View Full Version : 1903 Springfield

March 23, 2012, 09:50 AM
I have a 1903 springfield that belonged to my late F-inlaw, a Pearl Harbor survivor and survivor of most of the Pacific Battles. It is a low number and a non shooter (91054).
I want to return this gun to it's military configuration, WWI I assume.
My questions are these: I see three types of stock, which is correct for this gun?
The gun now has a Lyman rear sight and the front appears to be original. There are no markings on the barrel. Is the Ladder type rear sight and tube the correct sight for this gun? There is no hole I can see under the barrel to fasten the rear sight. Since I don't intend to shoot it, do I need to pin the sight?
The gun now has very worn bluing, is bluing or parkerizing correct?
I plan on this being only a wall hanger so any help would be appreciated,
Thank You,

March 23, 2012, 10:48 AM
Was your FIL by any chance a Marine?

And does the receiver have a significant "punch mark" near/under the serial number?

March 23, 2012, 11:35 AM
Part of your whole issue is that it would be helpful to know whether or gun was made by SA Springfield Armory or RIA Rock Island Arsenal. Commonly the Remington pre A3 guns are called 03A1s but not by everyone.

Considering the SN of your gun, I am pretty sure it would have had the "straight" style stock. The "S" stock was later.

Standard 03s had a ladder sight in front of the receiver whereas 03 A3s had an aperture sight behind the action. I'm not sure what you mean by "sight and tube".

Early guns had a military blue, usually parkerized guns are ones that went to an arsenal for a rebuild or perhaps ones that were parked after the wars.

WWI is the era for these Springfield 03s. Them and the Enfield P17s were primary / secondary long arm issue guns for WWI. Despite the Springfield 03 being first, the Enfield P17 was made in large numbers and was more widely issued since Remington, Eddystone and Winchester had their factories set up to mass produce the Enfield P14, which was similiar but in 303 British.

March 23, 2012, 02:12 PM
There is a lot to understand about these guns so you have to go very carefully in dealing with them.

Get the full serial number. It will start with SA, RA or even RI (most likely in that order)

For the rear sight, the Springfield Armory and early Remington s made in WWII had a sleeve that went over the barrel and butted up to the receiver. It was keyed and pined and the sight mounted on top of it.

Sounds flimsy but was not and I have no idea why they thought it was better than simple screwing a sight to the barrel like others did. Cest le vie.

Latter Remington s in WWII dropped that and had a "rail" or reverse dovetail on the rear receiver bridge and mounted a peeper to that and much better

This group has great resources


March 23, 2012, 03:28 PM
Updated for the CMP group (Civilian Marksmanship Program that was the conduit to the 1903s into civilian hands)


Very helpful and one of the top if not the top expert in the country aka Rick the Librarian that can give you solid information.

March 23, 2012, 03:35 PM
Thanks so far for the information.
My F-inlaw was on the Neosha, not sunk.
I should have said sight and sleeve not tube.
The receiver says "US Springfield Armory Model 1903 91054"
There are no other markings or punch marks on it.
I will do more research before I do anything to this gun.
thanks, Ken

March 23, 2012, 03:47 PM
Sorry, theree are stampings underneath the receiver in no order, Q A K L Z U C O X +

March 23, 2012, 04:08 PM
No markings on the barrel? Without a picture everything is a guess.

You could have a A3 barrel installed or you could have an 03 which the sight base was taken off. Or you may have an aftermarket barrel.

The rear sight base sleeve was pinned on, there should be a side to side groove under the barrel where the pin went through.

Original 03 barrels are very hard to find and very expensive. Sight bases are not cheap either.

Why not just leave the Lyman on the back and leave as is?

A replica straight grip stock will be $200.00 or so. Handguards, $40.00. Won't be cheap restoring this to a military configuration.

March 23, 2012, 04:10 PM
That's a 1st-Year-of-Production rifle.

I had earlier thought it might have been one the Marine armorers had inspected and re-barreled for extended
Pacific combat. (a punch mark under the serial # is testament to that) If so, it would have fallen into that
very narrow band of low-numbered Springfields which had literally "been through the wars" to where its very
survival "likely" put its receiver into the "Good Ones" category.

Early 5-digit Springfields looked like this:

In any case, restore it and hang onto it.

March 23, 2012, 04:44 PM
"Return this gun to its military configuration" ? Without pictures, we can only guess. Has the gun been sporterized? If not, remember that a lot of older M1903s were subject to what Uncle Sam calls "Clean and Repair" and an M1903 that was rebuilt by Uncle Sam's armorers is not "straight from the Armory" but is in "military configuration". I have an M1903 made in 1918 with the "scant grip" stock. Not "armory" correct for 1918 but "military configuration" correct. Yours may be correct for WWII but not the year it was made.
Regarding the shootability of your Low Number Springield, this is something we will debate until The Crack of Doom without resolution. My understanding from reading Hatcher's Notebook was that the problem was limited to
2-3 pre WWI production years, others beg to differ.

March 23, 2012, 07:07 PM
If it has a front sight look very carefully just behind it.

If its the original barrel its possible that there will be faint writing.
Same true if replacement barrel but could be RIA or ?

Format would be


Bomb figure (flaming bomb of some kind varies by er)

4-21 (in my case).

