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Old March 20, 2013, 10:11 PM   #1
Guinness2
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Low serial number 03 Springfield

Any comments on shooting a low serial number 03 would be appreciated.
The firearm survived firing military load ammo 100 years ago, so why not now? Might it finally reach the breaking point the day I decide to fire it? I plan to use light loaded reloads and a clean bore. Not to mention a test fire with a sheet of plywood between my pretty face and the bolt
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:19 PM   #2
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I personally shoot my low number 03 and almost all of it has been military surplus M2 ball. I think that if mine was going to blow it would have done so before a replacement bolt and barrel at the ends of WWI and WWII.

however this is always a risk of them going Kaboom and CMP wont allow low serial 1903s to compete in their matches. if you are willing to accept the consequences of shooting should it fail then go for it.

KraigWY will be along shortly to add his .02
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:56 PM   #3
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Ahh, the loaded question.

So, up front, I shoot a bolt that is in the suspect heat treatment group.
Its been shooting for along time though we are not sure in what gun! (long story I won't bore anyone with, its possible it got mixed up with another gun that was shot for a long time).

One thing to keep in mind first and foremost. If someone says the pond is safe and you see major cracks in the ice, you need to rethink. In other words, if the gun has any issues, then don't. Advice does not cover up a previous problem that common sense says you should not have gone there with. That said.

I have extensively researched that issue. As noted above, at this point, they have not only survived close to 100 years of use, they have done it without failing.

The Marines did not turn their in, they continued to use them. No one has reported there were issues that stood out. That was in some of the most gruesome combat operations ever conducted.

Keeping in mind that there are always failures, some notable ones were as a result of greasing bullets under the bizarre thought process it made guns more accurate.

Read the following

http://m1903.com/03rcvrfail/

I think Hatcher ran tests and failed to blow any up and he went way beyond normal proof loads.

One piece of advice I did come across that I think has relevance is watch the light loads. It sounds counter intuitive and there is disagreement on the subject, but it is felt that too light a load with some powders can result in an erratic ignition that then causes a pressure spike in excess of even proof tests. So run your idea past the reload group here before you do it.

Good luck shoot long and prosper!
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:59 PM   #4
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Thanks for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. Much appreciated.
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Old March 20, 2013, 11:02 PM   #5
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We will argue this till the Crack of Doom and not resolve it. IIRC Hatcher found there were some bad "vintages" of M1903 production-1906 and 1911 come to mind,not 1917-1918 as the popular explanation goes. I have not heard of an M1903 coming apart in recent years. As Kraigwy will point out,low number M1903s are NOT allowed in CMP sanctioned matches.
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Old March 20, 2013, 11:03 PM   #6
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btw, what do you make of a 03 serial numbered 456XXX with a barrel stamp "05".
According, the rifle was made in 1910, but the barrel 1905??? Is this OK? Is the rifle considered"correct and original"?
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Old March 20, 2013, 11:14 PM   #7
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"Correct and period original", but not "factory original." I have a 1918 vintage High Number with correct period barrel, but in a scant grip stock.
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Old March 20, 2013, 11:18 PM   #8
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it's a rebarrel by someone attempting to find a prewar barrel to mate with a prewar receiver and wasn't very picky with dates. as long as the barrel and receiver manufacturers match then it doesn't hurt value by much.
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Old March 21, 2013, 08:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
The firearm survived firing military load ammo 100 years ago, so why not now?
Because the human eye is incapable of seeing metal fatigue, until it's to late.

Can you guess which way I lean on this subject I own a low serial number 1903 and it is retired for safety purposes. Since I shoot at a public range I don't think it wise to use a gun that has documented safety issues. Just my opinion.
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Old March 21, 2013, 10:08 AM   #10
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From tahunua:
"KraigWY will be along shortly to add his .02"

I'm waiting for Kraig too because I have a low number '03. 497xxx with a barrel date 9-11 SA. I haven't shot mine yet either.
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Old March 21, 2013, 10:16 AM   #11
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You can search for Slamfire's posts on the subject and hear all the worst.

