October 14, 2021
Question: I bought this Model 1917 rifle, s/n 580XXX, from a friend some years back. It’s been described to me as a “1914 Pattern Rifle,” and also an “American Enfield.” It’s chambered for .30-’06 and is reasonably accurate. My initial research revealed that it was built at the Eddystone Arsenal. What puzzles me is the overall condition of this rifle! For a military firearm that’s more than 100 years old, I would expect to see more wear and handling marks. Except for some expected wear on the surfaces of the bolt, other metal surfaces on the barrel and receiver are excellent and all markings are sharp and clear. The only wear that stands out is on the top and bottom of the buttplate. In addition to some exposure of metal there are several repetitive strike marks on the buttplate that is in contrast with other surfaces of the rifle. Could this be the result of possible use as a parade gun or other formal usage of this rifle? I hope you can help me properly identify this firearm and if it has any historic or collector value.
-J.L. of Plano, Texas
Answer: You actually have a Model 1917, the Pattern 14 being an earlier British version of the same rifle in .303 caliber. The main difference between the two, besides the caliber, is the Pattern 1914 had a long-range sight arrangement on the left side of the stock and action. Model 1917s in excellent condition are not unusual. I have one in superb shape in my own collection. While the ’17 was the most widely used rifle by the Americans in World War I, not all of them were issued. Many were retained stateside for a number of reasons; put into stores, or ending up as plant guard guns during the war, for example. Often, arms intended for issue end up being sidelined for one reason or another and escape the ravages of time. Virtually brand-new military arms going back a century or more are not unusual. Your rifle was manufactured in 1918, the year the war ended, so it’s unlikely that it was overseas. It is possible the slight damage to the buttplate could have been caused by parade use, or it could have resulted simply from some sort of improper racking or storage. According to the Forty-First Edition Blue Book of Gun Values, an Eddystone Model 1917 in 95 percent condition is worth $1,525.
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