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The M1903 Springfield Rifle

The M1903 Springfield Rifle Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2013 Title The M1903 Springfield Rifle
Author Leroy Thompson Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2013 ISBN 9781780960111
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $18.95


It was the last generally issued bolt-action US military rifle.  It fired the first shot from a flying airplane.  And it saw seven decades of worldwide military service.

It's the legendary M1903 Springfield rifle.  And it's the subject of Leroy Thompson's terrific little tome from Osprey.

Born in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the design aimed at arming US troops with a superior weapon to defeat Mauser-equipped foes.

Osprey's account traces Springfield development, production, service, fate and impact.  Coverage includes operational, training, competitive, and experimental variants.  And stimulating segues disclose some truly fascinating facts.

The Pedersen Device, for instance, converted the M1903 into a semi-automatic weapon for pistol-calibre ammunition – and nearly achieved operational service during WWI.  Nazi Germany also captured so many Springfields that the American rifle equipped second-line troops as the Gew 249(a).

But most remarkably, German manufacturer DWM filed a 1907 suit alleging that the Springfield's .30-06 round violated their patent.  WWI intervened.  And the US seized the patent – and dismissed the action.  A postwar tribunal, however, awarded DWM over $400,000 – effectively paying the German firm for bullets US soldiers fired at Imperial German troops during the conflict!

Photos, sidebars, technical drawings, anecdotes and index spice this handy little guide.  Steve Noon's enormously evocative, action-packed illustrations add further flavor.  And text is actually annotated!

Author Thompson freely admits the Springfield's "special appeal" – the first US military rifle he purchased and fired.  And this manifest "appreciation" of the M1903 results in a really riveting read.


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!