Enfield P14

Discussion in 'World War I' started by The Basket, Aug 7, 2016.

  1. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    So why wasn't the P14 kept o. If the plan was to replace the SMLE?
    Why wasn't the P13 picked up again after the war if the .276 cartridge was a good idea?
    Why did the Enfield 1917 not replace the Springfield in American service after the war if it was more numerous?
    Seemed that both the P14 and the M1917 Enfield disappeared even thought it merited better
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A lot of reasons that intermingle.
    The .276 cartridge wasn't really a good idea at the time. It needed better powders than were available at the time. As a target round it better than the .303 and the .30-06 but it wore out barrels quicker, it had more muzzle flash and was really more powerful than needed.
    It turned out that the SMLE was a much better rifle for WW I style combat than the P14/M1917. The SMLE was easier to clean the action on (get mud and dirt out of) as the rifles with forward locking lugs can be a real bitch to get mud/dirt out of the locking lug recesses with what soldiers have readily available. The SMLE bolt was also much easier/faster to operate. Many "sporter" conversions of the P14/M1917 entailing a conversion of cock on opening. Although the angles/cam surfaces of the locking arrangement may have had a lot to do with it.
    How much of the better accuracy was due to a heavier barrel is hard to say. The P14/M1917 had been designed for long range rifle fire in open conditions. The SMLE was much better at trench warfare and close combat.
    Some of the SMLE's deficiencies were addressed/corrected with the No 1 MK V and the No 4 Mk 1, like better sights.
    The No 4 Mk 1 and No. 4 Mk 2 probably being the best combat bolt action rifles ever built.

    For the US it may have been a case of NIH. The P14/M1917 was a bit heavier and the action a bit bulkier than the other two. While the rear sight was much better than the WW I rifles it was a bit awkward and tended to catch on things. The P14/M1917 was quite popular between the wars and post WW II for building magnum hunting and target rifles on as it was both strong enough to handle the loads and was big enough to handle most of the cartridges with little or no modification unlike the Springfield or G.98. But such attributes mean nothing to it's service use.
     
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  3. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    More questions. Why bother with the P14 at all?
    Why not just get Remington and Winchester to make SMLEs?
    Would the SMLE have taken the 30 odd 6?
    In this scenario the dough boys would have had virtually the same rifle as the British.
    Also the P14 held less rounds than the SMLE. Although the RN bought Arisakas so any rifle would do! Even firing the 6.5mm Japanese!
    To cap off the P14 / M1917 is considered the finest rifle of ww1 but as its troubled upbringing meant it was orphaned quickly.

    Odd point but had ww1 not happened the main battle rifle of the British army in 1940 would have been the P13 firing the .276 cartridge! And holding 5 rounds.
     
  4. Token

    Token Active Member

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    I freely admit here that I am not really well versed in this history. I own several of the rifles being discussed and their contemporaries, but I have not delved deep into the history. Possibly I should correct that.


    However, I will give you my take on the questions you have asked.



    At a guess rate of fire played a big role. The P14 had a 5 shot magazine, ok, a 6 round magazine in .303, but the stripper clips were 5 rounds. The SMLE, and considered replacements, had 10 round magazines. The P14 was similar to the Mauser 98 action, and not as slick and fast as the SMLE action. In the Mad Minute an SMLE would fair considerably better than a P14.



    Military logistics is often very resistant to adopting a new cartridge. For the overlap period you have to have large supplies of both the new and the old cartridge, and shifting everything over is not something to be taken lightly, it is very expensive, far more expensive than fielding a new rifle in your existing standard cartridge. Further, following the war there was a LOT of ammunition and rifles in .303, they would sustain military needs for many years.

    And .276 rifles would have had a shorter service life. Higher pressures mean faster throat erosion, higher velocities mean faster barrel wear, etc. In the pull downs after the war those kinds of factors would have been considered.



    The only reason the US made 1917s for its own use was that it was easier to modify the weapon (already in production in the US for the British) to the standard US .30 caliber round than to restart the assembly lines to make M1903 rifles. And while the American Expeditionary Force did use this as their primary rifle, almost all of the 1917's went to Europe, meaning the 1903 was in use by units in the US, and closer to the decision makers. To replace the 1903 as the standard US battle rifle with the 1917 after the war would have required the standard selection process for a new rifle by the military acquisitions folks, even though some US forces were already using it.


