Top 5 Best Military Bolt Action Rifles

Bolt action rifles were the mainstays of armies across the globe for nearly over half a century, and today we pick what we believe to be the five best ever fielded. The list factors in effectiveness, fun factor, historical significance, and ease of use. All five of these guns are fantastic, and we recommend you get behind them should the opportunity present itself!

Firearms featured:
Lee Enfield
MAS 36
Mauser K98k

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Thanks to our Sponsors Grizzly Targets & Ventura Munitions

The full transcript is below …

– [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.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Yay lee enfield!

  • borekfk

    No Mosin? Oh God here come the commies to burn TFB to the ground. That being said I have a M1898 Krag made in 1900 and it is a beautiful rifle. When it comes to the quality of fit & finish, nothing beats the Krag.

    • Swarf

      Nyet! List is not fine!

      • Swarf

        Seriously, though, Mosin should not be on any list with “best” in the title. The nigh-impossible-to-use safety alone should guarantee that.

        Prolific, deadly, and fun to own? Yes. But the only thing they are the best at is (perhaps) rifle butt diplomacy, given how many career ending injuries you could inflict with that steel butt plate and still volley fire in to the next country.

        And I’m saying this as a guy who owns 3 of them.

        • mosinman

          then what does this mean for the MAS 36? it doesn’t even have a safety.

          • I would argue the Mosin’s safety is so useless and counter-intuitive that it might as well not have it.

            I own most of the rifles in this list (no Krag) and two Mosins (1933 Hex and 1943 M38) and the Mosin simply isn’t as good as any of them. It’s Russian: reliable, but no better than ‘good enough.’

            I don’t hate Mosins, but I think they’re well placed by not being in this list. If you did a list based on price, we could revisit. If you did a list based on historical merit, we could revisit. If you’re doing a list like Alex did, I think it’s apt for them to not be included.

            I realise with your name this might not be the most welcome of posts, but there isn’t much I can do about that.

          • Rock or Something

            Mosin safety’s do indeed suck, compared to other rifles that implemented safeties better. But I do find it does get easier to use mine after some time. Not that I rely on it for extended periods of time, mind you.

          • mosinman

            no offense taken. i of course would have factored in the production numbers and historical significance/ service life, but i’m not an expert

        • kipy

          List of “best” clubs that double as rifles:
          1) Mosin Nagant!!


    “Top 5 Best” is redundant waste of words. Did you worry people might think just “Best” or “Top” or “Top 5” might *actually* mean… the WORST military bolt-action rifles?

    Similar issue, though more pedantic, with “bolt-action rifle”… what’s it gonna be, a bolt-action pistol? a bolt-action shotgun?

    cmon TFB, while it’s a low key blog between friends, your writing and editorial standards should still be equivalent to the high-school English standard of a major newspaper. Right? It’s not that hard.

    • Lots of errors in that comment.

      • DIR911911 .

        somebody couldn’t find anything to complain about , so they invent things.

    • iksnilol

      There are both bolt action pistols and shotguns… so getting any potential confusion out of the way is a good idea IMO.

    • Swarf

      “Top 5 Best” is redundant waste of words

      It’s really not, Major Pedant.

      If there is a list of “best” rifles that goes from 1 to the least best rifle ever made, than this is their list of what they consider to be the top 5 of that list.

      Also, as pointed out by Nathaniel, your comment is rife with errors, so… beware your own petard lest you be hoisted by it.

  • Vitsaus

    Extra credit for leaving the Mosin-Nagant off the list. Very solid list, though I might debate the Krag only because the feed system was not particularly good even in its time, from a tactical perspective, though the action is so butter smooth…

    • iksnilol

      Well of course it was horrible if it was used with a rimmed cartridge. That kinda defeated the whole point of the magazine being as is.

      • This. Leave it to us Americans to screw up a great thing, lol.

        • Swarf

          Mind elaborating on that for me and the others who don’t get the joke?

          • UnrepentantLib

            Along with the Krag the US adopted the .30-40 cartridge, which is rimmed. The idea, I believe, was so they could save a little money by rebarreling trapdoor Springfields to use the .30-40. Same false economy as the Brits did with the .303. They rebarreled Martini-Henrys, which gave tem decades of grief.

