Springfield Rifle Model 1892 with Specifications
An important fact to remember about the Springfield Armory was that it had only one customer – the United States Armed Forces. As such, the Armory, in times of peace, only had to produce enough weapons and maintain enough staff to properly equip a small standing army and navy. However, in times of war, the Armory had to quickly and significantly ramp up production. Since declarations of war seemingly come without warning (at least from the Armory’s perspective - mostly having to do with budget appropriations), the Armory was caught unprepared at the announcement of American participation in two major conflicts, the Spanish-American War in 1898, and World War I in 1917.
The Secretary of War at the time of the Spanish-American War later wrote about the conflict, “The War Department had [at the outset of the war] ready for use enough 30-caliber rifles [Krag-Jorgensens] to arm the 33,000 men added to the regular Army, and enough 45-caliber Springfields [Trapdoors] for the volunteers [National Guard units]; but that was all.”
An axial drill from the 1889 edition of Scientific American
The Ordnance Department, a division of the War Department, was committed to the new design of the Krag-Jorgensen. The Springfield Armory worked for the six years leading up to the outbreak of war to overhaul its machines and manufacturing processes. As a result, production was down – significantly. With the declaration of war – and a corresponding massive increase in budget allocations – the Armory drastically increased its output. However, production takes time, and the gauntlet having been thrown, the volunteers were sent to war in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines with technologically obsolete weapons – the very same technology that was in the hands of Custer’s men at Little Big Horn almost a quarter-century earlier.
Even so, the regular Army soldiers held the Ordnance Department’s pride and joy, the Krag. However, they were about to find out two things: one, they were extremely lucky, and two, the Krag-Jorgensen was just as technologically obsolete as the Springfield Trapdoor.