Tuesday, November 18, 2014

P14 Enfield Rifle vs. M1917 Enfield Rifle


P14 Enfield Rifle

One of the important decisions of the American involvement in the First World War was how to alleviate the rifle shortage for the Army and Marines. The Marines, a smaller and agile organization, was equipped with Model 1903 Springfield Rifles. However, production of Model 1903 Springfield rifle could equip the rapidly expanding Army. Several stopgap measures were used; undelivered American made Mosin Nagant 1891 rifles ordered by the now defunct Russian Tsar’s government were used as training rifles. Pressed into emergency service were older U.S. Krag rifles and carbines from the Spanish America War era and even some 1873 “Trapdoor” Springfields from the Indian for training or industrial plant security. 
US Model 1903 Springfield Rifle

None of these solutions would equip a large American Army for combat in France.  As a solution, it was decided to use the Pattern 1914 (P14) Enfield rifle in US service. The P14 was designed in the wake of the Boer War and was based on German deigned Mauser rifle principles. The P14 was a development of an earlier rifle originally designed for a high performance .276 cartridge and christened the P13 in 1913. The Mauser rifles used by the Boers outclassed the British lee Enfield rifles in the Boer War. The outbreak of the war in 1914 caused cancellation of this program. The British, desperate for rifles in 1915 and 1916 contracted with three American companies, Winchester, Remington, and Eddystone Remington, to produce the P14 rifle in the standard .303 British service cartridge. By early 1917 production of the M1917  reached  1.2 million P14 rifles. Surprisingly, during this period, British rifle production of the Lee Enfield met the voracious demand for rifles on all fronts. Additionally, the excellent performance of the Lee Enfield SMLE in the trenches made the introduction of the P14 unnecessary.  Thus, the P-14 saw only limited use and was placed in war reserve at the end of the war.
SMLE, M1903, and M1917 rifles on the firing line.

The factories, tooling, and workforce were in place for mass production of the P14. However, American military and political leaders wanted no part of the British .303 cartridge. The .303 was perceived as inferior to the U.S. 30-06. No one wanted the confusion and supply problems generated in having two different service rifle cartridges. The decision was made to redesign the P14 to accommodate the 30-06 and the rifle was designated the U.S. Model 1917. This rifle is often  referred to as the American Enfield or 1917 Enfield. It is incorrect to refer to the rifle as a P17. The United States never used “pattern” or “P” as a designation for military arms.  

Model 1917 rifles started reaching U.S. soldiers in late 1917. After some initial problems with parts interchangeability, all three companies produced rifles at an incredible rate; in all 2.4 million Model 1917 rifles were produced by 1919.   Some estimate 75% of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) were equipped with this rifle in France. Had the war continued into 1919 or 1920, production of Model 1917 rifles would meet demand. 

But, if the military establishment had decided to use the P14, and not modify it for the 30-06, would it have really been a problem? The answer is no. The United States was already producing and selling large amounts of 303 British ammunition  to the United Kingdom.  The famous ocean liner RMS Lusatania  carried several tons of 303 rifle cartridges when sunk in 1915.  The capacity existed to produce the cartridge for the U.S. Military.

The problem of using two different service rifle rounds for U.S. troops in World War I  existed. Doughboys used the dismal French 8x50 Lebel ammunition in the even more disappointing Chauchat light machinegun and in the Hotchkiss model 1914 medium machinegun.  Also, although supplied by the French Army, African –American Soldiers of the 92nd and 93rd divisions were stuck with French weapons  and other equipment including the cumbersome and awkward Lebel and Berthier rifles.  Other American troops used British SMLE rifles during training which occurred in France before deployment to the trenches.  

The P14 is a very accurate and adequately powerful rifle. It could have served the AEF well.  The rifle is quite comfortable to fire and has less recoil with the 303 cartridge than the Model 1917 in 30-06. The  immediate adoption of the P-14 would prevent  rifle shortage experienced by the U.S. Army early in the war (1917 for the U.S).  

The P-14 and M1917 rifles are superior for combat use than both the SMLE and the 1903 Springfield.   The P-14/M1917 sights surpass any other rifles used in World War I. Metal ears protect the thick front sight and provide the soldier a very good sight picture. The close proximity of the rear sight aperture  to the soldier’s eye improves the sight picture and increases the sight radius.  The five groove barrel of the P-14/M1917 also demonstrates excellent accuracy. Some M1917 rifles were refurbished with two groove barrels in World War II, in fairness, these replacement barrels are accurate also. If the rifle has a weakness it is the lack of a windage adjustable rear sight. The front sight is adjustable with a tool.  If the opportunity presents itself, fire the rifles of World War I and make up your own mind.        

