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Old December 30, 2015, 11:35 PM   #1
jmicheals32
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1920 Springfield 1903 MKI

I recently acquired my grandpa's old 1903, and I'm trying to find out some more about it. The serial (11665XX) and barrel match up as being built in 1920, but the stock is sporterized (Bishop, very well done by the way). I think the sight is a Lyman 57, which I think is not original. It's in great condition, with a smooth, shiny bore.

He gave it to me for deer hunting, but now I'm thinking that may not be the best choice. Maybe sell it, or rebuild it?

Can anyone tell me anything about this gun? Value, thoughts, suggestions, etc.

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Old December 31, 2015, 12:06 AM   #2
gyvel
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Edit: I forgot to mention the most important thing: It's a WWI "MK I" Springfield rifle that was constructed to use the Pedersen device, a slip-in replacement for the bolt that allowed the rifle to shoot a pistol size round semiautomatically. The empties would be ejected out of the port on the left side of the receiver. (If you were aware of this, please excuse the redundancy.)

It's been reblued, it's had the receiver drilled and tapped for the Lyman peep sight, so there's no point in trying to restore it.

First off, the holes drilled for the sight would have to be filled in with weld. Next, the high gloss salts blue would have to refinished with original rust blue. Then you would have to find a correct Mk I stock, plus all the original stock hardware such as handguards, barrel bands, retainers, etc. I noticed that your bolt is a Remington replacement, so there's something else. The original barrel would have had a 1903 "sliding ladder" sight mounted on it, forward of the receiver. Assuming that there has been no turning of the barrel to modify the barrel contour, the very least would be an original 1903 sight assembly necessary. If the barrel was recontoured, then a complete barrel replacement would be necessary.

To make it completely original, the Mk I trigger/action parts would probably have to be located as well.

Quite frankly, if the bore is nice and shiny as you say and the headspace is good, it looks to me to be an excellent hunting rifle. Mk I receivers were nickel steel and are very strong. That will make a hunting rifle that will probably outlast you and your grandkids.

Bottom line: You would spend probably close to $2000.00 to "restore" a rifle that would be worth at the most $400-500.00 because of the "restoration." Unfortunately, no collector would want it for that reason, unless they were desperate to have a "fill-in" piece for their collection.
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Last edited by gyvel; December 31, 2015 at 07:44 PM.
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Old December 31, 2015, 03:17 AM   #3
jmicheals32
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Thanks Gyvel for the info. It helps point me in the right direction. I love the heritage of anything passed down. My grandpa got it in 1957, and hunted deer with it in his younger years.

I think I'll most likely move ahead with drilling and tapping for a scope, but I'm wondering, will I need to replace or rework the bolt handle to get it to clear any optic?

Also, there is a small groove on the barrel just past the serial number (see pic). Is this normal from production?

Thanks.

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Old December 31, 2015, 08:22 AM   #4
highpower3006
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gyvel is right. There are just too many modifications to that rifle to ever make the price of restoring it cost effective. In addition to having the receiver drilled and tapped for the rear sight and the original stock being long gone, it has a WWII Remington bolt instead of the original J5.

I have never seen a Mk1 stock that was separate from a rifle and if you did find one, it would probably bring serious money. The last J5 marked bolt I saw sell went for $150 and that was for a stripped bolt not a complete one. "03 rear sights complete with the base seem to sell for $60-100. This is all not to mention that it has been refinished.

Most likely that Mk1 wasn't "original" when your grandfather got it anyway. After the idea of the sub caliber device was scrapped, the Mk1's went into regular service and as they went through various rebuilds, the parts unique to them were swapped out for standard '03 parts.

I was lucky enough to find an original, correct Mk1 last year and I only paid eight bills for it.

Some of the features unique to Mk1 rifles:

Stock cut to clear the ejection port. Most Mk1's have the "WJS" cartouche.



Bolt marked "J5" on the lug:


Cut off and spindle are unique to Mk1:
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Old December 31, 2015, 11:11 AM   #5
RickB
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That sporterized '03 is a cool piece. If it will shoot half as good as it looks, I'd definitely use it for hunting.
I have my uncle's Marlin 336 from the mid-'40s, also fitted with a receiver sight, and wouldn't hesitate to use it.
Is the J5 bolt specific to the Mk. 1? I have one that's been completely converted to normal '03 specs but for the ejection port, and though the barrel and receiver appear to be parkerized, the bolt is blued, the headspace isn't as good as it should be, and I've wondered if it's not the original bolt.
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Old December 31, 2015, 11:38 AM   #6
kilimanjaro
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Keep it, you've got the best deer rifle made.

