Springfield Armoury Model 1901
The Model 1901 was the precursor to the better known Springfield M1903. Developed at the request of the Chief of Ordnance General Adelbert Rinaldo Buffington to replace the M1892 Krag-Jorgensen which had been found severely wanting during the Spanish-American War when the underpowered .30-40 Krag round proven to be outclassed by the modern high velocity ammunition used by the Spanish.
The Mausers used by the Spanish during the war proved to be fast actioned, accurate and reliable. In response the Ordnance Department began developing a Mauser actioned rifle abandoning the Krag and its rotary magazine which had to be loaded with cartridges individually.
Krag M1892 (source)
Captain William Crozier, who would eventually replace Buffinton as Chief of Ordnance, has been credited with the design of the rifle. The M1901 was never officially adopted by the US Army but was an experimental transitional rifle combining some of the characteristics of the Krag with the new Mauser action. The M1901 featured the Mauser’s stout bolt and internal box magazine which could be loaded with stripper clips. The rifle retained the length and similar dimensions to the Krag as well as the stock grooves which were also used in the M1903’s stock. It also adds the ramrod bayonet which would be used in the M1903. A small run of the experimental rifles was produced and following successful preliminary testing wider scale production of some parts was begun in the anticipation of it being adopted by the Ordnance Department.
Early Springfield M1903 chambered in .30-03 (source)
However, following a round of more extensive tests a number of changes were called for. The first of which was the reduction of the weapon’s overall length from 30 to 24 inches this made the rifle handier for mounted troops and removed the need for a separate carbine version. The rear sight was also moved rearward to the front of the receiver and the handguard was extended the full length of the barrel. The rod bayonet was retained as was the rifle’s basic bolt design although the surface area of the bolt locking ‘safety’ lug was increased.
Following these changes Crozier authorised production of the M1903 in June 1903, initially chambered in the new .30-03 round the first M1903s retained the Krag’s rear sight and the M1901’s ramrod bayonet. But within three years, the design was again revised a number of times with the replacement of the rear sight and the rod bayonet with a stouter sword bayonet and finally the rifle was re-chambered to fire the .30-06 Spitzer round. The Springfield M1903 in its final incarnation went on to arm US troops during the First and Second World Wars and the M1903A4 saw the rifle repurposed as a sniper’s rifle.
Rifles: An Illustrated History of their Impact, D. Westwood, (2005)
The Springfield 1903 Rifles, W.S. Brophy, (1985)
Military Small Arms, I. Hogg & J. Weeks, (1985)