New Discoveries

This page will be dedicated to free teasers of interesting documents obtained from the National Archives. We will be posting interesting documents we find and think are worth sharing under the subject matter they are found in the National Archives.


American Expeditionary Forces (World War I)

Now, the Model 1903 Service Rifle has long been plagued with the stigma of “low serial numbers” (serial numbers under 800,000 Springfield Manufacture and 285,507 Rock Island manufacture) which were production techniques that turned the rifle’s receiver into its own rifle grenade.
We are not refuting that this problem did not exist and did not produce a significant problem for the Chief of Ordnance, however, It appears the Model 1917 may have produced safety hazards.
New documents from the American Expeditionary Forces indicate there may be a problem with either ammunition quality or loading incorrect ammunition into the rifle.
We would like to point out these are just a few samples, there are a couple hundred documents in these files which a large portion cover this issue.
But it appears that the Model 1917 was not “safe” from its own hazards in France.

Here is a breakdown of which units are equipped by which type of small arm. The breakdown is by division.

There was a huge demand and lack of supply for rifles fitted with telescopic rifle sights.  They initially wanted to allocate 144 per division, however in theater they did not have sufficient numbers of sniper rifles that were desired and could only issue 96 per division.

Here is a list of material held in the AEF at the conclusion of World War I items that are to be shipped to the Springfield Armory Museum. The Curator of Springfield Armory has advised us that many of these items are still stored at the museum.

Office of Chief of Ordnance

1919 and 1920 M1903 National Match rifles are extremely rare. Springfield Armory did not began direct sales to the public until 1922 through the Division of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM), the precursor to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). Collectors and historians believed that only officers could purchase rifles at the National Matches which were and are still held at Camp Perry in Ohio. This document outlines that any participants in the National Matches could purchase not only rifles, but pistols and revolvers as well. Officers, enlisted and even civilians participated in these matches and were able to purchase these firearms as outlined by War Department Bulletin Number 18.

This is the document from the Office of the Chief of Ordnance signed by John T. Thompson (later the inventor of the Thompson Submachine Gun) to Colt, that the United States will be adopting the M1911 which became possibly the most iconic American side-arm.


United States Marine Corps

Here we have a 1922 dated document describing the replacement scabbards which were to be made at the Philadelphia Navy Yard by the Marines. We took some pictures of the Marine “side stitch” versus the Army “tubular” canvas cover as a reference.
Standard is on top or on left
USMC is on the bottom or right
(Depending on the picture)


Here are copies of a contract in 1942 between RF Sedgley and the United States Marine Corps for replacement M1903 sight blades of varying height between 0.35 to 0.45. Below are some examples found on USMC M1903 rifles. Pictures are used with permission from one of our supporters Please check them out as well.

Here is a report on infantry weapons in combat from the Marine Raiders in New Georgia.

Chief of Arms

Here are some cover sheets of various Infantry Board Reports conducted by the Chief of Arms prior to World War II.


Will be updated periodically, based on what intriguing data we come across.  We will be building on this regularly so check back to see what neat stuff we throw out as for fun reading.

August 16, 2008 – We’re doing some work on “Trench Guns” for one of our colleagues that is doing a YouTube episode on them, These pictures were discovered and we thought they were worth sharing. The full report as other accompanying documentation will be uploaded as well for a more complete story.

In April 1916 under the direction of Major General Leonard Wood (President Roosevelt’s Commanding Officer during the Spanish American War), directed 1st Lt. Thompson Lawrence (stationed in the CZ) to test the concept of a “searchlight” on a Riot Gun (shotgun). He was to report to West Point to conduct the tests. He was shipped this experimental M1903 (devised at Frankford Arsenal) and a Riot Gun (no pictures). Needless to say it was found to not be advantageous. But notice the no-bolt stock, and early flattop handguard. (Sorry no SN noted.)



June 29, 2018 – Here we have documentation obtained from the files of the Office of Chief of Ordnance, concerning the location of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Alvin C. York. His exploits are well known. His story is made famous in the  1941 movie “Sergeant York” starring Gary Cooper. Please note, the Chief of Ordnance makes no mention of the pistol being lost or st’olen. He simply says he it would be too expensive to search for.

The CMP is getting ready to release the last stored M1911s. Perhaps its waiting to be found with a rich history which would otherwise be lost or ignored.

You can read “about history” or you can “read history” from the primary data that shaped our nation’s small arms history.

We are always digitizing new files. Check back regularly!!!