Videos: Pedersen Device and Modernized FG42

A couple video that went up this past week on Full30 that may be if interest…

First, footage of a Pedersen Device being fired. This was taken by Chuck (of GunLab.net) and I put it together into a video. Thanks, Chuck!

Second, a pair of videos of SMG Guns’ first experimental iteration of a modernized FG-42. While it was developed into the M60, the FG-42 never had a chance to show what it was capable of becoming as a shoulder rifle. SMG put together one with modern optics capability, a shortened barrel, and some other features, and sent it down for Karl and I to test out. We have two videos up, one of Karl shooting it in a 2-gun match, and one of he and I discussing its history and modifications.

modernized fg42

 

55 Comments

  1. It. Would be nice if SMG could produce a replica Pederson Device that ATF would approve as a semiauto. Wondering if adding to a 03 would be/require a / some kind of permit? Seems not much different than adding a 1911 frame to a MecTech. I bet there would be a lot collectors of 03’s jump on a reproduction in 380. No doubt the schematics are available. Just a thought.
    I am back home , catching up.

    • Good to have you back!

      There are a couple issues involved in making repro Pedersen devices. The most practical is that they are apparently nightmarish inside. Part of Chuck’s intent when he took this video was to look into the feasibility of making them, and I think he came away scrapping the idea. And, of course, there is the ATF situation. I don’t think it would be an SBR or AOW because it can’t be fired without being attached to a rifle (similar to how a 10″ complete AR upper isn’t an SBR because it can’t be fired without a lower).

      There would also be some usability issues, because the parent 1903 requires a few modification beyond the ejection port cut in the side. The MkI guns retain those ejection ports, but I believe the other modifications (to trigger and sear) were undone when the rifles were refurbished. And you would have to stick to some sort of .30-cal cartridge in order to use the 1903’s barrel (and I expect 7.62×25 would be too powerful). All these things can be dealt with, but they add up to a bunch of barriers limiting the number of potential buyers.

      • “Pedersen devices”
        Later J.D.Pedersen also patent the alternative solution – basically linking two firearms mechanisms in one system with over/under barrel arrangement, this is US Patent 1487801 which you can read here: http://www.google.ne/patents/US1487801 which allow use of different bore barrels (also of different twist rate, which is not possible in one-barrel design).

        • “and I expect 7.62×25 would be too powerful”
          How is the biggest possible overall cartridge length in Pedersen Device or say new developed device to fit instead of M1903 bolt?

          • .30 Luger has, according to C.I.P., almost the same bullet diameter as 7.65mm Long and to my knowledge the French did not change it from the .30 Pedersen. Overall length is similar as well. Of course .30 Luger is nowadays only marginally more common than 7.65mm Long and it might be too powerful as well.

  2. Well that Fg42 modernized seemed to kick ass, with less kick… The bipod was probably for full auto originally, maybe it’s surplus to requirements given it seems quite a pleasant shooter for the calibre.

      • Probably should have watched the commentary video before commenting, with more rails you could fit flip up open sights, polymer stocks probably a good idea, sort if competition to that Socom is it… M14, might be better it seemed to have less flip, recoil or something than watching a video of the short M14 mind you perhaps it is heavier, you could have a plastic plug as a mag well dust protector.

        It definitely deserves modernising, could be great it looks pretty good.

        • oooh I like that, does it “bump fire, like those purposely designed stocks for more auto” out of interest, why not make a new trigger, Stg57 type but refined if possible for simplicity etc.

          • Muzzle flash… Can it not be sleeved, coned rearwards at an angle without impacting in functionality, widen the port or something. Maybe a pecheneg sleeve, Lewis gun lark. Lighten everything else…

    • Em2 auto mag loading, go the whole hog, it’s true this video shows it, it holds on target somehow. Non reciprocating bolt handle, left hand side perhaps. If that doesn’t sell – for a reasonable sum, sum as the worlds best rifle, nothing will.

      Wants to be around $2,500 to compete with those overpriced Acr’s is it. 7.62 Nato in this format seems to be a major improvement, weight… Well if you hit, more. Well… It isn’t that heavy.

