great write-up RC20, very informative however I would like to offer some information based on my fleeting research into the design.
the 1917 was based off of the mauser action. though the brits favored cock on close rifles and requested this feature on the 1917s predecessor the pattern 14 enfield, it was based off of the cock on close mauser actions of the time such as the swedish 1896.
I tend to prefer cock on close actions, granted they are difficult for many shooters that grew up modern sporting rifles(which are predominately cock on open). I find that in high stress or high adrenaline situations(such as competition, hunting or combat) where finer motor function may be impared or inhibited, the cock on close allows for the least amount of upward rotational force necessary to open the bolt(reducing torquing the rifle counter clockwise and helping maintain sight picture) and also offers forward resistance preventing slamming the bolt forward(preventing downward thrusting). because of this, I can fire cock on close rifles such as the Lee Enfield, Mauser 96 or Japanese Arisaka(also based on the Swedish 1896 if memory serves correctly) with greater ease and speed than cock on open designs such as the mauser 98, 1903, mosin nagant or MAS36.
also it is widely disputed that Alvin York actually used the M1917 in the actions that made in famous in France as he did mention in one interview or another that he did not like the accuracy of his rifle and "swapped it for a different rifle" early on in the campaign. also he offered several personal details to the producers of the classic film(one of my favorite black and whites) "Sergeant York" which depicts him wielding a Springfield 1903 in France. nobody knows for certain whether he swapped for a 1903 or another more accurate 1917 but it is a widely contested assertion that he actually used it.
with all that said the 1917 was well ahead of it's time, with superior aperture sights, superior ammo capacity(though only by a single round) and the love it or hate it cock on close bolt system, it was a masterpiece of good old fashion American improvisation.
EDIT: I have no idea why as I am usually a pretty laid back guy but it irritates me when people call the 1917 an Enfield for some reason. it was not built for the English military nor was it designed in accordance with the royal armory at Enfield. it was based off of the Pattern 14 Enfield which was manufactured by US civilian arms companies and when the US needed arms they modified their existing tooling to make a similar rifle in 30-06:the US 30 caliber Model 1917
ignore my complete lack of capitalization. I still have no problem correcting your grammar.
I never said half the stuff people said I did-Albert Einstein
You can't believe everything you read on the internet-Benjamin Franklin
Last edited by tahunua001; December 8, 2012 at 01:57 AM.