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Old October 15, 2011, 09:39 PM   #1
Walt Sherrill
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1903 Winchester .22 Rimfire Auto...

I've got two of these old guns, both in good shape, but both have been "restored" -- improved, reblued, etc. So their value as collectibles is much less than if they had been left stock but worn.

My question -- can they be converted to .22 LR by installing a 1963 barrel. (I remember, I think, reading that a rebarrel was all that was needed, but can't find the original source.)

I'd sacrifice one of them to THAT conversion, and leave the other in the gun safe if there was any chance that it would work. I'd love to be able to shoot one of these old guns, again -- and I haven't seen Winchester rimfire Auto ammo for the gun for a number of years (except at collector prices.)
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Old October 15, 2011, 11:02 PM   #2
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I would think that since these are set up for the fatter, shorter .22 automatic, the magazine, feeding mechanism, as well as recoil adjustment would have to be altered also.
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Old October 17, 2011, 06:38 PM   #3
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I just received one of these last weekend from my wife's grandfather! Cool little rifle. He had one box of ammo but I don't think I'll be shooting it. Would be cool if a re-barrel was all that was needed to shoot one of yours. Good luck finding an answer!
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Old October 17, 2011, 11:13 PM   #4
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I don't think the original cartridge for that rifle is really shorter than a .22LR -- at least, not enough to affect much of anything. The conversion notion is intriguing -- are barrels for the Model 1963 available?
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Old October 26, 2011, 11:21 AM   #5
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Walt, IIRC Aguila down in Mexico has recently started making .22 WRF ammo again. Not sure of retail prices, but it might be worth your while to check around the net. It'd at least allow you to do some shooting without making quite so huge a dent in your wallet as relic/collector ammo or a conversion would.

Hope this is of help.
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Old October 26, 2011, 12:58 PM   #6
Jim Watson
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Sorry, claddagh, .22 WRF is not the same as .22 Winchester Automatic.

Walt, if you could get one or a few rounds of .22 Auto at a bearable price, load one in the chamber and some LR in the magazine. Fire the Auto and see if the LR next up chambers. If it does, great, a barrel change would turn your 03 into a 63. If not, you will have saved a lot of work.

Frank DeHaas converted an 03 to take .22 WRM. It was a fantastically complicated project, including milling out the bottom of the reciever for a box magazine because he could not get the longer WRM to run through the buttstock tube.
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Old October 26, 2011, 01:12 PM   #7
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Since that was the designation given for the ammo they were supposed to have been using in an original Winchester 1903 in the photos accompanying the the article (It was in "Guns" magazine, IIRC, and about a visit to the Aguila factory) I had supposed it was correct. Apologies if I was mistaken.

FWIW, in a more recent article in the same magazine, Holt Bodinson described using the Aguila .22 WRF rounds in a couple of BA .22 WMR rifles as a less destructive small game round.

Last edited by Claddagh; October 26, 2011 at 01:18 PM.
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Old October 26, 2011, 09:41 PM   #8
Mike Irwin
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The .22 Winchester Auto round used an inside lubricated bullet. The .22 Long Rifle uses an outside lubricated bullet.

I'd say there's a pretty good chance that the .22 LR round would jam going into the chamber because of that.
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Old October 26, 2011, 10:36 PM   #9
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There's more than a chance that a regular 22 LR will jam, it will. Very simply it will not feed.
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Old October 27, 2011, 09:09 AM   #10
Claddagh
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Went digging into the magazine archives (boxes in the basement) and found that article. Maybe I'm shedding neurons faster than I'd thought. Some stuff got scrambled in there, but at least I found that a couple of them were still firing; just a bit out-of -proper-sequence.

The article was from much further back than I'd thought. It was published in the June 2003 issue of "Guns" as "Aguila's Innovative Rimfires" by David M. Fortier.

The picture I remembered of the fellow shooting a Winchester 1903 semiauto is there but, as Jim pointed out, I'd gotten the cartridge wrong. However, Aguila apparently was making .22 Winchester Auto cartridges at that time, which I suppose is how my gaff got started.

From the photos in the article, it would seem that Aguila made a special run of the .22 Win. Auto for Old West Scrounger. The boxes are labeled "Limited Edition Cartridges" and bear the Old West Scrounger name and their old "Hwy A-12" address. There's no mention of the run's total number, but from what I can gather it's almost certainly long gone now.

