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M1917 Enfield Rifle

During World War I, production of the U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30, M1903 Springfield was insufficient for the needs of the U.S. Army. The War Department contracted for production of the M-1917 Enfield Rifle to fill the gap.

Troops boarding USS Mercury in a French port, to return to the US, circa 1919. These men appear to be carrying M-1917 Enfield rifles
Troops boarding USS Mercury in a French port, to return to the US, circa 1919. These men appear to be carrying M-1917 Enfield rifles.

Today in WW II: 29 Jul 1938 Japanese invasion of territory claimed by the USSR [Battle of Lake Khasan, 29 July-31 August].   

US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1917 Enfield

Two American soldiers at port arms with their US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1917 Enfield with the large rear sight and M1917 bayonet with the two parallel grooves in the grips.  Photo and description: Dan Morrison
Two American soldiers at port arms with their US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1917 Enfield with the large rear sight and M1917 bayonet with the two parallel grooves in the grips. Photo and description: Dan Morrison.

By the time that the United States entered World War I, approximately 843,239 standard service M-1903 Springfield rifles had been manufactured. However this was insufficient to arm U.S.troops for an undertaking of the magnitude of World War I. During the war Springfield Armory produced over 265,620 additional Model 1903 rifles, and the War Department contracted for production of the M-1917 Enfield Rifle to help aid American troops.

US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1917 Enfield
US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1917 Enfield.

Originally developed at the Royal Small Arms Factory located at Enfield Lock, in Middlesex on the outskirts of London, the so-called P-14 used the .303 British cartridge. In 1914, prior to the entry of the U.S. into WW I, the British government contracted with American commercial arms manufacturers Winchester, Remington, and Eddystone (a division of Remington) to produce the P14 rifle in caliber in .303 for the British Army. When the Ordnance department looked for additional production capacity, they decided to modify the Enfield for the U.S. standard .30-06 cartridge as a way to quickly get more rifle production using the same factories that were producing the British version. The Model 1917 Rivle (often called the M-1917 Enfield or U.S. Enfield) was the result.

Display case with US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1917 Enfield mounted over US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1903 Springfield. National Infantry Museum, Fort Benning, GA
Display case with US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1917 Enfield mounted over US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1903 Springfield
National Infantry Museum, Fort Benning, GA.

Although the M1903 Springfield remained the standard U.S. Rifle, the U.S. .30 cal. modified Enfield Rifle, with Model 1917 Bayonet, was used to equip more American infantrymen than were armed with the well-proven U.S. Model 1903. Sergeant Alvin York used a weapon like this one in the action which resulted in his being awarded the Medal of Honor.

The breech loading, bolt-action rifle used a 5-round clip. Some 2,200,000 of these a very sturdy, highly accurate, and very heavy rifles were produced for the U.S. government at a cost of less than $30.00 each.

Model 1917 Bayonet

The M-1917 Enfield was provided with a bayonet that is similar but not identical to the M-1905 bayonet used with the M-1903 Springfield rifle. For more information, see the Olive-Drab.com page on the M-1917 bayonet.

Bayonet for US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1917 Enfield
Bayonet for US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1917 Enfield.

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