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The experimental rifle that almost changed World War II

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    The experimental rifle that almost changed World War II

    https://giphy.com/gifs/clip-rifle-pe...Hy0/fullscreen
    https://www.wearethemighty.com/histo...ng-276-caliber


    It started in 1928 when the Army created a "Caliber Board" to determine what the most lethal size would be for a rifle round. Their eventual conclusion would be familiar to anyone who carried an M16 or M4. While .30-caliber and larger rounds were great for hunting animals, they passed too quickly and easily through humans. The board decided that a smaller round, preferably .276 inches or smaller, would be best.

    This decision was no surprise to John Douglas Pedersen, a well-known weapon designer with an experimental rifle chambered for .276-caliber that featured a delayed-blowback mechanism and a 10-round clip.

    This allowed the weapon to fire reliably, and it allowed infantrymen and cavalrymen to maintain a high rate of fire. A demonstration of the weapon pleased senior Army leaders, and they asked when they could take prototypes to the field for testing.

    But the Pedersen did have some drawbacks. The weapon was very precisely machined, and even small errors could throw off its operation. Also, its rounds had to receive a thin coating of wax to guarantee that they'd properly feed through the weapon. Finally, its clips could only be fed in one direction into the rifle, meaning riflemen reloading under fire would have to be careful to get it right.

    So, other weapon designers thought they had a chance to win the Army's business. Other .276-caliber designs entered competition, including the Garand.

    The Garand could take a beating, was easier to manufacture, and didn't need lubricated rounds. The Pedersen was still the front runner in many eyes, but the Garand posed a real threat to it.
    An even greater blow to the Pedersen was coming. As the move to a .276-caliber continued, the Army Ordnance Department was putting up fierce resistance. The department didn't want to have to set up the whole new supply chain, get the new tools, or prepare the new stockpiles of ammunition required to support the switch.
    The Ordnance Department argued, successfully, to Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur that the change would be expensive and present logistics challenges. MacArthur ordered that any new rifle had to use the .30-caliber ammunition already in use by the Army.
    Most of the competitors, including Pedersen, didn't think they could re-configure their weapons quickly to accept the larger ammunition, but the Garand team could. They quickly swapped in new parts, and entered a .30-caliber Garand and it won the competition, going on to become the M1 Garand of World War II legend.
    But it's easy to imagine an alternate history where the Pedersen or the .276-Garand went into production instead. The .30-caliber ammunition and older weapons would've still seen action, sent forward with Free French, British, and Russian forces under the Cash-and-Carry system and then Lend-Lease.

    Meanwhile, American troops would've carried a slightly lighter rifle and much lighter rounds, giving them the ability to more quickly draw their weapons and the ability to sustain a higher rate of fire with the same strain on individual soldiers and the logistics chain.

    And, best of all, more lethality per hit. The .30-caliber rounds, the same size as 7.62mm, are more likely to pass through a target at the ranges in which most battles are fought. But .276-caliber rounds are more likely to tumble a time or two after hitting a target, dispersing their energy in the target's flesh and causing massive internal bleeding.

    So, if the 1928 Ordnance Board and the modern minds behind 5.56mm and the potential 6.8mm weapons were right, each successful rifle hit by American soldiers was more likely to cause death or extreme wounding.





    "The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth."

    #2
    I don't see how it almost changed anything. It was rejected, along with other rifles, in favor of the Garand. Hard to imagine the results being better. Unless they mean, almost changed WWII for the worse. Where is this from?
    No one ever wished they didn't have a gun.

    Regards,
    Chris

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      #3
      I am no expert but I would have to think that the bolt coming up like that, blocking your sight picture, should be considered a big drawback. Granted, I'm only seeing it in slow-mo but I can't see an advantage to that.
      "The devil doesn't come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you've ever wished for.”
      Tucker Max

      Infirmitate Invitat Violentiam
      Finicky Fat Guy

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        #4
        That bit about the clips being unidirectional is only partially true. Those made by Vickers could be inserted either way.
        Exercise the Bill of Rights. It's good for your Constitution.

