I've become quite the history buff on the evolution of firearms, which often goes to the topic of military rifles and the battles they were in. I see the same themes over and over in regards to battles won and battles lost. This is the pattern: Battles lost that should not have been lost is due to not preparing to defend, under-estimating the enemy, and lack of discipline. Battles won against overwhelming odds are due to preparation including for the worst and high levels of military discipline. The latest is exploring the British Martini Henry 450/577, a drop block single shot with either a pike or sword bayonet. The British service weapon from African to the ME, it was the rifle of the Zulu War. There were two major battles of that war. In the first battle, the British were slaughtered. In the second, a small number of British held although outnumbered 40 to 1. Battle One: The British had 1700 troops including cavalry, small cannons and rockets. However, the had mixed European commanders and not just British and so confident the standing order to barracade (circle wagons and otherwise) was ignored (historically this ALWAYS a fatal mistake). When the Zulus attacked panic broke out. The Zulus had been ordered to not kill civilians and they mistook officers uniforms if all markings removed as civilians. 400 of 1700 deserted this way, mostly the officers. Lacking any defense plan and no one in command, the other 1300 were slaughtered. Estimated only 1000 Zulu killed, though the British professional soldiers with overwhelming superior weapons and the Zulu were untrained militia. Battle Two: "Roake's Drift" was a small mission serving as a small military hospital. 400 British troops there. With thousands of Zulus approaching within a day or two, a decision was made that fleeing with wounded in carts would leave them trapped in the open, so a decision made to stand their ground. Over 200 British troops - horrified from news of the previous slaughter - then deserted. The leader of the deserters was shot in the back off his horse while fleeing for his desertion. A mere 176 defenders, plus a few civilians and few blacks (only allowed to have their short spears). All efforts went to preparation of the location for defense with multiple retreat layers. (The movie Zulu is VERY accurate on the moment to moment fighting even per individual soldier). The battle lasted over 11 hours with multiple attacks, often coming down to hand to hand combat, with the bayonet training of the British combined with the hard hitting 450/577s making the difference. Although the Martini Henry was rated to 1600 yards, it well understood that once much past 400 yards hitting the target was due to luck at best. They held fire until 500 yards. Repeatedly they had to pull back, often it hand to hand, as their parameter shrunk and the mission structure also lost. The military discipline of the British was high. From a 3 layer firing line to bayonet defense at the make shift wall, then fast retreat back, covered by a firing line. They also followed a no-man-left behind in defense and the saving the wounded in the hospital (again, the movie very accurate), with individual heroism off the charts. After over 11 hours of attacks, the Zulu, who had fast marched 20 miles to the site and without food for 2 days, finally gave up attacking and left. A lucky break since the British were down to 900 rounds left and were preparing for a final bayonet last stand defense. Battle One with lack of preparation, under estimating the enemy and no military discipline: More heavily armed British troops - 1300 killed, 400 deserted to 1000 Zulu killed. Kill ratio of less than 1 to 1. Battle Two: Only with rifles, revolvers and bayonets: Estimates range from 600 to 1000 Zulu killed. Only 17 British killed. A kill ratio as high as over 50 to 1. A Marine we know who was a squad leader at the height of fighting in the Helmand District of Afghanistan also understood that a small group of well trained, capable and disciplined troops are superior to a larger disorganized one. I remember he said he found a way to always leave almost half his squad behind for that reason - anyone he felt not up to snuff as they were only a liability and handicap. His squad also often dumped about a third of their gear to lighten up and move faster, plus ("how the hell are you supposed to shoot wearing Kevlar gloves?" dumping those too.) Rare at that time in that area, his squad often in fire fights and door to door, did not suffer one casualty, not so much as a wound. Growing up on a farm, he had hunted since a young child. He joined up specifically for the most challenging hunting of all, hunting prey that can shoot back - the one game he had never hunted. He saw missions as hunting expeditions. I see that difference over and over in reviewing military weapons in relation to actual battles. A smaller, highly disciplined military force is superior to a disorganized larger force every time. The Greeks and Romans well understood this as well. It was military discipline, not military size, that built empires.