    With military acquisitions it is never as simple as saying "I like this one best, lets use it" or "we already have a lot of these, lets make them the standard", nor should it be that simple, who decides that, and will you like my decision if that person is me? Everyone else who might have made millions on providing a new rifle is going to want a justification for the selection. So to make such a selection you set out timelines, requirements documents, and testing criteria, then you do the test under documented conditions with any and all rifles provided by people responding to the requirements. It can take years to select a new rifle.


    And yes, in the US military, especially at that time, the thought of adopting a foreign designed rifle might have been opposed a bit, even if the rifle was very good.


    T!
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Some of it had to do with tooling, according to one source some of the tooling Vickers had for the P13/14 was shipped to the US while Vickers in England concentrated on machine-guns.

    Part answered above. The SMLE also dates from the 1880s in basic design and may have required more machining operations and/or hand work than the P13/14, This was a change in the No 4 rifle, much easier to manufacture.

    Not as it existed.
    [​IMG]
    The receiver and bolt (and magazine well) would have had to been made longer. This also assumes that the SMLE action would stand up to the higher pressure of the 30-06 round. Not from the stand point of bursting but rather a slow stretching from repeated firings. Please remember that heat treatment was nowhere near the science it would become even in the 1930s. Practically ALL M1903 Springfield's dating from 1917 or earlier should NOT be fired due to suspect heat treatment. It varies a bit depending on factory. This was not actually discovered until well after the war.

    I believe the Arisakas were pretty much as drill or training rifles. A number may have been supplied to the White Russians in 1919.
    The Arisakas were actually rather well built rifles. A few features may have been odd but in post WW II experiments P.O. Ackley ( noted gunsmith, cartridge developer and experimenter) test a number of rifle actions to destruction. He said the Arisaka was the only one he never blew up using overloads. It did have few features that prevented it from being popular for converting to a hunting rifle.

    That may depend on who was doing the evaluating. It did have some good features and again, do not confuse accuracy with effectiveness as a combat rifle. You do need a minimum standard of accuracy and power but too much emphasis on certain characteristics might mean others were neglected. Remington did continue to make civilian versions up until 1940 but they were not big sellers.

    Hopefully not as the P-13 certainly offered very little over teh No 4 rifle. British mistake in the 1930s was not converting to the No 4 earlier or in more quantity. Australia and India kept producing No 1 MK IIIs for far too long.
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    You have several good points in your post.
    The .276 would have made a lousy MG cartridge with the powders of the time. The smaller the bore for a given powder charge the greater the barrel wear. Using two different cartridges for the rifle and MG would have been a logistics nightmare. Even the powders in use in 1918-1920, while a considerable improvement over the ones in use in 1913-14 were not as good as the ones available in the mid to late 1930s. For instance the US was able to equal the ballistics of the original 30-06 load in the late 30s using 42,000lb pressure compared to the original loading's 50,000lb peak pressure. A more gradual pressure rise and fall meant the "average" pressure acting on the bullet was higher while reducing the peak pressure/stress on the gun.
    Trying to make .276 tracer and incendiary bullets would have been more difficult. Certainly not impossible or as hard as making 6.5mm tracers/incendiary (but note the Japanese kept 7.7mm/.303 for aircraft machine guns).
     
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  7. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    My issue is the P14/M1917 was a very good rifle which compares favourably with the best and certainly would hold its own against the Lebel of Carcano or Mosin. So to me its performance was far better than its place in history as a afterthought. I am sure the Canadians would have preferred a P14 to a Ross.

    My thoughts on the Arisaka in British service is the 6.5mm cartridge and the fact it didn't have the character of the main British rifle. Where did the 6.5mm rounds come from? I assume Japan as no point manufacturing them in the UK. Also training involves maintainenece and memory which you cant do on a different rifle.

