Springfield’s Remarkable Rimfire

The US Armory-Made M1922 .22 LR Has Captivated
Shooters And Collectors For 95 Years Now

By Holt Bodinson

Looking ever so much like a sporter, they were classy and never cheap. They were in a military luxury class all of their own. I often think Springfield Armory made them as a symbol of national pride rather than out of the necessity to develop a rimfire trainer. Indeed, to this day the Model 1922 Springfield rimfire rifle carries with it a cachet hard to equal in the world of rimfire rifles.

Leading up to the design of the Model 1922, there had been a number of rimfire modifications of US arms for training purposes. The New York State National Guard and the US Navy modified their Model 1870 Rolling Blocks in .50-70 by inserting a .22 caliber barrel or liner in the .50-70 barrel and modifying the breech block and extractor for rimfire ammunition.

In the heyday of the Krag, Harry Pope designed a .22 caliber replacement barrel, manufactured by the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co., converting the Krag into a rimfire rifle without any further alteration. The Pope barrel featured an eccentric chamber, positioning the rim of the .22 rimfire cartridge so it would be struck by the centerfire firing pin as well as being extracted by the existing Krag extractor. While not an issue item, many state National Guard units purchased the barrels and swapped them out at the unit level.

Early in its life, the Model 1903 was modified in 1907 into the “Gallery Practice Rifle, Caliber .22,” more popularly described as the “Hoffer-Thompson” conversion. It featured a .22 caliber barrel. Either .22 Long or Short cartridges were loaded into what looks exactly like a long-necked, steel, .30-06 case which could be loaded into a standard 5-round clip. In terms of realistic rifle operation and management, it was a good design but was lackluster when it came to accuracy.

Following WWI, attention once again was given to developing a new 1903-based rimfire rifle. In 1920, two experimental models developed by Springfield debuted at the NRA convention with Benedict Crowell, Assistant Secretary of War, in attendance. Crowell and NRA officers were enthusiastic about the possibility of a Springfield rimfire target rifle which could be sold to DCM-NRA affiliated rifle club members, loaned to high school, college and ROTC shooting teams and issued to military units for training. Crowell instructed Springfield to refine the design and begin its manufacture.

Well balanced and accurate, the US Springfield Armory M1922M2 is a delight to shoot.

The Debut

The adopted Model 1922 was a stunning looking, beautifully machined and finished sporting target rifle mounted with a Lyman Model 48B receiver sight. In production until 1942, the Model 1922 was continuously upgraded and rebuilt. Three distinct models are recognized and so stamped on the front receiver ring. They are the original Model 1922, the Model 1922 MI and the Model 1922 M2, also marked as the Model 1922 MII. The Model is further broken down into “Sales” rifles—rifles sold through the DCM-NRA with NRA style buttstocks and national match buttplates and possibly armory drilled and tapped barrels for target scope bases—and the standard “issue” model pictured here.

Since many Model 1922’s were sold through the DCM-NRA, I was curious as to their pricing, especially when the original price was converted into 2016 dollars. The following are the original prices and their equivalent, inflation-adjusted 2016 price: Model 1922—$40.96 ($590); Model 1922 MI available in 1926—$46 ($627); Model 1922 M2 available in 1938—$55.79 ($955). The Model 1922’s were never inexpensive for civilian purchase.

Here’s a brief description of the three models in the Springfield 1922 series.

Made from 1922 to 1942, the M1922 was always a classy-looking sporting and target rifle.

Required to hold 1-inch at 50 yards from a machine rest, this M2 does just fine
off the bags at 25 yards. Based on the best 4-of-5 shots, Holt’s prized M2 show
a distinct preference for match-grade ammunition.

Model 1922

If found in its original, unaltered form, it would be the rarest of the breed and a treasure in any collection. A total of 2,032 were produced from 1922–1924. Of those, 2,000 were allocated for DCM sales, 20 for US Army testing and evaluation and 12 were made into international free rifles for the 1924 international smallbore matches.

The receiver follows closely the lines of the 1903 although it is modified slightly to permit the single loading of .22 Long Rifle cartridges. Its 5-round magazine extends below the line of the stock. The 2-piece bolt is unique having two firing pins, a rimfire bolt face, extraction and ejection system and a smooth cocking piece without the standard knob. The bolt stroke is full length simulating that of a regular service rifle. It is fitted with a Lyman 48B receiver sight.

