M1917 Run and Gun (The ‘Merican Enfield)

By popular request, in the episode of TFBTV we rounded up an M1917 rifle made by Winchester and took it to the run and gun course. These are Mauser derived rifles with wonderful sights that cock on close and are a true joy to shoot. But, how will it perform?

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Transcript …

– [Voiceover] Hey guys it’s Alex C with TFBTV and for today’s run and gun we’re going to be using a M1917, sometimes called the American Infield.

These are actually based on the British P14 rifle which was based on their P13 which was based on a Mauser so yeah it’s got some interesting parentage.

These are very unique looking rifles especially for World War I and numerically they were actually the main rifle of the United States infantry.

More of these were issued than Springfield rifles.

This one, of course, was made by Winchester.

Winchester made quite a few.

The controls on these are excellent.

If you’re a Mauser guy, you’ll feel right at home.

The main difference from a 98 or something like that is their cock on close, but you will notice the bolt is, essentially, all Mauser.

You can see that great big claw extractor and the big frontal locking lugs and everything like that.

Not too hard to pin what it’s based on really.

The safety is very nice, actuated by your thumb.

The bolt handle placement is very good on this rifle.

The British have really had that down since the SMLE.

Very quick to make follow up shots with on the M1917 or the P14 rifles.

These are, of course, chambered in 30-06 and they will hold six in the magazine.

We are only going to use five to be able to compare it against other rifles we’ve done this with.

The big selling point on these is they’re rear aperture sighted, which for World War I was actually very advanced, very unique.

It wasn’t the only rifle that was rear aperture sighted, but that was a big deal back then.

You had a big, long sight radius.

And the front sight is a simple post.

We’re going to fire a total of 25 shots on the course with four reloads.

Five advancing, five kneeling, five advancing, five kneeling, and the last five advancing.

Let’s see how the M1917 performs.

– Alright so here we go with the M1917.

These are really cool guns and I can’t wait to see how this goes.

(gun fire and bullets hitting metal) Let’s go talk about that, I really like this gun.

Alright I can tell you I genuinely enjoyed shooting this rifle.

I forgot that they thump pretty hard despite weighing as much as they do.

But, once I got in the zone and I really got used to it and everything, it was just phenomenal.

I felt great.

I’ll put the totals hits versus misses here.

I feel like if I redid that I could get 25 out of 25, but with the run and gun course, we generally just do one run.

And that’s what you get.

We feel that’s kinda the best way to do this.

So, once I kinda got into the zone and started doing the thumb and pointer on the bolt handle and the middle finger on the trigger, I really started going fast and felt more confident and it was just a really nice run.

This is an amazing rifle, the M1917s are great.

If I was in World War I I’d probably take one of these over anything else.

– [Voiceover] So the M1917 is what happens when you take a Mauser action and add wonderful sights to it.

This is really just an amazing rifle.

It shot wonderfully.

I’m very inspired to actually take this out now and shoot it a lot more and see what I can do at longer range and maybe some hand loads and stuff like that because I really didn’t know what to expect from this run.

I’ve shot this a little bit, but never with haste or anything.

I was reminded of how much I hate Springfield 1903 clips with the little inner clip that easily separates from the main body, but that’s inherent to the clips not necessarily the design of this specific rifle.

This run was great, I had a lot of fun doing it.

I’m reminded of how much I like the M1917s and P14 rifles at this time.

I also like to thank Ventura Munitions for helping us out with the cost of ammo.

Big thanks to everybody watching as well.

See ya next time.

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Darkpr0

    Ross Mark III. Make my happy thought come true. 🙂

    • LG

      The Ross had excellent sights. The rest of the Ross is excellent on the range but suboptimal in the mud of the trenches. Still, a lot of snipers preferred and stuck to the Ross in The Great War.

      • Darkpr0

        To be fair, I’m not certain that anyone in 1907 could have predicted the mud of Ypres. It was a commercial rifle that turned military, and its design shows it. All that said this is a range test, and it does pretty darn well on ranges. New Zealand’s milsurp matches frequently have Rosses going head to head with K31s and defending themselves with valour.

        • LG

          The Ruskies used Rosses, modified to shoot the Ruski round, to win the Running Boar event in the Olympics in the late 50’s or early 60’s.

