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I had rather have a plain, russet-coated Captain, that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that you call a Gentle-man and is nothing else.

-- Oliver Cromwell

Bolt-Action Rifles

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Nearly all infantryman in the First World War used bolt action rifles. This type of rifle had been invented by a Scottish immigrant to the United States, James Paris Lee. The bolt is the device that closes the breech of the barrel. The bolt-action rifle had a metal box, into which cartridges were placed on top of a spring. As the bolt was opened, the spring forced the cartridges up against a stop; the bolt pushed the top cartridge into the chamber as it closed. After firing, the opening of the bolt extracted the empty cartridge case, and the return stroke loaded a fresh round.

Cartridges were injected into the magazine by means of a clip. They consisted of open-ended slides or cases within which a number of cartridges, 3, 5 or 6 were gripped by the spring metal of the case or a spring incorporated in the base.

The Lee-Enfield was the main rifle used by the British Army during the First World War. Other popular bolt action rifles included the Mauser Gewehr (Germany), Lebel (France), Mannlicher-Carcano (Italy), Springfield (United States), Moisin-Nagant (Russia), Mannlicher M95 (Austria) and Arisaka (Japan).


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This Day in History
1864: Confederate General Sterling Price's raid on Missouri nearly turns into disaster when his army is pinned between two Union forces at Westport, near Kansas City. Although outnumbered two to one, Price managed to slip safely away after the Battle of Westport, which was the biggest battle west of the Mississippi River.