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Old February 26, 2013, 11:33 PM   #1
Gee3
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Springfield 1903 rifle... help identify the markings?

Hi, I'm new to the forums but after trying to research my Springfield 1903 I am confused as to the history of the gun.

I inherited the gun in 1996 from my father, a WW2 veteran. Although I'm not sure how he got it, it looks to be in relatively good condition and I also had the bayonet that fit at the end of the rifle but that was stolen.

Judging from the markings can someone tell me more about the rifle? The markings on the receiver are very hard to see but it says US Springfield Armory, Model 1903, #5002. So I'm thinking it was built in 1903 per the # and shouldn't be fired. But I couldn't find any definitive answers for the markings on the barrel: "RIA 11-18" Rock Island Armory? November 1918? Does that mean this is not the original barrel?

Can anyone else decipher the markings so I can get a better picture of the background of this rifle? Thanks in advance since my internet search skills are not very good!

Gary

PS: hopefully my pics load...











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Old February 27, 2013, 12:16 AM   #2
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Some info on the markings here:

http://m1903.com/
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Old February 27, 2013, 01:01 AM   #3
Jim Watson
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All I can say is that you have a very early 1903 Springfield that was refurbished with a new barrel made at Rock Island Arsenal the last month of WWI.

That low a number, it had already been converted from rod bayonet to knife and from .30-03 to .30-06.

The trigger and trigger guard look a little odd, not at all like my late war Mk I.
I hope a real expert will come by.
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Old February 27, 2013, 01:13 AM   #4
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I am going to go out on a limb and say that it is a fake low serial rifle.

the markings on the barrel are genuine but the receiver markings should be just as easily read. I find it suspicious that the barrel parkerization is still intact while the receiver is skuffed and scraped, as if a grinder has been taken to make the markings harder to read and make the rifle appear older than it really is.

notice that the numbers are much easier to make out than the letters, this suggests that someone WANTED you to be able to make out the serial numbers which makes me think that there used to be a couple extra digits probably a 1 in front and another digit removed from the back.

you are correct in the barrel markings, rock island armory november 1918. do not worry, many of those rifles were rebarreled and given new bolts at the end of both World wars. lift the bolt handle and look at the underside where it meets the bolt body, I'll almost bet you there's a little 'R' stamped there, denoting that it is a remington bolt. the original springfield bolt handles were straight up and down, the newer ones are slightly swept back and yours appears to be the latter. I have a 1912 springfield with a 1918 barrel and remington bolt, doesn't hurt the value at all. by the end of WWII remington was the biggest player in the 1903 game and they handled much of the post war overhauls and it was not uncommon for some of these rifles to go through 2 or even 3 barrels during service.
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Old February 27, 2013, 08:57 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info guys! I'll check under the bolt and post a pic later on. I did find it peculiar that every other pic I've seen had a very clear and distinct stamping on the receiver but this one was so difficult to read.

All I know is that my dad has had that rifle since I was a child (now 42yo) and has had it since he got out of the Army in 1945. So I'm not sure if he tried to do anything to it. Although since he was a collector of things he usually liked to keep them in original condition. But as he's passed away I'll never know for sure.

Thanks again!
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Old February 27, 2013, 09:05 AM   #6
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Here's a closer pic of the top of the receiver. The US is distinguishable but the "Springfield Armory" is very hard to read:



And here's a closer pic of the serial number. Does it look filed down? Now I'm curious!

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Old February 27, 2013, 10:59 AM   #7
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.

It may be my rheumy eyes, but methinks I can see a very faint outline of the top RH corner of the number "2" just to the left of the SN.

I've never seen a 1903 Springfield receiver that crappy, that didn't have to be scrapped.


.
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Old February 27, 2013, 12:09 PM   #8
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I just don't know, there is a strand of steel wool at the for right so I'm guessing that it needed quite a bit of cleaning at one point to get it readable and the receiver does kindof look pitted from rust so it could just be natural wear and you may very well have a very low serial number springfield but as I am quite ameteur in these matters, I only just bought my first springfield about a year ago myself but something still seems a bit off about it.

members here like JamesK and MadCrateBuilder are better experts at this and they should be around shortly.
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Old February 27, 2013, 05:45 PM   #9
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As best I can tell, the receiver markings are OK, though in bad shape. The number appears to be centered and the font is correct for the period. The receiver looks like it was burned or badly rusted at one time.

The JFC cartouche is J.F. Coyle, who was at Springfield 1905-1918. His initials are often seen on rifles that underwent conversion(s), stamped over the old script cartouche. I believe that the original cartouche would have been a script JSA (sometimes read as ILA or JLA) for J. Sumnar Adams.

There is also something wrong with the trigger guard and floorplate which should not protrude that far from the stock.

Jim
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Old February 27, 2013, 07:52 PM   #10
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Thanks again everyone! Keep it coming! If there is a certain picture or angle you'd like me to take a pic of please let me know!

Does anyone know any experts in the San Francisco area that can look at it and assess this rifle?

As it sits what would something like this go for? Just curious as it'll be up to my kids after I'm gone whether they want to keep it or not.
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Old February 27, 2013, 09:08 PM   #11
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with the original sling and the condition of the stock, I would say objectively speaking around $550-700.
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Old February 28, 2013, 01:28 AM   #12
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Cool tahunua001! Thanks! I hope my kids appreciate it!
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Old February 28, 2013, 01:30 AM   #13
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Tahunua001 - I looked under the bolt and it has a "D" and a "4" stamped on it. Any thoughts?

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Old February 28, 2013, 05:02 AM   #14
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I would paint the receiver ring with "white out" then wipe it off with some alcohol leaving just the indentations filled. You well get a better idea of what the markings are.