  3. The fg 42 looks cool, although I prefer the original replica (sounds weird!), but it needs to have polymer parts, rails all over it and has to be black otherwise you can’t call it “tactical” apparently. I still think it is beyond awesome that such a small company as SMG can pull this off.

  4. I’m curious about the match protocol that includes someone telling the shooter how many hits they have, and things like “Don’t forget your weight.” What’s the story with that? I’m not complaining, just curious.

    I used to shoot USPSA matches on regular basis and part of the “game” was that under pressure you might forget things like that.

    • That stage was a bit more complex than usual, and you can’t really see form the video. Two of the targets were MGM triple-droppers, and required two hits per location until fully dropped, and then only required one (an incentive for using a heavier caliber rifle). So we were just being helpful by calling out some of the hit requirements (and did that sort of thing for everyone shooting, not just Karl and I). The match doesn’t have any prizes, and tends to have more camaraderie than strict competitiveness.

      I should add that light-hearted heckling is as common as helpful comments from the peanut gallery when shooting. 🙂

  5. Hello Ian:

    This video was very interesting. I would like to know if there are any pictures of the inside parts for the Pederson Device parts. I would be willing to pay for detailed drawings or scalable parts photographs. I have CNC machines and can lay my hands on both water jet and laser cutting machines.

    In the past, I have contacted the REMINGTON Company and was told that all the original drawings were destroyed during World War 2 scrap drive. Contacts at the Smithsonian and the West Point Museum also have been unable to find specific details. A long time ago, I had one of these devices and over 1000 rounds of ammunition and had a blast shooting it. Boy, do I wish that I had not sold it.

    The rifle you showed in the video was a Springfield Model 1903 Mark I. It differs from the Standard 1903 in:
    1. The receiver had the cut out on the left side for ejecting the spent cartridge:
    2. The trigger assembly was modified to provide a sear to prevent full automatic firing.
    3. The stock was inletted to clear ejection port.
    Most MARK 1’s found today do not have the trigger/sear and will have been refurbished with standard 03 stocks.

  6. Can the sights be used on a rifle when the Pederson device is installed?

    Regarding the Pederson device and the ATF, I suppose it would depend on if they considered the chamber insert to be a receiver or not. If it has no receiver, then it is just an accessory, neither here nor there so long as it could not readily be converted to full auto (and based on a Springfield sear, that seems unlikely). Legally it could be no different than a 22 conversion slide for a 1911.

    • The “trough” on top of the Device’s cocking piece is to allow the use of the standard ’03 front and rear sights.

      Although I suspect there would be a specific sight setting rather like the “D” (battlesight) setting on an AKM or SKS on a Device modified ’03.

      With the rear sight at that setting, the rifle would be dead center with the Pedersen round at(probably) 100 yards.

      Just a guess.

      cheers

      eon

  7. Re the Pedersen device, one issue that bothered the Ordnance authorities at the time was the possibility that while changing from bolt to Device and vice versa, a soldier in a trench might lose part of one or the other.

    Considering the “one piece” design of the Device and the standard ’03 bolt, I consider this a minor problem at most.

    I’ve always thought the great missed opportunity with the Device was all those “single heat treatment” early ’03s that sat in store due to concerns about failures in service due to pressure issues. Using them as the “chassis” for dedicated Pedersen weapons would have been a sensible solution, as their receivers would have lasted probably forever at the Pedersen round’s .32 ACP- level pressures.

    As for the round’s lack of power, as several posters here have noted, the French 7.65 Long is ballistically closer to the 7.65 Parabellum than it is to the .32 ACP. Given about 16 to 18 inches of barrel, that loading shouldn’t overstress the Pedersen system yet should still deliver noticeable wallop at the receiving end.

    As for the Tactical FG-42, a variable gas port like the FAL’s would probably go a long way to solving any problems with more modern muzzle devices.

