Hoffer-Thompson cartridge holder (similar to dotter)

I recently came across a nice complete 30-06 Hollyfield Dotter set. Along with the (5) 30-06 Dotter cartridges that were with it was the pictured (between a 30-06 and 7.65 Mauser round) blackend steel training device. It has the same type of push rod primer that the Hollyfield Dotters have. The long tubular neck measures exctly 0.300" in diameter, and the interal plunger does not extend up into the neck at all.

Anyone have any ideas what this device goes with?

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The black item is the cartridge holder used in the Hoffer-Thompson .22 caliber version of the Model 1903 Springfield rifle. These were basically standard M1903 rifles, but with a .22 caliber bore. For the most benefit as training rifles for indoor gallery practice, they used these cartridge holders so the soldiers would be able to load the magazine from a stripper clip, and everything would be done exactly as with the service rifle and cartridge.

The spring and plunger/firing pin would be pushed back and a .22 short rimfire cartridge inserted into the slot in the holder, and then the holders would be loaded in the stripper clip and everything was ready for use. There was a special tool for ejecting the fired .22 short cases (basically a short rod with a wooden handle).

About 15,525 of the “Hoffer-Thompson” rifles were made at Springfield Armory between 1907 and 1918. They are fairly scarce, and the cartridge holders are getting much harder to find, with prices in the $35+ range on the few I have seen in recent years.

Thompson was John T. Thompson, an Army ordnance officer, best known for his later submachine guns.

The Hoffer-Thompson rifles were replaced, beginning in 1922 with a series of .22 caliber training rifles with sporter style stocks, and using a five round magazine and chambered for .22 long rifle caliber ammunition. Apparently there was greater desire to emphasize marksmanship and less need to duplicate the exact bolt manipulation and loading.

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Thanks very much! I appreciate the detailed response.

The Hoffer-Thompson adapters did not perform well. They were hard to clean (the .22 ammunition used was corrosive and it had a shorter RN lead bullet than a standard .22 short). In addition the adapter would sometimes land nose first on the concrete floor of the shooting stations when it was ejected which impaired their accuracy after a few uses. Bill

There were actually 3 models of the “Hoffer” and “Hoffer-Thompson” Adaptor. They were originally designed by J.E. Hoffer in about 1906. The ORIGINAL one had a smooth (ie: no slot) body where the .22 Long cartridge was inserted through the base. The SECOND model of about 1907 incorporated changes suggested by Major Thompson which included the slot in the side for the 22 – and resulted in the name “Hoffer-Thompson.” NOTE: this first slotted Hoffer Thompson adaptor was chambered for the .22 Long Rifle. These first two adaptors were not rifled.

Shortly after production of the .22LR (second model) version started it was decided to change it to chamber for the .22 Short and the slot on the side was shortened. This THIRD model is the most common one existing today and can be found at cartridge shows in the $20-35 range (costs more at gunshows). The original, smooth “Hoffer” adaptor and the 22 Long Rifle version of the Hoffer Thompson adaptor will cost a lot more IF the seller knows what he’s got.

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Note that the Hoffer Thompson holder (and thus its chamber) is shorter than the .30-06 cartridge shown beneath it. This was to avoid the possibility of someone chambering the larger round in a Hoffer Thompson training rifle and producing unintended serious mischief. Jack

Jack…Don’t collect these…but wondered why the .30-06 Hoffer-Thompson shown is shorter than a standard .30-06…and you have explained it…Thanks !!


Hey Chris, you mentioned that there are three different versions of it. How do you tell the difference between them?

I found this one recently.

The way I read it, the first version has a through hole bored for .22 Long, like most cartridge adapters you will see.
The second version has a slot that would accept the .22 Long cartridge.
The third version has a smaller slot that will only accept the .22 Short cartridge.
Chris, please correct me if I am mistaken.

Very cool thing to find!


ETA I see that now in your book. I’m looking for FA 1910 headstamp with red primer coating.

You can read about the Hoffer-Thompson rifles in the service in “The American Rifle”, Townsend Whelen, 1918. He had a dim view of the whole idea.

you are looking for a 30-06 from 1910 with red primer coating ? what kind of round/loading would that be?

here a picture of the first model and two versions of the third model

What happened to the substantial
number of the H-T rifles? Were they rebuilt as .30/06 or as .22 Long, or scrapped/ surplussed in the 1920s ???
Doc AV

During WW 1, 1917-1918, the US military had to provide basic firearms training to some 2 million men, a large portion of them having never fired a gun before. The fragile nature of the H-T cartridge holders gave each cartridge a potentially short service life. The time required to clean both rifles and cartridge holders between uses ate time. Standard practice was to have 2/3 of a unit’s issued H-T rifles firing at any given time and the remaining 1/3 being cleaned. This made the whole training process inefficient.

With the increasing wartime demand for training time, and the decreasing quality of .22 Gov’t Special ammunition, the use of H-T rifles was abandoned. They were replaced with some 32,000 Winchester 3rd Model muskets, falling block single shots, with sights very much like those on the US M-1917 rifle.

The H-T rifles had been assembled at Springfield Armory from reject M-1903 parts. Some were probably used as drill rifles. All were scrapped.

References: The Springfield 1903 Rifles, Brophy, 1985; The American Rifle, Whelen, 1918; The Rifle in America, Sharpe, 1937.

In comparing Chris’s illustration to Rene’s photo it would seem he has two variations of the Short chambered example. I’ve been looking for the Long example for a long time (pun? included) & have extra blackened short examples to trade.

& very nice 1st example Rene

A friend of mine has one of the original H-T rifles in nearly new condition. Not all were scrapped.

Brophy’s book contains a chamber cast of an H-T barrel. The chamber was a slightly tapered cylinder (as in .30-06) for a distance corresponding to the shoulder on the H-T case. After that, it was a funnel leading to the bore. There was nothing to support the case neck. Probably made the rifle easier to clean.

Brophy’s book also shows photos of the “reject” stamps on a 1903 receiver used for the H-T and the “22” stamp on the front end of the stock, again indicating that it was a reject part.