US M1917 handguard modified for scope mount
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Thread: US M1917 handguard modified for scope mount

  1. #1
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    Default US M1917 handguard modified for scope mount

    I think this is a US Model 1917 Enfield rear hand guard cut to take a scope mount. I assume it to be a civilian modification but wanted to check here to see if there are other possibilities.

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    The difference in the finish makes one assume it is not period done. It looks like it was cut out for the Winchester A5 scope bases.

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    Agree on the A5 base but your average Bubba didn't make that relief cut, its done very well.

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    It does look very professionally made, yet it does not look to be factory made or made at around the same period.

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    I'm sure you're right. And I'll wager that a real good mechanic made that cut and also tended to a lot of other things while he had the rifle down. Nice trigger, proper torque adjusting of the action screws, nice relief of the rear of the receiver, etc etc. Clean the bore good and some range time with some match grade ammo may yield some pleasing results. You've got nothing to lose. I think someone was proud of that rifle. Good luck in any case.

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    There was only one US Military M1917 sniper. It was called the Model of 1918 sniper. It was made by Winchester but problems with the scope kept it from ever being made in mass and issued. The war ending also stopped production on it.

    This rifle didn't have a handguard at all. It was basically a sporterized M1917. That was the only M1917 sniper there ever was. I have tens of thousands of pages of unpublished sniper docs and trials and there is never another M1917 even trialed as a sniper. I know some books show other M1917 snipers, even saying the Marines had some. But these are all false. I have no clue where they go that info, but I imagine it was they found some civilian scoped rifles and believed the stories on them. It for sure wasn't based on any archival research because that makes it very clear there was only the WRA Model of 1918.

    They started to sell the M1917 to the public in 1919 and they were dirt cheap. Lots were bought and it was common to mount scopes on them even in the 20's, I see it mentioned a lot in the NRA publications.

    But here is the only M1917 sniper. The WRA model of 1918.


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    Quote Originally Posted by cplnorton View Post
    There was only one US Military M1917 sniper. It was called the Model of 1918 sniper. It was made by Winchester but problems with the scope kept it from ever being made in mass and issued. The war ending also stopped production on it.

    This rifle didn't have a handguard at all. It was basically a sporterized M1917. That was the only M1917 sniper there ever was. I have tens of thousands of pages of unpublished sniper docs and trials and there is never another M1917 even trialed as a sniper. I know some books show other M1917 snipers, even saying the Marines had some. But these are all false. I have no clue where they go that info, but I imagine it was they found some civilian scoped rifles and believed the stories on them. It for sure wasn't based on any archival research because that makes it very clear there was only the WRA Model of 1918.
    Steve, I may understand your point from the archival point of view. Factually however the Springfield Armory Museum houses at least TWO M1917 rifles complete with scopes. Of these two one is a plain M1917 rifle that was equipped with a Winchester A5 telescope. See the attached image from Springfield Armory.

    PS: Same picture also illustrates different handguard cutting than the OP handguard.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 73418590.4isZQ2aa.P17ANDP14AISLE.jpg  


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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveFromSheffield View Post
    Steve, I may understand your point from the archival point of view. Factually however the Springfield Armory Museum houses at least TWO M1917 rifles complete with scopes. Of these two one is a plain M1917 rifle that was equipped with a Winchester A5 telescope. See the attached image from Springfield Armory.

    PS: Same picture also illustrates different handguard cutting than the OP handguard.
    The only thing I would caution. I started to try to research some of the sniper rifles in the SA museum and I realized they are not a good group of rifles to study for many reasons. Some were not acquired till decades later. Like I found documents at the archives of the museum looking for rifles from WWI in the 60's and such. Then there were other issues I found. Many of the snipers in there are restorations. Andrew can tell you more, but there was a fire that happened back in the day and alot of the rifles were badly damaged and they have been restored and some were even put togethers. I know some of the rifles in the collection are private donations as well.

    What you would have to do is pull the records on that particular rifle and see when the museum actually acquired it, and what notes they have on it. But I bet some serious money after seeing the docs, it will have some other reason than anything US Sniper related.

    There is a lot in that museum you have to be really careful of if you are trying to use them as representative piece.

