2-Gun Action Challenge Match: SMLE vs Kar 98AZ (Video)

In this month’s 2-Gun Action Challenge Match, we decided to both run World War I rifles – Karl with a 1914/1920 Kar 98AZ and I had a 1918 no1 MkIII* SMLE. In the previous enfield/Mauser matchup the outcome was a bit indistinct, because the match did not involve much repeat fire and the Enfield had a few reliability issues. In this match, the stage layouts give the Enfield more room to exploit its faster action and larger magazine – assuming the rifle runs reliably and I can do my part.

This match was also done as a practice run for the big 2-day Tiger Valley team match coming in September, which we plan to shoot with WWI gear. Want to see more about the German Stormtroopers that Karl is studying? Check out Ricardo Cardona’s book, Sturmtruppen: WWI German Stormtroopers (1914-1918).

A few conclusions from the match…

The Enfield really does have a definitive speed advantage over the Mauser because of its smooth cock-on-opening action. Karl was running the Mauser about as fast as he thinks is feasible, and he just couldn’t keep up with me. The Mauser requires a series of discreet and definite steps to cycle (grasp bolt, rotate up, pull back, push forward, rotate down) while the Enfield can be cycled in two much more fluid motions (hand back, hand forward). While Karl has to positively hold the Mauser bolt handle to operate it, I can use the flat palm of my hand to both open and close the Enfield bolt.

The magazine capacity also made a significant difference. In stage 2, for example, I scored 9 to Karl’s 7 almost entirely because he had to reload twice and I had no reload required. These may seem like obvious elements when handling the rifles in a static environment, but it is still necessary to prove them out in more field-like conditions, because those sorts of things do not always translate into real-world advantages.

We do still suspect that the Mauser probably has the advantage in running in dirty conditions – and something like rimlock poking up its ugly head can completely ruin the Enfield’s advantages.

Lastly, just for the record, I have a Webley Mk VI and a set of reproduction Pattern 1908 British web gear coming to use for the Tiger Valley match.