View Full Version : Springfield 1903

September 15, 2008, 01:36 PM
I had a chance to take a look at my Uncle's 1903 Springfield this weekend. Very neat rifle! It has never been fired and the chamber was still caked in grease. I had never seen one up close and I just remember thinking that lugging that thing around on the battlefield would be a bit of a chore.

When he first brought it out I thought is was an M1 Garand. They looked very similar. Anyway he wasnt sure about the value of the gun so I thought I'd ask the experts! I really dont have any more details but thought I would ask... Thanks :)

September 15, 2008, 01:42 PM
That one would be impossible to answer without a physical examination of the rifle itself.

Springfield M1903 collecting is a hobby unto itself. Tremendous amounts of money turn on tiny metal stampings and the crispness of a correct stock cartouche.

It is no exaggeration to say that an M1903 Springfield could be worth anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on many, many factors.

September 15, 2008, 01:53 PM
It is important to know the serial number and the manufacturer. Early M1903's manufactured by Springfield Armory with serial numbers of 800,000 and under as well as M1903s made at Rock Island Arsenal serial numbered 285507 and lower have been the subject of a "do not shoot" caution for many years due to the improper heat treatment of some of the receivers made in those serial number runs. Their value is affected by this.
Is it an '03 or an '03a3? The 03s typically had a ladder sight mounted on the receiver; the 03a3s typically had an aperture sight on the bridge of the receiver. There were a number of manufacturers of the 03a3 and thus some are rarer than others.

September 15, 2008, 07:52 PM
Very interesting. I honestly have no idea what the serial number was. I really didnt get a chance to examine it that close. Next time I visit I will take a few pics and get all the numbers. He didnt act like he knew exactly what it was worth but I'm certain he would like to know. Maybe I will just tell him it's nothing special and see if he will take $150 for it :D

September 15, 2008, 08:19 PM
There are a ton of variables to the 03's that can make them a curio or a serious collector. The serial number on the action will tell you the year of manufacture and if it is a good one or an early one that suffered from uneven heat treatment and are considered dangerous. If you have one over 800,000 in serial number, you have a good one. The date of the barrel should correspond with the date of the contract serial number. There were a lot of rebuilds and these are not worth as much. There are different models. I have several National Match 03 and some 03A4's which were the sniper rifles. The early models of the 03 had the sights in front of the receiver. The later ones the sights were on top of the receiver. There can be different grooves in the rifling in the barrel and different and unusual barrels. I have 2, 4, 5, and 6 groove 03's and all are correct. The 2 and 4 groove are fairly common. The 03A4's and the National Match are the high dollar collectibles along with the ever elusive carbine model. I only have one carbine and it's the only one I've ever seen but the NRA did an article on them many years back and they were only issued for the Philippine campaign for jungle fighting. The barrel length is 16". The fact that it is in cosmoline helps the value and kindly leave it that way. It may or may not be a rebuild as they packed them both in cosmoline but it adds significantly to the value. If you can post pics and serial numbers, inspectors marks on the wood and barrel, I can pretty much tell you all you'll need to know about it and maybe even the value.

And let's not screw Uncle on this thing. You need to be straight up with him about the value. He may just hand it to you anyway but he deserves an honest answer.

September 15, 2008, 08:21 PM
I used to pay $35 for A3's and even had them thrown into a deal just to sweeten the pot. At a local gunshow I swapped one of the 'freebies' for a 1894 Marlin .44 w/scope and $300, bought a soft case for the Marlin, some ammo and waltzed out the door with $$ in the pocket.

I know that it was issued in the Pacific Theatre in WWII and it wasn't in great shape.

September 17, 2008, 03:02 PM
Also check to see that it is a genuine GI M1903. Some were made/assembled after WWII by companies such as Santa Fe Arms and National Ordnance-I have one of the latter, sporterized, good shooter.

