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Old April 18, 2013, 10:29 AM   #1
Kimio
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What to look for in an M1903 Springfield?

I've been researching this, since I love historical military rifles, particularly those that were in use during the first and second world wars.

That said, looking at different articles and threads in regards to the Springfield, this is what I've learned thus far when I'm shopping around for one.

Barrels typically are very worn in most cases and it is highly advised not to shoot springfields that have a low serial number. A while back, when CMP still had them, the springfields they had in stock, many were used as parade rifles, shooting thousands upon thousands of blanks through them.

Pitting and barrel wear is another thing to take into account as well as hairline cracks in the furniture and possibly the receiver. Later production models will usually have 2 line rifeling and other things to look out for.

Am I missing anything here, I know that Gibbs offers a faithful reproduction of the rifle, using old receivers, but I just like the idea of holding and owning one that may have seen combat. I'd like to be able to shoot it as well.

Any information on this would be appreciated.

Thanks

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Old April 18, 2013, 10:57 AM   #2
tahunua001
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you have summed it up pretty well. the receivers that have heat treatment issues and are considered 'unsafe to fire' came from springfield armory with a serial number lower than 800,000 and rock island armory with a serial number lower than 285,000. all remingtons, smith coronas are considered safe to fire along with any RIA/SA rifle above the specified serial number ranges, including the 1903MARK 1, which had some modifications, the most notibale being an oblong cutout along the left side of the receiver to accommodate an experimental system known as the Pedersen Device that would have converted these rifles into semi automatic rifles. the device was scrapped at the end of WWI but the rifles still function every bit as well as any other 1903 variant.

then there is barrel wear, simply shining a bore light down the barrel can show pitting and wear, if those grooves pop out then it's good to go. these rifles are quite accurate by vintage military bolt action rifle(VIMBAR) standards but by today's standards even a brand new specimen that never fired a shot in combat will likely fail to out shoot a MOA guaranteed rifle such as a weatherby vanguard. it's important not to set the bar too high with VIMBARS as it may tarnish your overall opinion and create that little bit of doubt in the back of your mind that can mean the difference between loving it for all time or flat out hating it and regretting the purchase.

hairline cracks in the receiver are invisible to the naked eye, there's no point even worrying about it. there's no way to test for them without risking damage to the rifle and even the test may cause one where there wasn't before so it's just one of those risks that you have to take.

cracks in wood are easy enough to spot and many times can be easily repaired by anyone that knows much about wood work. if you don't ebay has no shortage of USGI stocks available, you'll have to shop around for the correct stock style as their were 4 styles found on the different variants of rifles.

lastly 2 groove barrels. there is nothing wrong with a two groove barrel. every springfield I've ever picked up has had a 2 groove barrel with the exception of national match rifles. 2 groove is the war time standard and almost all that have seen rebarrels were done so with 2 grooves as far as I've seen. a 2 groove is easily capable of minute of deer accuracy which is about all you can expect from any VIMBAR.
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Quote:
Am I missing anything here, I know that Gibbs offers a faithful reproduction of the rifle, using old receivers, but I just like the idea of holding and owning one that may have seen combat. I'd like to be able to shoot it as well.
the Gibbs rifle is not a faithful reproduction of the standard springfield rifle. it's sometimes refered to as an A4-gery as they take a standard 1903A3 rifle, which was the standard WWII issue springfield variant and they modify the bolt handles to allow for scopes. they replace the original barrels and stocks that still hold historical value with brand new production parts and drill holes in the receiver destroying any chance of reverting back to original condition and finish by slapping on your every day leupold/redfield 1 piece scope mount and reproduction scope that is such a poor replica the turrets are backwards.