    The original funky pistol grip of the first version was actually intended for the same purpose as the side-mounted magazine. To make it easier to fire prone with your head and body as far down as possible. By comparison, prone firing with the MKb42/MP-43/Stg-44 family wasn’t much better than firing from kneeling due to the long magazine sticking down.

    An interchangeable magazine interface to allow the use of whatever .308 magazines were handy (M14, FAL, G3, etc.) would be interesting.

    Even more interesting would be a 9/10 scale version in .223 or 6.8 SPC, using M16 magazines. Rather like the CETME Ameli 5.56mm SAW, it would be a compact and powerful package for tactical applications.

    The TRW Low Maintenance Rifle of the 1970s owed a lot to the FG-42 concept, and its conception of a rifle intended to stand up to hard use with minimal maintenance is still valid today;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRW_Low_Maintenance_Rifle

    Given low enough weight and a reasonable pricetag, something similar would make excellent sense as a “truck rifle”, or to have in the closet next to your BOB.

    cheers

    eon

    • Sort of in relation to the magazine being on the side, prone position… I can get that, hmmmm… These 6.mm aren’t 7.62Nato though, the 6. Whatever mm won’t fill in the gap they will supplement it better I think.

    • There’s an advert in a recent g&a mag I have for a .26 Nosler says it’s flat to 415.

      Which I assume 415yrds with a flat trajectory, sounds good for combat no sight changes etc.

    • Did the .32acp type round gain any velocity through the long barrel… It might have worked, 7.62x25mm doesn’t seem to rattle a Ppsh much but it works if it hits you, but that might hit you alot – This would hurt clearly but, maybe the firer would doubt it, so it wouldn’t.

      • “Stop it, STOP! He’s bleeding out already!” If the first shot wasn’t instantly lethal at range with the victim trying to patch himself up before a medic got around, I suppose you wouldn’t try the coup de grace with nine more bullets, would you?

        • The Pedersen Device’s 40-round magazine wasn’t designed in anticipation of forty “one shot stops” per loadup.

          Pedersen was one of the first to recognize that humans are hard to kill, harder to “stop”, and that freighting the target down with as much lead as feasible was the key to combat effectiveness with pistol-caliber rounds.

          John Moses Browning must have agreed. Dieudonne Saive may have completed the P-35 High Power after Browning’s death, but the 13-round magazine was Browning’s idea.

          Trivia note; One early prototype of the High Power, built to a French RFP, was in 7.65 Long. Illustrated in the NRA Firearms Disassembly Book Vol 2, Pistols, not only was it in a caliber other than 9 x 19mm, but it had a Walther-type double-action with the trigger bar on the right as on the MP/HP/P.38 family.

          The French apparently thought the .30 Pedersen/7.65 Long family of rounds were powerful enough for military use. And with anything from 14 to 40 rounds per magazine on one “fill-up”, they may have been right.

          With that much on tap, you can afford to “double-tap”. Two or three times, if necessary.

          cheers

          eon

          • With the pedersen device I wonder if the reduction in noise using such a mild round might have limited the suppressing fire effectiveness. Then again it would have inflicted lots of casualties if people’s heads didn’t stay down and the reduced signature would have it’s own benefits given the close range shooting and noise rich environment of the trenches. I must say it’s fantastic to see footage of this. I never expected to be able to see that!

        • Tassiebush;

          I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right. The low sound signature of the Pedersen round in that long barrel would easily be “lost” in the general tumult of a WW1 battlefield, especially in the confusion of a night assault.

          In a trench raid covered by HMG fire once the balloon went up, the .22 like “cracks” of rapid Pedersen fire would be drowned out by everything else.

          In a night raid, there’s a good chance that the general drumroll of artillery duels would cover a round or two being fired to eliminate sentries, etc.

          The general use of sound suppressors for covert applications for the last century has caused the idea of systems that are inherently “low signature” to be largely overlooked. Although Stephen Hunter wrote an entire novel about the concept, The Master Sniper.

