6mm Lee Navy WRA Co. 6m/m USN


While researching this headstamp, I realized that my belief that only Canada, Switzerland and Austria had straight pullback rifles was incorrect. I guess I don’t see these rifles a lot at the shows.


The Winchester group of straight-pull, bolt-action rifles is not all that well known other
than by Winchester gun collectors, and consists of both military and sporting models.
People often forget that America not only made them, but used them briefuly as a military
rifle in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. I do not believe the Army ever used it.

The rifle is covered in a myriad of books on Winchester, and can probably be researched easily on the web for those wanting to know more about it.

John Moss


While a little known part of the Corps History, the 6mm Lee Navy played an important part in its’ pre and turn of the century battles. Documents I’ve read on the landing on Guantanamo Bay by the Marine Corps has them armed with the 6mm Lee Navy Straight Pull and their Colt Potato Digger machine guns chambered for it. Also, during the siege of the International Legation in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion, what I’ve read of it has them armed likewise. A VERY little known fact, even be most of my brother Marines is that the rifle that our Good Conduct Medal hangs from is a 6mm Lee Straight Pull. I have one slightly tattered box of red wrapped (can’t remember the maker) in my collection.


The short service life of the Winchester Lee Navy was not so much as result of any dissatisfaction with the weapon or ammunition, but rather the desire to have all U.S. forces use the same caliber ammunition. Therefore it was agreed to replace the 6mm arms with .30-40 Krag rifles and ammunition in the Marine Corps.

However, the desire for common ammunition almost immediately fell apart with the adoption of the M1903 Springfield in .30-03 caliber, and the conversion of those to .30-06 caliber soon after. This left a mix of .30-40 Krags, .30-03 and .30-06 Mi903 rifles all in service at the same time, with the attendant ammunition logistics problems. Indeed, the Krags remained in use into WW1 in secondary roles (mainly training units) although a few reportedly reached France with some engineer units. Additional military contracts for Krag ammo were placed in 1917 or 1918.

In addition to the Lee rifles and the Browning Potato Digger mentioned above, the 6mm cartridge was also used in some Gatling guns.


6mm Lee rifles can also be owned in the UK without a gun permit as they are classed as “obsolete calibre” firearms. I saw a few for sale at a militaria show in August. They were around £600 each if I remember right.


Falcon, what is the legality of loading obsolete calibers in the UK?


You can load ammunition for an obsolete calibre if you have a firearms certificate with a police approved “variation” for that calibre. The obsolete calibrew firearm must also be on your certificate of you want to shoot it. It is illegal to own ammunition with an obsolete calibre firearm not owned on certificate. In the UK you must get police approval for each new firearm you want to buy, and are only allowed to posess so much ammunition for each firearm at a time.