View Full Version : 1903 springfield repair

March 25, 2011, 08:55 PM
Fixing my grandfathers sporterized springfield. Replaced stock and missing front ramp. I was drifting in front sight and noticed my sight was cocked! I grabbed the barrel and it turns out! What do I do? If I thighten it will my head spacing be ok? And How tight? Do I need lock tight? Or should I just admit defeat and take to a gunsmith?

March 26, 2011, 12:21 AM
The barrel needs to be tight, otherwise the rifle is unsafe. The rifle is supposed to headspaced with the barrel tight, otherwise headspace will constantly shift, the barrel threads can be affected, and escaping gas can damage you and the gun. If you are not familiar with proper firearms repair, take it to a smith.

March 26, 2011, 12:35 PM
FWIW, "tight" means as with the barrel in a vise, held by rosined & form-fitting barrel blocks and and the action tightened onto the barrel with the proper action wrench (fits inside).


March 26, 2011, 06:55 PM
Well, actually, Mausers and other 10 TPI barrel thread actions, the Springfield included, have been made into switch-barrel guns in the past. In these, a shallow blind hole is put in the barrel at 6:00 near the action end for the tooth of a spanner wrench. That wrench is used to tighten the barrel by hand until it finds a registration mark the smith also puts into the barrel and receiver. If the gun has both a right-hand twist barrel and right-hand barrel thread, the tendency is for rotational acceleration of the bullet to screw it in, rather than out, so it tends to stay. You may, however, have to fire a number of rounds for it to settle as much as it's going to. Such a barrel's threads are more free to vibrate up and down in the action, which is a problem, so the accuracy potential is usually limited to "hunting accuracy", meaning for medium game size kill zones and up.

If your sight was straight up and down with the barrel hand tight in the receiver, you need to take the barrel to someone who works on Garands and M14's who is accustomed to fitting an out of time loose barrel. The standard technique is to center the OD of the barrel shoulder in a 4-jaw chuck on the lathe and use a roller tool bit to raise a lip on the shoulder that will offer enough crush resistance to let you bring it back tight into the receiver with a barrel vice and action wrench. That will restore the fit without affecting the headspace.

If that's impossible because the headspace is too long when the front sight is at 12:00, the other standard technique would be set the shoulder back and extend and re-time the thread and rechamber to correct headspace. You then wind up with a slightly shorter barrel but a good fit. Before going to the expense, though, you want to know if the barrel is worth saving, since the labor is likely going to equal the price of a lower end replacement barrel anyway. If the barrel doesn't look great in a bore scope, you're better off to have a replacement barrel installed.

March 26, 2011, 07:56 PM
If your barrel turns out by hand, check to make sure the receiver ring isn't cracked.

March 27, 2011, 05:20 PM
Oh! Good point. Might be an old low-number receiver that lost it. At that point it's a wall decoration, at best, and one you better disable so nobody inadvertently tries to fire it.

March 27, 2011, 07:00 PM
Fixing my grandfathers sporterized springfield. Replaced stock and missing front ramp. I was drifting in front sight and noticed my sight was cocked! I grabbed the barrel and it turns out! EEK! :eek:

No barrel should be so loose you can turn it by hand.

Or should I just admit defeat and take to a gunsmith?

Something is real wrong, if you cannot tell, take it to someone who has more experience.

March 27, 2011, 08:02 PM
I have been shooting rifle for two weeks trying to get the right hight on the front sight. But i looked receiver over anyway nothing visible as far as cracks. Seriel number is over 900,000. So I tightened it down and put a paint mark on barrel/reciever mateing point and fired a round. The barrel did not move. I read that the force of the bullet on the barrel would cause it to tighten more. I fired nine rounds total today while adjusting the peep sight checking the barrel after every shot. the last two rounds grouped 1.2 inches at 100 yds wich surprised me. I will be making more rounds for next week end, and I will blow up some water filled milk jugs. Thanks for the replies.

F. Guffey
March 28, 2011, 04:30 PM
Head space and a loose barrel. The threads on a Springfield barrel shank and receiver is 10 threads per inch, for most is easy to keep up with, degrees can be converted to thousands, when installing a Springfield barrel I use a feeler gage, if you are interested in the amount of additional head space is created with the loose barrel use a a feeler gage to measure the gap between the front receiver ring and the shoulder at the end of the barrel shank, .001 thousands gap = .001 thousands additional head space. When the slack is removed between the receiver threads and shank threads slack is removed, the barrel shoulder and receiver ring do not crush, one of the most important factors that should not be overlooked, the barrel and receiver index, when indexed the extractor aligns with the receiver and extractor cut in the barrel.