September 30, 2008, 09:30 PM
sixer: the 1903 is a bolt gun how can it look like a garand.it sounds like a
1903A1 as I cant see a 1903 still being in grease.altho rem made 1903s untill they changed to A3.
all springfields were proofed and I have a 500, that I shoot with target loads.
The gov called in all the unders so there are not to many around and most were rechecked.amazing the germans turned out rifles and seem to never had the problem.I never thought to highly of the ordnance dept except for the 1911 and M1 garand.and the 1919 belt feed I still think is better than that M60.:rolleyes::confused:

B. Lahey
September 30, 2008, 10:08 PM
Maybe I will just tell him it's nothing special and see if he will take $150 for it:D

Watch out, you may overpay with that approach.:D

I've got an 03A3 parts gun (made from random, mixed parts) with a receiver that looks like it was dragged through every salty swamp in the South Pacific. $150 would probably be a little high for mine.

But the barrel is a late-WW2 champ, beautiful condition, shoots like crazy.

Great rifles. Try to get it, you won't regret it.

October 1, 2008, 07:34 AM
$150 would probably be a little high for mine.

So you'll take...maybe...say, $130 for it? ;)

March 13, 2009, 07:22 PM
I have a 03A3 Mark I that has been with me for over 50 years. I would say it is 90 to 95%. Barrel date is 8-18. I have Fjestad's Blue Book and have looked on several websites but can't get a handle on value. Anyone have an idea?

March 13, 2009, 07:39 PM
Correct stock?

March 13, 2009, 08:19 PM
Yes, correct stock. All original

March 13, 2009, 08:58 PM
[I have a 03A3 Mark I that has been with me for over 50 years. I would say it is 90 to 95%. Barrel date is 8-18.]

Not all original issue, as I understand your post.

The 1903-A3 is a peep-sighted WWII rifle, made by Remington & Smith-Corona.

The barrel date "8-18" indicates August 1918 - well before WWII.

Many Springfields were arsenal refinished and/or rebarreled with whatever was on hand.
Gunsmiths and others have been known to install a replacement surplus barrel for whatever reason.
An 03A3 barrel would typically be dated behind the front sight in the 40's, and be smooth in the area where the 1903's rear barrel sight would have fitted, ILO grooved or drilled for a sight base setscrew somewhere.

There was also the 1903-A1, which (since made 1930-41) also wouldn't have a 1918 barrel as the original issue.


March 13, 2009, 09:02 PM
pls; I have a 03A3 Mark I that has been with me for over 50 years. I would say it is 90 to 95%. Barrel date is 8-18.
If you have a barrel dated 8-18 (August 1918) , the rifle cannot be an original 03A3. See next:

'The U.S. Model 1903 Springfield Rifle replaced the Krag-Jorgensen and was the primary U.S. battle rifle until 1936, when it was replace as the primary battle U.S. battle rifle by the M1 Garand. In 1942 Remington Arms redesigned the 1903 rifle using some stamped parts and designated it the U.S. Model 1903A3.

There is a great lineage of 1903 models that were manufactured from the introduction of the 1903 to the development of the 03A3 rifles, *including but not limited to:

* M1903 Rod Bayonet Rifle;
* WWI 1903 Rifle;
* M1903 Mark 1 Rifle;
* M1903A1 Rifle;
* Remington M1903 Modified Rifle;
* Remington M1903A3 Rifle;
* Smith-Corona M1903A3 Rifle.'
ps - was writing at the same time as post above. sorry for duplication.

March 14, 2009, 07:56 AM
S'ok - Two heads are better than one ! ;) :) :)

I didn't take the time for the formatted history line-up, or you would have probably answered earlier.

come' se, come' sa.

March 14, 2009, 08:26 AM
When he first brought it out I thought is was an M1 Garand. They looked very similar.

Well, they both have wood stocks at least ;)


March 14, 2009, 11:29 AM
It's an easy-enough mistake to make, for someone not familiar with both - especially if the '03 had the bolt removed at first glimpse.

I've made similar errors, with unfamiliar pieces - especially some of the foreign ones.


