64 Comments

    • Tax dollars at work, costs money to make it and costs money to destroy it. I wonder if the the tax payers can get a refund for a product that doesn’t live up to expectations.

  1. Sorry to state, but in any trench showdown between a guy with a Pedersen Springfield and a guy with a Bergmann Muskete, my money’s on the latter.

    Because you can actually maneuver the short Bergmann in a trench, which is more than you can say for any rifle, even a “short” one like the ’03.

    Whether or not the .30 Pedersen round is as good a killer as the 9 x 19mm is kind of academic if he unloads half his magazine into you while you’re trying to get your rifle unstuck and swung around.

    If Army Ordnance had been smart, they’d have dug out all those “single heat treatment” 03s, especially the really short cavalry and artillery carbines, and converted them to dedicated Pedersen weapons, and forgotten about the “field kit” business entirely.

    The single heat treatment receivers were more than strong enough for the Pedersen round’s pressures, making them a permanent modification would eliminate the “losing parts during changeover” problem, and the shorter carbines would have been a lot easier to handle in a trench raid.

    Besides, those single heat treatment carbines were sitting in arsenals over here doing nothing because they weren’t safe to fire with full-power .30-06. When we needed small arms desperately.

    I regard this as one of the biggest missed opportunities- and biggest Ordnance balls-ups- of the Great War.

    cheers

    eon

    • The problem with the MP-18 is that it takes more money and time to produce than a Pedersen conversation carbine. Remember that the former had a barrel shroud for cooling and needed precise forging and finishing and a very unwieldy drum magazine. Can one more easily store drums on his person or stick magazines? I may have more to say later…

      • “The problem with the MP-18 is that it takes more money and time to produce than a Pedersen conversation carbine.”
        Wait, to make fair comparison it should be MP-18 price against Pedersen Device AND rifle used.

        • Hmm… Okay, let’s try to make a fair comparison.

          Bergmann MP-18 requirements:

          1. New barrel (not a standard rifle barrel or pistol barrel)
          2. Barrel shroud (not comparable to that from the LMG 08/15 mounted on the Fokker D.VII)
          3. Tools for producing the new blow-back action and the above two items
          4. Cut down rifle stock (diverting from Gewehr 98 production)
          5. New magazines (considerably incompatible with all handguns save for the Parabellum 1908 Luger)
          6. 9×19 Parabellum (already in production)

          Pedersen device requirements if we do not do conversions but make rifles with Pedersen device action:

          1. Standard rifle stock, which diverts from rifle production
          2. New barrel similar to standard barrel but with Pedersen device breech (no longer able to chamber rifle rounds)
          3. Simpler rear iron sight
          4. New .30 Pedersen ammo and magazines
          5. If we reuse obsolete .30 caliber rifles and make permanent change, lots of cash saved…

          I’ll have to let others decide which is less expensive, since I have no experience in gun making myself

    • “I regard this as one of the biggest missed opportunities- and biggest Ordnance balls-ups- of the Great War.”
      Haven’t U.S.Army stored old Krag–Jørgensen rifles? Caliber is same (.30″) so maybe it also can be refitted with self-loading device firing .30 Pedersen cartridge, especially if we assume permanent change and reverting to original caliber is no needed.

  2. Good original thought and makes more sense than manufacturing the MarkI ’03 did, but haven’t you just described an M1 Carbine? Too bad they didn’t come up with it until WWII.

    • Well of course, the German army was defeated well before the Great 1919 Offensive, n’est-ce pas?

      I’m wondering, actually, whether the CSRG Mle.1915 was cheaper than either the Pedersen, erm, “U.S. pistol, cal. .30 Model of 1918” and the MP-18 Muskette…

      Had WWI slogged on another year, we might have seen the fielding of weapons including the 25-shot air-cooled, shoulder-fired 8x35mm Ribeyrolle 12-lb. “assault rifle” avant la lettre… The OVP and Beretta SMGs, the Pedersen device, the MP28.II, and who knows what else? A lot of those late-war German aircraft seem to have been quite good.

      • actually no, the German army had adopted new storming tactics and was gaining ground.

        The German population had lost patience with the war and with being starved, and refused to comply.

        • Time to brush up WW1 history. The German spring offensives failed after initial success and by Fall 1918 they were again on the defensive. Industrial and psychological exhaustion did play a role for sure and ended the war quicker than military situation necessitated, but in view of grand strategy the German situation in Fall 1918 was quite dire. At best they would have been able to delay the end of the war by a few months without the revolution at home.

          • That’s the Dolchstoßlegende or Stab in the Back theory, popular among WWI German Generals, and Austrian-born Gefreiters serving in the Bavarian Army.

