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Old May 28, 2014, 08:39 PM   #1
alan
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Re the destruction of The Pedersen Device

Re the above, said destruction taking place in the 1930's, I believe, does anyone have an answer concerning why, even if it's only what might be the "boiler plate" put out by the government.
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Old May 28, 2014, 09:24 PM   #2
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It was the same old story - "we can't allow these to fall into the hands of the wrong people". Plus WWI was the "war to end wars" and neither the Army nor Congress could see any need for such devices in the future, or any need to continue to use storage space for them. The Pedersen device was made for a specific purpose - marching fire on enemy trench lines - and most mililtary thinking was that any future war would be a war of movement.

Actually, the concept was out of lala land. Marching fire, by its nature, is not aimed and its only purpose is to make the enemy keep his head down. Even if that worked with loud rifles and noisy bullets (it didn't), it would not have worked on a noisy battlefield with rifles little louder than cap guns and tiny bullets that made no noise at all. Americans advancing with Pedersen-device equipped rifles would have been slaughtered by German machinegunners who wouldn't even know they were being shot at!

Incidentally, the government put out no information at all on either the devices or their destruction; they were still classified and had not a few escaped destruction it is unlikely that we would know anything about them even today beyond patent papers.

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Old May 28, 2014, 09:42 PM   #3
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I saw one when I was a kid. A friend of one of my dad's friends had it. I wasn't allowed to touch it, only look at it. "It's a secret weapon" I was told. I couldn't wrap my mind around what made it so special after I was told how it worked. Pretty much forgot all about it till now.

What rounds did it shoot? Something like a .30 carbine?
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Old May 28, 2014, 11:01 PM   #4
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Something along the lines of this cartridge.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.65mm_Longue
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Old May 29, 2014, 12:07 AM   #5
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The 7.65 French long was reportedly "inspired" by the Pedersen cartridge. The cartridge cases appear identical, but the French round is longer (1.185") than the Pedersen round (1.085") and won't fit in the Pedersen magazine.

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Old May 29, 2014, 07:18 PM   #6
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James K:

Thanks for the update, pretty much as I had thought, government do-do. As for the thing being "classified", I don't know about you, but I've seen several "Mark 1 Springfield Actions", with a port at about 10 O'clock in the receiver ring, this I believe being the ejection port for spent Pedersen brass.

As to "we can't allow these to fall into the hands of the wrong people", who might these "wrong people" possibly have been, perhaps law abiding American citizens, the same ones that a few years later, just as had been the case earlier, were sent off to war, by possibly the same politicians?

By the way, prior to enactment of National Firearms Act of 1934, one could but automatic weapons, if their purse was full enough. I wonder as to how many law abiding types shot up banks with legally purchased machine guns. The Pedersen Device was SEMI AUTOMATIC too. Oh well, it went BANG
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Old May 29, 2014, 09:02 PM   #7
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The Model 1903 Mark 1 was the Springfield rifle as made for the Pedersen device, which was officially named the U.S. Pistol, Caliber .30, Model of 1918 as a cover. The changes to the rifle involved adding an ejection port with a slightly modified stock, as well as changes to the sear and the magazine cutoff.

One result was an outcry from Congress and the public when the cover name "leaked" and it was thought that the Army was abandoning the Model 1911 pistol and .45 caliber in favor of a smaller handgun.

The Pedersen-device equipped Model 1903 was one of the first of the "semi-automatic assault rifles", its only competition in history being the Fedorov, which was produced in fewer numbers but which was actually used in combat. The Russian rifle was not only more powerful, but in the later and most common version, was selective fire.

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Old May 29, 2014, 11:40 PM   #8
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I have a 1903 with the Pedersen slot in the receiver. It is a neat piece of history.
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Old May 29, 2014, 11:51 PM   #9
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After the Army gave up on the ".30 pistol", the Mk I rifles were changed back to the standard rifle with the special sears and cutoff parts removed. Of course there was no practical way to fill in the ejection port, so they just left it.

Rarely, a Mk I will turn up with the special parts intact; sometimes they are not even noticed since the rifle functions normally.

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Old May 30, 2014, 10:08 AM   #10
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James K:

Some interesting comments have appeared in this discussion. As for yours, regarding "no practical way to fill in the ejection port ..", I'm surprised that the lack of practically managed to stand in the way of possible government action, but then I might be overly suspicious of both government and the actions it takes or doesn't take.

Otherwise, regarding early Russian attempts to develop an "assault rifle", as memory serves, they tried one, around the WW 1 time period. It was in 6.5 MM caliber (intermediate cartridge), gas operated, and didn't work particularly well, due to metallurgy problems, corrosive primers I believe, among other troubles.

