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Old June 23, 2013, 01:48 PM   #1
BillyJack3
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Question for the 1903 guys

I'm looking for a Springfield 1903. More because it's what my grandfather carried in WWII than anything. He simply wouldn't give it up...

If I was only going to get one, is a Springfield more desirable than other manufacturers? Or, are they all consider pretty equal?

Would love to find something similar to what the Marines carried but from what I can see, it's not an easy thing to do or verify.

Last edited by BillyJack3; June 23, 2013 at 06:26 PM.
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Old June 23, 2013, 03:05 PM   #2
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of the original 1903s there were only 2 manufacturers, springfield and rock island, remington started making 1903A1s with the equipment from rock island and eventually started making the A3s along with smith corona.

if your gramps just had the plain jane 1903 then that makes it pretty easy. the majority of those available are springfields, there weren't a whole lot of the rock islands made in comparison. neither are really more sought after than the other but I tend to gravitate to springfield and remington with old US war horses but that's purely brand preference.

one thing to look out for is low serial numbers, early metalurgy practices were primitive even by turn of the century standards. stay away from any springfields with a serial number lower than 800,000 and any rock island lower than 285,000. that's about all there is to it, as for where there are no suppliers for them any more, all sales are dependent on someone selling theirs. gun shows are the best place to find them. 500-700 dollars is about average depending on condition but I suggest you look at a lot of pictures so you can identify when something has been modified as that can greatly decrease the monetary value.
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Old June 23, 2013, 05:41 PM   #3
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Also remember that many M1903s went through refurbishing during their service life-there is what I call "factory correct" versus "period correct"-as example, my first M1903 is a 1918 barrel and action in the later "scant grip" stock. The M1903 Mk Is were issued to the troops with no explanation for the markings and ejection port on the side.
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Old June 25, 2013, 09:58 AM   #4
jrothWA
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The Mark I's were an attempt to give the ...

WWI troops a interchangeable semi-auto assembly that used a small .30 "Pistol" round for assaulting the enemy trenches.

Worked nicely, in training / development but never got made in sufficient numbers to the front.

All WWI rifles are the SA or RIA armory manufacture. Local the info on the
"low numbered" 1903 to avoid, questions about the heat treat used.

The 20' saw SA make low run and specials for trophy/match/ NRA sales, RIA was mothballed.

WWII was RA and Smith-Corona, with HS making barrels.
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Old June 25, 2013, 10:28 AM   #5
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There are Remington made M1903’s, you will run across these and they are relatively rare. These were made in WW2 just prior to the M1903A3’s.

I know 03 collector’s and there are characteristics to Marine 03’s, but I don’t remember them. The Marines used 03’s early, at Guadalcanal, Wake Island, but once the Garand got into combat, it was obvious the Garand was a more advance battlerifle and you don’t see images of Marines with 03’s after Guadalcanal. There were guys who carried them later but the usage was rare.

Based only on my opinion of the steels used, the nickel steel receivers are the safest . The plain carbon steel used in the single heat treat and double heat treat receivers is a low grade material, something that is not used in rifle receivers due to a number of factors, strength and ductility being a couple of them. Regardless of the hoopla in Hatcher’s Notebook about double heat treat receivers, retaining cheap low grade plain carbon steels was a poor choice for such an expensive part. I believe the Remington receivers are even a better choice as they are either nickel steel or 8620 and Remington would have been using later forging furnaces and heat treating equipment.

Collector's prefer Springfield Armory 03's to any other maker, I don't consider RIA nickle steel inferior but SA got all the press.
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Old June 25, 2013, 10:27 PM   #6
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you are probably correct on the nickel steels being the safest. I have spent many an hour looking for photographic proof of the so called low serial springfield KaBooms and all I've been able to come up with was a 1903A3 that got a squib and following round blew it up. the receiver was completely intact but the barrel was split from end to end.
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Old June 26, 2013, 09:17 AM   #7
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These pictures and description came from a Gunbroker Auction.

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=190985391

This item is a Springfield Armory model 1903 rifle that is a good wall hanger. Its been hanging on the wall of the shop for about 22 years. It is that bad a shape it has been blown up. This is a low ser # of 236162, I had this hanging on the wall to show people what would happen if they shot one of the old low ser # rifles with modern ammo. Look at the pictures to see that this is NOT a shoot able rifle. The guy that shot this rifle spend 4 days in the hospital getting metal out of his eye & metal out of his arms. No FFL required. I will send out a email at the close of the bidding, please copy & send back with payment. I’m selling out a gun shop that was in business for over 30 years. More parts & pieces to come. The shop did a lot of general repair & that’s why all the different parts. This and a bunch more that will be coming up for sale were in 4 other old gun shop’s that I’ve bought out over the last 31 year’s.







