View Full Version : FYI: 1903 Springfield Feed Problem. The Fix...

May 8, 2000, 06:08 PM
I just got an old 1903 Springfield in that was failing to feed the second round loaded into the magazine. It would be on the left of the magazine as you look down into it. The third and fourth rounds always fed, but this round would never feed properly.

Other than a minor and very common modification to the magazine follower, the action itself was pristine. The rifle itself was a forties era sporter with a turned military barrel and a very nicely inletted oil finished walnut stock with ebony trim on fore end and grip cap, topped by a steel Lyman receiver sight and a banded ramp front, all very well executed.

At first I thought that it was due to the follower having been over modified to allow the bolt to close on an empty magazine.
(Why anyone would do this is beyond me)
I tried a new, uncut follower but the problem remained.
I finally noticed that the second round was not contacting the feed lip at the rear of the action. Something was interfering with it elevating so that the bolt could contact it.
It turned out that the inlet in the receiver beneath the lip was not cut back far enough to the rear to allow the round to contact the feed lip. This first became apparent when I was comparing the two feed lips from underneath the receiver, looking up through the magazine box. A quick check of other Springfields showed that the feed lip cuts SHOULD extend back on both sides to behind the bolt face/magazine box.
The radius on the "bad" side ended ahead of the bolt face/magazine box rear. The follower pushed the round up properly, but the interference from the mismachined lip kept it from coming up high enough for the bolt face to contact it and shove it forward.

The fix was simple. I took a 1/4" ball end carbide die grinder bit, and chucking it up in an air die grinder, I reached up inside the action from the bottom and relieved the radius further back to match the opposite side.
End of feeding problem, he said smugly.

I have worked on a lot of Springfields, but I have never encountered that problem before.
This rifle evidently left the factory that way, and never got corrected by any of the previous gunsmiths that worked on it.
I find it odd that a rifle nearly ninety years old that had been in so many hands and had so much care lavished on the stock, metal and sights, could have escaped getting so minor a fix for so long.

I did get it cheap though, so I am grateful to all of those that missed the ball...

George Stringer
May 8, 2000, 10:32 PM
Thanks, Mad Dog. George

Art Eatman
May 9, 2000, 10:16 AM
MAD DOG: The original idea of the blocking of the bolt by the square-backed magazine follower was to prevent an excited soldier from "firing" an unloaded rifle. It forced him to realize he had run dry and needed to reload.

Grinding a radius on the rear of the follower was a very common part of converting the military rifle to a sporter. (This included other military rifles, besides the Springfield.) Us hunters ain't supposed to get all that excited, since deer don't shoot back.

:), Art

May 9, 2000, 10:25 AM
I am aware of the "reasoning" behind which it was done, but since I build dangerous game stuff it makes no practical sense to me. The time it takes to occassionally finger the follower down to close the bolt is insignifigant compared to the possibility of trying to kill a charging bear with an empty chamber.
As always, YMMV.

BTW, anyone out there have a spare 1903 solid steel folower that hasn't been diddled with?
If not, I will weld up and regrind the one that is in it.