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Old March 1, 2013, 07:15 PM   #1
SHE3PDOG
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1903 Springfield history

Hello, my wife just bought me a 1903 Springfield manufactured in 1929 with a 1313XXX serial number. It has a newer barrel from 1944, but the rest is original as far as I can tell. I'd be really interested to know what this rifle might have seen in its time in service. Does anyone know anything about the rifles that were manufactured that year? I'm not so much interested in the gun itself as I am the history of its service, although any info about the gun would be appreciated as well because I know very little about it.
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Old March 1, 2013, 07:47 PM   #2
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pictures would be helpful.
is there anything stamped on the underside on the bolt handle?
what are the markings on the barrel?

there was no paper trail to any one rifle showing who was issued it and where they were stationed but likewise no one batch of rifles were ever sent to a specific unit.
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Old March 1, 2013, 09:53 PM   #3
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Conversely, there is no record of the weapon(s) issued to any given service member. So, barring something like a diary entry, no one will ever know the serial number of the rifle your grandfather carried in WWII. Service records only indicate the weapon(s) for which the soldier was qualified, not those he was issued.

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Old March 1, 2013, 11:08 PM   #4
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Ah, that is unfortunate. California has a 10 day waiting period, so I don't have any pictures of it yet, but I'll try to post some up here as soon as I get the chance. My wife bought it for me as a going away present as something I can have when I get back, so I'll just tell her to take pictures of it. What parts would help the most as far as pictures go?
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Old March 1, 2013, 11:33 PM   #5
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the barrel right behind the front sight post.
the receiver markings.
a wide shot to show the stock style and overall condition.
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Old March 1, 2013, 11:47 PM   #6
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Okay, I'll have my wife post them up as soon as she receives the gun.
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Old March 2, 2013, 04:17 PM   #7
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I've read of serial number search sites that will trace a rifle if the veteran has his rifle number writen down or memorized. Some Garands have been traced and sold to the men who carried them in the service.

Heres a site with free downloads of a book detailing the manufacture processes and machinery used to produce the 1903 Springfield.
http://archive.org/details/cu31924012809897

Amazingly detailed book, I've not seen another like it for any other firearm. A terrific collection of illustrations.
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Old March 2, 2013, 10:49 PM   #8
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That is an excellent book. It was prepared originally for bidders on a contract to manufacture the M1903 for the Army. The Army decided instead to contract with the companies already making the Pattern 1914 for the British and have them make the rifle in .30-'06 as the U.S. Model 1917, so no private company ever made the M1903.

Reading that book will open the eyes of some folks who think they know how things were done back then but are wrong.

As to serial numbers, there is no source for M1903 or M1 rifle or M1 carbine serial numbers beyond a very few. Springfield Research Service was able to trace a few serial numbers but not any significant percentage. Also, their records provide only a "snapshot" in time. If a company inventory that has somehow survived shows Springfield M1903 rifle 876543 in the arms room of Co.A, 999th Regiment, 777th Division on January 14, 1923, that does not prove who had it in WWII or if your great uncle carried it in 1937.

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Old March 3, 2013, 12:55 AM   #9
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Something I've wondered about.
After the U S Civil War Federal troops were allowed to buy the rifle or Musket they had carried in the service along with cartridge boxes and ammo at a reasonable price. I suspect that the difficulty in cleaning up and greasing for long storage of that many black powder arms made selling them off cheaper than taking them back to the arsenals.

I've also heard of Army officers and reserve officers purchasing their sidearms.

What I'm wondering is if any WW1 rifles were available for direct purchase from the government by demobilized troops on return to the U S?

