Remington 7 x 57mm


#1

In 1915 the British Admiralty purchased 4,500 Rolling Block rifles from Remington plus 3 million rounds of ammunition.

Whilst it cannot be certain what ammunition was actually supplied by Remington, it seems likely that this was normal round nosed 7mm with a “U M C 7M/M” headstamp. This suspicion is based on the fact that this ammunition is still readily found in the UK today, more so than one would expect.

Given that Remington merged/took over UMC in 1912 (?) would newly manufactured ammo in 1915 have had a REM-UMC headstamp? If so, this suggests Remington sold old UMC stock to Britain. That would not surprise me as the Rolling Blocks were found to be in poor condition and condemned to DP status when they arrived in the UK.

Regards
TonyE


#2

Tony - is it a certainty that the rifles were purchased directly from Remington? If so, does anyone know if Remington had a policy of taking back on trade used products of their manufacture? I don’t know what else would explain them having 4,500 of these rifles in poor condition. These rifles in 7 x 57mm were generally sold to Central and South American countries. Regardless of who made for originally, I don’t know how, if Remington had retained them after manufacture for future sales, they would have gotten into a poor state, as they would have started in their possession as new guns.

Also, UMC-headstamped ammunition, even if made before the merger, would not necessarily have been very old stock. We’re only talking four years or so - a “month” in the life of properly stored ammunition, even of the time.

It sounds to me like England purchased the guns from Mexico or some other country that had quantities of them, for their WWI emergency.

Just asking as it doesn’t square with what little I know of the American arms industry that they would have come from Remington, UNLESS Remington had a policy of taking such stuff back in trade on new Remington products.
If that was the case, then they undoutedly would have been sold “as is.”


#3

John

They were definitely purchased from Remington as I have the contract details. They were purchased by J.P.Morgan as the British Purchasing Agent and the contract says there were 3,500 new rifles and 1,000 repaired. There were also 1,800 Rolling Block carbines but the Admiralty declined to accept these. I do not know what was wrong with the rifles (or if it was only the repaired ones) but the Admiralty official history says they were defective and they were condemned to Drill Purpose status.

I have examined a couple of them and although worn they look OK other than the British “DP” stamps on them.

When I said old UMC stock I simply meant not newly manufactured. Remington also had a British contract to manufacture 40 million rounds of 7mm for Serbia and I wondered if the ammunition supplied with the rifles was separate from this and was possibly what Remington inherited from the UMC deal.

Regards
TonyE


#4

Cartridges bearing the REM-UMC headstamp were phased in starting in 1912. I believe the headstamps for 7mm Mauser ammunition was

1912 - 1934 = REM-UMC 7 m/m

1934 - 1960 = REM-UMC 7 M/M

Ray


#5

Many thanks Ray, that is what I suspected. Now to find a round with a definite Serbian provenance to see what the headstamp is on that!

Regards
TonyE


#6

UMC and Remington were officially merged on Feb. 1, 1911. Both being under Hartley ownership at the time, the idea was that the Remington name should preceed UMC, as you had to sell guns before you could sell ammunition. At the time of the merger, UMC was about 10 times the size of Remington in assets, sales, etc. Cartridge boxes bearing both names appeared about 1912, but I’ll bet they used UMC headstamp bunters to the breaking point, these being expensive tooling. Leading to we collectors today finding REM-UMC boxes with UMC cartridges within. Many of these early boxes contain a small paper announcing the merger and assuring the user of the same great quality he had grown accustomed to with UMC products. I have one such in .30-40 Krag and I should probably post photos here…Randy


#7

Randy - please do post photos of the little notice, etc. They are interesting documentation.


#8

I didn’t know about this contract, its the first I have ever read about it. The 1902 Remington Rolling Block rifle in 7x57 was a civilian offering already reaching the end of its commercial life so it sounds incongruous that they should have had that many lying around. The question is, was it the 1902 model or a much older varient that was rebarrelled ? Its probable that the ammo came from the same source as the rifles so couls be much older than you think.
The combination of rolling blocks and 5x57 does sound very South American.

Its a shame they didn’t rebarrel a few P14s for the 5x57 cartridge to use up the ammo. Now that would have been interesting


#9

[quote=“TonyE”]
When I said old UMC stock I simply meant not newly manufactured. Remington also had a British contract to manufacture 40 million rounds of 7mm for Serbia and I wondered if the ammunition supplied with the rifles was separate from this and was possibly what Remington inherited from the UMC deal.

Regards
TonyE[/quote]

It has long been reputed that Hinks-Wells made charger clips for either British or foreign made 7mm ammunition supplied to Serbia. Given that H-W made a considerable number of 0,256" clips for the Arisakas in British use and the dimensional similarities between Arisaka and 7mm chargers is it possible that the same charger was used for the two calibres?

