Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1480: Rock Island Arsenal M1903 Guiberson Periscope Trench Rifle

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Extremely Rare Documented U.S. Rock Island Arsenal M1903 Guiberson Periscope Trench Rifle

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $20,000 - $35,000

Extremely Rare Documented U.S. Rock Island Arsenal M1903 Guiberson Periscope Trench Rifle

Manufacturer: Rock Island Arsenal
Model: 1903
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 30 06
Barrel: 24 inch
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 4950
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 374
Class: Curio & Relic Long Gun

This is an extremely rare all original WWI era Guiberson Periscope Trench rifle fitted to an early 1909 dated Rock Island Arsenal Model 1903 bolt action rifle. At the onset of WWI the US Army and USMC infantry was plagued with fighting from the trenches in France. There were 2-3 trench type periscope rifles designed and patented, the most known was the Yazzi and the Cameron model that uses a standard M1903 fitted to a highly modified frame system, with a lower mechanically operated bolt with a large heavy side mounted trench periscope. Both were successful on a very limited basis with an estimate of less than 10 ever manufactured. This model was a completely different design in that it used a standard M1903 fitted to a completely and highly modified M1903 service rifle stock. The stock itself was almost completely hollowed out and was then attached to a heavy cast and machined aluminum frame that had a hinge just behind the lower barrel band. This allowed the stock to separate and open up behind the rear tang area. This design concept is somewhat similar to the aluminum bedding blocks installed in fiberglass bench stock today. This same model is shown in the book "The 1903 Springfield Rifle" by Bill Brophy on page 217-220 along with the two other noted Trench rifle designs. That example was written up in an article in magazine "The Man At Arms" in April 1917 by Capt. E.C. Crossman. It was fitted to a Springfield Arsenal M1903 while this example is actually fitted to a Rock Island Arsenal manufactured M1903. Obviously during the development the Ordnance Department wanted to make sure that if they approved this design, Rock Island Arsenal could be able to manufacture/adopt their rifles for this style stock. Since it was never approved we assume that these are the only "two" examples of this style trench rifle ever produced. The rifle itself was manufactured in 1909 RIA and the receiver has the standard five line markings over serial number "131036". The barrel is correctly marked "RIA/Ordnance shell and flame proof/5-09". It has the milled components and the bolt is later pattern Springfield Arsenal double heat treated bolt that is marked with a small "s" on the underside of the safety lug. The stock, as noted, has been highly modified, however, it still retains its original fingergrooves on the side along with a boxed "CN/1909" cartouche. It even includes the small reflecting mirror periscope as shown in the pictures and discussed in the article. Provenance: The George Moller Collection

Rating Definition:

Fine, with 60% plus of the original blue finish showing flaking of the fragile oil-quenched finish on top of the receiver with better blue on the milled components. The stock and aluminum frame are both in very fine condition with some minor handling marks on the sides in various areas but still intact and fully functional. An absolutely one-of -a-kind, rare, M1903 rifle, and quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

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