In the world of Fallout 4 many of the weapons available to the player have roots in the real world players inhabit. But before I get into these real-world counterparts of those in the fictional world of Fallout 4 let me make something perfectly clear: Fallout 4 is a video game. Period. End of story. In addition, I'm not going to get militant about Bethesda not portraying the firearms in Fallout 4 accurately to the real life versions. I'm merely going to point out a few minor flaws. In doing this there needs to be an understanding: assumptions will be made. If you, reader, can keep that in mind things will go a lot smoother. And lastly, I'm not going to get into the science fiction weapons or experimental weapons in the game. These posts will be solely about standard cap-and-ball firearms.
In real life I have many of the firearms represented in the Fallout 4 universe. I may not have the exact caliber, or more appropriately, cartridge of those offered in Fallout 4 but I have similar rifle “actions” as portrayed in the Commonwealth. For this post, I'll be focusing of the rifles. I'll save the pistols and handguns for another post. So we will be exploring bolt-action, lever-action, and semi-automatic versions of the game’s rifles and how they relate or compare to the actual versions I own.
For the purposes of this post, I'm going to use the .308 rifle as the baseline. In relation to Fallout 4, assumptions need to be made immediately as the game doesn't identify the exact .308 cartridge. So, I'll be going with the assumption the game refers to the .308 Winchester (there are several rifle cartridges with .308 as a prefix but none are as popular as the .308 Winchester), which is nearly identical to the 7.62 NATO or 7.62mmX51mm. To be clear the 7.62 NATO is not the same as the Handmade 7.62 you'll find in Nuka World but I'll get more into this a bit later. For now I'll focus on the .308 bolt-action rifle.
The .308 Winchester was released to the public in 1954, three years earlier than its cousin cartridge the 7.62 NATO would be adopted by the U.S. military. But that doesn't mean the .308 came before the NATO version. In the 1940s experiments had already begun to improve on the venerable.30-06 cartridge. So Frankford Arsenal began experimenting with a smaller .30 caliber cartridge—the .300 Savage and ended up with the 7.62 NATO, which was smaller than the .30-06 and nearly as powerful with light bullets. This adaptation led to a shorter action and lighter weapon. Now I mentioned the .308 Winchester and the 7.62 NATO where cousins but they're more like fraternal twins. I won't go into all details in this post. If you're interested in the differences post the question in the comments.
Now that I've thoroughly confused you, I'll get back to the game. The .308 is the first traditional bolt-action rifle you'll encounter in Fallout 4. I say traditional because pipe rifles are not traditional and won't be covered with any depth in these posts. Pipe rifles are more related to zip guns than true firearms and that's where I'll leave that. You can easily find a .308 bolt-action rifle, which will be more powerful than any other versions in the early stages of Fallout 4, at Walden Pond. One of the raiders nearest the sewer entrance will have a hunting rifle in .308. Not far from Walden Pond you may come across a broken section of highway with a few Gunners, one of which may have a full .308 sniper rifle.
So what about these snafus you're asking? Well, the first and most obvious snafu is the bolt handle on bolt-action rifles. For me, this was an obvious mistake or oversight and I'm leaning to oversight. Your character shoots right handed. Pistols, revolvers, rifles, sledgehammers, all weapons are active from a right handed person perspective. The trouble exists with the bolt handle being on the left side. I won't say this doesn't happen, but it's rare and typically seen with customized rifles, or left-handed models. This flaw or oversight also exists with both the lever-action and semi-automatic rifles. With the lever-action, the ammunition is fed in from the wrong side. For the semi-automatics the bolt handle is on the wrong side. I say this is an oversight because in Fallout New Vegas the lever-action loading gate is on the correct side. I suppose this could have been done on purpose to create a more immersive feel by watching the character perform more visualized actions, but I think it's a mistake by Bethesda.
Next I'll explore damage. In the Fallout 4 world the .308 is the least powerful of the non-semi-automatic rifles. Both the Handmade 7.62 and the .45-70 are more powerful, but this isn't true in the real world. As a reminder, I'm not including pipe guns that would include the .45 pipe revolver rifle. These errors go from bad to downright awful. Let's use the .50 caliber rifle as an example of downright awful. Again, we aren't given the actual nomenclature of the .50 caliber rifle, but assuming it’s related to real-world rifles, we can rightly guess it's the 50 BMG. I can assure you that all three of the smaller caliber rifles combined cannot match the power of the 50 BMG. But within the fantasy of the Fallout world the .50 sniper is only slightly more powerful than the .308. To me this is an egregious error, not as much as the power of the .44 revolver, though. I just need to remind myself that it is ONLY a game. I don't want to mire you down with all the ballistics within the post. So if you are interested, and prefer to see proof instead of just my world, then leave a question in the comments.
A small bit on the Handmade 7.62 and how it relates to the .308. Given what we know of the Handmade 7.62, it is safe to assume it’s based on the Alexander Kalashnikov rifle of 1947, aka AK-47. Another popular rifle using the same ammunition is the SKS. The 7.62mmX39mm doesn't share the same diameter projectile as the 7.62 NATO, although it still falls into the .30 caliber family. This is also a rather complicated section on real-world rifles and nomenclature so I'll save it for the comments. Inside a rifled barrel are lands and grooves. These lands and grooves are what provides the sealing surfaces and the twists as the projectile leaves the chamber, travels down the barrel, and exits the muzzle. The 7.62mm or .300 inches is the diameter of the lands in the barrel, whereas the groove diameter is 7.82mm or .308 inches. From this I can show you the difference with the 7.62X39. The projectile of the 7.62X39 is .312 inches. The lands of the barrel is still .300 but the grooves will be different at .312.
Now that this post has come to an end, I'm asking myself what it was actually about. So I feel your pain if you are asking the same question. That being said, I'll be doing a post of the handguns of Fallout 4 and where I feel things are off kilter.