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Old March 4, 2012, 02:28 AM   #1
Bluey303
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Springfield 1903 rear sights

G'day to all from the land down under. I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this but I've been looking all over for some information regarding the humble Springfield 1903 rifle.

Where to start? To cut a long story short, my Dad gave me a Springfield 1903 in the .30-06 that he bought from a bloke at a military rifle shoot. I did a bit more research into the Springfield and it turns out to be a 1903 A1 made by Remington in WWII with a semi-pistol grip stock. I have included some photos for you blokes to have a perv at.







What's the problem with it, you ask? Well, I love everything about this Springfield 1903, its semi-pistol stock really helps with the recoil of the .30-06 round than the straight Mauser-like stock (I much don't like it, hurts to shoot that) and it flat-out shoots my other military rifles I have.

The only issue I keep having is when using the peep sights on the original rear sights. What happens is that the rear sight tends to slide upwards after each shot fired, causing the shots on target to creep upwards. I've tried tightening the grub screw that's supposed to keep the rear sight in place, much as I can without stuffing it up, but to no avail.

To that end, I bought another set from Numrich gun parts, hoping this set of rear sight would work better. Took the Springfield out to the range to test-fire. Guess what? The rear sights still creeped upwards! Jeez. What now?

I had a mate of mines, who's a retired fitter & turner and very knowledgable about all things with guns, and he went over the first set of rear sights while I sent him the one I bought from Numrich. He did some detail work on it and told me to try it again.

To that, I did try by putting through a couple of rounds. The rear sight slide still creeps upward but not as bad as it was. To tell the truth, it's really starting to bog me off. My mate has now fixed up the sights that came from Numrich and I've just put it on, awaiting a test-fire next weekend.

So, I have to ask if anyone had any sort of dramas involving the rear sights on the Springfield 1903s and how to fix this sort of thing? If all this fails to work, I'm going to have to sell the old girl since I'm fast running out of ideas, even though it will really pain me to do so, because this Springfield 1903 is one of the most enjoyable military rifles I've shot over the last 15 odd years.

I just want to make sure it'll shoot consistently as I want to use it for the NRA High Power competition here in Australia. Any help/advice would be much appreciated.
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Old March 4, 2012, 05:14 AM   #2
radom
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You are not setting the lock screw tight enough is all. The screw on the side locks the slider so it wont move.
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Old March 4, 2012, 06:09 AM   #3
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Radom - Well, that's strange because the slider still will move upwards in recoil, no matter how much I tighten the lock screw. I was told by my mate the fitter to be careful not to over-tighten the lock screw as I may strip the threads.

Fat lot of that good did as it didn't matter how much we tighten the lock screw, short of using vise-grips. *shudders at the thought*

In any case, I still have the sights from Numrich that my mate had done up as well and it's just been fitted tonight. All we have to do is test-fire and see what happens then. On a wing and a prayer!!

It's either that or *maybe* modify the Springfield so it can take a fully adjustable Lyman sights, like the National Match version I've seen in some pictures, but I'm not so sure about drilling and tapping on such a nice original 1903. Or, maybe, suck it up and fork out for a 1903 A3 with a semi-pistol grip stock, to which I'm still looking for.
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Old March 4, 2012, 07:18 AM   #4
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Nice 03. Did you tell me to cop a perv at your rifle?

I can think of several things to try with that ladder rear sight, most of which may damage the sight- but not the rifle. One is to take a file to the side of the sight that the screw contacts, and make small 'saw tooth' marks, to give the screw something to 'bite'. Another is to mark on the sight where you need it set for various ranges, and then remove it. Drill very small holes in the vertical portion, just above the level of the horizontal arm, at those marks. Put a small cotter pin through the hole. This will arrest the upwards movement at those settings. A third is to remove the set screw, and get a type with a soft nylon tip. This may wear out quickly, but if you got a supply of them and over-tightened, you'd damage the screw not the sight, and the soft tip will deform around the vertical metal, perhaps making enough friction

But, before I did any of that, I'd get the Technical Manual for the 03A1 as I am sure the US Army had this issue too

Here's an original, 50 USD:
http://www.simpsonltd.com/product_in...ducts_id=19086

This site may have good printed documentation that may address the issue:
http://www.nicolausassociates.com/M1903.htm

The guys on this website will have advice and probably a source for that technical manual:
http://www.milsurps.com/forumdisplay.php?f=112

I notice that your front sight seems to have a 'hood' on it. Could you show a better photo of that?