Because of the extractor, extractor barrel cut and receiver there is a limit to how far the barrel will rotate, to remove the barrel the bolt must be removed.

The Mauser has 12 threads per inch.

F. Guffey

March 28, 2011, 06:24 PM
The threads on a Springfield barrel shank and receiver is 10 threads per inch, for most is easy to keep up with, degrees can be converted to thousands,
10 tpi = .100" per revolution = .100" per 360 degrees = .001" per 3.6 degrees = .0028" per 10 degrees

F. Guffey
March 28, 2011, 10:21 PM
Scorch, you are correct, I shut everthing down, then, and decided someone take up the slack, thanks.

F. Guffey

April 1, 2011, 02:37 AM
On a 1903 the barrel and reveiver marks index. Its not rocket seince as if the barrel and receiver is in spec around one width of the marks can be in spec. My guess is the gun had the barrel taken out or replaced and not properly torqued back in is all. It was very common to see in guns sold of just after WW-2 as they tended to sell the ones with very bad bores off first.

April 1, 2011, 03:03 AM

Please, PLEASE do NOT fire that rifle until it has had the barrel re-installed or a new barrel installed by a competent gunsmith. In addition, have that whole receiver magna-fluxed to ensure that it is not cracked.

Shooting the rifle right now is not worth your health or your life.

Please take care.

April 1, 2011, 03:15 AM
I've been reading this thread and, honestly,,,never heard of such thing as a safe -to-fire loose thread rifle
That shumltz about rare switch barrel rifles,in a springfield,SHAME!
I am on the edge, trembling with the thought that anyone here would endanger a man with a family like this. The rifle could have ruptured.
Would you like to support your family with one eye missing?

F. Guffey
April 1, 2011, 12:06 PM
Kenno, Tom started this thread on the 25th, by the 27th he has been firing this rifle for two weeks, again because of the bolt extractor there is a limit to travel because of the alignment of the extractor and extractor cut in the barrel. Change barrels?

Tight and snug? When the barrel shoulder comes in contact with the seating surface on the front of the receiver ring some think the metal of the shoulder and or on front of the receiver ring compress as the barrel is tighten, when contact is made between the two seating surfaces and the barrel is advances the two metals do not get closer together when secured, slack is removed between the threads and with additional torque things can become distorted and stress created to the point threads can be destroyed but the barrel and receiver do not get closer unless there is something between the two surfaces that is crushed.

I purchased 5 Mauser rifles for $25.00 each, I was told they were suspect, I thought I should have got some extra off because they were used and a good case could have been make for the fact they had never been cleaned, but the seller saw through that. Because they were sold as suspect I had to set up to test fire them, When I checked the receivers against the bolts the effect each bolt had on head space for one receiver was .0015 thousands, for 5 receivers and 5 bolts the difference or effect each bolt had on 5 receivers was .002 thousands. The small difference means little to nothing for most but to me it allowed me to use one barrel to test fire all 5 receivers.

I chose a Belgium 30 Gibbs barrel, this allowed me to fire form cases and test the receiver, about this time I was informed I was involved in some scary stuff, I formed the cases with the max amount of 4895IMR powder for a 150 grain bullet, but I chose to use a 200 grain bullet, after all I was testing receivers and forming cases. All the receivers held up and the cases were perfectly formed but short, in my opinion too short, the cases shortened .035 thousands in the real world, on the Internet I am told brass stretches and or flows, could be both, but, my cases shorten, although I necked them up and back down it was not required and no I was not using Mrs Tucker's.

The point? Knowing I was going to remove the barrel and start on another receiver I did not jump on the wrenches.

I could have chambered 5 barrels for one receiver with 5 different chambers AND used a spanner type wrench to remove and or secure the barrel, I do believe without practice I could torque/secure the barrels the same every time, the Germans built take down pistols with the barrel in two pieces, but, that was Germans.

F. Guffey

April 1, 2011, 10:27 PM
That shumltz about rare switch barrel rifles,in a springfield,SHAME!

You need to read more.