The exact format varies by era but its the same format. I don't have my best reference handy.

TX Hunter
March 23, 2012, 07:24 PM
Would you please post a picture of what you have, it would be easier to determine whats needed for your restoration.
And thank you for doing it. :)

March 24, 2012, 03:52 PM
No luck uploading pictures.
Thanks for the information.

March 25, 2012, 09:33 AM
The gun now has a Lyman rear sight and the front appears to be original. There are no markings on the barrel.

This rifle may have been used in some civilian marksmanship program. The Lyman #48 was introduced in 1911 specifically for the M1903 in civilian hands. Unmarked barrel may be a after market maker.

In military trim this late 1918 made rifle would wear a S stock with grasping grooves. Stock could have DAL or FBA acceptance stamp. Straight or bent handle bolt with punch mark and either RB or BOQ finish. Receiver would be BOQ (black oil quench) or BPK (black Parker Rust Proofing)


March 25, 2012, 09:53 AM
I have a 1903 springfield that belonged to my late F-inlaw, a Pearl Harbor survivor and survivor
of most of the Pacific Battles. It is a low number and a non shooter (91054). I want to return this
gun to it's military configuration, WWI I assume.

late 1918 made rifle

If the OP's rifle is really a 5-digit serial number as he listed, its receiver is really first year ever produced (1903), and significant.

As noted in the link below, it might well have been of ramrod bayonet era.

March 25, 2012, 02:35 PM
I haven't had any luck uploading pictures to this response so I've put the pictures on photobucket.


March 25, 2012, 08:26 PM
My bad... 1905/3rd production year
Year before mine.

March 25, 2012, 08:43 PM
Judging from the pictures, your rifle looks like was sporterized by a master craftsman and is best left as is.

March 25, 2012, 10:43 PM
Check very closely right behind the front sight on top. Magnifying glass. Its possible its been polished down but there may be faint markings. May be some way to bring it out magnetic particles or some such.

I have inherited a similar Sporter. 1921, we have pictures of it being used to hunt in 1928.

Rear sight is a Lyamn 34 not the 48, but oddity of being drilled and tapped for a Winchester scope on the front barrell.

Would appear to have been used as a target rifle before being sold or given off as a hunting rifle (a fair amount of shooting wear and would guess 200 rounds or less hunting)

Reference in this case if "Folk Art" gun as it has hand carving. Nothing true to form, but more the standard things got done.

Quite an interesting piece and am working on using the scope mounts to scope it so I can shoot it. I can keep it original that way. Receiver and barrel in this case match up per dates. Fun stuff.

Definitely keep as is, no value in making it a reproduction, I think some day the Sporters will become a fully appreciated genre of their own and a nice one like that more so (you should see my dads, so many drillings on the receiver it looks like a pincushion and only of value to his kids)

March 26, 2012, 08:28 AM
If the OP's rifle is really a 5-digit serial number as he listed, its receiver is really first year ever produced (1903), and significant.

Your right, I saw a X at the end of that number, my bad.

#91054 is 1906 by my books.

The dates on the bowersweapons web site are not correct. They do not match the serial number data base I have in several printed '03 books. It's way off on the early build numbers. Refer to Harrison's "The Collectable '03" and Canfield's " '03 Springfield Service Rifle". These two books are regarded as the bible for '03 collectors.

These early '03's were made in 30.03 and later converted to 30.06 (barrels cut back .200 and re-chambered). The 30.06 standard was not established until 1907.

91054 would have been a altered rod bayonet rifle.(under 95000)

The OP's rifle is a custom build so the point is moot.

To the OP, keep this rifle as is. Excellent example of a early post war custom made rifle. To bad they used a very rare receiver to build on. Of course these were not rare when it was built.

March 26, 2012, 08:51 AM
It will remain as is.
thanks to you all.

March 27, 2012, 10:17 PM
Curious if the stock has two cross bolts in it?

Looks a lot like mine but several steps up quality wise. One to treasure for sure.

March 28, 2012, 06:05 AM
kenham, this might help


Doing that would result in this; the image is from your album, not mine:


March 28, 2012, 07:09 AM
Curious if the stock has two cross bolts in it?

If you enlarge the photo of the stock you can see it had two lugs and they appear to have been plugged with a wood dowel.

March 29, 2012, 11:37 AM
I could not make out what was going on. Interesting

March 30, 2012, 11:43 AM
Thanks again for the "post" pointers. The stock does have two spots where there looks to be some kind of filler filling the holes.

March 30, 2012, 12:56 PM

I would leave it "as-is", but remove the forward section of the firing pin for safety, before placing it in a position of honor in your home.

While eminently shootable with properly handloaded ammo, I would always be leery that someday in the absense of more knowledgeable folks, some innocent may fire full-power ammo in it, and harm themselves or some bystander needlessly.


March 30, 2012, 01:20 PM
I like the looks of the rifle, I would not change it. Looks a lot like a Springfield Sporter with the Lyman 48S.

TX Hunter
April 1, 2012, 08:16 AM
Its a beautifull sporter, In this case I would leave it as is, anyway It is a link to your Father in Law. I am lucky and have been blessed with a wonderfull Father in Law, that I love very much.