Canadian Straight Pull—The Ross Rifle

The Ross rifle was used by Canadian forces in first half of World War I.  Originally the Ross was chambered in .280 Ross, a small but powerful cartridge with excellent velocity. However when Canada entered World War I, production was switched to .303 British, so that Canadian forces could share common caliber with the British Army. It was also unique in that it a straight pull, requiring the user to only pull back and forth to work the bolt.  Unfortunatly the Ross rifle could not handle the mud and muck of WWI trench warfare.  Its bayonet mounting was not very sturdy and often fell off during battle. It also had a design flaw where the bolt could be removed and reinserted without completely locking, yet still fireable.  When fired this flaw caused the bolt to be ejected back at the operators face.  After several complaints the Ross Rifle was recalled and Canadian soldiers were issued .303 British Enfields.

While the Ross rifle was removed from mainstream service, Canadian snipers continued to use it due to its superior accuracy.  It would continue to be used as a sniper rifle in World War II. Many others were converted into hunting and sporting rifles.  Altogether 420,000 were produced between 1903 and 1918. They came in five different models, as well as a semi-automatic prototype called the Huot automatic rifle.

The Grand Ducal Guard of Luxembourg used Ross rifles in 1945.  I don’t know why.

Ross Rifles, Leningrad 1942.


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