There is a mention of foreign made 7mm in the Bogdanovich book on the Serbian Mauser which reads as follows;


#10

Remington was supplying several “Allied” governments already in late 1914 with M1899 and M1902 Rolling Block rifles, from Inventory. Canada bought some as “forager” rifles (I have a DCP marked M1902, almost Mint); the French had M1902 made in 8mm Lebel Rifle (“Modele 1914”) in both carbine and Musketoon fitting, for use by “Train”…Horse, Mule and Motor drivers.
The Serbians, of course, were a 7x57 nation, and their major modern Mauser was the M1899 Small-ring action ( a-la M1895) which used a “Wide” Mauser stripper clip, compatible with all the other "Mauser " commercial clips of the period (M91 through M97 Export types).

The JP Morgan (a US banking institution) buying agency would have factored all the British Government orders going to US Contract suppliers, irrespective as to whether they were for actual British use ( ie, United Kingdom) the other Commonwealth nations ( Empire then) or third party allies…Note the Russian Colt .45 Auto Pistol contract marked “Anglitski Zakaz—English Contract”. As the payments of all Wartime supply contracts from the US to “Britain” were done in Gold Bullion, not paper money or credit instruments,
a Bank would have to be the best way of doing it.

The Royal Navy was using a lot of “non-standard” calibres and models, as we have seen already from Ammo packets etc, and some very clear Photos from other Boards ( 7x57 M1912 Steyr Mausers from Ships turned over to the RN from Chile, etc and of course the Arisaka (".256" Rifles,) widely used by the RN for training etc.

As to the Remington sale of “repaired” rifles, a lot of Remington’s Customers in Latin America had contract clauses that Remington would occasionally “Trade in” worn or older Remington products for either New rifles or Ammo supplies. BY 1914, the Rolling Block design was "passe’ " and so Remington jumped at the chance of disposing of both Inventory new stock of M1902s and also “Old stock” of converted Remingtons and “trade-ins” from Latin America ( as the latter states “Upgraded” to Mauser made products.).

Remember, every single-shot Remington issued to a rear-echelon guard, driver, etc released a potential magazine rifle for use at the Front ( France, Britain and especially Serbia, which in 1915, lost virtually its entire “Mauser” inventory in battles with the Austro-Hungarians. Only supplies of Berthiers from France and “bought in” 7mm rifles from Britain to the Enclave in Salonika ( Macedonia, Now Greece—ex-Turkish province, freed in 1913 Balkan War).
So the 7mm ammo supply sounds very apropos.

As to the “low percentage” of clips ordered, the MG use of ammo was roughly 1,000 times that of Rifle ammo…a figure realised quite soon after WW I started…only the Germans had allowed for such a high usage of MG cartridges, all the other nations in WW I were still in the 1890s as far as ammo consumption for MGs was concerned…and even the Germans underestimated the actual high usage the MG usage rates at first…

It would be nice to find some original “Serbian” supply packets of Remington made 7x57 ammo…but I think the great wash of war through the Balkans in WW I and then WW II has eliminated all such possibility…especially since Yugoslavia converted to 7,9mm in 1924, and rebuilt a lot of its “Serbian” Kingdom 7mm Rifles to the new calibre…

Good excuse for an “Ammo archeological dig” at some WW I Serbian Front battle sites…one may be lucky, as “diggers” have been at Ypres with 7,62 Mosin Ammo there ( “Matrosen Division” areas, armed with M1891 Mosins and Maxim M1910 MGs).

More research into the British Archives will lead to more “mysterious” contracts for Ammo etc coming out of London to the US makers during 1914-1918.

Has anybody seen any USCCo 6,5x53R for Romania in 1916? Tillinghast did have a complete gauge set for the manufacture of this cartridge back in the 1980s for sale… it seems that when the Germans occupied Romania in late 1916, the ammo went as a Neutral sale to Holland ( same calibre); instead a contract for Locomotives from ALCO of Schenectady, NY, went to Italy ( “Le Rumene”) and these locos were still in General short distance passenger service in the post-WW II period.

Another “contract” was (from Italy?) to an unknown maker in New England, for over 10 Million sets of components for 10,4 Vetterli cartridges…to be loaded in Italy… For Italy or for the Russians???

Regards,
Doc AV


#11

This looks like being quite a long reply. I go to Birmingham for the day and get back to find a whole lot of posts to answer!

First off, I am glad to see you back Doc after your little scare. Hope everything goes well. I had my own little battle with the sawbones a couple of yeras ago.