It is my understanding that a brittle action can go a long time shooting good ammunition. It is when it gets bad ammunition that things get ugly.
The sudden shock of gas released into the action by a blown casehead will demolish one (and maybe the shooter) where a good receiver will either stand up or just be bent.
How do you know your ammunition is right, sound brass and no overloads?
Well, it has been so far so it will always be?
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Old March 21, 2013, 10:41 AM   #12
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Those bad actions don't "wear out", or show cracks, or "reach a breaking point", and the number of rounds fired or the age of the action is irrelevant. They are brittle, like a fine china plate. If you drop the china plate, it breaks, no matter how many meals have been eaten from it or how old it is.

And pressure also has little to do with it. Those actions stood proof, and some were proven more than once. But a sharp pressure blow shattered them. As an example, one that let go was fired with what the owner called his "rat shooting load", 9 grains of Bullseye and a round ball. Not an overload, not high pressure, but a very sharp blow.

And I know about that, as I struck one of those receivers with a 1 pound hammer and it broke in three pieces (I hit it in the right receiver rail, and the rail broke into two pieces, while the both ends and the left rail remained together.) A friend and I had been shooting that rifle the day before; he had put a couple of thousand rounds of GI ball ($.02 a round in those days) through it. (He was sending it back to DCM for a replacement, and condition didn't matter.)

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Old March 21, 2013, 10:45 AM   #13
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I can't tell what to do, it's your rifle. It is correct that CMP rules prohibit their use in their programs and as a CMP gsm mi I will honor their rules. Just because
They worked in the past doesn't mean they won't self distruct the next shot. I believe the CMP armors know more about it then I do so I will heed their advice.
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Old March 21, 2013, 11:55 AM   #14
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The only case I know of personally where a low number 03 failed (actually shatered) during firing also involved a ruptured case. This was quite a while back, and the wisdom of the times was that the early 03s were ok to shoot, only possibly turning into grenades if the case ruptured. (not a pierced primer, but an actual serious case failure).

Today, the wisdom is don't shoot them, its not worth the risks. Hang it up for a display (maybe even remove the firing pin tip) and get another rifle to play with is sound advice today.

IT may be safe with the right ammo. It may be safe with the right ammo for the next hundred years. OR it may fail the next time you shoot it, right ammo, or not. No one can say, so we err on the side of caution.
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Old March 21, 2013, 12:01 PM   #15
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according to the writeup at 1903.org almost all the failures ocurred either with way over charged cases or in cases where the poorly manufactured casings of the time failed, IIRC us ordnance dept issued a memo that casing failures were an occupational hazard.
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Old March 21, 2013, 12:15 PM   #16
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We can argue the aspect all day long. Frankly if someone chooses not to shoot their low SN 1903 I will respect that. They should also respect it if I choose to do so without any ranting and raving about how I am wrong and they are right.

I also pedal a bike to work all summer and winter when I can.

From those statistics I am far more likely to suffer a bike catastrophe than a low SN 1903. Should I quit? I used to motorcycle, also a huge risk (I mitigated it as best I could and continued to ride)

Walking out the door in the morning and getting in your car is a risk.

So, rather than he said, she said, with some data to put the risk in perspective, you can make your decision accordingly

As we have found out, there is some risk to just shooting as any gun can fail, certainly a risk in reloads (but there have been a lot of blown up guns due to faulty factory ammo as well).

So to pull one small risk factor out of the "shooting risk" and get obsess with it is a false if human reaction.

The real question should be is it a low sub set of risks in all risk factors.

Recently we had a heli ski operation kill (3 people I think). The statement was, we checked the snow and the it was not moving much! Ok, note to self, any movement means an avalanche, get the &*^% out of there. That is simply stupid risk on top of a pretty risky situation already.

I put the risk of shooting a low SN 1903 in the so low a factor as not to be relevant. Franky it looks like the weak brass had more to do with the blow ups than the receivers.

