General Crozier and the US Rifle, M1917 “Enfield.”

A comment by Daniel Watters on our Wednesday post about the Lewis gun made us dig back into that same book, Ordnance and the World War, because we remember Brig. Gen. William Crozier being somewhat defensive about the 1917 Enfield as well.

us-1917-enfield

If you didn’t download it then, here it is: ordnance_and_the_world_war_4.pdf (The digit 4 just refers to our serial attempts to fix the non-searchable nature, bad OCR, and humongous file size of the original, which can be found in Google Books, and also in a different version at Archive.org. It took us several tries to get it right — kind of like World War I gun designers).

1917-enfieldA note about terminology: some collectors are snippy about calling the 1917, which was an American sheen on a British-designed rifle of general Mauser action, an “Enfield.” Of all the millions of these “Enfields” made, none were made at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock, England, which was working flat out to make Short Magazine Lee Enfield Mark I and I* rifles for the war, apart from the initial, experimental Pattern 13. With nothing sufficing to make enough rifles for the meat grinders of the Western Front, Dardanelles, and to a lesser extent Middle East fronts, Britain reached out to American manufacturers to modify the Pattern 13, which had been designed for an experimental 7mm rimless cartridge, for the service .303. And they were, in fact, building these rifles when the USA entered the war, having the same problem with its excellent M1903 Springfield rifle — too little production base for the millions needed.

William Crozier, Chief of Ordnance

William Crozier, Chief of Ordnance

We’ll let General Crozier take it from here, for a bit. We pick up on page 56 of his book; and we have added only some paragraph breaks for comfort of the modern reader, and some explanatory interjections.

The most important weapon with which nations go to war is the infantryman’s rifle. This remains a fact notwithstanding the greatly increased impor- tance of artillery, the extensive use of the machine gun, the revival of such early weapons as the hand- grenade and the trench mortar, and the introduction of new ones such as the aeroplane and asphyxiating gas. The rifle was, therefore, a matter of very early concern with the Ordnance Department upon entering into the war, as, indeed, it had been for a considerable time before.

The standard rifle of the American service, popularly known as the Springfield, is believed to have no superior; but our supply was entirely insufficient for the forces which we were going to have to raise. Our manufacturing capacity for the Springfield rifle was also insufficient, and could not be expanded rapidly enough for the emergency. This capacity was available at two arsenals: one at Springfield, Massachusetts, capable of turning out about a thousand rifles per day, and one at Rock Island, Illinois, which could make about five hundred per day. Until September of 1916 the Springfield Armory had been, however, running far below its capacity, and the Rock Island Arsenal, or at least the rifle-making plant, was entirely shut down, due to lack of appropriation.

The money was coming. (The appropriation Crozier mentioned below was also the first real money provided for machine gun procurement, as we’ve already discussed). But physical plant and money, it turns out, are not the only constraints on defense production. Skilled manpower quickly surfaced as a second bottleneck.

At the end of August, 1916, there had been appropriated $5,000,000 for the manufacture of small arms, including rifles. A considerable sum of this appropriation had to be put into pistols, of which we were even shorter than we were of rifles, but the remainder was used to reopen the rifle plant at Rock Island, and to increase the output at Springfield, as rapidly as these effects could be accomplished in the stringent condition of the supply of skilled labor occasioned by the demands of the private factories making rifles for European governments. The dis- sipated force could not be quickly regathered. Fortunately, it had been the policy of the Ordnance Department to keep on hand a considerable reserve of raw material, so that little delay was caused by lack of this important element. We had in April, 1917, about 600,000 Springfield rifles, including those in the hands of troops and in storage; and the ques- tion was as to the best method of rapidly increasing our supply of rifles, of sufficiently good model to justify their procurement.

Note here that Crozier is satisficing, not optimizing; he’s not demanding a rifle the equal of the Springfield (which is a fine example of the genus Mauser, and was more or less forced on the Army after the superiority of Spain’s M1893 7mm Mauser to the US .30 Rifle and Carbine (Krag) was made evident in 1898-99). He just wants rifles of “sufficiently good model”. The logical place to turn is to American industry, where small arms are in production for several European nations. (The US maintained a fig leaf of neutrality by a “cash and carry” policy for arms from 1914-17; we wouldn’t ship them to belligerents in American bottoms, but if you sailed into an American harbor, we’d help you load all the arms you could afford. Getting them home was your problem. This fair-sounding policy actually favored the Allies, because of British sea dominance).

