Friday, July 22, 2011

Springfield M1903 Bolt Action Rifle

  • Action: Bolt Action
  • Length: 44"
  • Barrel Length: 24"
  • Weight: 8.7lbs
  • Cartridge: .30.06 Springfield
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,700ft/s
  • Effective Range: 600 yds
  • Capacity: 5 round internal box magazine
  • US Service: 1903-1957

By the late 1800s the US Army quickly discovered how dismal in performance their Krag rifles were in comparison to the Spanish 1893 Mauser rifles during the Spanish American War. Most particular during the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba; when 800 Spanish soldiers were able to oppose a force of nearly 15,000 armed men for nearly two days. The opposing force consisting of Cuban rebels, US soldiers and US Volunteers. Although the battle for San Juan Hill was clearly won by the Americans, the tallied causality rate was viewed as near disastrous for the Americans. 200 US soldiers lay dead with 1,100 being wounded; all the while, the Spanish resulted in only 58 deaths and 170 wounded. In just this one battle, the US officers were quick to note the effectiveness and superiority of the Mauser rifle. After the war, the US military would send captured Mauser rifles back to America for evaluation. Springfield Armory at the time being under the supervision of the US Governments Department of Defense, Springfield Armory would be tasked to analyze the Mauser rifle and figure out ways to develop and/or incorporate features to improve the Krag rifles. In 1900, instead of making design changes to the Krag, Springfield built a prototype rifle that employed characteristics of both the Krag and the Mauser rifle. In reality, the new Springfield rifle heavily resembled more of the Mauser than the Krag. The US Government quickly approved the design and adopted the rifle on June 19, 1903 and designated it as the Model 1903(M1903) rifle.

The Mauser company in Germany quickly recognized many of the copied design features of their 1893 Mauser rifle. Although Springfield Armory was in a sense its own separate entity as a company, the corporation was directly working for and being controlled by the government. Mauser held the US Government accountable, not Springfield Armory, for the patent infringements and took court action. The government recognized the infringements and settled the case out of court by paying a fine, purchasing patent licenses, and agreeing to pay royalties on every M1903 manufactured.

By 1904 production of the new Springfield rifle was in full swing. After extensive testing, the M1903 became well received by all military departments. The new rifle turned the older service rifles from all military service branches obsolete, which resulted in every branch adopting the Springfield rifle. The Philippine Scouts as well would be issued the M1903 by the 1906. The rifle would see its first action during the pacification of the southern half of the Philippines. It would be the rifle that ended the last great stand off to US sovereignty at the Battle of Bud Bagsak against the Moros in 1913.

The M1903 rifle would make its debut in the Philippines Islands and would be used extensively throughout the entire Philippine Campaigns (1902-1914).

One of the first and early model M1903 Rifles produced. Equiped for the Rod Bayonet, which was deemed a flimsy contraption.

Pres. Roosevelt remarked, "I must say I think the rod bayonet about as poor an invention as I ever saw." A week after Roosevelts remarks, production of the rod bayonet models were completely ceased.

Moro Scouts with M1903 rifles.
Note the unique Bolo bayonets designated for the Philippines.

The M1903 continued to serve well in WWI and WWII. During the Japanese invasion of the Philippine islands the rifle helped the Filipino troops and US military make their longest and greatest stand in US history. By the beginning of the Vietnam War the M1903 was finally retired. The M1903 is deemed one of the greatest battle rifles in firearm history.


1 comment:

  1. I love the web site by the way.Its quite interesting because it showed most of the important firearms in use during that era.I own some like the Sprinfield 1903,M1911 .45 Auto,and had a Krag 1898 once.Good research.