US Cal .30 M1917
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Location: Little Rock, AR
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Gun Cabinet
Gun Name US Cal .30 M1917
Year 1918
Make Winchester/Enfield
Model M1917
Color blued steel and walnut
1918 Winchester/Enfield M1917
History This firearm turned out to be the most widely used main battle rifle for the US in WW I even though the m1903 Springfield had that official designation. When we entered the war in 1917 and committed to send 2 million combat troops to France there were several issues and one of the biggest was that we only had about 600,000 Springfield's on hand. The Springfield armory simply did not have the capacity to get anywhere near the needed numbers in such a short period.

However, Great Britain had been caught in the same situation in 1914 when the war started. Their solution was to contract with three US factories to produce a new Enfield design called the Pattern 1914. It was a simply box magazine bolt action in .303 cal. Winchester, Remington, and Eddystone (a Remington subsidiary) tooled up and by the end of 1916 had together produced the 2 million extra rifles needed by England. The contracts were suspended at that point.

The US ordinance department being aware of this situation, got the idea that they could utilize the Enfield design by simply rechambering rifle to the US 30-06. It was redesignated as the US .30 cal M1917. By early 1918, the three factories were well on their way to adding another 2 million rifles to the needs of the troops going to France.

Whether the doughboys trained with the 1903 or the 1917, when they got to France, most were issued the M1917 which probably saw combat service at about a 3 to 1 ratio over the Springfield. It was a fine rifle although most troops that had been exposed the the Springfield preferred it over the M1917.

The M1917 was about 2 inches longer and weighed almost a pound more than the M1903. A lot of troops referred to the M1917 as a British rifle or the American Enfield. Even Alvin York grumbled in his diary about them taking his Springfield away and giving him that English gun. He liked the open sights of the 1903 and found the aperture rear sight of the M1917 harder to use to lead a moving target. He was too used to hunting game back in Tennessee, I guess.
The site of his action has been located in the last few years and from the cartridge hull found it has been confirmed that York won his MOH using the M1917 and not the M1903 as portrayed in the 1941 movie starring Gary Cooper.

The US began to realize the advantage of an aperture sight for military use and eventually adopted it, revising the M1903 Springfield to become the 1903a3, which incorporated such a sight. Of course the M1 Garand launched with this type of sight system.

After the war ended, all of the M1917's were returned to the states for refurbishing and storage in the various arsenals around the US. The trench warfare of WWI was pretty rough on these rifles, so most saw a lot of rework. Like many of the Garands that come through the CMP today, these old warhorses are mixmasters of parts manufactured by the 3 companies. The armorers who repaired them made no attempt to match parts to the original manufacturer.

This rifle is in better condition than most having 95% of better original factory bluing on the receiver and barrel. The bore is mint, making me think it may have never gone to France.
It got it from a seller who claimed that it was 100% Winchester, so I paid a premium for it.

However, it turned out that he misrepresented the gun. I found no less than 8 parts marked as being either Eddystone or Remington. That's roughly 24% of the marked parts.

I have found about most of the Winchester parts needed at vintage parts dealers, but it has taken time since the proper Winchester marked vintage parts for a 100 year old rifle are becoming quite scarce.

The seller that pulled a fast one on me uses the trade name: Winchester Way, but on Gunbroker they go by Tom-n-mick. Do not trust them.
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