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5 Failed Rifle Designs

Discussion in 'Small Arms and Edged Weapons' started by PzJgr, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Ever since the first firearm design was traced out, shooters have looked to make a better one. This path has led to hundreds of innovative and ground breaking designs, establishing new standards and ultimately moving the modernization of firearms in a positive direction. Then, there are those that just plain didn’t. Here are five ugly ducklings for which there would be no beautiful swan happy ending:


    1. Chauchat Machine Rifle
    [​IMG]
    Chauchat Machine Rifle

    In 1907, a French Colonel by the name of Louis Chauchat designed a select-fire rifle that, though officially dubbed the Fusil mitrailleur Mle 1915 CSRGwould, was so poorly conceived it was destined to bear his name. The 19-pound Chauchat Machine rifle was heavy but capable of firing on the move by a single soldier. It was one of the first rifles with a dedicated pistol grip and a high-capacity detachable magazine… which was open on one side, allowing dirt, mud, gravel, spent brass, and beignets to fall in to it and gumming up the gun works. Another mark against it was that Gladiator, main manufacturer of the Chauchat, used cheap stampings and poor quality control, which made the weapon both inaccurate and prone to mechanical failure. Today the Chauchat has become almost the benchmark for firearms failures.

    2. Canadian Ross Rifle
    England did not want to license the SMLE rifle to Canada for production in the 1900s. This led to Sir Charles Ross’s design of a straight-pull bolt-action .303 caliber rifle to beadopted for the Ross rifle bolt assembly.

    [​IMG]

    Canadian Army in 1903. The Ross was a great idea at the time and was well liked on the peacetime shooting ranges. However, when the Canadian Army went into the trenches of the Western Front with it in 1915, a few “minor issues” became major ones.
    Sometimes the bayonet would fall off after a few rounds were fired (luckily, if you were able to pick it back up it could be remounted but this was a lot easier done on a shooting range than while going over the wall). The screw threads operating the bolt lugs would also become stripped and allow the bolt to back out, which often jammed the rifle. This could also be repaired in the field. Finally, said lugs could totally fail, causing the bolt to detach from the rifle. When fired, this bolt would only stop when it hit the user in the face. Of the 400,000 made, most were withdrawn from service in 1916 with only a few snipers, who gingerly used very well maintained weapons, continued to carry them.

    3. Mauser Gewehr 41
    In 1940, the German Army was on the lookout for a semi-automatic rifle (Selbstladekarabiner) to supplement the millions of bolt-action K98 Mausers in service. They wanted the rifle to fire the same full-sized 8mm (7.92x57mm) cartridge as the K98, and have a ten-shot box magazine.

    [​IMG]
    Mauser G41

    They also wanted it not to have any gas ports in the barrel and, in what was probably their worst idea, still wanted it to be capable of working as a bolt-action rifle if the semi-auto action failed.


    [SIZE=11.666666030883789px]Mauser submitted a design for [/SIZE]the Mauser Gewehr in 1941[SIZE=11.666666030883789px] that met all of the Army’s guidelines save for actually working. The muzzle trap that cycled the action made the gun front-heavy. The same action fouled terribly after just a few rounds, which resulted in not only jams but also excessive corrosion. Of the 6,000 that were built, most were considered unusable. The almost equally bad [/SIZE]Walther[SIZE=11.666666030883789px] G41 version went into limited production but of the few that made it to the Eastern Front, almost all were lost.[/SIZE]

    4. The Century MAS-49/56
    The French Army ran through a series of rifle designs over a twenty-year period until they finally arrived on one they were happy with in 1957. Adopted as the MAS-49/56, about 275,000 of the semi-automatic rifles were issued to the French military and represent one of the few rifles on this list that is not necessarily on here because of its original design.

    [​IMG]
    The Century MAS-49/56 in .308

    The 8.5-pound rifle was reliable in service but by 1990 was replaced by the 5.56mm FAMAS bull pup assault rifle. Century Arms bought several thousand to import into the US as they came onto the surplus market. Commercial 7.5x54mm French military ammunition isn’t available at your local big box store and here is where the problem comes in.

    Century rechambered these to take a 7.62x51mm NATO round and did it badly. They cut the barrel and recoil spring down, chambered it to the new round and put it back together with a dry wall screw. The resulting extraction timing issues, bad chamber reaming, moody direct impingement gas systems problems, and the tendency to have the extractor rip the rim off .308 brasses left a bad taste in your mouth? Another failure point on these guns is that theFrench MAS factory used proprietary screws that are nearly impossible to remove should you desire to fully strip the weapon (so maybe it is on this list for the original design after all).

    5. The Daisy 22VL
    An inventor by the name of Jules Van Langenhorn came up with the prospect of firing a .22 caliber bullet without using cases or a primer. The bullet was fired by superheated air produced by a piston.

    [​IMG]
    The Daisy 22VL’s case-less .22 caliber ammunition.

    Daisy bought Mr. Langenhorn’s design and in 1968 produced a series of what they considered air rifles to use it. Dubbed the VL after the inventor, these guns were produced for two years in three grades before the ATF declared the devices to be actual firearms rather than air guns. Daisy pulled the plug but about 20,000 of these are still floating around as collector’s items.

    The Voere Company of Austria dusted off this concept of caseless ammunition, coupled with electronic ignition, in 1991 for their VEC-91, with much the same outcome. Failure is a funny thing; you can learn as much from it as success in many cases. After all, how many open-side magazines, straight-pull or combination semi-auto/bolt actions, re-chambered bores, and caseless ammunition do you see listed on today’s new firearms?

