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Old September 26, 2012, 01:11 AM   #1
Tangentabacus
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Identify a 1903

I totally agree when people say "don't sporterize a piece of history". HOWEVER... Someone is offering a 1903 for trade to me and I was wondering if you guys could help me identify the rifle and help tell me if it's worth at least $300.

I really like the 1903 platform and the 30-06 would be great for moose hunting here. I just don't know much about the rifles. Any help would be great.

(Side note: not sure if I posted this in the right place.)









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Old September 26, 2012, 01:48 AM   #2
taylorce1
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Well it is an 03 sporter, and the serial number is high enough to make it safe to shoot. Is it worth $300? Probably, but I'd try to get it for less as it needs more work IMO. I'd probably take a chance on it.

The military safety will not work with a scope mounted in low or medium rings, probably still has the old military trigger the can be either good or bad. No telling from the pics what kind of shape the stock is really in or condition of the barrel. However, it does appear to be a serviceable rifle, that with a little work would serve well as a slayer of moose.
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Old September 26, 2012, 01:54 AM   #3
Jim Watson
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Serial number marks it as made in 1921 with double heat treated carbon steel action, so it is ok to shoot.

It has Weaver scope bases and the bolt handle is bent to clear a scope but as said, the safety is GI. A scope safety is not expensive.

I won't guess a dollar value, but you said "trade" so if it is a $300 dog for your two $150 cats, that is ok.
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Old September 26, 2012, 02:01 AM   #4
Tangentabacus
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Fair enough!

The main reason I want this rifle is for moose slaying. I have a few other rifles but they're all mall ninja type guns. Too heavy and kinda impractical for hunting.

And about trading for two $150 cats. I'm actually trading a set of paintball guns for this gun. hah
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Old September 26, 2012, 02:16 AM   #5
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The only holdback I would see on a deal like that, is if you can pull that front mount off and see anything about "National Ordnance". I also have seen a few bad posts about "Golden State Arms" stamped 1903's, but I don't know of anyone having a firsthand experience with them. I have a Golden State 98 Mauser- marked "Santa Fe 1946" so some such. It's been an absolutely fantastic rifle over the years.

Does anyone know what serial number range National Ordnance used?
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Old September 26, 2012, 09:29 AM   #6
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IMHO, it's worth $300 all day long - I'd buy it in a New York Minute, if I didn't already have one.

It looks like it's lacking the pinned-in front sight blade, but it's a good chance to pop in a Lyman Ivory bead replacement ILO a flat gennie.

.
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Old September 26, 2012, 07:51 PM   #7
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$300 is a decent price. that's about average for sporterized models and at least the guy that did this one cared enough to put a decent stock on it instead of just cutting down the original.

all major concerns have already been listed or laid to rest. however I would like to point out that the bolt has NOT been bent to allow for scopes. the bolt on there is in original GI condition and may not work on all scopes. you may want to have a scope mounted in shop and verify that the bolt clears it during operation before buying the scope but just the fact that the bolt was not modified means that it will probably be a non-issue as long as you go with a standard 3-9x and not something gawdawful like a 6-28x tacticool sniper special from barska.
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Old September 26, 2012, 10:17 PM   #8
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IIRC National Ordnance serials numbers are in the 5 million range-must look at mine. In addition to checking the headspace I would make sure it is still chambered for 30/06.
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Old September 27, 2012, 07:01 PM   #9
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Does it have a date on the barrel (on top just behind the sight). ? Should have the flaming bomb symbol as it does not look like the barrel is cut off.

Has to be Springfield Armory with a 21 date.

Yours if 500 higher than mine (4/21) so you can call it 4 or 5 of 21.

Value wise $300 is a decent price. Could be had for a bit less like $200 dependency on seller.

Keep in mind not much (current) collector value due to the drilling mods.


Its a nice sporter stock and setup. When the good ones get rare enough, then the sporters will shoot up as you can "fix" the holes and have an OEM 1903 (far better than recovered drill rifles).

