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k Squared
September 28, 2007, 07:02 AM
I’ve read several articles about “low number” 1903s and the fact that they are considered unsafe to shoot, but this is a slightly different twist (at least different for me).

I walked into my favorite gun shop looking for an early model 1903 to go with my later 1903A3. I quickly spotted one with an S stock that appeared to be in pretty good shape. It was a Rock Island rifle with serial number 240,XXX. Not sure of the low number cutoff, I found a book on the 1903 right there in the gun shop. As I suspected this serial number was just under the 285,507 identified in the book.

I was quite surprised that my favorite gun shop would put this rifle up for sale at all, much less sell it without any type of disclaimer. I asked the salesman about the rifle and he told me the bolt had been replaced and the shop owner considered it safe to shoot.

My understanding was that the heat treating problem was in the receivers and not the bolts. What do you more experienced guys say?

Jim Watson
September 28, 2007, 07:38 AM
P.O. Ackley once wrote that the bolts were more irregular in heat treatment than the receivers and that he considered a low number rifle with a nickel steel bolt to be of adequate strength for standard loads. But that was 40+ years ago, and acceptance of risk has changed. I'd leave the casehardened guns for showpieces.

James K
September 28, 2007, 05:38 PM
The first problem is that a few of those receivers are dangerous.
The second problem is that no one knows which ones they are.

About all you can do about the rifle is to do what you have done, caution the seller. If he chooses to gamble (and risk a huge lawsuit) there is not much else you can do except buy the rifle yourself. I am hardly anti-gun, nor would I want to seen any gun dealer hurt, but if I were asked I would have to say that selling that gun without at least a disclaimer is irresponsible.

Jim

k Squared
September 29, 2007, 12:07 AM
Jim & Jim,

In fact I did buy the rifle as a display only gun. I hadn't considered that I was making the world safer for my shooting friends, but now I can feel better about the purchase. It might also help me justify the pruchase to my wife (but I don't think so).