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Thread: Where are all the ross rifles?

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    Really Senior Member Frederick303's Avatar
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    Where are all the ross rifles?

    In all, approximately 420,000 Ross service rifles were produced, 342,040 of which were purchased by the British, or so say standard sources.

    the figure342,040 Ross rifles is quoted as being purchasd by the British, which may be in error. Here is the actual known breakdown.



    - Ross Mk111B rifles orderd by British Government, 100,000. Actually delivered; 66,591.
    - Taken over from the Canadian Government in exchange for SMLE's 95,674.
    - Purchased by the Admiralty, from the USAicon in 1915 - model not known for sure- 750.
    - Purchased from Canadaicon by Britain in 1940 for British Home Guard use, 75,000.

    The total is therefore ( if we included the 95,674 exchanged Ross rifles), 238,015.

    The above is taken from various posts on the Ross rifle. The question is, where are all of the rifles?

    So gents, I ask this question as I cannot come up with a reasonable explanation for where all the Ross rifles are. Here in the US they are very uncommon. I have never seen a MK I rifle, MK II*** are the most common, if for no other reason that 20,000 were bought in 1917 for training and then sold after WWI by the DCM. There were a number of sported MK II rifles imported into the US of A in the mid 1950s which seem to have come from Canada or the UK, these seem to show up at shows on a semi-regular basis with relatively low prices. But non US marked MK II rifles and MK III rifles in issue military condition seem to be really, really rare, at least in the states.

    Now when I look to Canada, New Zealand, Australiaicon, New Zealand and they still seem to be rare. Overall I would rate them as about as common as the SMLE MK V. With ~420,000 Ross rifle made, 240,000 to 342,000 sold to Englandicon and 20,000 SMLE MK V rifles made, that seems kind of odd that they should be so rare.

    In trying to track down the figures, here are some facts I found in research of rifles that were lost:

    British WWI Ross rifles supplied to Armenia ~25,000, all lost to USSR
    British Post WWI rifles supplied to Baltic countries ~20,000, all lost to USSR
    Brits post WWI supplied 200,000 rifles to Deinken in the Ukraine (white Russianicon), of which some were Ross rifles, some were P14 rifle (most I think) and a few were SMLE rifles. Number of Ross rifles unknown, but likely less then half as P14 rifles were said to make up at least half of the rifles supplied.
    I found one sales record indicating in 1919 a surplus firm bought 35,000 of them in London for export. Where they went I have no record of .

    Canadian milita reports from 1920-1921 show Canada had 90,000 Ross rifles left. That tends to back up the assertion that ~332,000 (342,000?) were exported to the UK/western front.

    The total of lost rifles do not account for the large supposed production of Ross rifles prior to 1917. The only implication that makes sense is the Brits sold/destroyed almost all of the rifles they did not supply to the USSR. So virtually none of the ~330/342,000 sent overseas survived, though I have seen one MKIII B rifle, so some survived.

    Of the Canadian 90,000 Ross rifles stored in 1921, 75,000 were sent to the UK during WWII. As they saw HG use only, what happened to them post WWII?

    Anyone care to clarify that for a Yank?


    The more detail the better.

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    Member kev303's Avatar
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    To add a little to your search. I heard stories from my grandfather that after WWII he and a bunch of fellow services man were order to destroy a few hundred rifle by running over the barrels with cats and then bury in a dump in Edmonton Alberta. I have no actual figure on how many but I remember him saying between 300-500 Ross rifle. What a same to loss those rifles

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    Well I know where two of them are, in my closet.

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    Contributing Member boltaction's Avatar
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    Missing Rosses

    I read somewhere that some were sent to Spain during the 30's for the Republican side to use in the Civil War. Don't know how many, or if that can be corroborated. I also talked to a fellow who knew an old gunsmith who worked in Southern BC during the 1930's. He had a government contract or some sort of contract to modify Rosses for sale to China during the Sino-Japanese war, but again, how many I'm not sure.

    There are certainly a depressingly large number of bubba'd Mk III's out there--there's usually at least one at every gun show I go to. The Mk II** and earlier marks are much less common. Others may know more, but the Canadianicon gov't seems to have a habit of destroying a lot of surplus stuff, so I would assume that most of the Ross 1905s of various marks were destroyed after being declared obsolete. Alternatively, they may just have been released to public sale and a lot of them destroyed over the years by enthusiastic home gunsmiths? It is an interesting question.

    Ed

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    Advisory Panel smellie's Avatar
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    Take a careful look at the Bubba'd ones you find at gun shows, especally in Canadaicon. Many of them show BRITISH commercial Birmingham proofmarks.

    Generally this indicates rifles which finally were sold out of stores after the SECOND war. Most of them have the heavy military barrels cut back to 24 or 26 inches, stocks heavily sanded to remove all Canadian markings and cut down to become a cut-price "sporter".

    That many of these are ex-Royal Marine Light Infantry rifles is evidenced by the PLY (PLYmouth) and CRB (CRomBie) stampings on the STEEL receiver rings. I have a PLY; so do a number of others. Friend BUFFDOG has a CRB and there are more in circulation. Mixed parts (a PLY rifle with a CRB bolt or vice versa) also are found on these small-factory-sporters. I also have a couple of rifles marked PHAB on the WOOD, both cut down like a "stripped" sniping Ross. We assume that these were stationed at Priddy's Hard ammunitioning depot near Portsmouth, as this is definitely NOT a Canadian unit marking.