all of this is to mimic a 1903A4 which was the standard sniper rifle from WWII up until early in Vietnam, these 'faithful reproductions' are nothing more than a 'bubba special' a rifle that before they got their hands on it, had significant historical and collectable value but now as it has been heavily modified has no such value whatsoever.
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Last edited by tahunua001; April 18, 2013 at 11:07 AM.
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Old April 18, 2013, 11:01 AM   #3
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Find some folks who shoot military bolt matches or CMP matches and visit with them. Very often one will come up for sale that is clean and serviceable. Not too long ago I was offered a sportered 03A3 (attending a different shooting event) at a reasonable price, so I took it. I retrofitted it back original (had left over parts and wood from another project), and other than the holes that were D&Td for the scope, it is back in 'as issued' dress. I sold it to a fellow club member who wanted to shoot the mil bolt matches with us, and he is having a great time.
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Old April 18, 2013, 11:13 AM   #4
tahunua001
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Quote:
Find some folks who shoot military bolt matches or CMP matches and visit with them. Very often one will come up for sale that is clean and serviceable. Not too long ago I was offered a sportered 03A3 (attending a different shooting event) at a reasonable price, so I took it. I retrofitted it back original (had left over parts and wood from another project), and other than the holes that were D&Td for the scope, it is back in 'as issued' dress. I sold it to a fellow club member who wanted to shoot the mil bolt matches with us, and he is having a great time.
I love doing that. a friend of mine had a seriously bubba'd 1903MK1 and had been told it was a sniper rifle and he took the guy for his word, I felt bad telling him the truth about it but I offered to make it into an A-forgery since I had a spare A3 stock laying around from restoring a 1903A4 I had as a spring project. the bolt handle was out of specs forcing a very large inlet into the stock and as this was a 1903MK1 receiver instead of A3 receiver I had issues adapting the handguard and handguard ring to the rifle but overall it made a really fun project and he loves it now.
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Old April 18, 2013, 11:26 AM   #5
kraigwy
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Go here and talk to these folks, they'll get you lined up.

http://forums.thecmp.org/forumdisplay.php?f=79

Don't concern your self with parts guns, I just finished one making a M1903a4 to shoot CMP GSM Vintage Sniper matches. All USGI parts except for a new stock from the CMP. (Just posted pictured in the C&C section of the Firing Line.

I also have one (1903a3) that is 100% original. They are getting pricy but still can be found.

But I'm not concerned with "collector" values, I'm too old to take advantage of price increases.

Build one so you get to know them while you're searching for an un-modified species.
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Old April 18, 2013, 02:45 PM   #6
SIGSHR
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A "parts" gun, if it is a product of Uncle Sam's Clean and Repair program is as valid a collector's item as one that is "factory correct." My 1st M1903 has a 1918 barrel in a 1918 receiver but a WWII "scant grip" stock.
I refer to Hatcher on the subject of Low Number M1903s, he found a few bad production runs but most of the Low Number M1903s were in service for years
with no problems, and the troops back then did a lot more shooting. IIRC Kraigwy said Low Numbers are barred from CMP matches if that is a consideration.
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Old April 18, 2013, 04:22 PM   #7
emcon5
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Quote:
the Gibbs rifle is not a faithful reproduction of the standard springfield rifle. it's sometimes refered to as an A4-gery as they take a standard 1903A3 rifle, which was the standard WWII issue springfield variant and they modify the bolt handles to allow for scopes. they replace the original barrels and stocks that still hold historical value with brand new production parts and drill holes in the receiver destroying any chance of reverting back to original condition and finish by slapping on your every day leupold/redfield 1 piece scope mount and reproduction scope that is such a poor replica the turrets are backwards.


Any historical significance to the rifles Gibbs converts was gone when the bolts were welded shut and the magazine disconnecter was welded closed. Those are former drill rifles Gibbs is turning back in to shooters.

They also don't make A4s out of all of them, they sell A3s as well.
http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.as...ock&groupid=12
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Old April 18, 2013, 06:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
I refer to Hatcher on the subject of Low Number M1903s, he found a few bad production runs but most of the Low Number M1903s were in service for years
with no problems, and the troops back then did a lot more shooting.
Hatcher had good reasons not to show what a criminally negligent decision the Army made in keeping single heat treat actions in service. In 1947 he is 59 years old, looking to work to work for at least another decade, if not longer. He is qualified to run a military organization, but that is the job he just quit. He is also very qualified to lobby a military organization and he is well placed with the NRA from all the years he wrote articles and dope bag replies.

