POTD: Wonder Weapon or Faulty Flop – The Pedersen Device
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! The Pedersen Device is a firearm legend. This “wonder weapon” was a top-secret answer to the trench-worn gridlock of World War I. The idea was to supply an allied infantryman with enough firepower to compete with a garage of entrenched machinegun fire. Better yet it did not involve modifying a standard-issue M1903 rifle beyond making a small cut in the left-hand side of the receiver for ejection. The Pedersen Device itself is a gun. Extremely similar to 22 conversions of the past and present. This apparatus would be inserted in the place of the bolt and it would be locked in and turned into a semi-auto pistol caliber rifle. This device however was not meant to be (probably for the best) since the war ended before the planned 1919 spring offensive. Although at the time of its implementation and testing the overall idea was a positive one, it is speculated that this would have been a huge failure and gotten a lot of men killed.
“Mark I Pedersen Device manufactured by Remington Arms Co., in 1918 for the Model 1903 Mark I rifle. The device is complete with two 40-round magazines, two boxes of 30 auto pistol cartridges for the Model 1918, a stamped steel carrying case and a five pocket web magazine pouch. The Pedersen Device was a semi-automatic blow back bolt with 40-round magazine chambered for a pistol size .30 caliber cartridge. The device was designed to replace the bolt in the specially modified M1903 Mark I rifle and provide the individual infantryman with a short range semi-automatic rifle capable of providing a high volume of suppressive fire. Adopted by the Ordnance Department in early 1918, Pedersen Devices and M1903 Mark I rifles were designated “Top Secret”; the device itself was designated “U.S. Caliber .30 Automatic Pistol of 1918-Mark I”. The Army ordered 100,000 Pedersen Devices for use in the 1919 Spring Offensive against the German Army in France. When WWI ended in November 1918, the 65,000 Pedersen Devices manufactured before the contract was terminated were placed in storage and retained the Top Secret classification. In 1931 the Ordnance Department ordered the Pedersen Devices, magazines, cases and accessories destroyed. Records show that 64,873 Pedersen Devices and accessories were destroyed. Only a few Pedersen Devices exist in collections and museums. The stamped metal carrying case is rarer than the Pedersen Device itself; most surviving devices lack a carrying case. The Pedersen Device has a black-green parkerized finish. The cocking piece has serrated edges and a center sight groove.”
Lot 1828: Rare Pedersen Device w/ Two Magazines, Metal Carrying Case, Maga. (n.d.). www.rockislandauction.com. photograph. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/59/1828/rare-pedersen-device-w-two-magazines-metal-carrying-case-maga.