Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record

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Date of Manufacture:1917
Eminent Figure:
Catalog Number:SPAR 3191
Measurements:OL:117.4CM 46 1/4" BL: 66CM 26" 9.1 lbs.

Object Description:

Manufactured by Eddystone Arsenal, Chester, Pa. in 1917 - Standard Model 1917 bolt-action rifle. 5-round integral magazine. Matte-blued finish. Full length stock with handguard. 5-groove rifling; left hand twist. Protective blade front; peep aperture rear sight with adjustable leaf. Muzzle velocity 2800 fps. Effective range of 800 yards; maximum range of 3,500 yards. Enfield P14 designed to accept .30-06 cartridge. Well in buttplate. Weapon weighs approximately 9.1 lbs.

Receiver: U.S./MODEL 0F 1917/EDDYSTONE/1. Ordnance bomb.
Barrel: E/Ordnance bomb/8-17.

Web site photo showing Springfield Armory Acting-Superintendent Phil Selleck holding this weapon. Web site photo showing M1917 Winchester, sn# 1 on top, and this weapon on the bottom.

Notes: Approximately 2,200,000 manufactured between 1917-1918. Eddystone made 1,181,910.

"The Pattern 14 of M1917 Enfield is the best World War I-era battle rifle. It has excellent sights and a good safety and trigger. Perhaps it is a bit too long, but otherwise it is excellent." - Mullin

"John T. Thompson. The Enfield Rifle had been ordered from American sources by the British in their standard cartridge the .303 British. This rifle was variously known as the Enfield or Pattern 14; i.e., Pattern of 1914 as designed by Enfield Arsenal. Thompson sought to have this rifle produced in the United States because factories were already tooled up to produce it. All that was required was a change of caliber. That was a much easier task than completely retooling for the M1903 Rifle.
Eddystone Arsenal,Chester, Pennsylvania, where Thompson did most of his work during his brief civilian career, was set up by Midvale Steel Company for the exclusive purpose of producing the British Pattern 14 Enfield Rifle. Midvale Steel also owned Remington Arms Company at this time." - National Cyclopaedia of American Biography.

"When the United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, the supply of Model 1903 Springfield rifles on hand was relatively small and production facilities of Rock Island Arsenal and Springfield Armory were not adequate to turn out Model 1903 rifles in the large quantities necessary to equip the rapidly expanding American Army. There was not sufficient time for U.S. firms to tool up for production of the Model 1903 rifle, and the idea of equipping U.S. troops with the caliber .303 Pattern 1914 rifle was not acceptable, as it would have complicated ammunition supply. The alternative was to modify the Pattern 1914 rifle to handle the caliber .30/06 cartridge. After considerable difficulty in standardizing the modified rifle, designated U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1917, initial deliveries were made by Winchester on August 18, 1917, followed by Eddystone on September 10 and Remington about October 28. Upon final termination of these contracts on November 9, 1918, a total of 2,193,429 Model 1917 Enfield rifles had been produced. These figures reflect finished rifles only, and do not includes spare parts. After World War I, Model 1917 Enfield rifles were stored in war reserve and large numbers were subsequently sold to NRA members through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship. During the early part of World War II large numbers of these rifles were first sold and then lend-leased to the Allies.
Manufacture of Enfield military rifles stopped with the end of the war in 1918. Remington Arms continued production of the rifle as the Model 30 sporting rifle. The rifle was discontinued in the 1930's....
Remington Arms Company of Delaware, Eddystone, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. This firm received a British contract to manufacture the Pattern 14 rifle in 1914. Pattern 14 rifles made by this company are marked 'E.R.A.' U.S. M1917 rifles made by this company are marked 'Eddystone.'" - Johnson & Lockhoven