Six manufacturing establishments were making rifles in the United States for foreign governments, and of these, three, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, of New Haven, Connecticut, the Reming- ton Arms Company of Ilion, New York, and the Remington Arms Company, of Eddystone, Pennsylvania, were making what was known as the Enfield rifle, for the British service.

m1917-eddystone

The British called this rifle the Pattern 1914 or P14 rifle. Yes, the “Eddystone Arsenal” was a Remington plant all along. Two of the other three lines — Remington and New England Westinghouse in Chicopee, Mass. — were making Mosin-Nagant rifles for Imperial Russia, as were plants in France and Switzerland. The third was a Remington production line for French Berthier M1907/15 rifles. If he considered the Mosin or Berthier rifle, he didn’t write about it. (Some so-called Colored units in France would be armed with Berthiers, but they were French-supplied rifles. The Remington order appears to have been rejected by France, as the Mosins were by Russia after the Revolution).

The capacity of these three plants was sufficient for our purpose, and as their contracts with the British Government were running out, and the general type of the rifle which they were making was a good one, it was not difficult to decide that these plants should be used to supplement those at Springfield and Rock Island, which should, of course, be stimulated to their utmost production.

To make the Enfield rifle work in the US Army, it had to be converted to US ammunition, or replace the Springfield and .30-06 round entirely, or, the Army had to live with two incompatible rifle rounds. Crozier really didn’t like that third option.

Certain other questions, however, at once arose. The British type of ammunition, for which the Enfield rifles were being made, was not a very good one, in that the bullet was of low velocity and the cartridges, having a projecting rim at the base, were likely to catch upon one another in feeding from the magazine, and to produce a jam. In addition, this ammunition was not interchangeable with our own, and could not be used in the Springfield rifle. The manufacture, for ourselves, of the Enfield rifle as it was being made would, therefore, have entailed the use of two kinds of ammunition in our service,—and one of these not a very good kind,—or else the abandonment of our Springfield rifle and the complete substitution of the Enfield, with the corresponding throwing out of commission of the Springfield and Rock Island plants and the Government ammunition factory at the Frankford Arsenal.

You see where he’s going with this, right?

There was another difficulty about the Enfield rifle. It was being independently manufactured at the three factories, and there was not only very poor interchangeability of parts in the product of a single factory, but as between the three factories the parts were not interchangeable at all. Under these circumstances, and in view of the moderate supply of Springfields on hand and the manufacturing capacity of the arsenals, it was decided that the new Enfield rifles should be manufactured for use with the United States’ ammunition, and that the manufacture should be standardized so as to effect practical interchangeability of parts throughout.

Here is a period video of M1917 Enfield production. Note the non-trivial amount of hand and eye work here. We’re not sure which of the three plants this is.

It was considered that the Springfield rifle situation justified taking the time required for these changes, of which the first would necessarily appeal strongly to any military man, and the one involving interchangeability could, fortunately, be considered with the aid of an officer who was very familiar with the Enfield rifle as it was being manufactured at the three private factories. This officer was Colonel John T. Thompson, formerly of the Ordnance Department, who had been retired from active service and was in the employ of the Remington Arms Company in connection with their rifle manufacture for the British. I called Colonel Thompson back into active service and placed him in charge of small arms and small arms ammunition, and had the benefit of his expert and especially well-informed advice in deciding that the interchangeability wanted would be worth its cost in time.

Yeah, he’s talking about that Thompson. He goes on to recount some of the abuse he, the Ordnance Department, and the Army took for this decision to modify the M1917, which necessarily delayed  its delivery to the front. Here’s a very technical beef with the interchangeability decision from one Senator Chamberlain (Crozier quotes his statement at greater length).

Here were the engineers of these great arms companies, who got together and finally agreed upon a program for the manufacture of these guns, and concluded that they would manufacture them with seven interchangeable parts, and they started to manufacture the gauges, the jigs, and dies, and everything necessary for the manufacture of guns with seven interchangeable parts. After the Ordnance Department had practically accepted the suggestion, it went to work through a distinguished ordnance officer and changed the plan from 7 to 40 interchangeable parts, and finally raised it to over 50 interchangeable parts, with the result that everything had to be stopped for awhile that additional gauges might be made. This may have resulted in improvement, but why the delay in the midst of the smoke of battle?

