As President and well-liked war hero, Theodore Roosevelt was a single of the initially in line to get a single of the Army’s new M1903 rifles– but wanted it his way. With that, in honor of the 26th President’s 161st birthday this weekend, we take a appear at a single of his most intriguing firearms.
Roosevelt, who earned probably a higher legend as a hunter and conservationist than any other American, had by 1903 led the New York City Police Division, been governor of the Empire State, was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and had famously helped recruit and lead a regiment of volunteers up San Juan (Kettle) Hill in the Spanish-American War. At age 42, he became the youngest president in history– a record that remains currently, right after currently filling the position of vice-president.
As he had initially-hand knowledge with the Army’s Krag .30-40 rifles in combat, and later became involved straight in the improvement of the new M1903 then getting developed at Springfield Armory, it was organic that he moved to obtain a single of these fine new bolt-action rifles for his personal use in the field.
In November 1903, TR reached out to Brig. Gen. William Crozier, then the Army’s Chief of Ordnance, like his private rifle, for reference. The topic: acquiring a sporterized M1903 developed to spec.
The request and sample Winchester quickly located their way to Springfield Armory exactly where Col. Frank Phipps, then head of the historic facility, which dated to 1791, ran point on the project.
The trigger pull was set at four.five-pounds. The major surface of the M1903 for the President was roughed to stop glare in the field. A Lyman adjustable sight was fitted with a series of 3 distinctive wedges sent back to the White Residence for critique.
The stock was crafted from the Winchester design and style “of a pretty peculiar shape” to what would be described currently as a Monte Carlo-style sporter, total with checkering on the forearm and pistol grip and a cheek rest on the left side of the buttstock. Phipps wrote that “it expected a good deal of care to manufacture.” A particular industrial buttplate, with a price of 40-cents, was attached.
Lacking a bayonet lug or attachment point, the rifle had a brief blade front sight rather than the M1903’s taller a single, and, as the forearm was reduce down to expose the barrel, only a single band. The rifle was tested by a single Mr. RT Hare, an specialist marksman at the Armory with years of knowledge, and located to be correct.
The custom M1903, with the bill, was sent back to the White Residence on February 1, 1904, with Phipps commenting to Crozier that, “I hope he will like the gun, and that it will prove satisfactory.”
Apparently, the rifle was a hit as it was promptly paid for by Roosevelt out of his pocket with verify No. 1282, dated February five, 1904, for $42.13. This quantity, adjusted for inflation, is about $1,200 in today’s dollars. Of note, the normal Springfield M1903 of the day price the government $11 apiece, which currently is about $300– a bargain!
Crozier explained to the President, in a letter at present in the Dickinson State University’s Theodore Roosevelt Center, that Phipps, “took good interest in the gun and insured by his care and watchfulness that the material and workmanship should really be the very best.”
He was spotted with the rifle on at least two massive game hunts, in 1905 in Colorado for bear, and a 1910 African safari.
The rifle currently is preserved in the collection of the Sagamore Hill National Historic Internet site, who graciously supplied Guns.com with pictures of it in its existing state.
As for the far more normal GI-concern Springfield M1903, it remained in standard U.S. military service by way of Planet War II and nonetheless endures in modest numbers as a line thrower as effectively as in ceremonial and drill use. Following all, it was great sufficient for the Bull Moose.