    I suppose changing one bolt action rifle for another is a bit pointless as it would offer very little more than you already have.
    It seems the lessons of the Boer War would have had no input into the mud of the Somme so in many ways the UK was very lucky that the P13 didn't come around any sooner otherwise we could have been lumbered with a lesser rifle. Although the lessons of the .276 cartridge were fair and I am sure the problems encountered with the rifle would have been ironed out with time. The P13 was still been tested right up until summer 1914 so there was no resolutions sought.

    Of course mixing and match the calibres of your rifle especially in time of war is silly. The Japanese mixed the 7.7mm and the 6.5mm together with poor consequences. And the Americans went through the whole process of having a .276 rifle and then changing it to the 30 odd 6 because it made better sense...at the last minute.
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A few notes.

    The British did load the 6.5 Arisaka, at first from components imported from Japan and later with UK components. In fact the British may have supplied up to 558,947,000 rounds to the Russians during WW I. At least that is how many Cartridge S.A. Ball .256 inch Mark II were made. Load was a 160 grain round nose bullet at 2300fps. The MK I loading used a 139 grain spitzer at 2450-2500fps. 22,339,100 rounds were made. You had to suit the round to the rifle as the sights were set up to use one load or the other.
    There were 4 different types of drill round,

    For British Military small arms ammo this is the Best site I have seen.

    British Military Small Arms Ammo

    There is NO "30 odd 6" cartridge unless you are trying to be derogatory. It was the 30-06 or 30 aught 6 or 30 ought 6. Aught/ought (alternative spellings) being a noun meaning the numeral zero. Often used in dating referring to the first decade of a century ( the aughts) as in 1900-1901-1902 etc.

    Having the P14/M1917 stand up to the Lebel or Carcano is damning with faint praise. While both are solid, serviceable weapons when used with appropriate ammo the Lebel dates from 1886 and the Carcano from at least 1891. The Mauser went through the 1888 commission rifle versions, the 1892/93 small ring versions and the large ring model '98 version/s before being copied by the Springfield (the US had to pay royalties after a court case) and P14/M1917. I would hope that a few things had been learned in the 15-20 years since small bore (compared to black powder breech loaders) rifles came on the scene.
     
  9. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    Apart from the mountain of .303 ammunition in store after the Great War the role of long range mass infantry fire had been taken over by machine guns and mortars. The accuracy of the SMLE was perfectly adequate at post Great War rifleman ranges and the rifle was as robust as you could ask for.

    The only remaining benefit in military use of the .276 was it's lesser weight and bulk. When you are near broke and have far more .303 ammunition than you can think of a use for it then you are not going to invest in a replacement with marginal advantages in actual use to replace a rifle that has the confidence of the troops and has been proved effective.

    A nice target rifle but not needed for the soldiers.

    BTW was the .30-06 not referred to as .300 in British use?
     
  10. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Of course by the wars end you have huge stocks of surplus rifles and ammo so building a new rifle with a different cartridge is not exactly smart.
    I would compare the Carcano or Lebel to the P14 simply because they served at the same time. If the French was using an obsolescent rifle then that's the French fault. I am not too concerned with the Carcano as the Italians would have struggled to do better.
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    There were two different .276 cartridges. A not uncommon event. The number of 7.62mm cartridges is astounding.

    [​IMG]
    Photo from Tony Williams website.
    The British pre-WW I .276 is on the extreme left. The American between wars .276 is 3rd from the left. The 6.5mm Arisaka is between them. The 1st cartridge on left in the middle group (9th from left) is the 7.62mm NATO.

    The British .276 was certainly no smaller or lighter than the .303. The American .276 was smaller and lighter than the .30-06 (10 would fit in prototype M1s instead of eight .30-06) but then you ran into the not only the large amount of surplus ammo but needing different ammo in the squad or platoon for the rifles and machine guns.

    I would note that the French were using obsolescent rifles from about 1895 through 1940. Both the 1907 Berthier and the 1936 MAS being obsolete on the first day of issue.
     
  12. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    I have a soft spot for the MAS 36 so can't let that go! Why you think it's obsolete?
    Did the P14 and M1917 serve in the home guard in the UK in WW2? I find conflicting info on this.
    One can be controversial and say all bolt actions were obsolete by WW2 and self loaders should be standard issue. M1 is better than any bolt action. And I would wager no dissent on that.
     
