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Discussion Starter #1
I'm curious to know what models/patterns of bolt-actions rifles were known to have been used in the American frontier before the year 1920, whether by military, law enforcement, or civilian shooters.

For instance I believe the US Army was carrying either Krag-Jorgensens or Springfield 03's at the time of the Pancho Villa expedition? I've also heard that the BIA issued the Remington-Keene to some of their agents, and I've seen a photo of a Crow Indian chief carrying one in the 1890s. I've also heard that there was a civilian sporting version of the Winchester-Hotchkiss produced until 1899, although I don't know if any made their way out west during this period.
 

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I found nothing in Houze; early descriptions of flint, percussion and breech conversions. FIREARMS OF THE AMERICAN WEST 1866-1894, Garavaglia and Worman, list several although not sure any really made it west (military trial primarily).
 

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I found nothing in Houze; early descriptions of flint, percussion and breech conversions. FIREARMS OF THE AMERICAN WEST 1866-1894, Garavaglia and Worman, list several although not sure any really made it west (military trial primarily).
Thanks for the suggestions. I came across the book 'Guns of the Wild West: Firearms of the American Frontier, 1849-1917' by George Markham which, at least according to a review I saw, includes some info on bolt-actions and even early auto-loaders that made it out west. I'll see how much info there is when my copy arrives.
 

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Thanks for the suggestions. I came across the book 'Guns of the Wild West: Firearms of the American Frontier, 1849-1917' by George Markham which, at least according to a review I saw, includes some info on bolt-actions and even early auto-loaders that made it out west. I'll see how much info there is when my copy arrives.
I wouldn't think there will be many with competition against lever actions and high expense for both thus percussions, conversions and flints. Same with revolvers. Colts, Smith and Wesson, Remington, etc very expensive at about $15.00 a pop as opposed to $3.00 for a Bulldog.
 

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I wouldn't think there will be many with competition against lever actions and high expense for both thus percussions, conversions and flints. Same with revolvers. Colts, Smith and Wesson, Remington, etc very expensive at about $15.00 a pop as opposed to $3.00 for a Bulldog.
Yes, probably not many in comparison to other types. But I'm still interested to hear about the ones that did make it out there.
 

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I believe Remington Keenes were issued to some Indian police agencies.
US experimented with several bolt action rifles to include Keenes and Winchester Hotchkiss. Am pretty sure at least Hotchkiss rifles underwent cavalry testing in the western theater. Canfiield's book "US Military Bolt Action Rifles" has quite a bit on these. McCauley's book "Carbines of the US Cavalry" indicates only the Winchester Hotchkiss (both types) carbines saw experimental US Cavalry service in the West. Some Remington Lee 1882 rifles were tested by infantry units in Wyoming.and Chaffee Reese bolt rifles were also tested in the West by infantry units. The 1871 Ward Burton was tested by units but am not sure where.
The US Navy seemed more favorably inclined towards repeating bolt action rifles than the Army was: this was true with other Navies as well (Italy France, etc.) Canfield shows a photo of US Navy personnel with 1879 Remington Lees in Hawaii before its annexation. THAT'S pretty far West for the US! There were several Army boards that looked at magazine rifles in the trapdoor era, but the Army remained wedded to the trapdoor. (It was a time of low budgets, so arms changes would have been at cost of other improvements.) US was fairly glad to replace the Trapdoor at the end but apparently didn't want a large bore black powder repeater, but wanted a smaller bore smokeless number.
Beside the Canfield and McCauley books referenced, see also" Canfield, "The Winchester in the Service" .
Krags were being issued sometime in 1894, but Wounded Knee in the 1890 time frame is considered by many historians as the end of the major Indian Wars of the Western era, but incidents continued. And, if 1920 is your cutoff, obviously 1903s were there as well.
In total, the US probably procured more experimental bolt rifles than they did lever actions after the end of the Civil War era, though US purchased 10,000 95 Winchesters in .30-40 for use in Spanish American War. If I remember correctly, some were tried in the Phillipines and the bolt rifles were preferred. Some US officers carried privately purchased Model 1889 lever rifles which were the first lever capable of handling the .45-70 cartridge. (The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were equipped with 1876 Winchesters for some years, but they were obviously not US.). Only the Army and Navy used the Winchester Lee straight pull rifle in the Spanish American War/Peiking Siege era, but there were probably some kicking around in Hawaii.
I think Michigan reserve units used some Remiington Lee rifles at the turn of the century, but they wouldn't have seen service in the Far West.
 

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They would have been 1903s I believe. I think all regulars were equipped with them by 1916. Rock Island Armory had already stopped production of the M1903 by the time of the US entry into WWI and production had to be re-started there to support the US war effort. By WWI if you total Rock Island and Springfield productiton of the M1903, it was close to, or slightly over, 1 million. I thiink Krag production ceased in 1904 or 1905. I think by WWI the US had already sold of donated about 300,000 Krags because believe there were less than 200,000 (out of in excess of 500,000) Krags: I'm SURE US wished they'd kept more for their own training camps, non-combat personnel (Navy, etc.), sales or donations to Allies, etc. although probably not as much as the Germans wish they had hung onto more of their Gewehr 88 series rifles, etc. (20-20 hindsight, is, of course, quite easy.) (Pretty sure Japan wish they'd hung onto some of their Arisakas they'd sold off by 1945 also.)
US also re-started production of .30-40 ammo during WWI as well. Not sure when it stopped: Krags were still pretty prevalent in military matches up to or past 1910 I believe.
 

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For a comprehensive book on the topic - get hold of "Rifles of the U.S. Army, 1861-1906", by John D McAulay, 2003, Andrew Mowbray Inc publisher, ISBN: 1-931464-08-1.
 
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