Bolt Action Rifle History and General Information:
A Bolt action rifle is a type of rifle action in which the rifle's bolt is operated manually by the opening and closing of the breech with a small handle. As the handle is operated, the bolt is unlocked, exposing the breech end of the rifle barrel to which the rifles cartridge is loaded or unloaded.
The firing pin is cocked, either on the opening or closing of the bolt, depending on design. From the late 19th century, all the way through both World Wars, the bolt-action rifle was the standard infantry firearm for most of the world's militaries.
In military use, the bolt action has been mostly replaced by semi-automatic and selective fire automatic weapons, the bolt action remains the dominant design in dedicated sniper rifles.
Bolt action rifles are very popular for hunting and target shooting. Compared to most other manually-operated firearm actions, it offers an excellent balance of strength, simplicity, and potential accuracy. The major disadvantage is a slightly lower practical rate of fire than other alternatives, but this is not a critical factor in many types of hunting and target shooting.
The first bolt-action rifle was produced in 1824 by Johann Nikolaus von Dreyse, Von Dreyse would perfect his Nadelgewehr (Needle Rifle) by 1836, and it was adopted by the Prussian Army in 1841. It became the first bolt-action weapon to see combat in 1864.
The first truly successful bolt action rifle came from Germany's Paul Mauser with the introduction of the Mauser M 98 bolt system which was introduced in the Mauser Gewehr 98 and it became the most common bolt action system in the world, being in use in nearly all modern hunting rifles and the majority of military bolt-action rifles until the middle of the 20th century
The Mauser system is stronger than most bolt action rifles because of the novel safety feature of a third locking lug present at the rear of the bolt. The Mauser system features "cock on opening", meaning the upward rotation of the bolt when the rifle is opened cocks the action.
A drawback of the Mauser M 98 system is that it can not be cheaply mass produced very easily. Many Mauser M 98 inspired derivatives feature technical alterations, such as omitting the third safety locking lug, to simplify production.
The controlled-feed Mauser M 98 bolt-action system simple, strong, safe, and well-thought-out design inspired other military and hunting rifle designs that became available during the 20th century, of those, the Winchester Model 70 bolt action rifle design has become legendary do to precision manufacturing.
In the 21st century we find three bolt action rifle designs that dominate the sporting market, the Remington Model 700, Ruger M77 and Winchester Model 70.