Best bolt action military rifle of all time?


Ammo Smith
Mar 1, 2007
What is your vote for the best military bolt action rifle of all time and why?

My choice are the various versions of the Lee Enfield rifle in 303 British. They worked very well from the Arctic cold to the brutal hot sandy conditions of the African deserts. Surprisingly they are still in service with the Canadian Rangers and only now being phased out because of the dwindling supply of parts to repair the guns.
M1903 Springfield. They are beautiful rifles that stood up to their intended uses, and can still be had and made into serviceable rifles today with the right TLC.

Also, Hemingway used one on his African safari to harvest all his game.

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Not a big fan of military rifles...

Hard to beat the Mauser in 7x57...

Although personally I have more interest in the 6.5x55 Swede...
1917 enfield!!! Great battle rifles and make great sporters.



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Krag-Jorgensen...way ahead of its time and largely seen as the best of it's type pre WWI.
I think history has already decided that question. The '03 Springfield & P-17 Enfield are essentially Mausers with some changes. The Swede is a Mauser. The Krag, while a fine action, is not in the same league as a battle or hunting rifle. If you could have one prime example to build a custom rifle on, what would it be?
While not as widespread as the Mauser, the Mannlicher is built like a Swiss watch. Butter-smooth action, with that butterknife bolt handle. The rotary magazine puts no drag on the bolt, and the action will close and lock simply by holding the trigger rearward and swinging the muzzle down. Sweet...

I’m voting for the P64 Model 70... The Marine Corps used it in Vietnam for quite awhile...

If that doesn’t count I’ll vote for TBears picks. Those suckers are tanks.
I have to vote for an ugly duckling. The Mosin Nagant, especially as refined by the Finns. These rifles saw some of the harshest battle conditions any rifle has ever been subjected to and they soldiered on. They are particularly well suited to issue to untrained infantry in a very cold climate with poor logistical support. They are almost impossible to render inoperable by accident, and parts interchangeability is unmatched. Parts from 1891 through 1950s are literally drop-in.

The cartridge, although a throwback compared to the rimless 7x57 and family (a need by Russian ordnance to feed several outdated arms in inventory), is effective at normal battle ranges, compares well to 7.62 NATO, is capable of fine accuracy, and is still fielded as a GPMG cartridge. The rifle in various Sniper configurations was fielded by several of the most famous and successful snipers of all time, and continues to serve in this role in less developed countries. The 91/30 PU is still a weapon to take seriously in Afghanistan.

With the accuracy and feeding refinements of the Finns, they are capable of precision accuracy on-par with the 03 Springfield, Swedish 96 and Swiss Schmidt Rubin.
I would really have to say the 98 Mauser. As much as I like the 03 I wonder what it, or other guns for that matter, would've been without the advent of the 98.
Haha! I knew I could count on Scotty to represent the P64 gang! A close second for me would be the Pre-64 M70’s grandad, the Mauser 98.
Quite a few different rifles mentioned, it's interesting to hear all of your reasoning for choosing what you did.

I still think the Lee Enfield was the best so there :lol:
For accuracy, it has to be the 1917 Enfield. For ease of handling, the Mauser 98/Springfield '03; for fast and "make them put their heads down", the Enfield .303; The Finnish Nagant is indeed a good one too. Best for "hurting you" has to be the Jungle Enfield .303...that thin hard butt is brutal!
1960's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 2000's, 2010's... Six decades and going strong...

Remington 700.

Yup. We don't often think of it as a military rifle, unless you've been involved with sniping anytime in the past 40 - 50 years.

Is it the best "military bolt action" rifle? Probably not. It's certainly not what we think of, but ya, it just keeps on contributing.

M98 not just for how good it was, but also for when it was invented first, and foremost. Plus the number of wars in which it was used, or any form of it.
SJB358":itvj18j2 said:
I’m voting for the P64 Model 70... The Marine Corps used it in Vietnam for quite awhile...

If that doesn’t count I’ll vote for TBears picks. Those suckers are tanks.

Have always loved that old photo Scotty - and I teach that position as an optional sitting position in my rifle courses. :grin:

Had the honor of meeting GySgt Hathcock long ago, when I was a young Lieutenant. What a man!

I'd have to say Mauser 98. First of the really good bolt service rifles.
Springfield 1903
Enfield 1917
Pre-64 Model 70
Last - Remington 700

Guy I never met Carlos Hathcock but me and one of our other snipers on our department SWAT team got to run through the Hathcock course that he made his students go through. We both qualified on the course which was pretty cool at least in our eyes!
I should add one more point on the Mosin Nagant. The biggest detractor pointed out on these is accuracy. This is due to a couple of factors. First, most Mosin Nagants encountered are mixed parts Soviet arms assembled post-war. Crapshoot on accuracy, some are quite good, some not so much. Secondly, most ammo fired in these is steel cased Commie ammo designed for smooth feeding in various semi and automatic platforms, not the higher quality service ammunition often encountered in other nation's surplus and commercial ammunition. Thirdly, the Soviet triggers tend to be long and gritty. The Finns use a much finer tuned system, their triggers rival some of the best military match triggers out there. Fire a good Finnish M39 with either D166 service ammo or a quality handload, and they are a different animal entirely. Still ugly though!