As to the Pedersen Device rifles, modified Springfield rifles, to describe them as "semi-automatic assault rifles" is I think in error. My thinking along those lines is as follows:

1. The term "semi-automatic assault rifle" is politicians terminology.
2. Pedersen Device equipped rifles did not have selective fire capability, correct me if I'm wrong. The correct definition of "assault rifle/assault weapon" is as follows. Selective Fire Weapon, usually of rifle configuration, chambered for intermediate cartridge. Again, correct me if I'm wrong.
3. The Springfield Rifle fired the full power service rifle cartridge, that being the 30-06, as it came to be known. The Pedersen Device was essentially an auxiliary firing mechanism, that fired a rifle caliber (30) pistol cartridge.

Re the foregoing, some might think I make mountains out of mole hills. Perhaps so, however I submit that terminology is important.

Last edited by alan; May 30, 2014 at 10:34 AM.
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Old May 30, 2014, 10:33 AM   #11
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The wikipedia article on the topic says that the devices were destroyed because the army didn't want to pay the continuing cost of storage. They had already been surplused out and the Army was on its way to adopting the Garand rifle.
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Old May 30, 2014, 10:57 AM   #12
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Joe Demko:

Thanks for the link. I found the article quite interesting. Over the years, I've seen a few Mark 1 Springfield Rifles, none with the Pedersen Device itself. As I remember, the ejection port was in the receiver ring, at about the 10 O'clock position. I could be wrong about that though. Especially interesting was mention of the Mark 1 receivers being "double heat treat receivers", they having been the strongest Springfield receivers ever produced.

Re the destruction of the Pedersen Devices, as opposed to their being sold through the then DCM, that strikes me as something of a surprise, given that small arms deemed surplus to needs had, for many years, been offered for sale. As for "storage costs", I wonder what they might have amounted to anyhow.
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Old May 30, 2014, 11:27 AM   #13
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Hi, Alan,

I agree that the "SAAR" is a political term, not a technical one, but the Pedersen-equipped M1903 is semi-auto, and it was intended for use in an assault. It might not fit a current definition of a "SAAR", but it was exactly that, not a modified selective fire weapon.

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Old May 30, 2014, 11:37 AM   #14
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Quote:
Re the destruction of the Pedersen Devices, as opposed to their being sold through the then DCM, that strikes me as something of a surprise, given that small arms deemed surplus to needs had, for many years, been offered for sale. As for "storage costs", I wonder what they might have amounted to anyhow.
Purely conjecture on my part here, but maybe destroying them rather than selling them was related to their former classified status as a "secret weapon." The US was moving towards a semi-automatic infantry rifle at the time, but bolt actions were still the rule among all our potential enemies and rivals. Perhaps they destroyed them simply to keep the idea under wraps...though the device performed so poorly in real life that an enemy having it could have made no difference.
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Old May 30, 2014, 02:38 PM   #15
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James K:

I hope I didn't come across as being overly critical, seems that you understood, all the better. I guess that my half-baked engineering background sometimes still comes through.
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Old May 30, 2014, 02:59 PM   #16
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Joe Demko:

Re the U.S. having been moving toward adoption of a semi-automatic rifle, turned out to be The Garand, in caliber 30-06, true so far as your statement goes. Interestingly, Remington produced quite a few Springfield Rifles during WW 2, making them till 1943, perhaps later.

As to "the device performing poorly" (Pedersen Device), where does that come from. You might be right, I'm curious
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Old May 30, 2014, 03:01 PM   #17
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The odd thing about many of those terms is that we, the firearms community, invented them. For example, the term "Saturday night special" was used by us as a derogatory term for a cheap handgun long before the antis picked up on it. The same was true of "assault rifle", which is a direct translation of the German Sturmgewehr, a designation applied to the MP.43, which later was renamed, by Der Führer himself, as the Sturmgewehr 44 or StG.44. When the first Chinese AKs were brought in, the importer could have called them "semi-automatic target rifles" or some such, but they thought it would be "cool" and gain more sales to call them "assault rifles". Of course the antis seized on that, claiming that gun owners wanted to assault innocent people. Another example is the "Black Talon" bullet. The guy who named that had to be totally tone deaf and living in a cave. Remington calls basically the same bullet the "Golden Sabre" and has had no problem with PR.

So what we do is to give the anti-gun gang ammunition that they happily use to do us harm.

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Old May 30, 2014, 03:26 PM   #18
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James K:

Interestingly, you close your latest as follows: "So what we do is to give the anti-gun gang ammunition that they happily use to do us harm." Oh that you were wrong. Unfortunately, you are all to right.