Introduced in 1925, the MI model did away with the dual firing pin replacing it with a single striker. The dimensions of the chamber and rifling were improved. A new 5-round magazine now fitted flush with the bottom of the stock. The stock itself was redesigned with less drop and slightly longer length-of-pull. The Lyman 48B sight was replaced with the improved Model 48C. The serial number of the rifle was now numbered to the bolt with an electric pencil.

Model 1922’s taken in for repair or refurbishing were modified with the improved bolt, magazine and Lyman 48C sight. They were then stamped 1922 “MI” on the receiver ring and letter “A” was added to the serial number.

A total of 20,020 M1922 MI rifles were built from 1925 to1934—14,680 for military issue and 5,330 for sales through the DCM-NRA. After serial number 17,267, the steel in the bolt and receiver were changed to nickel steel, and the root of the bolt handle was stamped “NS.”

Nickel steel was incorporated into bolts and receivers across
all 1903 model lines and the bolts were marked “NS.”

The addition of Lyman 48B and 48C sights to the 1922 really defined it as a target rifle.

M1 and M2 magazine are not interchangeable. Note the “M2” mark (left magazine).
The other mag is an M2 commercial clone.

Model M1922 M2

The final 1922 model was the M2 as pictured here. Production of the M2 began in 1933 and ended in 1942 with an estimated total production of slightly over 12,000. Among the improvements was a bolt adjustable for headspace and stamped “M2” and its new magazine marked “M2” fit higher in the receiver well and better aligned cartridges with the chamber. The new “issue” stock had less drop. The DCM-NRA M2 model still retained the 1922-style stock with a national match buttplate while the receiver and the barrel were drilled and tapped for scope blocks. The bolt throw of the M2 was shortened to just clear the length of a Long Rifle cartridge in the magazine. The rear of the striker was fitted with a large nut to deflect gas from a ruptured case.

To add to the 1922 model designation confusion, Model 1922 MI rifles turned in for repair or updating were fitted with the new M2 bolt and magazine. An additional “I” or “1” was hand stamped and added to the model designation making it a “Model 1922MII” while the letter “B” was added as a suffix to the serial number. In his book, The Model 1903 Springfield and Its Variations, Brophy says the hand stamping was crudely done in many cases with “an inconsistency in the size of the stamps used and in the placement of the marks on the receiver.”

Had it not been for Brophy I would not have been able to purchase my first Model 1922 for $125 four decades ago. I was working for the New York State Conservation Department and was not what you might call “flush” at the time. A private military arms collection came up for sale at a small, rural auction house nearby. I attended the auction and realized author William Brophy was sitting in the front row and authoritatively commenting on every piece being auctioned.

Up came a Model 1922 MII Springfield for sale. The bidding started at $80 and I soon realized I was bidding against no other than Brophy himself. We bid against each other in $5 increments. Brophy bid $120, and I placed my final bid at $125. Brophy suddenly threw up his hands and exclaimed, “Hell, I don’t need that. I own serial number “X.” (I don’t remember the exact number, but it was in the single digits.) Thanks to Brophy’s sudden change of heart, I went home that day with a beautiful Model 1922MII Springfield.

Styled, machined and finished like fine sporters, the Springfield 1922 model series was the product of an era we will not see again. Don’t pass one by!

MODEL 1922 M2
MAKER: US Springfield Armory
Springfield, Mass.

ACTION: Bolt-action repeater
CALIBER: .22 Long Rifle
CAPACITY: 5
BARREL LENGTH: 24 inches
OVERALL LENGTH: 43.75 inches
WEIGHT: 9.25 pounds
FINISH: Parkerized
SIGHTS: Lyman 48C
STOCK: Walnut
VALUE $1,895

FURTHER READING

The Model 1903 Springfield Rifle and Its Variations, by Joe Poyer, softcover, 456 pages, $24.95, North Cape Publications, P.O. Box 1027, Tustin, CA 92781, (800) 745-9714. www.northcapepubs.com,
The Springfield 1903 Rifles, by William S. Brophy, ©1985, hardcover, 616 pages, $99.95, Stackpole Books, 5067 Ritter Rd., Mechanicsburg, PA 17055, (800) 732-3669, www.stackpolebooks.com
(GunsInternational.com)

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