Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Discussions on the small arms used by the Axis forces.
lhughes41
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Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by lhughes41 » 02 Oct 2011 16:11

Good Day,
I'm a new forum member, so please excuse me if I violate any appropriate processes/procedures in where I place and ask this question.
I am attempting to get information on practical rates of fire for standard WWII rifles (bolt action). I've dug through various sources on the web and so far I've come up with the following:
-- Kar 98 -- 15 RPM (rounds per minute)
-- Mosin-Nagant -- 12 RPM
-- Lee-Enfield -- 18 RPM
-- M1 Garand (not a bolt action) -- 16 to 24 RPM
-- Fusil MAS mel 36 (french ) -- 15 RPM
-- Carnano 1891 -- 15 RPM
What troubles me about the above are:
1) these are theoretical -- I'm wondering about in practice. For example I found that in WWI(not II) the Lee-Enfield use was trained to be 12 RPM. But I want to be consistent in determining practical RPM and don't have such a source for other guns. I'm a bit troubled too that the Lee-Enfield is spoken of for its unusually good RPM and yet it doesn't seem to standout much compared to the Kar 98 (say) at 18 vs 15.
2) Garand -- this semi automatic doesn't standout in non cyclic mode at 16 RPM. I wonder how much in practice it was use in cyclic mode for 24 RPM.
3) French and Italian Rifles -- are these the right standard issue rifles for WWII?
5) Caliber -- any of these guns stand out for especially weak or strong caliber or accuracy that might amplify the effective firepower of the small arm? Where might I get numbers on relative accuracy? Or do you think effective range substitutes for that?

I am designing a squad scale game (i.e. Squad Leader like scale) and trying to get my primary statistics right so I can generate correctly calibrated Firepower ratings.
Thank you for any insights, opinions, and sources,

Luke

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JTV
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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by JTV » 02 Oct 2011 20:51

Well, I have shot with all other of those listed rifles except Garand and MAS. Althought I have to admit that the Carcano was later 7.35-mm carbine version. When it comes to rifles it is not really the rate-fire, but the rate-of-fire for the aimed fire. According my experience I think that as long as there are full cartridge clips there is no real difference in rate of fire between other bolt-action rifles except Lee-Enfield being faster than the others - and that is simply because it has notably larger magazine capacity. Once soldier is truly accustomed to the rifle in his use, it takes maybe a second to operate the bolt. The part that really takes time with bolt-action rifles is changing position for operating the bolt, getting back to shooting position after operating the bolt and aiming - not to mention that with most of these rifles one needs to load new cartridge clip to rifle every five rounds or so. What really makes the difference is the level of training and experience that the soldier using the rifle has.

I am also wondering about thinking in terms in of shots per minute and if the time needed for reloading clips have been included. When we are talking about World War 2 era military issue bolt-action rifles while there are cartridges in the magazine maintaining a rate of fire of higher than one shot per five seconds is not that difficult, but getting new cartridge clip and inserting ammunition from it the rifle slows down the process considerably and really drops the rate of fire to lower level. If we for example assume that soldier is able to fire one shot every four seconds, has rifle with five round fixed magazine and reloading rifle with cartridge clip takes 10 seconds, then:
- 20 seconds for first five shots
- 10 seconds for new clip
- 20 seconds for second five shots
- 10 seconds for new clip
...60 seconds spent -> rate of fire 10 shots per minute

Also with my shooting experience from variety of old and new military small arms I can tell that to my experience shooting aimed shots with semi-auto rifle (equipped with iron sights) faster than one shot per three seconds (assuming one has to raise the rifle and aim in those three seconds as well) even in shooting range situation (shooting known fixed target) is damn difficult for the simple reason that there is not much time left for aiming - it's not impossible with modern assault rifles, but we are now talking about full-power rifle cartridges like 30-06 and 7.62 x 54R in World War 2 era rifles have have iron sights and in use of average soldier.

Jarkko

BTW: If you plan including Soviet Union to the game, don't leave out SVT-38/SVT-40.

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by JamesL » 02 Oct 2011 22:58

Jarkko - excellent writeup. Kudos!

I think 10 AIMED rounds in 60 seconds is about right.

I have read some accounts of well trained British soldiers firing their L-Es at advancing German troops at such a rapid rate that the Germans thought they were under machinegun fire.

In NRA service rifle competition there is one course of rapid fire at 200 yards. From standing, the shooter drops to prone, fires 2 or 5 rounds, reloads, and then fires another 8 or 5 rounds. The 10 rounds are fired in 70 seconds. With experienced competitors, 70 seconds is just about enough time to get 10 rounds off. Remember, this is AIMED fire.

Some competitors keep their spare clip in their hand and when they drop to prone they place it on the ground alongside their firing hand in an easily accessible position. Soldiers would carry their clips in a bandolier or shirt pocket which takes a little more time to access.

I have seen Garands, Mausers, Springfields and Enfields used in service rifle competition. The bolt action guys were not cut any slack.