          • iksnilol

            Well, they chambered it in a .30-40 (basically ye olde 308 loaded with round nose bullets) which is rimmed. It makes it harder to load since you have to load carefully ro avoid rimlock. The entire point of the magazine of the Krag is that it can be loaded quickly and roughly. With rimmed ammo that advantage goes away.

            Also they removed the “safety lug”. Which is kinda unsafe to do.

            The real flaw that Krags have in my eyes is the wandering POI if they get wet. Due to assymetrical locking (IIRC) the POI changes if the rifle gets wet. Many competition shooters just zero the rifle when wet and oil the ammo. Or they just memorize the adjustment.

          • Swarf

            Thanks, you two.

      • Joshua

        it also only has a single locking lug, with causes a number of problems

        • iksnilol

          The Scandiavian versions have an additional “safety lug”.

          • G0rdon_Fr33man

            Not only that, the Scandinavian version issued used speedloaders, where you just pour cartridges into the magazines. Good Krag-shooters can reload in about about a second. Not to mention the glorious 6,5×55 cartridge.

          • iksnilol

            I didn’t know the speedloaders were issued. Maybe that explains why I’ve seen so many of them.

            Yeah, 6.5×55 is glorious. Way better than 308 or 30-40.

          • ostiariusalpha

            They weren’t; strictly a civilian piece of equipment. 6.5 Swede > .30-40 all day long, but .308 is a much more efficient cartridge. A .260 Rem or 6.5 CM can do anything the 6.5×55 can with less weight and better magazine capacity.

          • iksnilol

            That I didn’t know.

            .308 might be more efficent but 6.5×55 has better ballistics.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I was mostly comparing the cases; I’m a 6.5 caliber enthusiast when it comes to bullets. The 30 cal bullets are nice for nostalgia and cheap reloading for friends’ guns, but I like flat shooting rounds for going long range with.

          • iksnilol

            Then we are two. Though I mostly use 308 for availability. I could reload .260 remington (common brass and bullets in Norway).

            Or I could convert one of the 30-06 mausers to 6.5×55. Maybe that would be a bit expensive but would be cool.

            Lot to think about.

          • Vitsaus

            6.5×55 is indeed glorious. Wish it was more popular here in the US.

          • Paul White

            I wish I could find more rifles chambered in it. The cheapest I can find in stock are some CZ’s in the 700 range 🙁

          • Tassiebush

            What about Tikkas? They come in 6.5×55 and are awesomely accurate. Certainly get them here is Australia.

          • Paul White

            The Tikkas are available here but the model that the 6.5 is in cost about 780 here.

          • Tassiebush

            The basic synthetic lite model was $995 here last time I checked. The Aus dollar of course but another factor is they seem to come here via US.

          • Tassiebush

            It’d just be so awesome if any bolt action maker brought back the krag style magazine and matching speed loaders. I suspect that if the US had fielded a rimless case in their krag it would have caught on in sporting rifles.

  • ItalianAmerican

    Nice. I would have probably substituted the Krag with a M1903 (either M1903 or M1903A3) but they being almost a copy of a Mauser K98k, you probably didn’t think it was needed.

    • Tom

      There really is nothing much between the M1903 and the Mauser 98 series. I would say that the P14 / M1917 is more deserving of a spot.

      The real disappointment/disagreement for me is the lack of the Arisaka Personally I think I would of gone something like, Lee-Enfield, Mauser 98K, Arisaka Tpe 99, M1917, K31. Having said that I can see that this could easily of been top 10 without a struggle.

      • Vitsaus

        I agree, the Arisaka is underrated, though its also heavily Mauser derived, albeit with some very interesting modifications/improvements.

    • Mauser derivatives were excluded, or the list would have been just five Mauser clones.

      • Vitsaus

        Nothing wrong with that.

      • ItalianAmerican

        Made sense.

      • Heresy. Ready the pyres, he burns tonight to please the Ungod of Communism.

  • I gotta say, for whatever reason your Krag looks a lot worse on camera than it does in person. It’s a gorgeous rifle.

    • Also, that Enfield you bought from some other mysterious and strikingly handsome TFB writer is a pretty interesting bit of proof that Enfields might have needed a bit of a break-in period to make their action as slick as they are now known to be. But then, it is a 1945 gun and so I guess you can’t fault wartime production for being a little rough.