March 14, 2009, 11:59 AM
I'm only funnin' ya

March 14, 2009, 01:50 PM
Try to get pictures of it. And you might ask him what he wants for it to see if he even wants to sell it and you might just get it for a $100 like I did with mine(see below)

I picked it up from a little old lady at a yard sale 5 years ago and when I asked her where she got it she said her husband got it when he was in the military. she had it marked at $75 for it but I gave her a $100 because I knew that any rifle in 30-06 was worth that. It is a 1917 Eddystone serial 6887xx and on the stock someone carved RAAF very lightly. I don't know if the serial numbers match because I haven't taken it apart and dont plan on it



March 14, 2009, 07:23 PM
every one has an opinion on old springfields.no broken 03 after 1929,and most were destroyed because of 8 mm ammo,and a few did get broken.
the Navy never turned theirs in and the marines on guadalcanal carried the old 03s.I have one 1914 barrel and serial under 500,000,I shoot it but because the barrel is perfect I use lead bullets and a target load.not all guns had a problem it depended on the day and person heat treating the receiver.

March 15, 2009, 07:02 AM
I'm confused about that...what do you mean "no broken 03 after 1929"? I don't understand what you're saying

I know that it is something of a rule of thumb to not shoot 03s that have an s/n under 1,000,000 but I do not understand this "8mm ammo" reference you have made. The 1903 is chambered for M2 ball, .30-06

I am not an 03 expert by any means but I have a long history with them for a 37 year old...the 03A3 in the photo above (taken summer '08) is the first firearm I ever fired. I was 9 :) That thing is slick as snot and accurate as all git-out...but I've never seen an 03 chambered for 8mm

Nice Eddystone by the way, M4Sherman

March 15, 2009, 09:17 AM
I've always heard that 03's above serial number 800,000 (Springfield) and 286,506 (Rock Island) were double heat treated and hence considered "safe".
I put safe in quotes, as even late Springfield receivers have failed, as have Mauser, Arisaka, Enfield, Carcano, and Mosin Nagant receivers.

March 15, 2009, 04:58 PM
[I'm confused about that...what do you mean "no broken 03 after 1929"? I don't understand what you're saying]

Most likely a reference to the US Ordinance Dept recall of all low-numbered 1903's in service for re-heatreating. The recall, however, doesn;t guarantee that ALL were done - as (for instance) the USMC didn't return theirs.

[I know that it is something of a rule of thumb to not shoot 03s that have an s/n under 1,000,000 but I do not understand this "8mm ammo" reference you have made.]

Some folks have forced German Mauser 8x57 ammo into the .30-06 chamber, and fired it, figuring "military ammo - it must be OK".
8mm-.323"vs .30" bore.


September 16, 2009, 11:01 PM

New here, this thread caught my eye, am trying to value a Rock Inland 1903, barrel is stamped RIA , the flaming bomb and 8-18, SN# is 317XXX, according to the SN# search I did the rifle was produced in 1918, rifle has not been sanded, has a p in circle stamp and a triangle with a 1 on the stock and has a great bore. Is about a 80% or better condition rifle.

My questions is about its stamps

The bolt is stamped R and has only one number on it a 14. Do not see any other numbers on it, is this correct for a early 03?, safety and sights are stamped R, front barrel band is stamped U. See no stamps on the bottom metal, Is this correct for a early 03?

It's bayonet is marked SA, the flaming bomb , 1918

Does the rifle sound original?. Thanks for any help.


September 18, 2009, 05:23 AM
The study of 1903/03a3 rifles is a consuming hobby. There are certainly more knowledgeable folk than I who may chime in.
That unsanded stock makes me wonder. There should be a stamp on the stock indicating final inspection. The stamp is "usually found on the left side of the stock, just to the rear of the cut-off recess." (Brophy). It may take any of a number of forms but usually involves the initials of the inspector.
The bayonet, marked SA, is from Springfield Armory. The other stamps are normal inspection stamps.

F. Guffey
September 18, 2009, 12:16 PM

F. Guffey

F. Guffey
September 18, 2009, 12:27 PM


"319921 (First SN of August, 1918 - Hatcher's Notebook pg 220) First Nickel Steel (NS) receiver made soon after"




TOTAL: 346000

Introduction of improved heat treatment at SN285507.

Introduction of nickel steel at SN319921.

