This blog post is the last of three about my favorite World War I U.S small arms. When America entered World War I in April 1917 it was ill prepared in arms and equipment with which to fight in a world war. As it took many months for US troops to train and travel to Europe and to enter combat, weapons manufactured in 1918 have been the focus of my collecting.
Surprising to some, the M1903 rifle was not the predominant rifle carried by U.S. troops in World War I. That rifle actually was the United States Rifle Model of 1917, often erroneously referred to as the M1917 Enfield or P-14 Enfield.
The U.S. realized it was drastically short of rifles when it entered the war in 1917. It also realized that it would take much too long for commercial firms to tool up to make the Model 1903 rifle. Three firms, Remington, Eddystone and Winchester, were already making the British Pattern 14 “Enfield” in .303 caliber, while none had jigs, gauges, or tools for the M1903. The three factories making the Pattern 14 for the British Government were given contracts to convert that rifle design with as few changes as possible to one that fired the American .30-’06 cartridge. The American version was designated the U. S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1917. Since World War I the beginning as a British Enfield design resulted in this rifle has often been called an Enfield.
Even though over 2.5 million M1917 rifles were produced by Remington, Eddystone and Winchester M1917s are very difficult to find in original condition. Like the World War I era M1903s they were used hard in combat and rebuilt after the end of the war. The original finish of M1917 rifles was blued, not Parkerized. Many Model 1917 rifles encountered today are Parkerized, but this is from post-war rebuild operations. The exception to this is that at Eddystone, from about September 1918, some, and perhaps all, rifles were Parkerized. It is difficult to distinguish Parkerizing of that period from ordinary bluing because the surfaces were not first roughened by sandblasting.
My representative U.S. Rifle M1917 is of Remington manufacture. It is 100% original, is in very good condition, the barrel is a Remington dated 8-18. I added a 1918 dated sling, 1918 dated Remington bayonet with appropriate scabbard and a correct cleaning kit. It is a very nice example of the M1917 rifle carried by many of our soldiers and marines in combat in Europe during World War I.
BY SCOTT DUFF
Much more detailed information on the M1917 rifle may be found in our book “United States Rifle Model of by C.S. Ferris that is available from our website.