          • I suppose you mean the belief that Germany was “about to win”, but the social democrats and liberals (in classic European meaning) robbed that victory from her in the November 1918 republican revolution? Yes, that is indeed the Stab in the Back “theory”.

          • Yesterday’s 98th anniversary “der schwarzen tag des deutschen Heeres”:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Amiens_(1918)

            The German army was beaten in WWI on the Western Front.

            Having gained a short-lived empire in Finland, the Baltic States, Belarus, and the Ukraine with the treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Bolsheviki, this defeat came as a profound shock, and it was little wonder that it formed the basis of the Lebensraum crowd seeking revenge for the Treaty of Versailles and its more onerous terms.

  3. Excellent presntaton Ian. Did you fly up their in uniform? 🙂
    As to the Pedersen: I thought that due to the destruction of 99% of them they were almost as rare as the 45 Luger. I do have about 100 rounds that would fire in one only… they are “actually” .32 French Long. I have a sneaking hunch someone in France got a sample of the “secret” Pedersen’s ammo and copied it. my 100 rounds are for my 1935 pistol and required some true scrounging to aquire.

  4. The French 7.65 Mas ctg is a close copy of the experimental 90 gr bt load ,vs 80 gr, of the Pedersen ctg. This was done to increase the range of the Pedersen ctg but it was also too long to fit the device.
    There was much info exchange between French and US ordnance. The French adopted a 30 cal rifle ctg as well as the 7.65 ctg and the US artillery was heavily French influenced.

    • I just know the french is a bear to handload. a company in Australia makes the brass (occasionally) The problem is they must mill them from a larger caliber. Midway used to carry the brass but I bought them out. I have reloading dies and can use 32 auto bullets. Perhaps they woudl nto work int he Pedersen but I bet Pedersen rounds would work in the MAS. -sort of like 9mm Steyr and 9mm Largo (Bergman Bayard) a Astra in Largo will fire 9mm Steyr but a 1912 Steyr cannot shoot Largo.. (I have both and have tried)

  5. Agree the late war German Aircraft were good. So were the Allied, especially the French. Spad 20 and Neiuport 29 were pretty to very good aircraft for their times, equaling anything the Germans could put up. Also, French 2 seaters were pretty good, way better than the Re8.

    Problem with the German air industry is they were running out of raw materials to make birds and increase engine power (the key to a successful fighter of the time). The Allies could fill the skies with planes, the Germans…not so much. Nice designs but not enough of them.

    All is imho.

    • You are right according to what I read.
      Germans were struggling for basic necessities such as castor oil to run their Oberursel rotary engines. They were stuck and end was a matter of time.

  6. Round nose 80 grains bullet @ 1300 fps for 300 yards effective range 😀 That makes the same effective range estimation for the M1 Carbine look positively realistic. The French MAS-38 SMG fired a 90 grain bullet @ 1245 fps, so it must have been a 300 yards weapon as well. Which would probably come as a surprise for anyone who actually used it…

      • In fact it is idea of PDW or Personal Defense Weapon, long before such term for invented. As you can read in patent:
        Thus the soldier when surprised by a nearby enemy (and having both magazines in place) can instantly bring into actlon the rapid-fire automatic mechanism Without having to change the sights or make any allowance for the di’erent range.

      • “exceedingly smart – real inventor”
        But anyway was unlucky with military fire-arms:
        Pedersen Device was manufactured but WW1 ended and thus was not used in combat
        Remington Model 53 – prototype .45 automatic pistol
        Pedersen .276 rifle – lost to what become later M1 Garand, produced in limited quantity by Vickers-Armstrong Ltd, tested by few countries but not adopted.
        On the other hand he had more luck with civilian fire-arms:
        Remington Model 51 – .380 or .32 automatic pistol
        several pump-action long guns:
        Remington Model 121 – .22 rim-fire rifle
        Remington Model 25 – .32-20 or .25-20 rifle
        Remington Model 14-1/2 – .44-40 or .38-40 rifle
        Remington Model 141 – .25 Remington Autoloading or .30 Remington Autoloading or .32 Remington Autoloading or .35 Remington Autoloading rifle
        Remington Model 10 – 12 gauge downward ejection shotgun
        Remington Model 17 (co-designer: J.M.Browning) – 20 gauge downward ejection shotgun
        so far I know his civilian fire-arm have positive feed-back from users.

  7. After watching one of these being fired on the Full30 site, all I can imagine is some soldier hopping into a trench and go “Pop! Pop! Pop! Watch the Germans drop!” Then get promptly konked over the head with a rifle butt, sharpened spade, club or large rock.

