You Can’t Fire A Bolt Action Rifle That Fast

In 1987, former U.S. Marine sniper Craig Roberts, a seasoned veteran of the Vietnam war, stood for the first time at the 6th floor “Sniper’s Nest” window of the Texas School Book Depository. As he looked down into what the U.S. government maintains was the kill zone used by Lee Harvey Oswald, he immediately knew that the Warren Commission’s verdict – that Oswald, acting alone from that position, fired three shots in 5.6 seconds from a bolt-action rifle, with a fatal head shot being the last shot fired – was a lie.

Kill Zone: A Sniper Looks at Dealey Plaza: Craig Roberts: 9780963906205: Books

I have a similar WWII Hungarian rifle. The fastest you could possibly reload, and aim through a scope for the next shot is about five seconds. Most people would require ten or more seconds.

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70 Responses to You Can’t Fire A Bolt Action Rifle That Fast

  1. papertiger says:

    bulshit. hell I know three Civil War reenactors who could do it with a breach loader.

    • And aim through a scope and hit a moving target at 88 yards? Not a chance.

      • papertiger says:

        Would you bet your life on it?

      • au1corsair says:

        Introducing: Charles Whitman, mass murderer:

        He fired several shots at distances over 400 yards at moving targets–and killed with head shots.

        I am a non-swimmer. If I were to run the 100 yard dash, I’d be thrilled to finish in under 30 seconds. I can complete a mile in under 15 minutes but doing so under 12 is a struggle. Should I sneer at people who claim that a few can run a mile in four minutes or swim a mile? I’m aware of thousands who can run a mile in under six minutes. Just because I cannot do something doesn’t mean NOBODY can do it.

        As for shooting–keeping both eyes open when using telescopic sights takes training, but speeds up aiming and tracking moving targets. Standing, using a two-handed shooting position and a .22 plinking pistol, I kept 43 out of 50 shots on the silhouette of a B27E police-type target. One of those hit the X-ring and six were in the ten ring and another twenty-six stayed in the “kill zone” as defined by police qualification standards. I am not the best pistol shot around–there are many who shoot rings around me. Basically, my sixteen hits inside the nine ring equate to headshot accuracy–and 16 out of 50 is 32% headshot hit rate at 100 yards with a fixed-sight .22 plinking pistol firing ammunition a quarter century old from an unsupported standing position. The date was April 11, 2014.

        I don’t think that Lee Oswald was a Charles Whitman–but look up Whitman’s record. He was shooting through full summer foliage an at distances of over 500 yards–some of his victims never heard the shot that killed them. Whitman’s long range gun was a bolt action Remington in 6mm Remington!

        • au1corsair says:

          As for the grassy knoll gunman, James Files claims to have shot Kennedy with a prototype Thompson-Center Contender PISTOL, a single-shot weapon. Frontal shot, distance perhaps 100 feet.

          James Files claimed that Oswald wasn’t consulted.

          I fire pistols from the 100 yard line because sometime I might need a rifle and have only a handgun–and because the public range I use doesn’t have 200 yard lines. From a shooting bench, my hit rate on a 25 yard police pistol qualification silhouette target 100 yards away was 94 hits out of 100 shots. From either the Grassy Knoll or from the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository, a skilled pistol shot could have murdered Kennedy. That is more unbelievable to those who don’t know guns than Oswald being the triggerman.

      • au1corsair says:

        How about five hits on-target in seven seconds?

  2. Sunsettommy says:

    The Zapruder film indicates that three shots were fired in that time frame and even down to individual frames it occurs in.

    • There Is No Substitute for Victory says:

      The film speed of an 8mm movie camera of the day was 18 frames per second. that means that the 5.6 seconds that the 3 shots were fired in that only 100 frames of film was exposed. Any of you with no exposure of firearms related shooting deaths may fantasize that being shot by a Colt 45. service automatic will hurl the unlucky evildoer clear out of sight. Pilgrim, if you believe that you have been watching too many Dirty Harry movies.

      It is not only possible but likely that a bullet travelling at only 2,000 feet per second from an Italian 6.5 bolt action rifle can be fired and can hit a target 40 to 80 yards away without the initial impact being captured on film. The only reason you heard all three shots is because the sound of gunfire reverberates (last longer) than the 4.25% of one second that each frame of film is in front of the lens @ only 18 frames per second.

      With 100 frames of film exposed in 5.6 seconds there is almost an eternity of missing images. I evoke the words of Sumsettommy who mentions the 3 individual frames the sound of the shots occurs in but, in no frame is the FULL effect on JFK recorded.

  3. swampsniper says:

    The Lee Enfield is faster to operate and I don’t believe you could operate it that fast.

    • lee enfield owner says:

      You could get three shots off in a couple of seconds from a lee Enfield in a couple of seconds with a well oiled bolt, I know I used to own one.