In fact, the delay was estimated at about 30 days, net over what it would have taken to resume P14 and .303 production. While there was a short period in which soldiers were mobilized before sufficient rifles were on hand, nobody failed to get a modern rifle and train with it before it was time to ship out.

With different lettering, the same poster was used to sell war bonds. Note the M1917s. One man is Eskimo, one white, and one Alaskan Indian.

With different lettering, the same poster was used to sell war bonds. Note the M1917s. One man is Eskimo, one white, and one Alaskan Indian.

The M1917 acquitted itself well in combat. Sergeant Alvin York, of the not-airborne-yet 82nd “All American” Division, was one celebrated US Enfield user. The point the critics tried to make was that it could have been on hand sooner. While that may be true, the cost of getting the first Enfields a month earlier would have been a bifurcation of small arms ammunition logistics for the duration of the war. And, of course, the Enfield had a second wind in the Second World War (Alaska Territorial Guard, right).

If there was criticism of the wartime production of the US Rifle M1903, it didn’t rise to a level where Crozier felt he had to address it. And the criticism of his Enfield decisions, while it really stung him (he seems to have been a thin-skinned fellow), was trivial compared to the beating he took over the issue of machine guns and artillery. History ought to record that his decisions on the Enfield were sound and reasonable, and did put first-class rifles in the hands of American doughboys.

The limitations of the defense industrial base forced the United States to use two different infantry rifles in the First World War, but they were both excellent rifles, and were interoperable with respect to ammunition.

61 thoughts on “General Crozier and the US Rifle, M1917 “Enfield.”

  1. Alan Ward

    Thanks for digging this out. I’ve downloaded the pdf, thanks for that effort as well, but have only had time to skim it up to now. I’ve got fall break coming up and will try to get it read in that time.

    I’m reminded of the old aphorism that history is written by the victors when I read Crozier’s accounts of his decisions. Are you aware of any rebuttals by his peers of his take on things?
    Personally, I think he did an adequate job, considering the financial and other constraints undef which he operated from 1914-16.

  2. TRX

    Colvin & Viall’s “US Rifles and Machine Guns” covers the production of the Springfield at the tool and die level. Colvin still felt it was necessary to point out that many of the cuts on the Springfield appeared to be cosmetic and others were needlessly complex and time-consuming.

    Note that the Springfield was so labor-intensive to make that the decision to tool up for an entirely different rifle was made rather than to expand the Springfield’s production.

    1. Mr SNS

      No, they did not turn to a new rifle. The P14 was already in production. They retooled to make the parts interchangeable.

  3. 6pounder

    That was very interesting. The model 17 certainly saved the day for our rapidly expanding army at the time and proved equally as good as the 1903. I’ve always wondered why, when WWII came along, the 1903 was front line issue and the model 17 was considered a second line rifle? I’ve shot both and can’t see that difference.

    1. poobie

      NIH played a large part, from what I’ve read. My only beef with it is the lack of adjustability in the rear sight. The only one I’ve gotten any stick time on is a pretty rough example from the CMP; bore is black, but it shoots just fine, around 3-4 MOA with surplus ammo.

      1. Daniel E. Watters

        The lack of interchangeability between the different manufacturers didn’t help. You’d only be able to support them via the cannibalization of existing rifles of the same make. You’ll note that the US fixed the issue by dumping much of their M1917 stockpile on desperate allies via Lend-Lease.

    2. Mr SNS

      The P17’s were frontline rifles in the defense of the Philippines against the Japanese. Around 100,000 were lost there.

  4. SPEMack

    Knowing my luck, as a newly minted 2nd Lt of the Army of the United States, I’d get an Enfield and Victory model revolver.

    1. Boat Guy

      Could be worse. You could get a Chauchat and a Nagant revolver.
      I found THIS curious “….was a short period in which soldiers were mobilized before sufficient rifles were on hand, nobody failed to get a modern rifle and train with it before it was time to ship out. ” as the recollection of my maternal Grandfather was (grumbling) “Didn’t even give me a gun till I got to France”. Now he mighta trained on one INCONUS but the best photo we have of him training (since he looks inspection-ready with wrap-puttees and an empty rifle belt) shows him with a German 1888 Commission rifle. I guess one could consider this a “modern rifle” but Grampa didn’t.
      He volunteered as a motorcycle courier and carried a 1911 in that role. I think they only had one and so they swapped out – there are several photos where his holster appears empty.

