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Old April 20, 2013, 08:04 PM   #1
2ndsojourn
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Low serial # Springfield 1903

One of the guns I inherited from my grandfather years ago is a Model 1903 serial # 497xxx. Barrel date 9-11. It's in almost pristine condition, with only a couple small nicks on the buttstock, and appears to be not issued and rarely fired. Is it feasible to have the receiver magna-fluxed or x-rayed and heat treated to make it safe to shoot?
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Old April 21, 2013, 04:53 PM   #2
m&p45acp10+1
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Doing that would ruin the value of the gun. Leave it as is. Have it checked out by a reputable gun smith. If it is in great condition, and the parts all match it has higher monetary value to a collector. The number of unaltered rifles like those are getting to be fewer, and fewer.
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Old April 21, 2013, 05:41 PM   #3
tahunua001
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it's one of those things where it is impossible to know for certain if it's safe to shoot or not. there isn't any way of re treating them, if there was the war dept would have done it.

I personally shoot mine every once in a blue moon but that's just me, they have their risks and if you believe the risk is neglegible enough to shoot then do it, other wise have a nice case made up along with a nice little plaque showing the guns history and the loved one that carried it and enjoy it for what it is, a beautiful collectors piece.
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Old April 21, 2013, 09:01 PM   #4
SIGSHR
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On another board I asked about heat treating Low Number M1903s,it can't be done, Uncle Sam considered it, found it was not feasible.
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Old April 22, 2013, 06:27 AM   #5
2ndsojourn
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OK, thanks.
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Old April 22, 2013, 07:53 AM   #6
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Some of the "low number" '03 had too high of temp during the heat treatment, this made them brittle and reportedly unsafe to fire. No way to know if a certain rifle was over heated. You may be able to have a machine shop do a Rockwell hardness test.

This unsafe to fire '03 was pretty much unheard of until CMP outlawed them at matches. It has been exaggerated by the internet IMHO. I understand why CMP took this stand. They can not exposes themselves to the possible litigation from a injury or death.

Lot's of folks shoot low number '03's and a lot don't.
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Old April 22, 2013, 01:54 PM   #7
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Here is a link to what I think is an excellent, dispassionate analysis of the low number receiver issue: http://m1903.com/03rcvrfail/

A quick summary is that some early receivers were inadequately hardened, but that WWI-era ammunition played a significant role in the observed failures.
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Old April 22, 2013, 02:25 PM   #8
SIGSHR
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Hatcher's Notebook is a primary source for this topic, by a man Who Was There. IIRC he found a few bad production runs.
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Old April 22, 2013, 02:26 PM   #9
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The problem with fixing the receivers is not that it's not possible but impractical. In order to reverse the phase changes and fix the receivers you would have to bring it to high heat, than very slowly back down below the the "correct" temperature for the heat treatment, then redo the heat treatment procedure. The problem is that at those temperatures the receiver softens after a while, and will deform to the point where you need to remachine all mating surfaces, threads etc. By the time all that work is done you put more money in than it costs to machine a new one from scratch.
Now, if you have unlimited funds or really good connections, you can send it to the space station where they do the treatment in an inert atmosphere and zero gravity, but even there uneven heat flows might distort the shape.
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Old April 22, 2013, 02:50 PM   #10
2ndsojourn
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Yeah, I saw that article before and it made part of me wanting to shoot mine anyway.

I didn't remember the part about the failures due to over heating, but the double heat treating stuck in my mind, that's why I asked. When I make up my mind to shoot it, I'll resurrect this thread and let y'all know what happened.

Thanks.
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Old April 22, 2013, 04:43 PM   #11
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The problem was not that those rifles were "inadequately hardened" but that they were over-hardened and hence brittle. Nor is it a matter of ammunition pressure; they were proof tested and passed. Nor is the age of the rifle or the number of rounds fired of any help. With brittleness, there is no way to really know when something will let go. A rifle may fire 10,000 rounds OK and let go on 10,001.

Jim
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