          It’s something that really deserves a second look.

          cheers

          eon

          • “Inherently low signature” meaning “subsonic”, I suppose. It is pretty much impossible to make a supersonic projectile weapon very silent. If you have ever heard an air rifle (pellet gun) with a supersonic muzzle velocity fired, you should know what I mean. Even a .177 (4.5mm) 8 grain pellet will make a very noticeable crackling noise, whereas subsonic air rifles are more or less silent (their actual noise quality depends on the operating principle).

          • I’ve seen reference somewhere of a winchester 1892 in .32-20 being used for close range sniping at Gallipoli (an officer’s hunting rifle) by Australians. Ragnar Benson in Survival Poaching also talks about a .32acp chamber adapter in a .308 as an alternative to a silencer for deer poaching so the pedersen device seems to fit that potential quite well.

          • Eon I’ll keep an eye out for that book The Master Sniper. It sounds interesting.
            Euroweasel yes if it’s subsonic it’ll certainly be quieter but I’m speculating that even if not it’d still have a fairly minimal muzzle blast so it would still be hard to locate. Albiet slightly less so. You’d hear the crack but not know where it came from. Mind you I’ve got not experience being shot at though so I am really speculating. I’ll have to re-watch the video to see if there’s a crack to go with the shot. Also might have to do a slightly dangerous field test with .22lr hv vs .22lr subsonic ;-p

          • Euroweasel & Tassiebush;

            Speaking as someone who has “done it”, the ballistic “crack” of a bullet going over Mach 1 isn’t nearly as loud as the muzzle signature of the rifle.

            People use the terms “sound suppressor” and “silencer” interchangeably, but they’re two different bits of kit.

            A suppressor just contains the gases of the muzzle blast and releases them slowly, to eliminate that source of noise. It does nothing to eliminate the ballistic signature unless you use it with a subsonic load.

            The legendary Sionics Suppressor worked in exactly this way on the Ingram-designed MAC-10 SMG. I used MACs in both 9x19mm and .45 ACP in the 1970s, and I can assure you the .45 was quieter than the 9mm. But the 9mm signature really wasn’t anything that would have been obvious in, say, a trench raid.

            Think of a .177 pellet rifle vs. a .177 pellet pistol (about 1100 FPS MV vs 400 or so). Yes, the 9mm had a “crack”. No, it wasn’t nearly as loud as you might think once the KABANG of the muzzle signature was removed from the equation.

            Police sharpshooters used .308s with sound suppressors back then. They fired full-velocity match ammunition for maximum accuracy. The main purpose of the suppressor was to prevent the potential Threat from locating the sharpshooter’s position. The “crack” is much harder to localize, especially in a built-up area with buildings for it to echo off of and confuse the initial signature.

            A true “silencer” has a system for slowing not just the gases, but the bullet itself, to drop its MV below Mach 1 to entirely eliminate the muzzle signature. This usually works by bleeding gas from a modified barrel to reduce the pressure behind the bullet to start with. The WW2 High Standard HD suppressed .22 pistol, used by the OSS, worked on just this principle with .22 LR high Speed ammunition.

            More recently, the built-in silencer on the Heckler & Koch MP5SD uses this principle. It is often called a “suppressed” SMG, but that “suppressor” barrel is a true silencer, in that it actually uses back-pressure in its baffle system to keep the bullet below the speed of sound. The manual states that it is not to be used with “special” subsonic loads, as they generally will not develop enough recoil force to work the action consistently. Use it with NATO standard supersonic 9mm ammunition, and said bullet will leave the front end of the silencer at exactly 310 m/s. You lose some KE, but with a bolt lock it’s as nearly silent as a “conventional” firearm can get.

            The notorious 147-grain subsonic 9x19mm was developed by Naval BuOrd for use in the MP5K with separate sound suppressor used by SEAL Team 6. It won’t properly function the MP5SD. (The SEALs could have saved everyone a lot of grief if they’d just used the right MP5 variant to begin with.)