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vintage Military Rifles

1903 Springfield

After participating in a manually operated military rifle match to recognize the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, I have new respect for the designers, soldiers, and craftsmen who created and used these magnificent arms in battle.
1903A3

It’s amazing to witness the fine shooting performances turned in by rifle which are nearly 100 years old. The quality of materials and high standard of manufacture is evident in how well these rifles shoot today. Granted, in their service configuration with battle sights, none of these rifles will strike fear into the hearts of any Camp Perry. But, they are still accurate and effective nearly 100 years later. Many of the rifles used were not pristine collector grade examples either. Many had seen untold years of service before being sold off surplus. 
Mosin Nagant 1891

Over the years many of the rifles had parts switched or replaced and most languished in the hands of colonial and reserve troops for decades or were roughly handles by raw recruits during initial military training. Yet these survivors soldier on in the hands of rifle enthusiasts as the symbols of the conflicts they were used in.  
1873 "Trapdoor" Springfield

Mausers, Enfields, Springfields, and Mosin Nagants among many others were the tools which shaped the 20th century. These rifles have endured, and in a few cases still see use in isolated and forgotten corners of the globe. Every once in a while, the rifles are seen in fleeting glimpses on cable news shows.
WWII Jeep


Compared to today’s modern military assault rifles, the bolt action rifles of the early 20th century seem to be quaint antiques. In reality, they still deliver power accuracy and reliability unmatched even in today’s weapons.           

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kahr Arms Auto Ordnance M1911A1


The Best 1911A1 Currently Available.
The Kahr Arms Auto Ordnance M1911A1 is the most authentic GI M1911A1 currently made today.
The Kahr Arms M1911A1 (top) compares favorably to a WWII vintage Remington Rand m1911A1.
Brownell's Ophoxo Blue fixed the shinny barrel hood and give the pistol a more GI appearance.
In the quest for a currently made USGI style 1911A1 for recreational shooting, I’ve discovered the Kahr Arms Auto Ordnance 1911A1. This gun is destined for general recreational shooting and some period specific events like 1930s Action shooting (Zoot Shooting). I had several criterion which this pistol has to meet. Here is a list of features I wanted:

·         Parkerized Finish

·         Lanyard loop

·         Checkered wide spur hammer

·         A1 sights

·         Standard ejection port.

·         1911A1 frame contours

·         GI style grips

Getting all of these features on the same gun proved impossible for all manufacturers accept Auto Ordnance. The Kahr Arms M1911A1 PKZ embodies all these features which pleases me greatly. From a few feet it easily passes for a vintage M1911A1. 

There are a few minor differences:

·         Series 80 style safety

·         Model 1911A1 is stamped on the slide and not on the frame

·         The barrel hood is polished and not blue.

·         Mid length trigger

I believe none of these are a matter of any concern. The Series 80 safety is internal to the gun and only visible on disassembly. The 1911A1 U.S. Army stamping on the slide is relatively small and does not detract from the appearance of the gun. Brownells’ Oxopho Blue remedies the shiny barrel hood, giving it a very authentic looking blue color. The mid length trigger is easily replaceable, but I find it comfortable.

The old pre-1999 Auto Ordnance/Thompson pistols were cast (both slides and frames) in Spain and assembled with spotty quality control in West Hurley, MA.

The new Kahr Arms Auto Ordnance is an entirely new product, competitively priced, and  made if the USA.   Some of the early Kahr guns had a thick frame in the grip area which I found rather unsightly. This problem was address a couple of years ago and the frame contours compare very favorably to vintage M1911A1 pistols.  The feed ramp is also nicely polished and feed jacket and lead bullets well.  The M1911A1 is a very credible defence pistol. This pistol is an excellent value and is every bit as good as it's Worls War II ancestors.

               

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Company of Note


In a project unrelated to this blog, I had the great fortune to meet and speak with members of the Hodgdon family. They own and operate the Hodgdon Powder Company which produces and sell many of the iconic brands of powder used by hand loaders for decades. The Company’s founder, Mr. Bruce E. Hodgdon, started his business after World War II by selling government surplus powder as a part time family oriented business.  The company has grown into a premier producer of smokeless and black powder providing a wide variety of product to hand loaders.  This company exudes excellence at every level. This includes products and customer service. They are very worthy of our patronage.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Army Camouflage


The UCP is a poor choice for most environments
 
The Army has dumped the horrible and useless Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP). I was issued this uniform in Iraq.  I can tell you it was, and is worthless.

UCP in Iraq, we still had woodland body armor, another poor choice for the desert
So after 9 years of insanity, the Army is adopting the Scorpion pattern, which is very similar to the Multicam used in Afghanistan.  Why not use Multicam pattern? Well its copyright belongs to a private company, which requires compensation. Rather than pay millions in royalties, the Army adopted the scorpion which it owns the copyright to.  
Superior Army Scorpion camouflage pattern
Some more good news, if you operate in a snow or urban environment, in which UCP excels, plenty of inexpensive surplus will hit the market soon.

 Contrast between the the UCP and Multicam in the field 

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Longest Day

We know what day it was. It had nothing to do with mother nature. it was the courage of men.  Here is a picture of my uncle who jumped into Normandy on D-Day, 70 years ago.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Another shot during filming

Sorry about the quality of the picture, here is the Enforcer filming for the TV documentary.  More to follow.