"The following extract from Munitions Manufacture in the Philadelphia Ordnance District, a now very rare book written in 1921, provides seldom encountered details of rifle manufacture at the prolific Eddystone Plant of the Midvale Steel & Or'Actual work of manufacture of the modified Enfield rifle, known as the United States model of 1917, was started at the Eddystone Plant of the Midvale Steel & Ordnance Co., on a lot of twenty-five rifles, April 17th, just eleven days after the War was declared by the United States, and on May 27th work on all components for which no changes were contemplated was begun.
The total number of employees enrolled at Eddystone, at the time of beginning work on the U.S. rifle, was 10,500, but only a small part of these were working on the U.S. rifles, most of them being engaged in completing the Enfield rifles which the Eddystone Plant had been making for the British Government. Because of the fact that the British work was completed and therefore diminished more rapidly than the U.S. work could progress during the early stages, the total number enrolled gradually decreased to a minimum of 3,917 on July 15, 1917, after which it again began to increase.
The maximum number of employees enrolled at Eddystone was 15,409, which was reached on September 27, 1918, of which about 3,000 were women.
From the time when the Eddystone Rifle Plant was started, during the Summer of 1915, for the manufacture of rifles for the British Government, care was taken to protect the huge plant against damage at the hands of sympathizers with the Central Powers and to, as far as possible, exclude that class from their personnel. This required a well organized Police Department and careful examination by the Employment Bureau of all applicants who were accepted for service. When it became apparent that this Country would almost certainly enter the War, and later, when War was actually declared, provisions for protection were much increased. Amongst other measures of protection, they organized their most trusted leaders and mechanics into a Vigilance Corps, each member of which was sworn to do all in his power to safeguard the property and effects of the Government and of the company.
Because of the accelerated interest in enlisting in the military service, which began at the time War was declared, and because of the provision of the Selective Draft Law, many men left the big rifle-plant for active service, in spite of every effort to secure exemption for them.
As time went on and large numbers of troops were being moved to an from camps, transportation facilities were overtaxed and many of the employees were subjected to delay and hardships in getting to and from their homes. This contributed to the increase in the turnover and added to the difficulty of securing employees.
In April, 1918, the difficulty of securing employees of securing adequate help had become so great that women were employed, for the first time, in the manufacturing departments. Prior to this date they had been used only in the company's general offices. The number of women inspectors and machine operators gradually increased until, in September, 1918, there were approximately 3,000 women employed. At this time, it became difficult to secure sufficient women workers, as well as men.
During the major part of the time that the Midvale Steel & Ordnance Co. was making the U.S. rifle at Eddystone, it was seldom that any skilled, or even slightly experienced machine operators could be obtained, as the supply of this kind of labor was becoming exhausted. In consequence, it was necessary to take many men and women who had never before worked on a machine or even in a factory. It was possible to train employees of this kind to become satisfactorily skillful if they would remain a sufficient length of time. Herein lay the great difficulty, due to a large turnover resulting in aOn classes of work where skilled labor was absolutely essential, particularly as to tool and gauge makers, the demand throughout the country far exceeded the number of skilled men available.
During the first year of operations on U.S. rifles, shortages of steel and of walnut for gun stocks and facilities for drying same occurred at times. The facilities for drying gun stock blanks at the plant were increased by the construction of sixteen new kilns, increasing the capacity for drying fifty per cent, and more nearly balancing the capacity of the remainder of the plant.
In addition to the manufactured rifles, 1,352,862 spare parts were produced at Eddystone, based upon value, equivalent to ten per cent of the monthly production; the total of spare parts were equivalent, it is estimated to be 135,000 rifles.
From time to time there were many minor and some major improvements made in methods and equipment, but it was the combined result of all these and of the longer acquaintance of the organization, as a whole, with the work in hand, which was responsible for the continued increase in output in the face of ever increasing difficulty in securing and holding labor.
The browning of components (barrel, receiver, bolt, guard, floor plate, upper band, front sight carrier, lower band, buttplate) had, from the start, required a large force of men. much space and equipment, and from one to three days' time and the results were frequently not permanent and otherwise unsatisfactory, necessitating repeating the process. After careful tests made at Eddystone and elsewhere, the process of the Parker Rust Proof Co. was substituted. This was not in full operation until September, 1918. The browning formerly required 305 men, whereas better work was obtained with the new process with eighty men as the components required less than three hours for this treatment.