  4. Norm says:

    Never needed a sniper to know it was a lie.

  5. etudiant says:

    Having fired that model on a range, I was struck by its low quality, both the gun as well as its ammunition. The bullet is very long and thin and keyholes at the drop of a hat, not ideal for a sniper weapon. More important, the ammunition was war surplus, which made it susceptible to hang fires.
    I had instances where the bullet would fire only after a seconds long interval.
    Obviously, mine was just one data point, but it was enough to make the official line suspect to me.

    • au1corsair says:

      How old was the ammo when you fired? Was it the same stuff Oswald used in ’63? I’ve used some old ammo and gotten different results. Cheap PMC 22 ammo had to be hand-chambered after a quarter century because the wax lube turned to glue over time–but CCI 22 ammo of the same vintage cycled without a hitch. Ammo age alone isn’t indicative of performance, but generally the same quality ammunition performs better fresh than past the half-century mark. Storage conditions have a big impact on ammo deterioration.

      As for the “long, thin bullet” you just need to spin the bullet fast enough to stabilize it. I don’t know what you’re describing exactly–and what was the condition of the bore of the weapon you fired? Was the muzzle crown damaged? Did you have throat erosion? Rifling clean and sharp or fouled with metal or corrosion?

      I can only guess. Most of the ammunition I fired was provided by the US government–I used machine guns and automatic belt-fed weapons gobble ammo. I also used military surplus ammunition in calibers .38, .45, 9mm, .30-06, .30 carbine, 7.62mm NATO, 5.56mm NATO and 12 gauge. Some of that ammo was from World War Two–but I shot that during the Eighties.

      I may suffer from arrogance, but I think I’m a bit better trained than Oswald was and I know I have far more range time. He didn’t make it to age 30.

  6. RCM says: FWIW

    I did a lot of reading on the JFK assasination, including Mailer’s book on Oswald. Even Mailer, who very badly wanted to find a conspiracy finally reluctantly came to the conclusion that Oswald did it, and acted alone. I believe that to be the case. The question about the timing of the shots comes down to whether #2 or #3 was the faral shot. Assuming #2 did the deed, the hurried #3 is irrelevant. I’ve been to the Book Repository and looked down from the window to where the car was. It’s frighteningly close and you’re shooting with the fun on a prepared rest. I could make that shot with two tries, and Oswald did.

  7. Andy Oz says:

    E Howard Hunt admitted to his son on tape most of the details of the Big Event.
    The first role of government is to make war on its enemies. In post Cold War days the government view the citizenry as the enemy and most don’t realise it.

  8. Robert of Ottawa says:

    There obviously was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy; and it was obviously successful. More than that we probably will never know – the conspiracy was successful, after all!

  9. There Is No Substitute for Victory says:

    OMG, I am with Paper Tiger & RCM. No one else posting here knows what your talking about if you think you can’t fire 3 aimed rounds in under 6 seconds from a bolt action rifle.. You only need to work the bolt twice to fire 3 rounds. Do you know what they called a sniper in Nam who couldn’t work a bolt on a Remington 700 faster than this? They called him “Dearly Departed”

    Besides when you are shooting either down hill or up hill the effective range is shorter. You will only show gross ignorance by arguing about the above so take a deep breath and believe it.

    • You can discharge it that fast. You can’t line up a scope on a moving target and take an accurate shot that fast.

      • John Silver says:

        It’s irrelevant. Qui bono?

      • au1corsair says:

        For what it’s worth, Oswald’s rifle (okay, Oswald’s ALLEGED rifle) was set up traditionally with the scope off-set to the left so that clips could be fed into the magazine. The scope was off-set to the left of the bore line, which meant that a good cheek weld was impossible to achieve–and there is no evidence of a cheek piece to correct this.

        But then, normally when a rifle was set up like this the iron sights were the primary sight system and the telescopic sight was an auxiliary system. Often, semi-skilled riflemen used their rifle scope to spot their targets (Oswald’s scope had four power magnification but a small 15mm objective lens) and their iron sights to aim with.

        I cannot say if Oswald aimed with his scope sight or iron sight or alternated between the two. Perhaps you could consult a climate alarmist on this subject?
        They pretend to know things.

  10. wizzum says:

    Steve, that particular rifle is a POS and I agree that it would be extremely difficult. If he had a Lee Enfield it would be a different story. The ANZAC soldiers were so fast that German opposition thought they were facing machine guns.

  11. There Is No Substitute for Victory says:

    Are you willing to go slowly tooling down the road in an open touring car while I take 3 pock shots at you with a high power rifle from an effective range of 50 yards or less? Besides the leather sling and the low power scope allows for quick target re-acquisition and a fast second third, forth, fifth, and even a sixth aimed shot. Besides Oswald had all morning to line up his first shot, steady his nerves, take a deep breath, and slowly squeeze off the first shot. After that everything is in the zone..