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          #5
          Originally posted by Finicky Fat Guy View Post
          I am no expert but I would have to think that the bolt coming up like that, blocking your sight picture, should be considered a big drawback. Granted, I'm only seeing it in slow-mo but I can't see an advantage to that.
          Yeah, that kind of reminds me of the Luger, which I always thought was kind of a neat design. Just nice to shoot. But complicated and prone to wear and failure.
          No one ever wished they didn't have a gun.

          Regards,
          Chris

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            #6
            The biggest part of the story of “What could have been” was the rounds they were testing. The 6.8mm round was the part that was ahead of its time.

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              #7
              The real story here isn't the Pedersen versus the M1, the Pedersen sounds like a finicky prototype prone to becoming a large club during combat compared to the M1, one of the most highly respected, reliable workhorses in American history. The way it reads, the round was promising, the Pedersen rifle not so much. The real story here is the .276 versus .30.

              If this were more focused on how the M1 almost used a .276 caliber round instead of the .30, that argument has a lot more meat on the bone and is a very interesting theory to ponder.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Banzai View Post
                The real story here isn't the Pedersen versus the M1, the Pedersen sounds like a finicky prototype prone to becoming a large club during combat compared to the M1, one of the most highly respected, reliable workhorses in American history. The way it reads, the round was promising, the Pedersen rifle not so much. The real story here is the .276 versus .30.

                If this were more focused on how the M1 almost used a .276 caliber round instead of the .30, that argument has a lot more meat on the bone and is a very interesting theory to ponder.
                Ten rounds of .276 might have meant a better Garand but you never know how the action would have operated with a lighter round.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Helmet straps, cigarettes, grass and branches or even a proper mustache? Too many moving external parts in the action for me, who knows what it migh catch on or pull in. I’m not a historian or a gunsmith but that looks like there was more potential for grief in the field than it might have been worth.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by spider View Post

                    Ten rounds of .276 might have meant a better Garand but you never know how the action would have operated with a lighter round.
                    Yeah, hard to say, but if the way it was stated is accurate, it sounds like the M1 Garand was originally in .276 so .30 cal wasn't the original config. I'm sure some collectors in here will know more about the back story.
                    Last edited by Banzai; 06-29-2019, 09:14 PM.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Banzai View Post

                      Yeah, hard to say, but if the way it was stated is accurate, it sounds like the M1 Garand was originally in .276 so .30 cal wasn't the original config. I'm sure some collectors in here will know more about the back story.
                      Probably "we were in the middle of a war, and had plenty of 30-06 ammo and BAR's and 1919's and Springfields.......so let's keep the supply chain simple and things at Lake City and Frankford moving."
                      High quality building supplies since 1948! Friendly FFL transfers of long guns, receivers, and ammunition. Feel free to call us at 516 741 4466

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                        #12
                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_Garand

                        Twenty gas-operated .276 T3E2 Garands were made and competed with T1 Pedersen rifles in early 1931. The .276 Garand was the clear winner of these trials. The .30 caliber Garand was also tested, in the form of a single T1E1, but was withdrawn with a cracked bolt on 9 October 1931. A 4 January 1932 meeting recommended adoption of the .276 caliber and production of approximately 125 T3E2s. Meanwhile, Garand redesigned his bolt and his improved T1E2 rifle was retested. The day after the successful conclusion of this test, Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur personally disapproved any caliber change, in part because there were extensive existing stocks of .30 M1 ball ammunition. On 25 February 1932, Adjutant General John B. Shuman, speaking for the Secretary of War, ordered work on the rifles and ammunition in .276 caliber cease immediately and completely, and all resources be directed toward identification and correction of deficiencies in the Garand .30 caliber.
                        Steve

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