Pedersen Device

Hello All:
At a local (Placerville, CA) gun show yesterday I bought three live cartridges that the seller said were for the “Pedersen Device”. The head stamp is RA H 19.
The seller said that they are .30 caliber. To the naked eye next to a known .30 caliber projectile, they do appear to be .30 caliber.
Are these rounds unique to the Pedersen Device?
Are they common?
It is highly probable, but not certain, that I will only need one of these. If anyone is interested in one, please let me know.
Thanks for any input.
Jack Nissen
Placerville, CA

Jack- It sounds like they were correctly identified for you. These were intended only for use in the Pedersen device, which was officially called the “U.S. Automatic Pistol, Caliber .30 Model of 1918” but usually called the Pedersen Device. The cartridges are relatively common and
I usually see them selling for around $1.00 or so, or maybe $50-75 for a box of 40.

Ammunition for the Pedersen Device
The ammunition was officially known as “Cal. 30 Auto. Pistol Ball Cartridge, Model of 1918”, packed 40-rounds per box (one magazine load), five boxes per carton, and three cartons per canvas bandolier. Even though the cartridge resembled a pistol cartridge, the bullet had a muzzle velocity of 1,300 feet per second, nearly twice the velocity of most pistol rounds. This cartridge later became the basis for the French 7.65mm pistol round.

John D. Pedersen and his Device
John D. Pedersen, a resident of Jackson, Wyoming, was a successful arms inventor for Remington. He designed the Remington Model 51 pistol, and Models 10, 12, 14, and 17 shotguns. He also designed the Ithaca 37 shotgun. Although best known for the Pedersen device displayed here, he has the honor of designing the pistol that finished second to John M. Browning’s M1911 pistol and the rifle that was rejected in favor of John Garand’s M1 rifle.

Pedersen turned his attention to military semi-auto rifles in 1914. On October 8, 1917, Chief of Ordnance General William Crozier, a few Ordnance Officers and some Congressmen, all sworn to secrecy, attended Pedersen’s first official demonstration of his invention–an automatic bolt which changed the Springfield M1903 from bolt-action to auto-loading! This would later be known as the Pedersen Device, but in late-1917, it was a top-secret weapon.

A December, 1917, demonstration in France earned General Pershing’s strong recommendation that 100,000 be procured for the infantry as soon as possible. To maintain the highest levels of secrecy, a misleading name was given to the device, and it was officially adopted as the Automatic Pistol, Caliber .30, Model of 1918, Mark I. Remington’s Bridgeport, Connecticut factory was given an order for 100,000 Pedersen Devices in March, 1918, later increased to 133,450 devices.

Production of the Devices and the Mark I Rifles
Minor modifications were needed on the standard M1903 Springfield were necessary to adopt it to take a Pedersen Device, including milling out the ejection port on the left side of the receiver, cutting out a small portion of the stock underneath the ejection port, modifying the magazine cut-off, and modifying the trigger which tripped the device firing mechanism. The modified Springfield rifle was officially known as the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903, Mark I, and could still fire the standard .30-06 service cartridge with the standard bolt.

Production of the Mark I Rifles began at Springfield in the fall of 1918 while Remington’s Bridgeport facility was busy working on the Pedersen Devices. Production continued after the Armistice on November 11, 1918 although orders were cut back.

Final deliveries amounted to 65,001 Pedersen Devices and 145,000 Model 1903 Mark I Rifles.

Since this would be the “secret weapon” that would lead thousands of American troops against the enemy trenches in the 1919 Spring Offensive, the Ordnance Department had decided that even more Pedersen Devices were necessary. Therefore, Pedersen was ordered to adapt his device to the M1917 “Enfield” Rifle, with that device to be known as the M1918 Pistol, Mark II. Remington as ordered to manufacture 500,000 Mark II devices once the original Mark I contract was completed, but this order was canceled before production began.

Post World War I History
The Pedersen Device, the secret wonder weapon of the first World War, was completed too late to see action.

As work progressed towards a semi-automatic rifle (by Pedersen and Garand) the Great Depression set in and Army budgets were cut to the bone. Believing that the Pedersen Devices had little tactical value in “modern” warfare, the Army ordered them all destroyed to save the cost of storing them any longer.

A few examples were kept for various Museums, and a few others escaped destruction and eventually ended up in private collections. Historians believe that perhaps 25 to 50 of the Pedersen Devices are in private collections.

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I would only add, for interest, that the French 7.65 mm French Long cartridge was based on the .30 Pedersen Device cartridge of the longer bullet type, as for in 1919-dated Pedersen cartridges. The French first made the round about 1925, although standard pistols, in quantity, did not appear for another decade, with the Modele 1935A and the Modele 1935S. There was also a SMG for the round dating from c.1938. It remained standard in the French Service until about 1950, when a Modele 1950 pistol in 9 mm Parabelleum caliber was adopted.

Oddly, since the Pedersen devices are exceptionally rare today, the cartridges still remain fairly common, with occasional full boxes still found. specimens of the French version run from scarce to common, depending on year of manufacture, but are seldom found in “shooting” quantity anymore.

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Beside the M1903 Mark I, and the M1917 conversions for the Pederson device, Remington also made a Mosin-Nagant Option, but with the Magazine on the Opposite side. Very Rare; the Revolution in 1917 stopped further development on the MN version (Remington was making Both M17s and MN91s, so had an interest in enlargening the use of the Pedersen Device, since at that time, Pedersen was a Remington Employee.

It is not known if any .303 P14 versions were ever contemplated or Prototyped. Another one of those Mysteries of WW I production.

Some of those which survived, were those sent to the PI for tests in Tropical areas, in the 1920s…some just “disappeared” when the order came through in the 1930s for their destruction (Piled up, covered with oil, and Burnt to destroy the Heat treatment, then sent to a Foundry., reportedly at Benecia Arsenal). Ammunition was sold for “scrap” value at auction. The Mark I rifles had their Sears changed back to a normal M1903 sear, and returned to general Issue.

Doc AV

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There is a collector in Watervliet , NY that has a Pederson device and the matching rifle. with all the canvas pouches , magazines etc. Once in a while he will have it on display table at the Albany, NY gun show. (this weekend I think) He has large amounts of the ammo. It is an impressive display. However if the next table has a bunch of ‘black guns’ it will gather more attention.

Look at the thread titled “What is the date of manufacture?” from a few days ago. It mentions a variant of the Pedersen cartridge for a rifle J.M. Browning designed.

Agreed that this ammunition is not terribly difficult to find, including full boxes. Here is an image from an auction of such a box several years ago.