Registered: October 2005
Close-up on the receiver and magazine of the Ross Mark III rifle
The origins of the Ross rifle lie in the late-1890s patents of the noble Canadian Sir Charles Ross, who developed his own pattern of the straight pull rifles, broadly based on Austrian Mannlicher M1890 / 1895 system. British and Canadian forces tested Ross rifles circa 1900-1901, but these rifles, while being quite fast in action, completely failed the reliability tests. The only fact that Britain refused to supply Canada with enough Lee-Enfield rifles during the second Boer war resulted in adoption of the .303 caliber Ross Mark I rifle in 1902. First rifles were delivered to Canadian military and Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1905. These rifles were manufactured at the Ross Rifle Co, in Quebec. In 1907, Ross introduced a slightly improved Mark II rifle. Between 1907 and 1912, Ross turned out several star-marked modifications of the basic mark II pattern, which differed in barrel lengths, safety arrangements and other such minor modifications. In the summer of 1911 Canadian army introduced the Mark III Ross rifle, also known as Model 1910. This rifle was the principal arm of the Canadian corps in Europe during the First World war, and it turned out as a complete failure. Despite the modified magazine which could be loaded from stripper clips, the Ross Mark III rifle was too sensitive for dirt and fouling, it lacked proper initial extraction to handle dirty ammunition. The overly complicated bolt system of all Marks of the rifle did not helped the proper maintenance n the field, which also compromised reliability. The worst thing about the Ross system, however, was that its bolt could be eventually assembled in the wrong order, and in this case rifle could be assembled and then fired with the bolt not locked to the receiver - with disastrous results to both shooter and rifle. On the other hand, most Ross rifles were inherently accurate and served well as a sporter and even match rifles. After the end of First World War, most military Ross rifles were replaced in Canadian service with famous SMLE Mark III rifles of British origins, but made in Canada.