Mitigate it by actually assessing the gun as you should any gun (head space) use good ammo, safe reloading practices. Then shoot it if it passes the sanity checks (or not if you are not comfortable with it).

And as for blown up, no, but read this one as to REAL RISK FACTORS involving welded receiver recovered rifles!

http://glock.pro/ammunition-reloadin...top-think.html

People will not shoot a proven 1903, but will shoot a hashed rifle, hmmmm
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Old March 21, 2013, 01:44 PM   #17
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.

My $0.02 - It's easy to rationalize away danger, until it actually happens to YOU.


In my ballpark, low-numbered Springfields are for collecting/admiring - not shooting.



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Old March 22, 2013, 11:47 AM   #18
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What is the risk of a trip to the gun range?

8 miles of driving for me and the odd of getting into an accident just getting there.

The point is being totally missed in that the risk is being cherry picked out of all the risk and then the virtuous comment that "I am being safe" is hidden behind the warm and fuzzy fluff.

Add up all your daily risks and put it into perspective. Eliminating one infinitesimal tiny one does nothing in the real picture .

Add in the risk at the run range to me by others (anywhere from someone going off their rocker to gross stupid I see displayed all the time?). Eating food is a risk. Flu is a risk. etc etc.

So, looking at risks then I simply should not shoot, or shop, eat or ........

People go on vacation to foreign countries and cruise ships all the time, but won't shoot a rifle because it has this "label" More hmmmmm

But they are out there shooting recovered drill rifles that were welded that are guaranteed to have induced a failure path (sooner or latter)

Quote:
I can't tell what to do, it's your rifle. It is correct that CMP rules prohibit their use in their programs and as a CMP gsm mi I will honor their rules. Just because
They worked in the past doesn't mean they won't self distruct the next shot. I believe the CMP armors know more about it then I do so I will heed their advice.
Does the CMP allow the use of recovered drill rifles?

And its not the armorers that make that decision, its the insurance and lawyers.

I respect what they are trying to do, but I have also had one thread where they ruled and then were proven totally wrong. So it goes.

So, I would not tell someone to shoot their low SN 1903, but I also would not tell them to go shooting either (or aid and encourage someone to ride motorcycles) . I will continue to put it in context.
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Old March 22, 2013, 03:05 PM   #19
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I see RC20's point about calculated risks and his determination not to have his actions dictated by other's claims.

But I can say that when I watched those pieces of receiver hit the floor, I became a believer, and RC20 is not going to convince me that those rifles are safe or worth the risk just to brag about shooting them.

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Old March 22, 2013, 11:40 PM   #20
Guinness2
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Thanks for all the input. I guess it's just as easy to wait for a high serial # to buy and pass on the low. I think I would be OK shooting it, but I could never let anyone else shoot it.
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Old March 23, 2013, 09:58 AM   #21
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So to pull one small risk factor out of the "shooting risk" and get obsess with it is a false if human reaction.

The real question should be is it a low sub set of risks in all risk factors
So RC20, what you're saying, I have driven my truck thousands of miles and not needed my seat belts so I don't need seat belts........I mean there are thousands of things that can get you, so why worry about seat belts.

Not buying it: I wont let my grandkids or wife in the truck without their seat belts and I won't allow a low numbered M1903 on any range that I run.
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Old March 23, 2013, 10:55 AM   #22
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i own three low numbered model 1903 rifles, two Springfields and a Rock Island. Two of those guns are sometimes fired with reduced loads.

One of the contributing factors in the destruction of low numbered 1903 rifles was defective ammunition manufactured during WWI. National Copper and Brass made quantities of .30 caliber ammunition with soft cartridge cases. Much of the substandard .30 caliber ammunition manufactured during WWI remained in stockpile up to WWII.

Heres a good writeup on the low numbered 1903 rifles:

http://m1903.com/03rcvrfail/

A ruptured cartridge case in a 1903 Springfield, 1917 Enfield or a Winchester model 70 can be a traumatic event. Yep, a model 70 Winchester: i was present on a firing range when the beautiful pre-64 model 70 at the next bench was reduced to splinters and fragments when a cartridge case ruptured. Several of the shooters empty cases had incipient case head separations.

