Saturday, October 15, 2016

John D. Pedersen

All military firearms enthusiasts know of John Pedersen as the inventor of the "Pedersen Device" for the Springfield 03 rifle. He was that and more.
Pedersen was a brilliant mechanical engineer, one that even John Browning had said was a near genius. 

The above is a Pedersen "T1" test rifle chambered in the .276 Pedersen cartridge. 

In the early days after WWI nearly every country in the world acknowledged the advantages of using a new and improved semi-automatic rifle and were actively seeking to design and produce new rifles. Initially, countries struggled with which cartridge was the best to use, what should the weight of the rifle be etc.

While most U.S. Ordnance Board members continued to compare any new candidate rifle to the standard Springfield Model 1903 rifles using the 30-06 cartridge, some advocated going to a new small, high velocity cartridge with a lighter bullet and cartridge weight so the soldier could carry more ammunition.
To that end, the U.S. Ordnance Board in 1922 began the search for suitable candidate rifle to test and evaluate. This effort finally culminated in the "second series" of rifle tests of 1929. At that time, the Ordnance Board had reduced the various competitors down from six to two suitable candidates: the early "T3" rifle developed by John Garand and the "T1" rifle designed by John D. Pedersen.
In 1923, the Ordnance Department awarded Pedersen a contract to develop such a rifle, and based on that he developed his self-loading rifle and carbine chambered in the .276 caliber Pedersen cartridge. In 1928, the Ordnance Department tested the Pedersen designed rifle and recommended them for adoption. Upon that recommendation in 1930, Pedersen contracted with the English firm Vickers-Armstrongs LTD to manufacture a small quantity of rifles and carbines, approximately 200-250 total. A carbine by Vickers is pictured below.

However, after additional testing in 1931, the Infantry Board recommended that the Army develop the T3 Garand semi-automatic rifle rather than the Pedersen rifle. (the T3 would eventually evolve into the famous M1 Garand)

The “T1” was an excellent design that was extremely well made, but it had a couple major problems that really kept it from being more successful than the Garand design. Those were: the .276 cartridge had to be "waxed" to sufficiently operate in this rifle, which the board found totally unacceptable in an infantry type weapon, it also had considerable more parts, costing more to manufacture, and it was heavier. 

Fast forward ten or so years.

When the army decided to further develop the Garand’s “T3” .276 semi-automatic rifle, Garand was encouraged to submit a 30-06 version.
When Pedersen got wind of this he developed the GY Self Loading rifle. The GY rifle was chambered for the .30-06 cartridge and combined features of both the M1 Garand and Pedersen T1 rifles. The GY rifle had a gas cylinder, hand guard, operating rod and new "telescoping" rotating bolt. The rifle retained the en-bloc clip, spiral-ribbed barrel, drum rear sight and walnut stock with grasping grooves and cooling vents that were features on the T1 Pedersen rifle. This rifle has been further modified by the incorporation of a "stripper clip" guide on the left rear side of the receiver. 

Very limited information is available on the Pedersen GY rifle. Author Bruce Canfield discusses the rifle briefly on page 190 of "THE M1 GARAND RIFLE". He states that John Pedersen developed the GY rifle circa 1939 and submitted the rifle to Springfield Armory for testing in 1943. Canfield states that only two examples of the GY rifle are known. The rifle pictured was purchased directly from John Pedersen's son in 1988 the other is located in the Springfield Armory Museum.