Particularly important is not to cut the barrel off. You can't get new barrels for guns of that era (1903A3 yes, but not those)

note: I am also in Alaska, and yes its a great moose gun and a Grizzly bear in and emergency. Mine is documented for 5 of those (life and property defense in the 50s). Let me know if you don't buy it.
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Old September 27, 2012, 07:24 PM   #10
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It looks very much as though it has a '03-A3 front sight. If so, there is a good possibility that the barrel has been replaced with a WWII barrel. Not a problem, just thought I'd point it out.

I would give two paintball guns for it all day.
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Old September 28, 2012, 07:58 PM   #11
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It is in the double heat treat range, as said before, 1921.

The stock looks like a 50's Fajen stock, bolt handle has been bent, probably to clear a scope since you have weaver mounts on the receiver.

I would put a new 20lb Wolf mainspring in it , scope it, and go sight it in.
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Old September 30, 2012, 02:59 PM   #12
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The rifle is as noted a 1903 Springfield and dates to around 1921.

At some point it was sporterized and the original barrel was replaced with a Remington 1903A3 barrel. This was done by either civilian owners or by outfits like Golden State Arms and others.

A note here on Golden State Arms. This was a California based company in the 60's that took US GI surplus receivers, barrels and parts and produced sporterized rifles. Golden State stamped the barrels with their name, cal. and model, in the case of the 1903, "Sharpshooter 0f 1942". These rifles were often found to be a mix of 03 receivers and A3 barrels as 03 barrels were somewhat scarce at that point. ALL parts used by Golden State Arms were US GI and the receivers were original Remington as stamped.
During those years, there were a number of players in the game and they all knew each other and were frequently in bed together. However, Nat. Ord and Santa Fe were the only one's that made and used cast reveivers and the serial numbers were stamped in the 5 mil range, the receivers were stamped Nat. Ord or Santa Fee. The bottom line here is what the receiver bridge is stamped as is what it is.

There should be a date stamped on the top of the barrel just behind the rear sight. This will be a 43 or 44 date, ie 4-43 etc.

The bolt appears to be an original 03 with the smooth profile but has been modified, polished, and bent down for scope use.

With the limited pictures, that's about all I can tell you. It has no collector value and falls in that $200 to $250 range.
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Old October 9, 2012, 04:24 AM   #13
Tangentabacus
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Haven't gotten time to sight it in however...

There is a fireball marker on it I'm not sure the barrel was replaced.

SUPER trade for some paintball guns.
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Old October 11, 2012, 06:45 AM   #14
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The "fireball" is actually the US government ordnance bomb mark. Since your barrel is an '03-A3 and probably made by Remington, it should have behind the front sight an RA with the ordnance bomb underneath and a date (like 2-44) underneath that. Even though they cranked out those barrels by the tens (or even hundreds) of thousands they shoot remarkably well.
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Old October 11, 2012, 05:47 PM   #15
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Looks like you did well for the trade. I would put a slip on recoil pad for my bony shoulders, and shoot the living day lights out of it just as it is. If it shoots under 4 inches at 100 yards it will do the job as long as you do yours.
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Old October 11, 2012, 06:21 PM   #16
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Only addition I'd make other than a safety suited to the scope mounting, is the one piece firing pin conversion.

Rarely if a primer is pierced gas going back into the firing pin opening in the bolt face can drive the firing pin back hard enough to break off the front piece of the two piece firing pin, and the shaft and cocking piece can then be driven out the rear of the bolt endangering the shooter's aiming eye.

A rare occurance, but something that can be avoided almost entirely by converting to a one piece firing pin.

Avoid dry firing a rifle that has a two piece firing pin, the connecting lugs can crack after repeating dry firing.

Contary to popular belief almost any rifle action can be damaged by repeated dryfiring.

PS
I've always liked the looks of a properly done 1903 Springfield sporter. Finding one of these with so much work already done, and apparently done well, is a good find.
Room for improvement, but fine as is.
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Old October 11, 2012, 06:29 PM   #17
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I think it looks pretty good! Nice job!
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Old October 13, 2012, 12:39 PM   #18
RC20
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Quote:
Haven't gotten time to sight it in however...

There is a fireball marker on it I'm not sure the barrel was replaced.

SUPER trade for some paintball guns
s.