A good friend of mine owns a 98 Mauser switch barrel in .30-06 and .35 Whelen that JIm Caudill put together for him. It works just fine. This is something that used to be a pretty common practice between the World Wars, and was a strategy for saving weight when using more than one caliber. I think it has also been more popular in some countries where owning a number of guns is discouraged or expensive. I'm not sure why it lost popularity here other than it is difficult to get top accuracy from a barrel that is only tightened with a hand wrench, but fair hunting accuracy is perfectly obtainable.

The chamber itself is in the barrel which contains the pressure just fine. When you tighten threads the normal way, the greatest load from the installation torque is in the last turn of the thread near the barrel shoulder. It diminishes with every subsequent turn because the greater length of steel to the shoulder stretches. This is usually called barrel draw. Kunhausen puts it at 0.004" for a standard torque spec. That draw, as Mr. Guffey points out, will cause some degree of distortion, but what it does not do is change headspace in a rimless cartridge appreciably. That's because the shoulder of the case inside the chamber is deeper in the barrel than the barrel shoulder so it is not being drawn back after the barrel shoulder contacts the front receiver ring, as Mr. Guffey also explained.

Hatcher's old experiment extending headspace in the Springfield out 0.050" with a special reamer showed it will not create a hazard for new brass. Whether or not unacceptable pressure ring thinning results in the brass that might render it unreloadable has to be checked, but, generally. it will headspace on the extractor hook and be just fine for reloading in that same chamber, only. Consider that fireforming Ackley Improved cases moves metal a lot. There is no inherent danger in it. Certainly the microscopic differences in headspace from hand tight vs. barrel vice tight are far less.

James K
April 2, 2011, 08:18 PM
Is the barrel a GI barrel? If so, there will either be a draw line on the left side of the barrel shoulder or, if the rear sight base is installed, there will be a "shelf" on the sight base itself at 90 degrees off the vertical to the left.

That line or that shelf must line up with the draw line on the bottom of the receiver. If it does, and the barrel is not tight, it is a takeoff barrel and the shoulder can be rolled (as Unclenick says). Headspace might or might not be right, in which case other steps have to be taken depending on the amount and type of headspace (too much or too little).

But it is that draw line that ensures the front sight and extractor cut will be in the right position when the barrel is installed.


F. Guffey
April 4, 2011, 06:30 PM
Switch Barrel Rifles:

Unclenick, The Shot Gun News has two advertisements on CD or PDF Featuring Reid Coffield, they say it is a 6 part how to guide for the Switch-Barrel Mauser.

Page #42 and Page #148 Volume 65 March 20, 2011

Tom288 started this thread on March 25.

F. Guffey

James K
April 4, 2011, 06:57 PM
Oooops! The receiver witness mark (draw line) on the M1903 is on the left side, not the bottom. (Was I thinking of the Luger, maybe???)


April 5, 2011, 02:41 PM
Mr. Guffey,

Thanks for the heads up!


James K
April 5, 2011, 03:13 PM
Switch barrel guns were popular in the same era as takedown guns. In the days when hunters travelled by train, a compact gun case was highly desireable as it would easily fit into the overhead rack or beside the owner. Obviously, if a rifle or shotgun can be made as a takedown, it is not much of a stretch to make another barrel in any caliber that has the same breech face.

But, the OP is not interested in building such a rifle, only in properly installing a barrel on a Model 1903. Unclenick's advice is good, but setting the barrel back is not really an option if the configuration of the original rifle is to be retained. If the rifle is a Model 1903, the rear sight base has to be removed and replaced, plus the front sight has to be kept aligned. Then the bayonet will not fit properly since the barrel will be too short. The OP's best bet may be to either roll the shoulder as Unclenick suggests, or try to find another barrel that will draw up and headspace properly.


April 5, 2011, 09:50 PM
I just assumed it was either an A3, because he only notice the cocked sight when he put the new blade in, or that it was sporterized to the point of the ladder being gone and some kind of aftermarket receiver sight having been put on the rear. If the barrel has a wrench hole or notch, maybe it was set up as a take-down gun for travel in the first place? Remembering my own granddad's old 16 mm B&W home movies of western trips with Indian guides and the whole nine yards, the mule pack-out came to mind first, but of course the train travel to get out west would have been a factor too.

James K
April 6, 2011, 02:29 PM
Hi, Unclenick,

I also made some assumptions, maybe without basis. I assumed "1903" meant just that, and also that Tom was trying to restore the rifle to its military configuration. I think a lot more info is needed, like whether the barrel is the original one or one he is installing to replace a cut down or sporterized one.