Money is an excellent incentive for people. I don’t know the 1940’s salaries of anyone and even if I did, inflation would make the number look paltry. So in terms of today’s money, the salary of a MG General with 10 years in Grade: with allowances, about $161, 712 per year. Assuming a 75% retirement for 30 years service, retired MG Hatcher would be getting $121, 284 per year. Not bad at all.

However, if he was to get a job at the NRA his compensation would really go up. MG Hatcher became the Director of the Executive Board, a job title which has changed, but basically, he ran the NRA. The President’s job is primarily ceremonial unless the guy wants to be involved.

Current Salaries of NRA Executives:

Executive Director NRA General Operations $1,027,217
NRA Executive VP = $845, 469 per year
Executive Director for Legislative Action: $588, 412.

So lets assume in 1947 that the job Hatcher was interviewing for was equivalent to the Executive Director for Legislative Action . If you are looking at a $600K a year job, and one big, big job requirement for that position is outstanding relations with the military, it will not help your job prospects to make the Army Ordnance Department look stupid in your latest book.
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Old April 20, 2013, 07:44 AM   #9
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Before you buy a M1903/? buy a copy of Bruce Canfield's book "'03 Springfield Service Rifle"

If you want a historically correct shooter then the 03A3 would be a good choice. Shouldn't be difficult to find one relative original with a good barrel.


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Old April 25, 2013, 01:48 PM   #10
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When I was looking for a 1903 Springfield I decided to skip streight to the 1903 A3. My reason was because the A3 had the stronger nickel steel Reciever, and appeture sights. The Rifle I bought has a 1942 Reciever with an excelent like new 1943 two groove barrel. It was expensive (to me) at 1100 dollars but I love it and its my prized possesion. Mine is in original condition and I put a brand new Turner Saddlery 1907 leather Sling on it.
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Old April 25, 2013, 05:08 PM   #11
tahunua001
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Quote:
Any historical significance to the rifles Gibbs converts was gone when the bolts were welded shut and the magazine disconnecter was welded closed. Those are former drill rifles Gibbs is turning back in to shooters.

They also don't make A4s out of all of them, they sell A3s as well.
I've yet to find anything that says that all of the gibbs guns are drill rifle rescue jobs. I also see nothing that says that the AIM rifles are Gibbs.

the only gibbs non-A4geries I've seen are camo painted and hold no value at all despite being priced comparably with a USGI condition rifle.
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ignore my complete lack of capitalization. I still have no problem correcting your grammar.
I never said half the crap people said I did-Albert Einstein
You can't believe everything you read on the internet-Benjamin Franklin
Bean counters told me I couldn't fire a man for being in a wheelchair, did it anyway. Ramps are expensive.-Cave Johnson.
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Old April 25, 2013, 08:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
I've yet to find anything that says that all of the gibbs guns are drill rifle rescue jobs. I also see nothing that says that the AIM rifles are Gibbs.

the only gibbs non-A4geries I've seen are camo painted and hold no value at all despite being priced comparably with a USGI condition rifle.
Then you are not looking all that hard.

Gibbs 1903a3s: http://www.gibbsrifle.com/1903-a3_rifles.html

Where do I buy one? http://www.gibbsrifle.com/1903-a3_rifles.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibbs Rifles
Please contact Aim Surplus or Centerfire Systems to order.
Discussion of the origin of the receivers used in production of Gibbs rifle:
http://www.gibbsrifle.com/files/val_message.pdf

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibbs Rifles
There has been a fair amount of conjecture regarding the Gibbs 1903A4 rifle in regards to the origins of the receivers and the safety of these guns. I would like to address both of these
issues directly.

First, Gibbs 1903A4’s are built from 1903A3 drill guns
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Old April 26, 2013, 09:53 PM   #13
James K
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Well, Slamfire, I met Gen. Hatcher several times. I can't claim to have known him well, but I found him to be a very decent gentleman and very knowledgeable. I have a hard time with your description of him as a liar, a deceiver, and a conniving, money hungry, scam artist.

Unless you can prove your statements, and I doubt you can, I think you are out of bounds.

Jim
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Old April 27, 2013, 11:25 AM   #14
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Agreed
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