Surfing around with coffee on Sunday morning, I stumbled across this video, talking about rifle myths that have been promulgated and told as truth. If you enjoy listening to guys talking about guns while drinking scotch, it's a fascinating video, especially after the second glass, when they tend to get into diversions (as most gun conversations do).
One point that they made is something I've said repeatedly. We today live in a golden age of riflery. During WWII, the various participants were making rifles as fast as they could, to outfit armies in the field. Using machine tools of the day, with wartime constraints, crude iron sights, poor wood-to-metal fit, issued to conscripts, a rifle that would group into 12" at 100 yards was considered adequate in many armies. And, in fact, it was adequate. A rifle built to those standards would let an infantryman hit a man-sized target at 200 yards.
If a rifleman today walks into a store, buys a rifle with an inexpensive scope, and takes it to the range, he expects much better than 12" at 100 yards. Much better. Any rifle bought today that can't group into 3" at 100 yards is considered defective, and will probably be returned to the store as defective.
Indeed, two weeks ago, I talked about a rifle, the Ruger American with a low-end scope that flirted with that magic 1" standard right out of the box. In WWII that would be considered phenomenal accuracy for a sniper rifle, and totally unheard of for a rifle issued at random out of the rack. Today, we have better control of the machine tools, better metallurgy, better stock material, peacetime production,
That's not to say that the various armories produced bad rifles. They operated under different constraints, and did not have the tools and processes that we have today. In fact, many of those armories pioneered the processes that we use routinely today. We stand on the shoulders of guys like Garand, and Mauser, and Enfield. They did the ground-breaking work, ad we've simply learned from them. Composite stocks, better bedding techniques, a better understanding of what makes a bullet fly, and don't forget better ammunition..
The simple fact is that the rifles we buy today, even the low-end price points, are light-years ahead of what was available at any price fifty years ago. Go buy a Savage Axis, or a Ruger American, or any of Remington's offerings, and you have a rifle that the snipers of WWII would have drooled over.
We stand on the shoulders of giants, and we live in a golden age of rifle manufacturing.