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Old June 26, 2013, 09:27 AM   #8
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These pictures came from the Springfield Armory Musuem site. I only copied examples from 1928 and up. There those, like HugoEstúpido on the CMP and M14 site, who claim that since the list in Hatcher's Notebook ends in 1927, no single heat treat receivers blew up afterward. It is preposterous to believe that the laws of physics somehow changed in 1927, so to counter the claims of these idiots , I only copied post 1927 single heat treat pictures. Not that it makes any difference to the HugoEstupido’s of the world, they are simply justifying their dangerous behaviors but unfortunately, encouraging others to engage in risky behavior.

However, go to SA, seek and you may find more.

Blown up 1932

Receiver 323816





Receiver 570, 095 Blown up 1932




1931 Receiver 718, 233






Receiver 764, 040 blown 1931

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Old June 28, 2013, 02:13 PM   #9
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Guns blow up for a lot of reasons and the low serial number guns have proven to be a myth.

I recently saw a documentation of a RECOVERED DRILL RIFLE that blew up. Many people shoot a rifle that has been WELDED which in turn severely impacts the reviver as it creates hot spot and micro cracks. All of those are at risk as ALL of those are compromised. Its a matter how how soon they go.

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

I shoot a bolt that is not heat treated, I will take a low serial over a rifle that has been welded any day of the week. If I can find the definitive article on this I will post it.

That said original 1903s are hard to come by and are expensive if they are pretty much original or re-arsenal.

Good luck, Gun Brokers is a great place to look as you get good pictures and can ask on details.

Found it, here it is. Make your own informed decision but do not let others opinions decide for you. Most opinions are based on ignorance not actually drilling down and loo at the fact, including the fact that the Marie Corp refused to turn their low serials in and used them through WWI, between eh war and took them into battle in the Pacific campaign until replaced by the M1 (and no one knows how many had barrels changed and how many 10s and possibly hundred of thousand of rounds went through some of those same receivers over the course of their servcie)

http://www.m1903.com/03rcvrfail/

I can respect someone who says that there is a controversy and disagreement on low serial receivers and that they would not shoot one, but to make a blanket statement they are dangerous and you are actually mitigating a risk by no using them is not true. My read is you are more likely to have a nut case turn his gun on you at the range accidentally or deliberately and kill or wound you than for that to occur (or get into an accident on the way to the range that injures or kills you for that matter).

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Old June 29, 2013, 10:59 AM   #10
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Dr Joseph L. Lyon, M.D., M.P.H is just another ideologue justifying the use of single heat treat receivers through a very flawed analysis. His analysis is based solely on the list of single heat treat blowups recorded in Hatcher’s Notebook.

What makes anyone think that Hatchers list is complete? It is a listing of 03 blows ups from 16 July 1917 to 1929. The first receivers listed as blown up were a 1907 vintage receiver and a 1917 receiver. These receivers blew at National Brass & Copper Tube factory, a factory making ammunition for the US military during WW1. The 1907 receiver fragmented and blew a piece of shrapnel piercing the lung of the operator.

It is preposterous to believe that receivers had not blown before. What is more likely was that many receivers had blown, but to then Springfield Armory and its supporters were able to misdirect and muffle this issue, after all, who within the Army had the resources and records to argue with an Army Arsenal about its defective products, and what foolish Officer was going to ruin his career doing that? What made the event at National Brass and Copper Tube different and something that the Army had to acknowledge, were these blowups occurred outside of the Army chain of command. Springfield Armory did make up convincing sounding, but fallacious arguments: “cartridges cases not up to standard and secondarily, to receivers somewhat below the standard” but National Brass & Copper had qualified metallurgists, who could counter all of the self serving BS coming out of Springfield Armory. Plus, National Brass & Copper could go outside of the Army chain of command and complain to their Congressmen . This was not an entity that the Army could bury and ignore, as it obviously had done to date with all of the blown rifles that occurred before the creation of this database.

There are known blows afterward, proving that the laws of physics did not end in 1929, and also proving that any failure rates based on Hatcher’s Notebook are false, and any contentions that rifles did not blow up later are equally false.

It is remarkable that Hatcher had any reports at all. I don’t know how he got them, but he was Head of Army Ordnance during WW2. It is Army policy, nay, DoD policy, not to release Safety Accident Reports to anyone except Military Law Enforcement, and then, only if the law enforcement request is legitimate. I don’t know what you could get with a freedom of information act request, probably nothing of value since all you can do with a FOI is to ask, the agency gets to decide if the information “compromises” national security.

