Veteran Military Bolt Rifles Still in Use

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The military rifle is one of my favorite subspecies of firearm ever designed. Bolt-action rifles especially fit this bill. These hardy veterans are classified since about 1947 as being 'obsolete,' replaced by the full sized battle rifle and the assault rifle in modern use. However, these old soldiers still see themselves in use around the world. Of course, there are multiple honor guards in almost every modern country where sparkling clean Springfield 1903s, laminated Mosin 91/30s, and even the occasional Mauser and Enfield are seen as ceremonial honor guard pieces, but besides these, there are still combat units that carry legacy bolt-action rifles. Let's take a look at these long serving pieces still holding the line.

The Sirius Patrol

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Greenland, if you don't count Australia, is the largest island in the world. It is covered largely in deeply frozen polar ice and is one of the most inhospitable places on earth. Part of Denmark, the elite Sldepatruljen Sirius (Sirius Sledge Patrol) or informally Siriuspatruljen (Sirius Patrol) is a 20-man Danish navy unit that conducts long-range reconnaissance patrolling and enforces Danish sovereignty in the arctic wilderness of Greenland, an area that includes the largest national park in the world. Their weapon of choice to ward off invasion, polar bears, and frozen space aliens found in the ice: the M17/M53 rifle.

This weapon is a slightly modified M1917 Enfield 30.06 made in the US during World War 1 for the US Army. They were supplied to the Danish military in 1953 (hence the M17/M53 designation) and are still used by both the Danish Home Guard, a more informal version of the US Army National Guard, and other units.
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The regular Danish military issues the 7.62x51mm HK G-3 rifle made in Germany or the modified 5.56mm M-16 made in Canada. However the Sirius Patrol, who patrol the largest and possibly most dangerous island in the world, still use a bolt action rifle made nearly a hundred years ago

The Canadian Rangers

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Canada has a huge polar region that is very remote. 5,000 Canadian Rangers patrol this region. These are Army reservist volunteers who live in the area. Formally established on May 23, 1947, a primary role of this part-time force is to conduct surveillance or sovereignty patrols (SOV PATS) as required. Canadian Rangers also conduct inspections of the North Warning System (NWS) sites and act as guides, scouts, and subject matter experts in such disciplines as wilderness survival. With polar bears, grizzlies, wolves, random Russian military tourists, and others passing through the area, you would expect these rangers to be loaded for bear. Their issue weapon: The Lee-Enfield No. 4 rifle.

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The .303 British rifle was the 1940s development of the classic WWI era Lee-Enfield Rifle. With its durability, hard-hitting cartridge, and 10-round box magazine, the Enfield is still well respected. The crown expects these Rangers to shoot their enfields regularly, have them with them, and ready for use. They keep them at home instead of in an armory, and are issued 200 rounds per year for practice.

Besides use by the Canadian Rangers, enfields also pops up from time to time in regional conflicts in Afghanistan, North Africa, and elsewhere.

Mausers around the world

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The IDF has long looked to the Mauser as a reliable and accurate sniper platform and they still haunt a few armories around the world (photo by Doubletapper)

The Mauser bolt-action rifle is still showing up in the arms of many different units. In Sweden the Royal Life Guards, who staff the posts at the royal palaces are armed with loaded 6.5-55mm M/1894 carbines. Israeli army and police snipers used both 8mm and 7.62x51mm bolt action Mausers extensively from 1948 through the 1980s. They are still encountered in the hands of auxiliary police and reserve units as active snipers.

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In the most prepared survival mecca in human history, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the Norwegian guards carry old WWII surplus Mausers just in case things get sketchy.

They may be old, they may be heavy and have a slow rate of fire, but these old soldiers still can serve a purpose.

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June 19, 2012  •  08:27 PM
Interesting stuff -- bet there are a few more out there that'll be uncovered. Love those pictures of the Canadian Rangers -- as an American I feel safer.