Questions & answers

questions & answers

Canfield, Bruce N

U.S. Military Model Designations

Q Can you explain the significance-and formula for determining-Army “M” numbers? How is it that both the “M1911A1” pistol and the “M1” Garand were named in obviously different ways?

A The methodology of determining the Model designation for U.S. military equipment was easy until the late 1920s. Prior to that time, the year in which an arm was adopted was the Model designation. For example, the Model 1903 rifle was adopted in calendar year 1903, the Colt M1911 .45 pistol in calendar year 1911 and so forth. Among the last U.S. military arms with the year of adoption as the Model designation was the Model 1928 Thompson submachine gun.

In the late 1920s, the procedure was changed, and the Model designation was changed to M (for Model). The first service rifle adopted after the change in nomenclature was the “U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30 M1.” The first carbine adopted after the change was the M1 Carbine. The situation becomes really cloudy when subsequent arms were adopted. For example, the next standardized service rifle after the M1 was the M14. The presumed reason for skipping from the M1 to M14 was because there were 12 rifles considered for adoption before the M14 was standardized in 1957. There was also an experimental M15 rifle, which was followed by the standardized M16.

Substantive changes to a basic model were designated by “Alteration” codes consisting of an A (followed by a number). For example, the M1911 was followed by the updated M1911A1 pistol. The second version of the Ml carbine was the M1A1. The second variation of the M16 rifle was the M16A2, and the third variant was the M16A3.-BRUCE N. CANFIELD

CMP M1903A3 Variants

Q Some time ago I purchased a Springfield Model 1903A3 from the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The rifle had an unusual modification by the addition of a second set of swivels. I have not been able to obtain any information regarding this modification. Please let me know if you have any information.

A All of the various types of M1903s recently sold through the CMP were formally in the possession of the Greek government. The Greeks were furnished these rifles after World War II under American military aid programs, and they were eventually returned to the United States and subsequently sold via the CMP. Most of the rifles were subjected to various types of modifications while in the possession of the Greeks. The modified sling swivel, as found on your rifle, has been observed on a number of these guns. It is theorized that the modification was performed for use by some type of Greek military mounted unit to make the rifle easier to carry on horseback. In any event, the modification was performed while the rifles were in the possession of the Greek government.-BRUCE N. CANFIELD

Focusing Eyepieces

Q I have noticed several scopes at the range have their eye-pieces screwed all the way in-just as they come from the factory. The shooters using these scopes claim the reticles are in focus. I have found my focus to be two to three turns from the shipping position. I wear corrective lenses, but my oldest scope is more than 30 years old and the reticle is still in position. How many turns does one make on the eyepiece of a scope to have the reticle focus for 20/20 vision?

A There is no set, standard number of turns required to focus the eyepiece of a rifle-scope for critical reticle sharpness for any specific visual capability, such as 20/20 vision. Among the variables are: The eyepiece setting when the scope was shipped; manufacturing variation from one scope sample to another; the pitch of the focusing threads; and condition of the user’s eye.

In 20 years of handling a wide variety of scope sights, I have encountered scopes that required no ocular adjustment at all and still others that required only moderate focusing movement to sharpen the reticle for me. The latter were in the majority.-HUGH BIRNBAUM

Shooters Lexicon

BORE-(1.) The interior of a firearm’s barrel located ahead of the chamber. (2.) British synonym for shotgun gauge.

BLUNDERBUSS-A short-barreled, usually muzzleloading, firearm with a flared muzzle.

Copyright National Rifle Association of America Jul 2004

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