A bolt action weapon is one in which a single action system is cycled using a handle directly attached to the bolt or bolt carrier. Properly designed this action is fast, efficient and reliable with a minimum of effort on the part of the operator and it was the last of the single action designs to become widespread before the general introduction of semi automatic action.
The use of bolt action was mostly confined to rifles, where it was used in such classic designs as the 1898 Mauser, the 1904 Springfield and the Lee Enfield, as well as many less august weapons.
There are many variations on the basic bolt action premise - mostly centred around when or if the operating handle is turned during the cycle - and most of which have their adherents and detractors. Despite its obsolescence for general military use, bolt action rifles are still in widespread civilian use (in many places they may be the only rifles civilians are permitted to own) and the military and law enforcement continue to use them for precision shooting roles where they are perceived to have an advantage over self-cycling designs.
Game and Story Use
- In the late Colonial Era this is bleeding edge technology - several nations enter the Great War without being fully equipped with it. However, in this era not all of the bad ideas have yet been weeded out and there is the strong possibility of getting a design with something wrong with it.
- In the modern era, there are still plenty around - many of them WW1 or WW2 surplus (or replicas from that period) - and they are still being made. Often they are the only rifles a civilian PC will be able to access.
- Note also that many of these designs fire a very much "full power" rifle cartridge, which may provide a useful boost against opponents armoured against some lower powered modern small arms. On at least one occasion American police have resorted to privately purchased hunting rifles when faced with armoured criminals who could not be effectively neutralised with pistols and shotguns.