When America prepared to enter WWI, the military found itself faced with the problem of arming an incredible expeditionary force with durable rifles that could stand up to the dirt and grime of the European trenches. While the M1903 Springfield had been adopted as America's standard infantry rifle for over a decade, it soon became clear that Springfield's production alone would not be adequate to meet the Army's demand for rifles.
The answer to this dilemma was resolved by Winchester, Remington, and Eddystone Arsenal ( a subsidiary of Remington). These three firms had been producing the British Pattern 1914 Enfield rifle during the first few years of the war, and the Ordnance Dept. quickly realized that while these arms manufacturers could tool up to produce the M1903, the time required to do so would be cost prohibitive. Instead, it was determined that the existing tooling could be used to create an "American Enfield" chambered in .30-06. The new arm was dubbed the U.S. Model 1917 Service Rifle.
The 1917 proved to be robust and reliable and was well liked by the troops. Remington, Winchester, and Eddystone produced almost 2.2 million M1917; a figure that more than doubled the total production of military's "official" service weapon; the M1903. In fact, M1917s made up 75% of the total service weapons issued to the AEF during WW1.
Most famously, Sergaent Alvin York, the famed Medal of Honor recipient, carried an Eddystone M1917 and a Colt M1911 during his time in France.
After the war, the M1917 remained in America's arsenal through WWII. During this time, they were largely used for training purposes especially during America's mobilization efforts during the early days of WWII. Additional, nearly 750,000 rifles were shipped to the UK between 1940 and 1941 following the Brit's desperate need for rifles following the disastrous evacuation of Dunkirk. Unfortunately for the British, the P14 rifle was also in service with British Forces. Visually the rifles were identical from the outside, however if a round of .303 was fed into an M1917 it jammed the rifle and required an armorer to remove the cartridge. To minimize the problem, and help supply issues with ammunition, the M1917 tended to be given to the Home Guard where there was a reduced need for ammunition. As a further visual aid, the rifles were painted with a large red band to distinguish their .30-06 chamberings.
As Home Guard weapons, most of the M1917s that were purchased by the British were kept in the homes of guardsman. Most Brits weren't accustomed to to having firearms at home, which sometimes led to humorous incidents. one guardsman, Bill Miles, recalled an incident that took place in his parents parlor:
"Soon after I received my rifle I was in our front room, which in those days was mothers pride and joy. Everything in this room contained the best we could afford and we were only allowed the use of it once a week on a Sunday. It was in this room with its polished fire irons and highly polished Rexin settee that I was showing my Father, a time serving soldier from the 1914 war, my rifle with bayonet attached. He said, 'this takes me back' and with a cry of charge lunged forward sticking the bayonet though the back and out of the front of mothers much cherished settee. Mother screeched 'you fool you have ruined my settee' Father looked at the jagged hole wet his fingers dabbed at it and declared 'it will hardly notice'. The rifle was never allowed in the front room again."
This Eddystone M1917 is one of the gun's sent to the UK during WWII, as evidenced by the remnant of the red stripe painted on its forestock as well as the faint stenciling "30-06". Additionally, the gun features a British "Broad Arrow" acceptance stamp in the butt stock.
It remains in excellent condition and is all original and correct from butt to muzzle.
The stock is very good with no damage other than a few minor handling marks. Several crisp inspector's cartouches can be found in multiple locations on the stock.
The bolt locks up tight and the action is smooth. The metal parts retain an overwhelming majority of their original arsenal bluing.
The bore is good with excellent rifling and no rust or pitting. It's mostly shiny with some darkness in the grooves.
This rifle is the perfect addition to any U.S. rifle collection, or WW1 or WWII display.
*This weapon was made after 1899 and MUST be shipped to Federal Firearms License holder for transfer. Never bought a gun through an FFL before? Give us a call at (262) 473-5444 and we'd be glad to walk you through this simple process!