    The books are WRONG, pure and simple. How else does one explain Ross Rifles in the hands of Royal Marines at the sinking of the High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow in May of 1919..... if all the Rosses in RM hands had been withdrawn 2 years earlier??????? The photographs exist and have been posted in this forum. RN/RM still had thousands of the critters until the end of War Two: that is where the Weedon List rifles and all these "factory-minimal sporters" come from.

    As well there were large shipments of Rosses to Mother Russiaicon during War Two but they also got a huge number from Britainicon during the Great War, which is where the ones used in the Spanish Civil War came from.

    Also, the Ross was the OFFICIAL rifle of the Republic of Latvia, plus others in used in numbers by Estonia and Lithuania. Russia got all of these in 1940 when they "protected" the Baltic countries into 50 years of servitude and oppression. Funny, the evil Nazis only "occupied" these countries for 3 years......

    Upshot of the whole thing is that Russia ended up with better than half of all the Model 10 Rosses ever built. Quite a number were rebuilt in Russia as match rifles, target rifles for DOSAAF, competition rifles for international events and so forth. A FEW of these have come out, but the rest still are there, somewhere...... and Mother Russia ain't lettin' go.

    Hope this helps.
    .
    Last edited by smellie; 01-29-2012 at 08:20 AM. Reason: typo

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    Member bushwhacker's Avatar
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    An unknown quantity of rifles, including Ross rifles, of MkIII and earlier marks, many already stripped of furniture, were sent to Algoma Steel in Sault St. Marie to be melted down. Some of these "fell off the truck" and ended up in private hands. At one point I had a NEW Mk II barrel, packed in grease, but bent, which I passed on to someone who needed it. Some parts are still around, but many of the actions were cut in half rather than be registered when the Firearms Act came into force.
    Bill

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    Really Senior Member Frederick303's Avatar
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    Thread Starter

    clarification

    Gents, thanks for the comments.

    Let me clarify what I have found:

    On the Spanish civil war imports, almost all of these rifles were MK III and MK III B rifles. The numbers were not that high, only a few thousand at most. These rifles, if what I have read is correct, came out of the Sovieticon Union and were the residuum of the rifles that were supplied by the UKicon to the Whites in the Ukraine during 1919 and perhaps some of the the Armenian rifles. One observation that seems to back this up is that none of the MK III rifles that can be traced to this import lot have the reinforcing bolt pin to prevent the bolt from being assembled incorrectly.

    A dealer I know, who was 85 when I spoke to him and used to go down to Interarmeco in the day, told me that few if any of these Spanish civil war rifles had good bores, most were completely rusted out. He also indicated every MK IIIB rifle he had seen was from this lot. He also said this bad bore condition contributed to there being preserved, as the bores were so poor that no one would bother sporting them.

    Leaping forward to the WWII disposition of the 90,000 Canadian war reserve Ross rifles. The comments on the Canadian destruction of Ross rifles might explain where some of the 15,000 remaining war reserve rifles in Canadaicon ended up. Not all were destroyed as there are ads for sported Mk II and MK III rifles from the 1950s that indicate the rifles were surpluses from Canada. In any case that still leaves the problem of what happened to the 75,000 rifles sent to the UK in 1940 from the Canadian war reserve. These rifles were all MK III with the Ross rear sight, the reinforce pin in the bolt.

    Why are there not more of these rifles about? As I said here in the US of A the MK II 3* seem to be the most common rifles, as 20,000 were brought in during 1917 for training rifles. MKIII rifles seem to be very rare here, and also in the other remaining commonwealth countries.

    Compare that to the number of ex Navy Ross rifles, (many of which were sported). These rifles were released in the 1950s. There cannot have been that many, and yet these rifles seem more common then the War reserve rifles. (unless the Naval rifles were from the WWII lots and not remaining surplus from WWI).

    Any insights or possible paths to pursue would be of interest.

    FRS

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    Contributing Member boltaction's Avatar
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    Well, there have been reports of Rosses showing up in Afghanistan, and I have a Mk IIIb with a Farsi type rack number on the side of the stock, suggesting possible Indian use. There are a large number of Rosses unkindly referred to as "curryguns" which were surplused out of India or Pakistan--they often have an incredibly long serial number stamped on the receiver. Is it possible that Britainicon sent some of its stores to India or Pakistan, and if so, how many?

    Ed

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    I seem to remember reading that Russian rebuilt Ross rifles, in a new and fancy flat-shooting caliber, was what revolutionized olympic Biathlon back in the day, and heralded first the swap to straight-pull rifles, and then standardizing on the .22 LR

    I think finland ended up with a few of them as well, after they split from Imperial Russiaicon after the revolution. Think i saw reference to them being issued for coastal defence and home front use during the winter war. Seems Imperial Russia had tendency to ship non-standard weapons off the the "colonys", explainin why they showed up in places like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finlandicon.

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    The new Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) got a lot of Britishicon equipment right after WWI.

    Photos exist of Latvian Sopwith Camels with swastikas painted on them. DEFINITELY not a British marking, either War!!
    .

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