Understanding and Shooting Historic US Military Rifles

This is a discussion on Understanding and Shooting Historic US Military Rifles within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Understanding and Shooting Historic US Military Rifles A brief video explaining and showcasing America's main battle rifles from 1903 through the 1960s, and the AR15 ...

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  1. #1
    Ex Member Array Amsdorf's Avatar
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    Understanding and Shooting Historic US Military Rifles

    Understanding and Shooting Historic US Military Rifles

    A brief video explaining and showcasing America's main battle rifles from 1903 through the 1960s, and the AR15 platform replacing them.

    Shooting Historic Military Rifles - 1903, Garand, M14 and the M4 Carbine - YouTube

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    Oops... what happened to the 1917 Enfield??? He skipped a whole war!
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    Senior Member Array Beans's Avatar
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    Lots of problems He has a 1903A3 not a WWI rifle. his M-14 has a full auto selector switch, so it is not a MI-A which is Semi auto only.

    I carried/used a M1, -a BAR a M-14 and the M-16. The M-14 is controlable in 3 rounds burst. I agree it is very hard to control if you try to fire a full 20 rd mag fully auto.

    Semper Fi

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    Ex Member Array Amsdorf's Avatar
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    The so-called "American Enfield" was not a *main* battle rifle issued by the USA.

    It was only manufactured from 1917-1918, it was issued in limited quantities as a stop-gap measure.

    The M1903 was the USA's main battle rifle during WWI.

  6. #5
    Ex Member Array Amsdorf's Avatar
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    The so-called "American Enfield" was manufactured from 1917-1918, as a stop-gap measure to get more rifled to troops in WWI. The 1903 was the USA's main battle rifle from its inception until well into WWII.

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    But the 1903 was not available in sufficient quantities at the start of the war and could not be made in sufficient quantities. The stop gap referenced was actually manufactured by three major manufacturers in large quantities far exceeding the 03 numbers. Whether or not the 03 was the main rifle is a matter of semantics. The Enfield was the main battle rifle in WW1 based on the number of rifles deployed.
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    Ex Member Array Amsdorf's Avatar
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    You may well be right. I need to get a M1917! I feel another video coming on.
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    I really appreciate you posting this, Amsdorf. Great video of the kinds of firearms and their era that really interests me.

    It is often claimed that the Model 1917 was used for the majority of the American involvement in World War I. This notion has been repeated more and more often in recent years and now seems to be taken as gospel. Privately, I have some doubts. I've never seen any scholarly research that validated the supposition that the bulk of the War was fought with the Model 1917. I love to study old historical photographs. Over the years it's been observed that the Model 1903 is far more often featured in photos from the front than is the Model 1917. While it's true that the total production of the '17 outpaced that of the '03, this large number of rifles (over 2 million) didn't all ship to France at once. Besides which there were around 600,000 (from memory and not verified) Model 1903s on hand at commencement of our entry into the war, not enough rifles to go around as we were soon to find out but not an insignificant number either. Production of the Model 1917 began in earnest by summer of 1917 but the troops beginning to be sent to Europe would have been armed with the 1903 at that same time. Also both Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal strained to increase the production of Model 1903 rifles and it is assumed that this increased production was also fed into the supply lines in the 1917-1918 time period. An interesting aside: The .30-40 Krag Jorgensen initially accompanied a few units to England but were exchanged for '03s by the time the troops reached France. The Krag Jorgensen apparently did see some actual front line service with some engineer and artillery units in the very first involvement of American troops.

    It could be that the War was winding up by the time those numbers of 1917s arrived and were put into service. It's probable that by the time of the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne offensive in September of 1918 the Model 1917 very well could have supplanted the Model 1903 in the hands of American soldiers. Some sources claim that 75% of the troops carried the Model 1917 by the end of the war. Armistice came on November 11, 1918. Still, the Model 1903 figured hugely in American actions throughout the war, especially in the early to middle stages of our involvement. Perhaps the 1903 isn't getting it's proper measure of glory in recent years.

    Just food for thought and discussion and not an issue of great significance.

