Number of times small arms can be used safely

Discussions on the small arms used by the Axis forces.
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reihai
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Number of times small arms can be used safely

Post by reihai » 31 Jul 2023 06:34

How many times can a weapon such as a rifle or machine gun be safely used?
A MG42 barrel can be unusable after a maximum of 8,000 rounds, but how many rounds can a K98K or G43 be unusable?
Also, what is the condition of "unusable"? (Does the muzzle tear?)
What maintenance was done to prevent such a condition?
How were unusable firearms disposed of?
I would appreciate it if you could answer my questions !!

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Re: Number of times small arms can be used safely

Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 31 Jul 2023 15:27

reihai wrote:
31 Jul 2023 06:34
How many times can a weapon such as a rifle or machine gun be safely used?
A MG42 barrel can be unusable after a maximum of 8,000 rounds, but how many rounds can a K98K or G43 be unusable?
  • P 08/P 38: Nearly unlimited
  • M P 38/M P 40: Nearly unlimited
  • M P 44: 10 000
  • K 98 k: Nearly unlimited
  • K 41: 8000
  • K 43: 8000
  • M G 34: 5000-6000 (longer if chrome plated)
  • M G 42: 3500-4000 (longer if chrome plated)

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Poot
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Re: Number of times small arms can be used safely

Post by Poot » 31 Jul 2023 23:08

'Safety' is not the same as 'expected service life.'

Safety pertains to the relative danger posed by worn, faulty or broken parts, weapons made out of spec, improper headspace, timing on machine guns, et al. 'Expected service life' is usually used to describe barrel life, and is expressed by how many rounds have been fired through it.

I do not agree with using 'nearly unlimited' for any barrel in any firearm. Bullets traveling down a barrel (ANY barrel) create friction and produce wear on the lands, the raised spiraling edges in the rifling of a barrel. The more a firearm is shot, the more the lands will wear down, with a consequent effect on accuracy and external ballistics. Besides barrels, other weapons components will experience wear, too. To determine acceptable/unacceptable wear, German armorers used a variety of gauges and tools to determine whether or not particular weapons were within standards, and replaced any worn or broken components as needed. Most issues could be resolved by field armorers in a Waffenwerkstatt Zug, but replacement of a rifle barrel (for example) was a depot level repair. Simple replacement of smaller components was made possible by the use of spare parts in armorers' kits. If a numbered component was worn out/damaged and thrown out, it was replaced by a new part that was numbered to match the firearm. Usually, after a weapon was serviced in a depot it received a stamp denoting which depot performed the work. Both the Heer and the Luftwaffe had their own depots and repair facilities (Heereszeug Amt and Luftzeug Amt, respectively), and marked small arms that had been serviced at a certain level. The Luftwaffe also performed some small arms repairs at Feldluft Parks.

German personnel were trained in firearms cleaning and practiced this at the individual and squad level. A pull-through cleaning cord was used in conjunction with a removable brush, and lengths of cloth cut for swabbing the barrel after using solvents or other cleaning agents like Ballistol.

I hope this helps,
Pat
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Re: Number of times small arms can be used safely

Post by OpanaPointer » 01 Aug 2023 02:10

Small arms with replaceable barrels have long lives.
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reihai
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Re: Number of times small arms can be used safely

Post by reihai » 01 Aug 2023 06:37

Thank you all for your responses!

LineDoggie
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Re: Number of times small arms can be used safely

Post by LineDoggie » 02 Aug 2023 06:01

reihai wrote:
31 Jul 2023 06:34
How many times can a weapon such as a rifle or machine gun be safely used?
A MG42 barrel can be unusable after a maximum of 8,000 rounds, but how many rounds can a K98K or G43 be unusable?
Also, what is the condition of "unusable"? (Does the muzzle tear?)
What maintenance was done to prevent such a condition?
How were unusable firearms disposed of?
I would appreciate it if you could answer my questions !!
Machinegun barrels can last for some time if used properly

there are three rates of fire, tactically speaking

Cyclic- literally holding the trigger down for long bursts (say a 100 rd belt in 1 burst) will naturally heat the barrel quicker and cause excessive wear to rifling, chamber throats

Rapid- Over 100 rds per minute in short bursts of 6-9 rds at a time allows for cooling, barrels should be changed every 5 minutes

Sustained- Less than 100 rds per minute change barrels every 10 minutes

Postwar some machineguns use Stellite barrel linings which resist wear due to high heat. Water cooling was another option (Maxims, Vickers, M1917 Brownings)
Some barrels are fluted or finned externally, overly thick to radiate heat away

a well trained machine gun team will have spare barrels available and change them as needed during firing. they will at the orders of the section leader use the correct rates of fires for the tactical situation
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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Re: Number of times small arms can be used safely

Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 02 Aug 2023 21:48

Poot wrote:
31 Jul 2023 23:08
I do not agree with using 'nearly unlimited' for any barrel in any firearm. Bullets traveling down a barrel (ANY barrel) create friction and produce wear on the lands, the raised spiraling edges in the rifling of a barrel. The more a firearm is shot, the more the lands will wear down, with a consequent effect on accuracy and external ballistics.
That is of course true. The 'nearly unlimited' is how it was phrased in the original German documentation, as shown in the facsimile in Waffen-Revue. My guess is that the service life was greater than what was realistically expected to be experienced in the field. Assuming the K 43 number as a baseline, firing 8000 or more rounds with a pistol or bolt-action rifle before the weapon was lost to other causes would presumably only happen to be a minority of users.

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kfbr392
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Re: Number of times small arms can be used safely

Post by kfbr392 » 07 Dec 2023 22:20

The various bolt action Volksgewehre in 8x33 trialed in Kummersdorf on 15.-22. December 1944 were mandated to use low quality steel, and be just robust enough to last 2000 rounds.

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