Tag Archives: M1917

S&W’s M1917: Packing up to head to Uncle’s house

The Smith & Wesson Model of 1917 was a beauty.

Popular and easy to use, they equipped military police, officers and the like as the U.S. Army girded for the Great War. The six-shot M1917 used “half moon clips” to hold the rimless cartridges. Weighing in at 36-ounces, it was very close to the same weight as the Colt 1911, which held one round less; was considered by some to be more accurate with a slightly longer barrel/sight picture; and reliable as any Smith & Wesson revolver. Best of all, it could be placed into production immediately.

Want to see how they were packed?

Head on over to my column at Guns.com for the magic.

Shelby Mules, 100 years ago

The below images are from the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum, depicting Doughboys of the newly formed National Army’s 38th “Cyclone” Infantry Division preparing at Camp Shelby outside of Hattiesburg for overseas service in WWI. The photos give a window into the equipment, men and animals of an ammunition train, a vital service which kept the Army fighting longer than 30 minutes.

Field marching order, note the M1917 Enfield

Pup tents and Army mules

Note the pioneer tools

As anyone familiar with the training area around Shelby should know, the roads there was good practice to those rutted muddy paths on the Western Front.

The 17-page scrapbook was donated to the museum in 1990 by TD White of Purvis, MS, and sadly the names of the men and mules in it are lost to history.

How to make friends and incinerate people, 100 years ago today

American soldiers wearing captured German “donut” flame throwers, Ménil-la-Tour, France, 6 March 1918, described as “liquid fire machines” recovered from No Man’s Land.

Front view…

The device, dubbed the Wechselapparat M1917 or Wex in German service, was a small, portable flame device, replacing the troublesome Kleinflammenwerfer M.16 (“Kleif”), and was reintroduced in German service in the late 1930s.

This advanced flamer was captured by all of the Allies in the latter stages of the war, and the British cloned it and put it in service in WWII as “Flame-Thower, Portable, No. 2 Mk I” in 1941, commonly just referred to as the “Lifebuoy” or “Sombrero.”

Yours for Democracy…

A very proud Doughboy, and recent college graduate, armed with a brand new Enfield M1917 30.06 rifle and ready to go “Over There.”

The back of this photo was signed “Forrest G. Johnson, Yours for Democracy.”

Forest Griffin Johnson, Student and World War I Veteran, Storer College, Harpers Ferry, W. Va https://storercollege.lib.wvu.edu/catalog/wvulibraries:26925

Via Harpers Ferry National Historical Park:

Forrest Griffin Johnson was born in Bolivar, WV on May 5, 1895. He attended Storer College and graduated in 1917. He listed farmer as his occupation on his WWI draft registration card. He listed his employer as Standard Lime & Stone Co. of Millville, WV on his WWII draft registration card. His wife Rosella R. Johnson submitted an application for an upright military marble headstone on July 21, 1956, which was the day after Forrest’s death. He was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Bolivar, WV.

107 Storer College grads reportedly served in the Great War.

The historically black college was in operation from 1865 to 1955. The defunct college’s former campus and buildings were acquired by the National Park Service.

Team Work Wins!

Here we see “Teamwork Wins!” by Roy Hull Still, from the 1918 U.S. War Department urging production on the Home Front.

Photo via National Association of Manufacturers photographs and audiovisual materials (Accession 1973.418), in Hagley’s Audiovisual collections. NY Hist Soc

The gun shown is the water-cooled belt-fed M1917 Browning machine gun, Uncle Sam’s 47-pound answer to the heavier British Vickers and German Maxim guns of similar layout. John Browing had worked on the design off and on for two decades before it went int production after a test at Springfield Armory the month after Wilson and Congress declared war on “The Hun.” Very reliable, Browning’s sustained fire machine gun chugged through 21,000-rounds of 30.06 M1906 Government ammo in 48 minutes without a stoppage.

A group of American soldiers poses with an M1917 Browning machine gun, c. 1917 notice holstered M1917 .45 revolvers, Brodie helmets and gas masks

While Colt, Remington, and Westinghouse all rushed the gun into production on large contracts, only something like 1,200 made it to the Western Front by Armistice Day, and most of those only in the last part of the war.

