- Robert E. Petersen Collection
- Ancient Firearms - 1350 to 1700
- Road to American Liberty - 1700 to 1780
- A Prospering New Republic - 1780 to 1860
- The American West - 1850 to 1900
- Innovation, Oddities and Competition
- Theodore Roosevelt and Elegant Arms - 1880s to 1920s
- World War I and Firearms Innovation
- WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Beyond - 1940 to Present
- For the Fun of It
- Modern Firearms - 1950 to Present
- Hollywood Guns
- A Nation Asunder - 1861 to 1865
Major John W. Hession's Springfield 03 Rifle
When the British army lost most of its arms on the beach at Dunkirk during WWII, John W. Hession was one of many Americans who responded by loaning a rifle for British use.
As this bolt-action Springfield rifle, SN 264631, was Hession's prized competition piece, a gun that had successfully competed in the Olympics, at Bisley Range in England, and in the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio - Hession placed specially engraved plates on the stock denoting its importance. The front plate, which asked for the rifle's return after the defeat of Germany, may be the reason this piece was returned to Hession after the war.
Heinlein purchased this former military issue bolt-action rifle in his later years and used it for informal target shooting, mentioning a similar rifle in his novel, The Number of the Beast.
Serving as an issued standard battle rifle for the United States military through two world wars and many other minor conflicts, the Model 1903 rifle was based in part on the Mauser Model 1898 design. The Springfield M1903 was manufactured at Springfield Armory in Springfield, MA, and also under government contract at Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, IL, and later at Remington Arms in Ilion, NY. Rock Island manufactured this rifle design only from 1904 to 1920.
Over one and a half million examples were produced prior to 1941, and with the start of WWII, production began again at Remington and at Smith-Corona, a typewriter and mechanical calculator company in Syracuse, NY. The new Model 1903 was designed as the M1903A1 to distinguish the newer production from older manufactured rifles that could have heat-treating issues with the receiver in certain serial number ranges.