  12. Chewer says:

    How good was Oswald with the rifle, did he practice???

  13. Alexej Buergin says:

    It would be more precise to say Oswald had to fire 2 shots in 5.7 seconds.
    The question is how much target and rifle moved after a shot.
    From Oswald’s point of view the car did not move sideways and slowly up. He seems to have supported the rifle with boxes, so it might have been quite steady. He was an experienced marksman. 1 second to work the bolt, 1 second to align the rifle, 1 second to aim.
    Seems possible to me.

    • Can’t be done with a scoped bolt action rifle that has a large recoil like Oswald’s. Not by a sniper taking a serious shot expected to hit within a few inches.

      • Alexej Buergin says:

        Watch this:

        • papertiger says:

          Not only is it possible, it was done by everyone of Dan Rather’s bond company stooges.

          Seems like they can’t find someone who would miss the Kennedy kill shot.

        • Eric Barnes says:

          IMO, it is possible LHO or another could have made those shots, but it is unlikely.
          * The target is highlighted in Orange! w/ no surrounding clutter.
          * The target is on rails! Easy line of sight alignment,
          * The road has a slight curve to it. There is no curve in the track.

          Definitely not an apples to apples comparison.

          Whether or not Oswald made the shots or not has no bearing on the boat load of other evidence.

  14. gator69 says:

    I have seen the assassination recreated, and it is shocking when you see how close Oswald was to his target. It is not as difficult a shot as it appears in photos, and even the shooter commented that he never would have thought it would be that easy.

    I have a very old bolt action .410 that holds three rounds, and it is a sweetheart to shoot. A friend of mine who had never shot skeet before in his life went three for three.

    Shit happens.

  15. Andy DC says:

    It would appear that Kennedy had been set up as a sitting duck.

  16. RCM says:

    Oswald didn’t pick up the gun and aim. It was in a prepared rest. You do your rough sighting on the car in front of the Kennedy car. You settle in on the hood as an aiming point through the scope and let Kennedy slide into view in the scope. You fire. You have been firearms trained and so recoil is no surprise. You’re nested and braced so the recoil is straight back. Your muscles absorb it and the gun returns to where it was, sliding across the boxes; your eye never really loses focus through the scope. As you recover position from the recoil, you are working the bolt. A heavy rifle won’t jiggle or wiggle from that. Now that you know where the first shot went you adjust automatically – it never rises to the level of actual thought. You’re re-aiming as the bolt slides home and you squeeze the trigger. A lot of times that second quick shot is better -because- you’re not thinking or even breathing. The conscious mind doesn’t get in the way .

    A couple more points: Kennedy’s head is as big a target as a pie plate . Any Marksman rated Marine who can’t hit a pie plate at that distance with a rest on his second shot is lying about having been a Marine. Second: I wager – Hell, I KNOW that Oswald worked that bolt a thousand times -more- sitting in his apartment daydreaming, and he cleaned and oiled it; it’s not out of the realm of probability that he polished it down too. I would have. This wasn’t some collector’s rifle taken out of storage with the action gummed up from lack of use. He was a Marine and it was HIS rifle.

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      By that logic the first shot would have been the kill shot. Also what no one seems to be acknowledging is that two shots came so close together that is was near impossible for them to be fired from the same bolt action rifle. THAT is the part that the FBI could not duplicate. But ask yourself a simple question: If this was a straight foreward shooting by Oswald then why the secrecy? Why would the government put out false information in the official explanation then hide all the evidence so it could not be used to prove the claim???

  17. papertiger says:

    At the Marine Corps firing range they call people who miss a shot from 150 ft washouts.

  18. PaddikJ says:

    I did a term paper in HS (1970). I found that: Several witnesses were sure they saw K’s head jerk backward (I don’t know if the Zapruder film was circulating by 1970, but I didn’t have access to it), Oswald was only a fair shot, the Manlicher-Carcano was a POS that could be gotten for 14.95 mail order from several sources, and had, as one expert put it, “the coy habit of exploding in the operator’s face. “, many witnesses were sure they saw smoke at the infamous grassy knoll, and, of course, Oswald was conveniently murdered before he could be brought to trial. As Mark Lane and many others have noted, the Warren Comission, even in the best scenario, was not an adversarial proceeding where the interests of the accused are vigorously advanced.

    My dad was an English teacher at my HS, and knowing my paper would be controversial, advised me to not advance any strong conclusions but just “put the facts out there. ” Good advice. My history teacher was incensed and I was lucky to squeak by with C. He would have probably flunked it if my dad hadnt been a well respected, senior teacher.

    For me, the debate-ender is that K was clearly shot at least once from the front. If Oswald was involved, he wasn’t alone.

  19. Eric Barnes says:

    Which is able to accomplish missions without overestimating themselves or an inability to appreciate the difficulty of the task at hand.

