Prior to the advent of service semi-automatic weapons, the SMLE or “Lee-Enfield” rifle was the king of rapid fire. In fact, soldiers of the Crown practiced the “Mad Minute” which involved firing well-aimed shots as fast as possible. Results were remarkable, almost up to semi-automatic performance.
The first Mad Minute record was set by Sergeant MajorJesse Wallingford in 1908, scoring 36 hits on a 48 inch target at 300 yards (4.5 mils/ 15.3 MOA). Allegedly another world record of 38 hits, all within the 24 inch target at 300 yards (2.25 mils/ 7.6 MOA), is said to have been set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, but there is little documentation and it is unsure whether it was actually accomplished or British propaganda. There has been major discussion whether it is actually possible to shoot that fast and accurate with a bolt rifle.
In order to pull off such feats, a weapon needed to be readily and easily manipulated for both working the action and loading. Few weapons of the day possessed such attributes like positive primary extraction, cock on close, ideal bolt handle placement, and others. But, one did, the SMLE or “Lee Enfield” action.
Bloke on the Range took the time to break it down elementary style, focusing on the individual attributes that made the weapon so absolutely quick.
To me, its shocking how many of these features are not present on modern bolt actions. While yes, its common for modern guns to rely on optics, the fact of the matter is that these lessons were learned all those years ago.