  • PT McCain

    This is always one of those fun debates.

    I’d rank them in this order:

    Enfield – fantastic sights, high capacity, great bolt action. Rugged and reliable.

    K98 – Because of the damn NAZIS war machine that used them nearly to take over the world.

    Springfield – the best target rifle ever fielded as a battle rifle. 🙂

    Everything else.

    • Only the No. 4 Enfield has fantastic sights, No. 1 models are very average.

      • That’s very true, but to be fair I really, really like the No. 4’s sights. 🙂

        • I believe there are two versions, there’s a very adjustable peep and a flip-up peep with two apertures for different ranges (0-300 and 300-600) that is a lot harder to work with when you’re shooting paper rather than Germans. The one you can fine-tune is the original design and the more crude one is a war expediency.

          I may be wrong, however. Certainly, the more adjustable one is the better sight but it was expensive to make.

          • You’re exactly right, but I admit I used the “inferior” stamped sight for many years (even in 3-gun, once!) and I still think it’s second only to the machined adjustable one for milsurp rear sights!

  • capybara

    I love all of my Mosins, but I would not rank them in the top 5 bolt action military rifles. They are relatively crude, rough, unrefined and a blast to own and shoot. But undoubtedly my Enfields, K31, Mausers, 1903 and others are demonstrably better bolt action rifles overall. Throwing the Mosin in there is just wishful thinking unless the qualifiers are rugged and cheap. But for accuracy, refinement and as a soldiers main tool, the Mosin isn’t there. Even the Finns are less refined than the others named, although the Finns are a step above the Russians and other Com Bloc versions.

    • I have always admired the Finn’s ability to take barely passable Russian hardware and turn it into respectable gear.

      • kyphe

        I sense an AK comment in there somewhere lol

      • Almost all Finnish rifles are based on Imperial rifles, which were higher quality to begin with.

    • Goody

      I’d take a Finnish MN over any MAS 36.

  • B Mead

    The KRAG!? What do you smoke and how do I get some? I’m honestly surprised that there was no Lebel.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Any man with a Krag smokes diegos and kakiak ladrones, friend. That’s how you civilize ’em.

      • iksnilol

        Can confirm, wouldn’t be civilization without Krags.

  • Major Tom

    No Mosin-Nagant? Well that’s curious. It’s one of if not the most battle tested and proven bolt actions on the planet. One century and then some after its first models, it’s still fighting on the battlefields of today.

    It won the Russian Civil War, it won the Great Patriotic War (World War 2), it won both the Winter War and Continuation War, and has seen battle and/or service on every continent. The US Army even had a small stock of them in the First World War.

    It’s not the cleanest looking rifle and compared to the really match grade stuff you see like the M-2010 ESR it’s not the most accurate but then again, with a service record like it has, how could it not be one of the best?

    • I can say with some confidence that the Mosin is the worst rifle in its class:
      – A very stubborn bayonet that is not easy to attach or remove properly
      – Tendency to stick closed when hot, requiring a blunt object to open
      – Barrels often drilled off center
      – Barrels often not straight due to a lack of proper equipment
      – Susceptible to rim lock despite design elements present to prevent it
      – A magazine that protrudes from the bottom of the gun (that is not detachable)
      – “Safety” that is comically difficult to operate
      – Horrendous trigger even for a military rifle

      However they are cheap. That is about it. This was not a list that paid much attention to proliferation.

      • Oh, you Russophobe! 😉

        1. Fixed on the M44
        2. In my experience this has been most commonly the result of people not cleaning the cosmo out of their guns properly. Not saying that’s what it is on your gun, but I’ve “fixed” a few Mosins this way.
        3. Yes, well, it was total war. 😉
        4. See 3.
        5. Ditto the Lee-Enfield. Neither the Russians nor the Brits found the time to switch to a rimless round before WWII.
        6. …So?
        7. Oh it’s not that bad – it’s not even necessary, either!
        8. Builds strength in index finger!

        • I know I have put forth a pretty good argument when some of your refuting points are “well, yep”.
          But seriously, I have been around the block with surplus rifles and I can say with some confidence that the best part about the Mosin Nagant is that since they are cheap, you still have money leftover to put towards a good gun.