Our side has been guilty of allowing the antis to frame the questions too, though recognizing the realities of the situation, they have a tremendous number of "water carriers", fellow travelers, coreligionists, however you might choose to describe, them in media and elsewhere.

By the way, I don't see much difference between "Black Talon" ammunition and "Golden Saber" rounds, though I might be missing something interesting there.
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Old May 30, 2014, 04:30 PM   #19
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The Wikipedia article very briefly mentions that the Army field tested the Pedersen device in Panama following WWI and came away not particularly impressed. I've read several printed sources over the years which were pretty well in agreement that the Pedersen device, as fielded, was a non-starter as a battlefield weapon. It's main purpose was, essentially, to deliver suppressive fire and it was underpowered for the job.
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Old May 30, 2014, 06:54 PM   #20
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Quote:
Re the above, said destruction taking place in the 1930's, I believe, does anyone have an answer concerning why, even if it's only what might be the "boiler plate" put out by the government.
The Department of Defense is usually not interested in putting state of the art military technology into the hands of civilians. Besides rifles, there are cruise missiles, radars, communication devices, etc, that are never considered for release to the public. Just go to the Munitions List, to be found at the State Department site, and see all the things that currently, you cannot sell to a foreign country. It is hundreds of pages long.

Rule Number 2 of the Government is “Minimize Scandal” , and rule number 3 is “Take the path of least resistance” . It would have taken time, resources, to collect, sell Pedersen devices to the public, and guess what, they did not want to do that. It was just easier to dump inventory in a bin and sell what was in the bin to one of the regular scrap dealers that collect worn out equipment in military bases.
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Old May 30, 2014, 07:59 PM   #21
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I have a 1903 Mk I, my first centerfire rifle.
The ejection port is in the left receiver rail.
Mine does not have the trick sear and cutoff.
Oddly enough, it has a stamped follower, although it retains a pretty good 1918 barrel. Army Ordnance just had no consideration for future collectors.
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:53 PM   #22
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IIRC, the Army did not "sell what was in the bin to one of the regular scrap dealers" when the Pedersen devices were involved. I believe even at the time the devices were disposed of they were still considered classified (or whatever the term was at the time) so they would not have been sold as scrap, even cut up.

They disposed of them on base, by burning them, with Army officers as witnesses. Then they buried the residue.

(No, I don't know where the devices are buried, so put away the shovels!)

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Old May 30, 2014, 10:58 PM   #23
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James K:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that a few, don't know how many Pedersen Devices escaped the fire, sort of akin to the Luger pistols chambered for the 45 ACP round that were submitted for the 1911 trials. They sort of just disappeared, who knows to where.
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Old May 31, 2014, 06:37 AM   #24
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I doubt the Pederson devices were destroyed to keep enemies from developing it...
After all, converting manual actions to semi was not a new idea. John Brownings first semi was a Winchester lever action converted to gas operation.
And the Australians converted some Lee Enfield No1MkIII's into light machine guns when faced with a probable Japanese invasion and a lack of machine guns.
Allied planners thought the first war would continue into 1919-1920, and the war had changed to one of fire and maneuver by 1918...the Pederson device might have proved useful.
What really killed it, I think, was the end of the war, and full examination of captured Bergmann SMG's, as well as evaluation of The role of LMGs like the Lewis and Chauchat.
Then, as the first BAR's were tested, it was obvious that the Pederson was a dead end.
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Old May 31, 2014, 08:29 AM   #25
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Quote:
IIRC, the Army did not "sell what was in the bin to one of the regular scrap dealers" when the Pedersen devices were involved. I believe even at the time the devices were disposed of they were still considered classified (or whatever the term was at the time) so they would not have been sold as scrap, even cut up.

They disposed of them on base, by burning them, with Army officers as witnesses. Then they buried the residue.

(No, I don't know where the devices are buried, so put away the shovels!)
At Anniston Army Depot today, the Army feeds metal rifle parts into a metal shredding machine. They were breaking wood stocks in another machine. There are specific procedures for the destruction of military hardware to prevent them from being reassembled. After sufficient disassembly, parts then go into rail cars which are sold to scrap dealers. DoD may have trusted scrap dealers with whom they deal with on the remains of highly classified hardware, it is possible that the stuff is required to go directly into a melting pot.

Prior to WW2 the military buried a lot of stuff, never going through the motions of sorting, disassembly. Removal of chemical weapons, unexploded ordnance has been very expensive when old military bases were turned over to the public. Literally, no one knows what is under the ground.
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