    Reading documents about the device in combat would’ve also been pretty neat.

  8. I’d like to know if they ever put one of these on a prototype bullpup 03 tested by the marines it would have been a beast for trench warfare shame it never happened due to being made toolate(the pederson)

    • Why not just reserve the Pedersen for the truck drivers and artillerymen, since having a Burton LAR means you’re on the frontlines and therefore not sitting in the cramped cab of a motor vehicle or handling live ordnance? And unlike the Burton, the Pedersen is more of a quiet “sneak around and cap the other team’s captain in his sleep” weapon, not a “go insane like Rambo” weapon… Or am I wrong?

      • “reserve the Pedersen for the truck drivers and artillerymen”
        But then you would need 2 different cartridges supply chains: for .30 Pedersen and for Burton.

        • Are truck drivers and artillerymen ever considered easy prey for the other team’s infantry? I think not since the only way the Pedersen would get used in my suggested approach is if paratroopers dropped right into the truck or if storm troopers popped out of nowhere to stab the artillerymen… Or am I wrong again?

          • Artillerymen had to defend themselves against infantry occasionally, although in WW1 Western front such situations were probably quite rare after 1914. The same was pretty much true for truck drivers and other support & logistics personnel.

          • Pistols for the truckers. Seriously did they issue many arms to the SOS troops? Just procure a few hundred thousand more Burtons, make them a general issue secondary long arm across the board.

          • “Pistols for the truckers. Seriously did they issue many arms to the SOS troops?”
            So far I know during WW1 U.S. forces need for .45 automatic pistol was bigger than what was available so S&W Model 1917 revolver were produced. It fired .45 Auto and should be used with half-moon clip – it can be used without it, but then spent cases must be removed one-by-one from cylinder.

          • I recall visiting the Portuguese army’s museum in Lisbon.
            There was Aníbal Milhães–“soldado milhões”/Soldier millions–who decimated attacking Germans with his Lewis gun at Loos in 1918… And then there was the other hero, whose name escapes me, awarded citations for spiking the Schneider artillery pieces in the face of the attacking Stoßtruppen!

      • The Pedersen was not a clandestine weapon. It was basically a pistol caliber semiauto carbine with a full length rifle barrel. Its closest WW1 equivalent was the artillery Luger with a shoulder stock attached, which was found to be an effective weapon in the trenches. The Pedersen was much more bulky, though, which was its major shortcoming, like Eon already wrote below. There was no need for such a long barrel for the low power pistol cartridge it fired; a 10 inch barrel probably would have given almost the same muzzle velocity.

      • If you wanted to go stealthy like that then a 1903 Colt with a Maxim Silencer would have been the way to go. The Pederson is technically interesting but doesn’t make much sense tactically . If you are going to commit the sin of complicating your small arms logistics, go with the most effective of your choices. .345 will not be mistaken for .30 Cal. On a requisition form, will purform adequately within 300 yards , and selective fire carbine length arms purpose built to be so will out purform a clunky frankengun with pistol cartridge semi auto capability in a short rifle format .

    • Precisely the point. Now that I think about it, the Pedersen Device was more or less a concept rather than a serious weapon. Pedersen proved that it was possible to have an intermediate long arm more suited to mobile or trench warfare than long rifle and bayonet, though it would have been better to design a barrel and stock for a dedicated trench carbine than to convert a long rifle for the purpose. The conversions would have been considered expedients in the event one had plenty of barrels and stocks but only pistol strength ammunition nominally the same caliber as the rifle (why do we have 7.62x54R and 7.62×25?). Did I mess up?

      • No, you did not; as matter of fact you covered facts well.

        However, reading “nominally the same caliber as the rifle” it occurred to me: this puny sub-pistol shot had to use unsuitable rifling! I wonder how this reflected on its performance, especially if we consider that pistols have typically around half of that helix pitch (pistol bullets are typically over-stabilized).

        Maybe this was the reason Mr. Pedersen had come up with ‘combined weapon’ as brought up to our attention by Daweo.

      • “why do we have 7.62x54R and 7.62×25?”
        Yes this is reason. Also 7.62×25 was choice because it was considered best cartridge for sub-machine gun available (it was mainly considered in terms of suitability for sub-machine gun rather than automatic pistol).

        • Yes, but the Russians, and later the Soviets wanted just .30 caliber, erm, “3-line” bores: M1895 Nagant revolver that supplanted the .44, the rifle caliber remained a .310″, the TT-33 a .310″, the PPSh41 the same, the PPS-43 Sudayev the same, etc.