      • Tassiebush

        I read they can be incorrectly assembled in a way that can fire whilst not locked too but they do sound awesome anyway.

        • Alex A.

          While it is possible, you need to be willfully ignorant of how the Ross rifle functions (read stupid) in order for that to happen.

          • Tassiebush

            I am not familiar with them but it’d be pretty rare a gun that you couldn’t see how it locks up from that era. I’d imagine it’d take a special type of ignorance.

          • UnrepentantLib

            Forgotten Weapons did a video on the Ross and how the bolt could be incorrectly assembled, including firing one with an incorrectly assembled bolt. Surprisingly, in this instance it was not as catastrophic as it might have been. But it still would pretty much ruin your day.

          • Tassiebush

            Thanks for the tip I shall look it up. I guess it would behave like a blowback using the soft tissue and cheek bone as the spring. Very unpleasant but it isn’t automatically a killer.

    • The_Champ

      In C&Rsenal’s video on the Ross, they cover a ton of teething problems the Ross had, which amounted to far more than just a sensitivity to mud. That said, he claims that most of the problems were worked out however by that time the powers that be made the pretty sane decision to switch to the SMLE.

      I too would love to add a Ross in full military garb to my safe. Testing just how accurate unmodified Milsurp rifles are is really a blast.

    • MadKaw69

      Read “A Rifleman Went to War” by Col. McBride. About a WWI Sniper. His views on the Ross made me want to own one!

  • Pete Sheppard

    My maternal granddad carried an M1917 across Europe during the Great War. I used to have one myself, but sold it in a moment of stupidity. Compared to the early ’03 Springfield, the rear sight is a marvel of simplicity. I WANT ANOTHER ONE!!!

  • gunsandrockets

    So, how does the M1917 compare to the MAS 36?

  • surlypat

    I’ve recently acquired one of these. Is it worth getting a Parker Hale adjustable rear to allow for better accuracy at 100-300yds. The stock sight has no windage & only has a 200yd zero I believe

  • LG

    You are too young. The M1917 has no windage adjustment below the armorer level. In the first National Match after The Great War the manual for the M1917 had pictures for sighting changes for various winds at the known stages. The Marines had modified their ’03s with larger rear apertures, wider and taller front sight. With a new zero of 100 yards, it would shoot rings around the M1917. The handling of the M1917 never came up to the ’03. Production and the desire to service one rifle only made the Army shove the M1917 out to army soldiers in Europe. But, Sgt. Alvin York did it with a M1917 so what more needs to be said. In his memoirs he regrets giving up his 03 for “the English rifle”.

    • I dunno, I like my 1903 quite a lot, but I think the 1917 has the ergonomic advantage, especially when shooting quickly.

    • iksnilol

      Quite funny that York lamented giving up his rifle considering that the ’03 Springfield is basically a German rifle.

      • So is the 1917.

        • iksnilol

          So the American rifle was German and the British rifle was also German?

          Plain confusing it is now.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Metaphorically speaking, it’s similar to the British Royal family: genetically German, but all Brit in attitude (barring the occasional HitlergruĂź). It’s the Edward VIII of rifles. ?

    • ElderAmbassador

      Spot On! If your 1917 was not “on” for windage when you got it, it was
      ALL “Kentucky windage” hold off to get a hit. NOT a “Rifleman’s” rifle, but good enough for draftees.

  • Alex A.

    The reason there were more M1917 rifles in American service was because the M1917 was issued to the National Army (soldiers drafted service during the conflict), while the M1903 was issued to the Regular Army (professional soldiers who enlisted in peacetime). Because National Army troops outnumbered Regular Army Troops by a considerable margin, it is no surprise that it would be in service in greater numbers than the M1903.

    In regards to stripper clips, try Swedish Mauser clips. I’ve heard they are much better than .30-’06 clips for American clip-fed bolt actions.

    • LG

      I believe that the U.S. Army, had the war lasted longer, was going to phase out the “03 in Europe for the M1917, even in regular army units. The Army thought that it would be easier logistically to maintain one main battle rifle in the field rather than two. The Marines did not go for that philosophy. The ’03 that my grandfather was issued at Paris Island was the same that he carried in Europe and the same that he purchased upon leaving the corps after The Great War.