It has always been difficult to prevent the rifle barrel, which has no projections, from turning in the vise while the receiver is being screwed on. The largest and strongest commercial vises were used, making the operation a very heavy one of the men, as well as slow, and the vises were not infrequently broken. In August, 1918, pneumatic vises, designed and made at Eddystone, were substituted, enabling five men to do the work which formerly required ten, and with the pneumatic vises the work was much easier and did not require men of exceptional endurance.
The turning lathes used for the rough turning of gun stocks were early replaced by side shapers. The substitution of six shapers released twenty-four lathes, which were then devoted to second turning, and also four tip turners and three centering drills. The operation of the shapers was much more rapid and required six men, where eleven had formerly been required. Many other small improvements in devices and methods, in the making of gun stocks, resulted in the production of gun stocks, at Eddystone, which were much more complete and accurate to dimensions, that were at first made or were ever made elsewhere. The result of this was most marked in the assembly of the action stock. Whereas, on the British rifle, which was not essentially different, it was more difficult to make, it was not possible for one to man to assemble more than 150 stocks and actions in ten hours, the improvement in work mainly in stock made in possible for a record of assembling 281 stocks to actions by one man in the same time!
During the British contract, much trouble was experienced in assembling the several components of the rear sight, although much improvement was made during the early part of the United States contract. As the result of a number of small improvements in methods, tools, and gauges, the quality of the work on the individual components involved was so improved that the assembly could be done much more rapidly and the result, as measured by the U.S. Inspection Reports, was very much better. Perhaps the greatestmble more than 300 sights per day, but when the work was stopped as many as 800 were assembled by one man! A record far exceeding any other rifle plant visited by the author.
A final reaming operation was added to the barrel after rifling. This was with a srape reamer and gave a very high finish, cutting down, very greatly, the number of barrels to be lapsed.
The short days of winter and other dark days, materially interfered with the straightening of barrels and their inspection for straightness and interior defects. After trying many forms of artificial lights, one was devised which gave excellent results, enabling this work to continue regardless of the sunlight condition and at night. It consisted of a mercury vapor lamp enclosed in a large box with plane mirror reflector and ground glass shield to diffuse the light. This was hung before the windows normally used in daylight. When using the artificial light, shades were drawn over the windows and large canvas curtains lowered back on the operator, so that all natural and artificial light, other than that from the box, was excluded. Much loss time was saved by these devices.
The United States contract with the Midvale Steel & Ordnance Co. required that the rifle parts be interchangeable, not only as regards all rifles from the same plant, but also as to rifles from the two other great rifle plants: Winchester and Ilion. The was not a requirement under British contract and necessitated much greater accuracy in Workmanship, and a greater number of gauges to secure it.
The total orders for rifles entrusted to the Midvale Steel & Ordnance Co.'s big Eddystone Plant, aggregated 2,175,000, together with an immense number of spare parts and, at the time of the Armistice, this plant was producing over 5,500 rifles per day, with a substantial proportion of spare parts in addition!
On the whole and despite difficulties, due to abnormal conditions existing, the output of rifles and spare parts by the Eddystone Rifle Plant was not only fully up to, but in advance of the schedule of output provided for in the contract; the first shipment being made on September 17, 1917, two months in advance of contract schedule, and within one year, or by September 17, 1918, 1,000,000 rifles had been manufactured and delivered. The total output, 1,352,862 rifles and spare parts, is estimated to have been about sixty percent of all rifles manufactured in the United States during the period of the War." - William Bradford Williams, Man At Arms, January/February 1994

Some M1917s were issued during the Vietnam War to local South Vietnamese village guards. At the time, one of our more brilliant reporters castigated the Army for forcing American troops to use the old M16, while giving the South Vietnamese the "new M17."

Army #6089 - Weapon loaned to Don Scott, Forbes & Wallace Dept. Store, Main St., Springfield, Ma., from July 7 to July 13, 1959.

Army# 1261 - Transferred to Chief of Military History on 24 April 1957.

Harrison, Jesse C. HARRISON'S NOTEBOOK. U.S. MILITARY ARMS. FROM DOUGHBOY TO DOGFACE, INDIVIDUAL WEAPONS. 1903-1955. The Arms Chest. Oklahoma City, Ok. 1999.
Johnson, George B. & Hans Bert Lockhoven. INTERNATIONAL ARMAMENT. Vol. I. International Small Arms Publishers. Cologne, Germany. 1965.
Mullin, Timothy J. TESTING THE WAR WEAPONS. Paladin Press. Boulder, Co. 1997.

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