Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Pattern 1914 Enfield

I felt like writing about old guns today, so here's a gem from my personal collection that actually comes with a rather interesting story.


The rifle pictured is a World War One British Pattern 14 Enfield, made for the British right here in America by the Eddystone Arsenal in Eddystone, Pennsylvania. This factory was not really an "arsenal" in the true sense--it was actually a half-finished locomotive factory that Remington Arms acquired during the early days of WW1 to use as an extra rifle-manufacturing plant in order to fill it's British Government contracts. Interestingly enough, these rifles were produced by both Remington and it's chief competitor, Winchester Repeating Arms, at the same time.

When the United States joined the war in 1917, it wasn't long before we realized that we didn't have enough rifles. (Our standard at the time was the .30 caliber Model 1903 Springfield.) As the original British contract for 1.2 million Pattern 14's was nearly completed, Remington and Winchester were told to change these guns over to .30 and start supplying them to the US Government.

This particular Pattern 14 would have been made in 1916, as it's an early model that predates the Mk 1* version with the longer bolt locking lugs. That change took place in December, 1916, and all subsequent rifles were so marked. This one does not have those markings.

I found this one in a small general store in northern Michigan that also sold guns and ammo. It was sitting on the sale rack with a rather niftily-done sporterized stock but without any apparent metal damage, as is often the case when some Bubba decides that a historic rifle would be better suited for banging away at deer if the original sights are ground off and/or the receiver is drilled for a scope. This one seemed restorable, at with a price tag of $75.00, how could I miss?

So I asked the old man running the store if I could see it. As I looked it over, I determined that it was, in fact, a Pattern 14 and not a Model 1917. Not that it would have mattered. I would have taken it either way. The old man remarked that it was one of the best .30-06 rifles ever made. Clearly he thought that it was a Model 1917, and to be fair, it wasn't marked as either one. All it bore was the Eddystone "ERA" stamp and a few small British proof-marks. I politely replied that this one was a .303, but he rather huffily argued back that it was indeed a .30-06.

OK, well I like to be nice, so I smiled and began to explain exactly how I knew it to be a Pattern 14, and not a Model 1917 as he believed it to be. He reached out, took it back from me, and asked "Do you want to buy this .30-06 or not?"

Well yes, I did. So when I pulled the cash out, he wrote up the bill of sale...for a .30-06, which of course, he wrote in large numbers and underlined twice for emphasis.

(The scummy lawyer in me thought that I should have taken it out, shot a .30-06 round through it, then sued him, but I love old guns too much to do that.)

Anyway, I took it home, found a correct stock and fittings for it, and it now looks as you see it here. And these days it usually graces a rack right below a pristine Model 1917, which I acquired a few months later for a similar very small sum.

Ah, for the days before Saving Private Ryan and the other movies that suddenly made war popular and drove up the prices of all of these once-cheap and plentiful firearms to insane levels.

7 comments:

  1. I agree that they are fine rifles. I have two Models of 1917.

    One was similar to yours. My father in law's dad bought it surplus. The stock had been sporterized but the steel was all intact. Serial number and barrel stamp place it 11/1917. Thanks to Numrich I was able to restore it.

    The other had been worked over more extensively. The sight ears had been milled off and the floor plate straitened. The price was hard to beat. I traded a couple hundred rounds of 9mm for it. (I no longer own any 9mm guns.) Now if I could just figure out how to scope the darn thing.

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  2. Purty rifle! You never showed me 'that' one...

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  3. Ah, the good old days. I once purchased a very nice Czech rifle which had been taken into WWII German service as the G-34(t). A beautiful rifle which set me back the princely sum of $50.

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  4. Phred B Square made a scope rail for the P14 and the P17 had one on my P17
    and i still have one dont know if B
    Square still make it try Ebay.

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  5. You're both a gun and film guy...
    Why didn't they get the guns right in 'Sgt. York'?
    Using a Luger? Seriously?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Regardless, Merry Christmas, my friend!

    gfa

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