PS: I believe the US government standard for Garand accuracy was a 4 inch group at 100 yards. A soldier in combat - tired, hungry, frightened, sick - might not obtain such accuracy with his weapon.

I also read that one wound from a rifle cartridge in the .30 cal family (Garand, LE, Mauser, etc.) would render a man ineffective about 30% of time.

lhughes41
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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by lhughes41 » 03 Oct 2011 17:05

Thanks for the great replies. Especially based on personal experience with the arms in question! My take aways:
1) 10 rounds per a minute as general standard
2) Enfield more -- I'm going go to go with 12 RPM given the WWI quote I found
3) Aimed fire is the standard

I had through 'finger in the air' guessing come up with a 10 as a standard too but was glad to see your more informed views. I also like 10 because it makes the M1 stand out more at its not cyclic rate of 16 RPM. Any opinions on the M1 rate? Keep with the 16 or the 24 cyclic or maybe an average of 20? That is, what rate is the "practical" rate?

Thanks,
Luke

p.s. interesting finding so far from studying the squads and their equipment:
1) MG dominates -- the primary fire of a WWII squad comes from its MG. especially the germans with the MG34. Calling these squads "rifle squads" is really a bit misleading. More like MG + an assault team with some fire capacity :-)
2) U.S. Squad -- not sure any of your guys have played board games like Squad Leader or Lock n' Load or others but they tend to assign U.S. Squads pretty high firepower compared to even Germans. Due to M1 presumably. But when I look at the aggregate firepower the MG34 more then compensates for the M1 vs Kar 98 standard and the U.S. BAR does not make it up enough. The U.S. and German squads end up net coming out fairly comparible rather than the U.S. outstripping the German. With the Germans still a bit ahead! Any comments on this?

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by JTV » 03 Oct 2011 17:30

JamesL wrote:I have read some accounts of well trained British soldiers firing their L-Es at advancing German troops at such a rapid rate that the Germans thought they were under machinegun fire.
I have also read about that one. Supposedly this happened year 1914 when British troops for the large part were still professionals, who due to their long service mastered using their small arms to very high standard. What I have read back then British Army had special technique for shooting rapid fire with Lee-Enfield rifle: The rifle remained shouldered and aimed towards the enemy, the bolt was operated with thumb and forefinger, while middle finger was used for trigger. This was presumably intended for short range shooting, not for long-range marksmanship. It seems unclear if this technique was still trained to soldiers of British Army during World War 2, maybe some-one here knows more about the matter?

Jarkko

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by JamesL » 03 Oct 2011 18:12

Don't overlook The Soldier's Load. On a good day an American infantryman might carry 88 rounds of ammo - 10 clips in a bandolier and 1 clip in his weapon. Those 88 rounds might have to last him a day or two or three until he was resupplied or took ammo from the dead/wounded.

During the island campaigns in the South Pacific some US soldiers would patrol with a mere 24* rounds. The heat and rugged terrain would require them to strip down to the bare essentials in order for them to be physically able to carry out their mission. An extra canteen of water was more important than ammo.

Some After Action reports noted that American soldiers held their fire until they had a definite target. They had to be encouraged to fire at unseen targets so that the Germans would keep their heads down. The rest of the squad/platoon/company, etc would then flank and assault.

*Edit: on Guadalcanal patrolling US Marines would carry 25 rounds for their bolt action rifles.
Last edited by JamesL on 04 Oct 2011 00:30, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by LWD » 03 Oct 2011 18:35

lhughes41 wrote:... 2) U.S. Squad -- not sure any of your guys have played board games like Squad Leader or Lock n' Load or others but they tend to assign U.S. Squads pretty high firepower compared to even Germans. Due to M1 presumably. But when I look at the aggregate firepower the MG34 more then compensates for the M1 vs Kar 98 standard and the U.S. BAR does not make it up enough. The U.S. and German squads end up net coming out fairly comparible rather than the U.S. outstripping the German. With the Germans still a bit ahead! Any comments on this?
It's been a very long time since I played or even looked at Squad Leader. That said didn't it have seperate counters for mg teams and fire teams of just riflemen?

lhughes41
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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by lhughes41 » 03 Oct 2011 18:40

Good point about the Soldier's Load. Will have to think about that one.
Actually I misspoke above. Current calculations have Germans delivering MORE Firepower (leaving aside soldier's load ;-) ) then U.S. Squad in WWII. Not comparable! U.S. delivering about 2/3rd of German (M1+BAR vs Kar98+MG34) is what I currently calculate based on net volume of fire. Surprising.

The other tough intangible in all this is accuracy. So for example the MG34. Bi-pod mounted in the Squad presumably it was less accurate than tripod mounted in an HMG team? I'm also wondering if Bi-pod vs tripod effected effective ROF at all (probably not I'm thinking..).

Luke

p.s. Squad Leader. you know I thought of the same thing after I posted. Haven't played SL in a long long time either :-) If you give them LMG they come out pretty comparible. But see above, my calcs suggests Germans still outstrip.