  20. Roguewave says:

    The people on the floor directly underneath Oswald’s firing nest testified in detail of hearing the three reports and the empties hitting the cement floor above them. Good enough for me.

  21. Alan says:

    The old Springfield rifle qualification tables had rapid-fire stages: ten shots in 60 seconds. British riflemen had to fire 15 shots in 60 seconds. The record for bolt action firing (including reloads that required jamming 5-rounds via magazine charger) was set in 1914: 38 hits on a 12-inch bullseye at 300 yards in sixty seconds. His name: Sergeant Instructor Snoxall of the British Army. From my instructor time most “trained soldiers” cannot do that with semiautomatic rifles at the same range!

    • Sounds like complete bullshit to me.

      • Alan says:

        Which part? The standards for rifle qualification? The Mad Minute came out of the Boer War and required rapidly firing 15 shots in one minute time. When the Mad Minute crossed the Atlantic Ocean because Britain’s National Rifle Association had ties to the American National Rifle Association, the limits of the M1903 Springfield Rifle were taken into consideration. Today’s alternate M16 qualification course (reduced-size silhouette targets to simulate firing from 50 meters to 300 meters at the reduced distance of 25 meters) gives riflemen two minutes to discharge two magazines loaded with ten rounds each in two stages, for a total of 40 qualification rounds. The SUSTAINED fire rate for the select-fire M16A2 rifle is listed as 12-15 rounds per minute in the field manual (FM 3-22.9 Basic Rifle Marksmanship for the current manual) which isn’t that much different than the ten rounds per minute SUSTAINED fire from the M1903. Machine gun sustained fire rate is 100 rounds per minute (air cooled machine guns are supposed to swap hot barrels for cool barrels every 200 rounds). A rule of thumb is that the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon or Light Machine Gun (slight differences) puts as much sustained fire down-range as eight M16-series rifles–and that goes back to the World War One weapons.

  22. Alan says:

    Jesse Vent tried to duplicate Oswald–but the rifle butt slipping from shoulder pocket slowed him down. It’s a matter of proper technique. Look at this one–during the five shot string he gets off three shots in five seconds: and that is with a stiff Mosin-Nagant carbine! On the other hand, I have seen people who cannot get off ten aimed shots in 60 seconds with a semi-automatic rifle during my time as a rifle marksmanship instructor.

    • Kennedy died from a very accurate shot on a moving target at 50 yards from Oswald. Not the same as firing chaotically

      One of my Mosins takes about 10 seconds to eject the shell and practically needs a hammer.

  23. Alan says:

    I challenge anybody to differentiate between a lucky shot and an “accurate” shot. When Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock shot a Vietnamese sniper through the enemy sniper’s telescopic sight at an estimated 500 yards distance, the modest Marine claimed that it was luck. True, proficient people make a lot of their own luck, but there is always some element of chaos involved because even professionals cannot control everything.

    Did Lee Harvey Oswald kill President Kennedy in Dallas on Friday, November 22, 1963? Maybe, maybe not. Arguing that it is “impossible” for anybody armed with a scoped bolt action rifle to fire three shots seperated by six seconds from the discharge of the first shot to the last BANG is unscientific–many THOUSANDS of riflemen did it in the past. It is more to the point to doubt that Oswald was capable of firing three shots and hitting his intended target twice at 50 to 75 yards moving away from him with ANY rifle–because all we have to demonstrate Oswald’s capability are rather skimpy Marine Corps qualification records. We don’t have proof of the opposite, either.

    • Alan says:

      Oswald’s marksmanship scores in the Marines are found here:
      but I cannot verify these are the official record. This link to an Army training film is fom 1943 but is typical of the Garand rifle training that the Marines gave: two or three weeks (depending upon era) for basic rifle marksmanship training and one week sustainment training annually.
      Note that these SEMI-AUTOMATIC riflemen fired slowly–the slow part is aiming and squeezing. The additional delay of operating a repeater is minor compared to the delay to find the next target, aim and squeeze. Many trained Soldiers and Marines cannot “rapid fire” faster than ten seconds between shots–but doesn’t prevent those who can to fire ten well-aimed shots in those ten seconds.

  24. Alan says:

    Here’s a link to a fun video from Mail Call:
    Gunny Ermy was in error about “smokeless powder:” the French Lebel was the first issue military rifle to use smokeless powder in 1886 AND in US service both the 6mm Lee-Enfield (Navy and Marines) and .30-40 Kraig (Army) predated the M1903 Springfield.

  25. Jim Sams says:

    Oswald was left handed which allowed him to work the bolt with his right hand and never having to readjust his trigger finger. Front of the rifle resting on something makes a right handed bolt very easy to operate quickly for a southpaw.