People expecting complete and accurate databases in the public domain from the Army for events that happened sixty years ago are unrealistic. Try to find similar information now. I am curious, where in the public domain the databases for all medical accidents, deaths, and malpractice cases? Where are the public domain databases of all lawsuits and convictions? . You can find sex offenders in your area, what about the list of all felons, all misdemeanors? What about the list of all fatal private airplane crashes in Alaska?, first I heard of 15 fatal per year.


In 1927 an appointed Army board examined all data and wrote a report recommending that all low number rifles be withdrawn from service. This is recorded starting page 221 of Hatcher's Notebook. The board was over ruled by a Brigadier General who put out an incredibly irresponsible policy with the following logic “ Our ammunition is getting worse and accidents may be somewhat more frequent. On the other hand, some of these early rifles have been in used for many years and undoubtedly some of them have worn out several barrels. I do not think the occasion merits the withdrawal of the rifles of low umber in the hands of troops until the rifle is otherwise unserviceable

That BG decided that in between such time that the rifle wore out and was returned to depot, if that rifle blew up taking the hand or head of a Trooper, well that was just too damn bad. He decided that no Trooper is worth the cost of scrapping the complete inventory of rifles, in fact, no Trooper was worth the cost of a single rifle.

This decision can be viewed from an budgetary viewpoint. An injured Soldier did not cost the Army anything beyond immediate medical expenses. If a Soldier, Sailor or Marine was injured and unable to continue service, he was given a medical discharge, paid off to date, and after that any injured Soldier/Sailor/Marine had to fight the precursors to the VA to get benefits. The funding for Rehabilitation did not come out of the Army Budget.

http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/a...y_in_brief.pdfThe Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1918 authorized the establishment of an independent agency, the Federal Board for Vocational Education. Under the new law, any honorably discharged disabled veteran of World War I was eligible for vocational rehabilitation training. Those incapable of carrying on a gainful occupation were also eligible for special maintenance allowances. The Bureau of War Risk Insurance was responsible for screening veterans for eligibility. A 1919 law fixed responsibility for medical care of veterans with Public Health Service, transferred a number of military hospitals to Public Health Service.”

Regardless of who pays, I consider that Army decision to retain single heat treat rifles in service, which were known to have systemic defects, and were known to injure servicemen, as immoral.


What is missing from Hatcher’s Notebook is “the number”. It is obvious that Hatcher had the complete written reports in front of him as he wrote his book “Hatcher’s Notebook”.

Let me describe what any chartered board should produce for a decision maker : Do we have a problem and if we have a problem , what is the lowest cost solution.

Hatcher describes a charted board. Being on a board that makes a stupid recommendation would be a career ender. Let’s say the board recommended scrapping the 6Th fleet because the ships are painted the wrong color of gray. All the high grade people reading that report would realize that every member of that board were pygmy morons and those board members would find that their senior rater got some irate calls from his Boss’s Boss about the quality of their conclusions. Next review period, these guys would be voted off the island.

The board that reviewed the single heat treat receivers were looking at a $40,000,000 problem in 1927 money. (Based on a cost of $40.00 per M1903, over 1 million low number receivers, this amount adjusted for inflation is $523,000,000 ) If they made any recommendation that showed negligence , that is a significant number of receivers were defective, there were a number of Generals, who were previously Colonels in charge of Springfield Armory and Rock Island Armory, that were going to be embarrassed by the revelation. Any recommendation made by the board had to backed by strong, well researched, well documented facts, to be credible.

We do know this board tested low number receivers, had low number receivers re heat treated, chemically analyzed, probably a bunch of other tests. The actual report was probably hundreds of pages long and all we have is a short summary from Hatcher.

And what is missing from Hatcher is “the number”. The board had to come up a estimate of the number of defective receivers. This number could have been stated : “Out of the population of low number receivers, statistical estimates show that 80 % are structurally deficient and do not meet service requirements. Of the 80% that are structurally deficient 45% are so structurally deficient that they represent a clear safety hazard to the user”

Now a number like this would clearly tell the decision makers that they really have a problem and justify the board’s recommendation to scrap one half billion dollars worth of rifles.

But Hatcher did not put that number out in the public domain, did he? And that is what this entire debate is about, what is the number. I am confident the number is big, because to recommend scrapping a half billion dollars worth of equipment in 1927 is a huge recommendation, something that would be stupid to recommend if the facts did not justify it.