  5. Roger

    I have a sporterised US rifle of 1917 (built from a bubba’d rifle). It has an original GI barrel. The action locks up like a bank vault. After the sight protection ‘ears’ are removed 7 the rear part of the receiver is properly rounded, it takes scope mounts for a Remington model 30.
    The rifle shoots groups right around 1″ consistently. I took me almost a year for the metal work and the stock work but a fine rifle resulted.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Remington kept the same basic action in production for many years as a sporter. A lot of them built for African or Alaskan game, or big lower-48 game like elk and moose.

      1. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

        The Model 30 or 1917 are wonderful actions for dangerous game rifle conversion.

        Typical changes are:

        1. Remove the “ears” on the rear sight as mentioned above.
        2. Forge out the dog-leg in the bolt handle.
        3. Modify the bottom metal (magazine) to hold whatever large round you want to shove into the action.

        I’ve seen 1917’s modified to accept .505 Gibbs.

  6. Steve from Downtown Canada

    While I don’t have a great deal of regard for Crozier, either as a man or an officer of ordnance, I must admit his decision on the M1917 was solid.

  7. Keith

    I regret now I didn’t get a M1917 back when they were available at reasonable prices in the 1990’s.

      1. Boat Guy

        Which may or may not be a “reasonable” price depending. Seeing A3’s going for 4-5 times what I paid for my first one.

  8. Josey Wales

    Thanks for reminding me that my new condition M1903A3 of early WWII provenance needs a M1917 for company….

  9. Claypigeonshooter

    The only weak point of the 1917 is the ejector spring that is very fragile. When I bought mine from my uncle its ejector spring was broke so I stuck a spring from a pen behind the ejector and it fixed it. Read about it some where so it wasn’t my idea. Other than that I think that it should have replaced the M1903 especially if they developed a windage adjustable rear sight.
    One thing to watch out for when purchaseing 1917 Enfields is for receiver cracks from improper re-barreling if I remember right.

    1. H

      With a bit of machining, the windage adjustable rear sight from a Browning Automatic Rifle can be made to fit the M1917 rear sight base. There was an article about the procedure in the old Precision Shooting magazine a few years before they went Tango-Uniform, may they rest in peace.

      1. Claypigeonshooter

        I’ve only heard of the cracks when I was doing research before I bought mine.

  10. Ray

    I have often been amazed by the number of officers in the US Army command structure after WW1 that HATED the M-1917. Photographic evidence shows M1917 rifle in use by US Army troops in North Africa and Italy as late as 1943, before being replaced in mid 1943 by M-1903 rifles. These were photos of combat troops –NOT support troops.

  11. Daniel E. Watters

    Folks who want to read more about the M1917 rifle should pick up a copy of C.S. Ferris’ “United States Rifle Model of 1917.” You can generally find new copies selling around $20.

  12. Al T.

    There was a fairly prominent (in the day) ossifer COL (McDaniel?) who refused to let his bubbas go ashore with those new fangled M1s. Probably not Normandy, but certainly after Sicily…..

    1. Hognose Post author

      There were numerous Union colonels who had no faith in rifled muskets and kept their men armed with smoothbores as late as Gettysburg (by which time cavarlymen were starting to carry breechloaders and even repeaters). Famous regiments from Pennsylvania and New York among others.

    2. looserounds.com

      Yes some units still carried M1903A3s even after June 44, American Rifleman had an article about it a few years ago with pictures of USGIs marching up the bluffs with ’03s

      1. Hognose Post author

        The infantry TOE as late as 1944 still had one or two 1903s per squad for grenade launching, as the GL (what is it, M7?) for the Garand was having teething problems.

  13. cm smith

    My grandfather complained of having an “Enfield” issued to him once overseas in WWI. He praised his state side issued 1903 that “had been on the border”. It was the most accurate rifle in the company, and everyone begged to use it for qualifying.

    He cursed the “Sho-Sho” too.

  14. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

    What still puzzles me is why we didn’t put the 1903 into the commercial gun companies’ hands and say “Here, make us a crapper full of these – fast!”