      • UnrepentantLib

        As I understand the story, the reason we got the M1917 Enfield was because the British had contracted with US companies for Pattern 14’s and there were three factories up and running. By the time the US entered the war British production of No. 1 Mk. III’s had caught up with demand and they didn’t need more P 14’s. So there were three factories available and the conversion to .30-06 was easy. I think the M1917 might also have been a little cheaper to produce than the Springfield.

        • LG

          the best is whart Art Arpin, A Squared, did with the M1917 actions. The Hannibal rifles he produced were true “big sticks”.

    • Alex A.

      The M1903 would never have been replaced by the M1917. It was only to be a substitute standard rifle until M1903 production could be stepped up to meet wartime demands. There were studies undertaken after the war to judge the suitability of the M1917 for replacement of the M1903. However, nothing came of them because the design was not “born in the US”, which was a big deal and why the M1903 was adopted in the first place, to replace the foreign-designed Norwegian Krag.

  • Matt Shermer

    Does this mean that the M1917 takes the place of your favorite Gewehr 98 as your go-to World War 1 rifle Alex?

  • The M1917 is an absolutely fabulous rifle that combines many of the ergonomic advantages of the Lee-Enfield with the awesome Mauser action. They are one of my favorite guns to shoot.

    The P13 that nearly was adopted by the Brits before World War I is also a fascinating weapon. It was basically identical to the later M1917, except that it combined an absolutely ridiculous magnum 7mm caliber – the .276 Enfield, a close equivalent to the modern day 7mm Rem Mag – with the volley sights that early British Lees are known for. It was a concept that was proven obsolete basically on Day 1 of World War I, but the Brits, French, Russians, and Americans all went for it before the war.

    Had Gavrillo Princip waited 5 years or so (hah!), maybe the Brits would have been fighting the Great War with the best human-engineered rifle in the world, firing an absolutely absurd round.

  • mazkact

    My best Offhand scores in Service RIfle vintage or otherwise have come with my M1917. My perfect rifle would be a M1917 with a Singer sight modfied with a windage adjustment.

  • John

    The real Alvin C. York used P13 rifle do thing he did in world war one. But in movie about life they have Gray Copper shooting Springfield rifle.

    • LG

      In his memoirs, York states that he was forced to exchange his beloved ’03 for “the British rifle”. But I believe that it was still in 30-06 caliber so as to be a M1917. I do not believe that York’s unit was using 303 as their primary rifle caliber. Also remember he put down a bayonet charge of about six Feld Grau with his 1911 sidearm. York’s basic training in the states was with the ’03.

    • Alex A.

      York was armed with an M1917, not a P’13. The P’13 was only ever issued on a limited trials basis in 1912 and saw no service during the war.

  • Travis

    Looks like the action is identical to an 1893 Spanish Mauser… Poor 93, no one talks about them, but they sure had a significant role in American history and really caused Americans to rethink the features that they wanted on a rifle after suffering great losses against an army armed with them.

    • Alex A.

      It was likely inspired by the M1895, which the British encountered in the hands of the Boers in the Second Boer War of 1899-1902.

  • MadKaw69

    Just a tip. I apologize if this is already common knowledge, I just learned this myself, but I found that you can use Swedish Mauser stripper clips for the 30-06 rather than the G.I. ones. They work great and seem to be way more robust.

  • MRHapla

    When is a weapon ‘too old’ to shoot? Assuming proper maintenance, obvious condition…

    Is some guy going to do a run and gun with an M1917 in 2117?

  • UnrepentantLib

    Thanks for posting. One of my favorite rifles. My dad had a sporterized M1917 he bought in the ’30’s for his deer rifle. The main criticism I’ve read of the M1917 and the Pattern 14 was that it was too long and a too heavy. That didn’t seem to be a problem for you.

  • Tassiebush

    Certainly makes me want a M17 or P14 or even a sporterized version of one or the other

  • Thos Fowler

    Thank you for this review…I have long enjoyed the 1917 AND the P-14 rifles…they are nice to shoot offhand, where they hang right on the target. Keep up these kind of reviews, please.

  • scaatylobo

    LOVED IT, proving what any older guy already knew = the bolt action military rifle was made to be a fighting tool and an “assault” rifle.
    They can and will still do what they were intended for,saving lives and making the world a safer place.