Roaring Twenties: Springfield M1903s, still getting it done

While the Navy has generally used the M14 and, to a lesser extent, modified M500 shotguns and M16s, as line throwers, the Coast Guard remains old-school. Observe this photo from last month:

Chief Petty Officer Daniel Bonner, a boatswain’s mate aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755), prepares to shoot a line-throwing gun to the crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Terrell Horne (WPC 1131) during a towing drill off the coast of Southern California as part of the underway portion of Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA), Feb. 19, 2020. The multi-week long TSTA consists of drills, inspections, and exercises, assessing and ensuring the cutter’s mission readiness. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Brooke Harkrader.

Yup, that’s an M1903 Springfield .30-06 bucket gun.

Another shot from a recent exercise with the Cutter Kimble this month.


The USCG has been running these since the 1940s, replacing even older M1871 Springfield .45-70 line throwers, dubbed Coston Shoulder Guns after the company that converted them.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Brandon Kittrell inspects the bolt action and slide catch of an M1903 U.S. Springfield Rifle at the Coast Guard Armory in Port Clinton, Ohio, Feb. 18, 2015. The rifle has been modified to shoot a rope to a vessel in distress during an emergency where out boats are unable to get alongside them. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin)

Every one of these old bucket guns I’ve run across has a serial number that dates to the 1920s when the service picked up several truckloads of them direct from the Army during Prohibition. They were converted in the 1940s after the service picked up newer M1 Garands during WWII.

Talk about getting your money’s worth.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

2 responses to “Roaring Twenties: Springfield M1903s, still getting it done”

  1. Secundius says :

    The USCG still uses the .45-70 in their Bridger Line Throwing Gun, because of it’s Heavy Load capacity cartridge being able to deliver out to as far as ~750-feet. The Rifle used is the “Naval Co.
    CG85 Bridger”…

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