  13. Token

    Token Active Member

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    #13 Token, Aug 8, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016

    Not really sure what you mean by this, the US never had or procured in any number rifles in .276, nor was that actually a goal of any specification.


    After WW I the US Army wanted a semi-auto rifle.


    In 1921 the War Department published a requirement for a semi-auto rifle, with specifications that must be met as well as desirable features, and the testing that the rifles would be subjected to. The first requirement was "The rifle must be a self-loading type, adapted to function with the US Cartridge, Caliber .30, Model of 1906", this was the then standard 30-06 cartridge. None of the rifles submitted in response to this requirement were acceptable for a variety of reasons, complexity and weight were prominent among the complaints for all of them. Garand did not submit a rifle.


    Why were all the rifles to complex and heavy? The 30-06 cartridge is rather long and high pressure, rifle design just was not up to the task yet. These rifles were necessarily heavier to be stronger, and they exceeded the weight specification of the requirement.


    The .276 Pedersen was a slightly shorter, lower pressure, cartridge than the 30-06. Obviously, no Pedersen .276 was tested in response to this requirement, and after the 1921 testing Pedersen realized this was an opportunity, and spent the next several years perfecting his rifle. By 1926 his rifle had been demonstrated in several smaller scale tests, and there was growing acceptance of an other than .30 caliber rifle possibility. However the Garand rifle was also being improved, and the .30 caliber Garand Model 1924 (not the M1 Garand we know today) had been tested along with the .276 Pedersen.


    In mid 1926 the Ordinance Committee directed that more testing was needed to determine if the .276 or the .30 was more desired. It also recommended the construction of "one caliber .30 semiautomatic rifle of Garands design".


    But there was a problem, in 1925 the Army had changed the design of the 30-06 cartridge itself, now using a different powder and bullet. The new 30-06 moved a heavier bullet (172 grain vs 150 grain) at near the same velovity (2640 fps vs 2700 fps). This caused higher pressures and a different pressure curve, important features to an autoloader. And the Army moved to crimped primers, making the existing Garand design (a primer actuated mechanism) unreliable. The existing Garand design of 1924 was not suitable, and Garand basically started over.


    In late 1927 a new rifle requirement was released, this one saying (of caliber) that "The rifle must be of a self-loading type adapted to function with cartridges of not less than .25 caliber or not greater than .30 caliber, of good military characteristics, and preferably to fire the US Cartridge, Caliber .30, Model of 1906". So they were officially considering sub caliber rounds, but still had a preference to the existing 30-06.


    Around this time two other things happened, the Ordinance Committee recommended that a Garand rifle be built in .276, but in the .276 experimental cartridge of the Frankford Arsenal. This cartridge had a heavier bullet than the Pedersen .276. However the Garand was built in the standard .276 Pedersen cartridge. This rifle is the father of the M1 Garand that was to come a bit later, very close, in fact, except for caliber.


    In 1928, 29, and 31 testing of rifles continued, now with some parties in the military leaning towards the .276, but still not willing to give up on the 30-06. The 1928 "Pig Board" test actually resulted in a recommendation that a .276 be adopted as the standard shoulder rifle cartridge. It should also be noted that they recommended for a cartridge that was virtually identical to the .276 Pedersen. The 1929 test ("Goat Board") found the .276 Garand and .276 Pedersen to be the superior rifles of the several tested. Note that no .30 caliber Garand was tested, but the board called for the resumption of development of that .30 claiber rifle, and basically stated that until such a rifle was available the board would not make a caliber decision.


    The 1931 testing found that both the Pedersen and the Garand in .276 were excellent rifles, with the Garand the favored, but no recommendation to change the standard rifle caliber resulted. In Dec of 1931 the Chief of Infantry reported that "it is believed that no recommendation as to change in caliber should be made until it has been definitely settled by proper experimentation and test that it is impractical to produce, within the weight limit prescribed, a satisfactory caliber .30 semiautomatic shoulder rifle".