  26. au1corsair says:

    Wikipedia isn’t regarded as the ultimate information source, but:
    Mad minute was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits onto a 12″ round target[citation needed] at 300 yards (270 m) within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First and Second World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. Many riflemen could average 30 plus shots. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits.[1] During the Battle of Mons, there were numerous German accounts of coming up against what they believed was machine gun fire when in fact it was squads of riflemen firing at this rate.[2]

    Note that the Mad Minute was a full magazine of ten rounds followed by reloading five more rounds.

    This blog has videos:
    Many riflemen prefer the bolt action. Its simplicity, reliability, ease of maintenance and, above all, its accuracy recommend it to the practically minded. “But it’s slow.” Is it, now? Well, I suppose it is, compared to a machinegun. But how slow is it? Too slow? With proper manipulation the bolt rifle is faster than many think.
    When the bolt action was the principal kind in military use, you can be sure a good deal of attention was paid to how to shoot it quickly. When self loading rifles came into general use, those lessons were largely forgotten. Fortunately, they were not altogether lost; you can look up anything on the Internet.

    The statement that “nobody can fire a bolt action that fast” is false. The unprovable question is “could Oswald have fired his Carcano that fast and achieved two out of three hits?” Just because thousands of riflemen can currently rapidly fire a bolt action rifle and hit their target doesn’t mean that Oswald could–or did. There are people who believe that riflemen cannot hit a moving target–or fire on a moving target with a telescopic sight. I’ll claim that these people just don’t know rifle techniques.
    If someone’s conspiracy theory is based on provably false information, that doesn’t mean that there was no conspiracy. Yes, Zen–it is possible that Oswald fired five aimed shots at Kennedy in from four to eight seconds time. It is still possible that there were five or more riflemen, each firing just one shot. The time frame given by the Warren Commission was an educated guess. And other than only finding three spent casings (one plucked from a police officer’s pocket days later) and a live cartridge out of a 6-shot clip that formed part of the Carcano feed system (the entire six shots were loaded at one time to speed up rifleman fire, takes as long to load one clip as to shove one cartridge in the rifle) how did the Warren Commission come to the conclusion that only three shots were fired? One aimed shot at two-second intervals isn’t impossible–though perhaps Oswald couldn’t do it, many can today using bolt action rifles with telescopic sights. Witness reports gave from two to “many” shots, some in excess of five shots–which didn’t work with the lone gunman theory because competitive riflemen were not part of the staff.
    Scientifically-well, today’s old Carcano rifles are more than 75 years old and ammunition has to be custom ordered–not the same stuff that Oswald might have gotten. What that means is that re-creating the experiments of the Sixties isn’t possible today. Other rifles might be used, in different calibers.
    The difficulty of the shots that killed Kennedy have been greatly exaggerated. Most Americans are not riflemen. Most modern riflemen use self-loaders, and even then many of these modern riflemen are not drilled to fire faster than one shot every three to five seconds because their game doesn’t require it–they often are restricted by the rules to metallic instead of optical sights–and the rules were written long ago, the reasons for these competition rules long forgotten.
    So “nobody can fire a bolt action rifle [telescopic sights] that fast” is Bravo Sierra.

    The JFK investigations don’t pass the smell test–but the false claim that NOBODY can duplicate what Oswald was alleged to have done discredits investigation into the many other foul smells surrounding the investigation.

    • rah says:

      You sound like you belong to the George Custer school of military rifle selection. Or maybe I’m interpreting your statement incorrectly.

      Are you really saying that a bolt action rifle is a good as a semi-automatic rifle as a main battle rifle for the military?
      If so perhaps you should ask yourself this question. Why did the Marines of the on Guadalcanal who’s standard issue at the time was the M-1903 Springfield bolt action rifle steal every single M-1 Garand semi automatic rifle they could get their hands on that the US Army NG had brought with them? When before their actual deployment into combat in WWII the majority thought the M-1 was a “Mickey mouse piece of shit”.

      They stole them because the M-1 was excellent and it’s rate of fire much superior to the best the Marines could get from their Springfields. And when your facing Banzai charges at short range by superior numbers of determined enemy the ability to put more lead down range as quickly as possible has a great deal to do with who lives and who dies and who wins or loses. Same goes when your in the attack in a jungle environment where you have only an area to target and not individuals.

      Granted the Springfield holds 5 rounds and the M-1 holds 8. Granted that the M-1903 remained in service throughout the war in various versions. Granted that a bolt action will provide a somewhat higher muzzle velocity and thus longer range and better accuracy at range because a semi-automatic uses some of the gases/energy to cycle. It is for this reason primarily that most sniper rifles intended for long range shooting are bolt action. But I’ll tell you what if I am maneuvering against an enemy position in the standard rush and cover mode I want my covering fire to be fast, heavy, and accurate. Faster than any bolt action can provide.

