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Old April 30, 2009, 03:38 AM   #1
WeedWacker
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M1903A4 (I think) and barrel

ETA: Ok, I re-read the title, looked at the content and realized for most of this it probably should have been in the Art of the Rifle sub-forum. So for now only look at the curio and relic portion if you are here. I have deleted the non C/R stuff.

I have an M1903 that is sporterized (ugh) and I want to #1) restore it and #2) maybe use it as a match gun for WWII service competitions. As it sits right now I don't have time for the matches. However I do use it for hunting. (filled the freezer fine this last year )

Right now groups sit at anywhere from around 2 to 4 inches at 100 yds. depending on ammunition (all I can get is factory ATM). Barrel is not bedded or free floated and as stated above in a semi-monte carlo style stock.

I have two ideas:
  • The stock is the problem (barrel resonance and/or inconsistent action bed)
  • The barrel is the problem (corrosion, wear, rifling twist inadequate for modern factory loads)

As a C/R rifle, could the barrel be the problem as far as rifling and modern ammo go? (maybe even corrosion but I haven't looked with my bore light yet)
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Last edited by WeedWacker; April 30, 2009 at 05:38 AM. Reason: Clarification
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Old April 30, 2009, 07:28 AM   #2
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"Rifling and modern ammo" is absolutely not your problem.

Your barrel might be corroded or just plain dirty and your stock might not be well fitted, but a 10" twist barrel has been working fine for over a hundred years and nothing is going to change that. (But don't think you are automatically entitled to MOA accuracy just because of gunzine propaganda. 4" is pretty sloppy, but 2" is not bad in the real world.)

What is your sighting system?

Do you have pictures?

If a scope or commercial receiver sight has been installed, and if the metal has been reblued, a return to military configuration will be expensive. Even if it has the GI sights or some sort of no-gunsmithing scope mount and is still Parkerized, it is likely missing a lot of the military hardware.
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Old April 30, 2009, 08:08 AM   #3
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a bore light can be had for less than $10. It is more than worth the purchase price. I keep mine in my car console and use it with all my FTF/auction purchases. It will be key to diagnosing your problem.
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Old April 30, 2009, 12:34 PM   #4
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Im no 1903 expert, but weren't many/most of the A4s issued with the 2 groove barrel?
If I remember correctly, the Marines stuck with A1s when issuing sniper rifles instead of going with the A3/A4s for accuracy reasons.

What have you done to clean your barrel?
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Old April 30, 2009, 10:31 PM   #5
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The A4 version is the Sniper rifle. Is your receiver left side drilled and tapped for a scope mount? There should be no front sight.
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Old May 1, 2009, 01:39 AM   #6
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I'm at work right now but when I get home I will take some pictures and post it. It has been tapped for scope but it's not on side but on top. I have a Burris Fullfield II Ballistic Plex 3x-9x40, there is no front or rear sight and the guy I bought it from says he has the original stock somewhere. I will ask him about it later. (I need to call him anyway about some mechanical help with my AK) He says it's an A4 with two rifling grooves. Again, I will take pictures.
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Old May 1, 2009, 07:19 AM   #7
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If it is a A4, the Mgf. name and ser. number will not be on top of the receiver. It will be to the side so that it would not be covered by the scope mount base.
They were drilled and tapped on top of the receiver and not the side. They used a Redfield type of base and rings.
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Old May 1, 2009, 07:27 AM   #8
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The 1903A4 was the sniper model with factory installed scope sight and no iron sights. They are still marked Model 03A3 but with the serial number and model designations offset to be visible beside the front scope base. It is a top mount, not a side mount like 32 Magnum thinks it has.

If you have one of those and it has not been messed with other than changing the scope and stock and if you can get the original stock for it, and if you can find an original scope mount and if you don't mind paying for an original or at least period scope, it will be a nice and valuable rifle.

Don't get all tangled up in the two groove barrel business. They were just as accurate as four (or six) groove barrels with military ammunition in military rifles.
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Old May 1, 2009, 08:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Don't get all tangled up in the two groove barrel business. They were just as accurate as four (or six) groove barrels with military ammunition in military rifles.
I am in no way doubting your claim, I am just curious if you have any proof or sources. Ive just been reading up a little on them, and it seems the A1, as issued to Marine snipers, were more accurate over the A4s. Any reason for this?
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Old May 1, 2009, 11:25 AM   #10
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Guys, guys, settle down. Here are the promised pics. If you want any other angles just hollar and I will give you what you ask.

Sorry on quality on some of these, couldn't figure out the macro...








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Old May 1, 2009, 11:26 AM   #11
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And with the M91/59

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Old May 1, 2009, 01:11 PM   #12
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The tricky thing about the 03A4s is that some 03A3s were converted at some arsenal to that configuration. Hence, without the ODCMP paperwork, it could be just another bubba made 04. I know someone who made one for an anxious buyer.