Old West Scrounger's site doesn't list them and Centurion Ordnance's (exclusive U.S. importer) aguliaammo.com site says it's "Under construction. Please try later".

Sorry again for the mix-up. Walt's post triggered the memory of seeing it mentioned that Aguila was making new ammo for the 1903 and I'd hoped to be of some help. My bad for screwing up the timeline and details.
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Old October 28, 2011, 08:22 AM   #11
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I contacted Aguila just a couple of months ago to ask about this ammo and they replied that they are not making any "at this time" (or something to that effect). The acknowledged that they have made it, and they did NOT say they have discontinued it, so there may be some small possibility they'll do another run. I would encourage anyone who has a 1903 or who knows of someone who has a 1903 to contact Aguila and express a desire to buy the ammo. Perhaps if enough interest is expressed they'll do another run.
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Old October 28, 2011, 08:38 AM   #12
Jim Watson
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Agreed. These are fine little guns and it is a shame not to be able to shoot them. There was enough demand to get the 5mm Rem back into production, let's hear it for the .22 Win Auto and more .22 WRF, too.
I don't guess there are enough .22 Remington Autos out there to support, I have hardly ever even seen one.

Most of the other rimfires were chambered in either really old designs or really cheap ones and probably would not sell well enough.
Pity, Elmer Keith said he would like to have seen the .25 Stevens Long brought back and souped up instead of the .22 Magnum; but that would have required a lot of changes to guns that were easily magnumized while staying .22.
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Old November 6, 2011, 08:21 PM   #13
Jeffstateglass
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Good news for 1903 owners

I've been in contact with Industrias Tecnos, S.A.de C.V (the ammo plant located in Morelos State Mexico), Aguila Ammo (located in Helotes Texas - the US arm of Tecnos ) and the new domestic retailer who will be merchandising the ammo. I have also been in contact with Remington.

Remington, who originally set up the Industrias Tecnos facility, at one time did manufacture and distribute .22 Winchester Automatic Rim Fire. They, however, categorically denied any plans to make a run of the ammo in the future.

Tecnos / Aguila have the dies used to produce the last run of ammo. That ammo was produced for Old Western Scrounger, a now defunct dealer in Montague California. The new retailer has agreed to produce another run, with a minimum order commitment to Industrias Tecnos / Aguila Ammo of 3,000,000 rounds. The US retailer that I have been in contact with states; "Yes, we do plan on having another run manufactured as soon as we can gather up the needed capital, which is required up front before any manufacturing can begin". Assuming that the capital can be put together, the run can be scheduled as early as March 2012.

Keep your fingers crossed. Obviously, continued support and enthusiasm for this new run of ammo via online forums will keep the juices flowing and kick start the new source into pushing production forward ASAP.
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Old November 20, 2011, 01:13 AM   #14
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That's great news. I hope it becomes reality. If so, I'm in for a few bricks.
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Old December 13, 2011, 07:08 PM   #15
jd365
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Jeff, is there anyone you recommend we contact to ensure that this ammunition does indeed get manufactured? I know a fair amount of delay in these processes can be the validation of consumer demand. If we could assure the capitol investor that the demand for this ammunition is indeed valid, perhaps it will move the production timeline forward. If enough requests come to one person, a one time, small production run may turn into a regular production run, and the rebirth of the 22 win auto.
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Old December 14, 2011, 05:47 PM   #16
Scorch
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Quote:
My question -- can they be converted to .22 LR by installing a 1963 barrel.
They can be converted. Not as simple as screwing in a new barrel, I'm afraid. Since the 22 Winchester Auto uses an outside lubricated bullet, the case and rim are larger in diameter than a 22 LR. Here is what we did
1- Reline bore
2- Modify cartridge stop
3- Modify cartridge guide

The rifle functions and cycles flawlessly.

Cost for the conversion is about $500.
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Old December 23, 2011, 02:34 PM   #17
Jeffstateglass
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Ongoing negotiations

I've been asked to keep names confidential. I can say that the negotitions are moving forward, albeit at a snails pace.

One concession has been agree to, which should move things along at a brisker rate due to reduced initial capital outlay. The initial requirement of a three million round commitment has been reduced to one million rounds. Aguillar Ammo responded with the following;

"Sorry for the delay in answering, I am working in the figures for the cost of the .22 Win Auto for the million rounds, will get back to you shortly, thanks."