While largely replaced by the M1918 BAR and M1919 LMG in various forms (both also a Browning design), the old M1917 remained in a niche heavy machine gun role particularly in defensive operations (while Colt sold commercial models abroad) through WWII and Korea. For an example of just what they could do if used properly, see Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone.

As a result, the M1917, in turn, appeared on Victory Bond posters in WWII as well

In all, over 128,000 were produced for the U.S. alone.

As an example of the old beast still at work, see the below 1953 Army Big Picture film, “Soldier in Berlin” where at the 22:00~ mark the Berlin Brigade is shown on manoeuvres in the Grunewald forest with, among other things, a beautiful heavy machine gun platoon with a loadout of M1917A1’s on the line. Had the balloon gone up on WWIII, you can be sure they would have chattered until overrun or out of ammo.

The hefty water-cooled Browning remained in the arsenal until finally replaced by the M60.

Springfield Armory still has 2/3rds of the first M1917 rifles

The 30.06 caliber Model 1917 Enfield was developed from the .303 British Pattern 1914 (P.14) rifle. Currently on the Springfield Armory museum collection, there are two Model 1917 Enfields with Serial #1.

In the above photo, the top rifle was made by Winchester in New Haven, Connecticut, while the bottom rifle was made by Eddystone Arsenal in Chester, Pennsylvania. Approximately 2.2 Million Model 1917 Enfields would be produced between 1917 and 1918, and remain in service through WWII and with overseas American allies to this day (The Danish Sirius Patrol still uses it as the M17/M53 rifle).

The rifles were cranked out extremely fast, with the assembly record being 280 rifles a day for an individual craftsman while the assemblers in the various plants averaged 250 rifles per day per man.

The cost of the Model 1914 Enfield to the British Government was $42.00 each. These modified Enfields cost the United States Government, due to standardization methods, approximately $26.00 each.

Eddystone made 1,181,910 rifles with #1 being SPAR 3191 in the Museum’s collection

Winchester made 465,980 rifles with #1 being SPAR 3192 . It was presented to President Woodrow Wilson on 23 January 1918.

Winchester M1917 SN#1 on the rack at Springfield. Note how blonde the stock is on "Woodrow's" gun

Winchester M1917 SN#1 on the rack at Springfield. Note how blonde the stock is on “Woodrow’s” gun

Unfortunately, Springfield does not have Remington’s M1917 SN#1.

As the company was the first to start production, they likely shipped it right out. The earliest Remington M1917 rifle I can find is serial number of 137, which was likely made the first day of production. This gun is in the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va.



Do you know this soldier?

The Rescued Film Project stumbled across 31 rolls of film shot by a U.S. Army soldier apparently in Western Europe during the latter part of WWII. While a lot of the pictures didn’t come out, and others are in poor shape, they have a really great collection of images including this German Army marked French Renault FT.17 Tank (we called them the M1917).


The same soldier shows up in many of the images, and its speculated that he may have been the shutterbug

Anybody's grandpa?

Anybody’s grandpa?

More after the jump

The Remington M1917 Enfield Rifle: A forgotten veteran?

Most US firearms collectors are well aware of the legendary Springfield 1903 and the M1 Garand. A firearm that actually served harder and saw more combat, the M1917, rarely gets the attention it deserves.

When the great empires of Europe let slip the dogs of war in World War I, no country found themselves ready for it and Great Britain, her small peacetime army expanded tenfold by the turn of the century, was no exception. The King’s purchasing agents looked to the industrial powerhouse of the United States for arms.In 1914, they went to Remington in New York and brought with them their plans, produced by Enfield, for a
wholly modern rifle. This rifle took all the lessons learned from captured Boer Mausers and the British Army’s own standard Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE). It was more accurate, stronger, and—some argue—more reliable. Dubbed the Pattern 1914 or simply P14, Remington started production of these .303 caliber rifles for Great Britain. By 1917, the company, along with their Eddystone (Baldwin Locomotive Works) subsidiary and Winchester had produced some 1.2-million of these bolt-action guns.

Then, the United States entered the Great War. Like other countries, she found herself unprepared. The standard US military rifle was the excellent M1903 Springfield rifle. However, there only existed enough in 1917 to arm about 10% of the envisioned Army that would be sent, “over there.” The Army turned to Remington…

Read the rest in my column at GUNS.com