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Old October 28, 2018, 04:58 PM   #1
Old 454
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1903a3 and M1917

Will be heading to the gun show in Tulsa in November.

Will be looking to buy a 1903a3 and or a M1917.

I kinda know a bit about the 1903ae but dont know much at all about the M1917.

Anyone have a few pointers as to what to look for especially the M1917

Thanks much in advance
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Old October 28, 2018, 05:43 PM   #2
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Phew, tough one. While its got lets variation than a 1903, it does have all the same things you look for, but different aspects.

The best move (if time permits) is Ferris Book on the 1917.

Both rifles have the issue if shot with blanks for ceremonial purposes the throat is gone (uslay they have been shot for 30 years or more so lots of blanks)

Unfortunately the muzzle looks wonderful the the barrel sans a bore scope looks fine as well. The lob bullets sideways at 25 yards. The best tool is a Throat Erosion gauge, how much the bolt looks to have been cycle vs the rest of the condition is a clue.

Mixed parts versions are most predominant. People will build up an all matching parts gun and there is no telling if its artificial or not (toss up on the honesty of that)

Bad looking bores can be brought back to good looking with the right cleaning products.

They are easier to shoot as the peep is very good and the radius is very long.

They came in 3 mfg variations, Winchester, Remington and Eddystone . W the least built, Eddystone the most.

Original stocks will have the mfg letter on the front, though its very common to have been moved out of them.

A clean no mark stock other than the Eagle stamp is highly desirable.

Bad stocks are an issue as stocks are very expensive and no one makes aftermarket any more (Boyds did at one time) - a good stock will go in the $350 ragne.

Barrel dates and SNs can be as much as 3 months apart easily.

A different mfg barrel from the receiver usually means its been altered, there were not a lot of spare barrels made (until WWII)

WWII due to rifle shortage, they dusted them off, found a lot of bad barrels from storage corrosion and JA, RI and HS (I believe) made barrel for them. JA is a two grove standard right twist. RI and HS I think were 4. No dates on them.

They are good barrels. two grove shoots as good as the 4.

The original were 5 grove and left twist as that was the machinery from the Pattern 14 that proceeded it (303 for the Brits)

Cock on close action per SMLE , if it cocks on open its been altered (not a show stopper just not standard, there were conversion and still are)

Bolt is not smooth, its a nickle steel on bolt and the receiver. Kind of sticky. There are latter bolts all steel that I understand are better.

Head space is very generous, pretty much will close the bolt on a field reject gauge. Normal.

Do not try to use a head space gauge on them unless you know how to take the firing pin (striker assembly) out. The cock on close will crush the gauge.

They are solid guns, contra to the Urban Legends, Edsystones are not prone to cracking (all are if the right tools not used for taking the original barrel off regardless of who did it)

Most were re-arsenaled so have mixed parts and likely not the original finish (a variation on parkerized ). If its all blue black you got an untouched one.

Almost 100% of the parts have a id of mfg stamp on them (W, R, E). Some have numbers only, Ferris has a breakdown (400 numbers were Winchester)

None of the mfgs shared barrels, so if its got a non receiver mfg barrel on it, its been changed, they did not ship to anyone else to make up for shortages (of any parts). Ech mfgs was on their own. Remington and Eddystone were associated companies but totally separate production (and no where close location wise) and no sharing.

Winchester is a bit more valuable as it was the least produces (500k or so)

Remington next with 650k

Eddystone was a 1.4 or 1.6 million.

Condition trumps mfg.

Fun guns to shoot and accurate, easier on old eyes with the peep and I can sort of shoot them at 75 and 100 yards (my eyes don't work so good for iron sights)

Occasionally you will fine a P14 variation or parts (stock) with 1917 stuff mixed up and in.
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Old October 28, 2018, 06:06 PM   #3
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Thank you much... that's alot fi digest...lolool... but very informative.

I just hope I can find a decent M1917.

My friend got two 1903a3 last year at the Tulsa gun show both were unissued. Beautiful rifles.

I am just looking for good solid shooters.
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Old October 29, 2018, 04:22 AM   #4
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About the only thing I can think of that RC20 didn't mention was a 'Star' stamp. Early 17's were fielded and are apparently common that have a star stamped on the left side of the receiver IIRC. That stamp indicates that the early rifles had parts hand fitted before they got all the bugs worked out to make them all 100% parts interchangeable with each other.