    In 1932 it was recommended that over a hundred T3E2 .276 Garand rifles be procured for further testing, but that the development of a .30 caliber version should continue. Basically this ended things for the Pedersen rifle.



    80 T1E2 .30 caliber Garand rifles were ordered in late 1932. While that batch was still being manufactured the designation was changed to "US Semiautomatic Rifle, Caliber .30, M1", and the M1 as we know it was born. The weapons were tested and changes recommended, and by late 1935 it was recommended for adoption. In early 1936 is was standardized as the weapon to replace the 1903 Springfield.



    So the Americans did not go through a process of having a .276 rifle and change to .30 at the last minute. The US military wanted a .30 caliber (30-06) semiauto rifle from the start, but when that proved problematic they considered and tested smaller caliber rifles. Before the smaller caliber rifles were refined to acceptable levels and a caliber change decision was made, the technology caught up and a .30 caliber rifle in the desired cartridge became possible.


    While I own several M1 Garands, in both 30-06 and 7.62 NATO (I am a sucker for .308 Garands), I would love to get my hands on a .276 Garand to add to the collection. However, since a nice one is going to cost on the far side of $30,000, and maybe in the six figures, that is not likely to happen.


    T!

    (edit) Sorry for the length of the post, I did not realize how long I was going until after I saw it once posted ;).
     
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  14. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    To my knowledge A Garand in .276 was chosen as winner in 1932 but a letter from MacArthur stated that .30 calibre has to be chosen due to logistics and so any trail with a .276 cartridge was total waste of time
    They didn't specify cartridge but the .276 was favoured over the .30 and a .276 Garand won over the Pederson.

    The French did field a semi in WW1 called the RSC M1917 in 8mm Lebel which was built in big numbers. Problem with Semi auto in this time frame is cost. In the great scheme of things, infantry rifles are well down the order so the fact bolt action rifles are still in use by WW2 is simply time and cost. The SVT 40 v Mosin in the USSR proves that.
     
  15. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The trouble with the MAS 36 was that it offered NO advance over the P14/M1917 despite being 20 years newer. Sight system may have had a very slight advantage in trained hands but ammo capacity, rate of fire, ease of handling and so on aren't much, if any different and in fact, aside from sights and a bent bolt handle show no improvement over 40 year old Mausers. It is one thing to keep an old bolt action rifle in production as an economy measure when you have existing tooling and existing (although reduced in number from war time) trained workers. Designing and building production tooling for a new rifle with such similar characteristics as the old rifles (aside from change in cartridge) was a waste of effort. At least make one with a larger magazine. The British had the 10 round magazine from the 1890s.
    The French LMG was only a bit better in firepower than the American BAR and nowhere near the firepower of the German MG 34 or the Bren gun (or it's Czeck predecessors) . The Americans were going for the semi-auto rifle to increase the squads firepower. The French had neither a high firepower machine gun or high firepower rifles.
     
  16. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    The Pattern 1917 was a prime weapon of the Home Guard in .300 (.30-06) and the fore end carried a broad red painted stripe to indicate the ammunition. More than 800,000 were purchased. The Pattern 1914 was also issued but in lesser numbers. Both were progressively replaced by the SMLE as production increased later and also by the Sten SMG. For logistical reasons the desire was to eliminate the supply of .300 and non SMLE rifles. Not because of a shortage (armoured vehicles increasingly used the .300 Browning rather than the 7.92 BESA) but to allow just .303 and 9mm as ammunition within a given unit and common amoury support.
     
  17. Token

    Token Active Member

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    Between 1924 and 1932 a rifle in .276 caliber “won” tests several times, none of these wins resulted in serial production orders or a recommendation to change the standard shoulder rifle cartridge to .276 (one possible exception, in 1928, recommended adoption of the .276, but not replacement of the 30-06).


    What test are you talking about in 1932 when the .276 Garand was “chosen”? The late 1931 test was published in 1932, and in this test the .276 Garand was the clear winner of that series of tests, the .30 caliber version still not being ready to compete (it suffered a broken bolt early in the test series). This win did not select the rifle as the next service rifle, but it would have made strong ammunition in such a selection.