I know that there was some sort of a prohibition against selling any U S martial arm in .30-06 caliber to civilians at some point in the 30's. This was one reason that Francis Bannerman developed his hybrid military styled .30-06 rifle, for sale to match shooters who wanted a military style rifle in .30, as well as for possible military contracts in South America.
Some sporting rifles were built on surplus Low Number actions, often subjected to a drawing and reheatreat process that may not have done anything to strengthen the action, and some drill rifles were built on pre production 1901 receivers.
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Old March 3, 2013, 01:57 AM   #10
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as far as I know, noboody was allowed to purchase their firearms after WWI. in a couple extreme cases, some soldiers were awarded their rifles but that was only for MOH winners like Alvin York and the like.

during the civil war, the military was still very much disorganized and the war dept was getting ready to enter a very long and arduous arms race, muskets were just outdated and they needed a way to fund trapdoors and lever actions. by the end of WWI, everyone was using bolt actions and no one rifle seemed superior to what we had so there was no real urgency to sell what we had in order to fund better stuff.

the end of WWII and the economic struggles that followed prompted the huge amount of military surplus arms to flood the civilian market,

I'm still hoping that one day uncle sam will notice he's 17 trillion in debt and will start selling those M9s, M11s, M500s and M16s to civilians in an effort to help create a bit of slack.
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Old March 3, 2013, 10:28 AM   #11
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Uncle Sam will more likely use those guns to enforce the new 90% income tax.
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Old March 3, 2013, 11:49 AM   #12
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Which funds will, in turn, be used to enforce "assault rifle" confiscation. .



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Old March 3, 2013, 02:34 PM   #13
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Back to Demon's statement that there was a prohibition against selling .30-'06 rifles. There was no such prohibition and thousands of M1903 and M1917 rifles were sold to NRA members through the old DCM program.

Receivers were scrapped when they became unserviceable and many were sold to entrepreneurs who built rifles from them. In the 1920's and 1930's M1903 "low number" receivers on rifles returned to depots for rebuild were deemed unserviceable and scrapped. That policy was changed as WWII neared and it was felt that the need for rifles was so great that the risk involved in using those receivers was justified. Note that there was not, and never had been, a general "recall" on single heat treat receivers. Many served through WWII with no problems reported.

After the war ended, and sales of M1903 rifles resumed, any one having an SHT receiver ("low number") could return it (just the receiver) to DCM for replacement with a DHT or nickel steel receiver.

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Old March 3, 2013, 02:55 PM   #14
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Hatcher's Notebook

You can refer to Hatcher's Notebook on the 1903 rifles. Like James K says. The low number SHT (single heat treat) rifles had problems. The higher number DHT (double heat treat) or nickel receivers were ok.
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Old March 3, 2013, 04:14 PM   #15
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Jim K

I'm going by memory of a Francis bannerman advertisement promoting his .30-06 hybrid rifle to target shooters.
The rifle was a mix of 1903 and M1917 parts, the bolt for example was a M1917 rear section brazed to a 1903 front section.

I'll look around for the advert.

The advert may have over stated a difficulty in getting a proper Springfield rifle during the late 30's, but the Government was confiscating Springfield 03 rifles from National Guard units and refurbishing the rifles for combat use.
Some Guard units sent in beat up drill rifles and held back a few of their best 03 rifles.
Military schools such as the Citadel in South Carolina also had to return any Springfield 03 rifles they had been loaned as parade rifles, and received Enfields, probably M1917 rifle, in return.
Rifles already in the civilan market as sporters and target rifles were unlikely to be affected.
I have run across information on a rash of thefts of Springfield rifles around that time, a small black market seems to have sprung up.

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Old March 4, 2013, 10:41 AM   #16
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Quote:
I'm going by memory of a Francis bannerman advertisement promoting his .30-06 hybrid rifle to target shooters.
The rifle was a mix of 1903 and M1917 parts, the bolt for example was a M1917 rear section brazed to a 1903 front section.
I'm no expert on mechanical engineering but something about that claim just seems completely implausible. you are combining parts from a cock on close rifle with parts from a cock on open rifle. you could not pair the rear half of a 1917 with a 1903 as the cams and guides would not lend themselves to proper cocking. similarly, you can not place a 1917 receiver in an 1903 stock and you can not pair a 1903 magazine well, floor plate and trigger guard assembly with a 1917 receiver.


I have attempted assembling rifles from piles of random parts and I have attempted pairing these two rifle types in just about any combo imaginable, it just doesn't work.

also, the remington model 30, which was essentially a sporterized 1917 was offered in 30-06, so a wide scale ban on military cartridges rings hollow.
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Old March 4, 2013, 11:07 AM   #17
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My words were
Quote:
a prohibition against selling any U S martial arm in .30-06 caliber to civilians
"U S Martial arm" means rifle used by the U S military, not Remington's modified remakes of the M1917 action built up as a sporting rifle from the jump.
Had it been a total ban on all .30-06 rifles Bannerman could not have continued to market the Model 37.