            So no, the “crack” of a .30 Pedersen bullet probably wouldn’t be much help to an enemy soldier in figuring out where the American soldier with the Pedersen was shooting from. Which was more or less the point of using it in the first place, I imagine.

            cheers

            eon

    • Hey eon I share your admiration for the TRW low maintenance rifle. There’s actually an article on it under rifles on the sidebar if you haven’t already seen it? Like pretty much everything else here it’s a mind blowingly awesome read!

    • The “modern” rifles, i.e., AK’s and AR’s are less than 10 years younger than the FG42.

      One of the M14’s, with a scope and a composite stock, in use right now by the military in Afghanistan, is mostly a design older than the FG42.

      The FG42 is remarkable for an “old” design, but it is also remarkable that not much of note has been designed about ten years after it was designed. Really, it is not that much older than other designs, rather, it laid away undeveloped for decades.

      • AR-18 was designed in the early 1960s and its derivatives have become fairly popular. The Steyr AUG, while in many ways derivative from earlier designs, was still a pretty significant new development in the 1970s, and it remains the most popular bullpup assault rifle design today, used by several countries.

        Of course you are still completely right in principle. Automatic rifle technology has become very mature during the last 60 years.

  8. For some time I’ve thought that a Pedersen type device that uses a roller lock system. Fire .30 carbine or 7.62×25. May have been of use into the 1960’s when there was still a lot of bolt action rifles held in reserve by the worlds militarys.

    Can not see it having a commercial value today, as it would be cheaper to just get regular rifle. It would be entertaining.

  9. Instead of having it eject to the left, a modern reproduction could eject to the bottom, through the magazine with the follower, spring and floorplate removed. That way, it could be used in any Springfield. There’s one huge problem solved. With bottom ejection, versions could also be made for the M1917 and Model 1891 Mosin-Nagant.

    • “With bottom ejection, versions could also be made for the M1917 and Model 1891 Mosin-Nagant.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedersen_device states that:
      “A Mark II Pedersen Device was also designed for the US Rifle, Model of 1917 (the American Enfield), and a similar prototype was made for the US Rifle, Model of 1916 (the Remington Mosin Nagant). Neither of those were ever put into production.”

      • True. But, my main point was that a replica Pedersen Device could be made that would be usable in rifles without the M1903 Mark 1s ejection port. The only special parts that would be needed (that I can think of off the top of my head) are a new magazine cutoff for the Springfield, and a revised trigger for both the Springfield and M1917. I am not sure what would be needed for the Mosin-Nagant, since it’s bolt is retained by the trigger.

  10. Built the Mosin-Nagant Pedersen device, and I will definitely come…. I’d flat love to shoot something like the French 7.65mm longue or what-have you using .312″ pistol bullets from a top-feed magazine ejecting out the bottom of a Mosin-Nagant 91/30 or M/38 carbine with the magazine floor plate and spring removed!!! How about a cartridge for the Mosin at about .32 H&R mag. levels? Seems feasible to me. (Or perhaps it is not, and I just really wish it was!)

    As for the Pedersen device, folks can supplement the excellent video with images online from the NRA firearm museum, and the excellent discussion of it in the Hatcher’s Notebook. He has a relative who puts his nose right on the end, much as recruits were once taught to hold the M16 so their aiming eye would be the same distance from the rear aperture sight for every shot, and holding his arm bent at the elbow in true old-skool “chicken wing” style, raised up a bit to open the shoulder pocket, and use just the right arm to support the weight of the rifle.

    I simply don’t know, but I’m inclined to think that the original John Cantius Garand design for the U.S. “light rifle” concept that ultimately resulted in the U.S. M1 carbine may have been a back-handed tribute to John Pedersen’s device, aka. “U.S. pistol, caliber .30 model of 1918” what with its straight high-capacity box magazine loaded in from the top at a 45 degree angle so the front sights could be used, and with ejection downward and to the left.