3 or 4 years ago (?) I bought a 1917 minus the south end of the stock which was broken off at the wrist. Boyds had them available at the time and it took a bit of work, time, effort, and judicious eyeballing to get all the metal seated correctly. Regardless of having the front sight drifted WAY over to the right, mine shoots wonderfully. It does get quite heavy if you become to inclined to shoot it in a HP Vintage rifle match. It's not so much the weight, but the distance between the buttplate and trigger is long, and the 26" barrel makes it tedious and danged uncomfortable to maintain good mounting and sight picture while slung up in prone slow-fire. Shoots like a dream in sitting position though.
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Old October 29, 2018, 06:10 AM   #5
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Yes the M1917 is a bit long.

It amazing that they are still in use in Greenland with there sled patrols.Its there rifle of choice for the patrol
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Old October 29, 2018, 09:46 AM   #6
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The Star would be exclusive to Winchester who jumped the gun before all the parts commonality issues were worked out.

Weight wise its shade over the 1903 but not nearly as handy (that 2 inches seem to have an outlying affect. I just bench shoot em so not an issue for me.

I never did figure out why the Sled Patrols got enamored with it. Length of 22 inches would be better, bolt as noted is not nearly as good functioning as a 1903 or a Mauser.

Don't get me wrong, for some reason it grabs me and is my favorite of the Mil Surplus.

My mental picture of it was that if I was a sniper it would be my gun of choice and if I was in closer combat the 1903 would be (or the K-31!)

What stunned me when I got into learning about them was that 75% of the WWI issue to the troops were 1917s not the 1903. They cranked out a huge number in a short time and the quality was top notch.

None of the receiver issues of the 1903 as it was a Nickel Steel mix (which the 1903 went to in the 20s or 30s)
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Old October 29, 2018, 10:45 AM   #7
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During my Great Divorce Sale, I sold a perfect, original Remington M1917 and it took me many years to find another that I liked enough to pay what they were asking. Unfortunately, mixed parts M1917's are the norm nowadays and finding one that still has all it's original parts and finish is not easy, or cheap.

Like M1917s, a great many Model 1903-A3s have been through the arsenal rebuild/repair process and it would behoove you to spend some time researching what is what with them before you plunk down you money.

A real easy way to tell if a Remington or Smith-Corona '03-A3 has been refinished is if the finish on all the parts is the same. Original guns by in large, have blued bolts, cocking pieces and bolt sleeves along with other blued small parts throughout (although I believe that some late S-C production may have some small parts that are parkerized), while refinished guns will have a homogenous parked finish.

Remington did not share parts with S-C and all Remington small parts are marked with a "R". S-C bolts are usually marked with an "X" on the root of the bolt handle.

Stocks will also have small differences between the two manufacturers. The easiest way to tell the difference is the upper band spring cut out on Remington stocks is square on the end and Smith-Corona's are round. Stock inspector stamps and cartouches are different also, but may have been sanded off.

Any more than one "P" firing proof on a stock means that the stock is from a rifle that went through a rebuild. Original "P" proofs are different sizes between Remington (7/16") and Smith-corona (1/2"). A "P" proof that is in a box or has no circle around it is from a arsenal rebuild.
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Old October 29, 2018, 10:48 AM   #8
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I didn't realize the striker assembly would need to be removed in a cock-on-close action before checking headspace. Could you please elaborate?

Well, the extractor needs to be removed to accurate measurement. It almost always means the striker assembly is out anyway.

Thanks.

-TL

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Old October 29, 2018, 01:36 PM   #9
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The cock on close has enormous amount of force available to it, usually its the other way as the opening both cocks and starts the extraction process.

If the striker is in you can't feel the head space gauge on the 1917. Its imperative that it be out.

As for the extractor, I know there are feelings it too should be out, I do head space on both the 1903, 1917 and my Savages in 3 calibers when working on the barrels with them left in.

The 1917 is easy, you flip the safety back, close the bolt, an opening shows up in the striker area, put in a bread wrapper clip, open the bolt and it spins out.
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Old October 29, 2018, 03:12 PM   #10
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I see what you mean. The main spring is pushing back on the bolt body when the action is being closed. That could mask the resistance of the gauge. Good point. Thanks.