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by Fliegende Untertasse » 04 Oct 2011 10:34

lhughes41 wrote: 2) U.S. Squad -- not sure any of your guys have played board games like Squad Leader or Lock n' Load or others but they tend to assign U.S. Squads pretty high firepower compared to even Germans. Due to M1 presumably. But when I look at the aggregate firepower the MG34 more then compensates for the M1 vs Kar 98 standard and the U.S. BAR does not make it up enough. The U.S. and German squads end up net coming out fairly comparible rather than the U.S. outstripping the German. With the Germans still a bit ahead! Any comments on this?

SL standard gameset has firepower value 6 for US rifle squad and 4 for Germans and Soviets.
There is no separate counter for BAR, but Germans and Russians can add 2 point LMG support weapon counter to squad firepower without movement penalty.

With LMG Germans also outrange US squad with 2 hexes. Giving them slight advantage

US BAR and everyones hand genades and rifle grenades are assumed as part of squad firepower, since player is company/battalion commander who has no conrol over these.

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by lhughes41 » 04 Oct 2011 15:45

Thanks Fliegende. Leaving aside grenades, if German firepower is measured by Volume of Fire (i.e., adding up the various rates of fire multiplied by number of weapons) I still come out with almost 3 to 2 advantage for Germans. This surprised me. Mostly from the MG34. So I guess if I were redoing SL I would up the FP rating of the LMG :-) The handgrenade issue I will now look at (I've been ignoring those). Which means I will probably give the americans an advantage at short range fire.
Luke

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by RegimientoSaboya » 04 Oct 2011 16:45

In my humble opinion, a MG 34, not to speak of a MG 42, would wipe out any small edge any rifle may have over the Mauser, ten times over.
Also, you need to consider how the basic makeup of a typical rifle squad changed over the war, specially on the Eastern front. By 1943, maybe half the Soviet riflemen were equipped with submachine guns, and by 1944, there were hardly any rifles left.
The Germans changed their rifle squad TO&E in 1944, to increase the firepower while decreasing the manpower, and the number of Mausers was slashed in half.

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by LWD » 04 Oct 2011 19:14

I suspect the Squad Leader doesn't use Volume of fire as a pure MOE. Note that for instance if you have a squad and an LMG you get two attacks vs one for the US squad. While the attacks may be lower the statistical probability of having some effect may well be higher, especially if the latter has a longer range.

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by lhughes41 » 04 Oct 2011 22:31

Two attacks for the LMG! Excellent I forgot that (been several decades :-) ). OK SL looking smarter (big surprise :-) ).
I'm aware of the TOE changes during the war but thanks for pointing out. I'm drawing very heavily on http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com for much of my information. Though that site does not cover Soviets, so thanks for the information. I do plan to let higher VOF weapons have multiple attacks (the MG34 in particular).
I wish I understood what the impact of a tripod versus bipod was on an MG34. Why does that make it more effective? Just steadier? Any insights? I'm going to make a tripod mounted stronger but right now have no empirical basis on which to proceed like with VOF.
RegimientoSaboya I agree the MG34 is pretty dominant over rifles. The only counter argument I see so far is of course the rifles represent more eyes and minds targeting where as the MG team is only one pair of eyes. So that ups the rifles a *bit* perhaps. Of course an MG can "sweep" so it doesn't have to be quite so clever about aiming :-|

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by lhughes41 » 04 Oct 2011 22:53

Of course moments after I wrote that I found my first data on different rates of fire for MG34 (and 42) when LMG vs HMG. which is presumably about the mounting. The poster cites sources and says (to summarize):
MG34 as LMG [bipod presumably] -- 120 RPM
MG34 as HMG [tripod presumably] -- 250 RPM
MG42 as LMG -- 250
MG42 as HMG -- 500
http://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopic ... 44&t=27088

Very interesting because this brings down the firepower of the German Squad now considerably (using an LMG version of MG34 typically). If this is true it drops the effective FP of the German Squad dramatically. Now the MG34 as LMG looks little different from the BAR or Bren (both rated at practical 120 RPM).

Jeez. Now really not sure what to do. Germans seem to enjoy no advantage from MG34 inside the Squad (LMG usage). Sigh.

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Re: Practical Rate of Fire for WWII RIfles

Post by JamesL » 04 Oct 2011 23:45

Browning Automatic Rifle "For a while the Germans thought our BAR was a machine gun, but by the time they brought fire on the BAR position the gunner had moved and was firing on them from another direction.”

COMBAT LESSONS #5, page 50.
http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/sing ... 384/rec/61

The BAR with a bipod was a man portable weapon. After burning through several magazines the gunner could move to another position. Staying in one place too long could be bad for one's health. It could attract bombing, bazookas, tank fire, artillery fire, etc.

A tripod mounted machinegun is heavy and complicated. It takes some time to assemble and disassemble the piece.

In a 'shoot and move' environment with an automatic weapon accuracy may not play the most important role.

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