    Model 1903 Springfield of a configuration familiar to the World War I American fighting man, this one was manufactured in 1913 and was never reworked. It's uncommon to find World War I or earlier 1903 Springfields that haven't gone through some sort of arsenal rebuild.


    Model 1917 that was produced in September of 1918 and remains in its original unaltered state. This rifle likely couldn't have been shipped in time to get to the front lines before Armistice. Factory original, as-issued Model 1917s are also surprisingly uncommon.
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    Ex Member Array Amsdorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beans View Post
    Lots of problems He has a 1903A3 not a WWI rifle. his M-14 has a full auto selector switch, so it is not a MI-A which is Semi auto only.

    I carried/used a M1, -a BAR a M-14 and the M-16. The M-14 is controlable in 3 rounds burst. I agree it is very hard to control if you try to fire a full 20 rd mag fully auto.

    Semper Fi

    The selector switch is fake, so it is a M1A, and the differences between 1903 and 1903A3 are minuscule and irrelevant to the point, but hey, thanks for watching. The M14 is very difficult to control, period, on full auto, no matter how few rounds you shoot.

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    Ex Member Array Amsdorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    I really appreciate you posting this, Amsdorf. Great video of the kinds of firearms and their era that really interests me.
    Wow, those are absolutely beautiful rifles you got there.
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    Senior Member Array MilitaryArms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amsdorf View Post
    You may well be right. I need to get a M1917! I feel another video coming on.
    Is has been said that the majority of the rifles used by American forces in France by the end of the Great War were M1917's. Regardless if they comprised the majority of rifles issued or not, the fact remains it was in wide spread use and it's use played a significant role in the war.

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    Senior Member Array MilitaryArms's Avatar
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    Since you mention the 1903A4 in the video, here's a video about that rifle.

    Please visit my YouTube channel: The Military Arms Channel

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    It is often claimed that the Model 1917 was used for the majority of the American involvement in World War I. This notion has been repeated more and more often in recent years and now seems to be taken as gospel. Privately, I have some doubts.
    Publically, I'm just confused!

    Absent "hard" data, anecdotal and apocryphal info suggests that by the second year of the American involvement in the Great War, the Enfield was the battle rifle in greater use by US doughboys, and outnumbered the Springfields literally in the trenches. I have nothing by which to discern the correct answer, and I didn't mean to kick up a firestorm of controversy. A lifetime of "common knowledge" that the '03/03A3 Springers were THE WWI rifle gave way within the past decade to conflicting info about the 1917 Enfield. I remain with an open mind here.
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    Hi Smitty;

    The War with Germany, A Statistical Summary, Chapters 5-7.

    Here's a nice little read but neither it nor its attached production chart really documents when the '17 actually supplanted the '03 in the hands of the front line troops. Production of the 1917 was really ratcheted upward, especially in 1918 but were they immediately used to arm the troops? There would have been necessary military acceptance of the rifles in adequate quantity, processing and shipping, receipt and distribution, along with field maintenance support initiated for the different rifle and an effective spare parts inventory provided for or the rifles wouldn't have been of much use. One can assume that all necessary measures were taken to speed up these processes to equip our soldiers as rapidly as possible but meanwhile military actions were carried on with what was already on hand in the field and that means 1903 Springfield. The question is: when did the 2 million + Enfields actually provide the "shot in the arm" needed to equip the large number of American troops on hand in 1918 that conducted the late campaigns of the War?

    The fellow who penned the piece says that over half the rifle ammunition fired in the American involvement was from 1903 rifles. That is probably true but must be taken with a grain of salt since he wasn't there to count them all. Which rifles fired the largest number of shots wasn't something that concerned the War Department at the time.

    I just know that I began questioning the statement that the Model 1917 Enfield was mainly used when the photographs observed didn't bear this out. When the Model 1917 shows up in photos with a wartime date attribution it seems that it is always late in the war. Of course Meuse Argonne was a huge operation and the Model 1917 very well could have played the major role then.
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    Wish they still made the Enfields. I would love to have one.

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