  11. Thank You, Ian.
    1.The footage removed my major doubt – how was the Pedersen device cooperating with the straight action hand operated rifle bolt (which, I assumed from the sketchy explanation in my source – who may have been underinformed himself – would have been retained). It turned out, that much more than the magazine had to be replaced for this to function.
    2. Another doubt was born from listening to the footage commentary, as well as from reading some of the comments.
    The question is: What cartridge were they using?
    I understand that “pitol-callibre” is a sort of a mental shortcut for many more parameters (length, load), not only callibre. Callibre-wise Mauser’s 7.62/3 (I think one of the former Commentators mentioned this, but used only dimensions, of which I am myself not sure) seems to be the closest. On the other hand, Mausers were not the official service pistols of the German armed forces, so the trophy cartridges would not be as plentiful, as Parabellum/Luger 7.65 or 9.00.
    Some Commentators mention Pedersen cartridges (pistol? developed specially for this weapon? this would not make much sense economically, it seems).
    Greetings and wishes of Merry Christmas to all Commentators,
    Andrzej

    • The cartridge used is 7.65x20mm, formally known in the US Army as .30-18 (caliber 0.30 inch, year of adoption 1918). Unlike the 7.63 Mauser, it was a straight-walled cartridge. There was no .30 caliber pistol cartridge in common American use at the time, so a new one had to be developed for the device.

      hhttp://www.municion.org/7_65x20/30Pedersen.htm

  12. Thank You, Ian.
    Now, Re: F-42.
    I don’t know what putting the tactical in quotation marks was supposed to mean.
    Anyway, that is a moot point, since I think that the quotation marks should be placed around “modernized”, instead. Because I do not seem to feel the need for that sort of weapon – all things being considered.
    My first question:
    1. What sort of ammunition it was firing in the footage (I am sorry if that information was given during the footaqe and in comment, and I missed it).
    This time it is not a moot point, because the whole history of this project revolves around the sort of ammunition it was to shoot.
    I did not know that the reason the German Paras at the Crete landing were shooting MP-40’s was the SNAFU (thank you for that). I thought at the time MP-40 (incorrecly known as Schmeisser) was thought to be an elite weapon.
    Definitely, it served the Fallschirmjaeger well in the 1940 invasion of Holland and Belgium – (both neutral countries), although their success with the formidable fortifications of Eben Emael may have been related to the forts having been built by … Krupp, a German corporation (three cheers for strict Belgian neutrality and the practicing of the ideals of free trade). The Germans barely won in Crete – their success due to the fact that a New Zealand commander withdrew his unit without orders, and without notification of his superiors. Still, the German casualties were so high, that Hitler forbade further development of this service as too expensive (Para units were fighting later as a regular infantry), let alone the weapon especially constructed for it.
    So, the emergence of this weapon was as much the result of trying to produce something better, but also due to the internecine inter-service rivalry (Paratroopers were part of the Luftwaffe, whose ego-maniac commander Goering treated the whole thing in terms of his own prestige.
    So, the idea was to provide the Paras (which were always small in numbers) with the weapon fitting their needs. This was dubious enough on economic grounds (and Hitler’s decision appears much more reasonable, as his plans for a Blitzkrieg fell through, and Paras were by definition a Blitzkrieg arm).
    First thing was that it should fire a regular rifle cartridge at full automatic (in the footage the shooter shoots only semi-automatic – and not at a distance of 400 yards). It turned out that even superbly trained soldiers (Paras usually are) had difficulty in controlling the weapon at full automatic. This was defeating the most important purpose of constructing the new weapon.
    Second, at that time regular rifle ammunition was already too strong for individual weapon, with the arrival of the Squad Automatic Weapons which took over the function of hitting group targets at large distances (which the rifle fire could perform only by firing salvos – I remember wondering at the Mauser rifles we had at our equivalent of ROTC, which were callibrated to 2,000 m – I was thinking what sort of Superman could hit the individual target at such a distance). The attempts made by Germans (Walter, Haenel) and by Russians (SWT, SWS)at constructing rifles firing full automatic were mjildly successful.
    Anyway, they both had been developing automatic weapons firing weaker cartridge. The Russians had made some attempt during the First World War with Avtomat Fiodorova firing Japanese 6mm cartride. Then during the Second World War at the same time they developed the weaker cartridge and teh weapon for it – the Germans the Maschinenpistole-43, which Hitler at first rejected, but then accepted it when it was “sold” to him again as the Surmgewehr-43. The Russians constructed the automatic rifle for the new weapon (which they may have copied from the Germans, but, on the other hand, this may have ben the idea that germinated from the first period of close military cooperation of Weimar Germany and Soviet Russia, before Hitler came to power) SKS, with the appearance of traditional rifle, with 10-rounds magazine. It was relatively short in service, and with the appearance of AK-47, SKS was relegated to minor duties and Asian allies. AK-47 may outwardly resemble StG-43 (so “copying” again?) but inside the principle is different. They also develped squad weapons for this new ammunition (belt-fed Diegtiarov, and Kalashnikov’s magazine-fed).
    With the apperance of the 5.56 ammunition (5.45 Russian) and the squad weapons developed for it, I am not sure what MILITARY purposes could the “modernized” FG-42 play?
    With respect, Andrzej