          • Bear The Grizzly

            If I may, a couple of your points are based off of poor manufacturing vs the actual design of the weapon. If you forced a bunch of starving conscripts to produce the fabulous M1 Garand I would bet you would end up with many of the same problems.

          • Impossible. The Garand and American craftsmanship are infallible.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Just watch any mid-20th century WWII movie as irrefutable proof of this fact.

          • I just feel you’re not giving the rifle a fair shake, is all. There’s a lot of context missing from your assessment:

            1. The Mosin is one of the oldest designs, only a few years younger than the Lebel. Yes, the Mauser 98 was a tour de force, but the Mosin was not bad at all for 1891.

            2. The Eastern Front of WWII was huge. Like, swallow up the rest of the war in a single battle huge. The demands of production for a conflict like that should give one a whole new perspective on the Mosin-Nagant.

            3. These production demands included such absurdities as:
            A. Replacing the PPSh-41 because it was too expensive.
            B. Arming whole battalions with SMGs because actual rifles were too expensive

            Do I think the Mosin is the best? No. Do I think it should be top 5? No. I just don’t think it’s the worst. There’s loads worse. The Lebel’s worse by a long shot, for example.

            And, I mean, I feel like you can’t have it both ways, too. On the one hand, the civilian secondary market may just want a good shooter, they may not care why the barrel is bent or the bore’s off-axis. In that case, fine, the reasons for why they are like that aren’t relevant. But in that case, the price IS relevant. So it’s a little strange that you leave off price as a positive, but keep in the production issues that stemmed from the massive Eastern Front, isn’t it?

          • I would argue that the Mosin was obsolete the day it came into being. The Belgian 1889 Mauser is a better gun in my opinion, and this list did not take historical significance much into question. A list of top 5 most historically significant bolt actions would, of course, be much different. Mind you, my opinion on the Mosin Nagant rifle is based solely on my experiences with the several I have owned and the dozens I have shot. Not once have I been impressed with any aspect of the design.

          • I mean, I wouldn’t say I am “impressed” with the Mosin, either, but worst?

            Naw, man.

          • Maybe I am just letting the hate flow through me.

          • That’s OK. I am letting the troll flow through me. 😉

          • Emperor Palpatine

            Good, good.

          • kipy


          • Rock or Something

          • guest

            Ah… So you are simply not objective, ok then.

      • Major Tom

        Well let’s see…

        1) The M1930 spike bayonet on the Mosin (because pre-1930 models are nigh impossible to find) fits exactly one way over the front sight. To fix it on the rifle you put the spike at 12 o’clock (up/top) in relation to the front sight, slide it on the barrel and then rotate to 3 o’clock (right). It’ll lock once there. To remove simply press the bayonet release spring-loaded button and and perform the above in reverse. It can take as little as 1-2 seconds to fix or remove.
        2) Did you clean the cosmoline out of it? A Mosin with an unplugged bolt handle operates smoothly and like a dream. Sure the handle is a bit bigger and heavier than a dainty Mauser or Lee-Enfield design but it also is that much more durable under all conditions.
        3) For which models? The stuff produced in late-1942 to mid-1943 is not the same quality as stuff from say 1939.
        4) See #3.
        5) The Lee-Enfield as mentioned below has the same problem. Rim lock is somewhat easy to avoid if you properly seat the rounds (or use stripper clip).
        6) Plenty of bolt actions have that “problem” like the Lee-Enfield. Doesn’t seem to hurt them.
        7) Safety? Is not safe! Is gun! In all seriousness, that’s a non-issue.
        8) It’s more consistent than the trigger pull on the burst setting for an M16A2/A4. Train those index fingers comrade! Mother Russia wants them strong!

      • mosinman

        weak amerikanski yuo of not strong like soldiers of the Rodina.
        Rifle is of best design

    • anonymous

      Major Tom • Tuesday, August 11, 2015 4:50 PM

      No Mosin-Nagant? Well that’s curious. It’s one of if not the most battle tested and proven bolt actions on the planet. One century and then some after its first models, it’s still fighting on the battlefields of today.

      It won the Russian Civil War

      Isn’t that a bit like saying “The FAL won the Falklands Island conflict”?

      What did the losing side of the Russian Civil War use?