It is true that not all single heat receivers are bad but the only way to find out which are good or which are bad is by destructive methods. Hugh Douglas hit six SHT receivers on the right rail with nylon faced hammer, about a 12" strike, and all of the rails broke and some of the receivers cracked through the rear receiver ring. May-Jun 1985 Rifle Magazine, article " About low numbered Springfields, Sedgleys, and others..." Hugh Douglas


Having been warned, that the entire population is suspect, that the failure is catastrophic, go look at the pictures here:http://www.jouster.com/forums/showth...820#post136820, if the SHT you are firing blows, the costs are all on you!
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Old June 29, 2013, 11:16 AM   #11
tahunua001
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can we please get off the subject of heat treatment? it always ends the same way. debating turns to bickering and people either get sick and stop reading the thread of bickering turns to insults and Admins lock it down.

nobody can deny that whether they are safe to fire or not, low numbered springfields have a tarnished reputation and their price appreciation suffers for it. OP wants a gun similar to what his relative used in WWII and I for one am simply trying to help him avoid spending high serial collectors price for a low serial receiver. I spent $700 on a low numbered rifle before i even knew about the whole low/high debacle and was a little miffed when I found out that low serials normally only sell for $550. I'm just looking out for OP here.
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Old June 29, 2013, 11:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
These receivers blew at National Brass & Copper Tube factory, a factory making ammunition for the US military during WW1.
Yep, National Brass and Copper made substandard .30 caliber ammo with very soft cases: Ammo that was later condemned. I have some of the stuff; headstamp NC18. i would not fire one round of that ammo in any gun.

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Old June 29, 2013, 12:06 PM   #13
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Thats fair enough. WWII and he will be in high numbers and not an issue at all.

I do note that while the Slamfire went on and on he did not address the fact that the Corp never turned theirs in and that was not an issue.

I keep hopping to find one of those low serial 1903s so I can buy it.

As noted I shoot a poorly treated bolt and would do the same as long as the gun is in good condition. A lot of factors went into the heat treat issue including bad ammo and you don't see further reports after a certain time period. People were still blowing up perfectly "safe" guns because they were greasing the bullets.

Also of note is to get a Muzzle Wear and Throat Erosion number on a gun you buy to ensure its not shot out.

And are we looking at value or just match up the appearance? Lot of sporters out there that can be converted back though they may be drilled for scopes.
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Old June 29, 2013, 12:13 PM   #14
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It would be nice to know if the OP knows whether Grand dad's 03 had a receiver sight or not? Would be a big help identifying which 1903 rifle to buy.
If the OP is interested, I do have a very good article on the 1903A3 that I could copy and send him. Just send me a PM with contact info and I'll mail it off. Lots of good pictured in the article and it does show the various versrions of the 1903 and varients.
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Old June 29, 2013, 12:34 PM   #15
tahunua001
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OP did mention that grand dad was in the marines, they went from 1903 straight to M1 and M1 carbines, that I know of there were very few 03A3s that went to the south pac theatre. the few that did find their way into the hands of GI went with Army to Europe and Africa.
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Old July 2, 2013, 09:14 AM   #16
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Quote:
I do note that while the Slamfire went on and on he did not address the fact that the Corp never turned theirs in and that was not an issue.
What brought you to the conclusion that these were not an issue in any way?

Quote:
I keep hopping to find one of those low serial 1903s so I can buy it.
What, you have no skin in the game!? At least HugoEstupido has a low number and is shooting it. Given that there were more “good” low number receivers than bad the odds are good he will get away with it. But, as long as he keeps on banging away, there is the chance, a small chance, that he has one of those structurally defective low numbers, and then, the more he shoots it, the better his chances of winning a Darwin award.

I want to encourage you to find and buy a low number. After giving advice on how safe these are, you need to put your one and only head behind one of these receivers and shoot it. Shoot it a lot. Lets see what happens.

Here is a start, bid price right now $400

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=350361323

Springfield Armory M1903, low serial number. Rifle is in overall very good condition, bore is excellent, smooth, good rifling, no pitting/rust/rough spots. Barrel is SA marked and with a 9-09 date. Serial number is in the 184,000 range, so I'm pretty sure this is the original barrel. Stock is pretty good, just the usual character you'd expect on a 100+ year old rifle. Proof P is there, but I can't find any evidence of any other cartouche or stamps. No cracks or chips. The pics tell the rest of the story and of course it's a "Low number" for what it's worth. Item is for sale local and subject to sale if the reserve is not met. Any questions, feel free to ask.
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Old July 2, 2013, 09:26 AM   #17
tahunua001
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can we give it a rest and let the poor dead horse have a little dignity.
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Old July 3, 2013, 06:13 PM   #18
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Gee, I didn't know about those Marie Corps rifles. Must have been in the French Foreign Legion.

Jim
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Old July 3, 2013, 06:31 PM   #19
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Gee, I didn't know about those Marie Corps rifles. Must have been in the French Foreign Legion.
No, its an American Unit: the Marie Corp was created after "don't ask, don't tell".
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