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    could also be for a P14. Inletting underneath for barrel slightly different around the reinforce.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplnorton View Post
    What you would have to do is pull the records on that particular rifle and see when the museum actually acquired it, and what notes they have on it. But I bet some serious money after seeing the docs, it will have some other reason than anything US Sniper related.
    Already the online search with their collection displays for every item the date when it went to SA collection. However, that function is so bad that it is tough to find what you are looking for.
    Yes, fully understood your points. However, I guess you will agree with me that at least the prism scope was an official experimental gun and there are more trials done with the 1917 rifle than just the 1918 sniper rifle.

    Edit: searching around a bit on the net found this pic from a book, top rifle is said to be the one from SA collection. Note it has one of the experimental rear sights too. I therefore assume nothing "bubba made", or at least less likely:


    Edit 2nd: it is this rifle here from the SA collection, made based on an Eddystone 1917 action http://ww3.rediscov.com/spring/VFPCG...ABASE=15963534,
    Last edited by DaveFromSheffield; 06-30-2020 at 03:27 AM.

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    Yeah you would have to see their actual card on the rifle. Even then I've found they often leave you with more questions then they do answers.

    Like for that M1917, it states, " Made by member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Received from Maj. Besset, Ord. Dept. U.S.A. with instructions to be used as a study in developing rear sight with windage sight adjustment for U.S. Rifle Model 1917. Stock badly charred from museum fire. Telescope sight = SPAR-7180"

    So the first thing that strikes me Maj Besset was actually Army. So was this a Marine Corps M1917, or was this a personal rifle of Maj Besset or an Army rifle that he just had the Marines mount a scope on it for him. Or did he just acquire a set of tapered blocks made by the Marine Depot and some Army depot or commercial gunsmith installed them on the rifle.

    When I searched a lot of the rifles at the museums, they just never told much more than just a small snippet like that, and I finally ruled a lot of the rifles out in my studies because they just left too many questions. I just couldn't properly vet them to make them anymore than a asterik footnote.

    For instance the Marines did test the Elder sights, but so did the Army. In fact the Army really pursued them, the Marines really didn't. Also I wouldn't think this was a Marine rifle, as the Marines were only to receive Winchester M1917's. As Ordnance was trying to isolate the WRA M1917's because of manufacturing problems, so that is why they decided to send them to the Marines.

    My personal gut feeling when I see something like this. I see a lot of officers write the Marines and ask them to mount a scope on a personal rifles of theirs. The Marines did this not only for other branch officers, but they actually did the gunsmithing for a lot of shooting teams.

    So off the top of my head, the US Coast Guard shooting team had all their rifles serviced by the Marines at the Depot. They even mounted scopes on a few of the rifles for the Coast Guard shooting team. I have the records on that.

    The Marine armorers were considered some of the best, so that is why they did a lot of outside work. Plus it was a way for them to make money. I have a lot of documents of them doing work for others at the Philly Depot.

    The Majority of all scopes mounted back in this day was because it was a new fad, a lot of people were tryling them and shooting teams were mounting a lot of scopes.

    You can never say never, but I've just sort of become jaded on museum rifles, as a lot were acquired at later dates. For instance they could have acquired that rifle off Maj Besset in the 1950's and he could have just had it built for target shooting. And it never had that scope mounted for any reason while in the military.

    It just so many questions, and probably not even the actual card at the museum will tell much more than the snippet above. I would be very curious though to see the date it was acquired by the museum. That would be very helpful.

    If I was a betting man, even if you could somehow prove that rifle had the scope mounted on it while in the service of the Army or Marines, it wasn't sniper related. Almost all scoped rifles at this time were just target rifles or team rifles.

    That is one thing people often confuse. The sniper reports are very detailed on what rifles were trialed and what configurations. So that is why I'm pretty confident when I say the only M1917 sniper was the one I pictured above. There is never another M1917 detailed as a sniper.

    Now just a scoped M1917 target rifle, that is different. Those were never kept track of. Any officer could request or have a scope mounted on a rifle. There was a lot of freedom back in the day for officers to have rifles built like this.

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    Good comments, thanks.
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    Steve, I don't think there were this many M1917 rifles made with the Elder rear sight, plus I also don't think the few that have had one were in private hands.

    I see where we are going in this discussion. My idea was to point out there are more than just one single M1917 that was turned to a "sniper". I did not make a difference between designated as "sniper rifle" nor officially trialed, I only wanted to point out there are more scoped 1917s than just the M1917 rifle with that Kodak scope. It is tough to draw a line when we consider something "officially" or even "designated as". Is this fulfilled when it was equipped with a scope by a governmental organization (or even worse: by a private individual/company and submitted to government?), or officially tested and reports are written, or later when officially introduced (and when officially introduced, at which number of produced examples)?