    Source: http://www.guns.com/2012/12/19/5-failed-rifle-designs/
     
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  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    No surprise the Chaucat is number one. It was hated by the French for a start and the remains of the stock were given to the Americans in 1917 who therefore learned to hate it too :rant: . On paper it was a great modern weapon , but it the wet trenches with mud it was just plain dangerous. However one shouldn't be too hard with the Chaucat , many armies learned from this draft while keeping the good parts and thanks to this ugly duck the following models were much better.
    For guns the Chaucat is what the Manchester was for aircrafts (and the manchester resulted in the Lancaster).
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My dad used a G-41 M as his deer rifle for years. He loved it although he also considered it a bit on the heavy side. He chose it because it looked "different". Most of the time he owned it he had no idea what it really was.
     
  4. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Nice post ...Would the Chauchat work better if the magazine did not have slots ? Seemingly an easy fix. I have never seen an exposed military magazine made in such a way.

    Gaines
     
  5. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Certainly would have helped, but as the OP states this was just one of its problems. Poor stampings and poor quality control would still make it an less than ideal weapon.

    Probably stays on the list,but might slide down from the #1 position.
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The Chauchat parts production was farmed out to hundreds of little gun makers and metal shops, so no two parts were ever quite the same dimension or hardened correctly. The parts were then assembled at a central plant. That kind of production worked fine for building inexpensive shotguns and the like, but not for a light machine gun.
     
  7. Ken The Kanuck

    Ken The Kanuck Member

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    Got to get myself a Ross, very popular gun with our snipers.

    KTK
     
  8. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Triple C, belasar and KodiakBeer like this.
  9. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Ok, so what about the 5 best designs then?
     
  10. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Interesting read. It sounds more quirky than really awful from those who have actually shot them. Still, I wouldn't want to go into combat with a gun that has to be held just right or it will jam or break you cheekbone!
     
  11. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    There is only one....The British version of the Belgian FN...The 7.62 full metal jacket Self Loading Rifle.

    With a magazine of 30 rounds....to your front...
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I found the more precise explanation of how the US version was a somewhat botched variant interesting, as I'd always read that they'd been straight 'dumped' with just a heap of the semi-circular magazine jobby. Apparently more to that story than ever met my eye.

    Best?
    Best 'lost' maybe?
    Lots of people cite the EM2 project as a sort of TSR2 of British Small Arms. Though I'm never sure with these things how much of it is wishful thinking, or just a hope for a magic wand to cure the ills of what actually made it to issue.

    Was very surprised recently to see that there are surviving functional EM2s (or maybe just the one...) what on earth is that worth? :
    Forgotten Weapons again - EM2
    (Been browsing there a lot recently - nice 'calm' firearm chat, with some real nuggets hidden away.)

    Also:
    Pathe film - New Rifle Test For Experts 1951
     
  13. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Von Poop, if you are going to persist in the use of facts, you are going to ruin the Internet! :)
     
  14. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Leave him alone...its only the internet...He invented it...up to him how it works...

    Now just to go off topic....5 members you wouldn't trust with the worst gun...or even best gun...

    Anyone seen Poppy....

    But to keep on topic...Worst gun...the original fired at Hydrich....
     
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  15. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    There's a wrinkle to the Ross story that's often forgotten - the ammunition ;) The Canadians ALSO set up a brand new .303 production line on new plant that made VERY precise .303 rounds for the Ross...and firing it, the Ross had far fewer issues...

    Unfortunately, they didn't send anything like enough of it to Europe - and once it was done, the CEF resorted to British-made .303...

    British-made .303 was made to VERY sloppy clearances, particularly around the "taper" in the cartridge neck ;) In the SMLE, this led to the so-called head space issue - SMLEs jamming because when fired, a sloppily-necked cartridge would expand into and jam in the available space...

    Which wouldn't have happened except the SMLE itself was manufactured to equally sloppy, not quite so perfectly gastight clearances! The issue could be ameliorated in the Enfield by an armourer replacing the bolt head with one of four sizes produced to take up any clearance as far as possible...

    But in the well-machined Ross breach...the uneven-ness of the measurements of the cartridge neck in British .303 was the killer, leading to terrible jamming issues. One or two, or three rounds might fire perfectly and extract...then the next - with quite literally a different sized/shaped/positioned neck taper - would expand into the space the mis-shaped round allowed for...and jam.
     
  16. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Well as Benny Hill might have said "You should have put more men on the Job!"

    For some strange reason I suddenly feel like patting some short bald man on the head?
     
  17. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Ah, yes! Which brings to mind the tale of a young Russian lad who moved to America where he could indulge his love for machine guns. USA! USA! USA!

    Don't try this at home. He's a professional Russian.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvlsrgL_Plg
     
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  18. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Geeeeezzz...I want one....not the Russian..and not the truck....So...Have I got this right...its best to shoot at a moving truck rather than a stationary one....more bangs....Bugger...My SLR, never did that....Right about the entry and exit though...we were always told even if you hit in the leg the buggers not just going down he's not going home...Exit wound on flesh is supposed to be impressive...And I apologise to the squeamish...I want a holiday with KB....
     
  19. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Let's both go on holiday with Professional Russian. He's got a whole youtube channel devoted to blowing things up with machine guns. What fun is shooting something with a machine gun unless you stuff it with tannerite and propane tanks first? I like the way this man thinks and I'll have to look into buying some of his fine products.
     
  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Come to Alabama around Labor Day each year, I can hook you up with some similar firearms. We have a family reunion about then and many of my relatives are handsomely armed. We don't shoot up vehicles, but other targets are to be found.
     

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