Though the U S did not officially enter WW2 till after Pearl harbor in 41 the U S was supplying the allies with surplus military rifles, mainly the M1917 which they sold off by the tens then hundreds of thousands to Canada and Great Britian. 80,000 to canada at one whack.
When registration for a draft was implimented in 1939 and National Guardsmen were sent to Fort Dix for advanced training all 1903 rifles brought to Fort Dix were confiscated and the NG given M1917 rifles in return.
The Bannerman Special 37 was first listed in 1938.

How long this lasted I have no idea. A similar situation came about in Australia, with civilian owned .303 rifles being called in by the government, supposedly to be returned after hostilities ceased.

As for splicing bolts, thats a fairly straight forwards process, still done today when assembling shortened actions.
I don't know if the Model 37 was cock on closing or cock on opening. Literature says the bolt used a Springfield cocking piece shroud.
Cock on opening conversions of the M1917 action were available, and one or more versions of the Remington Model 30 were built to be cock on opening from the factory.
The bolt handle is obviously from the M1917 and receiver was from a Springfield.
If an unaltered M1917 bolt will fit a Springfield receiver thats the first I've heard of it.


Bannermans were past masters of splicing and rethreading of parts, and I suspect some stocks for their hybrids may have been purpose made using surplus blanks and old surplus profiling machinery.

PS
Theres occasional confusion about the Bannerman Model 37.
This page.
http://www.americanrifleman.org/arti...rmans-special/
Has a lot of errors because the author apparently did not realize he had a Remington Model 34 7mm rifle rather than a Bannerman Model 37.

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Old March 4, 2013, 01:13 PM   #18
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This is great information guys. From the research I've done so far, my rifle was manufactured in 1929, so it didn't see WWI, but the rebarreling in 1944 suggests that it saw service in WWII.. after looking into the history books a little, the Army was issued M1 Garands with few exceptions during the war. However, the Marine Corps entered the Pacific with largely 1903's accompanying them. What I've read thus far suggests that the Marines were gradually issued M1 Garands as they came available, but the harsh island environment had taken its toll on many of the 1903's that were issued. Therefore many of the rifles were given new barrels around the close of the war.

Also, from what I understand, the 1903 was issued solely as a sniper variant after WWII to a very few units during the Korean War and early on in the Vietnam War. Those rifles were outfitted with scopes and the sights were removed.

If anyone knows more about this, I'd love to know more. This is just what I've gathered thus far, but if any of it is incorrect, feel free to correct me. This rifle really has a fascinating history.
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Old March 4, 2013, 08:10 PM   #19
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SHE3PDOG,
your information is mostly correct but with a few addend oms,

the 1903 was pretty much retired after WWII, as was the newer, updated 1903A3 design. however the 1903A4, which was only made by Remington continued on until early on in Vietnam as snipers. the 1903A3 and A4 actually have little in common with the 1903 and 1903A1.

main differences are:
the front sight base are different

the rear sights on the 1903/A1 are leaf style mounted on the barrel while the A3 has a peep sight mounted to the rear of the receiver, the 1903A4 has the dove tail for a rear sight but is drilled and tapped for a scope mount.

the floor plate and trigger guard on 1903/A1 is a two piece of milled steel while A3s and A4s have a single piece of stamped metal.

since the A4s were designed to have scopes mounted to them, they had bent down bolts that wouldn't interfere with the scope, standard bolts couldn't rotate up enough to cycle with scopes in place.

the stocks change styles a lot but some themes seem to stay the same.



a Straight style with grasping grooves were found on 1903s while the 1903A1 had a "C" style or full pistol grip stock. the 1903A3 had a straight style without grasping grooves and the A4s had the C stock. a intermediate "scant" stock was easier to make than a C style so during war time the scant style was used to replace broken C stocks so it is not uncommon to find A4 snipers and A1 rifles with scant style stocks.