      BTW an aside that is a little known fact of history that may interest some. Alvin York, the most famous of the MOH recipients of WW I, used an Enfield. In fact almost the entire AEF with the exception of the Marines, were armed with Enfields instead of the M-1903 Springfield. The US could not produce the M-1903 fast enough and had a great deal of trouble resolving issues with the heat treating of the extractor for the American designed rifle. And so for the most part, only the US Marines in the AEF were armed with that weapon.

      When WW II rolled around FDR sent 10s of 1,000s of those WW I era Enfields back to the British along with ammo and other heavier weapons to help them in their hour of need when their men that were rescued in the miracle at Dunkirk. I have one of those Enfields. A 1918 model that was first issued during WW 1, went back to Britain during WW II and some how got back here to the states complete with bayonet and scabbard and with both US and British Armory stamps.

      • au1corsair says:


        Was your Enfield this one?
        The standard British Enfield was the famed Rifle No. 1 Mk III or SMLE (Short Magazine Lee Enfield).

        The Model 1917 Enfield was made in larger numbers than the Model 1903 Springfield during World War One and afterwards became standard National Guard armament–and armed MacArthur’s Filipino soldiers. As the National Guard was mobilized beginning in 1940, they were rearmed with the M-1 rifle and the Model 1917 rifles were “lend-leased” to Britain, where they were used to arm the Home Guard and the Auxiliary Patrols.

        I’m not arguing that a semiautomatic rifle has superior fire volume–and the Garand was as accurate as the Springfield. Today’s M-16 rifles exhibit match-grade accuracy in service grade rifles with service grade ammunition.

        What I was arguing is that a competent rifleman can often shoot a bolt action faster with the same or greater accuracy than a mediocre rifleman can shoot a semiautomatic rifle. It’s a matter of technique, of talent, of developed skill.

        Germaine to this discussion is whether or not a rifleman could have achieved what Oswald is alleged to have done in Dealey Plaza on 22 November 1963. The answer is “yes,” and that “yes” answer still doesn’t prove that Oswald (acting alone, without any encouragement or support from anybody else) murdered Kennedy.

        The several investigations demonstrated some disturbing trends in criminal investigations and evidence used to convict people. Forensic evidence is circumstantial. There is also eye witness testimony. Finally, there is confession in open court. From time to time prosecutors will try to slip in supernatural “evidence” — but that usually gets shot down by a judge. Hear-say evidence (third or fourth hand rumor) sometimes gets admitted. Crime scene procedures are more scientific today than during the early Sixties, and due to federal agency high jack of a murder case where federal police had no jurisdiction some of the evidence was lost. One of the three recovered spent casings from Oswald’s rifle turned up days after the crime scene had been processed–it had been pocketed by a patrol officer.

        Throw in the many provable CYA activities carried out by just about every government agency at city, county, state, and federal level (the Marines did admit that Oswald was one of their own) in an effort to duck blame, and the case smells.

        JFK made a lot of enemies. JFK frequently acted like a gangster–despite being a popular and probably well-meaning President. It is possible–if incredible–that a “loser” and nobody named Lee Oswald murdered the President of the United States and did it alone. It is also possible that multiple conspiracies all wound up in Dallas independent of each other and took shots at the president while unaware of each other. Witnesses reported from two to more than five shots. A prosecutor will sort out conflicting testimony in an effort to tell a coherent story, the theory of the case. The “Magic Bullet” was one result–and ignoring evidence that might have proved more than three shots fired was in line with prosecutor practice then–and now.

        Besides, if you took everybody’s story, you’d get a lot of stuff that just wasn’t true–no way, no how. The majority might not even get it right when they are witnessing something that is out of the ordinary for them.

        Anybody watch a cricket match recently?

        • rah says:

          Yes it is but it’s a rarer animal. It’s not a model 1917 because mine is chambered for the .303. Thus it is a British made version, most likely issued to one of the first AEF units put into the line I presume since it has the US Armory stamp right between two British ones. The bayonet is of British manufacture also though of course I have no way of knowing if it was issued with that particular rifle.

          The stock has the scars one would expect and the barrel rifling shows a little wear but everything else is very near perfect. Of course the original issue sling is not with it. Leather does not stand up that well to heavy use over time, or for that matter, even time.

          The very first time I shot it I held the thing on the opposite side of a telephone pole sized support post that is a column for the weather awning at the range because the guy I had bought it from and had owned it for years had never shot it Having fired a round successfully that way without a problem I sat down at the bench and put a nearly dime sized group of three in the target at 300 yards in the right lower quadrant of a quarter sized bull. Amazing that a weapon with that much use is still that accurate. I won’t be trading or selling that one. It will become a family heirloom IF in the future it does not have to be used for it’s intended purpose.