    My intention therefore was to point out to call only one particular item the only known original "sniper rifle" must therefore also specifically give criterias what makes a rifle a sniper rifle and why particular items do not qualify at the same level as the one in question. The simple fact that there are TWO M1917s with scopes at SA where neither you nor I know the full history nor story of leaves enough chances that the initial statement of yours could be wrong. In days like this where other authors use chances like this to discredit your research based on facts that might have had miscredited them I think you should pay high caution.

    PS: Please also remember the picture from SA also shows another M1917 with scope. That scope is with a prism at the very rear, setting the optical axis off to the left. I think this one would also qualify as an experimental pattern.

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    I understand there are scoped M1917s out there but one thing I hope that I accomplish is for a long time any rifle with a scope was thought to be a sniper. Because that is where the money is and also no one has really researched these rifles at the archives. The books have sort of just guessed a lot. But the amount of documentation I have at this point on the sniper programs from 1909 to 1970 is in the tens of thousands of pages.

    So for instance on the m1917 they only thought of using them as a sniper rifle for two years in 1917/18. But that was only because of WRA. Which I will explain in a bit.

    During this time they put detailed reports of all sniper rifle trial rifles in a report in the summer of 1918. It was submitted to the infantry committee to decide what rifle to choose. The rifles you see at the SA museum were not included in the sniper trial report of 1918.

    See every couple years ordnance would require full reports of all sniper rifles trialed. Which would include detailed pics of the rifles and scopes. In the reports it would include full descriptions and full range reports. The reports are usually 75 to 100 pages.

    I have reports every couple years before, during, and right after WW1. Those rifles aren't included in any of the trial rifle reports.

    The amount of sniper docs I have from 1917/18 is probably over 5000 pages alone. I have so much research from the time that the M1917 was considered. That is why I keep on saying these are not snipers or sniper trial rifles.

    It even gets sort of deeper because outside the documents on the Ordnance and Marines side, I have all the Winchester factory docs too.

    All the A5 snipers built for the Army for WW1 were actually built by WRA.

    The Army didn't buy loose A5 scopes during WW1. The Marines did but the Army only had them mounted on m1903s by WRA. WRA did not mount any A5s on m1917s. WRA asked Ordnance if they wanted any mounted on m1917s but ordnance said they did not want a M1917 sniper. They only relented on the Winchester Model of 1918 because WRA was making the complete package and could produced nearly 60,000 of them. Otherwise ordnance wanted all snipers to be m1903s. Now the Navy also bought some loose A5 scopes but never did anything with them as they sold them surplus after the war.

    On the elder sights there was a decent amount purchased by the Army for trials. But that's another topic. They were marketed to the military but when the Army started to sell m1917s in 1919 to civilians you see elder market the sight to civiilans. I think I even have docs of the Amry selling 2nd hand elder sights to the public.

    I always say never say never but all I'm saying is I am pretty certain those rifles at SA dont have anything to do with snipers, official or unofficial. They aren't detailed in any of the sniper trial reports and they state in the docs many times the only m1917 considered as a sniper was the Winchester one and that was only because WRA couldn't make m1903s.

    To me to call a rifle a sniper or a sniper trial rifle it should be detailed in one of these reports. We have enough research now that if they were I should have something on them

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    FWIW btw, I have a Remington M1917 that was converted to M1917A4 configuration with Weaver M73B1 scope on Redfield mount (identical to the M1903A4). It is one of a total of six the Austrian Army made up in the 1970s. So there were more than just one M1917 sniper rifle, thought at least some are not US set up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveFromSheffield View Post
    FWIW btw, I have a Remington M1917 that was converted to M1917A4 configuration with Weaver M73B1 scope on Redfield mount (identical to the M1903A4). It is one of a total of six the Austrian Army made up in the 1970s. So there were more than just one M1917 sniper rifle, thought at least some are not US set up.
    Oh yeah you are the man when it comes to stuff like that. I know if I ever got into German or foreign made snipers you would be one of the very first I would ask questions on.

    I mostly like Marine Corps snipers till Vietnam and that is what my passion has always been, and that poured over to the Army snipers ,as the Army and Marine snipers are really intertwined a lot.

    You can't really study Marine without studying Army to get a better understanding. You need to study them both to understand them.

    But yeah outside the US stuff, you are my go to guy!

    I know enough on foreign snipers to get myself in trouble. lol

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