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    Member Fruler's Avatar
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    Historical milsurp rifle length classifications

    I'm not sure if this belongs here but it seems like it may fit here.

    Full size rifle, carbine, short rifle... And other... Is there a classical definition of what barrel lengths are classified as? I'm specifically talking about bolt action rifles, although others may apply.

    Full size rifles... Barrels near 30 inches or longer... Seems clear cut to me. Examples... Gewehr 98, 1886 Lebel.

    The short rifle... Longer than a carbine but definitely much shorter than a full size rifle... Seems to be around 24-27 inches of barrel for short rifles on average... Examples... K98icon, Lee enfield no1 mk3, 1903 Springfield, Finnishicon m39.

    Carbines... (Where I'm especially confused) It seems to me that cavalry carbines seem to be shorter in barrel lengths than what an artillery mans carbine would've been... (Assuming either had a rifle...) I think some carbines the Belgians fielded into WW1 had barrels as short as 15 inches... But other Belgian carbines seems to have longer barrels, such as the Mauser model 89 that used the yatagan bayonet... This rifle is sometimes called the Belgian model 1916... it had a 21.65 inch barrel. Could the 1916 be called a short rifle with it's 21.65 inch barrle? Examples... The Carcano Moschetto 91, Belgian m89 lightened carbine.



    What about rifles that have barrels around 20-23 inches in length? Would they be classified as carbines or short rifles? Or would you classify this length depending on who would use it? Such as the cavalry, motorized or regular field troops. With barrels in this length I'm seeing them used mostly but ground troops or artillery men.

    Sorry if this is a silly question for you guys... I understand there are modern definitions... Full size rifles these days are 22-44 inches of barrel... Sometimes longer with magnum cartridges. I'm just looking for what the historical definitions would be... If there is any... Thanks.
    Last edited by Fruler; 05-13-2020 at 09:11 PM.

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    Senior Member Hcompton79's Avatar
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    It's going to vary by country, as no country ever had any hard rules on this matter, and each country had different terms for lengths of rifle.

    There are also going to be numerous exceptions to any trend you may find. One that comes to mind is the case of the Gewehr 98 and the Kar98b, both of which had 29 inch barrels, the latter being a renamed and slightly modified Gewehr 98, to comply with Versailles treaty regulations, but one is a rifle, the other a carbine.

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    Member Fruler's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by Hcompton79 View Post
    It's going to vary by country, as no country ever had any hard rules on this matter, and each country had different terms for lengths of rifle.

    There are also going to be numerous exceptions to any trend you may find. One that comes to mind is the case of the Gewehr 98 and the Kar98b, both of which had 29 inch barrels, the latter being a renamed and slightly modified Gewehr 98, to comply with Versailles treaty regulations, but one is a rifle, the other a carbine.
    Thanks for the reply... That's kind of what I had though, that each country may have had their own ideas about the classifications. Yeah too funny about the kar98b.

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    Really Senior Member pocketshaver's Avatar
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    its like the "tanker" carbine rifles that mitchells used to sell. They WERE accurate in the context of Yugoslaviaicon and its 3 different rifle patterns, with the so called tanker actually being a near clone to the Yugoslavian paratrooper rifle

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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Cavalry carbine should be shorter as it was a secondary arm to the lance and sabre, and had to fit on the horse along with other stuff. Be able to move quickly and easily. Usually lightly armed and equipped.
    Artillery were more static and had more transport available, thus a longer carbine. Artillery carbine so they could handle easily when the cavalry go too close to dispose of with the guns. Easy to handle in the confined space with the guns. Didn't need the long range and volley of the infantry.

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    Member WillSarchet's Avatar
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    For a really fun pair, the Kar 88 and Gew 91. Same firearm except for one has a stacking rod and the other doesn't which changed it from a carbine to a rifle in the eyes of the Imperial Germanicon Army.

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    Contributing Member Eaglelord17's Avatar
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    The definitions don't have any hard and fast rule and it really depends on the country and the time frame.

    Historically you had muskets, and carbines. The carbine being a shortened musket for use with the cavalry or mounted infantry (dragoons). Later on we started to get 'rifles' which specifically referred to having rifling in the barrel of the firearm as opposed to the smooth bore which existed before then. Rifle-Muskets were in vogue for a few decades, still being muzzle loaders but having rifling before being replaced by dedicated breach loading rifles. The term Rifles usually meaning a infantry arm in this day and age, but pretty much every firearm issued today is rifled so it has somewhat lost its meaning.

    Its at this point the definitions become less hard and fast. Some nations had cavalry firearms longer than others infantry arms. Some called them carbines, some called them short rifles, some called them rifles. Basically its what people decided to designate it/who was expected to use it as opposed to some hard and fast rule based on length.

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    I mean, with regards to Germany, the primary reason they did the whole "let's keep a barrel length similar to our Gewehr 98 rifles but call it a carbine instead" was specifically to circumvent the Treaty of Versailles, which said the German military couldn't possess a certain number of rifles in military inventory, but didn't place any limitations on carbines, so the Wehrmacht got around that issue by calling their service rifles "carbines" specifically to follow the letter of the treaty while giving it the proverbial middle finger, and later opted to move to a short rifle (K98kicon) that was still labeled a "carbine".

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