To answer the posts in sequence:

Vince: I am not surprised that you have not heard of the Rolling Block contract, few have. You probably have not heard either of the .44-40 Remington Model 14 1/2 pump guns; or the .44-40 Model 92 Winchesters; or the .30-30 Model 94 Winchesters; or the Chilean Model 1912 Mausers; or the Brazilian Model 1908 Mausers, yet all of these were used in some numbers by the Royal Navy in WWI.

I have covered the Arisaka, RFC and RNAS, and Land Service in the first three parts of my British Secondary Small Arms of WWI series and the story on all of the above will be in the fourth part on RN small arms due to be published in about a month or so. I have obviously done a bad job in publicising these as there is quite a lot about the ammo in each book.

I am no specialist on the Rolling Block but Roy Marcot of the Remington Society identified them as the 1901 transitional model, i.e. they are made for “modern” small bore cartridges like the M1902 but have the high rear sight of earlier models. Despite your thought that it sounded South American I can assure you they were purchased from Remington.

Enfield: Although Hinks Wells did make both types of charger, they were not the same. I have the British military drawings for both.

I also have the British contract details for the order to Remington for the Serbian 7mm. It was for 40 million rounds that was to replace the same number of .303 rounds from their overall contract for 159,800,000 .303 and is dated 12 Feb 1915.

Doc: thanks for backing up some of my assertions for the Doubting Thomas’!

I have by no means finished at the British National Archives but I do not think there is that much more to find regarding British secondary weapons there. I am fortunate that I only live about eight miles away so can get there easily. Incidently, re; the British contract for the Colts, I have recently found the British order for the 200,000 Winchester M95 Russian muskets. I wonder why they were not stamped like the pistols?

With regard to the 6.5mm Roumanian, I have not seen any USC Co. contract ammo but I have examples of the Kings Norton and BMM Co. 6.5mm for them.

With regard to the 10.4 Vetterli, this was a British order, originally considered for use by up to 300,000 Vetterli rifles that were the subject of protracted negotiations with Italy. In the event as we know, these rifles went to Russia vis French ports and the some of the ammo went as well. Most was left rotting on the quayside in Brest and eventually it was loaded onto barges and taken to Woolwich where it was broken up for scrap.

I think that is about it for now,
Regards
TonyE


#12

Tony
You are right about my ignorance on all counts except one. I was offered an off ticket .30-30 winchester with RFC markings many years ago for the price of a bottle of whiskey.
I was tempted. I declined but later learned from the RAF museum at Hendon that they were issued to Observers in the old bi-planes. Perhaps the .44-40s were as well.
Now had it been a .44-40 …

Vince


#13

Hi Vince

Interesting you were offerd a .30-30 M94. I would be surprised if it was an RFc issue, as the contarct with Winchester was arranged for the Admiralty by Sir Trevor Dawson, the vice chairman of Vickers. It is more likely to have been RNAS than RFC.

I suspect the information you were given by the RAF Museum pertained to the Winchester Model 86 rifles in .45-90 that were issued to RFC observers. They have an example at Hendon, and the staff there are not too hot on small arms (after all it is an aircraft museum) and one Winchester is much like another to the layman.

Regards
TonyE


#14

All I can tell you for sure was that it was marked RFC and it was .30-30 and it was a carbine. No release stamp.( In fact my memory might be playing tricks but I don’t think it had a WD stamp.) For obvious reasons I didn’t stay long as there was no question of buying it.

I know absolutely nothing about any of these contracts but I do know that in the trenches a lot of officers took or sent for weapons from home to meet some perceived need. I am thinking in particular of the deer rifles that were sent for and used in the early attempts at sniping or to be more precise counter sniping.

I was in the Lanes Armoury in Brighton a couple of weeks back and they had a couple of interesting old ex Canadian North West Mounted Police Winchesters in VGC. Early models and an exempt calibre but the prices were ridiculous.
It appears likely that a batch has surfaced from somewhere. The man in the shop was busy talking to someone so I wasn’t able to ask about them. I didn’t even find out the calibre.

Would these have been purchased locally or through London originally?


#15

Thanks for the info on the RFC marked gun. The RFC Winchesters that I have seen (2) only had a Broad Arrow stamped on the butt and were both Model 86 rifles in .45-90. Both Tracer and incendiary loads were produced for these, but because these were long bullets and the nature of the Winchester action determines the maximum overall length of the cartridge, the cases were shortened by about one tenth of an inch. Photo attached of tracer (l) and Incendiary ®.

The standard arm of the NWMP was the Winchester 1876 carbine in .45-75 calibre. It was actually quite a “long” carbine, fully stocked to the muzzle.

These would have been purchased directly by the Canadians.

A very good book on Canadian military arms is “Defending the Dominion” by David Edgecombe.

Regards
TonyE


#16

I bet they were unpleasant to fire standing up (or seated) in the back seat of an open bi-plane! The recoil must have been unbearable.