30 May 2015

Rifle Length

The eerie similarity in infantry rifle length is not an accident, or even prevailing fashion.

The length was set so that the rifle and bayonet were long enough to stab a mounted cavalryman and to stay just outside the reach of his saber.  At least that's how they sold it.  The reach of the saber and the reach of the mounted bayonet are nearly identical in this era, but at least the grunt can stab back once he's in saber range.

The wise private of infantry stabs the horse, not the rider, and uses the horse's head and neck for cover from that saber.  Once the horse is hors de combat, the rider is less mobile and has a shorter reach than the bayonet.

This is why US Cavalry trained as dragoons from near the end of the civil war until we traded the horseshoes for tracks.

When short rifles began to emerge, the age of cavalry using sabers in combat was demonstrably over.

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