Last edited by thallub; March 23, 2013 at 11:04 AM.
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Old March 23, 2013, 11:12 AM   #23
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Having seen the aftermath of a blown-up receiver at the range (it was not a 1903) and a very lucky shooter that happened not to have his hand over the magwell at the time (or he would have lost it) I can't rationalize taking any chances with a firearm known to have even a slight chance of failure from a known manufacturing defect.

Seeing that guy bleeding from his right arm and face from shrapnel head off to the ER, and the rifle in pieces drove home the fact that these are literally controlled (hopefully) explosions at 60,000 psi that are happening inches from your face.

You decide...
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Old March 23, 2013, 01:20 PM   #24
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So RC20, what you're saying, I have driven my truck thousands of miles and not needed my seat belts so I don't need seat belts........I mean there are thousands of things that can get you, so why worry about seat belts.

Not buying it: I wont let my grandkids or wife in the truck without their seat belts and I won't allow a low numbered M1903 on any range that I run.
No, you missed the point entirely.

Using seat belts (and I was an ardent and early advocate of those being mandatory use and used them myself, drunk or sober) is one of the ways I am trying to convey that MITIGATES the risk. It does not stop it, but it does reduce the chance of severe injury or death. Its the right think to do with as many air bags as you can get. However, you put far more risk to your whole family going to grandmas than having them shoot thousands of rounds out of a low SN 1903. Thats just the facts of life.

Don't drive drunk is another risk mitigator , but does not stop you getting killed or injured by another drunk (seat bags and seat belts may save you)

You are cherry picking the low SN 1903 risk from all other risks and making a mountain out of a molecule in the entire spectrum of risk we all face in living.

Somehow we all have to figure out how to live our lives. Assessing risk without the cherry picking one that says that I am risk free when everything what you do is fraught with risk and has a risk factor. Then choose to focus on reducing one very tiny tiny risk and claiming you are virtuous with risk.

I have had more than enough occasions where I have faced certain death or sever injury to be too familiar with it, some of it was plain stupid on my part and I was damned lucky or skillful enough to survive it (the guy who came out of an alley at 50 mph across the front of my Bronco that if I had been half a second sooner would have nailed me in the drivers door and killed me even with my seat belt being on (nor airbags in those days)

I live in Alaska and I see 15 air crashes a year where entire families die flying out on pure recreational trips. Is it worth it? How do you think the survivors feel?

Where does not shooting a low SN 1903 come into that? Marines fought Guadalcanal with NO reported receiver blow ups.

No blow ups reported after 1928. Hmmmm. Again I am not saying do it, but I am saying doing so has been conveyed as a Japanese suicide flight (certain death) to Okinawa in WWII vs the actual risk (close to Zero if you will pardon a pun)

However, its simply hiding your head in the sand to say it eliminates any real risk in the spectrum of your life. It does not. ALL things you do in life have a certain risk factor.

Being born has a definite risk, you will die. Its how you live in between and often how soon.

All firearms can fail. All shooting is a risk. I choose to do it, but I am aware of it. I sure not going to worry about a low SN 1903 in relation to every other risk I face in life that makes that one look like a grain of sand in a square yard of sand.

What about all the recovered drill rifles being shot that are severely comprised and on a guaranteed path to failure? How about all those other abused rifles that are about to go boom?

I will respect you if you do not, but I do not respect anyone who blows it all out of proportion to the real risk you face in just being alive and then says, I am virtuous and then tries to convince everyone else that is the path to virtue as well.
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Old March 23, 2013, 04:07 PM   #25
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Again, I would like to see a properly documented case of a L/N M1903 giving way in the last 50 years or so. I have read of problems with some of the post WWII manufactured "M1903" receivers due to faulty manufacture.
Anyhow, nothing wrong with safe queens, that's what most of my milsurps are.
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