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Old December 16, 2013, 08:54 PM   #26
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Personally, I wouldn't shoot that gun with "factory ammo". And by that I mean modern sporting/hunting ammo in .30-06.

While I won't make any claim of anything close to research, let alone exhaustive research, the documented cases of low number 1903s failing without a case rupture being involved (and most likely considered the cause) must be out there, but I haven't seen any.

With one exception, every case I have heard of involving the failure of a 1903 was because of a case failure. I can't, and won't say they are safe, but the incidents I have heard of support my belief that the low number "bad heat treat" guns are safe to shoot (with period level ammo, rifle otherwise sound) UNTIL/UNLESS you have a case failure. Then they have a good chance of coming apart. That being the case, making it a wall hanger is the safest and sanest thing to do with one of these rifles.

The one exception I have heard about is the story (possibly urban legend) told to my by an old gunsmith when I was a lad. HE said he had one of those bad heat treat Springfields action shatter when it got knocked off a bench onto the shop floor...

one of the things about collector US milsurps is that they can be 100% authentic, but not in original issue condition. its still a 1903 Springfield, but its not in exactly the same configuration it was first issued in.

Some collectors will value a gun in original configuration, but poor condition over one in good condition but altered configuration. Other than the butt, yours looks in pretty good shape, but not a prime collector piece due to the configuration of parts.
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Old December 16, 2013, 09:44 PM   #27
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Well, it's not mine. Or at least not yet, and I hven't decided if it's orth me persuing It or not. It is inmy possesdion, but I will be sending t back to the owner soon. My original thought if It had been a high number, shooter, I would but one of the Remington 770 packages that Cabela's has on same right now for around three hundred bucks to trade for the 03. That is what the owner wants. No paeticular brand, just a trade for a hunting rifle.
But at this time I think I'll just the deal simmer for a while.
With all the information, and pictures so far, is there a conensus as to a fair price?
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Old December 16, 2013, 10:07 PM   #28
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, the parts may be worth more than the assembled rifle. I have seen similar rifles sell between $350-500. Are they worth it? I guess they must be to somebody as they do change hands.

Personally, I feel that the parts alone are worth $350 or more. Decent '03 barrels with the rear sight base are fetching $200+ on evilbay and if it is a decent barrel with a date earlier than WWII, it may bring much more. The stock will bring $100, milled triggerguards are hovering in the $70 range and so on.

Ultimately, it's up to you, but I would pay no more $350-400 for it. As always, YMMV.

I still have the receiver from one of those WWII rebuilds that I parted out.

Last edited by highpower3006; December 16, 2013 at 10:14 PM.
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Old December 18, 2013, 08:31 PM   #29
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Just FWIW, light loads might not be safe. Like glass, those receivers won't break under pressure so much as under a sharp blow. One let go several years ago with the owner's "rat shooting" load of 9 grains of Bullseye and a round lead ball, almost identical to the old "guard" load.

I once broke an SHT receiver into three pieces with a one pound hammer; we had been shooting the rifle the day before with M2 ball. Do I consider them unsafe? I sure do, no matter what some statistician says.

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Old December 22, 2013, 07:06 PM   #30
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The one blown up 1903 I saw documentation on was a recovered drill rifle.

That said, people are buying those up and shooting htem wihtout a thought. Nasty weld on the barrel receiver interesection that will weaken the receiver and its not a matter if it will fail, its when. Its propogation may be past the times it ever gets shot and not fail, but it will be in the process.

http://glock.pro/ammunition/6077-time-stop-think.html

Marines continued to use their 1903s through WWII (initaily all were aremd with it and then decreasing use as Garands were issued (or they stole them)

No documented cases of failure.

This is worth reading on the subject.

http://m1903.com/03rcvrfail/

If I had that available locally I would grab it. Its worth the parts and frankly if it has the original barrel it has collector value whether someone would shoot it or not. A lot of those were de-mobbed as it were, at some point history will realize the value of those and getting a correct barrel date and receiver back in a correct period stock is going to have a lot of value.

I also would shoot it. I do shoot a 1903 with a questionable bolt.

I would not shoot full loads in any mil surplus gun simply because it wears them out faster for no gain, the value is in the history (and you can hunt at 2600 fps just fine if you want.
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Old December 22, 2013, 09:43 PM   #31
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I will be seeing my son-in-law Christmas eve. He is the connection to the Springfield, It belongs to a friend of his. As I said earlier he wants to trade It or a hunting rifle. I will send the Springfield home with an explanation of it's low number status, the facts that the stock, and bolt are not proper for the rest of the gun, and a standing offer of two hundered and fifty bucks. I won't lose any sleep if I don't see the Springfield again.
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Old December 22, 2013, 11:13 PM   #32
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As I understand it, Lyons' position is that while there may have been some brittle M1903 receivers, there is no danger now because all the ones that were going to blow have already done so, and don't worry, there is no problem. He purports to prove that thesis by use of statistics.*

Sorry, but that is nonsense. There is no non-destructive test for those receivers, and no way to know how many bad ones have not (yet) failed. Once the M1903 was out of service, there was no means of reporting failures and no central place to report them. No one now keeps track of failures, and no one has done so since at least 1945. Any given SHT M1903 could blow at any time; no one can know if it will or not. Certainly the one I broke with a hammer was not reported to anyone, and the one that blew with a light load was reported to the NRA, but that organization does not maintain any data base of failures.

