Posted in Editor's Picks, Surplus Classic And Tactical Firearms | 1 Comment

Remington’s Versatile Manufacturing

Remington’s Versatile Manufacturing

The Berthier and Rolling Block WWI 8mm Lebels span the designs of 19th and 20th centuries.

Wartime production is a fascinating subject and rarely covered in the mainstream news. Three, sudden, short, wars in our own history—the Civil War (1861-1865), WWI (1917-1918) and WWII (1941-1945)—are cases in point. It’s miraculous that in a matter of months, not years, manufacturing and logistics could be turned around so quickly and so successfully to supply the millions of products necessary to sustain armies, navies, air and marine forces in combat.

The story of the M1 carbine comes to mind. From mid-1941 to mid-1945, 10 contractors, only one of which (Winchester) had made firearms previously, produced 6,221,200 carbines in 4 years from scratch. Just as fascinating is another story, which took place in WWI when the house of Remington became arms maker to the world, quite by accident.

I was sanding a stock in my shop not long ago. My mind was wandering as it often does when I’m doing a bit of repetitious work, and I caught myself staring at two rifles standing across the room. One was a French Berthier, converted into a handy sporter, and the other was a Remington rolling block mounted with a long staff, tang sight by a previous owner. I had never associated the two rifles before that moment in time. Staring at them, it dawned on me that both were chambered for the 8x50R Lebel, the world’s first smokeless cartridge, that both were made by Remington under separate contracts with the French government and that both were being made during virtually the same WWI time period at two different Remington facilities.

As I thought about it, what was even more intriguing was that one was a simple, robust, single-shot design dating back to the Civil War and the other was a modern, bolt-action, repeating rifle.

When Germany declared war on France in 1914, the French were caught flat-footed with insufficient stores of small arms and ammunition for their newly raised army. Adolphe Berthier, Chief of Office for the Algerian railroad, had designed the Berthier in 1899. With the advent of WWI, the Berthier was put into full-scale production as the Model 1907-15 and produced at the government arsenals of Saint-Etienne, Chatellerault and Tulle as well as under contract with the French firms of Establissements Contin-Souza of Paris and Societe Francaise Delaunay of Bellville. The pace of French production proved insufficient so France contracted with Remington to produce 200,000 Model 1907-15 Berthiers and 100,261 Model 1914 rolling block military rifles chambered for the 8mm Lebel Balle-D cartridge.
By Holt Bodinson

>> Click Here << To Read More December 2012 Surplus Locker

GUNS Magazine December 2012

Order Your Copy Of The GUNS Magazine December 2012 Issue Today!

Get More Surplus Locker

Share |
  1. Vincent Padia says:

    Hi Jeff
    Just thought I’d leave my 2 cents worth. This has nothing to do with Holt or his writing. It is solely due to my level of interest that I read Holts article so late into this month. His article on Remington’s manufacturing capabilities was a real blast to read.
    I’m definitely not old enough to know of wens’t the Remington facilities were actually producing but I am old enough to remember 35 cent gas and 19 cent diesel. Holt’s opening is what I speak. “Wartime production is a fascinating subject and rarely covered in the mainstream news. Three, sudden, short, wars in our own history—the Civil War (1861-1865), WWI (1917-1918) and WWII (1941-1945)—are cases in point. It’s miraculous that in a matter of months, not years, manufacturing and logistics could be turned around so quickly and so successfully to supply the millions of products necessary to sustain armies, navies, air and marine forces in combat.”
    I’ve been in the construction industry most of my life. Mostly dealing with welding and metals joining. Holt revels at how much how fast AMERICAN INDUSTRY came to the rescue during times of National need. I agree, It must have been a fantastic thing.
    But I bring up this. Route 66 was completed in a couple of years and it went through states from Ca. to Chicago. The interchange from the 60 Fwy and the 55 fwy in Riverside Ca. took over 5 years from start to finish. That’s for just one interchange.
    With all of the bureaucracies and regulations and Holts final declaration that “Production capacity wins wars”. I feel we are doomed.
    Vince

Leave a Reply

(Spamcheck Enabled)