Caliber: .30-06 (7.62x63mm)
Action: manually operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 1175 mm
Barrel length: 660 mm
Weight: 4.08 kg
Magazine capacity: 5 rounds
US Army M1917 Manual
British Enfield .303 caliber P14 rifle, made in USA by Winchester; note the typical British brass disk with regimental numbers set into the buttstock
image by Frank Rodyns, Belgium
During the earliest part of the XX century, British army had some doubts about the effectiveness of its newest infantry weapon, the famous Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield, or SMLE in short. Because of that, government arms factory at Enfield Lock was set up to produce Mauser-pattern rifle and new rimless ammunition for it. By the 1912, such rifle was produced in the form of the Enfield P13 (pattern 1913) rifle, alongside with powerful magnum-class .276 Enfield ammunition. Being too powerful, this cartridge produced excessive muzzle flash and recoil, and worn barrels too quickly. The Great war (1st World war) effectively stopped the development of a new cartridge, and also put the British troops into desperate need for more and more rifles. As the British industry had no spare capacity to produce Lee Enfields, in 1915 the British Government decided to order rifles from private US contractors. The P13 rifle was especially suited for rapid mass production, so it was ordered for British troops, rechambered to the standard .303 British ammunition. The .303 caliber P14 rifles were manufactured by the three US arms plants, the Remington, the Winchester and the Eddystone (subsidiary of the Remington). As the USA entered the 1st World War in 1917, it immediately felt a shortage of infantry rifles, and, like the Britain before, government plants were unable to turn out enough Springfield M1903 rifles for US troops. As the .303 caliber P14 rifles were already in production in USA, US government decided to adopt this pattern to US issue .30-06 ammunition. Resulting rifle was adopted as "US Rifle, .30 caliber, Model of 1917", and produced by the same three plants between 1917 and 1918. During that short time, more than two millions of M1917 rifles were delivered to US Army, and most of the American troops in Europe were actually armed with M1917 rifles. Nevertheless, after the end of the war the Army officials decided to keep the Springfield M1903 as a general issue rifle, probably as a matter of a national pride. Many of M1917 rifles were sold as surplus or put into storage. During the early part of the 2nd World war some of M1917 rifles were shipped to Britain, where they were issued to the Home Guard. To distinguish .30 caliber US-made M1917 from very similar .303 caliber P14 rifles, British-issue .30 caliber M1917 rifles were marked with painted red strip on the buttstock. In general, M1917 rifles (also known as US Enfields) are known as a strong and accurate rifles; many of these were latter sporterized and often rechambered for various hunting cartridges.
The P14 and M1917 are manually operated, rotating bolt action rifles. Mauser-type rotating bolt has two frontal lugs which lock into the receiver ring. Integral staggered-row box magazine holds five rounds and can be loaded using M1903-type stripper clips or loose rounds. Bolt handle is bent down for more comfortable carry, and located at the rear of the bolt. Solid rear receiver bridge has guide slots for stripper clips, and serves as a base for rear diopter sight. manual safety is located at the right side of the receiver, above the trigger guard. Adjustable diopter rear sight offered high accuracy, once the proper windage was set by the drifting of the front sight. M1917 rifles were issued with detachable M1917 knife bayonet and scabbard. The easiest way to distinguish British P14 and US M1917 rifles is to look at the buttstock: the British rifles have a brass disk set up into the right side of the butt, which carries the regiment number. US rifles have no such disk.
Some M1917s were also modified for use with the Pedersen Devise. See the Dick Culver Article