          Small wonder that the 6.5x50mm Fëdorov Avtomat or the .25 Remington never made inroads until the 5.45mm finally came out after lengthy testing in the 60s.

          Something similar prevailed with the U.S. refusal to contemplate adoption of the 9mm STEN as a standard Allied SMG… “All real pistol calibers start with ‘4’” but we’ll go ahead and make a special 9mm barrel and Sten magazine adapter for our awesome M3 GM-produced Grease gun…

      • I would actually qualify your statement: It was a real, bonafide, actually adopted and produced in some quantity weapon. It was never used. At least not that we know about. And when technology went in other directions, it was decided it was overly specialized for trench warfare such as it was… Not for the types of weapons thought necessary for the “next” major blood letting…

  9. Does anyone know if Pedersen ever considered any other cartridge than his own design for this device? The 7.65 Parabellum (.30 Luger) has quite similar dimensions and the right bullet diameter. It was also well know by WW1. It was a higher powered cartridge (perhaps too powerful?); I would estimate about 1400-1450 fps for a 90-93 grain bullet out of a rifle (or even carbine) length barrel.

  10. Another great FW episode only made better by the “alternative history”/”steam punk” theme.

    The best FW episodes bring up other questions: How often were bayonets used in trench raids?
    Which killed more Huns; sword bayonets or spike bayonets?
    Which rifle bayonet killed the most foes?
    Were bayonets relevant on carbines?

    Are bayonets relevant on sub-machine guns?

    • Few people were ever skewered by bayonets during this war relative to the number blown to bits by artillery or shredded by machineguns. Most of the time, bayonets are not relevant on sub-machineguns because the pistol-caliber automatic weapons are generally not long enough to act as spears (save for those with longer barrels and wooden stocks).

    • Well, the blood-thirsty alcoholic McBride serving with the Canadians said that on trench raids Canucks carried hand grenades, sharpened bayonets, pistols or revolvers, and hand grenades. He spends an entire chapter lauding the virtues of .45 caliber handguns, and the absolutely essential role they play among fighting men, since no other weapon can be so rapidly employed… Only to conclude that he fired 7 pistol cartridges in anger during the entire war.

      As for bayonets… I don’t think very many people were killed or wounded with them in the U.S. Civil War, much less the First World War.

      Artillery accounted for some two-thirds of all casualties. When such hand to hand conflicts as occurred happened, the close confines and limitations of space seemed to be met by blunt force trauma inducing clubs and maces, various daggers and trench knives, and sharpened spades or e-tools. Ian and Karl did a bang-up display on this very issue on their channel.

      • Bayonets probably killed more people in WW1 than in the ACW. Despite the clumsiness of the full length rifle and bayonet combination, it was often the only “mêlée” weapon available for regular soldiers, especially early on. The US Civil War, on the other hand, was noted by some foreing observers by the reluctance of infantry to close in with bayonets, which was still part of European tactics at the time. Probably the rifled musket played a role in making that more difficult, but there seems to have been some doctrinal differences as well. Advancing to bayonet distance was considered demoralising for the enemy in European tactics, and often it ironically lead to breaking of the enemy line without much actual bayonet fighting, since already by mid-1800s people were more afraid of stabbing than being shot (quite irrationally, but there is something more visceral and primal in cold steel).

        • That’s just it: even within the trenches, I think actually seeing the enemy–except for the dead and wounded of course–was relatively uncommon. Grenade duels between traverses, bombing enemy dugouts, etc. It may be that dead and dying were routinely bayoneted and therefore the wounds inflicted by bayonets were an under count, since people stabbed with bayonets were among the slain, possibly bearing wounds from other weapons.

          For people killed with cold steel, I’d still wager that daggers, trench knives, blunt-force trauma clubs, coshes, knouts, maces, etc. etc. and with shovels outnumbered bayonets. The “spear” or bayonet confers an advantage outside of trenches, but probably is a liability in close confines. During the 1916 Brusilov Offensive, it is my understanding that some Russian soldiers were given axes.

          As for Pedersen, he “wowed” observers, including a young Julian Hatcher with the demonstration of his device… Good old American style marketing and PR. That may have had much to do with his invention being adopted. Certainly it was ingenious. If anyone could 3-D print the version developed for the, erm, “7.62mm U.S. Magazine Rifle Model of 1916” aka. the Mosin-Nagant, I’d probably downsize a lot of my more uninteresting firearms. One could pull the magazine floorplate on the Mosin, and hey presto! there’s your empty case chute. The split bridge receiver and shoulder for the “safety” on the rifle would make a pretty good locking surface, I’d think.

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