was that the Krag action was (and is) considered one of the slickest, smoothest bolt actions ever developed.

The second flaw was much more important: the magazine. The side-loading gate meant that it was virtually impossible to use en bloc clips or chargers, greatly slowing the reloading rate. At the time, the Army didn't see this as a problem; indeed, old-time officers at Ordnance thought the provision of a magazine would merely lead to wasted ammo and degraded standards of marksmanship. Hence, they put the magazine cut-off on the Krag, which was carried over into the '03 rifle.

The only real flaw in the 30-40 cartridge is the rim, but the fact that the British made good use of the similar, rimmed 303 for nearly a century speaks to the fact that the rimmed case is hardly a fatal defect.

I'm sure that there were a few reactionary officers and civilian "experts" who scoffed at replacing the 45-70 with the 30-40, but the latter cartridge is so obviously superior in every way that such opposition as there may have been is foolish on its face, almost as foolish as opposing the replacement of a muzzle-loader with a breech-loader.

staghounds said...

1. No, Starbucks latte is a death ray.

2. Was there ever an ISSUED smokeless 45-70?

3. Since there are .458 M1s now...

Matt G said...

Staghounds, I don't think there ever was an issued smokeless round for .45-70, but since there were some in armories well into the 20th century, I really don't know.

Jenny said...

Looking at Tam's old Museum Wall, I can't help but think that being in charge of outfitting an army in those late 19th c. days must have been something like trying to settle on computer hardware for a large company now...

*Whatever* you end up sinking all that money into is going to be obsolete in an eyeblink.... it's just going to be a much bigger sunk cost with much bigger consequences if you pick wrong.

eep.

Mike W. said...

You need teflon coated armor piercing rounds to achieve "death ray" status...

Borepatch said...

Personally, I'm still trying to get used to those new-fangled Minir balls ....

Bunnyman said...

Man, this is almost into false dilemma territory.

Trapdoor-friendly .45-70? 1300 ft-lbs. Marlin 1894-friendly .45-70? 3500+ ft-lbs. From a period-appropriate standpoint, there's no question that .30-03 smoked .45-70 in every way that matters, except maybe with paleo-Facklerites.

And those ammo-stingy Army Ordnance officers would probably drop dead of an aneurysm if they saw how troops used the M16 in 'Nam...

Anonymous said...

One of the complaints made by the brit officer who wrote the latest put down of the 5.56 was that it didn't throw up enough dirt to properly scare the bad guys when you missed. I bet the 45-70 fans had a good time with that argument when they were putting down the puny .30 Army. And what about that fearesome gout of smoke when you fired the 45-70? Why seeing that and knowing that you had a 500 grain pumpkin headed your way would make you want to throw your Mauser down and flee!