    That’s what we did prior to WWII, and we got a bunch of 03A3’s – fast.

    If you look at the changes made from the ’03 to ’03A3, you can see Remington’s engineers, machinists and manufacturing experts getting all the excess complexity and machining time out of the rifle they could.

    Some of the changes:

    – a two groove (03A3) vs. four groove (03) barrel.
    – stamped sheet metal for the magazine/trigger bow, instead of the original forged steel.
    – simpler rear sight
    – a stock more like commercial rifles, to enable the use of current stock duplication machine

    Examples of things that Springfield did that were good ideas to speed up manufacturing:
    – square threads on the barrel shank
    – a very simple barrel profile

    Examples of things on the ’03 that leave you saying “Huh? WTF? Why?” when you’re faced with making a gazillion of them:
    – the extractor cut in the breech
    – the “extractor hump” on the right side of the front receiver ring.
    – the angle of the rear screw through the trigger bow into the receiver? Really? It had to be slanted?
    – and in the ultimate “WTF?!”, the 03 uses 1/4-25 TPI screws to hold the trigger bow/magazine onto the action. WTF? Go ahead, try to find a 1/4-25 tap. I had to fork up $35 for a set of two HSS taps for Springfield rifles. In my research, I came to find out that Springfield had built some rifles for the French a decade earlier, and they re-used some of the tooling on the ’03. So you have a 1/4 diameter screw, with 1mm thread pitch.

    To this day, I want to build a time machine so I can go back in time and pimp-slap someone for the 25 TPI tap issue.

    The ’03 is a fine rifle. I really like my two (03 and 03A3). The two-groove barrels are actually slightly more accurate than the four groove barrels. They handle fast, they can be given excellent triggers.

    The 1917 is a rougher rifle. It works well, but it is heavier, clunkier, the bolt just “feels” wrong, (but it’s smooth) and the sights are mediocre. But the action is quite useful for making dangerous game rifles. The biggest round I’d recommend putting into any ’03/03A3 action is a .35 Whelen.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The tap issue was probably a non-issue at Springfield Armory… as I understand it, they made all their own taps and dies, and a lot of their cutting tools (all the ones for horizontal milling machines and shapers for sure). So they could make anything they damned well please. And some draftsman was in a rush to get the screw drawn in time for beer o’clock, and thought, “Didn’t I do one about this size for the French job? Let me pull the drawing….”

      The only one I have is a Remington 03A3, but it’s a sweet rifle. It came in with a batch of other US WWII stuff. You can see why some soldiers (and especially some Marines) were reluctant to change to the Garand, when you handle them both.

    2. Mr SNS

      Everyone was at full production rates for the Europeans in there efforts to kill each other.
      Always lots of money in killing even back then.

      There was no time to train, make gauges and jigs.
      P17 was the expedient choice.

  15. Pathfinder

    Great read.

    Always like to learn more about rifles that I have in the safe. My M1917 Enfield and my M1917 Colt go great together.

    Since you’ve been on a WW1 slant lately, how about a post on the M1917 revolvers?

  16. Jrggrop

    The M1917 also saw widespread service during WW2 in the Philippines. The Philippine Commonwealth Army (a distinct entity from the Philippine Scouts) was supplied by the US government with surplus Enfields instead of Springfields.

  17. Blackshoe

    And the M1917 (I mean, the Gevær M/53-17) continues to see service as the rifle of Slædepatruljen Sirius, a Danish dogsled patrol based that operates in Greenland (see story in nick).

  18. cm smith

    On the tangential topic of substitute rifles in WWI U. S. service, let us also remember the 20,000 Ross MKII – in .303 – used for training.

    I inherited one with the story that it was purchased from the NRA before WWII. Full US marked, including the bayonet.

  19. James F.

    The Canadian Arctic Rangers, equivalent to the Alaska Territorial Guard, also with a strong native element, was using the SMLE Lee Enfield in .303 until LAST YEAR.

    These weren’t hundred year old rifles, just, you know, 65 year old rifles–Canada used the Lee Enfield in WWII and Korea.

    It still ran good in Arctic conditions, but they were concerned about the fact that there were no spare parts, and if one broke, they had to cannibalize parts from other old rifles.

    They’ve replaced them with Sako bolt actions in .308. (Link on nick.)