    • Cannoneer No. 4

      New England Westinghouse built thousands of them for Tsar Nicholas. I got mine for $40.00 at Rose’s in 1993.

  • PGConley

    I love my 1941 Ishapore Lee-Enfield mk. III. Easily one of my favorite rifles of all time. Gotta love that bolt action. Very accurate gun!

  • kyphe

    If you do a list of the most under rated bolt action rifles, the ross should be at the top imo.

  • mosinman

    No Mosin yet you have fascisti rifle present?!
    this is of joke in poor taste Tovarish

  • Southpaw89

    Nice video, hard to argue with your picks, but I must admit there was a bit of a home shopping network feel to it.

  • Joshua

    the Lee-Enfield’s unscrewing bolt head is actually a solution to the headspace issues, the lock at the rear bolt will develop headspace problems regardless, the Lee-Enfields bolt head however can be interchanged for larger bolt heads as the rifle ages, with sizes numbered from 1-5 with a post war 7 available as well. The number should be marked on the underside of the bolt lug, when you develop excess headspace unscrew it, check the number, then get the next size up from your armorer.

  • ostiariusalpha

    LOL! Ah, Alex, you continue to troll us with your token French firearms; I applaud your resolution. The Krag-Jorgensen is very dear to me, since mine was passed down to me from my grandfather, and I find the loading gate rather charming (though Teddy Roosevelt considered it a hideous abomination). I noticed that you mentioned the lack of robustness in the SMLE’s lock-up, but failed to bring up the Krag’s single locking lug, which can fail with metal fatigue even easier than the Lee-Enfield. A reloader (and Krag owners are nearly all inevitably such) needs to take great care in developing loads for this gun. But, damned if that action doesn’t feel like creamy butter when I cycle it! Such a pleasure.

    • The MAS 36 really is an excellent rifle. If one must take a bolt action to war, it would be my pick.

  • I’d reiterate your words about the MAS-36. The rifle is the sum of everything France learned about what a rifle should be in WW1, where they lost a disgusting amount of men and fought, at the very least, as hard as anybody else did.

    The sights are weird, as mentioned, but the rifle is a very accurate, durable and robust piece of equipment that fires standard .308 diameter projectiles with recoil that won’t be any worse than your K31 or M1A. If you see one, by all means consider it. France has a history of being on the forefront of arms development, and I would argue that the MAS-36 didn’t break that tradition.


    • The MAS 36 is pretty misunderstood. It’s really a fantastic battle rifle, and I don’t know that it’s widely known it was a stopgap designed after what would become the MAS 49, so that France could re-arm and replace their really antiquated small arms before their selfloaders were ready.

  • Lance

    No Mosin Nagant M-91/30? I d say it have to make the list since many are still used in action in South Asia and beat the Nazis in the east.

  • Sam Helm

    Not that I have a lot to pick at about your list, but I do have a comment about the Krag. It was and is a fantastic rifle well, maybe not as good as a Mauser), but it was NOT the first bolt action adopted by the US. The Navy had two prior to the Krag, and another concurrent with the Krag. The first two were the Winchester-Hotchkiss and Remington-Lee, both of which were bolt action magazine rifles in .45-70. While neither was issued in really large numbers, they were used by the Navy from about 1882 through 1895, when they were replaced by the 6mm Winchester-Lee straight pull magazine rifle. The Winchester-Lee was used until replaced by the Krag in the early twentieth century. It saw service in Cuba, the Philippines, and in the Boxer Rebellion.

  • Mlemme1988

    I like the content of this video, good job. Either the narrator jut snorted a handful of Xanax or about to jump off a bridge because of depression.

    • kipy

      I think Alex’s narration voice is quite soothing

  • SP mclaughlin

    “Civilize ’em with a Krag!”

  • Wetcoaster

    I’m not sure I’d have included the MAS. I’d nominate the spot instead for the underappreciated P14 and M1917 Enfields that equipped so many soldiers in World War 1.

    • The MAS is a fantastic rifle, really. I have an appreciation for the P14/M1917, but the MAS 36 is a better rifle in my opinion. It’s lighter, shorter, handier, has better balance, a good bayonet, good if spartan battlesights, and fires a great round.

  • Tassiebush

    What no Carcano? 😉

    • I own an 1891/41 Carcano (Marksman’s Version) and two Mosin Nagants (1933 Hex and 1943 M38) and I’d take the Carcano to war before I would the Mosin.