a 1903 mark 1 was made with a small oval carved in the left side of the receiver to accommodate something called a pedersen device that converted the 1903 into a semi auto shooting small 30 cal pistol cartridges but the device was scrapped before any were ever issued. no real difference between the mark 1 and 1903 other than the cut and mark 1 stamped on top.

that's about all the variant info I've got.
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Last edited by tahunua001; March 4, 2013 at 08:21 PM.
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Old March 4, 2013, 08:45 PM   #20
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That's good info! Mine has the S stock with grasping grooves. I knew that there were different models, but I was unsure about how to distinguish between them.
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Old March 4, 2013, 09:49 PM   #21
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Next to our esteemed members I recommend Brophy's book on the 1903.
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Old March 4, 2013, 10:00 PM   #22
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Of the standard non sniper bolts some handles are swept back with an angle similar to a Model 70 bolt handle, others come straight down. Not sure but I think the swept bolt was an early feature.

The Marine Corp used 03A1 rifles (possibly some 03 as well) fitted with an Unertal target scope (8X?), a very long scope with shock absorbing mountings. Some of these were still around during the Vietnam war.
The Marine Corp sniper rifles were far more accurate, perhaps the most accurate rifle of the war, but the shock/recoil absorbing spring loaded mounts were prone to damage and becoming fouled by sand or other debris and not returning to the set position. They had to be kept scrupulously clean. Later they locked out the movement entirely making it a solid mount.
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Old March 11, 2013, 07:12 PM   #23
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My wife sent me the pictures of the rifle that is now awaiting my return home (Best wife ever?). Tell me how you think she did with buying this piece.

I know it is hard to read, but the stamp on the barrel sayas "H.S 544" and it has a bursting bomb.




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Old March 11, 2013, 10:48 PM   #24
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Well a couple of points. There was NO, repeat, NO confiscation of any rifles of any type in WWII. The government did transfer its rifles from one unit to another as needed, and that included from NG units under state control to regular army units. But they did NOT take any privately owned rifles of any kind from anyone. (Individuals could, and sometimes did, donate rifles to the government; AFAIK, you can donate stuff to the government today if you want.)

Now, a problem with that rifle. I would like to see a better picture of the serial number and receiver ring. In another post, I mentioned that some sellers of "low number" M1903 rifles would add a "1" to the front of low numbers so they would appear to be later rifles and not in the potentially dangerous range (below 800000 for SA, below 285507 for RIA).

I stated that the way to detect such shenanigans is to make sure the serial number is centered with the other markings. If, for example, the serial number has seven digits, like 1234567, the middle number (the "4") would be almost directly under the gap between the U and the S of the U.S. marking above it. If the number is NOT centered, and if it begins with 1, it is highly suspect.

So that is why I want a better look at that number and the other markings.

Jim
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Old March 12, 2013, 01:27 AM   #25
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Quote:
Well a couple of points. There was NO, repeat, NO confiscation of any rifles of any type in WWII. The government did transfer its rifles from one unit to another as needed, and that included from NG units under state control to regular army units. But they did NOT take any privately owned rifles of any kind from anyone. (Individuals could, and sometimes did, donate rifles to the government; AFAIK, you can donate stuff to the government today if you want.)
Never said they confiscated civilian owned rifles in the U S.
The Government called in 1918 BARs from both federal and state police agencies, refurbed these with some converted to the WW1 standard 1918A2 or issued as is to Special Forces.

The Australians did call in many privately owned Enfield rifles.
And NG troops ariving at Fort Dix had to turn in their 1903 rifles and received M1917 rifles in return. If the word confiscated doesn't fit I can't think of a better term, they were not given a choice in the matter.

AS near as I can tell the US government was not allowing any sales of surplus rifles other than to allied governments or government agencies in the U S at the time Bannermans advertised the Mod 37. The DCM may have continued to obtain rifles but that would not do the local gun shop or mail order houses much good.
The only civilian owned companies building the Springfield during wartime years were not selling them to civilian dealers.
The M1917 rifles were being refurbed and either issued to US troops or sent to allies , not sold in gunshops.
Not every gunowner in the U S belonged to the NRA or even knew the DCM existed.

Last edited by Rainbow Demon; March 12, 2013 at 02:45 AM.
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