View Full Version : 1903 Rock Island Arsenal Help

November 18, 2010, 03:13 AM
I think I have this rifle's history together somewhat but . . .

Rock Island Arsenal receiver ser #4121**

very faint cartouche above trigger FJA in a box with a much more prominent AAM in block letters somewhat over the top of it. Further forward on the same side a RA-P

two proofs - a faint circle P and a prominent block letter P no circle.

In front of the floor plate a 2 in a box (very small) next to it a much more faint 24(?) in a box in front of those a very small circle with something in it.

On the front of the stock there is a 2 , on the front sight there is a 2, H on the bayonette lug.

Nothing that I could find on the bolt (bent bolt).

Ideas? Could this be a Remington built Rock Island?

I believe the barrel is a High Standard HS over flaming bomb over 10-44

James K
November 18, 2010, 04:27 PM
A lot of history there. The rifle was first made at Rock Island Arsenal, probably in 1920. Remington built rifles were made on old RIA machinery, but they were marked Remington, not RIA. The barrel is a WWII replacement barrel, made by High Standard in October, 1944.

The stock is not original to the rifle; it was probably on a Remington rifle, and a rifle it was on later (not necessarily the one it is on now) was rebuilt at Augusta Arsenal. The Raritan Arsenal mark on the stock may mean that the rifle it was on was also rebuilt there or only that it was proof fired there before sale through the old DCM.


November 18, 2010, 05:24 PM

Your statement regarding the stock would be due to the FJA cartouche? Making it a WWII stock originally made for a Remington?

You said the rebuild was Augusta Arsenal presumably because of the AAM cartouche? I haven't seen anything that identifies that those letters were used for the Augusta Arsenal.

What about the small numbers in front of the floor plate?

James K
November 18, 2010, 10:23 PM
Then-Col. Frank J. Atwood served as commander of the Rochester Ordnance District from June, 1942 through March, 1946, so his initials would have been on either a Remington M1903 Modified or an M1903A3 (Remington or S-C). The stock could be either since M1903A3 stocks were the "combo" type that could be used for either rifle. But his initials were not used on spare stocks or on rebuilt rifles, so the stock is not correct for a Rock Island Arsenal rifle.

The Augusta Arsenal inspection mark was actually "AA" with the third letter being the initial of the inspector, so it could be anything.

The trigger guard marks are probably those used by Remington, indicating that the guard is from an M1903 or M1903 Modified made by that company and also probably not original to the rifle. The H on the bayonet lug means "hardened."

In short, it is a parts gun.

(BTW, that RIA serial is well above the single-heat treatment range, so the receiver is not a "low number.")


November 19, 2010, 12:47 PM
As usual, Jim gives a very accurate description when he answers a post. But I'll throw this in the mix about your 03, your receiver was never a completed rifle by RI. The last completed rifle by RI using their parts was serial number 346779. They made receivers with serial numbers thru 445000. These "over run" receivers were finished using spare parts and parts purchased from others. Your stock is marked as an arsenal rebuild. If you look at the receiver where the serial number is, just below it should a small ping mark on the receiver. If it has more than one ping mark, each ping is how many times the receiver has been rebuilt. I've seen as many as 4 pings but rare is an 03 of any kind that hasn't been rebuilt. The history and the heavy usage of the 03's during 2 wars makes a non rebuilt a rarity.

James K
November 19, 2010, 01:37 PM
All RIA production is in sort of a gray area, but Ferris, who has done more than anyone to clear the fog, says that the highest RIA serial number actually stamped on a receiver was 430742, on July 31, 1919. It seems likely that receiver manufacture was allowed to run to the end of the fiscal year (July31), since funds would already have been appropriated. Rifle assembly was supposed to have ended on May 31, 1919, but seems to have actually continued into 1921. (Hatcher reports RIA 445136 as burst during 1918, but that is apparently an error since that serial number was never reached.)

Some RIA-marked but unfinished and un-numbered receivers were transferred to Springfield, and made into rifles with Springfield serial numbers in the 1, 200,xxx range, confusing the issue still further.

All of this really emphasizes a point that collectors can't seem to grasp - the government factories, SA and RIA, simply didn't give a damn about serial numbers. They were seen as a means of inventory control at the using unit, not as a means of tracking production or providing information for future collectors. Receivers would be made, numbered, hardened and finished, then put on the shelf for use if and when needed. Assembly was not by serial number order, it was almost random, with LIFO probably common.

(FWIW, that "ping" mark was applied to indicate the rifle had passed proof; the first was put on at the factory, so it does not indicate a rebuild. The use of the "ping" on rebuilds was not consistent; many obviously rebuilt rifles have only one, and the lack of others does not indicate they were not rebuilt.)