P14 Rifle use in WWI

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Goldbricker, Aug 15, 2013.

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  1. Gents have some questions about the US made P14 rifle of World War One. I know some 1,230,000 or so were made by Winchester, Eddystone and Remington but where and who used them?

    I've yet to see one in a photo on any frontline British and Commonwealth units fighting in the Western front, Middle East, etc. I know its said it was used as a Snipers rifle along with the Canadian Ross but I doubt there were a million sniper rifles of all types in the British military then.

    I figured this will be the place for answers since the Market Garden thread was filled with info you normally cant find in on source.

    One of the reasons I ask is I have the US M1917 from some time now, and have been offered a P14 made by Winchester in quite good shape with volley sights for about US$ 200

    Thanks in advance
  2. Stratton says that some, all made by Winchester, were given micrometer adjustment rear sights and used for sniping after Nov 1917 and that some, possibly these, possibly not, were eventually given telescopic sights for the same job after April 1918. I don't think Major Hesketh-Pritchard mentions either of these in 'Sniping in France' but I have not searched very enthusiastically.

    That being said, it is an interesting - and very acurate - rifle and I would snap up a $200 Winchester P14 in an instant. Mine cost me £495 and doesn't have the volley sights.

    On a slightly different topic, I was interested to read recently that the USA made a number of P14/M1917 bayonets in recent times for issue with shotguns.
  3. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    They were used as training rifles in the UK and issued out to commonwealth countries as replacements for their own production and an awful lot were stuck into reserve almost straight away!
  4. Weren't P14's issued to the Home Guard during the last unpleasantness?
    Out of interest, what stopped them from being issued on a wider scale in WW1? Was it just that SMLE production coped with demand or something else?

    Sent using Mr Samuel Morse's patented telegraphy method.
  5. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    By 1916 the P14 was achieving sufficient production but by then so were the various rifle factories here and in the commonwealth esp as the production shortcuts that gave us the Mk 111* were accepted and in full swing!

  6. In WW1, it took months and months for the three US factories to start producing rifles accurately to spec, and with interchangeable parts. By the time they'd sorted it out, built the rifles, shipped them across the Atlantic it was July 1916. By then (a) UK's incredible manufacturing ability had managed to churn out about 3 million No1s (the No1 was still being developed prior to WW1, so complicated to make), and (2) battlefield experience had proven just how good the No1 was for the role.

    In WW2, despite all the Dunkirk and "unarmed Britain" myths, Britain was actually awash with No1 rifles. About 3 million No1s survived WW1. Of these, about half a million were broken up for parts, or distributed around the Empire. After Dunkirk in June 1940, Britain still had about 2 million No1 rifles available on the mainland - vastly more than were needed for the existing regular Divisions, and the new divisions under training. By the time the Army had built up to over 2 million, the British war productiopn plan was well underway and the first of 4 million No4s were coming out of the factories.

    In fact, with the unexpected development of the Sten, the war plan production of c. 4 million No4s created a vast excess of rifles. Hence they were subsequently given away as military aid all over world.

    Hence the P14s mostly went straight into store in WW1. Thousands were given away as military aid in the 1920s (which is why they appear in the Baltic countries and then Russia). A very small number were used as snipers. In WW2, they were simply used for training, and arming Home Guard and other very low priority units.

    These photos are thought to show P14s and No1s being refurbished in 1939, as part of Britain's mobilisation:



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  7. A bunch turn up in archive photos and footage of fighting in the Far East in WW2. E.g.:


    Is that one for the Ally thread?
  8. Dammit. No hotlinking.

    Anyway, HMS Cumberland Ally: bareback, P14, SMLE, Lanchester.

    Attached Files:

  9. British Army use in WW1 was restricted to within the UK, almost exclusively to the National Reserve, equivalent to the Home Guard in WW2. A few dozen Winchester-made rifles were converted to take Aldiss scopes (nut-and-bolt perfect copies of the German Hensoldt) but none were issued to active units.

    Rather more sniper rifles were made after the war, the official title was Rifle P/14 Mk 1* (W) T, and were used in WW2 by the Commandos and Ozzies (the latter in New Guinea). They were the only ones to see first-line service.
  10. Wasn't the problem with the P14 that the 5 round magazine capacity did not permit the same sustained rapid rate of fire that served the BEF so well at Mons using the SMLE? So even when the P14 was available it was not the weapon required having been developed as a result of experience with operations against the Boers in a rather different war. In fact the usual story, UK puts effort into delivering the war winning weapon for the war just finished!
  11. Not only 5 rds, but a much longer bolt throw and a 90° turn instead of 60°, and with less camming action.

    I've never got one properly hot, but I suspect that they might get a bit sticky after a moderate amount of rapid fire - 4(t), have you ever got one properly hot?
  12. The P14 was ordered as a potential stopgap that, in the end, wasn't needed. But it was based on the P13, a new rifle in .276 calibre that, if WW1 hadn't come along, would have been standard army equipment by about 1916.

    The idea of five versus ten round magazines in bolt-action rifles having a significant difference is not something I'm personally convinced of, but I've been wrong before. My P14 (an ERA one) shoots very well but if you want to load it in a hurry use a stripper clip rather than fumbling with individual rounds or one of them will snag.
  13. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    It wasn't a stopgap until WW1 intervened! Another 2 years and we would have sorted the ammo problems, but the war intervened! Production only went west because Vickers weren't ready and had plenty of contracts,
    I have got one so hot with .303 firing 250 rounds in about half an hour that the oil boiled out of the handguard and it kept tight groups with no hard extracts etc!
  14. I'm not convinced about that either. I was surprised at just how slick the bolt is, so rapid fire would be no problem - and for every five rounds you fire, you have to load a charger, whether from a P14 or a SMLE - the difference is that the SMLE allows you to have a few rounds in reserve when you decide to stick a charger in.

    That being said, I see the smaller magazine as a real tactical disadvantage. The P14 is also amazingly heavy - only ten and a half pounds, but it feels like a lot more compared with the SMLE
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  15. Would the P14 and the Springfield have possibly replaced the Lee Enfield ? Both are based on Mauser designs after all. The experience from the Boer war was if the Mauser being the superior rifle.