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theme57
06-18-2012, 2:46 PM
So seeing bolt actions for as long as I can remember, I have never really thought about why bolt action rifles typically take 5 rounds. Is it for weight? Profile? What is the real reason bolt actions typically only have 5 rounds?

newglockster
06-18-2012, 2:48 PM
Maybe because many/most have an internal magazine and there is only so much space in which to fit ammo? :shrug:

CSACANNONEER
06-18-2012, 2:56 PM
Some states only allow 5 round mags or less for hunting. Other than that, I'm not sure. I do know that many bolt actions accept mags with 10, 20. 30, etc. round capacity.

theme57
06-18-2012, 2:58 PM
Some states only allow 5 round mags or less for hunting. Other than that, I'm not sure. I do know that many bolt actions accept mags with 10, 20. 30, etc. round capacity.

But that doesnt explain why militaries around the WW1, WW2 era and before used 5 round magazines for war times.

theme57
06-18-2012, 2:59 PM
maybe so you could open the magazine from them bottom?

Untamed1972
06-18-2012, 3:18 PM
5 is about how many you can fit into an internal magazine without having to have some sort of extention or box magazine protrude below the stock.

From there it's prolly been somewhat a matter of tradition, and since the majority of bolt guns anymore are used for hunting, there really isn't much need for more than 5rds anyway. Most of the time, you're only gonna get one shot.....maybe 2 if you take a follow-up on something that hasn't disappeared into the brush by the time you can cycle that next round.

Modern military bolt guns (sniper rifles) do however use larger capacity detachable magazines for a variety of reasons.

Jeepergeo
06-18-2012, 7:13 PM
For internal magazines, I suspect the reason is realestate in the area of the action. For external and removable magazines, 5 is common, but in some calibers, 10 is not uncommon.

Bolt actions are slow by nature, so no need for a bunch of rounds in most cases.

theme57
06-18-2012, 7:19 PM
True, but a slow action doesnt need to have a small magazine always. Either way thanks for answering my question :) also I assume that since bolt actions tend to have pretty good sized rounds, they were suited for slower and accurate fire while the guys with shotguns, machine guns and etc. did other roles.

I actually forgot how things used to be where there was a gun for different roles, not one for many. Interesting really :)

CSACANNONEER
06-18-2012, 7:38 PM
But that doesnt explain why militaries around the WW1, WW2 era and before used 5 round magazines for war times.

That had already been addressed. Internal mags can only hold so many rounds before the mags start protruding. That said, their were military bolt action rifles which were designed to hold more than 5 rounds prior to 1900. It's interesting to note that the Swiss adopted a bolt action with a detachable 12 round mag back in 1889. By 1911, they had opted to reduce the capacity of their new rifle down to six rounds. There might be a good reason for this that I'm not seeing.

Merc1138
06-18-2012, 7:51 PM
True, but a slow action doesnt need to have a small magazine always. Either way thanks for answering my question :) also I assume that since bolt actions tend to have pretty good sized rounds, they were suited for slower and accurate fire while the guys with shotguns, machine guns and etc. did other roles.

I actually forgot how things used to be where there was a gun for different roles, not one for many. Interesting really :)

You also have to consider the production costs. Obviously you could make a 10 round fixed mag bolt action instead of say... 5(and the lee-enfield would be an example of a bolt action having a 10 round capacity, and they were used in a lot of wars), but to go the route of a detachable mag would have meant more materials(and more weight), more work, more to engineer, and simply more cost. Plus when you factor in stripper clip capacity, as well as the size of the round you're trying to use, things can end up getting bigger and heavier.

As far as a bolt action being slow... depends on what you're comparing it to and who is shooting. Some brits got pretty fast with the 10 round magazines those lee-enfields had, with aimed shots.

Then consider that the Swiss k31 had a 6 round detachable magazine with a last shot hold open. The bolt action rifles of WW1 and 2 all really had some various innovation in either technology, materials, or manufacturing. Almost makes you wonder what wonder gun could have been made if all of those designers had a way to collaborate. There were a lot of reasons that design decisions were made on various rifles.

Then with semi auto rifles, things got stagnant, various hunting regulations limiting magazine capacity, a lot of shooters simply not caring about the extra capacity due to weight or only needing to take a couple of shots, and that's why you're not seeing the shelves of a Big 5 sporting goods loaded with bolt actions that have 10 round detachable box mags.

Merc1138
06-18-2012, 7:56 PM
That had already been addressed. Internal mags can only hold so many rounds before the mags start protruding. That said, their were military bolt action rifles which were designed to hold more than 5 rounds prior to 1900. It's interesting to note that the Swiss adopted a bolt action with a detachable 12 round mag back in 1889. By 1911, they had opted to reduce the capacity of their new rifle down to six rounds. There might be a good reason for this that I'm not seeing.

Only thing I can think of is if they were using 6 round stripper clips, that they figured they would save on the weight and materials since after the first mag maybe they were only loading 1 clip at a time? AFIAK they weren't carrying(or at least being issued) magazines to have pre-loaded.

morthrane
06-19-2012, 12:40 AM
Heavy wood stocks, long barrels, ammo suitable for big game hunting... I'm betting its as simple as "crap, this rifle is heavy and poorly balanced!"

Springfield45
06-19-2012, 8:27 AM
At the same time period when everyone was developing bolt action rifles, magazine cut off switches were also very popular. Many Militaries believed they need a switch to cut off the magazine to conserve ammo. It could be that they decided to stay at five round magazines for the same reason.