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The Springfield Model 1903

The Springfield Model 1903 rifle was developed at the Springfield National Armory in Massachusetts between 1900 and 1903 in order to provide a magazine‐loaded, bolt action rifle more robust than the U.S. Army's previous standard infantry rifle, the Danish‐made Krag‐Jorgenson, adopted in 1892. Based on the German Mannlicher system, the Springfield used a five‐round clip instead of the single‐round clip used by the Krag. The weapon weighed 9 lbs., 8 oz., and fired 220‐grain round propelled by 43.3 grains of smokeless powder. An 18‐inch knife bayonet was added to the weaponry in 1905. The “Springfield '03,” as it was called, saw favorable service through World War I. However, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) made only limited use of the 1903 rifle because the British 1917 Enfield was already in wartime mass production and was adopted as the M‐1917 for the American army. In 1936, the Model 1903 rifle was replaced by the M‐1 gas‐operated, semi‐automatic Garand rifle as the standard infantry weapon. The Model 1903 continued to be used, however, as a limited standard weapon, particularly as a sniper rifle and a grenade launcher. The “Springfield '03” ultimately was made by a variety of manufacturers and had a reputation as one of the most accurate military rifles ever produced.
[See also M‐1 Rifle; Weaponry, Army.]


James E. Hicks , U.S. Firearms, 1776–1956, 1957.

Stephen J. Allie

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