BTW, I have an 03A3 with a star gauged barrel that I believe was sporterized at Springfield Armory. It has a sporter stock, a detachable Lyman M48 rear aperture sight and when the Lyman is removed, you can slide on the Lyman Alaskan scope onto its Griffin & Howe base. The officer bought it for $15 as it was "sub-standard." Sub-standard meant that they made the front sight blade loose and could let the gun go cheaper. He lived on the base at the time which gives it credence (to me along with what his daughter told me) that it was converted at Springfield.
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Old May 1, 2009, 05:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
the A1, as issued to Marine snipers, were more accurate over the A4s. Any reason for this?
Might have something to do with the fact that the USMC 1941 sniper had a 8X Unertl instead of a 3X Weaver scope. About three times the scope, if you go by the price at the time.

I think the OP's rifle is a common sporterized '03A3. I cannot see the A4's offset markings and the bolt handle looks gunsmith bent instead of arsenal ground out.
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Old May 2, 2009, 01:23 AM   #14
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So since we have established it is most likely an A3, on to the issue at hand. Should I restore it to c-stock or an A3 stock? Would this improve ballistics a little bit? (Barrel is currently not free floated and action is not bedded as stated above)
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Old May 2, 2009, 06:40 PM   #15
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Mr. Watson
Thank you for your insight. However, I asked the question relative to the fact that we have seen two '03s in the shop over the past several months that someone is passing off as A4s. Both had a fairly crude cantilevered scope mount attached by screws to the left side of the receiver and obviously were not original configuration sniper pieces. Seems that there maybe someone in this area (Eastern PA) putting these together with modified mounts and selling them to uneducated purchasers as A4s. Hence my question.
regards,
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Old May 3, 2009, 09:37 AM   #16
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Wow, they are really depending on finding suckers then.
The 1903A4 configuration is illustrated in books and websites all over the place.
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Old May 3, 2009, 07:15 PM   #17
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There's enough suckers to go around, no matter where you live. A few weeks back, a guy brought into the shop his great great grandfather's Civil War officers sword, claimed the old gentleman was a Colonel, when I unwrapped it and pulled the blade from the very battered and cheap looking scabbard, the left side at the ricasso was hand electropenciled "INDIA"...the guy thought it should be worth about a "grand or so"...go figure.
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Old May 3, 2009, 07:20 PM   #18
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One other point - on my low definition Amish made water powered computer and monitor - there appears to be a sleeve with two grooves near the muzzle of the barrel on the '03 in question. I've only seen one up close and personal, but this barrel looks similar to the barrel from a Garand "gas trap".?????
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Old May 4, 2009, 01:02 PM   #19
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well I talked to the guy I bought it from. On the barrel at the end it has a stamp RA over 9-43 (Remington made it in 1943) and when he bought it it was already sporterized. It does say A3 on the stamp under the scope base on the front of the receiver.

According to him and the rifles he has used, if it was an A4 it would go in an S-stock which is very similar to the C-stock but cut so you could get more stocks per blank.

ATM I think i want to restore it to a C-stock. Anyone know where I could get one?
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Old May 4, 2009, 01:32 PM   #20
Jim Watson
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Quote:
there appears to be a sleeve with two grooves near the muzzle of the barrel on the '03 in question.
That is just the way the barrel is turned and grooved for the front sight base. The A4 used A3 barrels with all the cuts, just that the iron sights were not installed.

There are THREE main 1903 stocks - not counting the different handguards for 03 and A3. The S stock with straight grip was the original issue stock from about 1905 on. The C stock with pistol grip was adopted in the 1920s. A 1903 with a C stock is a 1903A1 but only the Remington A1s are so marked. The stock "cut so you could get more stocks per blank" is known as the "Scant Stock" with a faint pistol grip. More to hold on to than an S stock, less wood than a C stock. There are a lot of minor variations, Boyd says they have seen eight different variants.

CMP has C stocks
http://www.thecmp.org/stocksets.htm
Also Boyds and Sarco.
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Old May 4, 2009, 04:53 PM   #21
WeedWacker
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Now I have looked at the CMP stocks before. But for $500...

What about these?
http://www.sarcoinc.com/springfields.html

However, this:
"Our stocks are completely drop in"

tells me these are manufactured to specification and are a general fit and may not be a good idea if I intend to shoot for accuracy.

I'm getting depressed now. I would rather have the M1903 look in an '03 instead of this sporter crap, but I don't think I could justify $500 for this rifle nor would I want a knockoff POS drop in.
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Old May 4, 2009, 05:05 PM   #22
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Current price of the CMP is $165. But that is for a bare stock with no hardware.

I figure any production line wood stock will have to be glass bedded for best accuracy anyhow. It is harder to get top accuracy out of a long military stock with a lot of contact between barrel and wood, no free floating there.
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Old May 5, 2009, 09:55 AM   #23
WeedWacker
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Alrighty, I was looking at the wrong section of CMP's sales section. My depression has been alleviated thanks to you Jim.

And what is the difference between the C and National Match stocks?
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Old June 2, 2009, 08:46 PM   #24
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I'd clean the bore extensively then gauge the muzzle for ware. Be sure to check that the crown is clean and undamaged. If all is well, then try to find some A3 ammo or load some. It is very easy to overpower the two land riffling, so keep the weight and speed within the mill specs. If the barrel shows wear, try a slower load
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