The U.S. Army’s standard issue, the M-1903 Springfield rifle, received a few technical innovations during World War I. Of course, there was the addition of optical sights, or scopes. The most unusual adaptation was the Pederson Device, a mechanism that replaced the bolt on a slightly modified 03 rifle called the Mark 1, thereby converting it into a semiautomatic weapon firing a .30 cal. pistol-length cartridge from a detachable 40-round box type magazine. In theory it would dramatically increase short-range firepower for trench fighting and assaults. Soldiers could use their weapon normally until close combat loomed, then with a simple switch of the bolt, they had a semi- automatic rifle that fired 15 rounds per minute. Although the device was invented by John Pedersen, an employee at Remington Arms, before the U.S. entered WW1 none were ever issued to the soldiers. Before the contract was cancelled about 65,000 of the devices were made, along with 1.6 million of the magazines and over 1 million of the Mark 1 rifles. These wound up being stored in depots until 1931, when the Army was seeking a replacement for the M-1903, the Pedersen rifles were destroyed so as to keep them from falling into the hands of criminals. Most of them were burned, although the devices stored at San Antonio, Texas, reportedly were broken up and scattered in freshly poured sidewalks to reinforce the concrete. A few survive in private collections and museums, some of them bearing scorch marks. Pedersen also designed bolts for the M-1917 Enfield rifles and the Moisin-Nagants held back from Russia, but neither of these made it into production. Later he designed a semi-automatic rifle called the T1E3 which lost the competition to the Garand rifle in 1932.

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official from Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and is affiliated with the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Salonika Campaign Society and the Gallipoli Association.