I does not "look" right to me, but it's hard to tell from pic's. Nothing in the pic's I would place a premium on.
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Old February 28, 2013, 10:30 AM   #15
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1903 springfield

It looks like you have a 6 digit number there, and a rock island. if your relation was in WW2, with a rebarrel in 18 the numbers your reading just don't match. I would not sell that weapon, How does the barrell look and rifleing the round spacing!take it to a gunsmith, he can get the numbers out for you. your bolt looks like a sway back, and quite possibly a CMP bolt, they sold alot of them. I've never seen a reciever ID in that bad of shape,and the other parts in that good of shape,I think if it's taken apart you will find the trigger and bottom plate will need a little wood work to recess it properly, Back to the identification, that stamp was done deep! and usually a die penetrant process will bring out your numbers, and I personelly think it will be a 6 digit number, some owners would say it's illegal to own, due to the condition of the serial number, In 1968 I was snorkling of the coast of Okinawa another diver found a japaneese bolt action rifle. The south china sea had really done a job on it. I never did see it after it was cleaned up. no telling how long it had been in the water. I loved it on Okinawa best kept secret in the military. Good luck you have a nice 1903 there. Be safe and shoot clean Sunny
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Old February 28, 2013, 05:13 PM   #16
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brinker,
just because it has a rock island barrel does not mean that the reciever is also a rock island. even though it's in bad shape, it's still pretty easy to make out that this was a springfield armory built receiver. a 1918 barrel means nothing, just because a rifle was used in WWII does not mean that it HAD to be rebarreled at the end of WWII. depending on who it was issued to it could have been fired 10,000 times or 20 times. also since all rifles were US property, it was illegal for soldiers to keep their arms, if this rifle really did belong to the OPs grandfather it would not have been relinquished back to the government to be refitted and therefore would still have the barrel that it entered the war with. a 1918 barrel would fit that theory. even if OPs old man bought this at Sears in the 50s because 'he carried one just like it in the war' there is still no guarantee that it would have been rebarreled following it's EAOS.

OP I'm not that much of an expert, D4 on the body is above my paygrade so to speak. is there anything underneath the bolt handle where the handle meets the bolt body?

also, a bit of an afterthought. now that I am looking at it, your stock has quite a sheen to it, is that clear coat or is it just a well oiled stock? oil is fine, clear coat hurts value a little.
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Old February 28, 2013, 11:11 PM   #17
Jim Watson
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D4 is the steel lot number code.
It goes to late 1914 - early 1915.
It applies only to the bolt, not the action or whole rifle.
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Old March 1, 2013, 11:35 PM   #18
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The gun is obviously a mixmaster; there is no way the receiver could be that bad and the other parts looking like new on an original gun. It is just a matter of trying to figure out how much of the original gun is there and if the damage (deliberate?) to the receiver is bad enough to obscure information. In any case, what might have been an early M1903 has little or no collector value at this point.

Jim
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Old March 2, 2013, 07:38 AM   #19
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Do some research here.

http://www.vishooter.net/m1903.html

Quote:
I personelly think it will be a 6 digit number, some owners would say it's illegal to own, due to the condition of the serial number,
Serial numbers were not a legal requirement when this was made.
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Old March 2, 2013, 10:21 PM   #20
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Hi, madcratebuilder,

I rather doubt that anyone would seriously raise questions about the legality of that rifle's serial number, but you are incorrect about the law. It says that removing or altering a serial number on a firearm is illegal and any firearm with an altered serial number is illegal to possess. A firearm made before serial numbers were required will have no number, and is perfectly legal. But if a firearm, no matter when made, had a serial number and it has been removed or altered, the law applies.

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Old March 3, 2013, 06:38 AM   #21
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Quote:
A firearm made before serial numbers were required will have no number, and is perfectly legal. But if a firearm, no matter when made, had a serial number and it has been removed or altered, the law applies.
I held the same opinion until I read a ATF letter that, although vague, stated a removed serial number on early fire arms did not necessarily make them illegal. The fire arm in question was a 1880's S&W revolver. Of course this letter only applies to this one particular revolver.

I may have saved a copy of the letter, I'll look for it. That letter may have been here at the FL in the gunsmith section, can't recall, been a long time.
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Old March 3, 2013, 07:59 AM   #22
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"The fire arm in question was a 1880's S&W revolver."

A revolver that old is also considered to be an antique, and may operate under a different set of rules regarding serial number defacement from a gun made post 1898.
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Old March 3, 2013, 08:27 AM   #23
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Did RIA "fix" serial numbers if they were unreadable? As soldiers had to memorize their gun's number, a gun with no number would have stumped a drill sergeant. And as bad as the receiver looks they might have seen a need to apply a new number. As the gun was clearly arsenal refurbished after WWI, there might be no "faking" involved, just repair practice.
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Old March 3, 2013, 10:35 AM   #24
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that may be a possibility but the fonts don't match what you would expect from the post WWI era. I doubt that they would keep around the old style receiver stamps just in case they had to re stamp an older rifle.
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You can't believe everything you read on the internet-Benjamin Franklin
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Old March 3, 2013, 02:19 PM   #25
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IIRC, arsenals and depots would not try to restore an obliterated or defaced serial number; they would remove it entirely and put on a new serial number from an assigned block of unused numbers, sometimes, but not always, preceded by the letter "X".

As to legality, the law clearly states:

"It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to ... possess or receive any firearm which has had the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, or altered and has, at any time, been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. " There is no exception for antique firearms, and that rifle is not an antique

Jim
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