This blog is supposed to be about sporting firearms, but the responses to my ravings of March 9 were so interesting that I am compelled to follow up.
On the Trapdoor Springfield: As one reader quite correctly pointed out, our soldiers did well with the Model 1873 at the Wagon Box fight. They did well with it on many other occasions as well, including Little Bighorn, where we tend to forget that troopers under the command of Frederick Benteen won their part of the battle. The truth is that you could have armed Custer’s men with AK-47s and they still would have lost. Two hundred and fifteen against 2,500 (or many more) is bad odds. But still and all, the single-shot rifle was an outmoded tool even during the Civil War.
On the M-14. During my 6 years in a green suit I was both an armorer and a cadreman, and got to see a lot of trainees shoot the M-14. By and large, they didn’t do very well. Most of them had never shot a rifle before, and it was simply too much gun. But the M-14 is a very good rifle, and tuned up, it can really shoot. That’s why it’s still highly useful today, but only in the hands of Designated Shooters—the highly skilled few.
To the gentleman who took me over the coals for my criticism, and suggested that my comments were based on a book called Misfire: I read Misfire and didn’t think much of it. What I wrote was based on my own experience and that of others whose opinions I trust. As to all the problems faced by American arms designers, I couldn’t care less. The kid who dies because his rifle won’t function doesn’t care much about their problems.