AR-mania shows no signs of abatement. Tacticool is in full ascendancy. And yet bolt action rifles are still out there, somewhere. Their adherents are still enjoying a system designed by Johann Nikolaus von Dreys in the mid-1800’s. Hunters swear by ’em. Snipers love ’em. The hive mind at wikipedia.org explains the bolt action’s appeal this way . . .
Bolt action rifles close the chamber, but must be operated manually in single action. When a cartridge fires inside the chamber, the force from the charge is completely directed at propelling the bullet down the barrel (in an autoloader, part of the energy is used to cycle the action); however, some energy is transferred to the shooter through normal recoil. The bolt action’s locking lugs are normally at the front of the breech (some designs have additional “safety lugs” at the rear) and this contributes to potential accuracy compared to a design which locks the breech at the rear, such as a lever action.
Also, a bolt action’s only moving parts when firing are the pin and spring. Since it has fewer moving parts and a short lock time, it has less of a chance of being thrown off target and less of a chance to malfunction. Since the spent cartridge has to be manually removed instead of automatically ejected, it helps a sniper remain better hidden, since not only is the cartridge not flung into the air and to the ground, possibly giving away the sniper’s position, but the cartridge can be removed when most prudent, allowing the sniper to remain still until reloading is tactically feasible.
Bolt actions are also easier to operate from a prone position than other manually repeating mechanisms and work well with box magazines which are easier to fill and maintain than tubular magazines.
Is that all there is? Or is there something mystical or sensual about bolties?