  20. JSW

    Grandfather was Lt. In the 90th Division at the Meuse Argonne. The massive rear site assembly of the 1917 probably saved his life.
    He was hit squarely on the right side and it shattered, leaving him with small metal fragments of the assembly in his face for the rest of his life. My Edystone reliably shoots 2moa with plain green box Remington.

  21. looserounds.com

    American Rifleman some years ago ran an article with an interview with York’s sone or grandson stating his Dad used a M1903. He was apparently given the 03 because of his skill with a a rifle. His betters thinking it the better and more accurate weapon over the ’17. The only one in his unit to carry a M1903 if memory serves. AR at the time considered the debate settled
    I think a lot of myth is around York and what he used, The movie having him use a Luger because 9mm blanks would cycle and action where as 45ACP blanks were not reliable for a long time., Giving birth to the belief York used a capture Luger instead of a M1911 or M1917 or some such

    1. Claypigeonshooter

      Originally posted by someone else on CMP forums (or some other gun forum) photo graphic evidence suggests Sgt. York used neither the 1903 or 1917.

          1. W. Fleetwood

            Actually, to pick a nit, the absence of a bayonet lug would indicate an M1A. Quick, alert JAG, someone has harmed those poor innocent enemy people with a (Horrors!) privately owned weapon!

            Wafa Wafa, Wasara Wasara.

          2. Hognose Post author

            We basically had two kinds of guys, those who carried POWs and those who carried them and lied about it. When returning from Afghanistan, we had to clear customs, and they were looking for extra weapons. They had, indeed, jailed an entire 19th Group team before us, but those guys did have a whole ISU-90 (like a better half Conex) full of hardware, each item toe-tagged: this is the medic’s RPG, the commo man’s PKM, the engineer’s box of mines, etc. I don’t know what ever happened with those guys. Not a big public court martial.

        1. Boat Guy

          I spoke with his son some years ago. He said his Dad used a 1917 which was stolen from him on the ship coming home. As of our conversation the family was still searching.

  22. Tom Kratman

    A little oddity; if you walk out the front door of the old O Club at Benning and look down, there will be, not unexpectedly, a set of crossed rifles inset into the stone of the porch. They’re not muskets. They’re not Springfields. They’re M1917s. Used to be able to get collar brass with 1917s, too.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Heh. Johnny come latelies. My branch has arrows.

      There’s something amiss in a world where Benning is the “joint maneuver center of excellence” and trains tankers.

      1. Al T.

        I dunno Hog, time after time over the decades, we’ve proved and re-proved that the tank/Infantry team is the way to go. IMHO, squishing them together at one post, like peas and mashed potatoes, is better than what we were doing.

        1. Tom Kratman

          The problem you run into is the same problem we’ve always had with combined arms formations, permanently grouped and, more importantly, grouped as unlikes. This is that the commander, a tanker, say, in a mech brigade, will care more about and take better care of his company grade officers with whom he shares a branch and (in the case of tankers, most likely homosexual) inclinations. The other way of saying that is that the infantry officers’ highest purpose becomes to support top blocks for tanker officers. Now that doesn’t always happen, no, but what happens when that doesn’t is that the higher commander, trying to rate grunts and DATs and wrenches and redlegs, oh, and never-sufficiently-to-be-damned MI, fairly, finds himself forced to rate them based on what they have in common: Police Call, haircuts, AWOLs and DUIs in their commands, AER and CFC, and ability to be charming in the presence of that senior commander.

          Also, historically, note that the Germans in WW II kept pure regiments of Panzers and Infantry and Artillery, etc, but cross attached. We pre-cross assigned and were never as good at combined arms tactics as they were. (Yes, there were other reasons for that, too.)

      2. Tom Kratman

        Your branch, until I – yes, me, personally – pointed out how fucking rolling on the ground laughing stupid it was, used to claim, in public ceremonies, to be “as deadly as a tarantula.”

        Yeah, that means you owe me. Big.

  23. jim

    thank you, Hog, for not forgetting my 1917 porn. im loving this WWI weapon bit. there oughta be a whole section devoted to WWI arms. personally, I find it fascinating. the era where there was still a lot of hand fitting each rifle, and we were still in the relative dawn of modern technology over black powder and heavy rounded lead. the end of the age of kings. totally fascinating stuff.

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