After experience in the Boer War (1899-1902) showed British troops outmatched and outranged by Mauser-based rifles, work was authorized in 1912 to further a new accurate service rifle centered on firing the equally-new .276 Enfield rifle cartridge. This weapon came to be designated as the Pattern 1913, or P13, but its development was derailed by the arrival of World War 1 in the summer of 1914. A limited stock of 1,257 P13s were made in all and the series did not enter official British Army service.
A shortage of capable long guns led British authorities to approach the United States to produce the P13, tapping into their massive industrial output, while British factories were tied up in other wartime commitments. Both Winchester and Remington, as well as Remington subsidiary Eddystone, agreed to manufacture the P13 in an alternate form chambered for the British .303 rifle cartridge. This rifle then became known as the "Pattern 14", or "P14".
The cross-cultural shift in production came with a price for early-form units, designated "Pattern 1914 Mk I" - were not up to British standards. As such, the rifle did not appear in useful quantities until 1916 after which point the war had reached its two-year mark. That same year, the rifle was revised with larger bolt lugs to improve the action and this resulted in the "Pattern 1914 Mk I*" beginning its service career. Fine-adjustment aperture sights were introduced in the follow-up "Pattern 1914 Mk I (F)" model and "Pattern 1914 Mk I* (F)" models while an Aldis scope was issued with "Pattern 1914 Mk I* (T) rifles".
Designations were also affected by their place of production so Winchester-produced Pattern 1914 Mk I rifles were noted as "Pattern 1914 Mk I (W)". Remington-produced guns became "Pattern 1914 Mk I (R)" and so on. Of the three brands involved, Eddystone led the way in production with a whopping total of 600,000 rifles while Remington added a further 400,000 guns. Winchester produced nearly 235,300 rifles of their own and these were generally considered of higher quality that the competing offerings. The Winchester rifles were typically fielded with the aforementioned Aldis scopes. Production totals of this fine instrument of war are said to have reached nearly 1,235,300 units.
British use of the gun (mainly in the sniper role) continued throughout the inter-war period. In 1926, they were redesignated as "No.3 Mk 1". Other global operators to join in its use became Afghanistan, Australia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Greenland, India, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, Norway, Philippines, Poland, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
Norwegian use amounted to British surplus stocks being delivered to Norway resistance fighters during World War 2 following the German invasion and subsequent occupation. Similarly, Filipino forces were given the type for resistance actions against their Japanese occupiers in the Second World War. The Soviet Union was the recipient of the P14 mark via Lend-Lease and featured these in the Leningrad Campaign.
Even before World War 2, the Americans became operators of the P14 line. While American production of the British rifle wrapped up back in 1917, the United States finally committed to The Great War effort in 1917 and found itself in dire need of small arms of any kind. The Pattern 1914 fit the bill and was placed back into local production for the American Army to fight alongside the standard-issue Springfield M1903 bolt-action rifles of the time. The primary change from the British model and the American version was the switch to the .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge. The guns went on to be known as the "Model 1917 Enfield", "M1917 Enfield", or "American Enfield" (this gun is detailed elsewhere on this site).
As built, the P14 rifle has an overall weight of 9.5lb and an overall length of 46.25 inches with a 26 inch barrel assembly. The action was based on the tried-and-true German Mauser action featuring a turn-bolt system and manually actuated by the operator. The weapon fed from a 5-round stripper clip and held a muzzle velocity of 2,380 feet-per-second reaching out to ranges of 800 yards. Its construction was conventional (and traditional) featuring a long-running wooden body, inlaid metal components, and integrated pistol grip/shoulder stock.