    • I don’t think the relatively quick fall of Eben Emael had anything to do with Krupp being the designer. The forts were designed before German Fallschirmjäger came to existence as a formidable military force, and the Belgians simply neglected to upgrade them against the new threat. One cannot really blame them much for that either, since before WW2 paratroopers were a completely unproven concept.

  13. Footage of a Pedersen actually firing! That’s pure gold!

    Now, here’s my second-hand Pedersen anecdote: My father served in the 13th. U.S. Cavalry Regiment when it was stationed at Fort D. A. Russell near Cheyenne, Wyoming during the early 1920s. One day, his company was marched to the range and presented – you can’t say issued – with Mark I Springfields, Pedersen Devices, mags, and ammo, and told by the officers, “Try ‘em out. See what you can do.” I remember asking my father if it was really as casual as that, and he confirmed that, yes, it was a pretty unstructured field trial. But these were seasoned soldiers, so for two days they tried ‘em out and saw what they could do. My father, acting supply sergeant and company saddle-maker (and also a second-generation gunbug who eventually became a licensed gunsmith), was naturally the company fixit man, so he had to hurry constantly up and down the firing line addressing problems with the PD. The biggest thing wrong with it, at least from that batch, was that the PD rode a trifle too high in the Springfield’s receiver, so that the rifle sear couldn’t quite reach the Pedersen sear. The solution was to hold the rear of the PD down firmly enough to make contact. My father, after all still a quite young man (he was born in 1903) and not familiar with autoloaders, used his thumb on his first try. Thirty-some years later, he was still chagrinned at the unholy mashing the PD slide gave his thumb as it whammed backward. (I think, having watched the almost invisibly fast cycling of the Device in the video, that he didn’t need to be so hard on himself.) His second solution was to lash the rear of PD down to the small of the rifle’s stock with a length of whang leather. That worked, and he handled and fired some 100 or more of the things during the course of the two-day trial, firing a good many hundreds of rounds through them.

    My sources for all this are, first, my father’s marginal notes in our copy of Phil Sharpe’s “The Rifle in America,” and, second, my youthful grilling to get all the details he could recall. That said, there’s something a little off-camber about the story – not that I doubt it happened, because my father was a truthful man and had no motive to make it up and, further, committed it to writing. But I can’t locate any reference to the episode in the Regiment’s history or in anything I’ve turned up about the Pedersen Device. Maybe somebody wanted to test it secretly? You couldn’t ask for a more obscure place to do it than Fort D. A. Russell! Maybe somebody with enough rank and seniority, and a supply of early-production Devices, wanted to see for himself?

    Well, that’s my Pedersen story, and I can’t much more of it. Okay, there’s this: My father’s notes end with his succinct judgement of the Pedersen Device: “N.G.”

    What was whang leather? Rawhide to you, greenhorn. Well hell, it was a genuine horse-cavalry outfit, stationed in what was still entirely the Old West. There was rawhide available to be cut into strips; trust a cowboy like my father for that.

    • My military/police/security/corporate/journalistic/even college experience is that, “not nearly everything that happens is necessarily written down.”
      “Thank God.”

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