        • au1corsair says:


          Sounds as if you have an earlier Pattern 14 rifle, chambered for the .303 British service cartridge. The Pattern 17 (aka US Rifle, Caliber 30, Model of 1917) was chambered for the .30’06 and its battle sight was zeroed at 400 yards–the Model 1903 (aka Springfield) was in the same caliber and its battle sight was set for 547 yards, which permitted a company of riflemen to deliver grazing fire using their battle sight setting from the muzzle to 600 yards. I know this because I read the comic books, but I have to check to see what the maximum range mark on the ladder sights were–the minimum ladder sight setting was 200 yards.

          The Pattern 14 isn’t especially rare with more than 1.2 million built and issued. As you noted, it is accurate–many were equipped with telescopic sights and issued to British snipers.

          US Soldiers were issued foreign rifle calibers in foreign rifles for logistics reasons. The two all-black regiments went to France and used French rifles–Berthiers, I believe. Several American regiments also received both Pattern 14 rifles and the British standard SMLE because they were directly under British control at first–something General Pershing fought tooth and nail. Two regiments went to Siberia and were issued American-made Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 Russian rifles at both ends of the crumbling Russian Empire.

          I am an amateur Second World War historian–but I had to learn quite a bit about the previous big bash to understand the Second.

  27. rah says:

    Though I don’t have an opinion on what actually happened that day I would make a couple points.
    1. The very best shooting position for accuracy is generally the prone supported position. With support at each end of the weapon it is much superior to a kneeling supported position with a single support and that goes double for when one has to quickly cycle a bolt between shots.
    2. Hitting the relatively small target with repetitive shots from a bolt action rifle, no matter if using iron sights or scope, and from any position supported in any way in the space of 6 seconds is not something that is done without a considerable amount of practice.
    3. When planning on shooting for such accuracy one does not select a carbine which has a shorter barrel and thus is less accurate generally than the base rifle at longer ranges. Oswald ordered a carbine.
    4. A Finnish manufactured Russian Mosin Nagant rifle far more easily fitted with a scope with a more powerful cartridge and more accurate and more common round could have been purchased for about the same money at the time Oswald bought his carbine.

    • Mosin’s are notoriously hard to cycle, but getting a rifle recentered on a small rapidly moving target partially blocked by trees takes more time than Oswald had.

      • rah says:

        I’ve fired a number of them, Mosins from different ages, including one who’s sights were marked in arshini (steps of the Tzar) and found that while taking longer to cycle than an Mauser based bolt action on an Enfeild, they are not a particularly difficult or slow to actuate .
        I think a big part of it is the quality of the manufacture because so many have been made at different places over time.

      • au1corsair says:


        Do you know about the Natural Point of Aim rifle technique? That’s where you position yourself (using the sights to line up) and close your eyes and relax–then open your eyes. If your sights are still on target without you having to muscle the rifle to maintain perfect sight picture, you have achieved your Natural Point of Aim. Oswald’s rifle marksmanship instruction would have included this fundamental along with BRASS (Breathe, Relax, Aim, Slowly Squeeze the trigger to achieve a “surprise break”) and reflexively cycling the bolt–not having to think “I’ve shot, now reload…” If the Dallas police were truthful about finding a live cartridge in the chamber of the Carcano carbine they recovered from the School Book Depository, that is consistent with a trained rifleman reflexively cycling his action.

        At the time Oswald went to boot camp (October 1956) the Corps trained exclusively with the M1 rifle, a semiautomatic. Later, as a radar technician, he may have fired the M1 carbine (a weapon half the weight firing a less-powerful round) for requalification. No official bolt action rifle training. Advanced rifle marksmanship training such as firing on moving targets or using telescopic sights wasn’t part of the basic marksmanship course–oh, leads were discussed in a classroom environment, but targets of that period were all stationary, with most being round twelve-inch bullseye “Able” targets.

        There are many holes in the theory of the case that Oswald acted alone in killing the President of the United States. At the same time, many of the people criticizing the “official version” could use a bit more education on gun stuff. There are many things about the JFK assassination that are beyond my ken–such as how the Secret Service managed to steal the murder victim’s body AT GUNPOINT without getting shot for breaking the law. Or how our watchdog media kept reporting the wrong things–see if you can find “The Lost Kennedy Tapes” which is the news broadcasts of the time.

  28. Gail Combs says:

    An added bit of information:

    Remember Bobby Kennedy was also taken out…

    …a KGB colonel, military intelligence officer, operating under TASS cover, assessed and developed the callow Attorney General of the U.S., whose power far exceeded his job title. As the younger brother of the young President, Bobby Kennedy was one of the President’s closest advisors…

    From the point of view of a Russian case officer, working against this shallow, callow, punk daddy’s boy, elevated to a position of nearly absolute power in his brother’s administration, would be child’s play….

    ….. The KGB approach that clicked with the naïve Attorney General was the approach of a military intelligence colonel operating under cover as head of the Washington bureau of the TASS news agency. It may be useful to read ahead to the next chapter for the testimony of Ismael Ege, about the KBG’s use of TASS for operational cover.

