April 2014 - Featured Milsurp Library Entry of the Month
1916 M10 Mk. III Ross Rifle (Marked to 16th Battalion C.E.F.)
(Mfg by The Ross Rifle Company, Quebec)
(Click PIC to Enlarge)
(Click PIC to Enlarge)
Calibre: ....................... .303 in., Mk VII Ammo
Rifling & Twist: ............. 4 Groove, Enfield, Left Hand Twist
Barrel Length: .............. 30.5 in. (775mm)
Overall Length: ............ 50.5 in. (1283mm)
Overall Length: ............ 60.5 in. (1537mm) with bayonet attached
Weight: ....................... 8.6 lbs. (3.9kg)
Magazine Capacity: ...... 5 rounds, loaded with chargers
FRT #: ......................... 2126-1
Note: .......................... Mfg primarily 1914-1917, some assembled parts into 1918
Source: ....................... The Ross Rifle Story - ISBN: 0-9732416-0-8
Canadian Market Value Estimate: $
1916 M10 Mk. III Ross Rifle (77 picture virtual tour)
Observations: (by "tiriaq")
The manufacturer's marks are on the receiver and the Quebec stamp is on the butt. The serial number and year of manufacture are also on the butt. The rifle is marked to the 16th Battalion C.E.F. (Canadian Expeditionary Force) on the butt, and to the CRB on the receiver ring. More research is needed to determine what CRB stands for. Some proposed names are, Canadian Railway Battalion, Canadian Ranger Battalion or Candadian Reserve Battalion.
This would have been a later issue, after Ross rifles were withdrawn from front line service. The "E" stamp on the breech indicates that the rifle's chamber was reamed oversized in an Ordnance workshop in the U.K., to preclude ammunition compatibility issues. The bolt stop is the improved larger size. These alterations indicate that the rifle was retained in service. The bolt sleeve has the rivet installed to prevent incorrect (and potentially dangerous) re-assembly. This was a WWII modification, so the rifle was still in Canadian service at that time. The nose cap is a machined forging. This is in keeping with 1916 production; earlier rifles had a stamped nose cap manufactured by Mossberg. A forged nose cap will not fit a stock for a stamped one and vice versa. Stocks were initially black walnut and later yellow birch was used. The bayonet illustrated in the virtual tour pictorial, has had its blade altered to improve penetration capability. This was standard for Mk II bayonets issued with the Mk III rifle.
Collector's Comments and Feedback:
1. The Mk III Ross was the primary service rifle of the 1st Division, C.E.F. (Canadian Expeditionary Force), until June 1915, and of the 2nd Division until the summer of 1916. Serious problems with the Ross surfaced during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, April 1915. When the Mk III Ross rifles were withdrawn from front line service, SMLEs (Short Magazine Lee-Enfield) were issued. Subsequent Canadian service of the Mk III Ross rifle was in a secondary role, except for sniper rifles, which were retained in use through 1918. In 1939 there were approximately 120,000 Ross rifles of various marks still in inventory - there were more Rosses than SMLEs and they continued to serve in a secondary role until 1945. Ross rifle service was controversial and highly politicized. The primary and best reference on Ross Rifles is "The Ross Rifle Story - ISBN: 0-9732416-0-8".(Feedback by "tiriaq")
3. In regards to the "CRB" marking on the Ross Rifles, I have done a little research which may duplicate what you already know, but I provide what I found for your perusal. On Wikepedia there is a listing of the Canadian Battalions in WW1 & WW2. The link provided is for the 5th Division, you can toggle to the other divisions from it.
The 5th was broken up in England before ever embarking for the European continent. You will see that 15 of its battalions from the 13th, 14th & 15th Canadian Brigades were absorbed by different battalions of the CANADIAN RESERVE BATTALION (2nd to 23d). Only the Ist Pioneer Battalion of the 1st Canadian Division became the 9th Canadian Railway Battalion. I believe it was your conjecture that the CRB marking referred to WW2, but I wondered if as the Ross' were returned from the front they made their way to the 5th battalion which subsequently became various battalions of the Canadian Reserve Battalion? Is there any way of telling if the CRB marking predates the reaming of the chambers which I understand happened in WW2?......... (Feedback by "Bushwacker")
4. As a Ross collector and aficionado I would like to add the following comment:
The Ross M10 has suffered for years with a reputation for poor tolerance for dirt. This is actually not totally the problem. The problem dates back to the original dispute between Britain and Canada which led to the development of the Ross rifle to begin with. When Sir Charles Ross developed his first rifles, there was a strong desire to have a "made in Canada" rifle. One result of this was to produce a cartridge similar to, but not identical to, the .303 British cartridge. This was the .303 Ross, and all Rosses were chambered in it up until the M1910. The .303 Ross cartridge case is very slightly narrower than the .303 British. Ross envisioned military rifles as long range precision target rifles, so his rifles were made with very tight tolerances.
Unfortunately, production of .303 British cartridges during WWI was very sloppy, with considerable variance noted between manufacturers. Although stories vary, it appears much of the trouble at the Battle of Ypres and other engagements was that the Canadian soldiers were issued with British ammunition, which was too large for the fine tolerance chambers. Once the rifles heated up, the cases jammed. Soldiers then had to use their feet to kick the bolts open. This not only introduced large quantities of mud into the chamber (bad for any rifle) but also resulted in the bolts being slammed back against the bolt stop, causing burring of the rear thread of the bolt, which in turn worsened the jamming issue. There is also a story which the user has been unable to confirm that the British issued a large quantity of Winchester ammunition to the Canadian forces, and this particular case lot had been rejected by the British themselves as inferior.
The problem of tolerances was circumvented by reaming the chambers. Often, M1910 Rosses will be found with an "LC" stamped on the top of the receiver. This stands for "Large Chamber", and indicates the gun has been reamed.
For those doubters who own an M1905 target rifle, try going to the range with modern military surplus ball ammunition and firing a few fast shots. At one point, before I needed funds for studies and moving, I had 13 M1905 Mk II** target rifles in various configurations. I shot them all at the range; 11 of them jammed shut after 4 quick shots and wouldn't open again until they had cooled down. Note that this does not occur with sporting rifles, as they were made with a larger chamber to begin with.
There were other issues with the Ross which made them unsuitable for trench warfare--their length (although the G98 and Lebel were just as long) and bayonet issues were problems as well. However, their bad reputation for jamming is not really their fault. ......... (Feedback by "boltaction")