    I think the timeline is pretty clear and the quotes in my post on the subject are from documents of the day.


    The US military wanted a semiauto rifle, and they wanted it only in 30-06. Technology did not support the fielding of any semiauto rifle meeting the original specifications, in any caliber. Eventually, to meet the weight requirement, the specifications were changed and a smaller caliber was allowed for, however the preferred caliber was still stated in the same document as 30-06. Some gun makers and designers, not the military itself (that could be an interesting point, as Garand was a civil servant working at a government facility), focused on smaller caliber weapons, specifically .276, to meet the requirement. Between the Pedersen and the Garand (both in .276) the Garand rose as the winner of testing in late 1931, remember that the .30 Garand broke in this testing. This testing resulted in the order of a small batch (about 125) of .276 Garands for further evaluation, however 30-06 was still the stated preferred cartridge to many in the military.


    The last paragraph in the January 1932 report stating that the .276 Garand was the winner, and should be considered for adoption, said “That pending the outcome of the extended service tests of the caliber .276 the development of a caliber .30 semiautomatic shoulder rifle be continued.”


    At this point, after extended testing, the .276 Garand might have eventually been ordered into serial production, and the US military shifted over to the .276 as a shoulder rifle cartridge. However, that recommendation never came.


    In February of 1932 the Chief of Staff of the Army, General MacArthur, disapproved the potential change in caliber. For a variety of stated reasons, including existing “war accumulations” he directed that the .30 caliber version of the rifle be refined, and that 77 of them be produced for extended testing.


    During all of this 12+ year cycle the 30-06 was the preferred cartridge in all of the requirements documents. On multiple occasions over that process the military said, in writing, that it would not consider changing to a different caliber than 30-06 until after a .30 caliber rifle had been matured to the point it could be compared to the .276.


    Once it became apparent that a .30 caliber version of the Garand was feasible this is the rifle that was ordered into serial production, and became the standard shoulder rifle of US forces. Yes, MacArthur directed that the .30 caliber M1 be perfected, however all of the previous reports said essentially the same thing. MacArthur just eventually put his foot down and said “make it happen”, while all of the others danced around with legal verbiage. The letter making this happen was not actually from MacArthur, although it is well known he was the driving force behind it. Rather the letter was from the Secretary of War, Patrick Hurley, and signed by the Adjutant General, John Shuman (on 25 Feb, 1932).


    T!
     
  18. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Er ...
    If the US army wanted only 30 cal then why entertain Pedersen at all and why did Garand make a .276 rifle specifically for the reason to rival over the Pedersen? And at one point drop the 30 cal Garand?
    If the army wanted a 30 cal rifle only before 1932 they were testing an awful lot of .276 rifles for some reason. In your own reply you agree that the .276 Garand did win a limited production contract to build test rifles in 1932 which was then blasted by MacArthur for 30 cal only.
    Why was the Pedersen confident his rifle would be chosen? Why was the Thompson rifle also tested in .276 Pedersen?
     
  19. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    I agree the MAS 36 was obsolete but it was better than a Lebel.
    The Madsen M47 was even worse!
    But then again the 98k was the competition so the MAS 36 was perfectly ok for its time.
     
  20. Token

    Token Active Member

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    #20 Token, Aug 9, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016

    I thought I addressed that.


    The US Army wanted a .30 caliber semiautomatic rifle in 30-06, that is clear by the stated preferences in all of the released specifications back to 1921. I quoted some of the pertinent wording in my first post. However rifle technology was not up to that yet. In around 1925 it became apparent that a rifle in 30-06 could not be made, with the firearms technology of the day, that would meet the specifications published.


    After Pedersen had demonstrated his rifle, in .276 caliber, the military specifications for a new rifle were expanded to allow caliber from .25 to .30, prior to that date ONLY 30-06 had been allowed. The same specification document that now allowed .25 to .30 caliber stated in no uncertain terms that 30-06 was still the preferred cartridge. It said they would consider other calibers, but 30-06 was preferred.


    Pedersens rifle, along with a few other sub-caliber rifles, showed promise, although they were not yet technically mature. Still, they were closer to done than 30-06 designs.