    …..In a classic piece of operational tradecraft, the KGB case officer, Georgi Bolshakov, represented himself to his target, Bobby Kennedy, as a “back-channel” conduit to the Kremlin. This is a common operational ruse, useful to convince otherwise wary targets that the information they share will go straight to the highest levels.

    This ruse is also useful against targets in influential positions, for example a kid Attorney General, the most trusted advisor to his brother, the President of the U.S. Against these targets, the ruse is expanded to include a ruse within a ruse—that the target is also receiving confidential details in an “information exchange.” After accepting a “personal relationship” with the Bolshakov, Bobby Kennedy opened up to the espionage professional’s developmental operation. Kennedy invited the KGB officer to his home, and met with him dozens of times. For a developmental operation, this is a rather accelerated schedule. It seems that the KGB was ready to err on the side of aggression, due to the need to implant influence messages with the young administration. In stark contrast to the dilettante know-it-all Bobby Kennedy, Bolshakov was an expert at his profession. He had joined the Soviet intelligence system in 1943, served throughout WW2 and followed that with a three year graduate level training program in intelligence operations. He developed excellent English language skills prior to his posting to Washington.

    The superbly successful development of the Attorney General by a man who was clearly Soviet intelligence would seem shocking by today’s counter-intelligence standards. At the time, evidently the Kennedys could do no wrong. Even today historians writing of this espionage operation give Bobby Kennedy an unwarranted benefit of the doubt.

    Andrew, discussing Bobby Kennedy’s use as an influence agent, says that Bobby seemed to be, “forgetting that he was dealing with an experienced intelligence professional who had been instructed to cultivate him,” And that “the president’s brother became convinced that ‘an authentic friendship grew’ between him and [the KGB officer].”

    There is absolutely no reason to give Kennedy the benefit of any doubt. He was simply an arrogant, ignorant, spoiled rich man’s son playing at international affairs. He was playing against talented, experienced, well-trained professionals. He was no match, and was out-witted, out-gunned, and out-maneuvered. The relationship seems to have terminated when the Russians manipulated the out-witted Kennedys during the Cuban missile crisis. The KGB case officer, after influencing the Kennedy administration’s view for several months, provided a disinformation payload to young Bobby, who swallowed it, hook, line and sinker…..

    In a conversation recorded in the Oval Office, between the President and his little brother, the two neophytes, playing at power politics seem to come to the realization that they’ve been played for fools.

    Bobby tells his brother that he’d had lunch with his KGB handler that day.

    President: “What did he say?”

    Bobby: “He said this is, this is a defensive base for the Russians. It’s got nothing to do with the Cubans.”

    President: “…They’re lying…This horror about embarrassing me in the election…. But they didn’t tell you there were missiles there.”

    The fact is, though, that the Bobby Kennedy operation happened, and has been known for some time. Exact details remain sketchy due to most KGB documentation, as discussed earlier, being under the control of the KGB, while the Kennedy side of the story is controlled by the PC hagiographers who seem to believe that the Kennedys truly were the America’s Camelot. Exposure of truths that tarnish the haloes of the Kennedy brothers is not encouraged by the PC keepers of the legend….

    Bobby told the Russian ambassador that if it became publicly known that he had accepted a deal with the Russians to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Russians removing their missiles from Cuba it “could cause irreparable harm to my political career in the future.”

    From the book Willing Accomplices: How KGB Covert Influence Agents Created Political Correctness and Destroyed America by Kent Clizbe

    Bay of Pigs on April 15 – 19, 1961

    John Kennedy Assassination – November 22, 1963

    Bobby Kennedy Assassination – June 6, 1968

  29. Dan says:

    Well I can tell you I have gotten 3 shots off on a 8×11 sheet of paper in under 4.8 so is it possible very much so, I did it with a rem 700 in 308 wim.but no way with a long action best time with a 06 6.0 even

    • au1corsair says:


      Distance and shooting position, please? That sounds like something that could be done by a competent rifleman from off-hand out to 100 yards. What distance was your Remington 700 sighted in for and did you use factory open sights or a telescopic sight? The .308 Winchester from an eight-pound Remington rifle kicks harder than the 6.5mm from a Carcano: rapid fire depends upon many factors and felt recoil is only one. The Remington 700 BDL is the basis of the Marine Corps M40-series and US Army M-24 series sniper rifles. According to Jim Land, he preferred the Winchester Model 70 (pre-1964) but Remington bid lower. And rifle preference varies.

  30. au1corsair says:

    The movie Executive Action was the first popular fictional re-creation of the Kennedy assassination and needs to be mentioned in this discussion. Dalton Trumbo had been imprisoned for contempt of Congress during the HUAC hearings in 1947.

    Yes, Dalton Trumbo was a card-carrying Communist — for a while. That was back when Uncle Joe Stalin was officially bestus buds with the United States. Times change.

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