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  1. #21
    Advisory Panel Surpmil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daan Kemp View Post
    It would be interesting to see documented Ross failures, civilian and military.
    It's not a matter of the rifle failing, they are damn near impossible to blow up. The MkIII/1910 action is probably only equalled or exceeded by some of the Arisakas for sheer strength.

    The problem was the potential to manually rotate the bolt head in such a way that the bolt would slide into battery, but without the bolt head rotating into the locked position. The early M10 .280s had the end of the extractor slot shaped like a ramp making it easy to turn the bolt head out of the correct position when cleaning or fiddling around with the bolt out of the rifle. This was later changed to a square-ended slot so that the extractor would have to be pulled up out of the groove before the bolt head could be so rotated.

    Herbert Cox who was an expert machinist and gunsmith and a Ross rifle aficionado claimed to have found a way to make the 1905 action fail to lock also.

    The "1907" or "Scotch Deer Stalker" .280 has a receiver that looks like the 1905 with the interrupted thread bolthead and lugs of the 1910 action. It is generally considered that they also could not be wrongly assembled, but I have the remains of one here that blew out its bolt, so that action also is not entirely foolproof.

    It may be that in some very unusual circumstances a degree of "self-unlocking" is possible, (the Blish Principle etc), even without incorrect assembly, but the jury is still out on that one and probably always will be.
    Last edited by Surpmil; 04-08-2021 at 02:43 AM. Reason: clarity
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  3. #22
    Contributing Member AGB-1's Avatar
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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Might it be the horror stories of the Ross in military use are vague on facts? Quick search didn't provide any.


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    Contributing Member NORTHOF60's Avatar
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    Under the heading of "It is impossible to make things foolproof, because fools are so ingenious", the following is a very good article from this site on the Ross bolt:

    https://www.milsurps.com/showthread.php?t=15514
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  7. #25
    Advisory Panel Surpmil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daan Kemp View Post
    Might it be the horror stories of the Ross in military use are vague on facts? Quick search didn't provide any.
    There are a few reputable accounts of blow backs in WWI and before. Probably also due to missassembly of bolts after cleaning.

    I have fired Rosses without concern and will do so in future. If in any doubt, watch the bolt head to ensure it rotates into the locked position as the bolt is pushed forward.
    Last edited by Surpmil; 04-08-2021 at 02:46 AM. Reason: Typo
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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    Contributing Member NORTHOF60's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surpmil View Post
    There are a few reputable accounts of blow backs in WWI and before. Probably also due to missassembly of bolts after cleaning.

    I have fired Rosses without concern and will do so in future. If in any doubt, watch the bolt head to ensure it rotates into the locked position as the bolt is pushed forward.
    There is an extreme paucity of evidence on the issue of Ross bolt blow-back - I know, because I checked as well. Most evidence available from WW1 Canadian Army accounts are anecdotal!
    It is difficult to determine how much lack of credible evidence is a result of efforts to drive another nail into the Ross coffin, or military efforts to downplay casualties.

    Terry Wieland who contributes to "Handloader" and "Rifle" magazines does a credible job of covering the issue in his book "Great Hunting Rifles: Victorian to the Present" - I must purchase a copy, I've been working from an online excerpt. There is a very interesting combined court case that went before the Supreme Court of Canadaicon circa 1921: Ross vs Dunstall and Emery, as well as Appendix III from "The Canadian Forces in the Great War 1914-1919 Pt. 1 Vol. 2"

    It really behoves us to create a data base on the issue, but it would be no mean feat.
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    Mechanically speaking I think the questions have been answered as above. Sir Charles Ross, quite apart from his ego, would not have wished to admit any liability by publicly acknowledging a fault in the design, but the extractor slot was changed before WWI and the pinning of the bolt sleeves made it foolproof I believe.

    Some soldiers naturally try to strip their weapons down farther than they are told to, and in the conditions of WWI it's not surprising they did, and having done so, some unfortunately didn't get them back together correctly and then didn't notice the locking problem. That could have been addressed by training, but the issue and the solution was apparently not much understood or not widely known at the time.

    For example, oiling the ammo would have solved the extraction issues and the Mk.III was plenty strong enough to stand the resulting lack of case adhesion - but the command structure didn't understand that. (Not that oiling ammo isn't without problems, but at least not extraction problems!)
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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    Extraction definitely a problem. I understand that the Browning Automatic Rifle employs oiling pads in the magazine to aid extraction.

    One source I read stated that Canadianicon manufactured ammunition was appropriated by the Britishicon Army to help alleviate stoppages in machine guns. When they start designating ammunition as .303 Cdn. and .303 Brit., you definitely have a problem. Some of the British ammunition even jammed the Lee-Enfields. However, the Lee-Enfield had far better camming advantage for extraction. Probably explains why Ross returned to "cock-on-closing" for the MK III rather than adopt the "cock-on-opening" employed in the Ross Mk II**. You can definitely tell the difference.

    Another issue was determining whether a Ross bolt blow-back was the result of an incorrectly assemble bolt, or, the result of clearing a miss-fire without waiting for the safety count. Again, no clear documented evidence, only supposition.
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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    So it seems the horror Ross stories are just that. Good to know, handy to question categorical statements in future.

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    Contributing Member Eaglelord17's Avatar
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    You give any rifle poor ammo and it will fail. Look at the M16icon in Vietnam where they issued poor quality ammo and the rifles failed, yet fast forward 50 years and they are the standard.

    Were there fault with the Ross? Yes. Did it get as much time to resolve those issues as other designs? No. Look at the Lee Enfields where it took 18 years to go from the Lee Metford to No. 1 Mk. 3 and all the changes which had to be made to make the rifles work (including redoing the rear sights as during the Boer War they discovered they were not accurately set up). Ross had mostly resolved all the issues in service by 1916, it was too late by that time as confidence in the rifle had been lost.

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