We still need you TO GIVE US THE DATE! on the barrel (the detail guys are dying of curiosity) . The fireball is an ordnance Flaming Bomb. Date is right under that. X-4X (more likely X-43 or 44)

Yep, nice to have experts who can nail the front sight as non OEM to the receiver (not me!)

More or less the way the 1903s are going (of all persuasion) even a drilled receiver is going to be worth some good money.

That can be changed, it will never be original, but for a reconstruction its ok.

The 1921 era receivers are really getting rare, drilled or not.

With the barrel changed, it drops value for the collector package, but the receiver retains its value.

And regardless its a very nice sporter
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Old October 14, 2012, 01:44 AM   #19
supercub99
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Rainbow, curious, have you ever seen this happen with the firing pin rod in an 03?
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Old October 14, 2012, 08:13 AM   #20
Tangentabacus
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I'll take a look at the rifle. I wasn't aware that this thread was resurrected until just a little bit ago... Any other information that could help pin down additional info about this rifle?
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Old October 14, 2012, 08:31 AM   #21
Tangentabacus
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Here's some markings I found along the barrel.

Starting from muzzle working back.
RA
(fireball octopus thingy)
5-44
XA72
A marking that looks out of place, I think it's the number 5
Another marking that's a B
Some weird things that kinda look like stars maybe or a hammer. Hard to tell.
U.S.
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There is an R on the bolt. The R is on it's side facing up when you look at the right rear side of the bolt.

I don't see any other markings at this time.

Two questions: Is it normal for the receiver to have a polish or lacquer kind of look to it? And where can I get an original looking stock? I love the way those look.
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Old October 14, 2012, 08:32 AM   #22
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I know, third post is a crowd, but I'm super pleased to see other Alaskan's chiming in on my thread.
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Old October 14, 2012, 02:14 PM   #23
tahunua001
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alright the 5-44 is what the other guys were looking for, 5-44 means the barrel is from may of 1944. the RA above it means that it was a reminton barrel and the R on the bolt means that it is a remington bolt as well, they did a large amount of the post WWII refits before the rifles were placed back in storage, I have a springfield with a remington bolt in it. doesn't hurt it at all. those 1944 remington barrels were very accurate for the most part, you should have a very good shooter on your hands now.
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Old October 14, 2012, 06:27 PM   #24
Tangentabacus
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Interesting... More or less a certified replica from Remington?

I didn't know there was so much to these rifles.
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Old October 15, 2012, 02:40 AM   #25
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Your rifle was not rearsenaled by the military, it was sporterized by someone other than the military. The rifle has been polished and blued, the barrel changed to the later A3 model and the receiver was tapped and drilled for a scope mount. The bolt is an early Remington 1903 bolt (marked R as you noted) that was bent for a scope, again outside the military.
An original Springfield would have a dark parkerized finish, a military rebuild would have a greyish green parkerizing on all parts. In addition, you won't find a military rebuild of a 1903, Springfield or Remington with an 1903A3 barrel. The rear sight for a 1903 would be a ladder mounted at the rear of the barrel where as a 1903A3 would have a peep sight mounted on a dove tail milled into the rear receiver bridge. Thus, if you took a 1903 barrel off and put a 1903A3 barrel on, you wouldn't have a rear sight.
What you have is a typical sporterized 1903 Springfield. It was probably surplused out by the DCM in the late 40's or early 50's. There were many civilians that bought surplus rifles to make sporters and typically they took the shot out barrels off and put new surplus one's on. A3 barrels were in good supply where as 03's were not. The A3 barrels also looked better in that it didn't have the notches in the barrels where the rear sight sleeve mounted and would be exposed in a sporter stock such as yours.
The various markings on your barrel are steel lot codes and inspection marks put on as the barrel went through the various phases in it's making.

Finally, looking at your particular rifle, I would say it was done by a skilled gunsmith that knew what he was doing and did it well.

You could put it back in a military stock but you would need to spend about $300 for a stock and hardware to do it and you would still not be close to original. Add another $150 to have it bead blasted and parkerized and your up to $450, still not original. Buy a 1903 barrel with front and rear sights and your out another $350 or more.

The very best thing you can do is leave it as a very nice sporter that it is and go shoot some moose.

Kurt
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