-TL

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Old October 29, 2018, 05:55 PM   #11
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I just hope I can find a good M1917... there an awsome weapon for sure.

Thank you to all for all the info...this thread well be read over alot when I get to the gun show.

I want a good shooter not a collection piece.
Never could see the point off opening the safe and going Ohhhh Ahhhh... then back in the safe for x amount of time..

I will save the ohh ahhhh for the range lolol
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Old October 29, 2018, 10:04 PM   #12
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Yea all mine are shooters - the one purely collectible gun I fell into was a Luger and you can't shoot em if they are collectible (each part has two digits of the SN, break it and ...... have read a number of accounts of guys who did just that and dropped a good $1000 off the value)

I did learn the aspect of the striker removal from others. All good stuff to pass on.


I have a fair library of links and will get those off this weekend. Includes history but also parts ID etc.

One area that galls me is the Urban Legend of the Eddysotne and cracked receivers. One of the experts on another forum replaces barrels on those. He has seen more cracks W and R than E.

His take is that someone used the wrong tools or no tools on the original barrel change. I had one they used a pipe wrench to put back on (I think).


Criterion makes replacement barrels for them. They are right up there with Shilen from what I can tell as a good barrel mfg.
\
This is the link to the cleanign stuff

http://www.slip2000.com/blog/precisi...ting-magazine/

I have a Lyamn borscope and if a barrel can be cleaned, it will return them to new condition like they came out of the factory.

So far only one gun no and it was shot out pretty well (5 on the TE gauge) 1903 20s era, still shoots pretty decent though.
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Old October 30, 2018, 10:17 AM   #13
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Numrich is now selling repro 1917 stocks (they've been out of the real ones for years). Be aware that many stocks sold as "1917" are really 1914 stocks, easily recognizable by the side volley sight disk (or the remnants of it).
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Old October 30, 2018, 11:41 AM   #14
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Definitely get both. I have two of each. Two of which are sporterized, that I inherited from my uncle. I have a James River 1903A3 rebuild, and a original M1917 Winchester. I like the weight & feel of the M1917...because of the lower recoil and longer sight radius than the Springfield --- Though I've heard that M1917 Winchester parts are scarce.

The M1917 rifle...is the rifle that Sergeant York used, that helped capture 132 German soldiers during WWI.
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Old October 31, 2018, 08:42 PM   #15
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I have a 2 groove WWII era replacement barreled Remington whose bore is a nightmare, however with 165gr 30 cal bullets (I use Hornady Interlocks) and a charge of IMR 4350 it is absolutely, astonishingly accurate. I won't even mention how accurate because most people wouldn't believe me anyway. The 2 groove barrels do not shoot BT bullets well at all, but flat based bullets shoot very accurately. BTW I paid $100 for it w/ an original sling and a half box of 30-06 ammo AND it has Elmer Keith's cartouche on it. You young guys need to ask Grandpa who Elmer Keith was. So even if it has a nasty sewer pipe bore don't give up on it. And they hold 6 30-06 cases in the magazine.
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Old November 1, 2018, 08:23 AM   #16
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I have one of those Elmer Keith rifles also. In my case it's a Winchester M1917.
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Old November 1, 2018, 03:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
I have a 2 groove WWII era replacement barreled Remington whose bore is a nightmare, however with 165gr 30 cal bullets (I use Hornady Interlocks) and a charge of IMR 4350 it is absolutely, astonishingly accurate. I won't even mention how accurate because most people wouldn't believe me anyway. The 2 groove barrels do not shoot BT bullets well at all, but flat based bullets shoot very accurately. BTW I paid $100 for it w/ an original sling and a half box of 30-06 ammo AND it has Elmer Keith's cartouche on it. You young guys need to ask Grandpa who Elmer Keith was. So even if it has a nasty sewer pipe bore don't give up on it. And they hold 6 30-06 cases in the magazine.
I have to look, I think I have EK cartouche on one or two of the 1917s.

He was quite amazing. Less well known was his AK Grizzly attack story on the AK Peninsula. Rare one that stalked him and 4 other guys. Good news was one guy looked back and saw it coming up a hummock they were on top of. Sobering news was 5 good shots and almost all solid hits and they barley killed it before it got to them.

