• View of Springfield Armory overlooking the city of Springfield, 1855

    Springfield Armory

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Machining at Springfield Armory

Drilling out the bore of a musket barrel, c1861
In this image showing operations at Springfield Armory at the beginning of the American Civil War, from a popular magazine, the boring of the inside of the tube that formed the musket barrel was accomplished with powered machine cutters.
Harpers Weekly, September 21, 1861
Cutting the rifling grooves
After polishing the bore of the musket barrel, a few grooves were cut into its inner surface along the length of the bore that twisted about a full turn from one end to the other. These grooves, or rifling, caused a fired bullet to spin, thereby increasing accuracy.
Harpers Weekly, September 21, 1861
An Armory worker demonstrating metal-cutting lathes, c1920s
The exterior surface of rifle barrels were shaped on lathes that spun the barrel against a stationary hard sharp steel cutter that slowly moved along the length of the barrel, cutting unwanted metal away. Notice the US M1903 rifle barrels in this 1920s photo.
Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS
The Armory's Model Shop, mid-1920s
In this mid-1920's photo of the Armory's Model Shop, where machining operations for experimental and prototype weapons were made, an array of milling machines, lathes, and drill presses may be seen. Note the overhead power belts.
Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS
John Garand standing on the left, mid-1920s
In the right-hand side of the Armory's Model Shop photo may be seen inventor John Garand, in the suit coat, at work examining what appears to be a prototype Model 1922 semi-automatic rifle of his design. Note the drawings on the table to which he points.
Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS
Milling, cWWII
Here may be seen a Brown & Sharpe milling machine with two cutters for cutting guide slots in M1 Rifle receivers during WWII.
Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS
An Armory worker grinding vertical milling cutters
Above may be seen a Woman Ordnance Worker (WOW) at the Armory engaged in the fine cutting operation of tool sharpening, a specialized production facility in WWII in which women excelled.
Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS
Multiple vertical cutters in operation in WWII
Here may be seen a vertical milling machine using cutters like the one the WOW sharpened. In this machine, four cutters work simultaneously on four rifle receivers during WWII in the mass production of M1 "Garand" rifles. In the 1950s and 1960s, before the Armory closed in 1968, machining operations were increasingly computer-guided.
Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

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