A selection of quotes about Canada's hated Ross rifle, standard issue in WWI

The Canadian Press
August 17, 2014 04:05 AM

Canadian-made, WWI-era Ross rifles, owned by collector Bob McCormick, are shown at his home in Haldimand, Ont., on Thursday, August 7, 2014. When soldiers in the throes of battle discard their rifles and pluck a different weapon from the hands of dead allies, there's clearly a serious problem. So it was with the Ross rifle, the weapon that Canadian soldiers took with them to the start of the First World War a century ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett

Some quotes about the ill-fated Ross rifle used by Canadian soldiers during the early years of the First World War:

"They are fantastic rifles for sportsmen." — Ian McCollum, an Arizona-based firearms expert who has experimented with the Ross.

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"In a number of ways. it got the raw end of the stick, but as it was built it was not the best choice for the Canadian military." — McCollum.

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"If the Ross was supplied with good Canadian ammo, that wasn't a problem. The problem was there wasn't enough of that ammo and logistics simply dictated that guys with the Ross would end up with British ammo sooner or later." McCollum, explaining that the Ross tended to jam when firing British cartridges which were sometimes slightly oversized.

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"During the repeated attacks, the Canadians became frustrated with the failure of their Ross rifles. They jammed after firing, at most, three rounds. To force the bolt open, a man had to lie down and take his heel to it." — Arthur Bishop, writing about Canadians and the poison gas attacks at Ypres in his book, "Canada's Glory, Battles that Forged a Nation."

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"It is not surprising that many of the 1st Division armed themselves with with Lee-Enfield rifles acquired from British casualties." — Historian G.W.L. Nicholson in the 1962 official history of the Canadian Army in the First World War.

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"The Ross rifle lived up to its reputation as a target rifle, accurate and effective in the hands of a marksman; but unfortunately it also lived up to and enhanced its record for jamming, and a rifle which jammed in such circumstance was damned." — Canadian military historian Fortescue Duguid, writing in the 1930s about the Ypres battles.

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"The seriousness of its shortcomings as a service arm was only appreciated after trial in the trenches had superseded experimentation on the ranges or in the laboratory." — Duguid.

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