And so, it's a matter of hurry up and wait.
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Old December 31, 2011, 04:08 PM   #18
Aguila Blanca
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Please keep us in the loop. I'll try to remember to check this thread periodically, but in reality it's likely to slide down out of sight and out of mind. But I have my grandfather's Model 1903 and I would very much like to obtain some ammunition for it.
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Old January 13, 2012, 10:14 AM   #19
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Keep us updated. I'm looking as well for rounds for my Win Mod-03.
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Old January 18, 2012, 05:12 PM   #20
Cowboy Shooter
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Winchester Model 1903 22Auto Ammo

I too have had a hard time finding ammo for my 1903. I have just purchased 3 boxes of 50 rounds on www.GunBrokers.com. There are more on auction but are a bit pricey. I bought mine for $25 each. Others are going for $50 or $105 for two boxes. There are also several 1903 rifles at auction. I am going to a gunshow here in Jacksonville, FL this weekend. Wish me luck.

To everyone else, happy hunting.
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Old January 27, 2012, 12:50 AM   #21
Cowboy Shooter
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Gun Show Success

I went to the gun show last weekend. I found three boxes of 22 Auto ammo. One dealer had two boxes and said he could get more. We'll see. I'll keep my fingers crossed but I won't hold my breath.
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Old April 26, 2012, 08:58 PM   #22
LA hunter
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1903 winchester automatic

Hi all , I have an 1903 in really good shape. I also have 2 boxes of ammo from old western sorenger . I have not shot any because I really want more before I use up what I have. AS to new ammo if and when it is ever available I am in for at least 4 or more bricks.
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Old April 28, 2012, 11:21 PM   #23
James K
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Three million rounds sounds like a lot of ammo, and I wouldn't want to carry that much very far, but it is small potatoes to an ammunition manufacturer. I wish everyone who owns one of those old Winchesters a lot of luck in finding ammo or getting new production started. The problem is there is just not enough demand and no company wants to stick its neck out to make a bunch of something it can't sell.

BTW, .22 WMR is an elongated .22 WRF so firing .22 WRF in a .22 WMR chamber is like shooting .22 Short in a .22 LR chamber.

FWIW, the reason for the .22 Winchester Auto and the .22 Remington Auto was that when the guns came out, the .22 LR had not been fully developed; loadings were not uniform and .22 LR was still loaded with black powder. Not only would black powder gum up the works of the new rifles, but its pressure curve resulted in poor functioning.

So, in order to minimize problems with the new autoloaders, both companies developed special cartridges which they would load and control; the cartridges, the .22 Winchester Auto and the .22 Remington Auto are similar, but not fully interchangeable.

Jim
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Old May 1, 2012, 06:57 PM   #24
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Ongoing negotiations on 1903 Winchester .22 Rimfire Auto...

JEFFSTATEGLASS - Please keep up all posted on what you hear on the 22 Auto Ammo. I just fired my fathers Winchester 03 Auto Rifle last week with my Dad (85) for the 1st time. What a gun. We limited ourselves to 6 rounds each as we only have one box left. Didn't know at the time that we were dropping a buck a round. Let us know if there is a list to get on to help build some demand. Thanks for your efforts.
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Old May 7, 2012, 07:22 PM   #25
Jeffstateglass
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Silver lining.

Things were starting to look pretty discouraging. Between the "Mexican minute" (why do now what you can put off 'till tomorrow) attempts to pin down the fine print, the lack of concrete information from the BATF regarding the myriad of legalities defining "importer / wholesaler / supplier / retailer" ad nauseum, and it appeared that the project would go down in flames.

In a last ditch effort to keep the project afloat we wrote off months of work and passed the torch off to, none other than, "The Old Western Scrounger" (OWS); now located in West Va. If you recall, the original OWS located in Montague Ca. was the original source for reproduction 1903 ammo. They contracted with Tecnos / Aguila to have the stamping dies created and the original run of the repro ammo made.

We notified OWS of our frustration in dealing with the factory, domestic distributor and the BATF. We received the following from OWS a short time ago. "Yes, the ammunition will be manufactured for us by Aguila later this year."

And so, email them, call them, write them, but most importantly, support them and buy a box or a brick!


Here's their contact link:

http://www.ows-ammo.com/store/index....831a23d2af0a42

Last edited by Jeffstateglass; May 9, 2012 at 10:26 PM.
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