As an FYI, that type of stock is called a 'C' stock. There was another, a 'Scant' which is actually the 'semi' pistol grip type. If you decide to use a Lyman type, you'll likely end up relieving some of the stock, too. I wouldn't do that, personally, to a finger-groove C stock. Are there any stamps on the wood? Here's an 03A3 with a C-Stock, next to my M1. Coincidentally, this 03A3 has a Lyman rear sight, and notches had to be cut out of the stock. Excellent sight however, I believe it's a Lyman 48


Last edited by Chris_B; March 4, 2012 at 07:24 AM.
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Old March 4, 2012, 10:42 AM   #5
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My first thought is the set screw is not tight, but you say you are tightening it...odd.

I would ask about this at the CMP forum. Lot of very knowledgeable 1903 guys there.

Common 1903 stocks.


My 1918 RIA built in 1928 by SA and a SC 1903A3.
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Old March 4, 2012, 01:31 PM   #6
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If my Son ever thinks about selling my 1903A3 I will tan his hide, and I dont care if the sight is working properly or not.
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Old March 4, 2012, 03:33 PM   #7
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Chris B - Yes, I did say that. To be honest, I'm floored by the wealth of information you have put out, so I'll be checking them out. The manual I have at the moment for the Springfield '03 is well, how do I put it lightly? Not all really well detailed. So it happens, it was a cheapie. Live and learn, I suppose. So, in that case, I'll be looking at purchasing a more decent techincal manual that'll accompany the old girl better.

I'll try get some more photos when I get back from work this arvo. Actually, there's no hood on the front sight. Mind you, I did think of buying one, but not so sure at the moment (unless I can talked into it).

Gotcha, as regarding the stock types as madcratebuilder's photos shows so much more. Now, that I think about it, I have a spare 'scant' stock, it came with the rifle, but I really like the 'C' stock. I agree with you about trying to modify such a nice piece of stock, that would be the absolute last resort. Again, I'll have another look on the stock on my '03 and see if I can find any stamps.

By the way, nice collection there. I'm sooo envious you have a M1 Garand. I can't have one here as the semi-autos are still banned. However, I'm planning on visiting the States one of these days and have a go in one of the NRA High Power, shooting either the M1 Garand or the M1A. One of these days!

mad crate builder - Thanks for the photos and the link, much appreciated. I agree it is quite odd regarding the lock screw and I'll look over at the CMP forum and see what they have to say also.

TX Hunter - LOL, I know what you mean, my Dad has given me his Pattern 14 .303 and has threatened to disown me, if I ever considered to sell it!

Oh, before I head out to work for the day, I have to ask you guys, would the 03 A3 version be a much better choice for target shooting than the standard 03? Just wondering because I haven't actually seen a A3 version for real yet, but it might be the choice if I can find one with the 'C' stock, to which I'm more comfortable with.

Gotta run!! Late for work!!
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Old March 4, 2012, 10:12 PM   #8
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The 03A3 rear sight is a lot more workable for shooting in general. The peep is the right size, the windage adjusts in detented clicks. Elevation, however, is in I think 50yd increments.

I have to be careful with the straight '03 stock, or my fingernails get stuffed into my lip. But I like the look of that straight stock and humped handguard better.

FWIW, the '03 was fired during the rapidfire stages with the battle sight (which is I think 550yds), so they had to hold at the bottom of the target frame.

Can't help you with a sight. Do you guys ever see the PJ O'Hare tool out your way (it's used to set the elevation--google it)


ETA: I just noticed you have a C stock with finger grooves. I thought the finger grooves were long gone before the C stock came around.

Last edited by 30Cal; March 4, 2012 at 10:23 PM.
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Old March 5, 2012, 02:07 AM   #9
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30 Cal - Hmmm, that's interesting, I will definitely keep that in mind. I just did a bit more looking about where I am, turns out there's a gunshop fair way from me that has managed to bring in the 03 A3s, but they don't really interest me as they're all straight-stocks. I had tried to shoot a mate's, who had one, but for some strange personal reason, they hurt more to shoot than the 'C' stock on my '03.

Good grief, I didn't know they had to shoot the bottom of the target frames with the battle-sights. That's funny, because when I first started to shoot the '03, I had a nice 5 round group, shooting off the bench at 100 metres, but it was impacting about a good foot, 12", high!!

That's when I "modified" my own front sight, based of the original front sight that was on the '03, so that it impacts about only an inch high at 100 metres over the battle sights. Turns out the original front sight on the '03 wasn't exactly "original"!