    Garand developed the .276 rifle because of these reasons. If the Pedersen met the requirement with his .276, and Garand (Springfield Armory) showed up with a working .30 caliber rifle that did not meet the other requirements (such as weight or dependability), they would have lost without putting up a fight. Not only would it be easier to build a .276 rifle that met the requirement than to build one in 30-06, but to show up without a competitor to the Pedersen would give Pedersen an advantage. Ideally you would show to such a test with a rifle working in each .30 and .276 and allow the military to choose which it preferred.



    When did they (the military) drop the .30 Garand? Garand himself, and Springfield Armory, dropped the original 1924 .30 Garand (this is not the same deign that would become the M1) after the change in 30-06 ammunition specifications in 1925 made the 1924 primer actuated rifle unreliable. Whether he wanted to drop it or not did not matter, the 1924 Garand design no longer functioned well with the new crimped primer ammunition, and it is unlikely it ever would.


    Sometime after that point Garand started over on both a new .30 design and a .276 design. A .30 Garand participated in the same set of 1931 testing that found the .276 Garand superior to the Pedersen, the test and report that might have eventually led to adoption of the .276 Garand. However the .30 Garand in this series of testing broke…because technology could not yet support this caliber in a light enough rifle to meet the spec.


    Garand never abandon the idea of a .30 caliber rifle, but had to start over after 1925 (because of the ammo change) and had to pursue a .276 rifle as it was easier to meet the weight spec with such a rifle. Even if Garand was convinced he could make a .30 rifle and meet the weight spec, doing so in .276 would be quicker and easier. This meant that competitors would have an advantage in time and cost of development, unless he also delivered a .276 version.


    As far as I know the 1929 test was the only one that did not include a .30 caliber Garand rifle. The 1924 design had proven unreliable in the 1928 test, and the new .30 caliber design (the same rifle as the .276 Garand, but in 30-06) was not yet ready.



    Because they needed a semi-auto rifle, and the .30 caliber offerings were not cutting it.


    They tested the .276 rifles because that was what the rifle designers were submitting for tests, not because the military wanted .276. Designers were having an easier time making .276 work within the published performance specifications.


    When you put out a spec like this you have to test all of the submitted examples that meet the specifications, even if you don’t really want them. To not include them in tests leaves you open to legal issues. So you test them all, and document what you do and do not like.


    Regardless of if the military wanted 30-06 or not, the designers were submitting other than 30-06 designs for testing because the specification allowed it, and frankly the smaller caliber weapons were testing more dependable than the .30 caliber weapons. As I have said several times, the technology of the day was not up to using 30-06 and meeting the published specifications.



    Over the years many rifles had won recommendations to procure small numbers for testing, and that is what happened with the .276 Garand. About 125 Garand rifles in .276 were recommended for further, extended, testing. The very same document recommended that the .30 caliber rifle continue to be improved. Earlier documents made it clear that no consideration to conversion to .276 (with any rifle) would be entertained until a .30 caliber rifle meeting the same spec could be tested against it.


    And remember that MacArthur was not the only one in the military that wanted .30 caliber, but he had the horsepower to make it stick. He stated that even if it took a few more years before the 30-06 semiauto was operational it would be worth the wait.



    He was convinced, even before the military changed the specs to allow sub .30 caliber weapons, that his rifle was better than the others. Inventors / developers tend to be that way, they think they have the answer, or their approach is better.


    Back to the top. Pedersen original showed his rifle to the military because he was convinced that he could make it work and meet the specifications published (except the requirement to be in 30-06), while he believed (and testing was bearing him out) that a 30-06 rifle could not work. This is the same reason that almost all the makers went to .276 or some other sub .30 caliber round.


    The weapon developers, not the military, were driving towards the .276 round because it was easier. The military was being dragged reluctantly as they came to realize the 30-06 rifle was further away in time. The .30 may have been what they wanted, but they had been looking at semiautomatic rifles for 12 years. MacArthur put his foot down and said, paraphrasing, that I don’t care if it is further away in time, it is what we need.


    T!
     
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