      Because mine is the marksman’s version, the barrels are tighter. I actually get pressure issues if I feed it the Hornady .268 diameter bullets. The original 6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano fired a .266 diameter bullet, but as said the Marksman’s 91/41 versions were undersized.

      Basically, I can get two inches all day with Prvi .264 diameter factory ammo if I do my part. It’s pretty awesome, especially considering I’m doing it with the 200m battle sight that you access by flipping the sight assembly completely forward into a notch in the stock. I can’t say if I’d take ANY OTHER Carcano over a 91/30, but I’d take my 91/41 Long Rifle over one.

      More accurate with factory ammo, softer shooting, one more round capacity over the Mosin and not quite as big.

      But, that’s just me and I’m a hipster. And of course, someone would need to give me a lot of chargers or else it’s no deal. 😛

      • Tassiebush

        That sounds like a really cool rifle. I own that short rifle variant with the fixed sights. The darn thing shoots about a foot high with the prvi 139grain ammo I’ve got. I keep procrastinating but intend to make up some 160grain loads to see off they’ll be closer to point of aim. I actually quite like them but obviously they suffer a lot of stigma.

        • Unfortunately they are a handloader’s gun in almost all respects. Yours shoots high – this isn’t uncommon. My 91/41’s adjustable sight goes from 400-1000m, and if you flip that away and use the battle sight that’s zeroed for 200m.

          This works when you’re giving it to a soldier. According to an older gentleman I met who was in the Red Army in the 1980’s, their version of ‘marksmanship training’ was to teach recruits to put their AK-74’s on the U-notch 300m battle sight and aim at the enemy’s belt buckle. If they’re under 300m, you’ll hit high and that’s an effective hit. If they’re over 300m you’ll hit the groin which is also effective, and if they’re way over 300m the PKM will kill them. This works for hectic war.

          For target shootng? Kind of a pain, especially when you buy the ammo!

          • Tassiebush

            I actually drew the same conclusion about aiming points with it so it’s interesting to read about that being soviet doctrine. I remember reading somewhere the idea that a Carcano sight picture was to drop the post low in the notch for close in but to use it flush with top further out. No idea if that was legit training or just a work around though. I reckon best option is to have your rifle though! 🙂

          • Nope, that is true! Italians taught their troops to put the top of the front post in the bottom of the rear sight rather than lining it up with the top.

          • Tassiebush

            I’ll try it out and see how I go.

      • Tassiebush

        I’ve got about 8 Carcano clips 🙂
        Yours sounds like a really great gun!

        • She’s a dream. I have no illusions about how bad a Carcano can be, but my baby is my baby! 🙂

  • Jim

    I might agree if you remove that horrible MAS 36 and replace it with the Springfield 1908 which is IMHO the ONLY bolt action rifle that come close to the K98. The MAS 36 is VERY heavy, has nothing more than a spike that they call the bayonet and NO SAFETY! If you load the rifle you have a round in the chamber and the rifle is cocked and if the trigger is pulled for any reason it is going to go bang. Even if the trigger is hung up on an article of clothing, stick, or anything there is no safety! I hated it and sold it the first time someone offered me slightly more than I paid for it.

    • Errr… The MAS 36 is half a pound lighter than the 1903.

      The MAS does not have a safety because French doctrine was to carry the rifles chamber empty, and they had rigid doctrine in place ensuring this was SOP. So the safety was to simply not have a round in the chamber. The short bolt throw means this isn’t such a big deal, really.

      The cruciform bayonet originated with the Lebel was a very lethal design that was widely copied. The worst thing that could be said about it is it didn’t double as a utility knife.

  • Shaun Whit

    Despite the fact that I own two Mosins, I agree with it not being on the list. The Krag is a great rifle and I enjoy shooting them, but frankly the Arisaka in either 6.5 or 7.7mm is a better rifle. Uses stripper clips (!) and has THE strongest action there is. The Japanese had few SMGs and often lacked sufficent support weapons; it was insane what the Japanese soldier with the Arisaka managed to do in WWII. I aim to own one. I do have an Austrian Mannlicher and would keep it off the list just because it fires a terrible round. I like the inclusion of the MAS-36, I really want one.