I found this out the hard way when I looked over Numrich Gun Parts' range of parts for the '03. Anyway, no luck on the PJ O'Hare tool around these parts. Unfortunately, parts for the '03 here in Australia are scarce as hen's teeth to be honest, so the only real way to keep the '03 going is to purchase them from the States.

Funny you mention the finger grooves on the 'C' stock. I wasn't even aware they were something of a curiousity, until I looked at some 'C' stocks and a lot of them don't seem to have those finger grooves.
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Old March 5, 2012, 03:03 AM   #10
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Chris_B - Finally took some more photos this arvo of my '03. I've tried again to find any stamps or evidence to say otherwise on the 'C' stock, but no luck whatsoever. So, my best guess that the 'C' stock is actually a reproduction. Anyway, onto the pics!

The sights from Numrich (fingers crossed!):


The barrel near the front sight:


The front sight, made by myself:


The receiver:


Does anyone has noticed the finer punch marks above the serial number? I've done some research a while ago and there wasn't much information to go on with. My best guess so far, is that the USMMR may mean United States Merchant Marine Reserve, the 21A1 could be the unit number or rack number and the 1943 was the year in WWII.

I discussed this with my Dad a while back and he told me, the previous owner who had it, actually had it brought in from New Zealand, where the US Marines used to be stationed at during WWII and where the US Merchant Marine used to drop off supplies.

This is where it gets murky. I can only guess that this '03 was possibly bartered/sold to someone in New Zealand after WWII finished up and kept there until somehow it ended up here and in my hands. Would be nice if this rifle could talk.
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Old March 5, 2012, 03:12 PM   #11
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That's an interesting 1903 rifle. I wish I could help with the additional markings, but they seem to be locally applied at the unit or user level. Your guess makes sense.

The first Remington made 1903 rifles made for WWII were virtually exact duplicates of the Springfield Armory 1903 made from 1906 through the 30s. They were made in 1942 and all that I've seen have had the straight grip wrist on the stock.

The second run of Remington 1903 rifles had a few shortcuts taken to expedite production such as a lack of milled lightening grooves on the rear sight base. It looks like your rifle is of the second run of Remingtons.

The third run of Remingtons had numerous modifications to enhance production. There were so many modifications that the third run was given its own nomenclature of 1903A3. They began production of the 1903A3 in 1942 with serial number 3348086.

As a side note, the Army considered any 1903 with a full pistol grip stock as a 1903A1, although the receivers' maintained their 1903 nomenclature. At one time it was intended to replace all of the straight wrist stocks with the pistol grip C stock during routine rebuild. True 1903A1 rifle will have serial numbers dating from 1929 onward or replacement barrel dates post 1929. If the 1903 was arsenal rebuilt with a C stock before WW II, the C stock should have a rebuild stamp with "SA-SPG" in a square on the left side of the stock behind the bolt release/magazine cut off.

Most replacement stocks made for Springfield rifles in WWII could be used on either the 1903 or the 1903A3 rifles as they had the rear sight base cut out as standard. Many of the WWII replacement stocks are marked with only a "K" in the dished out wood under the bolt stop/magazine block on the left side of the stock.

The deflection (windage) graduations on your 1903 sight are in "Leads." These equal about 4 MOA. I'm pretty sure that they are in reality, analogous to 1 milradian (mil) per graduation or about 3.5 MOA.

Here are my Springfields:

A Remington 1903A3 on top and two 1903s in the middle. Bottom rifle is a Springield Armory 1898 Krag.

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Last edited by Scharfschuetzer; March 6, 2012 at 12:38 AM.
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Old March 5, 2012, 06:45 PM   #12
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I don't remember it being this expensive. I got one of these about ten years back when RayVin was making them. He sold the business and retired I think.

http://www.sbsdistributing.com/index.php?pr=Sight_Tools
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Old March 6, 2012, 12:38 AM   #13
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Something simply isn't right with your rear sight.
The 1903 sight slider is held very tightly in position when the tension knob is tightened by the inner end of the knob snugging against the side of the leaf.
I've never seen one slide under recoil.

All I can think is that the sights you're tried are just worn out.

Here's a site that has a US Ordnance maintenance manual for many US rifles, including all the 1903 models.