F. Guffey

James K
September 18, 2009, 12:42 PM
The reference to "8mm" is to the fact that at least one single heat treated M1903 blew up when an 8mm Mauser round was fired in it. At least that is what the investigation reported. It is not possible to chamber 8mm in most .30-'06 chambers but I suppose an oversize chamber, combined with an undersize round might allow it. Pressure would, of course be fairly high, and I assume the case let go, wrecking the rifle.

But most of the blown '03's failed while firing .30 ammunition, though some of that also was defective. There have been two post-WWII reports of SHT rifles blowing with target loads of a lead bullet and 9-10 grains of Bullseye. The rapid burn rate of the Bullseye created a sharp shock that was too much for the brittle steel of the receiver.


September 19, 2009, 04:56 PM
Paid $35 for my old 1903 back in the early 80's.

Springfield Armory,made in 1919. Had the correct leather sling, 4 groove barrel and the original cleaning kit. Loved it, shot it, ( a lot ). Barrel wasn't the prettiest I've ever seen but the old gun didn't care.

Got to where I could bust a rock the size of a refrigerator at 1,000 yards with it 3 out 5 shots, depending on how many beers I'd had before I torched off. Save the lectures please. I was the only thing alive for several miles in any direction back then.

Some old boy popped off one day a few years back and said he'd give me 500 bucks for that rifle. I told him 550 and it was his. He owns it now.

Wish I still had it.

I've still got my Garand though.

September 19, 2009, 06:28 PM
the 1929 date was suposed to be the last date an 03 burst.I would suspect that some one might drive an 8 mm in if forced hard enuf.the case is not the problem the bullet was.
I belive 1,000,000+ 1903 were made and some what 3,500,000 1917s JIM may correct me as I am a little older and may forget.so most troops used 1917 not 1903.

James K
September 19, 2009, 09:52 PM
I don't know (nor does anyone else) the last date a SHT '03 let go; it might not be here yet. 1929 was probably the last incident written up, but I doubt anyone cared much during WWII and of course no one kept track after the rifle was no longer in service. I have seen two reports of blow ups in the American Rifleman since about 1950 (when I joined the NRA) but no one is actually keeping track so there may have been more. FWIW, both of those involved target loads with pistol powder and cast lead bullets.


September 19, 2009, 11:59 PM
800,000 is an arbitrary number selected as the cut off for double heat reated receivers; The exact serial number is actually unkown other than it was "around 800,000."

There was a very good article written a number of years back and published in one of the more obscure collector's periodicals about a Springfield receiver that DID let go and was in the s/n range of 813,000. It was subjected to advanced tests and found to be "improperly" heat treated and very brittle. Recovered fractured pieces were found to exhibit the same crystallization typical of other low number receivers that had failed.

The point being: 800,000 was an arbitrary number that was picked as no accurate records were kept. The account of the 813,000 range gun strongly indicates that improperly heat treated receivers actually surpassed the 800,000 number.

September 20, 2009, 05:06 AM
IIRC, 1929 is the year that the ordinance report that recommended not firing the SHT receivers was released. Hatcher's Notebook (1946), which I do not have near me at the moment, details all the reports (67, I believe) of failure up to the date of the book.
I am ready to be corrected about the date of the Ordinance report but I believe it is correct.

September 20, 2009, 07:57 AM
This will shed some light on what is mostly myth!


September 22, 2009, 02:17 AM
Thanks for the feedback, had two collectors look at the rifle last weekend, both confirmed rifle is a all original, all matching 1918 Rock Island in 80% condition, my bluebook puts a 80% pre 1930 at $3000., but looks like $1,200-2,000 is the gunbroker price range. Any thoughts as to value?

Thanks again, remi

September 22, 2009, 04:17 AM
You are right to look at the "gunbroker" value as opposed to the Blue Book.
About value - do you really want to sell it?

September 23, 2009, 01:22 AM
The friend who own's this rifle wants to sale off his collection at this time so his family does not have to deal with it later. He is a 91 year old WWII vet and has a large collection of military rifles and WWII items. I am trying to survey his items and get him fair market value. He has some amazing stuff.

Thanks, remi

September 23, 2009, 08:56 AM
I'd head over here: http://www.milsurps.com/forumdisplay.php?f=112 to find out more than you ever wanted to know about '03s. Those guys are well beyond obsessive. And they're nice people, too.