The US military adopted the Model 1903 Springfield rifle in 1903, replacing the short-lived Krag-Jorgenson rifle. However, the 1903 would undergo some pretty substantial changes in 1905 and 1906 before becoming the rifle we recognize today. The piece in todays video is an original Springfield produced in 1904, before any of these changes took place.
The most notable difference is the use of the rod bayonet. When the 1903 was in development, the Ordnance Department opined that the bayonet was largely obsolete, and that it was unnecessary to encumber soldiers with a long blade hanging from the belt. Instead, the new rifle would have a retractable spike bayonet that could double as cleaning rod and would be stored in the rifle stock, unobtrusive to the soldier. This ended in 1905 with a critical letter from Theodore Roosevelt (who was Secretary of War at the time). As the rod bayonet was replaced with a traditional blade bayonet, the cartridge would also be improved to a new style spitzer projectile at higher velocity, and the rifles’ stocks, hand guards, and sights redesigned.
In this video I also discuss two often misunderstood elements of the Springfield’s history: heat treating and patent royalties. Are low serial number 1903 Springfields safe to shoot, and why or why not? And did the US government actually pay royalties to Germany for copying Mauser elements in the 1903?