NOTE: Near the top of the page the information on what username and password to use to get entry.
The 1903 manual on the site has full directions on sight disassembly.

http://www.biggerhammer.net/manuals/
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Old March 6, 2012, 03:19 AM   #14
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Scharfschuetzer - Thanks for your generous information, much appreciated as it makes more sense to me how my '03 came to be. No matter how hard I try, I still can't find any stamps you've made mention of along the 'C' stock on my '03 and I'm starting to think that this 'C' stock was either made from scratch or bought as a reproduction, the original stock must've been knackered or something. However, I did find the spares my Dad gave me with the rifle and this must've been the original one that was on it:



By the way, lovely collection you have there. Your '03 A3 with that stock you have on it is the exactly '03 I am really after, but very scarce here in Australia. So is your 1898 Krag, which is scarcer still, but I would love to own one, if there is ever one for sale. Grrr. I'll have to sell off some of my collection.

30Cal - Well, I had a look, the PJ O'Hare sight tool is about $130, which is roughly about the same in Aussie dollars, excluding postage. I might bite the bullet (excuse the pun) and fork out for one, if the current set of sights work, hopefully on this coming Friday, but in any case, we'll see how we go.

Dfariswheel - Thanks for the link, I'll look it up tonight and see what I can find, regarding the rear sights. Yeah, I'm thinking the same as you are, that they're both worn out (The original and another set from Numrich). The Numrich '03 sights had been pulled apart and done up again by my mate the fitter, so hopefully that would do the trick.

Oh, guys, I did thought of buying a proper bayonet for my '03, but my Dad told me not to, because for some strange reason, it won't fit on this '03. Which is rather odd. Any thoughts on the matter?
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Old March 6, 2012, 07:50 AM   #15
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'03

Quote:
I didn't know they had to shoot the bottom of the target frames with the battle-sights. That's funny, because when I first started to shoot the '03, I had a nice 5 round group, shooting off the bench at 100 metres, but it was impacting about a good foot, 12", high!!
The fixed battle sight is zeroed at about 500 yards (540,iirc).
The aperture is functional enough that I shot my first MOA group with one years ago.
I was, also, thinking that adding some "texture" to the ladder might help the set screw to maintain some bite and not slip.

Pete
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Old March 6, 2012, 09:51 AM   #16
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Since you have a spare rear sight, there is no reason to be shy about modifying it to hold setting, even to adding an extra binding screw. Keep the original for posterity.

Your receiver was made in July 1942 and it has a 1944 barrel. The punch mark on the ledge under the serial number is a proof mark showing the rifle was tested after the barrel was replaced (So is the punch mark in the centre of the ordnance bomb under the barrel date.)

It is actually a 1903 Modified. Note that there are no lightening flutes in the rear sight base beside the ladder. That is one of the minor cost saving measures they put in before the complete redesign into the 1903A3.

The battle sight zero is commonly given as 547 yards (500 metres).
I don't think that is the actual zero, the point of the battle sight was to hit a standing man SOMEWHERE at the maximum range possible with a center of body hold. So he will probably catch a bullet in the knackers at 550 yards, in the head at 300, and in the torso through the buckle of his Sam Browne somewhere in between, the actual zero. I need to get my Mk I out and see where it falls.
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Old March 6, 2012, 11:51 AM   #17
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Jim,

Good point on the battle sight zero.

This set the rifle up for what is called grazing fire. You are right in that the grazing fire range of a rifle should hit between the knees and the shoulders of the average man.

Back in the day, it used to be called rolling fire and there were actually two different measurements for rolling fire. One against infantry and one against cavalry.

Bluey,

Any 1903 (I think the nomenclature is: Bayonet 1905) should work as well as any WW II bayonet for the M1 Garand. Most WWII M1 bayonets were cut down 1903 bayonets. The later M1 Garand bayonets will not work as they do not use a muzzle ring, but a protusion that fits into the M1's gas piston plug.

I think the stock in your first photo is an issue WWII replacement stock. It has the two reinforcing cross bolts common to this issue. I don't think that a nonissue stock or a hand made stock would have those.

Here is my most used Springfield. It is an M2 .22 rim fire training rifle. It is "as issued" and remains a very accurate rifle.



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Old March 6, 2012, 12:15 PM   #18
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The original bayonet was the 'Model of 1905'. US nomenclature changed around WWII and several vesrions existed

The model of 1905 was 16" overall and had two styles of wood grips, ID'd by the number of machine marks

There was also the M1 bayonet, which seems to have been specifically for the M1 rifle, but don't let the name fool you. They were made for the 1903 rifles as well. It is simply a 10" vesrion of the Model of 1905. Grips are plastic, The 16" bayonet was found to be unweildy- try sitting in a chair with one stapped to your ammo belt- and too long for a fighting knife

There's also the "M1905E1" or cut-down Model of 1905 bayonets. These are 10" models and have two types of points, 'bowie' or 'spear'. The cut-off portions were used to make things like Victory Garden tools