I have my step dads fathers 1903 Sporter rifle (I never met his dad) that he shot game with in Idaho and AK.

The barrel is simply gross. My younger brother put 5 shots into a 1 inch group with it some years back.

Its a rare item in that it had the taps for the long scope (A5 Lyman?) on the barrel.

It clearly was someones target rifle before it got sold on. It has the exact correct spacing dimensions for one of the mount types they did.
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Old November 26, 2018, 10:17 PM   #18
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There were two inspectors at Ogden Arsenal with initials EK. Elmer Keith's will be boxed (OGEK with box around it). Ed Klauser's will simply be OGEK and a third stamp used was just OG and was applied to firearms that only had certain minor parts replaced, or none at all that did not require an inspector.
I've got a pitted bore 03 that is a great shooter too and have seen both 4 groove and 2 groove barrels that produced amazing groups. One of my A3's shoots 1/2 inch and a Remington 30 Express (Remington's civilian version of the M1917) with a JA (Johnson) WWII GI 2 groove barrel that shoots the same.
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Old November 27, 2018, 05:12 PM   #19
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Broken ejectors is a common thing with all M1917s (and P-14s). If it flops about instead of having a gentle tension on it, the tail has broken off. Not a deal breaker, there are several fixes to get round it.
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Old December 14, 2018, 11:19 AM   #20
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None of the receiver issues of the 1903 as it was a Nickel Steel mix (which the 1903 went to in the 20s or 30s)
Quote:
One area that galls me is the Urban Legend of the Eddysotne and cracked receivers. One of the experts on another forum replaces barrels on those. He has seen more cracks W and R than E.
Long before the Internet and about the time smith were building custom rifles from receivers that were available like the 03, 98 Mauser and the M1917 receivers.

Today most smiths believe they are rediscovering the past but in the old days they rated receivers from best to worst. The worst M1917 was the Eddystone, today it could be rated as the box of chocolate; you never know what your are getting. I have a M1917 that is cracked; I did not pay much for it and the sum of parts made it worth while.

Because of the cheap price I did not get a big refund.

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Old December 14, 2018, 11:50 AM   #21
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None of the receiver issues of the 1903 as it was a Nickel Steel mix (which the 1903 went to in the 20s or 30s)
Winchester was a short buggy ride south of Springfield; when did Winchester start with Nickel Steel? I have always thought Springfield was a WWHUA company. One day things picked up and the 03 improved on accuracy. Before Springfield discovered Nickel Steel those in charge had an investigation; they wanted to know why the 03 became more accurate. During the investigation they found the reason for the improvement. It was then they wanted 'that 'fixed.

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Old December 14, 2018, 01:13 PM   #22
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I remember that story. Somebody set up the rifling machine with the wrong sine bar and turned out some 11 twist barrels. More accurate, but not milspec.

Which must make Harry Pope wrong, because he used an 8 twist for Krag barrels.
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Old December 14, 2018, 02:03 PM   #23
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Which must make Harry Pope wrong, because he used an 8 twist for Krag barrels.
I don't know about "wrong", wasn't the Krag set up for the 220gr RN FMJ?

Not what the .30-06 was set up for, which was lighter bullets (172gr, and later the 150s)

The AR kids will tell you for heavier bullets you need a faster twist...
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Old December 14, 2018, 04:48 PM   #24
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The GI Krag and the .30-03 had 10 twist barrels for 220 gr roundnose, not changed for .30-06.
Which worked fine for 150 gr spitzers and 173 gr boattails. The story was that the erroneous 11 twist was more accurate. Probably so, many M14/M1A shooters used 11 twist for 168-173-180 gr boattails.

Harry Pope made some Krag barrels for target shooting and reportedly used an 8 twist.
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Old December 15, 2018, 12:06 PM   #25
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Winchester was a short buggy ride south of Springfield; when did Winchester start with Nickel Steel?
It was a short buggy ride or a fast train ride down to Winchester; and I continue to ask how many years did Winchester beat Springfield to nickel steel?

And then there was the rhyme time phrase: 'Nickel of a pickle'.

And then with all of this talent on this forum where did you first notice the story you remember?

Quote:
I remember that story.
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