Monday, February 21, 2011

A work from days gone by

As clouds of war spread across Europe and eventually the world in the early days of the 20th century, Military leaders in the United States faced a dilemma. The recently updated 1903 service rifle, though a fine fire arm, was slow to produce and costly. They rightly reasoned that We would eventually be drawn into the war, and a suitable weapon was needed that could be produced quickly, cheaply, and not compromise on quality, accuracy, and dependability. Remington and Winchester had just completed contracts with the British Government for Pattern 14 Rifles to supplement the Army fighting in France. They forwarded a proposal to modify the Pattern 14 to chamber the 30-06 cartridge, and samples were ordered.
Over two million of these rifles were produced, and accounted for almost 75% of the rifles used by the AEF. After the war, they were quickly retired and the military returned to the 1903A3 as its primary service rifle.
The sites of the 1917 proved to be one major design success, and many later rifles including the 1903A3 and M1 and M1 carbine were modified to use these sights. This, combined with the longer barrel and site plane made for a highly accurate long range rifle.
Another feature was the cock on closing which aided in rapid fire vs the cock on opening of the 1903s. And for those of you who think the buttstock cleaning kit of hte M-16 is a recent invention, the 1917 had its own as well stored neatly in the stock. No rifle rod, instead the cleaning brush was drawn through with a cord.
During WW2 many of the rifles that had been stored were refurbished and sent to England where they were used by the home guard. Because of their close resemblance to the P-14, these were marked with a red stripe to avoid ammo problems.
I obtained mine in 1981, but did not find a bayonet for it until only a few years ago. Except for the sling, the rifle is all original. It shoots straight, and is a pleasure to fire. Out of respect for its history, I no longer use it as a deer slayer. It has felled many critters though.

No comments: