Savage/Springfield 87M Rifle – Military Training Rifle?
Originally Published Apr 2014
One of the most perplexing mysteries in the field of collecting U.S. military training rifles has been the existence of the Savage/Springfield 87M .22 Cal. rifle. Origins of the rifle design go back to a rimfire rifle produced by the Savage Arms Company from 1938 to 1968, also known as the “Three-in-One” Rifle. Over a thirty year period, this rifle reached a total run of 1,500,000 rifles, surpassing any totals of popular rimfire rifle models produced by major firms like Winchester and Remington.
Collector values of the sporting versions of these rifles remain low due to the fact that they were produced under many names (Savage, Springfield, J. Stevens Co.), had too many model numbers to keep track of, sold at half the retail price of other rimfire rifles, and had such high production numbers.
The “Three-in-One” label was given to the action design which enabled the rifle to fire single shot, straight pull bolt action, or semi-automatic. The basic rifle was tubular magazine fed but also available in box magazine versions and could fire .22 Short, Long, and Long Rifle cartridges. Bolt action single shot and straight pull firing was accomplished by pushing the bolt handle (knob) into the bolt body, and semi-auto fire was accomplished by leaving the bolt handle out. Thus the rifle had three firing modes.
The military style training rifle Model 87M appeared very early in rifle production in 1940-41. The rifle had a walnut handguard and stock, and military bands with a steel buttplate. The design of the wood and front sight protector unmistakably resembles the M1 Garand just entering U.S. military service. No official information is available to suggest that the Model 87M was designed for military training use, but the deduction is that no other reason is sustainable in the light of the thousands of commercially produced rifles purchased and used by the military in WWII. The production run on the Model 87M was very short, accounting for its rarity to collectors today.
An actual military connection came in a form of a 12” barrelled, box magazine version equipped with a silencer tested by Army Ordnance during WWII. The OSS also tested many silenced .22 Cal. weapons during the war.
Right Rear Side of Rifle
Right Side Center with Handguard
Rifle Receiver Close up with Knob Handle
LEFT SIDE FRONT OF RIFLE – “GARAND” STYLE SIGHT PROTECTOR & TIP OF TUBULAR MAGAZINE
LEFT SIDE CENTER OF RIFLE WITH MILITARY STYLE HANDGUARD
… a snub-nosed pistol that shouldn’t exist!
It is a New Defender made by Harrington & Richardson as the Model 299 and is cataloged as being a top break revolver chambered in .22 Long Rifle, 9 shots, and the 2” barrel says exactly that. But, it isn’t. This pistol has a seven shot chambering for the .22 WRF, which is an inside lubricated bullet rimfire, with a larger diameter case than a .22 RF, and a little more velocity and energy. A common loading for WRF was a 40 gr. hollow point bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1440 fps, and that might be a clue to why and how this pistol came to be.
The New Defender was based on the Model 999 and follows the variations of the 999 exactly, according to William Goforth. It was touted as a short barreled revolver with target accuracy and has adjustable front and rear sights. The 999, or Sportsman, was a development of the U.S.R.A. Model, the design of which was strongly influenced by Walter Roper. The 999 was intended as a target pistol and had appropriate features, including H&R’s interchangeable grips, a fine trigger, and adjustable target sights.
The catalog listing for the 299 started in 1935 and stopped in 1939. This New Defender S/N has a D prefix, putting production in 1943. When I acquired the pistol, the rounded grip had been modified with some filler material to fit someone’s hand. Many parts for the 999 and 299 interchange, so it would have been possible for a gunsmith to simply swap out a seven shot cylinder and hand for the nine shot cylinder and hand but, apparently, that didn’t happen. The seven shot cylinder is numbered to the gun, in H&R style. It looks like a factory job.
This may have been a war time special order for someone who knew exactly what they wanted for a specific purpose. They would have had an easily concealable pistol, handy and quick, with more power than a .22 LR for close work. It could use .22 LR in a pinch, even though the cases sometimes split if fired in the WRF chamber. It would have been accurate enough for hitting at a distance, and the sights could be regulated for a specific load, again with more stopping power than a .22LR. It wouldn’t have been quite as loud as a centerfire pistol, either. This someone might have been working for, say, the OSS, perhaps? What would this little New Defender tell us, if it could talk?
Note: This is a continuing series of posts highlighting some of the guns that HHAA members have in their collections. Members, please see the newsletter for information about how to contact the webmaster and have your gun featured here.
The parade of early John Moses Browning pistols continues. Today’s featured firearm is the Fabrique Nationale (FN) model 1905. Named because of the patent date, this gun was sold by FN from 1906 until 1959. The Colt Vest Pocket, which is virtually identical, came out 2 years later in 1908. While John Browning sold gun designs to both FN and Colt, the 1905/1908 was the only design that was produced by both companies. The gun was popularly known at the time as the “Baby Browning”, but it is a totally different gun from the “Baby Browning” designed by Dieudonné Saive for FN (although it is said that Saive based his design on the 1905).
This small striker fired, blowback pistol is chambered in the underwhelming 25acp (6.35×16mmSR) and is meant to be easily concealed in a gentleman’s “vest pocket”. The removable magazine holds six rounds.
The gun features 3 safeties: A manual safety, a grip safety and a magazine safety.
Above, is the gun field stripped. In the upper left hand corner, you can see the three parts of the striker. The frame is in the upper right hand corner and the slide in the lower right. In the center are the recoil spring, guide rod and the 2 inch barrel. Finally, the 6 round magazine is in the lower left.
Very concealable but definitely more of a belly gun since the sights are minuscule.
This pistol is an FN Mark III Hi-Power chambered in 40 S&W. Picked this up at a gun show a while back. The Hi-Power, or P-35, has a rich history and is one of the greatest pistols ever designed.
John Browning began work on the Hi-Power but died before it’s completion. It was completed by Dieudonné Joseph Saive. Saive designed a double stack magazine from which the pistol gets its “Hi-Power” name.
Typically and traditionally, the Hi-Power is chambered in 9x19mm but this one is chambered in 40 S&W. The 40 cal magazine holds 10 rounds.
This pistol also features the SFS (Safe Fast System) designed by Cylinder & Slide. Whereas a traditional hi-power is carried “Cocked and Locked”, the SFS safety functions differently. To engage the safety, the hammer is pushed forward into the “down” position. When the safety is disengaged with the lever, the hammer pops up into the ready position. This allows one to carry his gun without the hammer being obviously cocked.
This is a fun gun to shoot. It is certainly has heavier recoil than the 9mm but is manageable.
For more information, check out this article from the NRA Museum.
As promised in last month’s featured gun article, this is a FN/Browning m1910. This gun was designed by John Browning during a prolific period of small caliber handgun designs including the FN 1900, the Colt 1908 Pocket Hammerless, and the Colt Vest Pocket. Like it’s older Fabrique National sibling, the FN 1900, it is a striker fired, blowback operated, magazine loaded pistol chambered in 32ACP. It was also offered in 9mm Kurz (.380). It features a number of changes from its big brother: It is smaller. It does not require tools to disassemble and the gun can be switched between the calibers with just a barrel change. The recoil spring also wraps the barrel which was later used in other guns.
Size of M1910
Size Comparison of M1900 (top) and M1910 (bottom)
The 1910 was used in a number of historically interesting assassinations:
- In 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie with an M1910 chambered in 380. This lit the fuse on the powder keg that started World War I
- In 1932, the President of France, Paul Doumer, was assassinated with an M1910.
- In 1935, The governor of Louisiana, Huey Long (The kingfish), was assassinated with an M1910.
I picked this up at the same gun show that I bought the 1900. It has been reblued so it’s a shooter rather than a collectable gun. It is definitely designed for close range shooting since the sights are very small. Even the best shot I know (and HHAA board member) had a hard time getting it on the paper at 25 yards. He will attest to significant slide bite and can show you the scars!
Here’s more from Wikipedia about the M1910.
Reminder: Members, feature your gun here. Contact me and I’ll post it!
This pistol is an FN 1900. It is John Browning’s first commercial pistol. It was built and sold by Fabrique Nationale, the Belgium pistol maker. It is a single action, striker fired, semi-automatic blowback pistol and the first commercial pistol to use a slide. It features a removable magazine.
It was very successful and made “Browning” synonymous with Pistol in Europe. It is chambered in 7.65 Browning, known in America as 32acp. The two flathead screws at the top of the slide are for disassembly, making the 1900 unusual in that it requires a screwdriver to disassemble.
The two crossed Mosin’s on the frame directly over the grip indicate that this particular pistol is an Imperial Russian Contract Pistol ordered for the Russian Military Academy.
Many people believe that an FN 1900 was used to assassinate Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie and set off the chain of events that started World War I. This is not the case. That gun was a FN 1910 chambered in .380 and will be featured in a future article.
Ran into this gun at a gun show in Las Vegas and picked it up for a decent price.
For more information about the gun, see this short article on Wikipedia.
A FORMULA FOR A SUCCESSFUL GUNSHOW DISPLAY
written by Gary Chang
Originally published January, 2010 Newsletter
My purpose in writing this discussion is twofold: to attract more participation in the private non-sale displays we promote at our two gun shows and to give a new participant, or someone considering entering, an idea of the formula for a successful display. The mission of Hawaii Historical Arms Association is to educate the public in all aspects of firearms, be it historical or the employment of such. We are unique in providing a forum for private displays of craftsmanship and artistry that often exhibit rare firearms and accouterments and provide in-depth education year after year.
Visualize your Display: In your mind, compose an image of how your presentation will flow before and during its construction; conceive your display as a whole. Please do not approach this guide as a “market checklist” to be completed. Give yourself at least 2 months to collect and label relevant materials. Having a friend evaluate your display before the show may be beneficial.
Title of Display: The title of your display encapsulates information about the subject you are conveying to your audience. Focus on a main topic. For example, to attempt a display of “Fighting Knives of the World” would be quite an expansive undertaking, but narrowing your subject to a more specific choice, such as “American Bayonets in Vietnam,” may be more feasible. You do not need a table full of firearms to create a successful presentation; in past shows a single rifle, or three variations of sniper-optics, won the competition.
Provide Evidence: Evidence is required to persuade the audience of the display’s validity. Provide printed facts and related paraphernalia to connect your display items into a coherent presentation. Although time consuming, this effort to substantiate your position will be appreciated and effective.
Identify & Label: Please do not assume your audience shares your knowledge and experience. Identifying and labeling your display make your presentation more interesting and convenient for viewers to learn about your topic.
Beginnings & Endings: Complete the experience by specifying a timeline for your presentation. For example, do not include a Colt 1911 .45 ACP in your display of “Civil War Revolvers.”
All of these tips rely on one another for their strength. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll present like a pro. HHAA awards prizes to the top three entries… good luck at the next show!
Actually this is a return to the back of my gun safe after almost a half century… In the late 1950s, my grandfather, King Thom (of King’s Sporting Goods), took me on a deer hunt on Lanai. My first venture was with a Winchester Model 94 30-30 open sights my older brother got in a trade for a four barrel carburetor. The hunt was not a success.
Subsequently, Grandfather pulled an old scoped Winchester bolt rifle that was in his glass display case and gave it to me. The next Lanai deer hunt, I took a spike (younger, almost mature, male deer). Then ten years later, when I was in grad school, my mom told me to return the rifle to “Agung” for better safe keeping. When I did, my grandfather told me, “No need… it’s your rifle,” but I left it anyway with the understanding that, once I got my law degree and came home, I’d retrieve the rifle. Sadly, that was not to happen. Right before graduation, Grandfather went into a coma and passed. In the following months, all of his firearms “disappeared,” including the old Winchester rifle.
Many years later, HHAA member JOHN PERREIRA called me and said he had a line on a Winchester Model 70 that was reputed to be owned by the proprietor of King’s Sporting Goods. He asked if I was interested, but I foolishly declined. Fast forward to March 2015 when I was on Lanai sitting on a ridge deer hunting and thinking about the early days when I was at the same place as a 14 year old with my grandfather’s Winchester. Less than a week later and out of the blue, HHAA member KT called me and wanted to know if I knew the provenance of a pre-WW2 Winchester Model 70 Super Grade that was owned by King Thom. I told him I knew a little and that it was my rifle!
With much thanks to KOLYN, the rifle is back with me. It is indeed my grandfather’s pre-WW2 Winchester Model 70 Super Grade, 30 Gov’t 06, serial number 19,7xx, floor plate marked “Super Grade,” ebony forend, charging clip slot, red Winchester recoil pad and inletted detachable sling swivels. According to Winchester, this rifle was manufactured in 1939 with a barrel marked 1938. Bore is excellent and overall good+ with honest wear and tear and a few dings I must have been responsible for. A lot of work has been “performed,” so it isn’t much of a collector rifle. Pre-war 70s were not normally drilled and tapped for the then new telescopic sights. This rifle has much too many holes drilled for a Griffin & Howe side mount. The rifle has an old Bausch & Lomb Balvar (B&L Variable) 2.5x to 4x, 1”, scope. No internal adjustment. The B&L two piece scope mount has adjustments for windage and elevation. The front sight blade was changed, the hood missing, and the Winchester 22G adjustable rear sight was replaced with a Lyman flip sight. If I remember correctly, I did that. The old style “paddle” safe was restored by KT.
In the back of my gun safe is a…
DREYSE & COLLENBUSCH NEEDLE GUN…
Before Dreyse developed the military needle gun with a bolt action, he had produced a small stalking rifle with a faucet type breech. The bore is about 10.34mm, but the faucet type breech meant the powder volume was quite small, limiting the power of the gun, like a British rook rifle, for limited velocity and range. The gun is nicely made,
with a little ornamentation, good fit and finish on the mechanicals, with adjustable sights and sling loops. The S/N 9088 either means that quite a few were made or that Dreyse was trying to give that impression. Other examples of the same action show up occasionally, some quite ornate. One type uses a cam as a self-cocking device. This operating lever has an interlock so that the gun cannot be fired unless the breech is fully closed, and the breech is locked closed until the needle carrier is withdrawn after firing.
The gun required a reworked needle before it could be fired. The needle needed to clear the hole in the conical rotating faucet breech but also be able to push through the powder charge to strike a primer cup at the base of the bullet. Extensive searching yielded no information about the bullet or cartridge for the gun, but a combination of the bore and chamber measurements plus the mechanics of the breech determined that the bullet diameter should be about the size of a .38 Special case diameter. No ramrod was provided with the gun, so the gun was designed as a breech loader. I made a set of swaging dies to form a round nose, flat base bullet with a recess in the base to accept a trimmed pistol percussion cap. Presumably, a paper cartridge could be made up, but I was able to load and fire the gun several times with loose powder, and it was surprisingly accurate.
Faucet breeched guns are fairly rare, simply because their powder capacity is usually quite small, and the capabilities of other designs were able to easily outstrip their performance. The breech piece, however, being tapered, can be adjusted to a good working fit with little loss of gas when firing. It is also easily disassembled for cleaning and maintenance. Anyone familiar with the Dreyse military needle gun would recognize the stepped leaf spring piece holding in the needle carrier. Progress waits for no one, of course, and needle guns are historical footnotes today.
As simple as cartridge base priming seems to us today, there are advantages to having ignition at the base of the projectile, and various designs have been tried to initiate the powder burn at the base of the bullet, much like the needle gun system. US Ordinance developed long primers for artillery, circa WWII, for front ignition of the propellant charge for both consistent ignition in various climates plus a flashless and smokeless discharge for concealment. Would modern ammunition perform more consistently with forward ignition? An interesting question, isn’t it?