Also a good target rifle.

Put a good Leupold scope on it, you're golden.
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Old December 31, 2015, 12:46 PM   #7
highpower3006
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Quote:
Is the J5 bolt specific to the Mk. 1?
No it's not, The bolts with the J5 heat lot code were used from early 1918 to late '18/early '19. They were also used in national match rifles in 1919 and due to there having been extra ones made, they were used up through 1924 in NM rifles. Mk1 production was mixed in with regular '03's so there is no specific block of numbers allocated just for the Mk1's. All parts that are not specific to the Mk1 are the same as a standard '03.

Other heat lot coded bolts used during the same time period were "L2, L5, L9" (where the "L" looks like an upside down 7) and J6. So actually I misspoke when I said it had to be a J5 bolt to be correct. Nevertheless, the OP's rifle has a WWII Remington bolt which, while not "correct" will work just fine.
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Old December 31, 2015, 07:46 PM   #8
gyvel
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Quote:
Also, there is a small groove on the barrel just past the serial number (see pic). Is this normal from production?
The grooves are for locator pins to line up the rear sight assembly correctly. Pins are laid in the grooves and corresponding grooves in the rear sight assembly slide over them.
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Old January 1, 2016, 01:38 PM   #9
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So it's a service barrel that's been turned down to lighten it, which explains the rather 'as issued' front sight, which most sportsmen would have replaced with something better.
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Old January 1, 2016, 02:44 PM   #10
James K
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Hi, gyvel and folks,

That hole is for the sight fixed base spline pin, and I have never been able to figure out its purpose. It was drilled at the joint of the barrel and fixed base after the fixed base had already been installed and secured by the securing pin at its lower front. So the spline pin seems to have no purpose except perhaps to double insure against movement of the fixed base during barrel installation.

Jim
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Old January 1, 2016, 03:05 PM   #11
James K
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OK, I now understand; the little bulb came on!

I went by the operation numbers at Springfield, and Operation 41 is installing the securing pin, while Operation 44 is drilling the spline pin hole. But I didn't read the route sheet, which says Operation 44 comes before Operation 41, so the spline pin is installed first and keeps the fixed base from turning while the securing pin hole is drilled. That makes sense because drilling a hole in a rounded surface will try to torque the work.

Jim
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Old January 1, 2016, 07:39 PM   #12
mete
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Yours, like mine ,makes a great hunter.Suitable for anything in NA. Shoot and enjoy it !!
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Old January 2, 2016, 03:28 AM   #13
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it should make an excellent hunting rifle unless you hunt open fields and prairie. Lyman sights are good and there is a reason so many people ripped off the factory sights and replaced them with lymans that cost as much as the gun did. I don't believe it would be worth restoring. the receiver had to be drilled and tapped for the sights so it would never get any of its value back and the cost of the stock in addition to all the small parts(bayonet lug, stock rings, sling swivels ETC) would be more than the total value of the gun when you were done. just keep it as is, a pretty sporter.

a friend had a MK1 that was drilled and tapped for 3 different scope mounts and was a terrible bubba sporter job. I restored it into a poorly done reproduction 1903A4 with modern glass. still has the same value it did before but it certainly has a little more flair than it did.

before


After, alongside my 1903A4 rebuild project.
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Old January 2, 2016, 11:33 AM   #14
jmicheals32
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Thanks for all the info and feedback. It's great to learn more about the details of this rifle.

Is there a certain scope mount that you would recommend? I'm planning on removing and selling the Lyman sight and adding a scope. I've been looking at an S&K no-drill mount ( http://www.thecountryshed.com/s&k_scope_mounts.htm ), but it looks like I would have to slightly alter the stock and I'm a complete newby to this.

Thanks for any advice you can offer!
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Old January 2, 2016, 11:50 AM   #15
kilimanjaro
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Just take it to a smith and have a good mount drilled and tapped in, you will end up doing that anyway. Your rifle kinda cries out for a Leupold VX1 scope, they run about $200. You won't be sorry you spent the money on a good mount and glass, cheap is not inexpensive when you have to buy something two or three times.
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Old January 2, 2016, 09:18 PM   #16
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Have you shot it? You might be surprised at how well it shoots even with the iron sights.
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