*I think I can prove by statistics that the Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl, but I doubt they will.

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Old December 23, 2013, 04:30 PM   #33
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You know I remember reading an investigation report from SA and RIA and what was concluded was that the was no definite answer to how many of these low SN rifles were actually affected and out of the rifles tested (75-100% over normal operating pressure) did not blow apart. Ammo back then Was also more inconstant. Apparently non have blown up since 1929 or something like that. Prob fine to shoot but still will make the hair on the back of your neck stand lol.
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Old December 23, 2013, 04:59 PM   #34
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that is not entirely accurate. no 1903s failed during military operations after 1929 but there have been numerous failures since in the hands of civilians. Jim K gave his experience here in this thread already and I believe the member slamfire has dozens of photos of springfield which have failed.

try as I might all I've found was an A3 that blew as a result of a squib but he is apparently much better at research than I.
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Old December 23, 2013, 05:03 PM   #35
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Was just throwing in my 2 cents :-) yeah I guess that's when they stopped keepig records. Sorry I didn't clarify.
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Old December 24, 2013, 12:40 AM   #36
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The problem with those rifles is that even an excessive load (proof +) might not weed out a brittle receiver.

A good comparison is a glass counter top. You can lay, say, a 40 pound weight on it with no problem; the glass will not break, and in fact will bend quite a bit without breaking. But hit that same glass a sharp blow with a 1 pound hammer and it will shatter. The sharp blow breaks the glass that the heavy weight, applied slowly, did not. That is why service ammo, with a slow burning powder, will probably not cause receiver failure, but the sharp blow from a fast-burning powder will.

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Old December 26, 2013, 05:44 PM   #37
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James K: Not that I entirely disagree with you, but how many rifle have you hit with a hammer? Just the one? How many rifles of that same era and metallurgy would that happen to? (including ones outside the oh my god serial numbers because in reality their wold be quality control failures past that)

I too can poke holes in the statistics, but we can also see that some rifles continue to fail outside the heat treat range.

A stress crack once started will propagate.

And yes a proof round may not blow it up (ergo the military not only proofs rounds an M16/M4 bolt it magnaflux said bolt.

How many modern (since WWI) rifles do not even do a proof round and how many of those failed. Civilian rifles have no test other than occasional one off the line.

This is not personal. Basically its called cherry picking risk. A person gets whigged out on a one in a million issue, but does not occur to you that you are far more likely get get killed (let alone hurt) driving your car to the gun range (or a nut on the range shooting you). If you want to reduce real risk, stay should never leave home (ooops, forgot about that hair dryer in the bathtub and the soap)

I do think the article brings in perspective and the Marines obviously felt that it was not a factor and no reported issues to the day they gave up the 1903s (except their snipers) for the M1

These guns were all shot and while not zero, the risk is extremely low and probably lower than far more modern guns that do fail (a number of those out there)

The single biggest factor was the bad ammunition and that was followed by things like people greasing bullets (argghhhhhhhhh>). After that various abuse of the rifle.

I would not want anyone to shoot one if they are nervous, but it should be put in perspective and not fool ourselves that, by golly I am immune from risk because I did not shoot that thing when in fact that risk should be considered in context with your entire range of risk.

Quote:
As I understand it, Lyons' position is that while there may have been some brittle M1903 receivers, there is no danger now because all the ones that were going to blow have already done so, and don't worry, there is no problem. He purports to prove that thesis by use of statistics.*

Sorry, but that is nonsense. There is no non-destructive test for those receivers, and no way to know how many bad ones have not (yet) failed. Once the M1903 was out of service, there was no means of reporting failures and no central place to report them. No one now keeps track of failures, and no one has done so since at least 1945. Any given SHT M1903 could blow at any time; no one can know if it will or not. Certainly the one I broke with a hammer was not reported to anyone, and the one that blew with a light load was reported to the NRA, but that organization does not maintain any data base of failures.

*I think I can prove by statistics that the Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl, but I doubt they will.
ps: I agree the Steelers will not win the Super Bowl!
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Old December 27, 2013, 01:16 AM   #38
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It is pretty hard to do a statistical study on entirely different situations, so a comparison between the dangers involved in shooting a SHT 1903 and driving a car are not really valid. (How many millions of people fire early 1903's compared with the millions who drive cars?)

As for how many I have broken with a hammer, the answer is ONE, but that was quite enough to make a believer out of me. So it seems fair to ask how many rounds you have fired out of SHT 1903's and how many of those rifles have you fired?

The Army was not unaware of the danger involved, but a total recall would have been totally impractical and a had a huge budget impact in that era. They did scrap low number receivers when the rifles came in for rebuild, but stopped that during WWII when they decided the need for rifles was greater than the risk involved. After WWII, they did offer owners of SHT receivers a straight swap for NS or DHT receivers, no questions asked as long as they could read the number. That is why I had a SHT receiver and why I had nothing to lose by breaking it - it was going back through DCM anyway.

As to Marine use, what you say is true and the Marines did keep their 1903s until they were issued M1 rifles, but what choice did they have? Nor, statistically, would the pre-WWII USMC be much of a testing area; the strength of the Marine Corps in 1938 was a mere 17,000 men and 1359 officers, and each EM did not have a rifle.

Jim
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