View Full Version : Stuck safety sporerized 03-A3

February 22, 2009, 09:48 AM
Being the "office gun guy" gets me some occasional deals. A coworker sold me his dad's sporterized 03-A3 that has been sitting unused for 30 years. The safety is stuck in the off (down) position. Any ideas on where the stick would be. I've never disassembed an 03 bolt before. I may have to learn how to do a total disassembly but I'd rather not right now.

February 22, 2009, 11:19 AM
IIRC the safety uses a spring-loaded ball that fits into a detent on the safety lever. A drop or two of Kroil or a good penetrating oil along the forward edge of the safety may help loose the stuck ball. I'll have to check my '03A3 to verify later tonite.

James K
February 22, 2009, 02:24 PM
It could be stuck, or there could have been something done to the gun that won't let it move. That often happens when someone replaces the cocking piece, or works on the sear or cocking piece to "improve" the trigger pull. very often that kind of work leads to sear reset failure so the rifle fires when the safety is taken off without the trigger being pulled.

If the penetrant doesn't work, and you are not knowledgeable about how that rifle works, I would advise him to take it to a gunsmith. If you mess with it and there is an accident, you could be liable for the damage.


February 22, 2009, 04:19 PM
Ok, more info. After working on it for awhile, I found that I can manually pull back the cocking piece and that will allow the safety to go up to the full safe position. I can then push it down a little and there is a little "click" sound. It appears that that is the safe "walking around position".

Does this mean that once the safety is flipped to the Off position, the only way to get it back to safe is to manually pull back on the cocking piece?

February 22, 2009, 07:03 PM
The safety isn't supposed to be able to engage, with the firing pin (the cocking piece is hooked onto the firing pin) in the forward/down/fired position - as an indication that the rifle needs to be cocked in order to fire.

The safety should easily engage, after the FP's been cocked, upon opening the bolt - then staying cocked when the bolt is closed.

If the FP/cocking knob is NOT staying "pulled back"/ cocked, after the bolt is closed (and the trigger is never pulled) - then there's an unsafe condition/problem with the trigger/sear/cocking piece, most likely due to someone fooling with it.

If it's not staying cocked, and you don't know what your doing - please take it to a gunsmith, before someone gets seriously injured or killed.


February 22, 2009, 07:05 PM
I've got it figured out. This gun had been sitting in a guy's closet for over 30 years. It just needed a really good cleaning. Thanks guys.

gunney 67
February 25, 2009, 05:21 PM
You aren't excused from this thread until you tell us how much you got the gun for so we can all be jealous.

February 25, 2009, 07:03 PM
Gunney, I should be ashamed of myself. They guy gave me the sporterized 03A3, a Marlin 1936 in 30-30 (shooter condition but needs some minor work), and a really ugly Higgins 12ga pump with the most awful choke system I ever saw. I gave him an FEG AP (PA-63 in .32ACP) and $200.

The 03A3 had an old scope that isn't worth keeping and the stock had a 2" extension piece bolted onto the rear. I've got that off now and I'm about to order a grind-to-fit recoil pad to put on it. The metal isn't too bad - nothing some work with steel wool and oil won't cure. Bore is nice and clean but a bullet inserted into the muzzle goes up to within about 1/16th of an inch of the case.

James K
February 25, 2009, 07:27 PM
Please, before you conclude that a cleaning was all that was needed, try this.

After making sure the rifle is unloaded, open and then close the bolt in the normal manner.

Then set the safety ON or swung to the right (pull back the knob if you have to). Pull the trigger. Move the safety to OFF (left). If the firing pin falls (you hear a click), the rifle is unsafe and you should check with a gunsmith before firing it.


gunney 67
February 25, 2009, 08:38 PM
OK! you done good! Now, with the ugly JC Higgins, You can have a gunsmith cut the barrel off @ 18 to 20" ( be sure it measures legal length!) and it makes a great riot 12 ga. The Higgins mag tube should hold 6 rounds with the plug out, (mine does) and it gives you seven rounds of 12ga 00buck or slugs for serious social work for about $10.00. It is cylinder bored, but mine will hit the chest of a sillouette target @ 50yds if I do my part, with slugs. If it has a vent rib, put a mid point bead on it to help with barrel alignment at extended range. You can get more elaborate with the sights, but remember, the point is to keep the costs in line with the initial cost. They might laugh you off the range at Gunsite, but it will do to ride the river with.

February 25, 2009, 08:44 PM
Jim, you have your lefts and rights mixed up. Left is On an right is off. I got the gist of your test though and mine passes.

Gunny, I thought about sawing off the barrel but a buddy offered me $50 as-is and I sold it to him. Now, I'm out about $250 total for the two rifles. It will cost $20 or so each for recoil pads (the Marlin is totally missing the buttplate) and a few more bucks to refinish the Marlin stock. I've got a nice Bushnell 3200 Elite waiting to go onto the 03. I'm still debating on whether or not to tap the Marlin for a scope. Its collector value is gone due to condition so I've got to look at it as a shooter. With 50 year old eyes, iron sights just don't cut it too well anymore.

gunney 67
February 26, 2009, 12:33 PM
Doyle: You did him a favor with the 12 ga. It's easily worth twice that.

February 26, 2009, 05:38 PM
Every 03A3 I've ever owned and shot the safety has been left and flat for off, straight up for safe and operate bolt and right and flat for safe locked bolt.



February 26, 2009, 10:48 PM
Every 03A3 I've ever owned and shot the safety has been left and flat for off, straight up for safe and operate bolt and right and flat for safe locked bolt.

This one has a sporterized scope mount safety. Almost straight up (as far left as it will go) is safe and flat to the right is fire. The original safety won't allow a scope bell to be mounted over it.