Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record

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Title:RIFLE, MILITARY -  U.S. RIFLE MODEL 1903 MkI .30 SN# 1183348
Date of Manufacture:03/01/1920
Eminent Figure:
Catalog Number:SPAR 1324
Measurements:OL:109.8CM 43 1/4" BL: 60.9CM 24"

Object Description:

U.S. RIFLE MODEL 1903 MkI .30 SN# 1183348
Manufactured by Springfield Armory, Springfield, Ma. in 1920 - Standard Model 1903 MkI bolt-action rifle modified to a semi-automatic rifle with Pedersen device and a 40-round magazine. Slot milled into the receiver acts as an ejection port. Barrel is bulged 3" from chamber otherwise complete and in good condition. SPAR-1325 (Pedersen Device) and SPAR-1326 (Pedersen magazine) attached to weapon.

Barrel: SA/Ordnance bomb/3-20.
Bayonet lug: H.
Stock: P in circle.

Weapon transferred to the Museum on 28 January 1932. At that time weapon was appraised at $32.75.

Web site photo showing Dan Hudson firing his MkI rifle with Pedersen Device on 2 October 2003 at the Holyoke Revolver Club in Holyoke, Ma. .

Exhibit label: "AUTOMATIC PISTOL, CALIBER .30 MODEL OF 1918 - During World War I Mr. J.D. Pedersen designed a device which, inserted into the receiver of a modified Model 1903 rifle, gave the rifle the capability of firing 40 pistol sized .30 caliber bullets in semi-automatic mode. Secrecy surrounding the development of this 'Pedersen Device' resulted in it being called an automatic pistol."

Springfield Republican, 05/02/1931 - AUTOMATIC RIFLE DEVICE DISCARDED BY WAR OFFICIALS. A contrivance known as the Pedersen device, an attachment to be used on the United States rifle to make it automatic, has been discarded, according to war department dispatches from Washington. Great secrecy has surrounded the development of this adaptor for .276-caliber ammunition. J.D. Pedersen was employed by the United States government soon after the outbreak of the war to develop this device, but extensive tests by infantry and cavalry experts proved that it would not be a practical small arm for their branches of the service...."

Notes: "Another wartime military automatic device - and a most unusual one - was developed by the United States in 1918. This was the 'U.S. Pistol, Caliber .30, Model 1918,' also called the 'Pedersen Device,' from the name of the inventor.
The device was a unit for altering the standard Springfield rifle, caliber .30, Model 1903, to a sub-caliber semi-automatic arm capable of delivering an immense volume of short-range fire. An assembly that took the place of the standard bolt was pushed into position and held by the bolt lock. The front end of it entered that chamber of the barrel and took the place of the cartridge case, extending up to the beginning of the rifling.
It had a simple recoil-operated blowback action controlled by the trigger of the rifle. The ammunition was .30 caliber with a short metal-cased bullet and a straight rimless cartridge case about half again as long as a .32 automatic pistol cartridge. A 40-shot detachable box magazine locked into the unit and protruded at an angle up and to the right of the line of sight. An ejection slot was cut in the left side of the rifles with which the device was to be used. The cartridges developed a muzzle velocity of 1300 feet per second with an 80-grain bullet. It was intended that the regular infantry soldier would carry this unit and several magazines in a belt pouch. In close fighting it would be the work of but a few seconds to slip out the regular rifle bolt and replace it with the semi-automatic unit, giving every man a 40-shot sub-caliber weapon, and tremendously increasing the fire power of a given number of troops.
The Pedersen Device was in production, and about 85,000 of them were ready for shipment to Europe, in November of 1918 when the war ended. They remained for some years a closely guarded military secret, and then they were all scrapped except for a few examples saved for museums and as collectors' items. It appears that while they had seemed satisfactory under the limited tests that war conditions allowed, further experiment during the leisure of peacetime must have proved that they were not suitable for the purpose for which they had been intended." - Melvin M. Johnson & Charles T. Haven

"WORLD WAR ONE'S SJohn D. Pedersen was a well known firearms designer and inventor, who approached the U.S. Ordnance Department in 1917 with a conversion of the Model 1903 rifle that could change the balance of power on the front lines in France, where the opposing armies were stalemated by trench warfare. He soon found himself on a rifle range just outside Washington with two officials of the War Department. His demonstration started with the firing of the M1903 rifle in the usual manner, manipulating the bolt action to eject a spent cartridge casing and loading and firing a fresh round, repeating until the five round magazine was emptied. He then astonished the officials by removing the bolt and replacing it with a mechanism which accepted a forty round stick magazine which stuck out at a 45 degree angle to the right of the receiver. The magazine held small pistol size cartridges of .30 caliber. Pedersen started firing the converted rifle as fast as he could pull the trigger. He had changed the M1903 from a bolt action to a semi-automatic rifle, and made the conversion easily and readily reversed, so that a soldier could make the change quickly when ordered to do so. After a further demonstration in France to a board of officers under the command of General 'Blackjack' Pershing, orders were placed for 100,000 devices and rifles converted to accept them. The rifles needed only small modifications to work with the device and functioned identically as a standard rifle when used with the usual high power cartridge. The plan was to overwhelm the enemy in an all-out attack in the spring of 1919. Tens of thousands of American troops would, by dint of great volume of fire, seem to each be firing a machine gun. Great secrecy was assigned to the endeavor. Before the new rifles and devices could be manufactured, the Armistice was signed and the war was over. About 65,000 devices and 145,000 rifles had been produced when the project was cancelled. The secrecy was to be maintained for another twelve years, while the devices were in storage. In the early 1930s, orders for the destruction of virtually all the devices were issued and carried out. Other than a few known to exist in museums, the total extant is estimated at less than 100. Many of these were retrieved when they fell from railroad cars transporting them to the scrap heap.
In conversation with Dan Hudson, Rick Wallis asked if the rifle was ever fired with the Pedersen Device. Somewhat unexpectedly, the answer was yes. A plan took shape. Dan would be travelling to Springfield in the fall to display at the gun show in West Springfield, MA. Rick would make arrangements to have a crew available to produce a record of what is a great rarity - film of the Pedersen device being fired. On October 2nd, Dan and three traveling companions, several representatives of the Armory, Gary Wilk, who works at a public access television station, several members of the Friends and officers of the Holyoke Revolver Club met at the club's range. Gary and his film partner were able to record Dan Hudson duplicating John Pedersen's original demonstration to the Ordnance Department. After firing five regular shots with the rifle, he changed the bolt to the Pedersen Device (also known as automatic bolt), inserted a magazine and commenced firing rapid fire at a target 100 yards away. Several others were allowed the opportunity to fire the rifle. Accuracy from both the off-hand and shooting from The Friends have hopes, that after editing taken place, the historical record can be made available for wide distribution."

Army# 4873 - Transferred to the Center of Military History on 27 April 1957.

Clark, David C. ARMS FOR THE NATION. Scott A. Duff. Export, Pa. 1992.
Flayderman, Norm. FLAYDERMAN'S GUIDE TO ANTIQUE AMERICAN FIREARMS...AND THEIR VALUES. Krause Publications. Iola, Wi. 1998.
Poyer, Joe. THE MODEL 1903 SPRINGFIELD RIFLE AND ITS VARIATIONS. North Cape Publications, Inc. Tustin, Ca. 2001.

See, SPAR-1325 (Pedersen device). SPAR-1326 (Pedersen magazine).

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