There's also the so-called M1942 which is as near as I can tell, a differentiation that collectors came up with to ID a variation of the Model of 1905 made during 1942

try this link:

http://www.usmilitaryknives.com/bayonet_points.htm
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Old March 6, 2012, 10:56 PM   #19
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Nice M2!
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Old March 7, 2012, 06:30 AM   #20
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Scotty, back to the sight screw. Is it possible the slide binding screw tip has worn down? Is the binding screw head hitting the slide group before the binding screw tip is tight against the leaf?
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Old March 7, 2012, 06:49 AM   #21
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I had the same problem many years ago (decades). I removed the sights and sandblasted them, then reblued. When I reinstalled them, I put a piece of #9 lead shot from a shotgun shell into the screw hole and installed the screw. It now stays in place but is still adjustable. If you do this, make sure that you blast not only the ladder, but the grooves inside the slider and dont forget the lead "ball".
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Old March 8, 2012, 04:42 AM   #22
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Steve - Good thing you mentioned about the binding screw, because I was about to head off tomorrow to the range and shoot it without any real idea. I had another much closer look at the sight tonight and I have included a photo just taken to better show it.



As it looks from the photo, the slide binding screw is hitting the slide group first rather than the leaf, and I can see under a bright light from above that only a fraction of the slide binding screw's tip is contacting the leaf. So, yes, it is possible the slide binding screw's has been worn out at one stage and no matter how tight I bear down on the screw by hand, I can still shift the slide group by my hands.

That said, it doesn't look healthy at all. Ah, well, learning something new every day.

sc928porsche - Thanks, mate. In that case and what I've seen from a closer inspection, I reckon I'll give your solution a go. I just have to learn how to pull it apart (the '03 techincal manuals will come in handy!!), now it's off the '03 at the moment. All this is being a very interesting exercise as I've been more used to fixing all the quirks of the SMLE .303s and the occasional P-14.

Scharfschuetzer - You're making me drool again by your latest pic of your M2 .22 training rifle! I have lusted after one ever since I saw one of them in a collector's guide to military rifles book, but that is an extremely rare bird as I have never seen one for real in the last 15 years of shooting. I see more of the single shot SMLE .22 trainers though at some competitions.

Regards to model '05 bayonets, well, I'll have to find a place where I can just try one on because there was a few for sale, yours truly at $500 AU!

Speaking of 'rare' birds, anyone even seen a Canadian Ross rifle in the .303? I saw a bloke shoot the MkIII version just the only one time in a competition many moons ago. It was very, very interesting to watch him shoot the Ross rifle as I've read much of the stories about it. Then again, he had feeding issues after every time he reloaded with a stripper clip.
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Old March 9, 2012, 09:12 AM   #23
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Jim Watson

MR Watson
Thank you for the explanation for the punch marks on Bluey 303's Rifle.
With the Barrle Date and Reciever Date not matching.
I was curious about my own 1903A3 as mine has a 1942 reciever, and a 1943 Barrel.
I thought that the rifle might have been assembled out of parts that Remington had on hand, but now thanks to your good explanation I know that my Rifle has been re-barreled as well. My Rifle had the same punch marks as Bluey's.
My Rifle is in very good condition, and the barrel is like new.
This leads me to believe that my Rifle was used, I dont know if it has ever seen War, but It may have been fired quite a bit on the range.
Again thank you, I treat this Rifle with respect, and take good care of it, the respect is for the Men that may have carried it, while protecting our Country.
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Old March 9, 2012, 05:29 PM   #24
Ideal Tool
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Hello, Bluey 303. Please don't drill, file notches..or otherwise BUBBA that 03' sight! madcratebuilder beat me to it..the end of locking screw could very well be worn to the point the "head" is bottoming out. Lead shot should do the trick & no harm to a fine rifle. One of the best tools to use on a fine rifle before touching it with anything is...your brain! best of luck!
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Old March 9, 2012, 07:35 PM   #25
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Chris B,,, your 03 and mine look like siblings. Where did you get yours and any idea who put the rear peep sights on it.
One thing you might look in to is the front hooded sight for the 03. They are a very nice addition.

Scharfschuetzer please don’t post any more photos of the 22 M2,,, seeing one again, I just put a dent in my reloading bench, with my head, I passed up one several years ago and I still haven’t gotten over it.

Found mine on ebay, hooded front sight

http://www.ebay.com/sch/items/1903a3..._id=2374572172
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File Type: jpg 03 rear sight.jpg (120.0 KB, 12 views)
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